5 MONEY HACKS

SageJan18Money Hacks for a Happy New Year

Provided by Jonathan “Josh” Sheard, Sage Investments, LLC

Do you ever feel like you’re in a chronic cash crunch? That can be a real damper on your days and take the hope and expectation out of a new year.

But if money tops your list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re in luck!  Research shows you’re on the road to success.  According to Fidelity Investments, 56% of people who resolved to improve their finances last year did just that.  Better yet, 83% said last year’s financial resolution is an ongoing event instead of a one-time goal.  Who knew change could be so exciting?

Put those resolutions into action—and get a leg up on your happy New Year—with these five money hacks.

RedCircleWithNumberUse Cold, Hard Cash

Lots of folks choose plastic over cash for everyday purchases, and research shows that can lead you to spend more.  Why?  According to a Journal of Experimental Psychology study, parting with cash really is sweet sorrow.  Plastic simply doesn’t tug at your emotional strings in quite the same way.

So this year, put a little more pain back into your purchases.  Use envelopes to divvy your dollars up across everyday budget categories.  You might have one each for groceries, restaurants, entertainment, clothing, and pocket money.

On payday, fill your envelopes with the cash you budgeted for each category.  When an envelope’s empty, the spending stops for that category until your next paycheck.  It’s that simple.

RedCircleWithNumberGive Impulse Buys a 30-Day Notice

You went to the store for one thing and ended up with a cart full that you never intended to buy.  Once the thrill of the bargain hunt wore off, regret set in.

Sound familiar?  If so, join the crowd.  A recent study found that five in six Americans are impulse shoppers.

We all know it pays to sleep on a big money decision overnight.  But what about smaller purchases that crop up throughout the month?  Why not add them to your wish list and wait thirty days?  That gives you a chance to work them into next month’s budget.  And who knows?  That can’t-live-without item you had your eye on just might be on sale by then!

RedCircleWithNumberIgnore Interest Rates When Paying Down Debt

Want to put a big dent into your debt this year?  You might be tempted to grab debt by the jugular and attack the biggest interest rate first.  But it takes more than math to win.  According to Fidelity, the number one reason people stick to a money resolution is because they’re encouraged by their own progress.

That’s where the debt snowball comes in.  Here’s how it works: List your debts in order by outstanding balance, and attack the smallest one first.  Once you knock it out, roll that cash over to your next debt, working your way up to the biggest of the bunch.  You’ll build momentum—and motivation—as you watch your debts go down and your cash flow go up!

RedCircleWithNumberGo Roth With Your 401(k)

These days, most full-time workers have access to a 401(k) through their employer. This is a great way to save for retirement because it enables you to make pre-tax contributions for your future.

What you may not know is many employers offer a Roth 401(k) option, too.  According to a Willis Towers Watson study, 54% of large and midsize companies do, yet only 10% of employees take advantage of it.  That means lots of folks are missing out on tax-free growth.

Does it really make a difference?  Let’s compare.  The same amount of money went into two 401(k) accounts—one traditional and one Roth—and both grew at the same rate. The Roth takes the cake at retirement.

And beginning last year, any pretax match dollars your employer puts in can be converted to a Roth.  That’s means even more opportunity for tax-free growth!  Just keep in mind that you do have to pay taxes on any money you convert.  An investing professional can show you how it works so you can weigh your options and choose the strategy that’s right for you.

RedCircleWithNumberTake Advantage of Free Financial Education

It’s no secret that money can cause big-time stress.  According to the American Psychological Association, 72% of adults worry about money at least some of the time, and 32% say money woes stand between them and a healthy lifestyle.

This stress can distract you on the job, too.  It’s hard to get work done when you’re preoccupied with money problems.  No wonder almost 90% of employers surveyed by Aon Hewitt had their sights on a financial wellness program last year.

If your company offers this benefit, don’t miss out!  It’s a great way to learn how to manage your money and plan for the future.  That’s something everyone can feel good about!

SageGraphJan18You Can Do It!

The confetti may have settled, but the New Year’s fun has just begun.  It’s time to rock your resolutions and show your money who’s boss!

