Good Reads

Are you a mindless muncher? Follow these smart tips for healthier snacking

(BPT) - Eating small snacks throughout the day can be a great way to maintain energy and keep hunger pangs at bay between meals. The problem is, it's far too easy to reach for unhealthy foods that satisfy your sweet or salty cravings, but don't necessarily provide the essential nutrients your body needs.

You can prevent mindless snacking by taking a few proactive steps now so you have access to delicious foods that are easy to eat at home or on the go. You'll feel good about snacking by following these simple tips and tricks:

Convenience: Shop with the goal of stocking the fridge with convenient, nutrient-rich snacks. For example, new Fruitlove spoonable smoothies are packed with the goodness of three or more real fruits and vegetables, providing a good source of protein and calcium, and an excellent source of vitamins A, B1 and B3. The unique flavor combinations — like Mango Medley that features banana, pineapple, carrot and mango — seem like a treat, but Fruitlove is really a wholesome snack packed with goodness. With a spoon right in the container, it's built for on-the-go snacking.

Weekend prep: Some people do meal prep on weekends for the upcoming busy work and school week. This can also be a great strategy for snacking. For example, buy fresh vegetables in bulk to save money, then spend some time on Sunday chopping them into veggie straws and packaging them into individual containers. This provides an easy grab-and-go snack. Keep them in an accessible drawer in the fridge so anyone can get a healthy snack when hunger strikes.

Drink up: Sometimes your body confuses thirst with hunger, so strive to stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle close by and sipping regularly. When you snack, also consider a side of good old H2O to help your body feel its best. Bored with this zero-calorie beverage? Add a healthy flavor boost with sliced lemon, strawberries or cucumber.

Portion size: It's easy to overeat when you have a whole bag or container to snack out of. Whatever the food, be mindful of the portion size on the nutrition label. A smart way to stick to reasonable portions is to take the snack and put the correct portion in a bowl. That way when it's gone you are done snacking rather than being tempted to overindulge.

Crunchy alternatives: Looking for a way to satisfy that craving for something crunchy without resorting to unhealthy chips? Whole nuts have a tasty crunch and are packed with protein, omegas and other nutrients. For example, 1 ounce of almonds contains 6 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 75 milligrams of calcium.

Snack slowly: When you're hungry, you tend to eat faster. However, it's important to eat slowly to let your body metabolize food efficiently, plus it can trick your mind into feeling like you're eating more. For example, eat one nut at a time rather than handfuls of three or four. Take breaths between bites and notice the tastes and textures of the food, enjoying every bit.

Whole grains: Whole grain foods provide essential nutrients and fiber, which helps you feel more full for longer. An often-forgotten versatile whole grain is popcorn. Consider investing in an air popper and popping your own so you can flavor it with wholesome toppings such as dried herbs or cheese. Separate into individual baggies that can easily be tucked into backpacks or purses.

With these smart tips you not only tempt your taste buds, but you also give your body snacks you can feel good about. From smart shopping to mindful snack prep, these changes are sure to make a big impact in how you snack.

Mushrooms Are Ready For Their Closeup

(NAPSI)—In the ensemble cast of the produce aisle, finding a stand-out player can sometimes be difficult. After all, each has its own unique characteristics, whether it be taste, nutrition, or health benefits. However, when it comes to mushrooms—which are grown in the dark in nondescript growing houses across the country—it might seem they’re averse to attention.

Yet mushrooms are increasingly taking a starring role on consumers’ plates. Often called the superfood in the produce section, mushrooms take a supporting role in a recipe or shine as the lead of a dish. These formidable fungi are a source of powerful nutrients, low in calories and sodium, and they’re fat-, cholesterol- and gluten-free.

Mushrooms As Health Helpers

When it comes to the subject of health, researchers are increasingly turning their spotlight on mushrooms.

Mushrooms are so talented, researchers are looking to them in the fight against cancer. A powder made from white button mushrooms was found to reduce the levels of prostate specific antigen, or PSA, in prostate cancer patients whose PSA levels had been rising. Studies are also underway to determine if properties within mushrooms might offer a dietary, non-drug intervention to help prevent recurrence of hormone-dependent breast cancers.

Ongoing research at Penn State University shows mushrooms have the highest known single source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione compared to other non-mushroom food. Both those antioxidants are associated with anti-aging, and when they’re present together, they work extra hard to protect the body from the physiological stress that causes visible signs of aging and they may also help prevent Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Plus, studies show it takes only a few mushrooms to increase ergothioneine and glutathione levels—about five button mushrooms a day.

