The Three Biggest Sources of Money Stress

Two of the main focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy and Money. The following contributed post was written by Faye McDonald. It discusses The Three Biggest Sources of Money Stress.

* * *

Most of us have felt it at some point or another. When you’re facing money trouble, stress becomes a real factor in your life. It can affect your sleep, your work, your relationships, and even your health. Here, we’re going to look at some of the biggest sources of money stress and what you can do about them. After all, the impact of money troubles goes a lot further than your bank account.


A lot of importance is put on getting a job with a good income. It’s true that if your paycheque is big, you’ll have an easier time managing all your costs and putting together savings for your future. However, while working on your career should be a focus, it shouldn’t be the only one. There are other paths to take to financial security and prosperity. It’s all about planning better with what you have. By creating a budget, it’s easy to find the little extra savings that you can contribute to long-term goals. These investments from Profitable Venture show that you can even start contributing them to strategies that can see them playing a part in growing your wealth outside of your job. Investments allow you to diversify not only your income but also your reserves for retirement and bigger investments in the future.

The fear of debt is often a lot worse than debt, itself. There are a lot of different strategies to try and handle it. None of them involve ignoring the problem and hoping you don’t get noticed, which is unfortunately what most people in a panic tend to do. There are options to help control it like debt consolidation loans from Buddy Loans, but you should always try talking to your creditors first and foremost. If you begin to suspect you will have trouble repaying your debts to the letter of the agreement, you may be able to negotiate it with them. You might not always have your debt reduced, but you can get your repayments restructured. Most creditors don’t want to have to turn to collectors just as much as you want to avoid them.

If you’re living on a low income, one of the biggest fears might be the risk that an unexpected cost could bring with it. If you suddenly have to pay for major car repairs, would it put you in debt? Besides insurance, building an emergency fund is one of the best ways to ensure that you at least have some safety nets to stop you from going into freefall. Contribute a little bit of your income every month towards a fund that can cover all of your expenses lasting three-to-five months. That way it can cover not only unexpected costs but some of the danger of being put out of employment, too.

Don’t forget that there are resources like the Money Advice Service that you can turn to when you can’t see any options that can help your financial situation. It’s easy to feel like you’re stuck in a downward spiral, but if you’re not a financial expert, there may be solutions and plans that you haven’t considered.

Niagara Falls coaching legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one

“I was a very strong-minded teacher, and the classroom just carried over to the court for me – it was my after-school classroom. If you talk to any of our super star players or any of our reserves, they’ll tell you that our program ran on structure, discipline and no nonsense!”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. A key part is hearing the stories and experiences of successful people. Like many kids, I dreamt of an early dream of playing basketball. That dream didn’t reach fruition, but the lessons I learned playing in Section VI, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s western-most section, laid the groundwork for me to go on to further my education and start my science career.

I’m working on a project chronicling my early basketball journey, and as a part of the research for that project, I’ve interviewed numerous Section VI basketball players and coaches from my era. On May 10, 2018, I had the honor of interviewing Pat Monti – a Western New York basketball coaching legend and the Architect of the LaSalle basketball dynasty – arguably the most dominant high school basketball program ever to play in the Western New York region. From the late 1980s to the late 1990s LaSalle was consistently in position to advance to the Final Four in Glens Falls and won numerous state titles – Public and Federation. More fascinating than the actual dominance of the program itself though, is how it was built – with solid point guard play, defense, and a crafty, determined and highly competitive coaching staff.

In part one of this two-part interview, Coach Pat Monti discusses his background, and how he built the LaSalle basketball program. The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Western New York basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Sections V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other articles and pictures were generously shared by Coach Pat Monti himself. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you, Coach Monti. I’m working an ambitious writing project about my high school basketball experience – my first major success and failure lesson in life. While I didn’t play organized basketball beyond the 1993-94 school year, my high school experience at Hutch-Tech gave me the initial tools I needed to earn my Ph.D. in a STEM-field – not quitting during the hard times, dealing with adversity, finishing what I started, and so on.

In my project I also tell the story of the Section VI in that era – the prime of the LaSalle basketball dynasty – you can’t properly tell it without discussing the brown and gold – the LaSalle Explorers as you guys were the premiere program/team in our area for more than a decade. As a part of my research, I’ve reached out to several coaches and players, but talking to you may be my biggest interview of all. And with that we’ll start.

Where are you from and how did you get involved with the game of basketball?

Pat Monti: I’m from Syracuse, NY – born and raised. I’ve been playing basketball since I was about five years old. My Dad was a star athlete in all three of the major sports in high school before going to World War II, and I’ve always been into sports. I left Syracuse when I was 17 years old to attend Niagara University. Other than visiting family, I never went back. Right out of Niagara in 1968, I was offered a local teaching job. My wife to be was a junior at the time, so I took the job, and that’s basically where we spent the rest of our adult lives. We’ll be married 49 years this year, and retired to Naples, FL about 15 years ago.

AD: Describe your playing experience at Niagara University.

PM: It was on and off. As a freshman, I messed up my ankle for the first of many times, shutting that season completely down. Unfortunately, we had three coaching changes in the four years I was there. Eventually they brought in a coach I won’t name – we didn’t see eye to eye in terms of my abilities, so I continued my education but didn’t play hoops there.

I played some semi-pro traveling ball and I always knew that I wanted to coach. That’s why I got a teaching degree – a B.S. in Commerce which in New York State back in my day, licensed me to teach just about every business subject that was being taught in public schools. For most of my teaching career I taught: Accounting, Business Law, and Business Math – those were my three major subjects, but I taught just about every business subject that was in the curriculum at the time.

AD: So, you were in the classroom, and you coached as well?

PM: Oh yeah. I had grandiose ideas of being a Physical Education teacher, but science wasn’t my strength. I was going to do Accounting but realized that I couldn’t do it because I wanted to coach, and both seasons overlapped. I had a great counselor at Niagara who said, ‘Why don’t you try Business Education because you’re great with numbers and you have a great level-headed business-mind.’

Back when I went to school, there weren’t five and six-year plans like there are today. We finished in four years, so my senior year, I had to take a huge load. I graduated on time in 1968 and immediately wanted to coach, but not being a local kid, it was tough to get my foot in the door. They were looking for teachers back then, so I hooked on with Johnny McCarthy – the old Buffalo Braves coach who played at Canisius – he was the coach at St. John Neumann which would’ve been well before your time – right there on the Youngman Expressway near Main Street. I see the building is still there from the times I’ve gone by there.

