Financial Resolutions for the New Year 2014

Now that we've rung in the New Year 2014, it’s time to start making promises, the financial kind, which are among the most common ones made each year and the hardest to keep.

Almost half of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution, but only about eight percent of us achieve our goals. The New Year, however, is a great time to start reviewing finances and assessing what happened during the past year. For many, their will power is at its strongest. Former FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) securities attorney Debra G. Speyer gives her three financial tips to live by to help you keep your money-smart resolutions going strong:

Financial resolution No. 1: Check your past investments…

And then re-check them! Speyer recommends getting started by reviewing your accounts and investments with a fine-tooth comb. “Focus on them to see if there were any problems in the past year,” she says. “Were there investments you didn’t authorize? How did your investments do last year?” This will help you determine how well your money moves are currently working and if they’re worth reconfiguring.

Financial resolution No. 2: Read your statements as they come…

That’s right, log on or check your mailbox regularly! Many people do not even open the envelopes containing their financial statements that arrive in the mail. Speyer suggests making a resolution to take an active watch over your finances. “You have to read the statements, track what is going on and see what your money is doing,” she says.

Financial resolution No. 3: Have a monthly review…

In 30 minutes or less! A great way to keep this resolution going all year long is to sit down at the end of every month with your bank or stock brokerage statement and review it. Try to make it fun by putting on your favorite music and keeping the review to 30 minutes or less.

Your financial future relies on what you do now. So while you're hopeful about the coming months, ask the necessary questions to ensure savings are taken care of properly. “People need to make a resolution to watch their finances just like they watch their health,” she says. “It is just as important.”

Fun Winter Exercise for Kids

For many moms, the holiday hustle and bustle means less time at the gym and possibly extra inches on your waistline. And exercise for kids also plummets come winter due to additional winter breaks from school, chilly temperatures and indulgent holiday treats also make it harder to stay healthy and fit. Try these three simple winter activities to help the whole family get moving and beat winter weight woes.

Invierno Fit-Family Tip No. 1:  Indoor fun and games

A good old fashioned game of hide and seek -- especially if you can keep everyone heading up and down the stairs -- is a great way to sneak in a little cardio. A vigorous heart-pumping dance off is another active way to work up an indoor-sweat. Clear the furniture, put on some high-energy tunes and get moving. Work-in intervals of different moves, like jumps, squats or toe touches, based on breaks and choruses in the songs playing.  

Invierno Fit-Family Tip No. 2:  Stretch and Sweat

Have your kids join you for some downward dog -- yoga is a fantastic way to be active and find calm -- you just need a mat and an instructional video or audio. There are tons of online yoga videos to stream and most cable providers’ On-Demand sections offer free workouts. Melt away your stress, stay trim and recharge together.

Invierno Fit-Family Tip No. 3:  Housework-out

Moms know you can easily break a sweat sweeping, mopping, and dusting. Set a list of three tasks the kids need to accomplish within a set amount of time -- the ticking clock will ensure they get their motors running. And while you and the fam may want to stay warm inside, shoveling snow from walkways to build a snowman is another great way for kids to help out and stay fit while having some winter fun.

The Artist Whisperer: E. Carmen Ramos

E. Carmen Ramos, the Smithsonian’s first curator of Latino art since 2010, has a must-see exhibition on display: Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art, at the American Art Museum through March 2014. The exhibition celebrates the creative vision of Latino artists and explores how their works reflect nuestra identidad as it has developed in the U.S. over the last half-century.

Here, three ways to encourage your own kids’ creativity taking a cue from Latina trailblazer, E. Carmen Ramos:

Cultivate creativity tip No. 1: Explore

For kids, art can provide a way to express unarticulated emotions and help make sense of the world around them. Madres can nurture their own budding artists by regularly exploring local museums and art centers, exposing them to influences outside of their everyday norm.

Cultivate creativity tip No. 2: Communicate

A common thread among the artists featured in Our America is their ability to portray their own cultural references or political views in innovative ways. Having a message is a great starting point when it comes to creating. Help your child decide what they want to convey with their art and the significance it can represent to others.