Who knows? You just might discover a fresh new burst of confidence that inspires you to set—and conquer—even bigger goals next year.

Josh is a Dave Ramsey Endorsed Local Provider for this area. He specializes in retirement income strategies, investments strategies, as well as additional financial strategies.  His focus is on lifelong financial guidance and his commitment is to place clients first and provide unmatched customer service. He would be glad to answer any questions regarding the content of this article as well as any others.  Call today at 570-729-1020 or email Josh at sage@cfiemail.com.  You can also visit www.sageinvestments.net.

debt featureJonathan Sheard offers securities and advisory services through Centaurus Financial, Inc. member FINRA and SIPA and a registered investment advisor.   This is not an offer to sell securities, which may be done only after proper delivery of a prospectus and client suitability is reviewed and determined. Information relating to securities is intended for use by individuals residing in PA, NY, AR, VA, FL, NC, GA, CT.

Sage Investments, Dave Ramsey and Centaurus Financial Inc are not affiliated.

MOLD AND YOUR HEALTH

DisBlasJan18#3By far, the most common questions that we receive concern the health effects of mold exposure.   While studies are still ongoing into the symptoms of being exposed to airborne mold spores and the compounds released by mold growth, we already have a good deal of information to go on.

Mold is an allergen

What this means is that mold affects everyone differently, and some people may have no reaction at all.  The best comparison is to something like cat dander.  While I may have no reaction at all, you or your family may.  With over 100,000 mold species globally, you may even find that one or two trigger a reaction in you, while others do not.

What symptoms have been attributed to mold exposure?

According to the CDC, which has spent a lot of time trying to quantify the health effects of mold exposure, people that are sensitive to molds can experience symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation.  Some people, such as those with serious allergies to molds, may even experience fever and shortness of breath, while those with chronic respiratory issues or asthma can find that their conditions are aggravated or worsened.  Recently, studies have begun to link early mold exposure to the development of asthma in some children, but more research is necessary and ongoing.

What about “black mold”?

“Black Mold” has made a lot of headlines over the years, but using this as a means to determine severity is a mistake.  For starters, many different varieties of mold can be black, and those same varieties of mold can also be green, white, or blue.  One of the predominant things that affects the color of mold growth is the food source, so the same mold, growing on a different material, can have a different color.  In addition, while “black mold” is often used to refer to Aspergillus, a mold that has been linked to various health effects, the media has used this term to refer to numerous other mold species as well, which has led to a tremendous amount of homeowner confusion.

Where do I find mold?

Molds can be found in virtually every environment and can be found both indoors and outdoors.  Common causes of mold problems include high humidity levels in basements or bathrooms, leaky pipes under cabinets or in wall cavities, and bathroom exhaust fans improperly venting into the attic.  As mold requires humidity/moisture to grow, the easiest way to prevent a mold problem from developing is to prevent or quickly resolve moisture issues.

While mold can be a scary word, it can be resolved.  As part of that process, it is important to not only look at the mold contamination and areas affected, but also the underlying moisture issue causing the mold problem.

About Disaster Blaster

Disaster Blaster is an indoor environmental firm serving the Northeastern PA Area.  For more about Disaster Blaster, please visit our website at: www.disasterblaster.com

 

HEALTHY LIVING HABITS THAT WORK

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

When it comes to advice about healthy living, there are opinions nearly every place you turn.  Unfortunately, a great deal of that information is based on fad diets and trendy workouts that may deliver quick results but don’t promote a sustainable, healthy lifestyle.

The medical community generally agrees that slow and steady is the way to win the race toward healthy living.  Adopting a broad set of healthier habits can deliver results over time and foster a new way of living that promotes your overall health and wellbeing.

Aim for balance.  A diet that combines healthy levels of protein and carbohydrates from all the food groups is the surest way to deliver your body the vitamins and nutrients you need for optimal health.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for an eating plan that is centered on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and reduced-fat dairy foods, rounded out by lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts for protein.  When planning your meals, be sure to limit saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugar.

