Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Become Smarter With Your Money in the New Year

Are you smart when it comes to money? Since many of us would say “probably not,” here are some basic bad money habits and good ones you should adopt to replace them in the New Year. Bad: Using the same credit card for years. Good: Get a new card with terms and rewards that are appropriate to your life style. Use the credit card tool on a site like www.nerdwallet.com to choose the best card to meet your needs. Bad: Not tracking your spending. Good: Make a budget and have a plan. Track your spending and be prepared for major purchases that may lie ahead. Check out sites like www.youneedabudget.com, www.budgetsimple.com, and the free app Debts Monitor. Bad: Doing everything manually. Good: Take advantage of technology by setting up automatic payments tied to your credit card for bills that can be paid online. You’ll avoid late payments that can lower your credit score. Bad: Not investing your money. Good: Invest in yourself now by contributing to your employer’s 401(k) program, and putting money into a mutual fund or trading account. Consider talking to a financial advisor who can help you make investment decisions. It might be a good time to consider investing in real estate if it works for your portfolio! Bad: Going it alone. Good: Hang out with successful people. Their good habits can rub off on you!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Causes and Cures of Pain

From aching joints to general fatigue, sometimes we’re plagued by symptoms, but we don’t know what the medical problem could be at the root of our pain. Here are a few health issues that could be causing your problems, and a few “quick tips” that may help. 1. Backaches – An old mattress can cause back pain, but you may want to have your doctor check your vitamin D levels – a deficiency can cause back and joint pain. A daily supplement can help if that’s the culprit. Weakened vertebrae, muscle fatigue, and back spasms may be eased with daily stretching, yoga, and hot and cold therapy applied via heating pads and ice packs (see your doctor for help with how to use this correctly). 2. Aching joints – Pain sensitivity is particularly acute for women who have gone through menopause. If you eat tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, dairy, and/or gluten, keep a food diary to see if food sensitivity is a culprit of your pain. 3. Lethargy and fatigue – Remaining alert and awake ensures you’re working at your highest levels of productivity. If you’re also suffering from sensitivity to cold and unexplained weight gain, hypothyroidism could be to blame. Of course, poor sleep could be at fault; get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day to increase levels of deep sleep. 4. Foot pain – Though gout affects joints throughout the body, the most common place for this painful condition to occur is the base of the big toe. Pain concentrated in the heel or arch of the foot may result from plantar fasciitis. Ditch the high heels and tight-fitting shoes, and lose excess weight to help decrease pain. Alcohol and stress can increase gout flare-ups. For a more comprehensive list of possible hidden causes and cures of pain, try this online tool: symptomchecker.isabelhealthcare.com

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Lowering Home Heating Bills

As temperatures drop, the heating bill rises. Before the shock of your first higher-than-average bill, here are some things you can do to your house to make sure you’re not wasting money. • Keep Heat Inside – Close the fireplace flue or damper tightly when you’re not using it. Replace worn weatherstripping around windows and doors. Add caulk or foam sealants around your electric outlet boxes. These small measures can add up. • Adjust Temperatures – Lowering the thermostat by only 2-3 degrees can make a big difference. Having a programmable thermostat is even better since you can set it to 10-15 degrees cooler when you’re not home or awake. Turn down the water heater to the “warm” setting – it’s still 120 F, plenty warm for a hot shower. • Give Your Furnace a Check-Up – Make sure your furnace is running as efficiently as possible and you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck. Electric and oil heaters should be serviced every year, while gas heaters should get a check-up every two years.

Friday, October 5, 2018

6 Surprising Food Safety Tips

You probably learned some basic food safety tips from your parents or in school. But here are some important rules you may not know about.  Food safety starts at the grocery store. Pick up frozen and refrigerated items last before checking out.  Even fruits and veggies you peel should be washed before eating, since it’s very easy for bacteria to transfer from the peel to the part you’ll eat.  Raw flour can carry E. coli, among other things, and should only be consumed after it’s been cooked.  Thaw meat in the fridge when possible, but you can also safely thaw it in cold water or in the microwave. If thawed in water or the microwave, meat should be used immediately.  All marinating should be done in a covered container in the fridge, not on the countertop. Even acidic marinades can allow bacteria growth at room temperature.  Your nose is not a reliable tool for testing food safety. Things that cause food poisoning don’t always make things “smell bad.” Refer to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Safe Storage Times chart instead at: www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/storagetimes.html Find out how to properly store all your perishables to extend their usefulness and keep them safe. Download the USDA’s “FoodKeeper” app for Apple and Android or consult this website: www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp/

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Reading Bingo For Kids

Create a checklist of fun reading “assignments” on a bingo card and offer rewards for completing it. Here are a few ideas for the boxes: • Read something written the year you were born. • Read a poem. • Read every article in one magazine. • Read a few pages to your parents from your favorite book. • Read while wearing a swimsuit. • Read on the floor of your local library. • Read something a favorite teacher read when he/she was your age.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Encouraging Young Readers

A lifelong love of reading starts early. Fostering that love means creating a home environment that encourages affection for the written word. There are some simple things parents can do to make sure reading is fun, easy, and enjoyable for children. Read aloud to your kids. Even if they can read on their own, reading aloud means kids hear language at a more advanced level than their own. Get older kids to read aloud to younger siblings. And yes, audio books count! Play audio books the whole family can enjoy on your next road trip. Mix up the media. Not only do audio books count as reading material, there are lots of other ways to incorporate reading into every day. Magazines, recipes, and game instructions are just a few of them. Put reading material where kids spend time. Having a well-stocked library in the den is great, but keeping a few books and magazines in the bathroom, car, or at the dinner table (when the kids are a captive audience!) ensures reading material is accessible whenever the mood strikes. Create cozy reading spaces. Kids love hidey holes, whether that’s an actual nook under the stairs or a simple blanket fort under the dining table. Make sure there’s good lighting, comfy pillows, and plenty of books. Read in front of your kids. Modeling your own love of reading is one of the best ways to get kids to love it, too. Instead of movie night, try a reading night when everyone lounges together to read for an hour or two.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

3 Life-Saving Numbers…

Do you know your numbers? You should know and track at least these three to save your life. Blood pressure. Normal is below 120/80. Some doctors say to aim for 115/76 or less. TV’s Dr. Oz adds that you can lower it by losing just 10 percent of any weight you’ve gained since you were 18. Cholesterol. Your total should be less than 200. HDL (good cholesterol) should be more than 40 for men and 50 for women. Optimal LDL (lousy cholesterol) is 100 or lower. Triglycerides should be less than 150. To help lower your cholesterol, add these to your diet: soy-based foods, almonds, grains and veggies. Blood sugar. Fasting blood sugar should be less than 100. One way to help keep yours stable is to switch to whole-wheat pasta. It also contains magnesium, which lowers the risk of diabetes. Know your numbers, and ask your doctor what you can do to improve them