Self Help Tips – America’s Retirement Score Hits All-Time High – Money – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – American savers are more financially prepared for retirement than they’ve been since the dawn of YouTube. And Millennials deserve an extra special shout-out for how much money they’ve been socking away.

That’s according to Fidelity Investments’ latest biennial Retirement Savings Assessment study, which – while mostly upbeat – also makes clear that all too many of those surveyed remain “at risk” of not being able to fully cover essential expenses in retirement if they don’t turn things around.

Specifically, after totaling up the assets of the 25- to 74-year-old respondents earning at least $20,000 annually – and that included current or expected Social Security benefits – Fidelity estimated that the typical saver is on track to have 80 percent of the income he or she will need to cover retirement costs. That’s the highest it’s been since the study was first conducted in 2005, when the same figure was 62 percent and people were just beginning to know the joys of watching videos of cats performing weird tricks.

“It’s a significant improvement,” says Ken Hevert, Fidelity’s senior vice president of retirement, who attributed the rise to both a higher median savings rate compared to 2006 (8.8 percent vs. 3.6 percent) and better portfolio asset allocation.

Even more comprehensively, four color-coded categories were used to show where households fell on a retirement preparedness spectrum based on their ability to handle estimated expenses in a down market:

* Dark Green Thirty-two percent were on target to cover more than 95 percent of their freight (up 1 percent from 2016).

* Green. Eighteen percent were looking good as far as essentials go, but not discretionary items like travel and entertainment (down 1 percent from 2016).

* Yellow. Twenty-two percent were off track, with “modest adjustments” likely required to their planned lifestyles (down 1 percent from 2016).

* Red. Twenty-eight percent definitely “need attention,” to put it kindly (up 1 percent from 2016).

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the study had to do with Millennials.

For the first time ever, those born between 1981 and 1992 surpassed the older Generation X in Fidelity’s unique cross-generations scorecard. The latter are on track to have 78 percent of the retirement income they’ll need, while the former lags behind by 1 percent – though that’s presumably after many of them dipped into their own savings to pay the college tuitions of their Millennial offspring. “Millennials are clearly putting money aside for retirement and taking more control of their personal situations,” says Hevert.

And Baby Boomers? Collectively, they’re in the best position of all, especially those Baby Boomers with increasingly rare pensions, and are on course to have set aside 86 percent of the money they’ll need.

For those curious where they stand, Fidelity allows anyone to access their retirement score online. And if you really want a cushiony retirement, keep in mind that you could have 108 percent of what you’ll need by embracing all three of the following “accelerators”: saving at least 15 percent of your income yearly; ensuring an age-appropriate asset mix; and deferring Social Security benefits till at least 66 or 67.

“While these actions taken separately are clearly helpful,” says Hevert, “doing all three could help bring you from good to great.”

 



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Self Help Tips – 4 Tips for Cutting Your Home Energy Bills Even in Winter – Home – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – Sponsored by GAF – You know it’s cold when it snows in Florida.

Which is exactly how the new year unfortunately began thanks to a “bomb cyclone” that hammered much of the East Coast with heavy snow, howling winds, and temperatures so frigid that Niagara Falls on the Canadian border actually froze. Meanwhile, Embarrass, Minnesota – yes, that’s really the town’s name – was busy winning the unofficial title of “The Last Place in the Freezing Midwest You’d Want to Go Skinny Dipping,” by hitting a low of 45 degrees below zero on New Year’s Eve.

Forty-five degrees. Below. Zero.

While you’re imagining the heating bills in Embarrass and with winter far from over, read on for some tips for lowering your own home energy costs that you may not have thought of.

* Easiest money-saver ever. “Aside from the furnace, a laser printer draws the most standby power in the house at $131.07 watts,” SaveOnEnergy.com reports. And yet, even though that translates into about $131 a year, a new survey found that only 14 percent of respondents unplugged their printers when not using them.

* Pellet stoves aren’t just for environmentalists. ThisOldHouse.com likens them to the family pet — “they require a regular feeding schedule” — but Fido won’t heat a 3,000-square-foot ranch house, say, for perhaps less than $120 a month. And with the weather turning chillier in most places, curling up with a glass of wine in front of one of these babies in the living room could be as appealing to romantics as their eco-friendly heating is to greenies.

