Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Walk Your Way To Weight Loss!

Would you like to get more exercise, but just can’t find the time? The America on the Move (AOM) program at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center says there’s an easy way to get moving. You can lose weight, and increase your energy by wearing a pedometer. A pedometer helps you monitor how much exercise you’re getting each day. More exercise adds up to weight loss and an increase in your energy.

Just by adding about 2,000 steps a day to your daily activities and eating 100 calories less, (about what’s in a slice of bread), you’ll begin to see results. Every step counts and you can see them adding up. You’ll be more likely to park farther away from work or the store in the parking lot. You could take a short walk after dinner in the evening.

And it’s EASY...no trips to the gym, no exercise equipment to buy, and you can monitor how much exercise you’re getting during the day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Leading Driver Distraction: Unruly Kids

Ask anyone what is the leading cause of car crashes...and he will say, “cell phones.” But, did you know that one of the greatest driver distractions is drivers dealing with unruly kids in the backseat! The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that driver distractions are responsible for one in four car crashes.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Consumer ALERT: Unwanted Medication Dangers

There’s a danger lurking out there that most of us don’t even know about — and it’s drugs in our groundwater. Dumping unused medications down the toilet is causing dangerous traces of medications in water samples from 30 states, according to authorities for the U.S. Geological Survey. Putting them in the trash is the better place to dispose of unwanted medications.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Might be Time to Review Your Homeowners Insurance!

Q. How do I know if my home is underinsured?

A. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following:

• It’s a good idea to insure your home for the cost of rebuilding it. Check your homeowners’ policy to see the maximum amount your insurance company would pay if it had to be rebuilt.
• Find out what it would cost to rebuild your home. Your insurance agent can calculate rebuilding costs for you or you can hire an appraiser (call or email me for references). Make sure your insurance agent knows about all improvements you’ve made, such as a deck or larger kitchen.
• Make sure the value of your policy is keeping up with increases in local building costs. Many policies include an inflation guard; if yours doesn’t, consider purchasing one.
• Find out if you have a “replacement cost” policy for your house. If you own an older home, you may have a “modified replacement cost” policy.
• For the contents of your home – find out whether you have “replacement cost” or “actual cash value” insurance.
• Check the limits on certain personal possessions, such as jewelry. Consider buying an “endorsement” to insure valuables separately.

If you have any questions, or need capable and trustworthy representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cutting Salt Could Save Your Life!

Please, Don’t Pass The Salt!

Americans consume almost two times the recommended amount of salt everyday! Most salt is hidden inside common foods...spaghetti, soup, pizza, and especially frozen dinners. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure...and high blood pressure can wreak havoc on your heart, brain, and kidneys.

The average person should eat no more than 2,400 mg. of sodium daily, which is the equivalent of one heaping teaspoon a day. The average American eats over 4,000 mg. a day, and 75 percent of it from processed food and restaurant meals, according to Dr. Stephen Havas, a researcher at the University of Maryland.

So before you buy food at the store, check the nutrition labels. Ask yourself, how much sodium is in one serving. Remember restaurant food can have even more sodium, so watch what you order. Ask for low-sodium entrees, or select fresh salads, and avoid those French fries.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Five EASY Memory Boosters!

Have you misplaced your keys again? If you’re like most people, it’s an occasional annoyance. But if it’s happening more frequently than you’d like to admit, maybe it’s time for some memory boosters to help strengthen your mind. Here are five easy tips to improve your memory power:

1. Keep Items Where You’ll Need Them. Keep your keys by the front door;
eye glasses in the same place everyday, and wallet/purse in the same location.
2. Keep A Notebook With A Calendar. Keep names, phone numbers, important
dates, medical information, to do lists, and a notepad. Carry it with you (or
carry a small notepad), so you can jot down information as needed.
3. Minimize Distractions. Focus on one thing at a time. Turn off the TV or radio
when you need to focus your attention on a task.
4. Exercise Your Mind. Read, do crossword puzzles, play cards, chess, or a
musical instrument to keep your mind active. Watch television shows like
Jeopardy or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
5. Take Care Of Your Body. Go for a walk, swim, or bicycle. It’ll clear your
mind. And remember to eat a balanced diet and get enough rest!

