A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

2013 Review: A salute to our faithful, interesting stable of regular columnists

KyForward is celebrating its third end-of-year review with you, happy that we can revisit an abundance of rich, deep content by writers who share their experiences and expertise on a regular basis. These fine writers have helped us accomplish one of our primary goals when KyForward was created – to provide a forum for a variety of voices on a wide and deep range of subjects that inform and entertain...

Gena Bigler: What color is Santa? He’s a rainbow, unique as each act of kindness

What color is Santa?   Santa is black, white, brown, yellow, red and everything in between. Santa is an idea that there is a generous spirit living in each human. It is the idea that the innocent happiness of children should be rewarded for simply existing. Santa does not belong to a religion or a country. The idea of Santa is the embodiment of generosity.   Fighting about what color...

Gena Bigler: Money shaming is peer pressure for adults, an attempt to keep equal footing

Recently, a friend told me about something that happened to her. It has probably happened to everyone at one point or another: money shaming.   This friend is working very hard to get out of debt and is justifiably proud of her efforts. She attended a potluck and her friends began teasing her about bringing low-cost beans and rice to feed them. Somehow, because it is an inexpensive dish, it...

Gena Bigler: The disabled, injured often need guidance to protect their financial futures

Even as a child, Angela Luhys saw the wisdom in collecting pennies. When I asked why she was running to save a penny from the vacuum, she told me “pennies make dollars.” Angela now shares that wisdom with her clients daily.   Angela serves a unique role, as a trust administrator at Kentucky Guardianship Administrators. She works directly with trust beneficiaries, sometimes quite literally...

Gena Bigler: We need ‘thanksgiving’ and chance to learn gratitude as healthy for us

Thanksgiving is more than food and football. It is an opportunity to take stock and recognize all the good in your life, including the food and football. Most Americans will enjoy a decadent meal, then rest and watch a shiny big television and never realize how lucky they are to enjoy both.   When practicing gratitude, Americans have a deep well to draw from. In America we are very lucky to...

Gena Bigler: Shopping trip left me wondering if customer service is going, going and gone

The last three stores I visited were a test in patience.   The workers were distracted, often by chatting with each other, and were generally not helpful. All too frequently, employees are incapable of answering simple questions about their merchandise or the stock the store may or may not have.   At all three stores, as I was leaving I wished the staff a good evening. One looked shocked,...

Gena Bigler: It turns out my love of TV could survive my dislike of $100-plus cable bills

I love television.   I am old enough to remember having only three or four channels and having to physically get up to change the channel. The closest thing I had to a remote control was my little sister or cousins, whomever could be persuaded to futz with the tuner long enough to get a clear picture.   The advent of cable TV was quite literally awesome. There was an entire channel devoted...

Gena Bigler: Decide what is important to you before spending just to keep up with others

Developing your own priorities about money instead of blindly accepting the norm of society can be challenging but, in the end, freeing. Typically in America, things are valued. Designer clothes, big houses, expensive cars and decadent vacations are held up as desirable and goals to achieve.   Outward symbols of success are often strived for, like the fictional Samantha in Sex in the City, who...

Gena Bigler: Welcome babies with loving homes, not ‘cute’ stuff they don’t really need

Becoming a parent is an exciting time. Preparing for the impending birth of a child is part mental, part emotional and part financial.   A piece of the financial part of preparing for the coming baby is buying all the baby “stuff.” A car seat is essential for baby safety and is, in fact, required by law. Other than that – and diapers – what do you really need? The suggested...

Gena Bigler: Let’s take one holiday at a time; prepare for grateful, affordable Thanksgiving

Department stores are already preparing the Christmas displays long before Thanksgiving. Even though Christmas is still 70 days away, shelves are filled with stockings and sparkly soldier nutcrackers. While many of our neighbors are worrying about how to survive without a paycheck because of the government shutdown, stores are pushing for more and more holiday sales.   A few years ago, Black...

Gena Bigler: Balance what you need with what you give more often and everyone will benefit

You only get one life. While I don’t believe that this should be an excuse to do really stupid things like some of the YOLO (you only live once) photos I have seen on the web. It is something to keep in mind when you make decisions. This is especially important when you are compromising your wants for someone else’s benefit. There must be a balance between self interest and sacrifice.   If...

Gena Bigler: Put yourself in shoes of a worker
furloughed during the government shutdown

Imagine your boss telling you that you are “not essential” and you are off work without pay for an unknown length of time. What do you do? How do prepare for everyday life without an income?   According to a recent study, 76 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck with little or no savings. Of those, 27 percent have no savings at all. For many families, even a brief loss of...

Gena Bigler: Fictional fear of zombies helps channel our real fear of economic collapse

On the surface, zombies and the economy have little in common. Recently, however, the financial world has been pretty scary.   The economic crash that began in 2006 is still rippling through our daily lives and through our entertainment. If you take a quick survey of current pop culture, you will find zombies and lots of them.   What do zombies and the economy have in common? Fear.   With...

Gena Bigler: Talk about money early in a relationship to avoid future disagreements

Money and relationships can be complicated.   Navigating a new relationship can be trying, and adding the stress of navigating finances together can be overwhelming. Often, because it is uncomfortable to discuss, couples avoid the money talk until they simply can’t anymore.   Unfortunately, this can result in insurmountable financial disagreements. Sadly, because of the taboo and stressful...

Gena Bigler: Minimum wage debates should focus on reality and not mythical “intent”

There is a lot of talk about minimum wage lately. McDonald’s shared a sample budget for their workers that raised eyebrows and questions about the working poor and minimum wage. Many people think it should be raised to a “living wage” and others think it’s just fine and should be set by the market. One of the most debated arguments is whether a person should be able to live on full-time...

Gena Bigler: Buried in a mountain of debt?
Be strategic about climbing out from under

Debt is a national problem.   I’m not talking about our national debt, which is an entirely separate problem, but American family debt.   We as a nation live beyond our means. The average American family has more than $7,000 in credit card debt. Home foreclosures have reached all-time highs in the past few years. Student loan debt is growing at a disturbing rate and is also at an...

Gena Bigler: There are only 940 of them, so make Saturdays special with your children

There are only 940 Saturdays from the time a child is born until he or she is old enough to leave for college. This was what a friend posted on Facebook recently.   Usually, I smile and quickly forget whatever tidbits fly by on the news feed, but this one struck me. I stared at it for a bit and thought about all the Saturdays I have already spent with my children. Then I realized too many of...

Gena Bigler: Old story ‘Stone Soup’ and its theme of cooperation still ring true today

One of my fondest memories from kindergarten was the day we made stone soup. It was a great lesson about coming together as a community, based on the old folk story in which hungry strangers persuade local people of a town to give them food. It is usually told as a lesson in cooperation, especially amid scarcity.   We read the story and then we all brought something to go into a pot of our own...

Gena Bigler: Being at our best – whether
at work or at play – requires ample rest

The darkly glamorous world of the television show Mad Men has had quite an impact on American society, from influencing fashion to spurring talk about sexism in the workplace.   One of the intriguing things about the show – which surrounds the men and women in a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 1960s – that hasn’t garnered as much attention, however, is the lack of time at...

Gena Bigler: Play-to-win attitude in investing is ill advised; slow and steady is your best bet

Americans love a long shot. Underdog movies are standard Hollywood fare. We bet on long shots at the races. Millions of Americans bet on the lottery weekly.   Unfortunately, many Americans expect the same miraculous return when investing their money when, in reality, security is found in the slow and steady. Think the turtle and the hare!   Slow and steady isn’t very exciting, though,...