What’s a “regular feeding schedule”? Depending on the size of the hopper and how often you use the stove, you’ll need to load in pellets — made from super concentrated sawdust — every four or five days.

* Make sure your attic is properly ventilated. Homeowners might as well just send utility companies a blank check if they lack what GAF’s Jason Joplin, program manager for the Center for Advancement of Roofing Excellence, calls “a continual flow of air to help protect the efficiency of your attic’s insulation.”

The culprit working against achieving that: excess moisture buildup that clings to your roof’s underside in winter from seemingly benign sources — i.e., appliances, showers and cooking vapors — before ultimately soaking the insulation when the condensed moisture falls.

Don’t be one of the 86 percent.

Joplin’s suggestion to help ward off the problem? A properly balanced ventilation system consisting of Cobra Ridge Vent (installed at the ridge) and Cobra IntakePro (installed at the eave) by GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. “Both products work in tandem to allow cool, fresh air to enter at the eave edge while forcing moist, super-heated air out of the ridge vent,” he explains.

* Adjust door thresholds. “Sneaky” is the word Popular Mechanics magazine uses to describe this hint. The theory being, if you can see daylight beneath your front door, it means the indoor air –which, remember, you’re paying to heat or cool — is escaping outside.

“A little light in the corners is okay, but don’t raise the threshold so high that it interferes with opening and closing the door,” the magazine notes.



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Self Help Tips – Senior Care Requests Rise After Family Visits During The Holidays – Seniors – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – For adult children with aging parents, spending time together around the holidays can bring attention to changes in lifestyle or behavior that might indicate that a senior needs assistance at home.

For those who provide senior care, the weeks immediately following the holidays tend to be the busiest of the year as families work to arrange care for aging loved ones. According to Home Instead Senior Care, January is the highest volume month for new inquiries related to senior care. Home Instead saw a 41 percent rise in service inquiries from December 2016 to January 2017.

Families who have recently spent time with aging loved ones should consider these factors when deciding whether it is time to engage a senior care provider.

* Mood. Was a senior loved one acting different around the holidays this year? Was he or she less talkative or more emotional?

* Physical appearance. Did mom or dad lose a significant amount of weight since your last visit? Did they appear to be keeping up with personal hygiene?

* Social life and routine. Did an aging relative mention socializing with neighbors and friends? Do he or she seem to be interested in making plans and getting out and about?

* Household. During holiday visits, was their home clean and orderly? Have they fallen behind on paying bills, refilling medications, or housework?

* Food choices. Did they have nutritious food at home, or was the refrigerator empty because they can’t make it to the grocery store?

Families who notice changes in senior loved ones can find support and resources at caregiverstress.com or by reaching out to a local Home Instead Senior Care office. For many older adults, help with everyday tasks such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders can allow them to stay safe and healthy at home.

For more information, visit caregiverstress.com or find a Home Instead office near you at www.homeinstead.com/state.

 



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Self Help Tips – Is A Debt-Free Life Possible? – Money – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – Leslie Balfaqih couldn’t believe how much money she and her husband wasted every month. “Our financial life was a mess,” Leslie says from her home in Florida.

“To say we were disorganized is putting it mildly.”

Like so many Americans, they didn’t have a plan for their money.

The problem is often not how much money a family makes, but that they have no idea what they’re spending it on. Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers say they live paycheck to paycheck, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder. Worse, most feel it will always be that way. But it doesn’t have to be.

Financial experts agree that the best way to break the vicious cycle of scrambling to make ends meet is by having a written budget and sticking to it. Leslie heard about a website, EveryDollar.com and the EveryDollar budgeting app that makes it simple to create a budget, manage money, and track spending. They signed up, set up their budget, and they’ve stuck to it for years. “We paid off $165,000 in debt since we got started. Now we’re in a position to be completely debt-free, including our house and rental property, in the next three years.”

The “B” word has gotten a bad rap. Budgeting sounds hard. It sounds restricting. Frankly, it sounds boring. But people who’ve made budgeting the center of their financial behavior have discovered quite the opposite. The technology behind apps like EveryDollar make budgeting easy. Rather than feeling restricted, they say it feels as if they have permission to spend – just not permission to waste.

Sierra Schmidt was surprised by how much having a budget changed her attitude. She’s a single mother in Spokane, Washington, whose bills include daycare, rent, and student loans. “I felt so far behind every month, and things seemed hopeless,” she says.

