Welcome to Iowa City and the University of Iowa!
Everyone has their reasons for moving here -- whether it’s the amazing academic programs, the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, or an aversion to living near a beach, we are glad you’re here!
For me and my family, we moved here for a sandwich. Well, that’s mostly true. About three years ago now, I traveled to Iowa City to attend an equating workshop at the University (an enthralling story for another time). My hotel was in downtown Iowa City and every night I would walk the pedestrian mall and find a new place to eat. On my final night, I sat on the patio at the downtown restaurant Nodo, eating a ham and mango sandwich with sweet potato fries and garlic aeoli, when the lights all around me turned on and the downtown lit up into a magical, historical, cultural, masterpiece. I immediately called my husband and told him, “I’m no longer worried about applying to residencies. If there are other places like Iowa City in this country, I’m going to be so happy to end up there... also, you have got to try this sandwich”.
Two years later, we were accepted to the Family Medicine Residency at the University of Iowa, bought a house, and made our way here! My husband had never been to Iowa City, let alone the Midwest, and we had purchased our house sight unseen, so I felt a lot of pressure as we arrived. We knew the program and people involved were amazing, but would the city (and the sandwich!) live up to my memory? I am happy to report that a day later we were back sitting on that same patio outside of Nodo, eating a ham and mango sandwich, and giving each other the classic single nod that says “We did it. This is the place.”
That perfect moment was interrupted by my toddler throwing his sandwich on the ground to try to feed a bird, but it felt perfect, nonetheless.
As an outsider to Iowa and the Midwest in general, I want to share a few things that I have discovered and loved in the almost year since I’ve been here:
As a realtor, the questions people most frequently ask of me are “What renovations are worth doing to my home? Will the renovations add value to my home? And will I get my money back when I sell?”
I wish there was an easy, definitive answer to these questions. HGTV makes it look so simple! But the answers are often based on many variables and each home is different, so it takes realtors doing the research and doing the math to find the answer regarding renovation payoff. As an example, I work with someone who flips homes for a living, and we evaluate and reject about 5-10 homes that are dated and in need of refurbishing for every one that we find would actually be worth taking on to turn a profit.
But here is the good news - there are updates and things you can do to impact the future sale of your home positively. And the even better news is that a lot of these things are not expensive and relatively simple, however they can make your home stand out so it sells quickly and well.
One is to keep it well maintained and clean. Buyers at every price point much prefer a home they can move right into without needing to anticipate starting off homeownership with a slew of repair projects. Homes in good condition sell faster and for more. Having a home in pristinely cleaned condition when listing it for sale is also important. Besides giving a good first impression, it also tells buyers a home has been well cared for.
A second is to pay attention to the exterior. Mulch is a fantastic and affordable way to give your garden polish. Keeping bushes and trees neatly trimmed, adding shrubs if your yard looks bare, and placing a bright potted plant and fresh doormat at your entry go a long way in giving a home good curb appeal.
A third is to refresh your interior in simple ways like painting walls with the latest trending neutral shades or switching out dated drawer pulls with newer styles. Updated light fixtures and plumbing fixtures can also renew an older home. All these strategies communicate to buyers that a home is cared for and make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living there.
Larger renovations certainly can add value to your home. And if making a change to your home will allow you to enjoy it more, that is an important enough reason to just do it. Chances are if you would prefer a renovation to your home, others would too. But determining if those renovations will pay you back beyond your investment takes some analysis and are great questions to ask your realtor.
Tundi Brady is the Iowa Medical Partner Realtor Sponsor and a Medical Partner Alum. She is always happy to help IMP members with their real estate needs.
I think my favorite thing about Iowa City and the surrounding areas are all the amazing trails. It is amazing how interconnected they all are and well maintained. I have never lived in a city that was as bike friendly. Therefore one of our biggest summer activities has been exploring new and old trails.
I recently went down a Google rabbit hole and realized that I have only scratched the surface on all of the trails. So this past weekend me and my family checked out the Hoover Trail in Solon. The trail was new and so smooth. The fields and scenery were gorgeous, and we had perfect weather. It was a great start to the weekend. You could also easily make a pit stop at Dan and Debbie's creamery which if you haven’t been is definitely something to put on the list.
If you want to learn more about all the trails in Iowa City and the surrounding area, here are some resources that have helped me in the past.
I am so excited to do something more than hearing a couple fireworks shoot off in the far distance of my home this year for Fourth of July. Day dreaming of cook outs, fireworks, and everything that screams the 4th had me wondering what events are going on this year. Here is what I have found
If I missed any other events going on in the area please leave them in the comments!
Happy Fourth of July!
I know banking, investing, insurance, etc. is all very important stuff, but I have always struggled and had very little interest digging into the details. Bobby Scott, from Partner Wealth Planning, helped break down some of this during the IMP Financial Wellness session. Here are the top 3 takeaways I learned from his session.
I am very much a beginner when it comes to all this so these bite size facts were tangible things I felt like I could understand and actually have actionable items. Again, for any questions and advice contact Bobby Scott from Partner Wealth Planning.
The anticipation to match day is a such an exciting, scary, anxiety educing experience. During a pandemic it’s a whole other story. I remember being so excited for all of the match day festivities. Then the world turned upside down right as Match was approaching last year. We came up with alternative ways to celebrate, so it was still very special. Although I know Match will not be celebrated as expected, I hope everyone participating has a very special experience.
The days after Match reality sets in and your mind may be racing through a thousand questions, and a never ending to-do-list begins. Do we rent or buy? What part of town should we live in? How do I make friends in a new city during a pandemic? How do I stay connected to the friends I’m leaving? What will my partners hours be? I had all these questions after my husband matched into the Otolaryngology program at UIHC. Luckily, my husband shared with me info he received about Iowa Medical Partners (IMP). Initially seemed like a potential way to meet some people but I didn’t realize the community that IMP really has created which helped alleviate some of these anxieties once we arrived and answer many of these questions.
If you just matched, you are probably wrestling with some of those questions I mentioned above, specifically on the city and neighborhoods. Here is some info from some fellow IMP members.
My Favorite Restaurants so far…
If you are looking for trusted recommendations? Our group’s sponsors can help you in finding and adjusting to your new home. Tundy Brady with Urban Acres can help you find your future home (even if you are unable to travel). Green State Credit Union can help you with local banking and securing a mortgage, including a Doc Loan. Bobby Scott with Partner Wealth is here to answer any questions related to your unique financial sitation. Nanci Kohl with State Farm can help you determine your insurance needs.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to IMP! You can join IMP here, and once you do, you can join our Facebook group. Congratulations on your Match!
Home Cleanse Day 4: Organize
You may have already started this while you were purging, but what the heck, I wanted to keep the blog post strategy “organized” too. If you’re like me, you binged watched Get Organized with The Home Edit on Netflix. It was awesome, but not always super attainable for folks who can’t spend hundreds of dollars on clear plastic containers. Also, they didn’t emphasize the purge enough, in my opinion. Go back and read my post from Day 2 to make sure you’ve eliminated all that you can.
Your goal will be this: have a *place* for everything. Ideally, in a box or container of some sort. This makes it easier to consistently return items to their place and to seriously evaluate whether you have room for new items when the desire hits. You can use shoeboxes (lids too), moving boxes, old mismatched Tupperware or bins. As we discussed in the purging post, don’t go run out and buy new containers the day of your purge. If you think you do need containers because you don’t have enough at home, sit on this thought for a few days and ensure you really need them and can’t actually just purge a bit more or relocate some items. Some previously occupied bins may become freed up as you complete your purge, too.
Once you’ve determined you do indeed need a new container, and your budget allows, go for it. If you can afford to be picky, clear containers are always preferred so that you can see what you have. If your budget does not allow, join your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook (mentioned in yesterday’s donation post) and make a post asking for boxes and containers. You will be surprised with how generous the community can be.
Common visible places that you may want to create:
A few of my favorite tips
In no particular order, for your consideration:
Fun items to consider
Remember, this is only for when you’ve taken some time to confirm you need them and/or they will bring you joy, and for when your budget allows:
Sign up for a time to have some donations brought to the Shelter House if you so choose. Please sign up before Oct 23rd. We will come get them from your door Oct 25th and 26th. The link also has a list of eligible items, as does yesterday’s blog post and our FB event. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0444A4AD2FA2FF2-shelter
Tomorrow, we’re on to cleaning!
Home Cleanse Day 3: Donate
Now that you have tons of boxes in your garage of things to get rid of, get rid of them quickly before you or a family member dig back into them and second guess yourself. I’m going to cover our philanthropy event to donate items to The Shelter House, and then walk through some local sale, consignment and donation options.
The Shelter House IMP Event Pickup
I ask that you first consider which of those items might be suitable for donation to The Shelter House in Iowa City and sign up for a time slot to have them picked up from your front porch. You can sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0444A4AD2FA2FF2-shelter
We also have an IMP Facebook event and Evite floating around where you can find the above link, and post about how your process is going!