That was my first year and I was the coach of his ‘Freshman’ team, and that’s kind of what got me started in my coaching career. I spent one year there and then I was fortunate to become the Junior Varsity (JV) Coach at Bishop Duffy – now Niagara Catholic High School. I coached three years of JV under Bob Laurrie whose son Mark Laurrie happens to be the Superintendent of schools in Niagara Falls – Bob was a mentor. When I got to LaSalle, the Head Coach was Matt Mazza who was legendary for his personality and everything (laughing).

I tried a few times to get the JV job at LaSalle even though I was teaching in the building. Eventually in 1972, I got the JV job under Coach Mazza, and then in 1975 our former Principal Bill Sdao who also became Superintendent, saw something I guess and at 29 years old I got my first head coaching job. I had it from 1975 until 2000 when the school closed.

AD: Wow.

PM: In those 25 years, we did some remarkable things. We started out with a program that really hadn’t done much – had a little bit of success I guess before my time. My three years as the JV coach I think we were 15-3, 16-2, and 15-3, so that should’ve led to the Varsity being decent I’d think if not really good, but unfortunately, they weren’t for whatever reason.

AD: In the late 1980s and early 1990s, our Yale Cup teams didn’t have formal JV programs across the board feeding the Varsity teams, but it sounds like the two Niagara Falls high schools did. Is that correct? What were some of the other keys to your success at LaSalle?

PM: It’s amazing what we accomplished from 1975-2000 in 25 years considering we didn’t have a ‘Freshman’ or ‘Middle School’ programs. It was really hard competing with the Lockports and the North Tonawandas – everyone else in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) at the time because they were so far ahead of us in building ‘programs’. I was a very strong-minded teacher, and the classroom just carried over to the court for me – it was my after-school classroom. If you talk to any of our super star players or any of our reserves, they’ll tell you that our program ran on structure, discipline and no nonsense! I wasn’t a tyrant, but that was the only way I felt that I could build a winning program that would succeed year in and year out.

We won Section VI 10 straight times. Some schools never win a sectional. I think our 10 straight sectional titles, 12 out of 13 years is still a record for boys’ basketball in the state – I know it’s a record for Western New York for sure. From 1988 to 1997, we won Section VI and went to the Far West Regional all ten of those years, and we went to Glens Falls six times. In that ten-year span, our record was 226-22 which is over 90% in terms of winning percentage.

AD: So, it sounds like you ran a structured program. What were the hallmarks of your program? Were you a “defense-first” coach? It seemed like you guys created lots of turnovers and easy transition baskets.

PM: Well I think anyone who ‘pidgeon-holes’ themselves into one philosophy will never ever be doing service to their young student-athletes. Obviously, we played great defense. In that 10-year period, we started in 1987-88 going 27-0 which is still a Western New York record – I don’t believe anyone has been undefeated with that many wins. Some teams had more wins because they played more games than us, but I don’t think anyone went undefeated at 27-0. That was the year that we supposedly upset Christian Laettner’s team, but I honestly believe Nichols took us for granted twice. You’re probably too young to remember – when did you get out of Hutch-Tech?

AD: 1994. Was the Nichols School always a part of the NFL?

PM: You were probably in grammar school then. We had four high schools in Niagara Falls at one time: Trott Vocational, Niagara Falls, LaSalle and obviously Bishop Duffey which went on to become Niagara Catholic. In 1985-86, Trott Vocational closed and they enlarged LaSalle’s campus by building industrial shops, auto shops, a Horticulture area – they turned LaSalle into a multipurpose high school. We always had ten teams in the NFL, and it was perfect – you played everyone twice – you played 18 games and maybe you’d pick up a tournament or something and you played your 20 games which the state allowed back then.

When Trott closed, the powers that be didn’t want an uneven number of schools because you’d have one team having a bye every time the games were played. They looked around for a team to fill the slot that Trott left, and they asked the Nichols School to join the NFL which I thought was ridiculous. It was a private school now playing with all public schools – recruited from everywhere – we weren’t playing on an equal playing field.

AD: I was in middle school when Christian Laettner was at Nichols and missed seeing him and some of the other notable players of that time play. I first saw Trott listed in one of my sectional books but didn’t know what it was. How did the LaSalle program continue to build its dominance after winning the Class B State and Federation titles that 27-0, 1987-88 season?

PM: In 1988-89, we graduated four starters, and no one picked us to win the NFL. I think that because of the program and the way we played the game – we shared the ball and didn’t care who scored and we played phenomenal defense – that ten-year period, our average points per game given up, was less than 50 in the 200 plus games. So, our program was definitely built on defense.

It bothers the heck out of me when I see coaches who have a system and say, ‘This is the way I do it and I don’t care!’ I’ll give you an example. We were meeting a really good Lancaster team in the Class A sectional final at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in 1990, and Channel 7 interviewed them at their gym. We had a whole week in between finishing up the regular season and playing the sectional final.

I knew we were going to be meeting Lancaster and I knew that we could destroy them with our “Run and Jump” pressing defense because they were big and very methodical. I don’t think they ever saw our kind of pressure. I’ll never forget this – Channel 7 interviewed them the Wednesday or Thursday before our Saturday night game. Their coach had two of his better players with him, and I think Rick Azar interviewed them.

‘Coach you’re playing the five or six-time defending Class A Section VI Champion who has also won the State Championship a couple of times,’ Rick said. ‘How are you going to deal with their phenomenal man to man pressure when all you do is play man to man yourself?’

‘We play nothing but man!’ their coach said. To me he did his kids a disservice because we weren’t a great shooting team – he should’ve played zone against us. His team was big enough, smart enough, and probably athletic enough to play us zone, and probably force us take a lot of outside shots that we didn’t like to take. My thought even to this day is that I’d rather have a layup and a free throw than a three-pointer. I think too many people live and die with the three-point shot. I know it’s become ‘the thing’, but there’s no ‘mid-range’ game anymore. Everybody shoots threes or wants to dunk. No one uses the glass which is there for a reason. I myself am a lefty and I had great touch, so I used the glass like crazy – it’s there to help you. Anyhow, this Lancaster Coach had his kids slapping the floor like (laughing) –.

AD: Like Duke?

PM: ‘We’re going to play man to man,’ the Lancaster coach said, and I was thinking, ‘We’re going to come out and toast this team!’ I showed the clip to my kids because I’d taped it – I used it as fodder for them. The score was something like 37-15 at halftime. They pressed us full court Anwar. All I did was what I now call the “One-Breaker” where I had my point guard taking the ball out every chance we could after a dead ball. I had my twos and threes in the corner and my fours and fives at half court – basically it was ‘1-2-2 press-breaker’. When we passed it in to the two or the three which were both also guards who probably could’ve played the point – I’m trying to think if it was a Timmy Winn team or a Modie Cox team –.