“Now, I keep track of every dollar, and the numbers are right in front of me. I’m getting ahead instead of falling behind. Every month I feel more confident that I can wipe out the debt that’s been so stressful.”

Sierra and Leslie empowered themselves to take control of their money. You can too. Creating a budget and sticking to it could change your life and help you take control of your money in the new year.

EveryDollar is a free budget app that allows users to create customized monthly budgets, and seamlessly track expenses, income and savings from the convenience of their computer and phone. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices. EveryDollar launched in March 2015 and now has more than three million users.

Learn more by visiting www.everydollar.com.

 



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Self Help Tips – How to Age with Optimism – Health – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – Having a “glass half full” approach to life has long been considered important for overall wellness. But evidence suggests that there may be truth in this folk wisdom.

Humana recently surveyed 2,000 people aged 60 and over, and found that 87 percent of seniors who identify themselves as “most optimistic” reported their health as good to excellent. This is compared to 44 percent for those who said they’re “least optimistic.”

Also, the most optimistic people reported nine fewer physically unhealthy and seven fewer mentally unhealthy days per month than their least optimistic counterparts.

Seniors who rated themselves as most optimistic also reported positively on other attributes linked to health, including sleep, confidence and overall happiness.

* 91 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling confident in the past week, while only 52 percent of the least optimistic respondents did, a difference of 39 percentage points.

* 90 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported feeling happy in the past week, compared to 44 percent of the least optimistic respondents, a difference of 46 percentage points.

* And only 31 percent of the most optimistic respondents reported getting a restless night’s sleep in the past week, while 62 percent of the least optimistic respondents did, another difference of 31 percentage points.

Despite these impressive numbers, having an optimistic mindset is often easier said than done. The stresses of life, social stereotypes and one’s natural temperament can all impede approaching aging with optimism. Dr. Yolangel Hernandez Suarez, Humana vice president and chief medical officer for care delivery, has the following advice for anyone struggling to stay on the sunny side of life:

1. Take ownership and recognize that your health is your own. To achieve your best health, you need to set personal goals – just for you.

2. Engage with your doctor or other health care professional and build a trusting relationship.

3. Find a higher purpose that makes you excited to get up in the morning. Humana’s survey found that the majority of respondents (86 percent) who identify as optimists also rank a sense of purpose as an important attribute for aging.

4. Remain socially engaged, not isolated, and nurture close relationships. The importance of social engagement is recognized by the 71 percent of Humana survey respondents who identify as optimists and get together with friends or relatives either monthly or weekly. Further, 80 percent of optimists say maintaining an active social life is an important motivator to stay healthy.

5. Stay active and remember that physical activity is important. Find something that’s right for you and that you like to do. Almost all of the most optimistic survey respondents (97 percent) say remaining physically active is a major motivator for retaining good health.

6. Practice gratitude and make it a habit to look for and appreciate everything you’re thankful for in life.

“As a boomer myself, I know that the majority of the decisions about my own health take place outside of a doctor’s office,” said Dr. Hernandez Suarez. “With the knowledge that optimism may be linked to health and well-being, I’m focused on making positive health decisions through all aspects of my life. Our goal at Humana is to empower everyone to approach health in the same way.”

 



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Self Help Tips – 7 Steps to Get Financially Fit in 2018 – Money – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – As 2017 draws to a close, you may be thinking about next year’s resolutions. While many of us vow to get to the gym, you may want to consider getting fit in your personal finances before 2018 even begins.

Here are seven money moves to make before the clock hits midnight that will start your year on the right foot.

* Declutter and sell: Have an aunt that gives you an ugly sweater every holiday? Consider selling your unwanted clothes, gift cards, electronics, and the like, online. Sites such as Raise, thredUP, and Ebay are great places to sell your unwanted items and earn extra cash.

* Start investing: Investing doesn’t have to be scary. And you can start small (such as taking the extra cash you earned from selling your unwanted items!). The easiest way to start investing is to make sure you are enrolled in your employers’ retirement savings plan. You can also use apps such as Stash, Robinhood, or Acorns to begin.

* Check your credit report: Planning on making any big purchases in 2018? Your credit report contains information about the status of your credit accounts and your bill-paying history. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends checking your report at least once a year, and check again before applying for loans for big purchases such as cars or a home. Keep in mind that if your credit is frozen, you can anticipate a $20-$30 charge to unfreeze your credit so a report can be run.