Monday, May 23, 2011

10 Things to Avoid at Work

10 Wacky Ways To Get
FIRED From Your Job!

“You’re Fired!” Could any two words strike more fear and panic in the human psyche? Getting fired is one of the world’s worst experiences. Rejection, humiliation and despair are just a few of the feelings that race through your mind.

A word to the wise: Here are 10 “doomed employee tricks” that’ll get you the boot faster than you can say “u-n-e-m-p-l-o-y-m-e-n-t” …

1. Get Caught With Your Hands In The Cookie Jar! Yes, the number #1 way to get fired – hands down, is get caught stealing from your employer.
2. Be an Under Achiever. Do as little as possible. Don’t go beyond your job description, and when a project is on a deadline, and your help is needed, remember “it’s not your job.”
3. Show Up Late And Leave Early. Again prioritize. You’re already late, so why not stop for a cup of coffee on the way to work?
4. Regularly Question Your Boss’ Ideas. Always try to do so publicly. And remember also to take credit for your co-workers ideas.
5. Complain Loudly And Often. Tell customers what you really think about the company...and them for that matter.
6. Have A Drink. What’s a long lunch without a couple of martinis, or brews. It’ll make the afternoon go by more quickly...or at least you won’t notice!
7. Make Lots of Personal Phone Calls. Don’t forget to call mom, dad, the kids, your sister, your hairdresser, and to arrange for soccer practice, ballet, your nails, and order clothes on-line at work. It’ll save time later in the day.
8. Embarrass Your Employer Publicly. Put sensitive company information in email messages. And talk about company secrets whenever you’re in public places.
9. Use E-mail And The Internet For Personal Use. Use your eight hours to take care of all your personal email business and fast Internet surfing.
10. Lastly, Take An Afternoon Nap. Just think how refreshed you feel when five o’clock rolls around – as well as your pink slip!
Oh…and if you hate your job, but haven’t been able to muster the gumption to quit, try these same tricks...they’re guaranteed to work!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why Pay, It's Online and FREE!!

Learn Almost Anything
Online For FREE

You don’t have to pay for a college degree program to learn over the internet. Whether you want to fix a leaky faucet, speak Chinese, or listen to a lecture on world history, there’s plenty of educational material available for free. Here are some good places to start (and some you might not have thought of):

• YouTube. It’s not just for funny videos any more. You can find tutorials on sports and home improvement as well as how to do the moonwalk! YouTube also has an education channel where you can view content from universities and other institutions. Go to www.youtube.com/edu and click on a category from Business to Social Science.

• The History Channel. On their site at www.history.com you’ll find videos on such subjects as the Civil War, Great Inventions and Space Exploration. Check out the videos under “Topics” and “Great Speeches.”

• DiscoveryEducation.com. Go here for videos on math, science, social studies and more that you can use to help your kids with their homework.

• University of California-Berkeley. Go to webcast.berkeley.edu to download hundreds of video or audio courses and on-campus lectures.

• The BBC. Visit www.bbc.co.uk/languages to study everything from Italian to Chinese. Taking a trip? Learn essential phrases in 36 languages.

• AcademicEarth.org. Watch lectures on subjects from Computer Science to Mathematics and Law given by professors from universities such as Harvard, MIT and UCLA.

• OpenCulture.com. This site is a guide to thousands of hours of the latest educational content on the web. Readers will be especially interested in the section on free e-books you can read on your computer.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Get Your Grad Off on the Right Financial Footing!!