The items that The Shelter House has requested most recently include:
Nothing novel here. Craigslist or Facebook marketplace if you want to sell items. Consider resale items that require shipping (like Ebay or various clothing shops) only if you are tech savvy enough to actually follow through with it. Be selective about how many items you try to sell, as it’s a lot of logistics to field inquiries, set up pickup times, mail things, etc. You don’t want to burn out and have random stuff sitting in your garage that still needs to be sold.
I love Stuff Etc. They have locations in Iowa City and Coralville. You can walk in and open a consignment account whenever you’d like (though they do not accept consignment on Sundays). Note that both locations have a separate consignor area with its own entrance doors, so don’t go to their regular checkout. Currently (October 2020), they allow you to consign one tub of items a day, and up to five large items that don’t fit in the tub. The tub is theirs – you move your stuff into their tubs and head out. Because of the influx of business they’re getting, they will look through your items quickly with you as you or they fill up your tub.
Every time I have gone lately, both locations have had a wait for an empty tub to be available. In the Iowa City location, the wait tends to be around 15-20 mins, and they let you wander the store and call you over the speaker when it’s your turn. The Coralville location is much busier; the wait tends to be more like 30-60 mins, and you can’t leave your spot in line, so prepare accordingly.
At Stuff, your account makes money when your item is sold. You can check your account balance online once you open an account. This is also true for KidWorks, a kids consignment shop on the south side. KidWorks also has a partner shop right behind it, HouseWorks (for home items). I have not consigned with them yet, but it could be worth a stop if you have too much to dump at Stuff. The Second Act is over near the KidWorks, HouseWorks, and Iowa City Stuff location, and is an adult clothing consignment shop. I am not familiar with their consigning process, but it could be worth a stop while you are in the direction (all on the south side, near Terry Trueblood, Big Grove, and the Waterfront Hy-Vee).
Once Upon A Child (children's clothing and toys) and Plato's Closet (adult/juniors clothing), both in Coralville, though they are more selective in the items they choose.
Please comment on this blog post if you know of any more consignment options that I have missed.
For items that don’t seem suitable for The Shelter House, consider donating at one of several Goodwill locations, or the Crowded Closet thrift shop right next to the Iowa City Stuff Etc location. Some things are better off in your trash, and that’s ok, too. Better to get them out of your house than hang on to the guilt of not being able to repurpose absolutely everything.
Iowa City also has a great Buy Nothing group presence on Facebook. There are various groups for each neighborhood, so join one and enjoy! Someone literally gave away a gallon of milk on my Buy Nothing group yesterday. There are sometimes hidden gems in there too, like nice furniture or a Kitchen Aid stand mixer (that I didn't dibs fast enough... ugh).
Tomorrow we’re back to some fun stuff… organizing! Get all your empty bins and boxes out and ready!
Home Cleanse Day 5: Clean
I’m excited about this one because this is the newest home maintenance component that I’ve jumped into. Our dear friend Kelsey Sprowell told me to follow @gocleanco on Instagram, and I spent hours watching her videos and audibly gasping alone in bed. Go do that right now.
Let me add, I’m not really a clean freak. I’ve always said I can tidy all day but I hate to clean. Still, though, my eye notices tiny spots and corners that aren’t clean, and then I think about them and they make me frustrated. So, I needed to get better about cleaning. And I really didn’t know how to start. My mother was not really a clean-as-you-go person. She would clean in fits and spurts, so there were days where it was far from orderly. She also had the habit, as many of us do, of avoiding a cleaning task once it got too dirty and gross, which only made it worse (this is where gloves come to the rescue). One time, mushrooms grew the bathroom tile next to the bathtub. Legit mushrooms. Two of them. I have a picture. Another trait she handed down to me is the tendency to focus on a “project”, like organizing some bizarre out-of-sight storage shelf in the garage, and neglecting to do the regular upkeep like put my dishes in the dishwasher. I’m still working on that.
I feel very proud of my space and relaxed when my home is truly clean. I want to achieve this regularly. Let’s do it together.
I drafted this post largely based on my recent learnings from gocleanco, and also had a few friends review who I think are innately better at cleaning than I am, to make sure we cover all the bases.
Let’s start with recommended cleaning items. Don’t throw away everything you have that isn’t these items, but maybe consider moving in this direction as you use up what you have. Streamline the number of cleaning products you have, again, in favor of simplicity and tidiness. I have some Amazon links here so you can see what I'm talking about, but check the grocery store or Wal-Mart/Target first because some of these items are pricey on Amazon right now.
For your “regular upkeep” items, I recommend setting a timer and going to town, at least until you get yourself into the habit. For my home, 15 minutes covers the upstairs (bedrooms and bathrooms), 20 for the main level (kitchen, living room, play room), and 10 for the basement (play room). Most days, it’s less than this, especially if I’m keeping up regularly.
For your “every one to two weeks” items, try to think of a time when you are generally available, like Sunday afternoons while you’re having lazy family time. If you have kids, I firmly believe in letting them see you clean so that they don’t associate it with something cumbersome and mysterious. It’s a part of the day like everything else.
For your “every one to two months” items, try to block off special time for yourself to accomplish this. Put on a playlist, clean with your sneakers on (my mom always said that having shoes on keeps you motivated), and go to town. If you have kids, this is a job for naptime or screentime, or you can ask your partner to take them to the park if they are home.
I recommend aiming to have one “laundry day” a week. It is exhausting to constantly have various loads in rotation and have clothes to fold every day. I realize I sound gross saying this – but resist the urge to throw everything straight into the dirty clothes pile. Unless it’s dirty, smelly, or overly stretched out, give it another wear or two. This will greatly reduce your laundry burden. Also, simply reducing your total number of clothes as you did in the purge phase reduces the load (pun intended). If you stick to this plan, there is no “regular upkeep” section, other than spot cleaning any big clothing stains that pop up (by the way, I love Dreft stain remover spray for all clothing stains, not just baby clothes).
Every 1-2 weeks
As I mentioned earlier in this series, I truly believe that once your home contains only items you need and love, cleaning can be simple and even joyful. I hope you find the same thing.
I also wanted to make space in these posts to account for a concern that I had in the beginning of this process, and you may have as well. I was concerned that I would lose the warmth in my home by emptying it too much, and that I wouldn’t be able to “decorate” like I like and switch out different pieces of décor… basically… I wouldn’t be able to buy stuff, which I like to do, TBH. Let’s be real here.
Here are three remedies that have completely changed my perspective on this.
Let’s actively discuss our projects and progress with each other in the Facebook event page. Don’t forget to sign up for a time to have any donations to the Shelter House picked up from your porch On Oct 25th or Oct 26th. Please sign up by Oct 23rd. The link has a list of eligible items. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0444A4AD2FA2FF2-shelter
Thank you for joining me!
Home Cleanse Day 2: Purge
Today is the day. You’re going to purge. Maybe you’re going to tear through and forget to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom. Maybe you’re more of the slow and steady type and you need some breaks to catch your breath. Who cares. Just get it done the way it works for you.
I want to acknowledge that I understand you are busy. My spouse is home infrequently (sound familiar to you?), I have two kids and a full-time job. My goals are basically to work, cook, tame children, poke around on Instagram, purge things, and do crafts in my basement. Your list probably looks different from mine. But, if you decide to care about this, I am optimistic you can find some time, at least in the short term. If my cleaning/purging task is something I can do with my kids helping me (and I use the word “helping” very loosely), I try to do it then. Otherwise, I do it during a conference call or after the kids are asleep. If you truly don’t have time for this right now, I totally believe you. You don’t need to justify why now is not the time. That is OKAY. Everyone has their own goals and needs. You probably do other awesome things I don’t do, like go for runs or read books. I finally stopped pretending that I read books. PSA to all my friends: I don’t read books.
I’ve organized this by category, but choose the order that is right for you. It goes without saying that this is what works for me and my family’s lifestyle, but you may have your own preferences and exceptions that you should respect and incorporate to make this work for you. This is intended for all family sizes, with or without children.
Clothing and linens
For some reason, this seems to be the easiest place to start. If the clothing seems too daunting, start with your linen closet. Dump it all out and consider what categories belong in this closet. For me, it’s towels, sheets, blankets, and medicine.
First, consider the number of people in your household and how often you do laundry to calculate the ideal number of bath, hand, and wash towels. Beach towels can be one towel per person. Anything beyond that number can go. If space allows, a few “gym” or “trash” towels can be here in a separate spot. If space doesn’t allow but you really want to keep some trash towels, consider keeping some rags/trash towels where you store your cleaning products or in your garage.
Sheets should be one to two sets per bed. I keep one spare twin set to lay on little makeshift beds for kids and visitors if needed, but that’s our only extra pair. Blankets are your decision based on the temperature variations in your home throughout the year, but take a good hard look at which ones you are really using and which ones just get pulled out every couple years, which no one would miss or ask about if they were gone.
Anything that is gross, stained, or needs mending, fix it now or fix it never. If you aren’t going to fix it this weekend, you never will and it will just clutter your thoughts and your to-do list. Get it out of here. And there are good places to donate this type of stuff, so you don’t have to feel like you might as well keep it just so it doesn’t go to the landfill.
Clothing is specific to your day-to-day life, so think about what you (and your family members) tend to wear over the course of a couple weeks in a cold and warm season. Keep this frame of mind as you review. Here are my suggestions for assessing clothing items.