* Make a plan to ditch your debt: Evaluate all the different loans and any credit card debt that you’ve accrued and consider combining them into a single loan with one easy payment. A loan with LendingClub transfers all your different debts into one place, and with a much lower interest rate.

“Managing one payment is a lot easier,” says Alia Dudum, consumer debt expert for LendingClub.

“With lower interest rates on your debt through loan consolidation, you’re setting 2018 up as your best year yet.”

* Create a budget: Ah, the dreaded “B” word. To avoid taking on even more debt in 2018, make a budget to plan your spending. Think about your net income, allocate 10 percent of your paycheck to your savings, itemize necessary expenses, and then you an use what’s leftover for vacations, shopping, and eating out.

* Take a money minute: Get into the habit of scheduling time to look at your spending and checking in on your financial goals. Put an alert on your calendar to check it once a week. You should also make this a family affair by scheduling meetings with your spouse, parents and children to talk about your financial status and your financial goals.

* Reward yourself: If your downfall is spending and racking up credit card debt, for example, allocate a small amount of money to treat yourself to something small once you have reached a specific financial goal, such as paying off that one credit card, not eating out every day, or sticking to your budget.

LendingClub is a smarter way to take your debt head-on in 2018. For more ideas on how to make 2018 a prosperous year, visit www.lendingclub.com to connect with experts who can help.



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Self Help Tips – Are Fewer New Year’s Financial Resolutions A Worrisome Sign of Inertia? – Money – #SelfHelp #Tips

Are Fewer New Year's Financial Resolutions A Worrisome Sign of Inertia? - Money

(NewsUSA) – Blame it on things being too good?

As America enters the ninth year of a bull stock market, the number of people making year-end financial resolutions is at an all-time low, according to the ninth annual “Fidelity Investments New Year Financial Resolutions Study.” And its authors say that’s because so many “are feeling better about their personal financial situation and are generally optimistic about what 2018 will bring.”

In fact, only a paltry 27 percent of respondents said they intended to make a financial resolution this year. That’s down 16 percent from the high of 43 percent who answered similarly heading into 2014, and – here’s the study’s main red flag – could actually signal a worrisome sense of “inertia” settling in.

“Now is not the time to take one’s foot off the pedal, because good financial times can represent the best opportunities to help achieve your goals and establish saving and investment habits that can get one through good times and bad,” warned Ken Hevert, Fidelity’s senior vice president of retirement.

So what were this year’s top three vows?

The same as last year’s: save more, reduce debt, and spend less. Where that starts getting interesting, though, is that when you look at those respondents who ended 2017 feeling better about their finances – and they were at a record high – a whopping 66 percent singled out being able to “save more” as a major factor.

Dig down to Millennials – who recently surpassed Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation – and it turns out they’re the most euphoric demo of all. Not only did 78 percent of those surveyed report that higher savings had improved their finances, but 90 percent believe they’ll be even better off in 2018.

That’s not to imply that all is “Happy Days Are Here Again.” (Note to Millennials: That’s the title of a song associated with both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Barbra Streisand, whom you may have heard referred to as “Babs” by some of your parents.)

Fifty-seven percent of all respondents cited “unexpected expenses” as one of their top concerns for 2018, and a large chunk of them were so spooked by all the natural disasters we’ve been experiencing that they’re planning on increasing their emergency funds.

Which brings us to the big question anyone who’s ever made any kind of resolution grapples with: How to maintain your momentum past January?

As far as your finances go, know that two of the best strategies that worked for the study’s respondents were:

* Breaking a goal into smaller, more attainable targets.

* Rewarding yourself for hitting milestones along the way.

More in-depth tips from Fidelity, titled “3 Ways to Succeed at New Year’s Resolutions,” is available at fidelity.com/resolutions. And for those who really want a financial reality check, including tax guidance, there’s “Savvy Money Moves to Make Before Year-End” and “Five Things to Review Annually.”

Fidelity’s Hevert even has a piece of advice for those who disdain financial resolutions entirely: “Make saving and investing a permanent habit, not just a once-a-year vow.”

