(BPT) - Almost every New Year, money-related goals rank near the top of resolution lists, right alongside “eat healthier.”
The struggle is real. Many try to save money — at least for a few weeks — by bringing a sack lunch to work, driving past their fancy coffee shop or ignoring enticing emails of storewide clearance sales.
USAA Bank surveyed people of all ages and income levels about how they save money and find extra cash in a pinch. Though many respondents said they are trying to save, most expressed difficulty doing so.
“Savings are typically based on life stages. Those who are just starting out are saving for a major purchase, such as a car or home. If you’re older you’re more focused on retirement,” says Mikel Van Cleve, director of personal finance advice at USAA.
As expected, USAA’s research found a person’s ability to save largely depends on their age and household income. Older Americans and those with greater incomes use their savings to cover unexpected expenses and save for retirement.
Those with household incomes less than $35,000 are significantly more likely to say they’re not able to save regularly. To be sure, economists say slower income growth in the last decade also may have contributed to inadequate savings levels.
When asked how they cover unexpected expenses, most respondents reported taking money out of a savings account. However, nearly half of respondents seek out additional work; 35 percent have been compelled to borrow money from family and friends; 23 percent have sold personal items and 8 percent have taken out a payday loan.
More than half of American households have less than one month of income available in readily accessible savings to use in case of an emergency, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Household Saving Rate in the United States increased to 5.6 percent in October from 5.3 percent in September of 2015, the highest since December 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal Savings in the United States averaged 8.36 percent from 1959 until 2015, reaching an all-time high of 17 percent in May of 1975 and a record low of 1.90 percent in July of 2005.
The good news is that eliminating the occasional grande macchiato and ignoring a swanky handbag that’s finally 50 percent off, might not be necessary or most effective. JJ Montanaro, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (TM) at USAA, said there’s a better way to save.
He offers a few simple strategies to try in 2016:
* Review routine bills and compare service providers. Look for ways of reducing fees and costs.
* Look into refinancing your mortgage or auto loan — you may qualify for a lower rate. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
* Find the right credit card. Look for a card with a low interest rate or cash-back rewards.
* Trade down to a less expensive car. We often spend more on transportation than necessary.
“Most people think that in order to make a dent in their savings, they have to cut out all unnecessary daily expenses like trips to the coffee shop, but there are other ways to help you save more and reduce annual spending,” Montanaro said.
To learn more about how USAA can help you reach your financial goals, visit www.usaa.com.
(BPT) - Today’s employment marketplace is both complex and competitive. Workers have access to the benefits and job opportunities of a global economy, and to the modern technologies and resources that make workplace flexibility easier than ever before. In today’s workplace, there’s seemingly unlimited room for personal growth, mobility and productivity — but employees can’t achieve any of these things without their health.
Worker health affects everything, everywhere
Economists and business leaders both recognize the role of health in workforce productivity and competitiveness. When workers aren’t healthy, they can’t perform at their best and their companies become less efficient and competitive.
A survey of 35 large employers with at least 1.2 million workers, conducted by the Institute for Health and Productivity Management, found that common self-treatable conditions such as allergies, joint pain and excess stomach acid affect many workers every work day of the year. One global corporation determined that common ailments like these cost it $3.25 million annually in lost productivity. Individuals who have ever suffered from any of these ailments understand how difficult it is to remain productive and excel at their work when not feeling well.
More companies are understanding these challenges and realizing their impact on employees’ functionality and productivity. Many businesses now are empowering their workforce with simple solutions – offering preventive health and wellness programs to reduce the impact of common ailments on workplace productivity. This includes acknowledging the contribution of over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) to keeping employees healthy and productive.
Self-care and OTCs put power in the hands of consumers by providing safe and accessible relief options for many common health issues. This enables individuals to take an active role in their own health and wellness, to remain at work or return there more quickly, and to enjoy a better quality of life.
Benefits to the healthcare system as a whole
At a time when employers and society in general are working to control healthcare spending, OTCs are a critical component of ensuring that healthcare resources are used cost effectively. An independent study by Booz and Company estimates a total economic savings of $125-148 billion from avoided physician office visits ($77 billion), fewer costlier prescriptions ($25 billion) and less time away from work for doctor’s visits ($23-46 billion). Another study estimates that every $1 spent on OTCs saves the system $6 to $7.
For consumers, these findings just reconfirm what many already know – that engaging in good self-care and health habits means fewer sick days, increased productivity and a better quality of life. The medical cost savings also can lead to more affordable health plan options because of reduced medical costs incurred by their employers.
An ounce of prevention
For companies and their workers alike, the old Virgil adage still holds true, “the greatest wealth is health.” Today’s wellness resources and OTC options are empowering workers to prevent themselves from losing their functionality and productivity to muscle and joint pain and other common ailments.
For consumers, the accessibility of OTCs and self-care options provides a chance to take a more active role in their health, giving them an advantage in today’s competitive job marketplace.
To learn more about how OTCs can help and other disabling symptoms of self-treatable illness, speak with your pharmacist today.
(BPT) - More American families than ever before have two parents working, but recent studies show many employers haven’t adapted to this change in the workforce demographics. Working parents feel burnt out and unloved at work, making them less creative, less productive and more likely to quit because of work-related stress, according to the 2015 Bright Horizons Modern Family Index.