AD: If it was the mid- 1990s then it had to be one of your Modie Cox-teams.

PM: We just passed it into the corner, and Modie shot up the middle and my fours and fives which were just small forwards both pinched in and it was a bounce pass and layup to either side. It was like a layup drill. They should never have been pressing us, and they shouldn’t have been playing us man to man.

So, going back to my original thought – you’ve got to coach your team to give them the best chance to win from game to game, and from opponent to opponent. You have to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, and you have to take your strengths and weaknesses, and try to overcome what they do, and do what you can do. If I had to play zone, I would do it absolutely.

When we played Niagara Falls High School, they had phenomenal size and talent. See a lot of people don’t realize this, but from 1985 until 1999, we beat Niagara Falls 35 straight times. They always had more size than us, and probably more overall talent. They might not have had the guards, but what they also didn’t have was structure, discipline, and no nonsense.

AD: Wow.

PM: When I’d go to these clinics, coaches would ask, ‘Coach how do you do this year in and year out?’ I’d say, ‘Fellas, you have what they want.’ They’d look at me and ask, ‘What are you talking about?’ I’d say, ‘You’ve got the ball. If they’re not doing it the way you script it, then you take the ball away from them. You sit them down!’

See a lot of coaches are afraid to sit their players down or discipline them because they don’t think that they can win. But if your team has bought into the team concept, you can win. I’ve had players go down to injury in games we weren’t supposed to win, and we won because somebody else stepped up.

AD: Were there particular kinds of kids you were looking for?

PM: The good thing about our program was that because we didn’t have a Middle School program, or a ‘Freshman’ program, at least the state let seventh or eighth graders play JV or Varsity if they passed the physical fitness test which had parameters. You know what I’m talking about right?

AD: Yes.

PM: So, what I used to do was make sure that our LaSalle ‘Middle’ which fed our LaSalle ‘Senior’. I made sure that any seventh or eighth graders we used to watch at the Boys Club, the Biddy Leagues, or at the YMCA Saturday morning ball – if we knew that they were LaSalle kids, we’d invite them to take the physical fitness tests with their gym teachers and then tryout. There were years where my JV coaches hated me – there were years where I made them keep 21, 22 and 23 players on the JV teams even though you could only suit up, and put 15 names in the book.

I had seventh and eighth graders on my JV team so that they were basically learning our system way before their time. They knew what to expect. They knew that we were demanding, that we were structured and disciplined, and it was no nonsense – if you don’t like it, there’s the door, we’ll see you later! And that’s how all the great point guards like: Michael Freeney, Michael Starks, Carlos Bradberry, Modie Cox, Jody Crymes, Timm Winn, Terry Rich, and Dewitt Doss – all the guys who ended up starring at LaSalle, that’s the system they were brought up in.

AD: Wow. So, there was a LaSalle Middle School as well?

PM: Yeah LaSalle had a middle school on Buffalo Avenue which is still there. They now call it “LaSalle Preparatory Academy”. The biggest mistake I think the city ever made was closing our beautiful school – tearing it down within a matter of three months because this guy Benderson wanted that land for years. It’s now a plaza where there’s a Super Wal-Mart, and Bed Bath and Beyond, and every other out parcel you can think of.

AD: I want to come back to LaSalle closing but I have some more questions before we get to that. Between the 1970s when you started, and the late 1980s when you went on that 10-year run, what happened? Did it take you that long to build the continuity or just to get the players?

PM: Well, my first really good team was probably 1980 when Frank Rotundo was on the team. When Frank Rotundo my longtime JV Coach joined me in 1986 until the school closed in 2000, he did a fantastic job molding the young players into the LaSalle system. I also had a guard who went to Alabama State named Michael Freeney – his older brother Jimmy Freeney was a great player for Matt Mazza who I took over for. Michael kind of put us on the map in 1979, 80, 81 – he just had an incredible career for us. As a matter of fact, this story will tell you about the kind of program we built, and the attitude that our kids had.

We were playing in the Convention Center against Niagara Falls High School because with such a rivalry, they wanted to give everyone an opportunity to see the game – rather than playing it at our gym or their gym. Michael was an All-Western New Yorker. We were supposed to get demolished. Niagara Falls was very talented – very big and athletic – much more so than us and we were both battling for the Niagara Frontier League title.

The Tuesday before this particular game, we had a one game lead on them and we were playing Niagara-Wheatfield who was not very good. I think we beat them by 25 the first time we played them. We played at their gym and this is where I picked up this gimmick defense that I run. They played it on Michael Freeney who was averaging twenty something points per game. Their Coach was Doc Massoti – a good basketball mind – that’s where I got my gimmick defense, God rest his soul. He played this gimmick defense – people think it’s a “Box and One” but it’s not, it’s different. They held Michael to four points and he fouled out in the ugliest game I’ve ever coached and with a talented team. I think they beat us 45-43 – it was really ugly.

The next day – Wednesday or Thursday, we and Niagara Falls got to practice at the Niagara Falls Convention Center for our Friday night game. My kids were so aloof and goofy, and I just blew the whistle and said, ‘Are you guys kidding me? You just got beaten by a team you beat by 25 points a month or two ago. You’re playing Niagara Falls and you’re tied for the NFL title. The winner of this game wins the league and you’re going through the motions and screwing around? I know you’re at the Convention Center and you’re excited, but fellas we’ve got a job to do!’ I threw them out of practice. I said, ‘Get out of here! Good-bye!’

We came out Friday night, and we put such a whipping on Niagara Falls High School that had so much more talent than us. We beat them by 25 points. Michael had 48 points, and I took him out of the game five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Someone from the scorer’s table came over and whispered in one of my assistant’s ears who came and told me, ‘You know Michael’s got 47 points Coach.’ I said, ‘What?’ He was just so effortless, and I looked down to the end of the bench and he’s got his sneakers off. I said, ‘Michael put your sneakers back on.’ He asked, ‘Why Coach?’ I said, ‘I want you to score three more points.’ He said, ‘I don’t need any more points Coach. These guys don’t get to play much. Let them play.’ Those were the kind of kids we had, and the kind of culture we had.

In the second part of our interview, Coach Pat Monti talks more about coaching the LaSalle basketball program, the closing of LaSalle Senior High School, and finally what coaching has been like afterwards. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy:

Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional basketball careers and coaching
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on basketball camp
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Life, Success, and failure
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

We Need To Be More Productive At Producing Food

A major focus of my blog is Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and Agro-Sciences falls within this category. The following contributed post was written by Abbie Proud. It’s entitled; How We Need To Be More Productive At Producing Food.