 



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Self Help Tips – Hit Reset with a Kitchen Lighting Update – Home – #SelfHelp #Tips

Hit Reset with a Kitchen Lighting Update - Home

(NewsUSA) – Ready for a redo? Many homeowners resolve to kick-start a new year by making improvements to themselves as well as their home. When it comes to home renovations, the first place on which most people focus their attention is the kitchen.

According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), popular trends in finish-outs and appliances are impacting kitchen lighting choices.

In general, kitchen design is trending toward the contemporary side. Jeff Dross, corporate director of education and industry trends for Kichler Lighting, explains that homeowners with previously traditional taste are looking for more transitional products, while transitional homeowners are moving toward a soft contemporary décor.

And many of those with existing soft contemporary furnishings are switching to a more austere contemporary solution.

Countertops Impact Lighting: While granite is still used in entry- and mid-level homes, most highest-end countertops are now quartz-based, particularly with a matte finish, also sometimes called suede, honed or leathered. The matte-finish trend alleviates the tricky business of providing adequate illumination in kitchens without causing glare from glossy countertops that have been popular for the past decade.

Dark Appliances Require More Light: The use of black stainless appliances is on the rise, which eliminates unsightly fingerprints, but creates the need for additional light in the surrounding space. “Black stainless has lower reflectance than white or stainless steel appliances, making the room appear darker,” says Dross. “The trend toward more involved backsplash materials makes lighting even more important.”

Taller Ceilings Mean Taller Fixtures: Over the past 15 or so years, ceiling heights have become higher with 9 feet becoming the accepted minimum height. It is now common for North American homes to have ceilings 10 to 12 feet high. That means taller sconces and taller chandeliers are necessary to fill the additional space.

“In addition to taller ceilings, center islands are now substantially bigger than in the past,” says Dross. “That means the tiny, mini-pendants that were all the rage a few years ago are disappearing. Kitchens demand larger, taller pendants.”

Before jumping into a kitchen renovation, it is best to design a lighting plan to make sure your fixtures are the right size and style for your new space. A professional lighting consultant at your local ALA-member showroom can work with you to develop a plan and provide the most-up-to-date lighting styles and technology. To find a list of nearby ALA showrooms, go online to americanlightingassoc.com.

 



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Self Help Tips – Creative Gift Giving Is Easier Than You Think – Seasonal – #SelfHelp #Tips

Creative Gift Giving Is Easier Than You Think - Seasonal

(NewsUSA)http://www.newsusa.com/ – It’s no secret that shopping for holiday gifts can be overwhelming.

The answer to alleviating the stress of thoughtful gift giving comes in a cardboard box.

Seriously.

Subscription box services are popular options for a “gift that keeps on giving,” providing a personalized experience delivered safely every month.

In fact, in a survey conducted by the Paper and Packaging Board from August 2015 to November 2016, 82 percent of those surveyed agreed that they could rely on corrugated cardboard boxes to get their merchandise shipped and delivered safely. And 60 percent feel that products that come in paper-packaging tend to feel more premium.

Innovations in box and packaging design allow these boxes to delight well past delivery with extended use and upcycling options.

Find the perfect gift for your loved one this season with one of these favorites:

* KiwiCo (Kiwico.com):

For the Kid Who Is Going to Run the World.

KiwiCo develops monthly STEAM educational hands-on projects and activities to spark curiosity and creativity in kids aged 0-16+.

Each eco-friendly corrugated box is filled with interactive projects to fit a child’s respective age group. As your child or loved one grows, so do the boxes!

* Loot Crate (LootCrate.com): For the Pop-Culture Obsessed.

Loot Crate is a pop culture- themed subscription box featuring a changing monthly theme that covers all fandoms.

These corrugated boxes hit every interest from video games to television and movies. Loot Crate offers an additional perk – the box is part of the monthly theme itself, which is to say, the box transforms into a “bonus” gift with some simple cuts and folds. You have to see it to believe it.

* Graze (Graze.com) – For the Foodie.

Graze is a subscription box that uses high-quality, nutritionist- approved ingredients to provide wholesome snacks. Graze uses responsibly resourced paper-based packaging to ensure that its products are safe and fresh for consumption.

Foodies can subscribe for weekly, bi-weekly or monthly deliveries of personalized Graze boxes based on their custom-snack profile.

*KitNipBox (KitNipBox.com): For the Cat Lover.

KitNipBox is uniquely themed so cats (and their humans!) have something fresh, fun and new to look forward to each month. The design of the box, which can be recycled, is specifically made to fit 95 percent of cats, so they can play with the box and fit inside of it.