Bathroom and toiletries
This one can be super satisfying and relatively quick. We’re talking about makeup, lotions, hair care, shaving needs, feminine products and perfumes. This area also houses a couple random items for our family like jewelry cleaner, electric razors and haircutting tools.
Put aside a spot or container that will be your backstock area. This is where your extra toothbrushes, shampoos, razors, etc can go. This is not an opportunity to go shop and populate your backstock. It’s just a way to process the things you already have. Moving forward, I suggest buying things just as you need them, and buying in bulk only when an excellent deal comes along or if you have a very specific favorite item that is hard to come by.
Then, you need your “keep”, “trash”, and “donate” area. The donate area in this section is generally very small, but you can always offer some gently used items to a friend or a buy-nothing/freecycle group, and unopened little travel toiletries are great to donate.
Beauty products and lotions can go if you haven’t used them in the past six months. Same goes for those situations where you always reach for Lotion #1 over Lotion #2. If you love Lotion #2, it can move to your backstock, but that’s it. Lotion #3 does not exist in your brain. Bye. Oh, and don’t forget to really scrutinize nail polishes. This usually gets overlooked.
For sanitary purposes, some makeup and personal care items are only recommended to be used for a certain length of time. I try to be mindful of these guidelines, but it really isn’t practical to replace your makeup as often as is recommended. In the interest of practicality, take mental stock of some things you love and need to keep but which are getting old. You can work towards replacing them as your budget allows, and even start a list through this process if you’d like.
Regarding travel toiletries and little hotel shampoos, get rid of most of those (these can be donated!). I recommend keeping two “sets” of little items like this. One is for guests, and one is for our own travel. Each of them lives in a little zipper bag. For me, it includes travel size shampoo, conditioner, lotion, toothpaste, laundry detergent, baby shampoo, diaper rash cream, makeup remover, and a little sewing kit.
If you are lucky enough to have a guest bathroom or kids’ bathroom with some under sink storage, you can consider keeping your backstock and travel toiletry kits here. Then, the area under your personal sink has only the things you frequently reach for. Bathroom countertop space is VERY valuable. Only something that you use every single day should be on here, and really, not even then. For us, it’s just hand soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Keeping these items in a very accessible drawer is just fine, too.
This actually isn’t as terrible as it may seem. The worst part is your junk drawer. You can save that for last.
I find the “take everything out” rule very hard to follow in the kitchen, so I bend it a bit. I generally only take out categories that have lots of “things” like small appliances, utensils, spices, and Tupperware. Your glassware and plates should be easy enough to view where they are.
This is an opportunity to assess how many of an item you really need. Even coffee mugs. I have a hard time seeing a situation where you need more than six or eight. If there’s a circumstance where you might need ten or twelve, that circumstance will likely happen only once a year or once every several years, so it’s probably not worth the space it’s taking up. Cutlery can be a set of eight or twelve, and that’s it. Beyond that, plastic cutlery for entertaining is just fine. This “how much do I really need” question is never more important than when taking a look at your Tupperware. And for the love of God, if it doesn’t have a lid or it’s stained orange, say goodbye (though a caveat here is saving a few that are missing a lid in case they help you organize small items later).
Let’s take some time to thank the workhorses that you use frequently. A big nonstick pan, a 9x13 baking dish, a coffee maker, a crock pot. Thanks, buddies. Now, let’s take a hard look at the stuff you have that only serves one purpose. The ravioli maker, ice cream maker, fondue pot, sushi roller. If this has a special place in your family and you really use it, keep it. Otherwise, it’s taking up space that your workhorse items deserve.
Entertainment items like big platters and ice buckets, assuming you truly use them often enough (at least two times a year AND it gives you the warm and fuzzies to use them), can be stored in your kitchen if space allows, but in your basement in a fairly accessible box is a good alternative. Same for flower vases and candles.
Sentimental kitchen items are very significant for some families. If it is incredibly important to you to keep full sets of china, try to work towards acquiring a china cabinet or buffet that can be on display in a dining area and out of your day-to-day use area. In my case, I had about 10 items that were sentimental but never used, including four little teensy wine glasses I used to sip water from as a kid to be fancy, one cereal bowl of my grandmother’s, and a couple wine glasses from our favorite wineries. I opted to move these into my sentimental storage in my basement.
Back to the junk drawer. I have no specific advice here except to dive in when you’re already on a roll and you’re ready to throw things away. The ultimate goal is actually to eliminate the junk drawer, but if you can’t do that, turn it into a drawer that contains items that you are likely to use often. For me, it includes a tape measure, various types of tape, pens, a notepad, and screwdrivers (scissors would be here too, but they are in my knife drawer). Importantly, think about what you look in the junk drawer for. If you can’t think of a situation where you would actually need an old bread bag tie, toss the 10 that you’ve been randomly storing. You don’t need to save everything just because “some day it may come in handy”.
As in the bathroom, the countertop is prime real estate. Only your daily use items that would be cumbersome to put away every day should live here. I advocate for no knife blocks and no utensil holders on the counter. The countertop looks much tidier without them. Consider a flat knife storage block that goes in a drawer. If you are lucky enough to have a big pantry that can accommodate your microwave, move it in there. My countertop includes olive oil, butter (yes, we’re a room temperature butter family, and I will fight you on this), the coffee maker, microwave, and toaster oven.
Now that you have the hang of this, you should apply some intense scrutiny to your spices and food. These items should come out of your fridge and pantry and sit on your countertops while you assess the situation. Expired and unused items can go, of course. Assess your potential need for a backstock area, which you may or may not need depending on your cooking habits. If you do need a backstock area, assess whether there is room in your kitchen for it, or if it needs to be in a fairly accessible storage space.
If this section does not apply to you, please have a little party for yourself in your quiet, orderly home that has lovely furniture with sharp edges and outlet plugs without plug protectors. However, if you frequently want to burn everything in your home, read on, because it means you have toys.
I should say that I have very young kids, so my toy philosophy has evolved with this consideration. Your kids may be older and/or have different needs, so consider what’s right for you.
A few things I realized that helped me purge a bunch of toys:
I eliminated broken toys, toys I haven’t seen them reach for in the past month, and toys that they only touch because they are there but that don’t seem to truly entertain them. Of the toys that are keep-able, they can go in one of four places: 1) on display in your play space(s), 2) out of your toy rotation (to be circled back out every 3-4 months, and in the meantime stored in the basement or a closet somewhere), 3) in your “special” place that only mom/dad/babysitter can access, and 4) in ONE box in storage of “toys to grow into”. One box. No more.
I emptied all areas that had toys that were out of sight and categorized them as above. I tried my very best to eliminate all containers and bins that keep the kids from seeing their toys. This allowed me to sell a whole wooden trunk and free up a bunch of bins for other things like cleaning products that I just purged and reorganized! Some items had to stay in a box (e.g., duplos, magnetiles). When I feel like my budget allows, I will eventually replace those with clear bins.
This one is fun because it has a big impact. You’ll go room by room here. Start by standing in whichever room you want to do first and take a look around. What pieces jump out at you as things that you love? Those definitely have to stay. But we need to make sure your eye focuses on them, which means getting rid of the stuff that you have just to “fill” the space. I bought a fake lavender plant as a décor piece a couple years ago to have something on my mantle. This is the type of thing that you can let go of during this phase of your purge.
The goal is to only present items in your home that you love or that are there out of necessity. Don’t be afraid to remove items that will leave a space feeling “bare”. You may find in the following days that it doesn’t feel as bare as you originally thought. Leave it wide open, and only fill it if you stumble across something new that you truly love and can afford. You will be able to purchase it guilt-free and enjoy it in your home. There is NO urgency to do this. It is simply “permission” to say yes to something special without cluttering your home.
Resist the urge to immediately buy items to store your things. Sit on this for a few days and really scrutinize what it is you are trying to store. You may be able to pare it down more . Additional containers may become freed up as you complete your purge. Wait until you are certain that you are ready to have a new storage item, and when you have that certainty, you can enjoy the freedom of getting something new without the guilt. We’ll talk more in the organizing post about storing your stuff.
We live in the twenty-first century. You can sign up for electronic bills. Do that. You can save your tax returns on your computer. Do that, too.
Here’s a list of the papers I have opted to keep for our family, and it all fits in one little collapsible file folder that sits in a closet.
I keep one file folder accessible in my desk called “current”. This includes some items that I need to deal with but haven’t yet, like a wedding invite that has a registry link that I need to visit, or confirmation that I paid for something recently in case I need to provide proof. Revisit this folder every couple months and trash, file, or deal with the items inside.
You don’t need to keep appliance manuals, we have Google and YouTube now. Your sentimental papers like cards and letters need to be considered in the sentimental category and stored separately – on to that now.
Have you been given items from parents or other family members that they saved for you? What portion of those items do you really value and enjoy? After my grandfather passed, my dad went through his stuff and made a box for me. Going through it the first time was wonderful. That process was special. In reality, though, only a few of those items actually triggered true joy and nostalgia for me. Those are the ones worth keeping. The same goes for the several bins my mom had saved over the years from my childhood. It has been reduced to things that bring up fond memories for me.