* * *

Image source

In a world of big topics – from Climate Change to Plastic Pollution to the #MeToo – it can be easy for some impossibly important conversations to get lost in the white noise, as imperative as it may be to our survival. But none is more important than food because, right now, today, there are 795 million hungry people; a number that’s going to grow by another 2 billion before 2050. And if we’re going to make that possible, then it’s a question we need to talk about a whole lot more than we are right now.

It’s a problem we shouldn’t have, yet here we are, unable to improve the global food security as much as we need to. That’s why it’s so important we all help tighten up on this area and do all we can to make sure there are enough calories to properly nourish everyone on the planet, but without making the agricultural footprint any bigger.

So, without further ado, here’s what we need to focus on:

1. Close The Food Gap
One of the biggest issues we have isn’t a lack of agricultural land, it’s the fact this land isn’t reaching its full potential. In fact, some places are yielding 50% less than their capabilities. Closing this gap is so important. Not only would it reduce the need to clear land for agriculture, it would help us feed those hungry people using the land we have.

2. Produce More With Less
It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about the use of fertilisers or nutritional supplements, we need to be more efficient – and effective – when it comes to the production of food. But let’s start with nutritional supplements. A quick visit here and you’ll quickly learn that naturally-raised weanling pigs and livestock whose diets contained Pro+ ate more feed and gained more weight, which makes them more efficient. That’s what we need. The same principle applies to fertiliser, where it’s estimated that the use of nitrogen and phosphorus-based fertilisers, which are used on wheat, rice and maize crops, could be slashed by 15-30% and still produce the same yields. And that’s without factoring any adjustments in the timing, placement and type of fertilizer used.

3. Water Is A Worry
Water is possibly the biggest issue right now, and Improving irrigation systems and planting crops that use less water needs to become the focus moving forward. Take rice and sugarcane as a prime example of crops that need the most water. The problem is, you can’t simply swap crop you grow as all farmers base their decisions on current market values. As such, the only way to tackle this issue effectively and efficiently would be to encourage farmers through economic incentives, ones that can be tweaked and tailored to regional differences and cultural tastes.

4. Food Waste Needs Addressing
Across the globe, between 30-50% of all food produced goes to waste, whether that be thrown, due to the inefficient preparation or just inadequate storage facilities. Address this and we have addressed a huge issue moving forward.

The Best Influence: Saving Money As A Father

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy and Money. The following contributed post was written by Emma Morgan. It discusses The Best Influence: Saving Money As A Father.

* * *

When you’re trying to be a great dad, having little to no spare cash during the year makes it a challenge to stay positive, and money worries are often a cause of family quarrels and arguments. Therefore, it’s worth looking into ways you can be thrifty, and save money each day in your home and lifestyle. It’s never too late to begin making wiser, considered choices regarding your finances, so make plans as soon as possible to start making positive change.

You can put your excess cash into savings for next year and the future, or your money can go towards covering the cost of family life, and ensure that you and your kids want for nothing. Being smart with money is also a great thing to instill in your children; they’ll be influenced by your good habits. The following are some ideas, tips, and advice for fathers looking to cut back their spending, and ensure their outgoings aren’t too much, by making little lifestyle changes that will add up to making a big difference.

Image source:

Family Transport

Vehicles can cost a lot to maintain, so it’s worthwhile reducing the family’s car to just one, and figuring out how you can reduce using them regularly. It’s also worth checking out a car payment calculator so that you can get a better idea of your monthly outgoings regarding your car, for more successful budgeting.

Your daily commute might be costing you heavily in fuel, especially when you’re stuck in traffic. Therefore, many are choosing to cycle to work, and bikes are a common sight on the roads during rush hour. Public transport passes work out cheaper if you buy them in bulk, and many services will get you to work far quicker than if you were in a car on the roads, so this could be another option for you if you’re not confident when cycling.

Family Food

Often, it’s easy to get home and realize there’s nothing in the fridge to eat, and end up ordering an expensive takeaway. The same goes for when you’re out in the day; you can end up spending a lot of cash on food from shops and cafes. Therefore, when you write your weekly grocery list; make sure you meal plan each day for the family. If you have the ingredients ready to use when you get in or can create a tasty lunch to take to work; you’ll reap the savings every day.

Family Budget

Sadly, it can sometimes be easy to find yourself in debt, especially when you’ve had unexpected costs to fork out for, or you’ve got behind with payments on something. Therefore, it’s crucial that you create a detailed account of what you’re bringing each month and compare it to your outgoings. This is the best place to start regarding how you can make changes to improve things long-term, so make sure you include everything, right down to the last cent. You can begin to change your monthly budget and improve family life in the meantime, for a bright future as a father ahead.

The Signs You’re Carrying Far Too Much Debt

Two of the main focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy and Money. The following contributed post was written by Emma Morgan. It discusses The Signs You’re Carrying Far Too Much Debt.

* * *

We live in a time of consumerism and most of us have a mindset of ‘I need it now’, which makes us impulsive when it comes to credit. The problem with credit, though, is that we can have whatever we want, and the consequences come later. While credit seems like a great idea in the moment, when you’ve got too much month at the end of your money and you can’t make your repayments, it becomes a big problem.

Debt is, for most people, a very unfortunate part of life. Buying a house, a car and even getting an education can put you into debt. While these are the debts you’d want to have, rather than because you couldn’t put the Manolo’s back at the store, it’s still not nice to have to deal with debt in that way. Having a house is a good thing, until you can’t make the mortgage repayments and you’re getting help from to get you back on track. There are some signs, though, that can tell you whether you are carrying too much debt. It’s time to get your head out of the sand and start sorting out your finances, because they’re not going to sort themselves.

Image Source

1. The first sign you’re carrying too much debt is that this is where your money goes. You should have enough money to cover your mortgage, your bills and your savings before having a portion for disposable income. If your disposable income is covering the minimums on your loans and cards, there’s an issue. Working to pay debt is not living, and you need to start making some adjustments so that this is no longer the case for you.
2. The next sign is that you won’t ever pay off your debts early, because the money that you have can only cover the minimum payments. Get onto the creditors that you have and ask them to lower the repayment amounts for you. Creditors are not easy to deal with – in your head. In reality, if you have a good history, they’re usually more than happy to help you out. As long as they are getting paid, they will work with you and not against you.
3. Your health is important, but if the stress of debt is starting to manifest physically, you’re going to suffer. Your sleep, your happiness, the jumpy feeling you get when the doorbell goes? All of these things are not healthy, and they can be affected by debt.
4. Trying to get a consolidation loan to cover your debts is the move that most people make so that they can pay things off quickly. However, if you’re being turned down even for this, then you’ve got too much on your plate. The more debt you have, the harder it is to get credit.