Have This Talk To Avoid Financial Mistakes

Want to get your college (or high school) grad off on the right financial foot? The Better Business Bureau suggests you have a talk about avoiding these common (and expensive) financial mistakes:

• Not being prepared for emergencies. Plan ahead. Stash some cash so you’ll be able to have a least a three-month emergency fund.

• Living off credit cards and making minimum payments. Once you go down this road, you may never catch up.

• Using loan leftovers. If you happen to have some leftover loan money, don’t spend it – use it to pay back what you’ve borrowed.

• Rushing to build credit. While you want to have good credit, you don’t want to do it by opening multiple credit cards accounts. Chances are you’ll lose track of billing and end up in heavy debt.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Five Auto Maintenance Myths

Hit the brakes! You may be spending unnecessarily on car maintenance. Here’s how you can save money: For starters...make sure you read your owner’s manual! Most newer cars require a lot less maintenance than your family’s first car. Here are 6 more tips…
1. Oil Change. Some newer cars call for oil changes every 10,000 miles; the industry recommends every 7,500 miles. If you follow the factory schedule, your car will be in good shape well past the warranty period.
2. Lubricating The Chassis. Cars built in the past 10 years don’t require lubrication. Adding grease may end up costing you $$$.
3. Standard Tune-up. New cars have computer-controlled engines making the standard tune-up unnecessary. (No points and rotors...and some don’t have the standard distributor caps).
4. Flushing The Automatic Transmission System. Check your owner’s manual, but most manufacturers say it’s not needed until 60,000 miles.
5. Draining The Radiator. Most cars have closed systems and no longer need the radiator flushed twice a year. A new car’s coolant can last up to two years before it needs changing.
6. Changing Filters. Filters need replacing, but not at every oil change. Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals
For more information, or to find a mechanic in your area, check the Car Talk section of http://www.cars.com.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seven Secrets To A Happier Marriage

Ah...marital bliss...if only it were true. You’re not married? Don’t stop reading! There’s valuable information ahead for having healthy and happy love relationships. This applies whether you’re the spouse, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the dad, the mom, the child, or the grandparents.

Research shows it’s not the conflict that’s important in relationships, it’s how you manage the conflict. Here are seven secrets to improving your marriage...or any relationship that you want to enrich:

1. Keep Things Positive. If you want a happy relationship, researchers say you must be good-natured and friendly to your partner. Criticism and nit-picking are poison to good relationship building.
2. Follow The 1:5 Ratio. For every negative thing you say or do to your partner, you must balance it out by saying or doing five positive things.
3. Be Considerate and Respectful. Happy marriages and relationships are based on friendship and respect. Couples who like each other’s company and respect each other are more likely to stay together.
4. Don’t Try To Resolve The Irresolvable. There are times in a relationship that certain issues may not be resolvable. The key is to accept it and go forward.
5. Honor Differences. Couples who understand and accept each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies are more likely to stay together.
6. Sometimes It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It. Ninety percent of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice and word choice. Think before you speak. (If necessary, discuss conflicts while on the telephone, rather than face-to-face.)
7. Practice Relationship-Building Skills. Many couples think that, for things to improve, big changes must take place. Actually, making small changes in ourselves (acts of thoughtful kindness, compliments) can effect big, positive changes in your relationships.

Remember that marriage is like a bank account—you get out what you put in...with interest!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lose The Cruise On Slick Roads!

The American Automobile Association recommends turning off your cruise control when it’s raining or snowing. Tapping the brakes will usually disengage the cruise control. Roads covered with snow or ice are dangerous. And when driving on rain soaked roads at high speeds (60 mph or above) hydroplaning can occur, where there can be total separation of the tire from the pavement.

On wet and snowy roads, the AAA recommends:
1. Slow down and turn off your cruise control.
2. Avoid hard brakes and sharp turns.
3. Stay in the tracks of the car in front of you and increase your distance behind the car.