In terms of retaining items for the purposes of handing them down one day, I try to keep these items limited, because I realize my children will establish their own fondness of things in our home independent of me. For example, growing up, I always remember a tiny ceramic Christmas décor piece. It was about 5 inches around and depicted a Christmas tree lot with tiny people looking for a tree and tiny little lights that didn’t even work. I love that thing. My parents don’t remember what the heck it is.
When I went through our sentimentals recently, I reduced it to one bin per person. I have one smaller bin that includes pictures, and that is separate from this general sentimental bin. This sentimental bin for each person includes just a sampling of childhood artwork and writing samples, report cards, achievement awards, trophies, sentimental t-shirts, and some do-dads that bring back memories. For me, that includes some little pieces of jewelry gifted to me as a child, and a key chain collection I used to treasure as a kid. My husband’s sentimentals also fit neatly into one bin. My kids each have a bin which is mostly empty and I add to it occasionally. Right now, it has their ultrasounds, birth footprints, some artwork, their baptism outfits, their first Halloween outfits, and the little crowns they wore for their first birthdays.
A personal philosophy I want to share - you can get rid of an item even if there's nothing "wrong" with it or if it is occasionally still used just because it's there. This is something my husband and I debated for a while, but I think he has moved into my camp here. Sometimes I would have things in a box to consign that he would see and say "there's nothing wrong with this" or "the kids still play with this". In response to his first comment - he may be right, but if it is not useful enough for our family, I don't want it taking up space in my daily life. If there's nothing wrong with it, it is a great item to consign or sell. In response to his second comment, there are MANY toys that my kids would briefly play with if I deliberately presented them. This doesn't mean we need them. You can use your discretion here, I'm sure you know which toys your kids would ask about if they were gone and which they wouldn't.
By now, you hopefully have a garage full of things you’re ready to kiss goodbye. Awesome! While the juices are still flowing, try to plan some time to apply these same techniques to some smaller categories that I didn’t mention here. This could include:
Take ALL of the pictures. Post them on our IMP event page and share about your most satisfying moments and favorite hacks! Tomorrow, we’ll review options for selling, consigning or donating your items.
Home Cleanse Day 1: Motivate
This year, spending more time at home, especially with winter approaching, necessitates creating a space that brings you peace and comfort. Cue the PROJECTS! This doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be gratifying and freeing. Here’s the plan for this blog post series. Check in every day for a new guide to spur your progress, and then sign up for a time slot for some of your no-longer-needed items to be picked up from your porch and donated to The Shelter House.
After making many attempts over the years to clear out the clutter, I never felt like I quite got there. Thanks to pregnancy nesting, (aka the only good thing about pregnancy), I’ve fully embraced a complete home purge in the past couple weeks, and only had to stop when my husband put his foot down and said I need to stop selling furniture that we still use.
Along the way I donated and sold MANY items that are perfectly useful to other families. Isn’t it convenient that we can turn this into a philanthropy event! I’m going to make you want to purge, accomplish the purge, DONATE the most useful items (without leaving your home, because you’ll sign up for a time and we’ll come get it from your porch – more on that later), and then organize, clean, and maintain.
I want to emphasize that though I give occasional examples related to children’s toys and clothes, this is in no way targeted exclusively to families with children. I have tried to keep discussion of toys and kids clothes fairly separate so you can skip on by if it doesn’t apply to you. Now, let's get on with it.
Do you ever “finish” cleaning up and take a look around only to feel that your house still looks cluttered? Me too. There are multiple reasons for this. First of all, YOU HAVE TOO MANY THINGS. I don’t know you and I don’t know your house but I am sure you have too many things. Secondly, you have too many things you don’t care about, which retracts from your motivation to care for them. This seems to be especially common in medical families like us, where, during the many moves and living within the margins of a training salary, we have accepted cheap items or hand-me-downs from family that we don’t truly love. Thirdly, you haven’t had time to optimize your space, but with enough motivation, you will want to make time.
Here are some concepts that I have mulled over and feel are important to accept. Accepting these principles has helped me get rid of things and also choose not to buy more things that I didn’t need. Am I an expert on this? No. But I did read a lot of Marie Kondo, The Home Edit, and endless minimalist and housekeeping blogs, and I write ~ScIeNce~ for a living so I know how to be REALLY entertaining and not dry at all (just kidding, science is not entertaining, except to me and probably your spouse). In no particular order:
I am crossing my fingers that this project will spur lots of chatter on our blog, Facebook invite page, and everywhere else. Please liberally comment with updates and suggestions!
If you already know you’re “in”, sign up to have some of your items donated to The Shelter House. We will pick up your donations from your doorstep. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0444A4AD2FA2FF2-shelter
While you anxiously await tomorrow's post, why don't you visit some favorite inspirational folks on their blogs and Instagram?
The Home Edit BLOG and INSTAGRAM
Marie Kondo BLOG and INSTAGRAM
Real Simple SITE and INSTAGRAM
Go Clean Co INSTAGRAM
Julie Blanner BLOG and INSTAGRAM
Allie Casazza BLOG and INSTAGRAM
As new members will find out, IMP offers many fun events and provides a support system for partners/spouses of very busy residents/fellows. We are able to provide so many opportunities while keeping membership dues low thanks to the partnerships we have created with our amazing sponsors. Typically our sponsors would have the chance to introduce themselves at the welcome brunch. Due to the change in logistics this year, I wanted to still provide them an opportunity to introduce themselves. All of our sponsors are willing to offer advice or a helping hand to any IMP member. Do not hesitate to reach out to them!
First, a welcome message from Tundi Brady with Urban Acres:
Additionally a welcome letter from Tundi is attached below. If you have any questions about renting, buying or selling a home, decorating your home, advice for local services, etc. - Tundi is a wealth of knowledge about the local community! Even if you did not use her as a realtor when moving to the area, do not be shy to reach out. When my heater went out on the coldest day of the year last winter, Tundi got me a list of amazing options to fix our heater ASAP! She is even a former member of IMP herself! Tundi can be reached at TundiBrady@urbanacres.com.
Next, a welcome message from Bobby Scott with Partner Wealth:
Additionally a welcome letter from Bobby is attached below. If you have any questions about obtaining a new mortgage to buy a home, student loan repayment, physician-specific disability insurance, employer benefit enrollment, ROTH IRA's... basically anything regarding your financial situation, Bobby can help you out! Bobby has helped multiple IMP members with finding appropriate life and disability insurance policies, including myself! There is no charge for his services while in training, so do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. Bobby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, Nanci Kohl with State Farm is here to give you advice regarding insurance. When I decided to add an umbrella policy to my auto insurance, I worked with Nanci to get new policies for my home and automobiles. She has been incredibly helpful and responsive whenever I have a question about my policies. Nanci would love to give any IMP members advice as you are deciding what you need for your insurance policies. Nanci can be reached at email@example.com. A welcome letter from Nanci is attached below.
There is never any pressure to use our sponsors. Nonetheless, they all come highly recommended by our officers and members that have used their services. I cannot emphasize it enough, they are here to be resources for you and would be happy to provide any advice no matter how big or small your questions might be.
Iowa Medical Partners, President
Last week our financial advisor sponsor, Bobby Scott, hosted a virtual event highlighting financial issues relevant to doctors in training. If you were unable to attend, but curious about what was discussed, this blog post is for you! I wrote up a summary of the topics he addressed along with some of the advice he offered.
The most important issue to tackle is your financial habits. The habits you have now will follow you after training. What you do with $100 is the same as what you will do with $1000 from a percentage standpoint. While it might be hard to imagine how your lifestyle on a resident’s salary will transition to one on a practicing physician’s salary, the fact of the matter is the choices you make now are a good predictor of how you will handle your finances in the future. Consider what works best for you when making financial decisions. Do you need a strict budget to follow? Would it work better to ‘pay yourself first’ and have more flexibility? Furthermore, as evident in this moment in time, income is not always guaranteed. What does your reserve of emergency cash look like? How can you work on building this amount to ensure you have something to live on if it was needed?
Next, plan to manage your risk. Our employer provides some life insurance, but you might want to consider if you need an additional plan. Specialty-specific disability insurance is especially important for the nature of our spouses’ jobs. If you need help finding the best fit, Bobby is able to offer advice from a conflict-free point-of-view as he does not get paid a commission by any outside companies for products, such as insurance. Additionally, as a physician family, consider a liability umbrella policy through your auto insurance.
Debt management is an especially important factor for doctors in training considering the number of years that go into their education and training. High interest debt should always be knocked out first. It is worth considering if equity from your home should be used. Also, consider how to manage your federal and private student loans. You might qualify for public service loan forgiveness if you have federal loans. Finally, consider refinancing your loans as you should always be asking if your interest rate can be less.
When you are coming to the end of your training, understanding the terms of your contract with your future employer will be very important. There is a very high chance you will change jobs within the first two years of employment. Even if it seems you have found your dream job, until you begin working it is hard to know if you have found the right fit for you and your family. Non-compete clauses and non-solicitation clauses will be especially important to consider. Additionally the termination clause and responsibility of tail coverage can result in a very expensive liability depending on the contract. Finally, considering how to structure a signing bonus is an important factor as it could impact your future tax bracket.