Employers can do their part to create a culture that supports working parents and reduces the risks of valuable employees quitting or experiencing burn out. Managers should watch for signs of employee burnout and provide opportunities for working parents to voice their concerns. The Modern Family Index, which surveyed working parents across the country and in different industries, found:
* Sixty-two percent of working parents don’t believe their employers care about them. They also say employers are inattentive to the needs of working parents (64 percent) and don’t have their best interests at heart (76 percent).
* Just 34 percent of managers are concerned working parents struggle to balance work and life demands, while just 30 percent worry about whether working parents feel their company doesn’t care about them.
* Although nearly all parents say they experience burnout, 70 percent don’t speak up about it. Meanwhile, 60 percent of managers say working parent burnout can be avoided. The same percentage of parents say their manager wouldn’t even realize when parents experience burnout.
* Seventy-nine percent of working parents and 77 percent of managers say to curb burnout, changes need to occur in the office, not at home. The first step is for parents to begin voicing their concerns.
“Many of the parents we surveyed expressed frustration with their employers and indicated they feel their companies don’t really understand or care about the stresses they face,” says David Lissy, CEO of Bright Horizons, a provider of employer-sponsored child care and other work/life solutions. “All employers must consistently look for new ways to ensure the culture they are cultivating is one that resonates with and is valued by their employees. The labor market is tightening. Jobs are expected to outnumber workers by 5 million by 2020, and competition for top talent will continue to intensify.”
However, the survey indicates the blame does not fall squarely on employers. Both employers and parents need to do better to adapt to the new realities of modern families. “Good communication between employers and working parents will benefit both groups,” Lissy added.
Working parents can take several steps to improve their work/life struggles. Kim Callaway from Horizons Workforce Consulting agrees that the first step is communication. Parents should talk to their managers. Often, managers are unaware if an employee is struggling to balance work and home demands. Talking to a manager means you can work together to find a solution. “Don’t just point out a problem,” she says. “Be prepared to suggest a viable solution. You can also take advantage of the annual employee opinion survey most employers conduct and share your concerns in an anonymous forum.”
In addition to speaking up, parents can also take other steps toward a more satisfying work-life balance.
* Learn more about your employee benefits. You may be unaware of some, such as back-up child care or a telecommuting policy that can help.
* Be realistic and honest about your work and personal goals. When both you and your employer understand your goals, you can work together to achieve them.
* Take a vacation. Employees who take less than 25 percent of their earned vacation are more likely to feel burnout, according to a recent study by Horizons Workforce Consulting.
* Rest is vital to your overall well-being, and a lack of sleep negatively affects satisfaction with life, health, work and financial success. The Horizons Workforce Consulting study also found 60 percent of working adults don’t get enough sleep each night.
* Managers should watch for signs of employee burnout and provide opportunities for working parents to voice their concerns. Regular meetings about work-life issues can help generate ideas for solutions and give employees a better sense of community.
“People want to work for employers who understand and support their needs,” Lissy says. “This year’s study shows communication among employees, managers and company leadership needs to improve. When working parents express their needs and employers listen and respond, the whole organization benefits.”
(BPT) - Within the first few seconds of meeting someone, an opinion is immediately formed that can last forever. This encounter often sets the tone for the relationship that follows. So how can you make your first impression a positive one?
Here are some tips to help you knock your first meeting out of the park:
1. Take pride in your presence
Physical appearance is the first thing people observe before an introduction. Always dress appropriately for the occasion, whether it’s a casual lunch or a formal business meeting. A go-to suggestion is to maintain a clean and crisp appearance for most events because you can’t go wrong – think business casual. This look can be trendy and professional and will position you in a positive light. Being mindful of your appearance will give you more confidence to help make a great first impression.
2. Share your best smile
A warm, genuine smile is your best tool in making a first impression unforgettable. “A self-assured and convincing smile starts with regular oral care practices to keep your teeth clean and your breath smelling fresh,” says Dr. Christopher Ramsey, DMD. An easy way to do this is by adding a mouthwash, like Crest Pro-Health Advanced Mouthwash with Extra Deep Clean to your daily routine. “These advanced mouthwash formulas strengthen teeth, kill germs and freshen breath, so you are guaranteed to have and maintain an impressive smile,” says Dr. Todd Snyder, DDS, AAACD.
3. Showcase your positive attitude
For people who get nervous when interacting with others, it is essential to sustain a calm attitude and optimistic outlook. Go into the meeting with an open mind and learn something new. Contribute to the conversation and maintain engagement. Showing attentiveness is often contagious, as the person you meet catches on and reciprocates.
4. Be conscious of your body language
Body language is a crucial element in daily human interaction. From the way you walk to a meeting, to the hand gestures used while you speak - body language is just as important as the words you say. Start by standing tall, making appropriate eye contact and giving a firm handshake. Demonstrate open body postures by keeping your head up and relaxing your shoulders. Crossed arms and legs make you appear closed off and unapproachable, so be mindful of how you might appear to others.
5. Be yourself
Being true to yourself is the best way to be presentable to others. Be comfortable with your personality. If nervousness kicks in, take a few deep breaths and remember to be calm and confident. A composed demeanor will put anyone at ease, sealing the deal on an excellent relationship as you move forward.
Making an everlasting first impression is simply about being at peace with who you are and being ready to meet others. Try some of these above tips at your next meeting, networking event or job interview.
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