Monday, May 16, 2011

6 Ways to Stay Safe in Your Home

Watch Out For These
Home Health Hazards…

Are you aware there may be hidden dangers lurking in your home? These little known health hazards could be causing you and your family health problems…and you may not know it. Here are six hazards you can avoid by eliminating them from your home, or being attentive to the potential danger:

1. Do not reuse plastic drinking water bottles. After exposure to air and mouth-borne bacteria, these bottles can contain enough bacteria to be a biohazard.
2. Throw out corroded aluminum cooking pans. Recent research has shown that foods cooked in these pans absorb toxic amounts of aluminum. This can result in kidney failure, affect brain function (possibly associated with Alzheimer’s disease), and possibly contribute to abnormal behavior.
3. Be careful using electric blankets, especially anyone with occlusive arterial disease (result of blockage in an artery). An electric blanket’s uncontrolled heat can cause gangrene by increasing metabolism, but not circulation.
4. Don’t take aspirin and Vitamin C together in heavy doses or long-term. This can lead to ulcers and gastritis.
5. Never burn or over-heat your food in the popular non-stick cookware. This can impart traces of toxic fluorocarbon resins to foods. Throw out pans if the non-stick surface becomes scratched or peels.
6. Use over-the-counter eye drops sparingly. They relieve redness by the action of constricting blood vessels in the eyes so they will look whiter. If drops are used frequently, they can develop permanent (and very red) varicose veins in the eyeball.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

10 Ways To Live Forever

We all want to feel better, look better, and live as if we are a finely tuned instrument, or well-maintained vehicle. Here are the 10 tips I’ll share to get you started on the road to feeling, looking, and living better and increasing your chances for enjoying life.

1. Smile. Researchers at Harvard found that people with positive attitudes are more likely to have fewer heart ailments.
2. Take Monday Off. Researchers in New York found that missing a few days of work lowers your risk for stroke by 30 percent…not to mention most heart attacks occur on Monday morning!
3. Eat Oatmeal Cookies. University of Connecticut researchers found that eating oat-bran cookies daily can lower your LDL cholesterol by 20 percent.
4. Go To Bed Early. People who are fatigued have high levels of fibrinogen, a blood-clotting protein that reduces blood flow to your heart and brain.
5. Wash Your Hands. German scientists found people with high levels of antibodies from fighting infections also had more clogging of their arteries.
6. Read A Good Book. Need I say more?
7. Meditate 30 Minutes A Day. Researchers at Thomas Jefferson University found meditation may reduce depression and anxiety by up to 25 percent.
8. Drink Cranberry Juice. People who drink 8 ounces of cranberry juice a day increase their HDL cholesterol levels by 10 percent…reducing heart risk by 40 percent, according a New Jersey study.
9. Bike Your Blues Away. Biking was found to be as effective at relieving depression as antidepressants reported Duke University researchers.
10. Join A Group. People who have a circle of friends handle stress better and have less heart disease, according to University of Chicago researchers.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

10 Proven Strategies For Strengthening Your Family!

Is the quality of your family life important to you? According to a recent Harris poll, the majority of working men and women place the highest value on a work schedule providing plenty of time for family. We sure don’t need to look very far to discover the challenges families are facing today. The good news is there are quick and easy ways to strengthen your family and promote each other’s personal growth.

Here are 10 positive key strategies that you can use today to improve and strengthen your family now…and for years to come.

1. Make Family Your First Priority. Strong families spend lots of quality time together. We’ve all heard the well-known quote, “How do kids spell love?” T-I-M-E! Strong families spend lots of positive time working on family projects and playing together. And they enjoy being together too.

2. Appreciate One Other. Strong families appreciate each other’s unique qualities and contributions and express their feelings openly. Make a commitment to compliment each other at least once each day.

3. Foster Communication. Strong families listen to each other, respect each other’s opinions, and avoid interrupting. One of the most valuable ways to foster communication is by having at least one meal together each day. During the meal, make it a point to engage everyone on their daily experiences, discoveries, challenges and goals.