The last topic discussed was how to invest your money. First focus on maxing out qualified plans. A ROTH IRA is a retirement savings account that residents should consider opening up and saving in now. You will lose this option after becoming a high income earner. Currently, you and your spouse can each contribute up to $6,000 annually into a ROTH IRA. If you have additional questions about investing, a third party advisor might help you make decisions to get the highest expected return for the lowest risk.
Ultimately, the biggest return on investment is you and your spouse and focusing on your career(s). At the end of the day, no investments can make up for a life style that is not within your means. If you have any questions about these topics, or something that was not addressed, do not hesitate to reach out to Bobby (firstname.lastname@example.org or 319-512-3925)! There are no charges for his services while in training, so ask him advice get on track to meet your financial goals!
We sent out a survey to learn about you and what’s been keeping you going. This is the first of a blog
post series presenting our results.
Stay tuned for most posts about residency life. For now, enjoy a nice scroll through our IMP member-
suggested shows and books.
What should I be binge watching?
Sorted by IMDB rating (out of 10). IMDB description provided.
Stranger Things (8.8) When a young boy disappears, his mother, a police chief and his friends must
confront terrifying supernatural forces in order to get him back.
The West Wing (8.8) Inside the lives of staffers in the West Wing of the White House.
Marvelous Ms. Maisel (2 votes) (8.7) A housewife in the 1960s decides to become a stand-up comic.
WestWorld (8.7) Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, explore a world in
which every human appetite can be indulged without consequence.
Outlander (8.4) An English combat nurse from 1945 is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743.
Poldark (8.3) Ross Poldark returns home after American Revolutionary War and rebuilds his life with a
new business venture, making new enemies and finding a new love where he least expects it.
Schitt’s Creek (3 votes) (8.3) When rich video-store magnate Johnny Rose and his family suddenly find
themselves broke, they are forced to leave their pampered lives to regroup in Schitt's Creek.
The Witcher (8.3) Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where
people often prove more wicked than beasts.
Cheer (8.2) Follows the cheerleaders of Navarro College as they prepare for the biggest moment of their
The Walking Dead (8.2) Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to learn the world is in ruins,
and must lead a group of survivors to stay alive.
Altered Carbon (8.1) Set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored, a prisoner returns to life
in a new body and must solve a mind-bending murder to win his freedom.
Gilmore Girls (8.1) A dramedy centering around the relationship between a thirty something single
mother and her teen daughter living in Stars Hollow, Connecticut.
You (7.8) A dangerously charming, intensely obsessive young man goes to extreme measures to insert
himself into the lives of those he is transfixed by.
New Girl (7.7) After a bad break-up, Jess, an offbeat young woman, moves into an apartment loft with
three single men. Although they find her behavior very unusual, the men support her - most of the time.
Gray’s Anatomy (7.6) A drama centered on the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns
and their supervisors.
Madam Secretary (7.6) A political drama which looks into the life of the Secretary of State as she tries to
balance work with family.
The Masked Singer (6.3) A singing competition guessing game based on Korean format King of Mask
Singer. 12 celebrity performers wear costumes to conceal identities. One singer is eliminated each week
and unmasked. Small hints are given for the viewer guess along.
Love is Blind (6.0) Singles who want to be loved for who they are, rather than what they look like, have
signed up for a less conventional approach to modern dating.
Every Real Housewives franchise (4.8) A reality series that follows some of the most affluent women in
the country as they enjoy the lavish lifestyle that only Beverly Hills can provide. (Synopsis and rating
from Real Housewives of Beverly Hills)
What should I be binge reading?
Sorted by GoodReads rating (out of 5). Google Books description provided.
Harry Potter (series) (4.74) Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with
a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Just Mercy (4.63) Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a
legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly
condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system.
One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a
notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political
machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a
moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in
the pursuit of true justice.
The Nightingale (2 votes) (4.57) The Nightingale is a novel, written by Kristin Hannah and published in
2015. It tells the story of two sisters in France during World War II, and their struggle to survive and
resist the German occupation of France.
Becoming (4.56) In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama
invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on
the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work,
to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she
describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has
lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply
personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose
story inspires us to do the same.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (series) (4.52) Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother
gave her. One for every boy she ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and
say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day
her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Where the Crawdads Sing (4.49) For years, rumors of the Marsh Girl have haunted Barkley Cove, a
quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead,
the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say.
Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding
friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and
loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a
new life--until the unthinkable happens. Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the
natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens
reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the
beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Born a Crime: Stories from South African Childhood (4.46) Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid
South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a
white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years
in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years
of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a
government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s
tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and
embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (4.38) One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her
Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the
quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and
khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be
anything but. As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients; lives -- a self-absorbed Hollywood
producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her
life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can't stop hooking up with the
wrong guys -- she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing
to Wendell. With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and
patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope
between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and
Scythe (series) (4.36) Scythe is a 2016 young-adult novel by Neal Shusterman and is the first in the Arc of
a Scythe series. It is set in the far future, where death by natural causes has been virtually eliminated
thanks to advances in technology, and an advanced computer system known as the "Thunderhead"e
Small Great Things (4.34) Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with
more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only
to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white
supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies
with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the
nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a
result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but
gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning
strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her
family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward,
Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their
whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
Shelter in Place (4.24) It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends
waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children
shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters
arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for
those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would
dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the
memory of huddling in a ladies room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way
to pour her emotions into her art. But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at
the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that
another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.
Katherine (4.19) Katherine is an epic novel of a love affair that changed history that of Katherine
Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the ancestors of most of the British royal family. Set in
the vibrant fourteenth century of Chaucer and the Black Death, the story features knights fighting in
battle, serfs struggling in poverty, and the magnificent Plantagenets Edward III, the Black Prince, and
Richard II who rule despotically over a court rotten with intrigue. Within this era of danger and romance,
John of Gaunt, the king s son, falls passionately in love with the already-married Katherine. Their affair
persists through decades of war, adultery, murder, loneliness, and redemption. Anya Seton's vivid
rendering of the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Lancaster makes Katherine an unmistakable classic.
My Lady Jane (4.09) Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger and caught up in
an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that's the least of Jane's problems.
She's about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.
Silent Patient (4.08) Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-
demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of
London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion
shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word. Alicia’s refusal
to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery
that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and
she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic
unit in North London. Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the
opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she
shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that
threatens to consume him....
What Alice Forgot (4.08) Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first
child. So imagine Alice's surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym)
and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over--she's getting
divorced, she has three kids, and she's actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost
decade, and find out whether it's possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out
why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she's become one of those super skinny moms with
really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and
whether it's possible to start over...
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (4.07) As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust
people, not even her own parents. It's safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to
raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with
the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one
night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual
friendship with one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold. By the time
Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and
debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavys family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful
to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. A powerful novel you won’t soon forget,
Bryn Greenwoods All the Ugly and Wonderful Things challenges all we know and believe about love.
Middlesex (4.00) Spanning eight decades and chronicling the wild ride of a Greek-American family
through the vicissitudes of the twentieth century, Jeffrey Eugenides’ witty, exuberant novel on one level
tells a traditional story about three generations of a fantastic, absurd, lovable immigrant family --
blessed and cursed with generous doses of tragedy and high comedy. But there’s a provocative twist.
Cal, the narrator -- also Callie -- is a hermaphrodite. And the explanation for this takes us spooling back
in time, through a breathtaking review of the twentieth century, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna
and Callie’s grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and
one rare genetic mutation, set our narrator’s life in motion.
Three Women (3.70) In suburban Indiana we meet Lina, a homemaker and mother of two whose
marriage, after a decade, has lost its passion. Starved for affection, Lina battles daily panic attacks and,
after reconnecting with an old flame through social media, embarks on an affair that quickly becomes
all-consuming. In North Dakota we meet Maggie, a seventeen-year-old high school student who
allegedly has a clandestine physical relationship with her handsome, married English teacher; the
ensuing criminal trial will turn their quiet community upside down. Finally, in an exclusive enclave of the
Northeast, we meet Sloane—a gorgeous, successful, and refined restaurant owner—who is happily
married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women.
Match Day is a time of celebration! Being the family of a doctor-in-training is not easy, but matching to residency is a great milestone which merits space for joy and anticipation. Due to the developments surrounding the COVID-19 virus, Match Days around the USA will not receive the celebrations they deserve. Even with social distancing, you deserve to recognize this moment and celebrate your next steps as a family. With all this uncertainty, I would like to offer as much help as possible as you transition to your new home in Iowa.
Being a born and raised Texan, Iowa was never on my list of states I expected for my future. The match process is unlike securing a first job for most professions, and it can lead to unique twists in life. While I didn’t know it at the time, I am so grateful we matched to the UIHC. If you are not sure where to find Iowa City on a map, you are in for a surprise. Iowa City is a hidden gem for families!