Additionally, KitNipBox uses specially designed crinkling tissue paper in the boxes, so that the unwrapping experience is even more special for cats and their owners.

* Cratejoy (Cratejoy.com):

For Everyone.

Cratejoy is the world’s premier subscription box website, providing a global marketplace of products.

Cratejoy offers a vast selection of uniquely crafted corrugated boxes suited to virtually any hobby, interest or taste.

Gifting a subscription box service is an easy yet thoughtful option for anyone on your shopping list! Unbox an experience that will last long past this holiday season. Find out more by visiting HowLifeUnfolds.com

Click here to view video.

 



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Self Help Tips – New Books Offer Retirees The Way To Plan For Retirement – Tips – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – Social Security, Medicare and supplemental insurance, long-term care, IRAs, life insurance, post-retirement investments and income taxes can all affect the success of your retirement. To that end, an easy-to-understand book and workbook are now available to help guide you in this process.

“The Complete Cardinal Guide to Planning for and Living in Retirement,” an Amazon bestseller, and the accompanying workbook, written by Hans E. Scheil, CFP, can answer your questions about retirement, such as:

* When do I?start my Social Security check?

* How do I?supplement Medi-care?

* Should I purchase Long-Term Care Insurance?

*What should I do with my IRA or 401(k)?

* Am I investing and creating enough income in retirement?

* What about income taxes after age 65?

* How do I handle life insurance and transferring assets to children and grandchildren?

* How do I choose financial and legal professionals to help me?

Long-term care planning is one subject both books explain in depth. The average annual cost for nursing home care is $85,755 and in-home care is $49,192, according to Genworth. This cost can go on for years and many retirees, as well as their adult children, do not have a plan to pay for this. There are options available for covering long-term care, which are outlined in the books.

“The consequences of failing to plan for long-term care are suffered by the family,” Scheil says in his book. “I deal with family members all the time who are doing last- minute planning for a client who has just checked into a facility or is receiving care at home. I experience the confusion, fear, anxiety, pain, and disappointment that comes with these situations. The adult children have a tough time with it. Our job at Cardinal is to help people avoid or minimize these challenges.”

Throughout his 41 years in the financial services industry, Scheil has worked with clients age 65- plus to provide them with the financial solutions they need to have a successful retirement. He also shares his experience caring for his mother, father and grandmother in their later years.

In his books, Scheil addresses the major problems retirees can face and provides simple strategies that can be put in place with the help of a qualified professional.

Scheil is a Certified Financial Planner professional who accepts speaking engagements to help educate the public on the basics of planning for retirement. Hans serves clients in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

To get the books, visit Amazon.com or your local library. To get more information, call (919) 535-8261 or go to CardinalGuide.com.

 



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Self Help Tips – Brighten Up Your New Year with These Lighting Trends – Home – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – The beginning of a new year is an opportunity for a fresh start for your home.

One easy change that will make a big impact is a lighting update. Simply changing a fixture – a chandelier, a few pendants or even just a table lamp – can give a room a whole new look. So whether you are considering a minor update or a major renovation, stay on top of the latest lighting trends with a few tips from the American Lighting Association (ALA).

Mix and Match

Your home is a reflection of your style and personality. Create your own look by bringing in fixtures of various styles and finishes.

“One of today’s popular design trends encourages individuals to create unique lighting designs by mixing and matching their favorite fixtures within the same space,” says Jennifer Kis, director of marketing communications for Progress Lighting. “There is no need to feel limited by fixtures, or even finishes, in one particular collection. Coordinating complementary pieces creates a cohesive feel to the home, while also reinforcing your design style.”

Lighting manufacturers are making it easier for homeowners to select fixtures that work well together by offering collections that feature details and finishes that are complementary to a range of fixture families.

Bring the Outside In

Look outside for inspiration. Using interior design elements in outdoor spaces has been popular in recent years. But gaining popularity lately is the idea of incorporating exterior fixtures with inside décor.

“We have seen a lot of creative ways designers are using a variety of exterior lanterns inside,” says Kis. “Nature-inspired elements and outdoor wall sconces or hanging lanterns that are traditionally used to enhance curb appeal can also be ideal when incorporated into interior design schemes within the home.”