It’s important to recognize when you are carrying too much debt as much as it is to know where to ask for help. Don’t suffer alone – get the debt help you need now to lessen the burden on your shoulders.

Seven Times You’ll Be Glad You Have An Emergency Fund

Two of the main focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy and Money. The following contributed post was written by Faye McDonald. It discusses the Seven Times You’ll Be Glad You Have An Emergency Fund.

* * *

You can’t always predict what’s going to happen in life, but you can make your finances disaster-proof. The best way that you can do this is by having an emergency fund to back you up every step of the way. Ideally, you should already be managing your money each month and budgeting for savings, but you should also be paying into a separate savings account for emergency reasons. Obviously, you won’t be putting in the same amount each month because you need to be able to keep living the way that you want to live. However, there will be times you will be exceedingly grateful that you had an emergency fund to fall back on and below, you can find seven times in life you’ll be whispering thanks to yourself for your own forward thinking!

Image Source

Job Loss. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in your job, no one is safe from being made redundant or losing their job. Companies fold all the time due to tough economic times and you have to be prepared for this. Losing your job means that you will be behind financially, and your emergency fund can save you from that.

Divorce. There’s something horribly stressful about a broken marriage. Divorce is costly, and your emergency fund can back you up while you’re paying for lawyers.

Accident. Being in financial difficulty when you’ve had an accident is stress on top of stress. You can speak to Tenge Law Firm, LLC when you need to figure out if you are due compensation from your accident. There’s no need to get behind on bills if you don’t have to!

You Quit. Sometimes, you don’t lose your job due to the recession or the fact your company is folding. Personality clashes mean that you could find yourself out of work off your own volition and you decide to quit.

Disaster. You can’t control mother nature and she is a fearsome beast. An emergency fund can be there for you if you lose your home or are dealing with a flooded house after a disaster. You can incur costs when you go through a natural disaster, and your emergency fund can absorb those.

Supporting Spouses. If your other half is out of work suddenly, or takes ill, you are the main breadwinner. Your savings could keep you above water if your money isn’t enough to support the pair of you.

Widowed. If you find yourself in a situation where you are suddenly without a partner at all, and they have passed away, you will need to have your emergency fund supporting you through a funeral and the expenses incurred there.

You see, an emergency fund isn’t something that is an inconvenience. On the contrary, it will be there for you for when life becomes an inconvenience instead. Most of these situations happen to us in life, it’s important that you manage your own money and keep yourself safe at all times.

5 Secrets For “Cute Store” Success

Two of the focuses of my blog are Business and Entrepreneurship. The following contributed post was written by Becky Meredith. It discusses 5 Secrets For “Cute Store” Success.

* * *

If you’ve been around any upmarket town or tourist destination, you’ll have seen those “cute stores,” the ones that sell carefully selected items related to clothing, home, or paper products. They’re nice to be in, and it’s rare that you don’t walk away without one purchase that lifts your spirits a little bit. If you’ve got an ambition to own your own type of “cute store,” then the first thing to know is that its hard work! But it’s not impossible. Below, we take a look at five ideas for helping you make your store a success.


Get Inspired

The look of the store is one of the strongest features of this type of business. It is not your typically “rows and rows of shelves” business; the items are scattered around in a more general way, as if they’re not really for sale at all, but rather been left there by a forgetful owner. You should set the tone with your entranceway. This should tell your visitors that they’re not walking into any old and ordinary type of business, but that they’re entering a more luxurious world. Work with a designer to get the look of your store just right, or, if you don’t have the budget, take a look at Pinterest instead.

A Calming Environment

The look is important, but it’s absolutely essential that you have a calming environment. You’re trying to show your customer that this is no ordinary business. When you walk into most shops, the stress levels begin to spike. In your store, they’ll drop; it’ll be more like walking into a spa! But how do you do this? You can engage in a little scent marketing by installing a cold air diffuser from You can set atmospheric mood lighting, the opposite of the “high and bright” lighting of other stores. You can play soft music. Essentially, think about all the things you do to help you relax in your living room, and add them to your store.

We’re All Equal

Your store is going to be the well-dressed, good-looking store on the street. Your customers might not be the same. But remember, in business – and actually, in life – there’s no room for a sense of superiority. Whoever comes through your door must be given the full experience of your shop. This means that you can’t get away with setting your prices too high just because you’ve done things a little differently.

Original Goods

Aside from the look and feel of your store, your main selling point will be your products, which will be different from what you normally find in shops. So take the time to think carefully about the products you’re selling. The shopping experience in your store is to feel “exclusive,” and that won’t happen if you’re stocking the same items as everyone else. When it comes to picking your items, remember that it’s better to have fewer items that are high-quality rather than stacking the shelves high!

A discussion on the dangers of cell phones, social media, and technology with Dr. Ralph G. Perrino

Two of the focuses of my blog are Science and Technology. Up to this point I’ve discussed technology from the aspects of careers and investing. In this post I’m taking a different approach and will discuss its potential dangers in our world which is becoming steadily more digital and technology dependent – a topic I’ve heard periodically discussed in numerous circles over the years.

Joining me in this discussion is mentor, veteran educator and fellow writer, Dr. Ralph G. Perrino. Dr. Perrino has his own blog, “Dr. Perrino’s Blog”. He has authored numerous articles, essays and books and both founded and directed the Northern Virginia Tutoring Service, which is how we first met. He was further responsible for my becoming a member of the board of directors for the Friends of the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium.

Here on my blog I crafted a post titled Are we losing our Soft Skills due to Technology? On his blog, Dr. Perrino recently crafted two posts titled, I thought I had seen it all…until today, and Are we creating a digital dust bowl?, among other blog posts. The following is our recent discussion regarding the dangers facing our steadily increasing technology-dependent society and world.

Anwar Dunbar: Hello, Ralph. You’re one of my mentors and I of course know a lot about you, but can you give the readers a few facts about yourself for context? For example, what is your background? Also, how did you become involved with education?