4. Strengthen Commitment. Strong families work together to solve their problems. They may not always agree, but they are willing and able to bring things out into the open and to talk about them.

5. Create Traditions. Strong families stay connected – another reason for having at least one meal together each day. Also, give your children the gift of friendship with their cousins, aunts, and uncles by keeping in touch regularly. You’ll be giving them happy memories and friendships to last a lifetime.

6. Set Rules and Expectations. Strong families set and put into practice clear guidelines and limitations. Family members take responsibility for their actions.
7. Support Each Other. Strong families support one another during challenging times. When family members feel valued by one another, they know they have someone they can turn to for support.

8. Identify Your Family’s Strengths. Have each family member write down something he/she likes about each family member (animals included!). Put them up on a bulletin board or refrigerator magnets for everyone to see.

9. Set Achievable Family Goals. Setting and achieving family goals, even if they are small, cultivates success and creates unity. Set goals together whether it’s saving for a family trip, a car, or a new home. The ideas are endless.

10. Strong Families Love Unconditionally. Strong families love with unconditional acceptance that builds strong heart and faith connections.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How to Get Your House Ready to Sell This Spring

Q. We are getting ready to sell our house. What suggestions can you give us to prepare it to sell for top dollar?

A. Buyers are looking for a home, not a house. They want a home they would like to have as their own, so focus your attention on making your home as pleasing as possible. Start by viewing your home at the entrance. Is it well kept and in good condition? If not, make the necessary changes needed to get you the most return for your home. Here are several steps you can take to make your home ready for show:

 Begin at the curb of your house. Sweep the sidewalk, mow the lawn, prune the bushes, weed the garden, and clean any debris from the yard.
 Clean all the windows—inside and out.
 Deep clean all rooms, furnishings, floors, walls, and ceilings. Make sure the bathrooms and kitchen are spotless!
 If your house needs painting, go ahead and make the investment. When you do, it’s best to choose neutral colors.
 Organize all the closets, and clear away all the clutter.
 Be sure the basic appliances and fixtures work. Fix any leaky faucets in the kitchen or bathrooms.
 If you have a small room and want to make it appear larger, add a mirror.
 Place several vases of fresh flowers, and plants throughout the house.
 Make sure the house smells pleasing. You can bake cookies, muffins, or simmer scented tea to add a pleasant aroma to your home.

Your accessories can enhance a room by setting a mood. Keep in mind a few interesting accents are better than a lot of knickknacks that clutter. Choose complementary accent colors and arrange them around the room.
You also may want to purchase some items specifically for decorating. Sometimes just by adding a few furniture pieces, pictures, lamps, plants, dishes and other items, you can turn your ho-hum house into a lovely showplace!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Are You Hooked On Salt?

How To Shake The Salt Habit

Are you hooked on salt? Most of us are. Adults consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day on average and that doesn’t count what you add with the salt shaker! Too much sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, leading to heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems. Here’s what you need to know and do to shake the habit.

• Your body needs sodium to function, but only about 500 milligrams a day. Table salt is 40 percent sodium so one teaspoon is 2,300 milligrams. Set your salt budget to 1,500 milligrams a day (two-thirds of a teaspoon).

• Seventy-seven percent of the sodium consumed is from processed and restaurant food. Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking steps to reduce the sodium, but while that’s happening, it’s up to you to take control. When eating out, share entrees, order smaller portions and ask for sauces and dressings on the side.

• Cook more at home and shop selectively. Cook with fresh herbs and spices, and rinse the contents of canned foods before you use them.

• Learn some salty language. The term “reduced sodium” only means that the product contains at least 25 percent less than its original version. “Sodium-free” is better – it means less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. Look for “%DV” (or daily value) for sodium on the Nutrition Facts label. Anything above 20 percent is high. Aim for 5 percent or less.