The Iowa City area is the type of town where I am sure to run into someone I know everywhere I go. There is a great scene of local shops and cafes to explore. Throughout the summer and fall, countless festivals and community events fill up the calendar. Even the holiday season is sprinkled with magic to help ease us into the long Iowa winters (but even these are relatively mild). The school districts provide a great education, regardless of the elementary school to which you are zoned. The libraries in the area are unparalleled. The housing market is hot and provides options that are affordable.
Furthermore, you have the opportunity to join a community of other families enduring medical education. Iowa Medical Partners (IMP) is a group of the partners and spouses of medical and dental students, residents and fellows. We are an active group that provides many events each month including play groups, a children’s activity, an adults only event, a family event, a book club, and philanthropic events. Additionally, we have a private facebook group and an instagram account that provides a platform for members to connect. Whether you are looking for baby sitter recommendations, for date night suggestions, or for friends with whom to commiserate when your spouse is a captive of the hospital, IMP is here to help you thrive in your new home.
So you matched to UIHC… now what? Here is a little input about the surrounding neighboorhoods that you might decide to claim as home:
West Iowa City: Living in University Heights or west Iowa City (especially those living east of Mormon Trek Blvd) will place you the closest to the hospital and the football stadium. Many residents and fellows who live in this area walk or bike to work. The schools on the west side are great (we love Horn Elementary) and parks and trails like Willow Creek, Kiwanis and Clear Creek Trail are perfect for a run, a picnic or a play date. It's a quick drive from the west side to get out of town or to jump on the highway up to I-80. Traffic is light except on home football game days and Walmart and Aldi's are close while Hy-Vee and Trader Joe's are less than a 10 minute drive. – Allison Cascio, Entertainment Club Chair
East Iowa City: The East Side is between approximately two and four miles east of the hospital and about 15 minutes from the Coralville Mall and shopping area; 20 minutes from North Liberty. In this area, you tend to get a bit more house and yard for the price, with newer builds being more common than other neighborhoods, but we’re still very close to several parks and grocery store choices. We have two new University of Iowa clinic locations (Dodge Street and Scott Blvd) with some of IMP’s favorite providers. Some favorites in our area include Dodge Street Coffeehouse, Tot Time every weekday morning at Mercer Park gym, Music Together classes at Preucil, and the close proximity to the adorable towns of Solon and West Branch. Favorite restaurants over here include Blackstone, Wig and Pen East, 2 Dogs Pub, and Rapid Creek Cidery. Hopping down to the South Side of town is easy if you’re heading to Big Grove Iowa City, the new Starbucks, Hatchet Jack’s, and consignment shopping at Stuff Etc., Crowded Closet and Kidworks. – Molly Sherwood, Philanthropy Chair
Coralville: Coralville is a great location in the middle of the creative corridor. You are only minutes from the mall, Costco, Target, consignment stores and many grocery store options. The Iowa River Landing is located in Coralville which includes Trader Joes, great dining and shopping, and the IRL UIHC Clinic. Additionally, going to downtown Iowa City or North Liberty is very convenient. Driving to UIHC is approximately 15 minutes (which is mostly due to the 25 mile per hour speed limits); however, you may be able to live along the Research Park Cambus route and avoid driving all together (free to all!). The Coralville Library is one of my favorite weekly spots for storytimes. I also love the walking trails in our city and the community events throughout the year. I feel safe and connected living here. – Megan Pai, President
North Liberty: Many medical families choose to live in North Liberty. There are wonderful schools and neighborhoods filled with friends, and it is very geared towards families. There are many parks like Centennial, Quail Ridge, Beaver Kreek, and Penn Meadows, some fun local restaurants, and the best ice cream around is from a North Liberty joint, Heyn’s. We also have a pumpkin patch in our town that we go to almost daily in the fall, and there are many trails and easy access to both I-80 and 380, which makes going anywhere in the greater Iowa City area a breeze. There are a lot of fun events too, from storytime at the library to the big Barbecue and Blues festival that are all held locally. We love the community here! - Shannon Squires, Secretary
Looking for trusted recommendations? Our group’s sponsors can help you in finding and adjusting to your new home. Tundy Brady with Urban Acres can help you find your future home (even if you are unable to travel). Green State Credit Union can help you with local banking and securing a mortgage, including a Doc Loan. Bobby Scott with Partner Wealth is here to answer any questions related to your unique financial sitation. Nanci Kohl with State Farm can help you determine your insurance needs.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to IMP! You can join IMP here, and once you do, you can join our facebook group. Congratulations on your match!
The second half of our Bronze Sponsors, as promised!
Iowa Medical Partners is thankful for all the support we receive from our local community. Our bronze sponsors have donated items we use as raffles and prizes throughout the year. IMP officers have provided some input below about why they love these establishments. I encourage all our members to check out these businesses! You will not be disappointed!
Molly’s bakes some of the tastiest creations in Iowa City and has an adorable storefront complete with board games, comfy pillows and swing seating. They are located in Iowa City and everything for sale is delicious. A personal favorite and one of their more popular items is the Crème Brule cupcake. They also have coffee, homemade ice cream, edible cookie dough, and will do special orders for events. Any cupcake can also be made into a large cake size treat (I have ordered a Crème Brule cake more than once.) The employees are all spectacular and you can’t beat the flavors and fun environment! - Bridget Campbell, SOS 2019
Coral Ridge Mall
The Coral Ridge Mall Carousel is wonderful fun for kids! My daughter loves it and would happily ride it for hours at a time if I could stay on it that long myself. One of our monthly highlights is going to Free Family Fridays where you can ride it for free, but be warned, once you let your kids go on it they’ll want to ride it again every single time you go to the mall! -Shannon Squires, Social Media 2019
Coral Ridge Mall Ice Rink offers a fun-filled experience for the whole family. Our three year old has enjoyed his first attempts at skating. We have also enjoyed watching the Hawkeye hockey team play their games at the rink and watching other kids take skating lessons and perfect their acrobatics.
–Eric Dugdale, Web Manager 2019
The quaintest little shop – if you have a crowd, be sure to order ahead and eat elsewhere! This Iowa City favorite began as a popular food truck and the demand was so great, they opened a brick and mortar restaurant. They have eco-friendly flatware and to-go containers (they even compost!!) and you can find something on the menu for everyone! Delicious Asian-fusion. -Katelyn Sexton, Former Book Club Chair 2019
Prairie Lights is a wonderful local bookstore located on Dubuque Street in downtown Iowa City. They offer a great selection of books for all ages and are more than happy to order anything not in stock. They have a children’s club that gives a discount on all children’s books, which–if your kids love books as much as mine—you can’t pass up. Prairie Lights also has frequent readings which often feature local authors, so keep your eyes open for their upcoming events! -Ceric Keck, Secretary 2019
To be honest, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to describe Raygun in words when I signed up for this; and also, that’s the kind of sentence that they’d put on one of their t-shirts. Raygun is the Midwest’s weird kitschy souvenir shop. They sell things that make you feel like you’re on the inside of the joke, but maybe the people around you aren’t. They’re funny and odd and very liberal; once you see the inside of their store (on the corner of Washington & Dubuque in downtown Iowa City), you’ll realize that you’ve been seeing their t-shirts and bumper stickers everywhere, but they hadn’t quite registered yet. Check it out, or visit their website, which is a good place to get lost for a while. (Fun tip: I like to leave one of their “Someone in Iowa Loves Me” stickers in the guest bedroom when friends and family comes to visit!)
-Kelsey Sprowell, Book Club 2019
Mellow Mushroom is located in Coralville in the Coral Ridge Mall. It has a warm and friendly environment with delicious pizza! They also make it easy for those with food sensitivities by offering gluten free crust on ALL of their pizzas, and prioritize allergy-safe procedures on any of their gluten-free pies. They will cater your event and also offer online ordering for easy pick up! If you happen to be a beer lover, they also have a plethora of delicious and unique beers ON TAP at this location. They offer many fun events including: BINGO on Mondays 6-8 pm, KIDS EAT FREE Tuesdays starting at 5:30, TRIVIA Wednesdays 7:30, LIVE MUSIC Thursdays 8-10 pm, $2.50 pints Friday 7-10 pm. - Bridget Campbell, SOS 2019
Noodles and Co.
Noodles and Company, also known as Noodles World Kitchen, is a delicious and convenient spot for lunch or dinner! Their menu embraces ingredients and dishes from all over the world and they have locations in both Iowa City and Coralville. If you are searching for lighter fare or healthier options, the zoodle dishes are very popular. They also have online ordering and easy pick up for those that need something quick and no waiting in line!
-Bridget Campbell, SOS 2019
Hy-Vee is the type of grocery store where there is a helpful smile in every aisle. Employees at Hy-Vee are always offering assistance and making themselves available to better your shopping experience. Whether it is too difficult to get out with the kids, winter has kicked up frightening conditions, or you just want to make life easy, Hy-Vee Aisles will make life so much simpler. Do your shopping online, select what time you want to pick up your groceries, or have their employees deliver your groceries directly to your house! Pick up is free with a minimum of a $30 purchase, and delivery is free if you join the $99 annual membership. Hy-Vee Lantern Park Plaza donated some awesome coupon books for the swag bags this year!