Additionally, researchers at the National University of Singapore found similar results and discovered that less than one cup of cooked mushrooms twice a week could reduce the odds of mild cognitive decline.

With so many varieties, tastes, and textures, it’s easy to incorporate mushrooms into a diet. The next time you’re in the produce section of your grocery store, pick up your favorite variety of mushrooms. In soup, on a pizza, stuffed, sautéed or sliced, chances are these mighty mushrooms will get a round of applause from family and friends.

Learn More

For further information, from the experts at the American Mushroom Institute, visit www.americanmushroom.org.

clicktotweet “Often called a superfood, mushrooms are a source of powerful nutrients, low in calories and sodium, and they’re free of fat, cholesterol and gluten say the experts at the American Mushroom Institute. http://bit.ly/2NmszYO

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

Intriguing Reading: Inside the CIA; Fear And A Knock On The Door; Homicide In Hawaii; And Fighting Inner Demons From An Abusive Past

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“Guardian: Life in the Crosshairs of the CIA’s War on Terror” by Thomas Pecora (Post Hill Press)

(NAPSI)—A CIA security officer for 24 years draws back the curtain on the little-known and misunderstood world of the CIA protective operations—security teams that work on the front lines in some of the most dangerous places in the world, doing battle with America’s most determined enemies in the war on terror and more.

The author’s direct involvement allowed him to work behind the scenes of some of the most well-known conflicts of our time, including the infamous encounter known as Black Hawk Down, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the hotbeds across the Middle East where fires continue to burn.

To buy: https://amzn.to/30CWJKQ.

“Kakorrhaphiophobia” by Chris DeVito (She Writes Press)

A single flash of twisted metal and steel is all it takes to shatter Jennifer’s life forever. The drunk driver took her husband’s life but she lives on. Depression. Survivor guilt. Anxiety. They all take their hold like a vise grip. Jennifer goes from being an investment banker in Manhattan and having nerves of steel to not being able to perform the simplest tasks without feeling the most crippling fear. To escape her despair and anxiety, she moves to a small southern town where she sits alone in the new house she has made her prison. She thought she knew fear and terror—until she hears the loud knocking at her front door.

Buy at https://amzn.to/2Y7N1Dd.

“Off the Grid” by Robert McCaw (Oceanview Publishing)

A scrap of cloth fluttering in the wind leads Hilo police Chief Detective Koa K?ne to the tortured remains of an unfortunate soul, left to burn in the path of an advancing lava flow. For Koa, it’s the second gruesome homicide of the day and he soon discovers the murders are linked.

These grisly crimes on Hawaii’s Big Island could rewrite history—or cost Chief Detective K?ne his career. The book has been called a relentlessly riveting tale that races out of the gate and never lets up.

Buy at http://bit.ly/2Y0QAeF.

“All The Broken People” by Amy Rivers (Compathy Press LLC)

Traveling to the kudzu-covered mountains of North Georgia to care for her mother-in-law after a fall, Alice fights against inner demons from her abusive past and uncovers ugly family secrets, as devious attacks on her and her family threaten their lives.

The author “slowly unravels characters intertwined with one another for many years. Hidden truths begin to surface...as they struggle to understand and define their feelings about past mistakes that have led to present wrongdoing. The rich descriptions of this town itself will make you feel as if you’re there. It’s a suspenseful read that will stay with you long after the last page,” says Kathryn Mattingly, author of “The Tutor.”

Buy at http://bit.ly/2M52yg1.

BookBites is a continuing series bringing readers information and ideas for their next read. For more reading ideas, visit BookTrib.com and subscribe to the weekly newsletter.

clicktotweet “Four intriguing reads about life inside the CIA; fear and a knock on the door; homicide in Hawaii; and fighting inner demons from an abusive past are all available through BookBites. http://bit.ly/2ZeJsHh

On the Net:North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.(NAPSI)

Fun Ways to Develop Your Children’s Interests

(StatePoint) The games children play can inform the way they see the world. Here are some fun ways to make playtime an opportunity to help young kids explore new ideas and develop their interests:

• Art: Dedicate a little corner of a room to kid-friendly arts and crafts projects. Stock the space with finger paints, watercolors, play-dough, crayons and construction paper to encourage kids to refine their skills and gain a deeper appreciation for art. Have kids draw and paint from their imagination or take them on trips to a local park to capture what they see.  