Cultivate creativity tip No. 3: Experiment

Encourage your kids to be fearless and experiment with materials and different ways of portraying their artistic instincts. Great art is not just about technical skill, but also ingenuity. Whether materials are recycled or store-bought let them know that art -- as well as their imagination -- is limitless. 

Healthy Invierno Skin

From icy winter winds to harsh indoor heating, our piel often takes a beating during the colder months. However, there’s no need to suffer through the winter with dry, chapped skin. We’ve rounded up some tips from dermatologists and nutritionists to protect your body’s largest organ and keep it moisturized even in the harshest weather.

Keep your winter skin dewy and fresh by staying hydrated outside and inside.

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Run a humidifier at night to replenish moisture while you sleep.
  • If your skin is especially dry, you may need to switch to a slightly heavier moisturizer. Renee Rouleau recommends taking “the skin cream test”: apply lotion to your entire face and wait five minutes; if you can still feel the cream, go for something lighter.
  • Moisturize before bed with a cream containing hyaluronic acid to help maintain elasticity.
  • Avoid taking long, hot showers or baths -- they may feel fabulous but they can actually dry out your skin.

While the sun’s rays may not be as bright this time of year, it’s essential to use sunscreen every day, year-round to keep your skin youthful and cancer-free.

Dry flaky skin leaves your complexion dull and makes it harder for your skin to absorb moisture. Skincare expert and best-selling author Paula Begoun recommends exfoliating daily with a product containing AHA, like Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel, if your skin is extra dry. For oily or rosacea-prone complexions try a product with BHA, like Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 1% BHA Gel.

Eating healthy is good for your whole body and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, flax or soy are especially good for maintaining that youthful glow.

One-pot Winter Wonders

Want to make an easy meal for your family? Ana Frias, the Latina blogger behind the great website, Fit, Fun & Delish, has created three meals that are sure to keep everyone warm and happy this winter. The best part is that they only require one pot!

Perfect for chilly nights, this comfort food recipe is a traditional Mexican soup that Frias often cooks up for her family. 


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

  • 7-ounce package of Mexican pasta. Shells, alphabet, or fideo (or vermicelli noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces)
  • 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • A dash of kosher salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • A dash of black pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon)


  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the pasta until slightly browned. About 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onions and sauté for another 1-2 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the broth, tomato sauce, beef bouillon, cilantro, pepper and salt.
  4. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium low; simmer until the noodles are tender, about 15 minutes.

Sloppy Joes
Although Frias likes to cook many dishes that honor her Mexican heritage, she serves this delicioso American classic to her family using lean ground beef and low-sugar ketchup. By adding a side of salad, she’s modified this one-pot dish into a healthy meal.


  • 1 pound ground beef, 96% lean
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef.
  2. When the beef is halfway cooked, add the celery, pepper and onion.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well (this is an optional step).
  4. When the beef is cooked all the way through, drain the juices, if any (I usually let it cook until all of the juice is gone. Since the meat is so lean it won’t have much fat juice to drain).
  5. Add the liquid mixture and simmer covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Cook until the meat has a consistency you like for serving on toasted buns.

Cochinita Pibil
Give the cheese and sour cream a break and head to southern Mexico for inspiration. In the Yucatan, you will find recipes for a savory, slowly roasted pork.


  • 2 pounds of boneless pork loin roast cubed into beef stew size (fat trimmed off)
  • 3.5 ounces achiote (annato condiment found in the Hispanic section of grocery stores)
  • 1 coke or 1 beer (“I use beer on mine,” says Frias)
  • 1 cube of beef bouillon
  • Add salt and pepper to taste if needed


  1. Put all ingredients in pot.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours or until the meat is very soft and pulls apart easily with a fork. Make sure to keep stirring so that it doesn’t get stuck at the bottom and the achiote dissolves all the way.
  3. Shred meat. Add it back to the pot and cook for a little while longer. Add a little water if necessary to keep the meat juicy.
  4. Heat the corn tortillas and enjoy!
“I like to add pickled red onions, salsa, and a squirt of lime juice to my tacos,” says Frias.