Ralph Perrino: Sure, Anwar. I studied Sociology at Catawba College in North Carolina. I then did extensive graduate study in Sociology at the University of North Carolina, where my areas of concentration were in collective behavior and social movements, and social change. I also hold a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a Doctorate in Education from George Mason University. I have taught full-time and part-time at Northern Virginia Community College as an associate professor of sociology and political science since 1984. I also founded and served as director/owner of Northern Virginia Tutoring Service, LLC, from 1994 until 2018. The reason I became involved in education is that I have always had a passion for teaching. I find that I often teach the content area while at the same time, I offer life lessons to students who are seeking direction in their lives.

AD: One of the focuses of my blog is Technology from the perspective of encouraging awareness of STEM – for careers and for investment purposes. While we celebrate our emerging technologies, there is a downside to them as well, which we’ve both written about from different angles. What initially raised your eyebrow regarding our society-wide ‘addiction’ to our new digital toys and devices and the plethora of applications that we use on them?

RP: While I do absolutely agree that there is a use and a place for technology in today’s world – education and research, investment and banking, professional connectedness and networking are just a few examples – I also believe that society has rushed to embrace the next bright, shiny object with little thought or concern about issues such as: personal privacy, family stability, interpersonal communication, civility in public, and empathy, compassion and concern for others. That said, I do see the potential benefits associated with the use of social media in the areas of collective behavior, social movements, and social change. However, sole reliance on digital means of communication to achieve social change is ill-advised, in my view.

AD: From our mentoring talks I know that you think cell phones particularly are a problem. I’m guilty of some of the things you discussed in your essay about the ‘Digital Dustbowl’, and I do enjoy quick access to information, and quickly connecting with other people which can cause unintended consequences. Can you talk a little bit about what you see happening around you every day?

RP: I have become increasingly alarmed by excessive dependence (some would say addiction) to technology in general, but cell phones in particular. Teens have been known to refer to their iPhone as, “My Tiny God.” There is something wrong with a society that values a material, digital possession to that extent. I tell my students at the college that if their biggest concern when they wake up in the morning is whether their cell phone is charged, they have a serious problem. I ask them, have we reached the point where owning a smartphone is a requirement for acceptance into the public (and private) discourse?

I also tell them that they should not leave college without some level of commitment to help others. Much, if not all, of that caring and compassion for others is not going to take place through social media. I remind them that nearly a billion people on earth each day do not have access to clean drinking water and that nearly 30% of the American population does not have regular access to the Internet. Virtually none of my students understand the “Digital Divide” between rich and poor in America. They take this privilege for granted. I point out to them that they are living in a bubble here in the Washington, D.C. area, and that their awareness of issues and challenges others face has been minimized as a result of their addiction to social media and their smartphone.

AD: Have you found any data looking at our dependence on digital devices like our cell phones?

RP: A recent Bank of America study, “Trends in Consumer Mobility”, reported that 71% of all Americans (adults and teens) say they sleep with or next to their mobile phone; 3% of those people said they sleep with their device in their hand; 13% said they keep it on the bed, and 55% leave it on the nightstand. Incredibly, the survey revealed that Americans consider their smartphone more important than sex, and 20% of those 18-34 years of age admit to checking their phones DURING sex. The list goes on.

Suffice it to say that we have a problem with over-use and abuse of smart phones. We see it every day in restaurants, supermarkets, shopping malls, sporting events, and a myriad of other places. On the one hand, smart phones and, to some extent, social media, have connected us digitally, yet they have separated us emotionally. They have: strained our relationships with others, significantly reduced levels of empathy towards others, caused us to avoid face-to-face interpersonal contact, and damaged the ability of children and others to read facial gestures, body language, and subtle signs of human emotion. They further have the potential to alienate children from society, placing them in an unrealistic virtual world where problem solving can be accomplished with the press of a button.

Some questions I find myself pondering are:

• Is there a correlation between cell phone usage and the rise in rates of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome?
• Is there a correlation between cell phone usage and the dramatic rise in school violence, digital alienation, mental health issues, teen suicide rates, and other social maladies?
• Is it affecting the stability of families?
• Is it resulting in miscommunication in the workplace?
• Is it affecting other institutions critical to societal stability?

Again, has it connected us digitally, but separated us emotionally? Much has been said here and elsewhere regarding the problem. The question in my mind is, what are the solutions? We might start with stronger parenting, and adults who model appropriate human interaction as their children are maturing and watching how their parents conduct their own lives. Children learn by modeling adult behavior. Their behavior is a reflection of our behavior.

AD: As an educator yourself, have you had to establish rules for your students in class?

RP: It has reached the point in my classes at the college where I teach that I have to ask my students to place their cell phones on a table at the front of the room at the beginning of the class. If I don’t do this, students simply cannot and will not stop using their phones. Their attention is distracted, and it is nearly impossible to generate a meaningful class discussion. I have had students as recently as last semester note in their course evaluations that, ‘Professor Perrino should continue to require no cell phone use during his class. It helped me to engage in class discussions more effectively.’

AD: Okay Ralph, you’ve given us quite a bit to think about and consider. Do you have any final comments, thoughts or stories on this topic?

RP: Each semester, I have guest speakers come to my class to speak to my students. These speakers include staff from a local homeless and substance abuse shelter; a speaker who works in the area of student nutrition in low-income, urban school districts, and other speakers who focus on sociological issues outside the parameters of a textbook.

The one speaker who rivets my students to their chairs is a 77 year-old woman who was a Freedom Rider in 1961 at the age of nineteen. Her story is compelling. She tells of being jailed in a Mississippi prison for three months with other Freedom Riders, as well as other injustices perpetrated on her and others during that time. When she completes her presentation, I always ask the questions: “Would you be brave enough at nineteen years of age to do what this person did? What story will you have to tell when you are 77 years of age?” The responses I get tell me much about how unengaged my students are from reality, even though they believe they are all connected and engaged through social media outlets.

AD: Okay, thank you, Ralph, for collaborating on this important discussion and sharing your thoughts. So many of us are walking around unaware of the larger implications of these technologies as our societal norms evolve with them. At the very least, hopefully we’ve gotten some of the readers to think and start discussions of their own, and you and I have to have similar discussions in the future.

Thank you for taking the time out to read this interview. Once again, please visit Dr. Perrino’s Blog for other insightful discussions like this. If you enjoyed this interview, you might also enjoy:

A look at STEM: Blockchain Technology, a new way of conducting business and record keeping
Who will have the skills to benefit from Apple’s $350 billion investment?
We should’ve bought Facebook and Bitcoin stock: An investing and technology story
A Cryptocurrency App Case Study
Why SEO really is the key to successful online business SEO
The best Apps for Crypto Investment
Tableau discusses educating in a data driven world revisited

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

Should HBCUs teach their students financial literacy and about the business of higher education?