-Megan Pai, Vice President 2019
Iowa City Public Library
In 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City the world’s third City of Literature, recognizing the city’s creative programs and culture. As such, the public library here in town is an incredible resource and asset to Iowa City, serving its residents since 1896! The main library branch sits on the Pedestrian Mall across from Bread Garden Market, abutting South Linn Street. In addition to a collection of more than 266,000 items, the library has a large children’s section and play area, an accessible outdoor playground, several conference rooms, and frequent events. The library also services two remote drop boxes and a mobile Bookmobile, with several community stops per week. Check out more here. -Kelsey Sprowell, Book Club 2019
Iowa Medical Partners is thankful for all the support we receive from our local community. Our bronze sponsors have donated items we use as raffles and prizes throughout the year. IMP officers have provided some input below about why they love these establishments. I encourage all our members to check out these businesses! You will not be disappointed!
UI Safety Store
Whenever we need to make a big purchase such as a new car seat or stroller I always check here first! It is located on the lobby level of the Children’s Hospital and they sell a majority of the major brands for much cheaper than you can find online or in most stores! They also sell safety items such as helmets, light switch covers, etc. at a discounted price. Next time you’re at the hospital visiting your significant other I would suggest swinging in here and seeing what they offer! -Lindsay Norvell, President 2019
If you’re new to Iowa and looking for a place to stock up on some Hawkeye gear, Iowa Book has you covered. They have great options for men, women, children, babies, and even pets. Anytime I’m looking to get my girls new Hawkeye gear for the upcoming sports’ seasons, this is my first stop. They also have a good selection of books, children’s books, and children’s toys (including some pretty neat Melissa & Doug stuff that my girls love).
-Ceric Keck, Secretary 2019
Clinton Street Social Club
Clinton Street Social Club calls itself “Iowa City’s Premier Gastropub”, and they’re not wrong! Located on the 2nd and 3rd floors above Clinton Street, across from the Old Capitol lawn, the bar boasts handmade cocktails, live jazz, weekly specials and a great menu. Come for the drinks, but stay for the people-watching. -Kelsey Sprowell, Book Club 2019
North Liberty Recreation Center
Our little small town has an amazing recreation system! They offer so many classes/activities for all the different ages. We love our pool pass in the summer and spend a lot of time at their indoor (and free) campsite in the winter months. For preschool ages the Tippi Toes dance and PeeWee are two of our favorites. My BIG tip for the activities is to know the registration dates as classes and swim lessons usually fill up within a day of opening registration. August, December, and April are usually the sign up months but check with the rec front desk and they will get you all the upcoming info! -Lindsay Norvell, President 2019
I love Core Fitness! I started out as a volunteer in the child care (2 hours a week in the childcare for free membership!). I loved how the director was so flexible and easy to work with when I had sick kids, or had to be out of town. I love that Core has two locations so you can switch up the classes, and the child care, depending on what works best for your schedule. They have such a great variety of classes, and I love all the instructors! There are several of us who are instructors there from IMP! If you have any questions or want to join feel free to reach out! -Lalana Rogers, Children’s Activities 2019
The Java House
The Java House is a great little cafe with lots of personality and a homey feel. They're always ready to support local groups like ours and I never regret a trip to head over to support them. If you're looking for a great cup of coffee that is hand poured, a comfortable work location, a place to meet with friends for board games or just a lovely smelling lunch place, this is always a sure bet!
-Allison Cascio, Entertainment Club 2019
Not just a movie theater! It is a nonprofit with a mission to enhance cultural vitality in the area through the art and discussion of film. You’ll find the best popcorn in town as well as lots of really neat indie and documentary films. -Katelyn Sexton, Former Book Club Chair 2019
The Falafel Joint! You can find their AMAZING hummus in all area HyVee stores, but it’s cheapest and freshest from their restaurant on the north side of downtown IC. Little known fact, they have the absolute best french fries in the area. (My recommendation is to get the north side special – fries at Oasis and a burger from George’s Bar down the street). Their falafel is amazing and so is their chicken shawarma and cabbage! I’ve never had anything bad here and the owner is a really nice guy. Support local!!! (Also a plug because they are friends, the owner’s wife has the cutest flower shop ever just across the street called Willow & Stock.)
-Katelyn Sexton, Former Book Club Chair 2019
Capanna Coffee & Gelato
This local coffee shop is a must-see on the list of Iowa destinations! Not only is their coffee fresh and delicious they also offer a huge selection of gelato that they make in house. If you or your significant other needs a quiet coffee shop to study (or escape) I would definitely suggest stopping here!! They have some yummy variations of the common drinks such as the Alpine Mocha and Turtle Mocha that are worth giving a try. -Lindsay Norvell, IMP President 2019
Note: This is only half of our Bronze Sponsors - the rest will be featured in the next blog post!
I have moved three times, soon to be four, for my partner’s medical training. Keeping a job throughout has been a challenge, and I often questioned (and still do) my worth as a working professional when we always choose his career over mine.
Maybe you work outside the home full-time, part-time, or maybe it’s not a part of your life right now – maybe you have children or you don’t, but chances are you’ve had to make a big sacrifice for your future to allow your spouse to pursue theirs.
Sometimes, I struggle with my feelings about this sacrifice. Here are some questions I hear as a working “doctor’s wife” that raise my blood pressure, and probably yours too.
What did you do today?
I work part-time as a medical writer and spend the rest of my time with our two young boys. My husband comes home, and, though he says it without judgement, when he asks me “so, what did you do today?” I tense up and try to dramatically list off all of the stuff I did so that he thinks I was busy and useful. It doesn’t help that I know he’s out there doing surgery while I’m sitting on a conference call and asking my toddler not to lick the floor.
Are you available tonight to finish this assignment?
I have no idea if I’m available tonight to get back to work, because I have no idea if my husband is coming home to help me with the kids. Weekends? Same. I used to be the go-to person for plenty of tasks at work, but now, I can’t be, because no one knows if I will be able to commit. I hate to under-deliver.
What are your long-term career plans?
I also have no idea what my long-term plans are. I can’t commit to my jobs for more than a few years because we will have to move. Another aspect of this is the realization that, likely, my family won’t need my income in a few years. So what does that mean for my contribution? Is it worth it? Is it appreciated? Should I just stop trying to have a career so I can stop feeling like I can’t give anything the attention it deserves?
The cable guy is coming tomorrow, can you wait for him?
Of course I can, because it has to be me. And when the kids are sick? Me. Sometimes this isn’t even posed as a question, it’s an assumption that I’ll be there. One time our son had some minor non-contagious ailment, and my husband told me I should take him to the doctor the next day. It tipped me over the edge. Easy for him to say – it doesn’t affect his schedule at all. I have to take off work, disrupt the baby’s naptime, and drag two wild savages to a room covered in a film of bacteria. Not to mention, “taking off work” doesn’t mean you work less. It means you finish the work another time.
Worst of all – the absence of a question.
When we are out at an event related to my husband’s job, no one asks me what I do. Do they think I do nothing but wash scrubs and pack lunches? Or even worse, do they think I do have a job, but it’s not interesting enough to ask about?
Here’s what I need to hear, and you do too.
You are intelligent, you are needed, and your contribution to your family is valuable.
I’m no expert at juggling everything that comes with being a working spouse of a resident or fellow, but here are some goals I’m working on:
I invite everyone to comment on this post and list your career and personal successes so that we can learn about your current and previous accomplishments. Let’s take a moment to learn about this part of each other’s past and send some much-needed words of appreciation.
- Molly Sherwood
Whenever the topic of estate planning comes up, people invariably mention creating a will. And with good reason—having a will is a foundational aspect of your estate plan.
However, a will is only one small part of effective planning. In fact, if your plan consists of a will alone, you’re guaranteeing your family will have to go to court when you die. There’s a saying in the lawyer world of estate planning: “Where there’s a will, there’s a probate.” And it’s no laughing matter.
In our view, a primary goal of estate planning is to keep your family out of court and out of conflict no matter what happens to you. Yet with only a will in place, your plan can fall woefully short of that goal, leaving your loved ones—and yourself, if you become incapacitated —susceptible to getting stuck in an unnecessary, expensive, time-consuming, and public court process.
Here’s why having just a will is not enough:
A will offers no protection against incapacity
A will helps ensure your assets are properly distributed when you die. But it offers no protection if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions about your own medical, financial, and legal needs.
Should you become incapacitated with only a will in place, your family would have to petition the court to appoint a guardian or conservator to manage your affairs, which can be extremely costly, time consuming, and traumatic.
Your family must still go to court
While you may think having a will allows your loved ones to inherit your assets without court intervention, this is not true. For your assets to be legally transferred to your beneficiaries, your will must first pass through the court process called probate.
The probate process can be an extremely distressing for your loved ones. The proceedings can drag out over months or even years, and in most instances, your family will have to hire an attorney, generating hefty legal bills that can quickly drain your estate.
Moreover, probate is public, so anyone can find out the value and contents of your estate. They can also learn what and how much your family members inherit, making them tempting targets for frauds and scammers.