• Watch out for diet foods. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, for example, has only 15 calories, but 480 milligrams of sodium.

• Focus on eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. These are all high in potassium, magnesium and calcium, minerals needed to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

For more salt strategies, go to the Harvard School of Public Health site at www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt/tasting-success-with-cutting-salt/index.html

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Manage Your Workflow and Get Things Done

Learn How To Organize
And Get Things Done

Do you feel like you’re always working to keep up, but don’t really get anything done, especially around holidays? In his best-selling book Getting Things Done, David Allen gives you an effective time management system to help you organize your stuff, your work activities and your personal life.

Allen’s key idea is to start with a “mind sweep” ─ get everything out of your head and down on paper (or other written form). Once your mind is cleared, your productivity goes up and you can focus on creative action. His five basic stages of mastering your personal or professional “workflow” are:

1) Collect. Capture anything and everything that is on your mind.
2) Process. Decide what each thing means. Is it something you should do? Do it now or later? Can you delegate it (and track on a “Waiting For” list)?
3) Organize. Place the items in categories, such as Projects, Calendar, Next Actions and Waiting For, and sub-categories of your choice. (To help you visualize this, he includes a diagram for navigating through the processing and organizing phases of your workflow.)
4) Review. Go over Calendar and Action lists daily and do a weekly customized review to get clean and current.
5) Do. Make choices about your actions based on what you can do, how much time and energy you have and your priorities.

Another one of his most popular methods is the “two minute rule.” If any task can be completed in less than two minutes (for example, a quick email response), do it immediately. Stop putting those little things off.

Allen says Getting Things Done is “just advanced common sense.” But once you learn how to get everything under control, real change begins.

Millions of people around the world have found that his methods work. To order the book, search for “Getting Things Done” at www.amazon.com.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Could This Be The Most Important Purchase Of Your Life?

Ever wake up tired or sore from a night’s sleep? If so, you’re not alone. Many people suffer from sleepless nights and don’t know why. But did you know the likely culprit may “rest” with your mattress?

We all know that a good night’s sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing. So, if you’re not getting the best sleep possible, you may want to start shopping for a new mattress. It’s recommended that you replace a mattress every eight to 10 years. Here are a few tips to follow. First and foremost, don’t let anyone, (that includes pushy salespeople) tell you what kind of mattress you need. Your body will help you make that decision.

Before You Buy, Always Test The Mattress. How you sleep may have an impact on the best mattress for you. If you like to sleep on your stomach, you may like a medium firm mattress. If you sleep on your side, you may want a bed that is softer on your hips and shoulders. If you sleep on your back, you may like a firmer bed. Whatever position you prefer, let your body find the mattress that works best for you.

Traditional Coil Mattresses - The S’s Have It!
Coil-spring mattresses are the most popular mattresses on the market. The leading mattress manufacturers all begin with the letter S:
Simmons, Spring Air, Sealy, Serta, and Stearns & Foster. You can expect to pay about $299 for a twin set to $999 for a popular queen-sized model, and much more for the luxury mattresses. There are many less-known brands that offer the same quality, but for about $100 less. If you buy below these prices, you may find your mattress may not last long. The old adage, “you get what you pay for,” especially holds true when buying a mattress.

Latex Mattresses – A Good Idea For Allergy Sufferers
Latex mattresses are antimicrobial and antibacterial, so they don’t harbor dust mites — a leading cause of allergies. Many people like the softness and support found with latex mattresses. They are a bit more expensive than the traditional coil mattresses, from about $899 for a twin set to $1,499 for a queen set. Latex mattresses, however, are not suitable for anyone who is allergic to latex! Nature’s Rest is the leading manufacturer.

Foam Mattresses – A Revolutionary Idea
“Viscoelastic temperature sensing” foam mattress sales have taken-off in the last decade. NASA first developed the body-hugging technology, which uses your body heat and weight, to create “memory cells” within the mattress. The memory cells then adjust to your body’s form, providing comfort and support. Tempur-Pedic, and Strobel Technologies offer a twin bed for $999; a queen set at $1,399. You also will need to purchase a foundation for about $149-$300.