Pendants are Perfect

For versatility and compatibility, opt for pendants. Available in a seemingly infinite array of shapes, colors, sizes, finishes and materials, pendants are more popular than ever. These adaptable fixtures can be hung in groupings of two, three, four or more, depending on a particular space and need. Pendants can serve as overall task or ambient lighting, as well as add visual interest and beauty to the overall décor.

For more information, and to find a list of local ALA-member lighting showrooms where you can see the latest fixture styles and talk with a professional lightingconsultant, go online to americanlightingassoc.com.

 



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Self Help Tips – Easing Senior Loneliness – It’s More Important Than We Think – Seniors – #SelfHelp #Tips

(NewsUSA) – Social isolation is a little-thought-of, but growing, factor in the health and well-being of people 65 and older – and it may play a greater role than obesity as a public health hazard, according to research at Brigham Young University.

But what does “social isolation” really mean? It’s how often we interact with others, and how much we enjoy those connections. In fact, social interaction is so important that it’s actually a key factor in maintaining good health.

As we age, a support system is more important than ever – because often, basic life circumstances may have changed. For example, seniors may be on a fixed income, with less money to spend on eating out. Or may not see well enough to drive. Bottom line, it can become difficult to fulfill the basic human need to connect with others.

“Relationships really do matter when it comes to healthy aging, because there’s a strong correlation between a satisfying social life and a senior’s overall well-being,” says Larry Weinstein M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Humana Behavioral Health. “If you’re feeling isolated, the first step is to talk your doctor, and it’s important to reach out to family and friends for encouragement and support. There also are lifestyle changes we can make to better nurture our emotional health, and by extension, our physical health.”

Humana’s Dr. Weinstein recommends five ways in which to become more active and engaged:

1. Socialize on Schedule

Nurture existing relationships by scheduling a weekly phone call, coffee date, or game night with friends or family.

2. Volunteer

If you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. Or comforting babies at a hospital.

3. Stay Active

Local senior and community centers offer health and wellness activities, exercise classes, walking clubs, and social programs, often at little to no cost.

4. Learn Something New

Join a book club or take a class to learn a new skill. Local libraries are a wonderful community resource, often offering seminars free of charge.

5. Get a Pet

Pets are wonderful companions. Choose a pet that suits your needs. For example, an older, trained dog is easier to care for than a puppy. Or a cat or fish might be a good fit.

When it comes to maintaining good health, social interaction matters. If you – or a loved one – are struggling with social isolation, please contact your physician.

And for more information on health and wellness, please visit humana.com.

 



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Self Help Tips – How to Boost Your Business in The UK – Business – #SelfHelp #Tips

How to Boost Your Business in The UK - Business

(NewsUSA) – The term “global economy” has been bandied about for more than a decade and there is no doubt that with evolving technology, businesses can go global from anywhere in the world.

To that end, if you’re looking for a new direction to take your interests, you may want to consider the United Kingdom (UK). Taking a business to the UK can be a unique and profitable opportunity when equipped with the right insight.

But keep these simple strategies in mind to help avoid pitfalls when entering the UK market:

-Prepare. Before exploring taking your business to the UK, do your due diligence. Be aware of opportunities to launch your business in conjunction with an annual show or exhibition, or by putting on your own event designed to appeal to UK consumers.

-Plan. Several elements of expanding a business overseas are the same as those for expanding within the United States – locating space, hiring staff, and creating local interest and buzz.

However, these tasks can be challenging to complete remotely and having local insight on factors including competitors, the right route to market, and the appetites and demands of customers/consumers allows an incoming business to be more efficient and effective.

-Partner. A common pitfall that businesses may encounter when establishing a foothold in the UK is trying to manage everything from the United States.

Forming a partnership with a local marketing group can help incoming companies understand the local business environment and open up networks.

-Purpose. Determine the goals you want to achieve with your business expansion.

For consumer goods, pop-ups are one way to test the waters by setting up a short-term shop. Consider social media campaigns and focus groups. But remember that what sells in the United States may not sell the same way in the UK. Determine whether your business brand travels well and what products or services will be a hit by utilizing local experts to design ways to target your core audience.

-Profit. Many factors make the UK a desirable place to grow a business and increase profits, including tax breaks, flexible employment, and a diverse population.

Partnering with a local company that specializes in helping businesses enter the UK ensures that you make the most of this new market opportunity.