And if you think you can just pass on your assets using beneficiary designations to avoid all of this... well, that’s just asking for trouble. In fact, we plan to write a whole separate article on that topic in a future installment of this series.
A will doesn’t protect against creditors, lawsuits, or poor decisions
Passing on your assets using a will leaves those assets vulnerable to several potential threats. If your will distributes your assets to your beneficiaries outright, those assets are not only subject to claims made by a beneficiary’s creditors, they are also vulnerable to lawsuits and divorce settlements the beneficiary may be involved in.
And if assets left via a will pass to beneficiaries without any conditions, those assets are susceptible to the beneficiary’s own poor judgment. For instance, a sudden windfall of cash could cause serious problems for someone with poor money-management abilities and/or addiction issues.
Not all assets are covered by a will
Some assets can’t even be included in a will. For example, a will only covers assets or property owned solely in your name. It does not cover property co-owned by you with others listed as joint tenants, nor does a will cover assets that pass directly to a beneficiary by contract, such as a life insurance policy or retirement account.
Don’t let your plan fall short
Though a will is an integral part of your estate plan, a will is almost never enough by itself. Instead, wills are often combined with other planning vehicles, such as living trusts, to provide a level of protection devoid of any gaps or blind spots. And here’s the thing: If your plan is incomplete, it’s your family that suffers, having to clean it all up after you are gone.
As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we will empower you to feel confident that you have the
right combination of planning solutions for your family’s unique circumstances. Schedule a
Family Wealth Planning Session with Hayoon today to get started.
Special thanks to IMP Member Hayoon Kane for writing this blog post.
I like the term “Risk Management” much better than the term “Insurance” don’t you? The word insurance comes with some serious baggage… and for good reason. The reason is two fold:
Does this mean insurance is bad? Yes and no. As with any tool, it depends on how it’s used. Does an orthopedist recommend a knee replacement when in reality simply setting a fracture and casting will do? You see where I’m going with this? It’s not the tool, it’s how you use it!
When used correctly, insurance is an extremely cost effective way to manage your risks. The natural question then is: “Okay, Bobby. what are my risks?”. In a nut-shell, your risks are likely:
So, do you need it? Answer the following question: “If any of the above happens to me, am I okay financially?”
LIABILITY INSURANCE: As a physician family, the likelihood of getting sued is higher. Why? Because your household makes a lot of money (or will someday)! Yes, you may not have much now, but if they think they have a case, they can garnish your future wages! The fix is fairly simple. Go get umbrella coverage on your home and auto policies.
LIFE INSURANCE: As a physician family, you very likely have a negative net worth and you might be in a heap of trouble if something happens to your spouse! Some student loans are often forgiven, but not all. Additionally, you’ve put quite a few years of your life “on hold” in hopes of a potentially higher household income. If this income disappears, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Saving for retirement, paying off your mortgage, paying for childcare should the primary caregiver pass away….All of these things are expensive and add up quickly. Term life insurance from a financially strong insurer can be a VERY cost effective way to mitigate the risk of death. The younger and healthier you are, the cheaper these policy premiums are.
DISABILITY INSURANCE: In the same way that the death of a spouse would be financially devastating, so too would the disability of the primary breadwinner. Whether it’s repaying student loans, saving for retirement, paying off mortgage, or putting kids through college...all of these things require income. But not just any income, they require a PHYSICIANS INCOME! This is where “own occupation” long term disability insurance (LTDI) comes into play.
Without going too deep into the weeds, the vast majority of LTDI policies do NOT protect your specific specialty. Only a handful of carriers will pay you a disability benefit EVEN if you re-train specialties or end up flipping burgers at McDonald's. Imagine this scenario: You train to be an Orthopedic Surgeon and lose function in one of your extremities and can no longer perform surgery. You take a much lower paying faculty position teaching surgery at the university. Would you still want the income that should go with surgery? Of course you would! The disability you incurred forced lower income and reduced your debt repayment, retirement savings, and a host of other things.
In closing, paying for insurance is likely the last thing a low paid resident or fellow wants to do. However, take advantage of your young age, good health and resident discounts! A few thousand dollars over the next few years is a small price to pay to protect the massive investment you and your family have made in pursuing the life of a physician family.
While I don’t sell insurance, please reach out to me (email@example.com) and I’ll connect you to a local independent agent who will put your interests ahead of their own!
Special thanks to our sponsor Bobby Scott, CFP® for writing this post!
Two notable movie stars - Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Walker - provide a cautionary tale on the importance of keeping your estate plan and will up to date. In Hoffman’s case, his 2004 will had never been updated and he had two children after it was created. Walker’s 2001 will had also never been updated to reflect the many changes in his life.
Conducting an estate plan review whenever something major changes in your life - like a birth, death or divorce - is key to ensuring your will remains valid and that the people you love are taken care of in the way you intend. Here are some additional steps you can take to be sure your estate plan remains valid:
Make it easy to find. It is not uncommon for people to file away a will and estate plan in a safety deposit box, which makes it inaccessible to family without a court order.
Make wise choices in executors. Not only should you name more than one person as executor - you will want backups if for some reason your primary choice cannot serve - you should also inform each person that you have chosen them to ensure their willingness to take on the job.
Avoid contradictions in your estate plan. Be sure that your will does not contradict your choices for beneficiaries of your retirement accounts, life insurance policy, etc.
Name guardians. If you have minor children, one of the most important functions of your will is to name a guardian. If that person cannot serve, you will need to have named a second choice for guardian to ensure the future of your children does not end up in the hands of a judge who doesn’t know you or the choices you might have made for them. We have a free report we can send you on six common mistakes parents make when naming guardians - mistakes you definitely want to avoid! Just contact our office for a free copy of this valuable report.
Beware of unintentional disinheritances. If you are remarried and have children from your first marriage you wish to provide for as well as your current spouse, you will want to make those provisions for them in your estate plan. If you wish to intentionally disinherit someone, you should specifically state your intentions in your will.
Get professional guidance. Wills and other estate planning documents downloaded from the Internet will not be tailored to the specific needs of your family. You should seek out the experience of a qualified attorney to help you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your family’s financial future.
The best way to learn about protecting your family is to talk with us about a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you to provide for and protect the financial security of your loved ones. For more information, please visit www.hayoonkanelawfirm.com.
Special thanks to IMP member Hayoon Kane for writing this blog post.
Going on vacation entails lots of planning: packing luggage, buying plane tickets, making hotel reservations, and confirming rental vehicles. But one thing many people forget to do is plan for the worst. Traveling, especially in foreign destinations, means you’ll likely be at greater risk than usual for illness, injury, and even death.
In light of this reality, you must have a legally sound and updated estate plan in place before taking your next trip. If not, your loved ones can face a legal nightmare if something should happen to you while you’re away. The following are 5 critical estate planning tasks to take care of before departing.
1. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date
Some of your most valuable assets, like life insurance policies and retirement accounts, do not transfer via a will or trust. Instead, they have beneficiary designations that allow you to name the person (or persons) you’d like to inherit the asset upon your death. It’s vital you name a primary beneficiary and at least one alternate beneficiary in case the primary dies before you. Moreover, these designations must be regularly reviewed and updated, especially following major life events like marriage, divorce, and having children.
2. Create power of attorney documents
Outside of death, unforseen illness and injury can leave you incapacitated and unable to make critical decisions about your own well-being. Given this, you must grant someone the legal authority to make those decisions on your behalf through power of attorney. You need two such documents: medical power of attorney and financial durable power of attorney. Medical power of attorney gives the person of your choice the authority to make your healthcare decisions for you, while durable financial power of attorney gives someone the authority to manage your finances. As with beneficiary designations, these decision makers can change over time, so before you leave for vacation, be sure both documents are up to date.
3. Name guardians for your minor children
If you’re the parent of minor children, your most important planning task is to legally document guardians to care for your kids in the event of your death or incapacity. These are the people whom you trust to care for your children—and potentially raise them to adulthood—if something should happen to you. Given the monumental importance of this decision, we’ve created a comprehensive system called the Kids Protection Plan that guides you step-by-step through the process of creating the legal documents naming these guardians. You can get started with this process right now for free by visiting our user-friendly website.
4. Organize your digital assets
If you’re like most people, you probably have dozens of digital accounts like email, social media, cloud storage, and cryptocurrency. If these assets aren’t properly inventoried and accounted for, they’ll likely be lost forever if something happens to you. At minimum, you should write down the location and passwords for each account, and ensure someone you trust knows what to do with these digital assets in the event of your death or incapacity. To make this process easier, consider using LastPass or a similar service that stores and organizes your passwords.
Complete your vacation planning now
If you have a vacation planned, be sure to add these 4 items to your to-do list before leaving. And if you need help completing any of these tasks—or would simply like us to double check the plan you have in place—consult with us as your Personal Family Lawyer®.
We recommend you complete these tasks at least 8 weeks before you depart. However, if your trip is sooner than that, call and let us know you need a rush Family Wealth Planning Session, and we’ll do our best to fit you in as soon as possible. Contact us today to get started.
This article is a service of Hayoon Kane, Personal Family Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge. In August, IMP members will get an additional $300 discount for estate planning. You can see more information here.
Copyright Iowa Medical Partners 2013.