Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Seriously guys? ...Food Stamps?!

Yes, seriously... food stamps! Government funded assistance in America can be a touchy subject for a lot of people. I’m not going to dive into the pool of debate, but I definitely want to write about Food Stamps in The Unsuccessful blog for those of you that may be curious or completely unaware of the program.

If you are unfamiliar with food stamps/EBT or as they are referred to today, S.N.A.P or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, it is a program available to Americans who qualify to receive a certain monthly grocery allowance. The SNAP is a way for people and families to go to the grocery store and purchase food. The SNAP card will allow you to purchase all food products, with the exceptions of pre-made products, such as deli subs and already baked chicken that you typically find in the deli portion of your local grocery store. It also excludes non-edible products, such as your cleaning supplies, and toiletries. And I think it would go unsaid that you can not purchase any alcoholic beverages, not even cooking wine. Depending on your income, monthly bills, and number of people in your household the state will evaluate and determine how much you qualify to receive each month.  

Contrary to many people’s perspective of this program and the term “Food Stamps”, you don’t literally get a booklet of coupon-monopoly-money-looking-stamps. The SNAP program supplies you with a swipe card, and it works much like a debit card. Once you receive your card, you set up a security code that only you should know. Once that is done your card is ready to be used. During check out at the grocery store, once you swipe it will ask you for that 4-digit security code and your charges will be deducted from your monthly allowance.

Another question most people have is about your monthly limit and if you happen to not use all of it in the month. In fact, if you do not use up all of your allowance, the remaining balance for that month will roll over to the following month.

Nearly all grocery stores in the US accept the program. There should be a sign on the front of your store that will say “We accept EBT” or “We accept SNAP”. Lately, I have noticed that many gas stations also accept the program, and again, you will see the sign near the front door to inform you that they do.  Of course, you can always ask an employee to double check and insure they accept it before you go and load up your cart.

To see if you qualify for the SNAP program, you need to visit your local Department Of Social Services, apply and arrange an interview with a social worker. 

Like I mentioned before, I do not want to step on the toes of anyone with pushing this option, but the SNAP could be beneficial to people who are seeking financial assistance to insure they nutritionally taken care of.  Food is an essential in life, and if you are struggling to afford all your monthly bills, I will suggest this as an option. Plus, just imagine how many packs of Ramen Noodles could be purchased! 

Written By: Elyse E. Tishuk

First Step After College

So you’re fresh out of college and ready to take on the world.  First things first, get a career right?  Wrong.  Listen, I know jumping into the job market and getting your foot in the door somewhere seems like the right thing to do right now, but if you don’t take the opportunity to learn some things outside of school you will be seriously lacking, even if it’s only in party conversation.  You wont have any experiences, other than the standard, “when I was in school” or, “last week at work” story.

Provided you don’t get hit by a bus tomorrow, you have a lifetime to make money.  Why not delay the grind of 9-5, if only for a little bit?  I know what you’re thinking, and yes you will have to pay those school loans back at some point, but for now, defer the shit out them.  In most cases you can defer them indefinitely so quit sweating.  This is the time for you to be your own person.  You have a degree, that’s a hefty checkmark on life’s conquests, but now its time to do some things that you want to.  It’s either now or after retirement.  Wouldn’t you want to be able to hike that mountain or surf that wave while your legs still worked?  Isn’t it only sensible that you took that trip while you still had time to do it again some day?  I know it’s much easier said than done, but with a little bit of planning and some guts, the next couple months or years of your life can deal out some amazing memoires.

Just for the sake of consideration, here are a couple of ideas to get you started on your search for awesomeness.

Work a seasonal job at a resort or travel destination:
This is something that I have done, so it only seems right to start off with it.  Every year, there are literally hundreds of resorts looking to hire seasonal employees for a few months.  This usually means they are looking for people who are willing to work for next to nothing in exchange for free or discounted accessibility to everything the resort offers.  In my case, I work for Crested Butte Mountain Resort.  Here, every resort employee gets a pass to use the mountain throughout the winter and summer seasons, provided you don’t go down in a ball of flames and get yourself fired.  You also get discounts from the restaurants and hotels on the mountain so your friends can come visit relatively cheaply. Aside from that, there are numerous other resorts just getting started with their winter season. Here are a few others that have employment opportunities. 

Ski Resorts in the US:

Like I said, these are just a few, but this gives you an idea of what’s out there.

Teach English Abroad:

If you feel like making a little more of a difference while slacking off from a career, teaching English in a foreign country could be more your style.  That being said, it can be a little bit more difficult actually getting the ball rolling on this one.  If you want to secure a job before you book your ticket, you are most likely going to need a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification.  Prices range for this certification, but the bottom line is that you are going to have to pass a test before you can be considered for a position at a school or business. If you are feeling extra adventurous, you can simply move to a foreign country and try your hand at looking through the classifieds for private instruction needs.  The payout can be a lot better, but you will be taking a huge leap of faith.  The choice is yours to make, just make sure your visas are in order.

Organic Farming:
Lastly, I thought I would mention this little gem.  Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms is a volunteer based program that allows people to live and work on organic farms across the globe.  Basically, you provide the labor they provide lodging, food, and friends (yay friends!).  Most of the time however, other than a roof over your head and three full meals a day, you wont get any other compensation.  I have heard of farmers giving their workers a couple dollars here and there to go out on the weekends, but I’m pretty sure that is few and far between.  If you aren’t sure how long you could stand being stuck on a farm, have no fear.  Programs range anywhere from a few days to several years.  Either way, check out their website and see what you think.

And that’s that.  Keep in mind; these are merely the opportunities that I have looked into.  My guess is, if you are ready to venture out and find something new and exciting, you are going to make it happen.  I simply wanted to make sure you knew there are other directions you can go.  Make sure you subscribe to for witty insights and up to date nonsense on the perks of being completely and utterly lost on the career path.

Written By: Adam E. Hascall