For more information, call 646-905-0646 or go to rochesterprgroup.com to find more information and advice about expanding your business to the U.K.

 



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Self Help Tips – Do Your Health Insurance Homework – Health – #SelfHelp #Tips

Do Your Health Insurance Homework - Health

(NewsUSA) – Fall means not only shorter days and colorful leaves, but also the season of open enrollment for health insurance for most Americans.

Employer-sponsored benefits can be confusing, and a combination of doing some homework and seeking expert advice can help most individuals make the most of the plans available to them.

Confusion over health insurance remains a common problem; approximately 76 percent of American workers reported that they did not understand some elements of their health insurance, according to the 2017 Aflac WorkForces Report conducted by Lightspeed GMI on behalf of insurance provider Aflac.

Areas of concern reported by survey respondents included deductibles, copays, and the determination of whether a health care provider is in-network.

Consumer education is the key to making smart decisions during open enrollment periods, according to Aflac, which offers three top tips for maximizing health insurance.

-Be prepared. Before your employer opens enrollment for health insurance this year, take the time to look into all the available options. Data from Aflac’s consumer survey showed that 83 percent of workers spent less than an hour researching potential health insurance benefit plans, and 20 percent of those did no research on health insurance plans at all.

-Be advised. Get expert help. The Aflac survey found that approximately two-thirds (67 percent) of workers said they were confident that they understood all aspects of the health insurance plans for which they signed up.

However, only 24 percent said they understood everything when they were questioned in more detail about deductibles, copays, and in-network providers.

-Be enhanced. Consider additional voluntary insurance coverage to help fill the holes in employer-offered plans. Approximately 81 percent of employees report a need for voluntary insurance benefits, according to the Aflac survey, and 90 percent say that they view voluntary insurance as essential to a complete health benefits program.

Some examples of voluntary insurance include not only health insurance, but also accident insurance, insurance for critical illness, and insurance for hospital stays, which may not be covered by an employer’s insurance. Voluntary insurance also can be used to help with expenses associated with gas, groceries, and rent for individuals with illnesses or injuries that prevent them from working.

Visit Aflac.com for more information about options for health benefits and how to choose a benefits plan.



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Self Help Tips – Contemporary Style – What It Is And Tips for Your Home – Home – #SelfHelp #Tips

Contemporary Style - What It Is And Tips for Your Home - Home

(NewsUSA) – Contemporary style and design are everywhere and can be a foundation for many new homes built today.

But what exactly does that mean and how can it be incorporated into existing homes?

“Contemporary style is really about reduction – reducing things to their essence and having really clean lines and uncluttered spaces,” says Alan Pickett, Pella Corporation’s resident architect.

Current contemporary design offers a softer take on modern – it has the same simple, clean lines, but with decoration that is naturally minimalistic. Light, color, and fabrics all play a part in gaining a contemporary look for your home.

Today’s contemporary-style dwellings will have asymmetrical shapes, windows with minimal trim in a contrasting or dark color, and a lot of glass and other textures.

The following tips from Iowa-based Pella Windows can help you find just the right design to accent your home:

* Add neutrals with color – One clear sign of contemporary design is neutral tones, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring.

Shades of gray and blue are particularly prevalent in contemporary style, and white and taupe color palettes allow for simple, bold colors to take center stage as in favorite wall photos or a definitive area rug.

*Let the light in – Light and shadow in a space are key to contemporary style and are much less about decoration. Not only do the light fixtures need to have straight lines and sleek metallic finishes, but even the windows in your home can outline its contemporary design. Windows with a vast expanse of glass and thin frames, such as Pella’s Architect Series Contemporary line of wood windows, can engulf a room in light and be the foundation for achieving contemporary style.

* Use textiles – In reducing things to the essence, silk, wool, linen and cotton – all natural fabrics – are typically used to highlight the clean lines of contemporary design.

This also means having furniture with less ornamentation and using natural materials such as wood with less grain. The natural textiles also offer the option of adding bold color into a minimalist space.

* Mix it up – Most homes today are going to have some existing traditional elements – such as crown molding – but don’t let that stand in your way. Paint the existing design features in the previously mentioned neutral colors – shades of gray and blue, white and taupe. Then add an accent color and some contemporary furniture that will pull the traditional and contemporary vision together.

You can find more contemporary trend tips at Pella.com.



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