Air Beds – The Latest Craze
According to analysts, air beds are the fastest growing segment in the industry. They are popular because they offer dual controls for couples with different firmness preferences. Each person can adjust the firmness of the mattress, by either increasing or decreasing air pressure. Prices start at about $450 for a twin, and $1,700 for a queen-sized model. Comfortaire and Select Comfort are the leading air bed manufacturers.

Before you buy a mattress, do your homework. Check the retailer’s return policy. Mattress manufacturers generally offer a 10-year warranty, or more. Some retailers offer their own warranty. This is a plus because if you have a problem, you can avoid the hassle of returning the mattress to the manufacturer. Watch out for any extra costs. Some mattress retailers offer free delivery; some do not. Most retailers include the basic metal frame in the price; some do not.

Bottom line? If you not getting the best sleep possible, you may want to start shopping for a new mattress. It just might be the most important purchase in your life!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Public Speaking Tips From The Experts!

You’ve just been asked to lead a meeting, introduce someone at a dinner or church, or give a speech in front of a large group. Are you feeling panicked?
If you’re like thousands of people, you may have a real fear of public speaking.
But there’s really no need to worry, says Janet Esposito, author of “In the Spotlight: Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Performing.”

“Your audience wants you to succeed!” she says. “The key to success is in the preparation.” You can make your next public speaking experience a success by following these expert tips:

1. Make a list of material you want to cover. Outline your material, and then write down the words you want to use and revise as needed.
2. Check for accuracy, redundancies, and clich├ęs. Use everyday language that both you and your listeners are comfortable with. Avoid using a lot of technical terms and statistics.
3. Use a tape recorder and practice aloud until you are comfortable with your delivery.
4. Print your key points on index cards. You can refer to them while speaking.
5. Consider your audience’s level of knowledge on the subject. Be prepared to answer questions.
6. Picture yourself speaking with confidence in a loud, clear voice.
7. Don’t mention that you are nervous or that you have problems with speaking. That calls attention to something the audience hasn’t even noticed.
8. Focus on your message and the information your audience needs, not on yourself.

If you need quality feedback join a local Toastmasters group in your area. They are a nonprofit educational organization for the purpose of helping members improve their communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. It is also a lot of fun!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

New Nutrition Information Coming Soon!!

Read These Labels To
Become A Smarter Shopper

Consumers should be able to make better buying decisions in the coming months, thanks to two new voluntary labels that will appear on U.S. products:

 “Nutrition Keys.” This icon will summarize important nutrition information from the Nutrition Facts Label and put it on the front of the package. It will display calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar per serving and say how each serving contributes to overall diet based on recommended daily nutrition intake (expressed as “percent of daily value”). Other nutrients that may appear on some products are potassium, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, iron and protein. To see what this looks like, go to www.gmaonline.org.

 “USDA Certified Biobased Product” seal. This will identify products made from renewable resources composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients – renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. As products get certified, you’ll start seeing it on everything from trash bags and cleaning supplies to skin care products. The USDA hopes the seal will give the same consumer boost to biobased products as Energy Star did to energy-efficient appliances. See an example of the seal at www.biopreferred.gov.

 But wait – there’s more! The Department of Agriculture announced that nutrition labels will be required on meat and poultry beginning Jan.1, 2012. The labels will list calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein and vitamins for 40 commonly purchased cuts of beef, poultry, pork and lamb.

 Still to come: Requirements for chain restaurants and vending machine operators to post calorie information. Some restaurants (such as Subway) already make the information available.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Does Your Phone Number Spell?

Are you trying to come up with a clever 800 number? Here’s a clever calculator that can tell you what telephone numbers are associated with a word. And it can tell you what your phone number spells. Go to www.phonespell.org.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Buyers Beware!