This piece was originally published on Dr. Matthew Lynch’s online publication The Edvocate back in May of 2015. It was entitled Thoughts on Why HBCUs could use more Alumni than Graduates, and Financial Literacy. I decided to republish this story after the new President of my alma mater, Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), recently visited our Washington DC alumni chapter to discuss his vision for the university which is currently on probation due to financial distress.

A lack of alumni giving has long been a major issue for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Something our new President Clarence Armbrister shared with us that I didn’t know, was that securing funding from Corporate America is difficult if alumni aren’t already giving significantly. Donors in fact inquire about alumni giving when deciding to give money themselves confounding the problem.

What’s at the heart of this conundrum? I think a major piece is that the concepts of wealth-building aren’t passed on in the ecosystems many HBCU students come from. When I say ‘ecosystems’ in this context, I’m referring to the environment the students have come from prior to matriculating into their particular schools – their home, their social circles, their church and the school system they’ve come from – in some instances where the goal is simply survival.

Coincidentally when you start studying money, a common theme you see is the importance of giving. Since many of these students are not receiving this information from wherever they come from, perhaps our HBCUs should consider planting these seeds in their student’s minds before they graduate – weaving it into their curricula somehow. After all, higher education is actually a business, and it isn’t free as someone somewhere has to pay for it.

In a previous post regarding the Tax Reform and Jobs Act, I discussed my alma mater being on probation, and challenged other HBCU alums to take some of the money they’ve received from their tax break and passing it on their alma maters – something which may have upset some readers. In this piece, I suggest that the HBCUs themselves should proactively arm their students with information which will not only empower them during their working lives, but also compel them to give support back to the places which gave them their start, allowing other kids to have similar opportunities.

* * *

Being highly involved in the Washington DC Alumni Chapter for Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), I’ve become keenly aware of the issues facing Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCUs). As an education advocate and writer, I’ve helped promote the “Quotes for Education” collaboration between Allstate and the Tom Joyner Foundation the last two years. In numerous interviews with Allstate’s Senior Vice-President and Florida A&M University alumnus Cheryl Harris, the importance of HBCU alumni giving back to their alma maters was stressed. In addition to the other pressures these institutions are facing, one of the more significant problems is the lack of alumni giving.

At an Executive Board meeting, our Chapter President Robert Ridley shared with us an idea he read stating that, “A graduate is someone who gets a degree from an institution and never looks back. An alumnus is someone who gives their time and money back to their alma mater.” This was an important distinction that I’d never heard before, not even when I was a student at JCSU. It’s an important concept that arguably should be introduced from day one at our HBCUs.

Why is it important for graduates to give back to their alma maters? The main reason is to give future generations a fighting chance to succeed. This is particularly important for Black America. Secondly, institutions of higher learning rely on state, federal and extramural funding from private donors. Many HBCU’s are “Land Grant” institutions and their funding has been decreased ironically under the Obama Administration, in addition to the tightening of the borrowing criteria for the “Parent Plus Loans” which many HBCU students and families heavily relied upon.  Thus donations from alumni have become more important.

As unofficially told by an insider, for the 2014 fiscal year, less than 14% of my class of 1999 gave anything back to JCSU, a staggeringly low number. When our school President Dr. Ronald Carter gave an overview of the current health of the University here in Washington, DC, he cited low alumni giving as one potential threat to the University’s future. A key piece of that evening was encouraging alumni to consider cutting back on certain luxuries to free up money to give back.

Why don’t HBCU Alums give more to their alma maters? Why would only 14% of my class give back to the University? One reason is that many students who’ve attended HBCUs feel as though they’ve given enough of their money to their alma mater when pursuing their educations, and don’t feel inclined to give anything else after graduating. Another reason is hard feelings towards one’s alma mater. Many graduates feel bitter about their experience for one reason or the other as well. I’ve heard this personally and read about it in other articles.

Another piece to this puzzle though is socioeconomic. Of the many curses to being born black in the United States, a key one is starting from lower rungs on the economic ladder than our counterparts of other ethnicities. If for example, your parents planned ahead and saved a college fund for you, your economic burden will likely be lessened or non-existent upon graduation as discussed by Georgette Miller, Esq. in Living Debt Free. You’ll have less debt and more disposable income (some to donate) after starting your career.

“They just weren’t thinking that way,” my father said in a discussion about my grandparents in a discussion about mortgages. I stumbled upon the basics of financial literacy by accident (from books like Rich Dad Poor Dad and The Millionaire Next Door), and wondered why my parents didn’t teach me more about the vital knowledge shared in these books. They didn’t know themselves and I think this is true for a lot of African American families in the United States.

Likewise, I hypothesize that many other college graduates from my community have a low level of financial literacy and that in part drives this lack of giving that we see from alumni towards their HBCUs. In other words, they know how to lavishly spend it, but not how to gradually save and grow it. If my hypothesis is true and many students are matriculating into our HBCUs with a low level of financial literacy, HBCU’s may do good to start educating their students on these topics from day one and also stressing that higher education is in fact a business. A good place to start would be Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU), or something similar.

I honestly didn’t seriously start giving to either of my alma maters until going through the FPU class taught at my church. In FPU, I learned that the greatest misunderstanding about money is that one of major keys to building and maintaining wealth is blessing others. Put another way, sustained financial health and giving are a function of one another, and in order for one to be able to give, one’s own financial house must first be in order.

Student loan debt can also help explain the lack of giving, but my suspicion is that there’s a percentage of graduates that once they get established, their finances aren’t situated so that they’re able to give back, or giving back just isn’t a priority. Coming from the African American community, there is truth to the myth that we as a community often collectively make poor financial decisions, particularly when ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, ‘signaling’, and trying to portray a certain image. For this reason, and because so many of us don’t get it at home, HBCUs once again may do good to expose their students to a financial literacy a curricula such as FPU which ultimately stresses sound financial decision making and ultimately charitable giving.

So why give back? Giving back to our alma maters, especially HBCUs is important if we want to see future generations grow and thrive. One of the keys to advancement of the African American community in the United States is financial stability as a group. Likewise the community itself has a responsibility to give its younger generations a fighting chance to participate in our new global economy. In the United States, economic power influences everything else. Regarding my own graduating class of 1999, we can do better than a 14% rate of participation in terms of giving back to our alma mater, as can graduates from other institutions.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. In you enjoyed this post you might also enjoy:

What are your plans for your tax cut? Thought on what can be done with heavier paychecks and paying tax
Who will have the skills to benefit from Apple’s $350 investment?
Challenging stereotypes and misconceptions on household income and wealth building
We should’ve bought Facebook and Bitcoin stock: An investing story
Your net worth, your gross salary and what they mean
The difference between being cheap and frugal

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Lastly follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

A look at STEM: What is Regulatory Science?