• Food: Inspire kids’ interest in the culinary world with fun toys that let them be the chef. With the LeapFrog Smart Sizzlin’ BBQ Grill, for example, little grill masters can pretend to grill by placing eight different play food items on an interactive skewer. Utensil hooks keep the tongs and spatula at the ready to serve steak, fish, green peppers and more. The smart grill recognizes the food’s name and color and knows if the heat is too high. Kids can twist the skewer to count along with the grill, then turn the temperature dial from 1 to 10. With sizzling and cooking sounds, as well as safety messages, grilling suggestions, melodies and phrases, this interactive grill is a fun way to get kids interested in cooking and food.

• Sports: You don’t have to enroll kids in a formal, competitive team to spark an interest in sports. Instead, get the ball rolling by going outside to catch, kick and dribble. Having an opportunity to practice sports in a fun, pressure-free environment will help kids develop athletic skills on their own time, while building their confidence and opening the door for a deeper interest in the future.

• Music: It’s never too early to develop a sense of rhythm and gain knowledge of musical genres and instruments. New toys like the Learn & Groove Dancing Panda will inspire kids to get up and move. The panda shakes, dances and spins around to the music and his guitar lights up with shapes, letters and numbers. Kids can play Freeze Dance and other games, press the musical instrument buttons on the panda’s light-up shoes to hear a saxophone, trumpet, drum and guitar, or press the whammy-bar music button to select from dozens of different tunes. The same line of toys also features the Learn & Groove Shakin’ Colors Maracas. One maraca includes colorful shaker beads and the other features a light-up dome that changes colors and plays maraca sound effects. Little ones can add rattling sounds to the songs that play, count from 1-10 with every shake, and press the six light-up buttons to hear color and instrument names. Switching between English and Spanish mode lets kids explore all of the content in both languages.

Young children are absorbing everything they see and hear, so be sure to introduce them to a range of hobbies through games, toys and activities.

What Money Tips Would You Tell Your Younger Self?

(StatePoint) As we age, we sometimes regret those life lessons that might have served us better when we were younger. If you could roll back the years, what would you tell your younger self about money? 

Hill Harper, star of ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” is on a mission to help consumers of all ages take charge of their credit scores and financial futures. Author of The New York Times Best Seller, “The Wealth Cure: Putting Money in its Place,” he is dedicated to teaching financial inclusion and literacy. He’s also a spokesperson for Experian Boost, a free, innovative financial tool that empowers consumers to add positive utility and mobile phone bill payment history to their Experian credit files, potentially improving their credit scores instantly.

Knowing what he knows now, Harper is revealing the top financial lessons he would teach his younger self.

• Create a Blueprint for Wealth: If you have enough money to meet your basic needs -- ask yourself, “what else do I need to be happy?” Prioritize and plan.

“You need to be the architect of your life and create a blueprint for true wealth,” he adds.

• Understand the Importance of Credit Scores: Many people don’t understand money’s impact on their future, for example, a high score can mean access to better financial loan products and the best rates on those loans, while a low score can cost you money with higher interest rates, or limit your ability to secure loans, sign leases or even land jobs.

“People often overlook the impact credit has on their opportunities. I’m aiming to encourage people to proactively manage their credit, and use it to manifest their destinies,” says Harper.

• Take Small Steps: You can increase your credit score by taking several steps, such as establishing a track record of paying bills on time, paying down debt and using financial tools that can possibly impact your score immediately, like Experian Boost. Also, Harper stresses you should keep your usage of credit low, and only make purchases you can afford.

“Everyone deserves a fair shot at achieving their financial dreams, and access to capital is a part of that, but it should be done wisely,” says Harper. “Understanding how your credit score is calculated and what you can do to maintain it will position you for financial success.”

• Be Truly Wealthy: Harper believes that money is simply a resource that helps people build the lives and communities they want, and that true “wealth” means being healthy, happy and having a positive relationship with money.

“Some of the most important financial concepts for young people to understand are the power of savings, the time value of money, and compounded interest. If you start saving just a little bit early on, compound interest will work on your behalf. It can transform your life and the financial wellbeing of your family,” says Harper.

To learn more about Harper and Experian Boost, visit Experian.com/BoostAmerica

Wisdom can be a game changer when it comes to finances. Consider the financial lessons those in-the-know would tell themselves if they could turn back the clock.

5 Ways to Keep Your Cat Happy and Healthy

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(Family Features) While cats can be quite independent animals, they still rely on their pet parents to maintain their well-being. It’s up to pet owners to provide the adequate care, nutrition and home environment to ensure their furry friends live long and healthy lives.