Today, consumers are more careful with their money...and complain if they don’t get their money’s worth. According to the Consumer Federation of America, the top three areas of complaints are: 1) automotive sales, 2) home improvement, and 3) automotive repairs. These are followed by credit companies, advertising/telemarketing, and collection and bill paying practices.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cure Snoring In 7 EASY Steps!

Is someone else keeping you awake at night? If your sleep partner is a snorer, chances are you need some tips to improve your sleep. Here are a few to help you through the night:

1. If your snorer is overweight, get him (or her) to lose weight.
2. Have your snorer roll over...no sleeping on his/her back!
3. Put three tennis balls in a sock and attach it to the back of his/her nightshirt. This prevents the snorer from sleeping on his/her back.
4. Buy earplugs for you.
5. Try using nasal strips for your snorer. They work.
6. Go to bed earlier than your snorer...you’ll be in a deeper sleep stage.
7. Get a white-noise generator to drown out the sound.

Usually, snoring is caused by allergies, congestion from colds, nasal blockages, a deviated septum, and even acid reflux. But snoring has also been linked to more serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure or sleep apnea. If the snoring is severe, have your partner see a doctor to see what is causing the snoring.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What To Do When Romance And Finances Collide…

When couples disagree about money, you can bet there’s going to be trouble. The good news is most money problems can be solved by simply talking.
You may want to begin by asking yourself, “What’s Your Money Personality”? According to Olivia Mellan, author of Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts in Your Life and Relationship, most people fall into one or more loosely defined money personalities:
• Spenders are the shop until-you-drop consumers who gain pleasure from buying. They don’t budget, prioritize or save.
• Hoarders like strict budgets and prioritize everything. They see spending money on entertainment, vacations, and any extras as frivolous.
• Avoiders put off money management because it overwhelms them. Since they don’t like budgets or keeping records, they often forget to pay their bills.
• Amassers like to stockpile their money to feel safe and happy. The bigger the pile, the more secure they feel.

So what’s your money personality, and what’s your spouses? This may help you understand your partner’s relationship to money. When it comes to talking about money with your partner, here are four strategies to help you on the road to better communication:

1. Timing is everything. When it comes to talking about money, choose a time when people are feeling good.
2. Stay positive. Don’t accuse your partner. Focus on how the behavior is making you feel, and look for solutions.
3. Be specific. For example, “I’m feeling concerned about the money we’re spending on this vacation.”
4. Assume win-win situations are possible! Find your common ground where both of you can agree and each get most of what you want.

Once you and your spouse have identified your individual styles, set-aside time to define common objectives and find strategies that work around your differences, so you can meet those goals. If your tempers begin to heat-up, agree to meet at another time when both of you are calmer.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Reverse Mortgage Laws Now in Effect

Q. What changes have been made to laws on reverse mortgages?

A. First, a reverse mortgage is a loan that lets homeowners (age 62 or older) convert the equity in their homes into cash. The equity can be paid to the homeowners in a lump sum, a stream of payments, or as a supplement to Social Security or other retirement funds. No repayment is required until the borrower no longer uses the home as their principal residence.

Here are the key changes to the laws involving reverse mortgages according to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008:

• The loan limit has been increased from $362,790 (depending on home values in the region) to a nationwide limit of $417,000, and that can increase to as much as $625,500 in high-cost areas.
• Fees are now capped at 2 percent of the first $200,000 borrowed and 1 percent on the balance, with a maximum of $6,000. To protect seniors from aggressive marketing tactics, the law prevents lenders from requiring borrowers to purchase insurance, annuities or other products as a condition for getting the mortgage.

While these changes have made the mortgages more attractive, they aren’t for everyone. You should do your homework and talk with a loan counselor.

If you have any questions, or need capable and trustworthy representation, please call me at 206-226-0565.