We have heard many times the unprecedented and challenging times we are living in; and likely will for months to come. I hope all of you are staying home, staying safe, and staying healthy.
I normally give some year-end tax tips for my December article, but this year I will give my tips on staying healthy: physically and mentally.
Get out and walk. It’s simple. Anyone (almost anyone) can do it. No special equipment needed. It can be done every day or even a few times a day.
If you can, go outside and walk in the fresh air, regardless of the temperature. Bundle up. And get out to nature; find a park to walk in.
I prefer to walk first thing in the morning when it begins to get light. It’s normally the least windy time of the day and I can “get it out of the way”. It’s a great way to start each day. I seem to be “revved up” for the day. I feel better physically and I think it helps me mentally too. Having my four-legged personal trainers to motivate me helps too.
Get your arms moving and pumping. If you can, get some walking sticks or poles. They make walking a bit more interesting. Plus I walk straighter and more upright when I use my walking sticks. And I can walk a bit faster and lengthen my stride. As a bonus, it has prevented me from falling when I have “tripped” on something.
If you need a cane or a walker, definitely use them. After my mother broke her hip, she used a walker to continue her walking routine. The walker was good insurance and gave her peace of mind; it was there “just in case”. It kept her walking. If she didn’t have it, she likely wouldn’t have walked as much or as far or as straight. And after my father had a mini stroke, he started to use a walker too. They both walked daily using their walkers and sometimes a few times a day. Mostly outside, but if the weather was not good, they would walk up and down the hallway of their apartment complex.
They believed if you stopped moving you start dying. So keep walking and keep living.
I heard and read recently how important it is to talk with another person every day. We cannot visit in person with family and friends as I write, and restrictions will likely be around off and on over the next many months (or years?), so make sure you stay connected with others.
Some of you have likely discovered “virtual” meetings like Zoom and Facetime. And you would think that seeing and talking to someone would make you feel more connected, but a report I read said that you don’t necessarily need to see others to stay in touch. Just hearing their voice does just as much for feeling connected. A sense of connection does not seem to come from being able to see another person but rather from hearing another person’s voice.
So pick up the phone and talk to someone: a family member, a friend, a neighbour. Just having a phone conversation with someone else can make a big difference to our daily lives.
If you don’t have someone to call, contact Seine River Services for Seniors, at 204.424.5285; they do connect seniors who can phone each other daily to stay in touch and stay healthy.
There’s something satisfying in giving back to the world around us. So if you can afford it, make a charitable donation this month.
Many people received special payments this year from the federal and provincial governments (extra GST credits, senior benefits, disability benefits). If you really don’t need the extra money, consider giving it away.
As Winston Churchill once aptly stated: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Numerous studies have shown that giving money to others or to charity will put a much bigger smile on your face than spending on yourself.
If you can this month, give to a charity. The more local the better, because then you can see the good you have given.
Some great organizations you can consider could be our local food bank (Accueil Kateri Centre or Tache Food Bank), our local hospital (Ste Anne Hospital Foundation), other local organizations that help families, those that help the homeless, and other local community groups in our area, or Winnipeg. Try to keep it in the province. It’s easy to find a local charity organization to donate to.
If you have never donated before, I challenge you to donate this month; your financial help is desperately needed. If you donate regularly, can you donate a bit more?
Giving to others might take money out of your wallet, but it could mean the difference between life and death for some people. You never know how far a dollar might go. A tiny stone can create a massive ripple when thrown into water at the right moment.
And here is my only tax tip for the article: if you normally have taxes payable each year, you will also get a tax refund by claiming your charitable donations. (Line 43500 on your notice of assessment or tax summary shows you had taxes payable in 2019).
Caregiver Wage Support Program
On November 27 a new provincial benefit program was announced.
The new program pays an extra $5 per hour wage supplement to certain front-line workers that provide direct patient or residential care to vulnerable Manitobans between November 1 2020 and January 20 2021.
You are eligible if you work in one of the following positions: Health Care Aid, Housekeeping, Youth care Worker, House Supervisor, Recreation Worker; in one of the following facilities: personal care home, retirement residence, homeless shelter, CFS group home, family violence prevention shelter.
To apply, go to the Province of Manitoba website and search for Caregiver Wage Support Program. Apply Dec 7 to Dec 14 for the period Nov 1 to Dec 6; apply Jan 11 to Jan 18 for the period Dec 7 to Jan 10. The payment will be made within five business days after application (likely by cheque).
This Christmas season already seems different than normal. I wish you a healthy and safe Christmas. Pick up the phone and talk to family and friends and neighbours. Get out and walk. And Give.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Frohe Weihnachten, Glaedelig Jul Your Ste Anne Tax Service team
Anni Markmann is a Personal Income Tax Professional and Certified Financial Planner; living, working, and volunteering in our community. Contact Ste Anne Tax Service at 204.422.6631 or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne (near Co-op) or info@SAtaxes.ca