Know when to say when.  Building a healthy lifestyle is about more than eating the right foods.  It also means keeping your calorie count in check.  That means keeping the amount you eat and the portion size in mind.  Work with your doctor or a nutritionist to determine your body’s true caloric needs, which can vary depending on numerous factors such as your age, activity level, and overall health.  Then get smart about the portion sizes that will help you stay within those parameters.  Initially, you may want to weigh out portions, but soon you’ll be able to recognize and adjust your portions on sight.

Set your body in motion.  Increasing your activity level not only helps burn calories and boosts your metabolism, it also helps tone your muscles and improve overall body condition by promoting healthy blood flow.  The exact amount of exercise you need will vary depending on your goals, age, and physical ability.  You may need to work up to the optimal level, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week for most adults.

Replace what you lose.  A strong workout may help you shed calories, but it also can deplete your body of essential fluids.  Staying hydrated is crucial to keep your body functioning properly, from regulating your body temperature to providing the lubrication your joints and muscles need to keep you in motion.  Rehydrating during and after exercise is important for getting the most out of your workout.  For example, try incorporating an electrolyte beverage, such as Propel Electrolyte Water, which helps replace what is lost in sweat and supports hydration by stimulating thirst and promoting fluid retention.  The ten flavors contain no calories and provide B vitamins to support metabolism as part of a daily diet and antioxidant vitamins C and E. Learn more at PropelWater.com.

Give yourself a break. Most experts agree it’s OK to indulge and enjoy your favorite treat occasionally.  Skipping a day at the gym won’t end your efforts either.  The key is to make those allowances an exception rather than the norm, skipping one day instead of three or eating a sliver of pie, not a giant slice.  Rewarding yourself within reason is a good way to stay motivated and create a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

7 WAYS TO PLAN FOR COLD AND FLU SEASON

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Declining temperatures can bring fun, cool-weather activities, but they also mean cold and flu season is lurking.  While everyone hopes to stay healthy, it can be difficult to completely avoid viruses and bugs.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a board-certified family physician and Braun spokesperson, offers some simple suggestions to help your family plan for cold and flu season.

Dispose of Expired Medicine

Spend some time checking the medications you already have at home.  Review the expiration dates, and if any need to be thrown out, research how to properly dispose of them according to local government guidelines.

14012_BStock Up

Before cold and flu season, make sure to stockpile must-haves like ginger ale, ice pops, and recommended cough suppressants.  Thinking ahead means you won’t have to rush out when you or a family member comes down with something.

Practice Healthy Habits

Encourage the entire family to maintain healthy habits such as regular hand washing, following a nutritious diet, drinking plenty of water, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue to help minimize the spread of cold and flu viruses.

Use a Reliable Thermometer

Reading the temperature of a person who feels ill can help provide confidence and peace of mind.  Make sure you have a reliable thermometer like the Braun ThermoScan 5 Ear thermometer, which takes professionally accurate temperature readings via the ear canal and, based on a survey, is the number one brand recommended by pediatricians who recommend a brand of thermometers.

“It’s important to carefully monitor potential illnesses to make sure children get and stay well, and taking an accurate temperature reading is a necessary part of this process, which is why I trust my Braun thermometer,” Gilboa said.  “As a doctor and a mom to four boys, it gives me the confidence to know that I’m accurately taking my child’s temperature before I take any next steps, like administering medication.”

Have Important Information on Hand

To save time when your child is ill, keep a reference of your child’s allergies, prescribed medications, dosage amounts, and current weight handy.  Health care providers typically need this information to correctly prescribe and dose most medications.  Other items to keep on-hand include school sick day policies, operating manuals for medical devices, and a reference of temperature readings that classify a fever.

Manage Humidity Levels

Control your home’s humidity levels with a humidifier to help prevent the survival of flu viruses on surfaces and in the air.

Keep Contact Information Accessible

Keep a list of important phone numbers and addresses inside your medicine cabinet door or on the fridge so they’re easily accessible to family members, babysitters, and caretakers.  Include your family doctor or local clinic, schools, pharmacists, and anyone else you may need to reach in an emergency.

If cold or flu reach your household this winter, it’s always important to consult a doctor if you have any questions regarding the health of your family members.  For more information, visit braunthermometers.com.