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”, and one of the main focuses of my blog is awareness of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers and fields. Up to this point I’ve written several posts discussing the ‘Biomedical Sciences’ which I’ve been trained in: Pharmacology, Toxicology, ADME/Drug Metabolism, and Inhalation Toxicology. In this post I want to discuss what “Regulatory Science” and “Regulatory Affairs” are – the scientific interface between the ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ sectors where the safety of commercial products sold to the general public are determined – a science not well understood by the general public despite its importance to our everyday lives – myself included initially.

“You can always go into ‘Regulatory’,” a classmate who I’ll refer to as Greg said, during graduate school at the University of Michigan. I was feeling the stress of working on my thesis project which consisted entirely of ‘Bench’ or ‘Basic’ scientific research, and lamenting that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in academia once I finished my dissertation. Greg had worked in one of the bigger Pharmaceutical companies, and understood everything that comprised them. At the time I wanted a career with a ‘regular’ schedule which is something I’ll describe more in depth in my next blog post which will discuss the ‘Basic Sciences’. I, coincidentally, did start a career as a Regulatory Scientist by accident, depending on your belief system.

When giving my annual Toxicology lecture at SUNY Albany, I always tell the class that Regulatory Scientists are ‘Watch Dogs’ or ‘Gate Keepers’ who evaluate new products generated by the ‘Private Sector’ to make sure they are safe for the public. What types of products am I talking about? You can start with anything in and around your home, whether it be food products, pharmaceuticals, or industrial chemicals, air fresheners, household cleaners, paints, or cosmetics. These are just the chemicals which we consume, or are exposed to on a personal level. Another context is the environment. For every product generated, questions must be asked about what that product will do to wildlife, their unique ecosystems, lakes, oceans, the air, etc. Here think about coal and petroleum products as good examples.

The term ‘Regulatory’ is rooted in the ‘Regulations’ put in place by Federal and State governments – laws and statutes which dictate how and when the government should act in the general public’s best interests to ensure that the products they are being sold are safe. Going back to the previous paragraph, there are regulations for example for registering the following: crops and commodities, livestock and poultry, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, industrial chemicals, industrial materials and textiles, and energy products such as petroleum and coal. We’re very close to the use of ‘Nanomaterials’, so products that contain them are of particular interest now.

Here is a good place to think back to the 2016 Presidential election where the then candidate, Donald J. Trump, discussed the need to rollback excessive, costly and burdensome regulations put in place by the Obama administration to allow private businesses to grow and thrive. Having an understanding of Regulatory Science and Regulatory Affairs is the essence of that discussion because it takes resources to demonstrate the safety of products; otherwise it can cut into profits if their uses are restricted. Important questions to thus consider are: 1) is there such a thing as over-regulation; and 2) is there a happy balance between business and keeping the public and environment safe? Some food for thought.

Regulatory Scientists work in both Public and Private sectors. On both sides each must understand the Federal and State government laws and regulations. Scientists in the Private sector must understand the regulations and provide the government with the data it needs so that their companies can efficiently register their products. Scientists in the Public sector must understand the regulations to ensure that the companies trying to register their products are in compliance, so as to not cause injury to individuals in the general public and create subsequent litigation. While this post is about Regulatory Science, it’s also worth noting here that most of the private companies also have scientists working in the ‘Applied Sciences’ and ‘Research and Development’, which is where their new products come from – examples are the Food, Pharmaceutical, Biotech, and Crop-Science companies.

Where do Regulatory Scientists receive their training and what types of skills do they need? Most Regulatory Scientists receive their training in the ‘Basic Sciences’ at major research universities, such as the University of Michigan, where I received my training. This means that they first become trained in specific scientific areas of expertise – Pharmacology and Inhalation Toxicology in my case – and they then use those knowledge sets in the Regulatory world to make safety decisions. The same is true for the Applied Sciences where that expertise is used to create new products. As you can see these worlds are closely interrelated.

The four Biomedical Sciences I’ve discussed in detail – Pharmacology, Toxicology, ADME/Drug Metabolism and Inhalation Toxicology – are all basic sciences which translate to the Applied Science and Regulatory sciences. Scientists trained in these fields and others can either remain in academia, or take their skill sets into the Public or Private sectors. See my post entitled, “The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences” to get a feel for what skills are necessary to work in the Regulatory Sector or Regulatory Affairs. Just briefly, a couple are of the skills are the ability to: 1) work on teams; 2) write; 3) plan; and 4) speak orally, as there are lots and lots of meetings.

There are typically two contexts for Regulatory Science – one which takes place in a classic laboratory setting, and the other which takes place in an office setting. In the lab setting, experiments are carried out to test products safety. In the government office setting, scientists interpret the results generated on specific products using the above-mentioned regulations and policies which each scientist has to learn when starting in the field. It’s worth noting here that science is constantly changing and evolving, and thus a challenge to working in the Regulatory sector in government settings is staying current on new and relevant scientific breakthroughs and methods. This can be done in any number of ways including attending national meetings, and participating in special ‘work groups’, for example.

A third context for Regulatory Science is consulting. Many scientists, after working in the Public or Private sectors, eventually opt to the start their own consulting companies. These consulting groups typically work with Private sector companies to get their products registered swiftly and efficiently, with the goal of keeping their costs as low as possible.

What do Regulatory Scientists make in terms of salary? That is in part dictated by one’s degree level, and whether the scientist works in the Public or Private sectors. Scientists in both sectors can start out making $70,000. Federal and State Regulatory Scientists are typically paid according to the ‘General Schedule’. While Regulatory Scientists in Private Industry are paid according to what that company determines the individual is worth, and the mutually agreed upon salary.

In closing, when you think about Regulatory Science, think globally. While the United States Government has numerous agencies to protect the general public – the EPA, FDA, USDA and the NRC to name a few – other countries around the world have them as well. And there are actually global partnerships and cooperatives amongst nations which are important when it comes to international trade and commerce, in addition to environmental protection. A career in Regulatory Science thus has the potential to touch not only the lives of those in your immediate circle, but also those in faraway places.

The next posts in this series will talk about what Basic Research and Science are, and then my personal journey towards becoming a Scientist. If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy:

The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Inhalation Toxicology?
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?
A look at STEM: What is ADME/Drug Metabolism?
A look at STEM: Blockchain technology, a new way of conducting business and record keeping

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right hand column in this post and throughout the site. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.