Consider these tips and visit temptationstreats.com and iams.com for further guidance on raising healthy and happy cats.

  1. Designate a Special Spot – Make sure your cat has a space in the home where he can be unbothered and relax. This space can also be somewhere your cat can hide or snuggle up. Putting a cat tree with a lookout in a quiet spot can give your pet a perfect place for a catnap.

  1. Provide a Healthy Diet – Diet is a vital part of your cat’s health and wellness, and it’s important to find a food that caters to your pet’s specific needs and preferences. Look for food that fits your cat’s needs like senior care, hairball control and oral care, so he receives the best nutrition at every life stage. For example, IAMS™ formulas provide wet and dry food options tailored to your pet’s age, activity level and dietary needs.

  1. Regular Checkups – Cats are notoriously secretive about how they are feeling. Scheduling regular visits with your local veterinarian for vaccinations and checkups can ensure your pets are as healthy as they can be. Ask your vet how often you should schedule appointments, as every cat requires unique care.

  1. Groom Regularly – While cats may not need regular baths, they do sometimes need a little extra TLC to look their best. Depending on breed and lifestyle, each cat requires a different grooming routine. Longhaired cats should be brushed regularly to keep their coats nice and shiny while indoor cats may need their nails trimmed more frequently to avoid scratching.

  1. Playtime with Toys and Treats – Enrichment and bonding are key factors in a pet’s well-being. Providing stimuli, like toys or scratching surfaces, encourages your furry friend’s curiosity and natural behavior. Dedicate time each day to play and snuggle up with your cat to solidify your bond. A simple shake of a bag of treats, such as TEMPTATIONS™ treats, can make your cat come running and signal it’s time to play.

Photos courtesy of Fotolia

A Romantic Rendezvous

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Celebrate love with a Caribbean cruise

(Family Features) Whether you’re celebrating a milestone anniversary or simply looking for a getaway with your significant other, a seemingly always popular option is a romantic cruise.

Next year, there is an opportunity to enjoy the luxuries of an ocean-going vacation while joining a potentially record-setting crowd to reaffirm your love with your partner. In February 2020, international premium cruise line Princess Cruises hopes to set a world record, hosting the largest renewal of vows ceremony at sea over Valentine’s Day.

Gavin MacLeod, who portrayed the endearing “Captain Stubing” in “The Love Boat,” and Jill Whelan, his television daughter “Vicki,” will officiate and host the ceremony onboard Regal Princess. Setting sail Feb. 9, 2020, the cruise will begin in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with ports including Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico; and Princess Cays, Bahamas.

“Come aboard with me as we’re searching for couples to renew their vows and set a world record for the largest vow renewal at sea,” MacLeod said. “I’m honored to be officiating this ceremony and can’t think of a better way to commemorate a couple’s love than by reaffirming their commitment to one another onboard the ‘Love Boat’ over Valentine’s Day.”

Contact your travel advisor and find more information at princess.com.

Photo caption: Gavin MacLeod and Jill Whelan

Making the Back-to-School Transition Easy

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(Family Features) It’s time to get your household organized for another school year and all that comes with it.

Whether your child is headed off to kindergarten or going away to college, these useful tips can help make the transition back to the regimented school year easier and get your busy household organized for the upcoming season.

Kindergarten

  • Tour the school. It is important to visit the school with your kids so they can get familiar with their new environment.
  • Meet the teacher. Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher and discuss the best ways to communicate with him or her throughout the school year. Some teachers prefer to keep the conversation going through email while others are more casual and utilize phone calls or in-person meetings.

Elementary School

  • Get into a routine. Set your kids’ sleep schedules back to “school time” at least two weeks before the first day.
  • Get your kids involved in sports or other activities they can do after school to keep them active. An option like ‘all Free & Clear Liquid Detergent can help you remove stains while still being gentle on skin.

Middle and High School

  • Have a conversation about technology. In this day and age, it’s nearly impossible to avoid tech. Many students probably have schoolwork that requires use of the internet. It’s important to have a conversation with your children about reducing time spent on their laptops to educational purposes during the week.
  • Keep track of everyone’s schedule. There are plenty of free family calendar applications available for smartphones and other devices that can help you keep up with all members of the family and stay organized.

College

  • Simplify the laundry routine. When it’s your child’s first time living on his or her own, you’ll want to do everything you can to make things easier. Consider detergent pacs like ‘all Free & Clear Mighty Pacs Laundry Detergent, which fights tough stains while also being dye- and perfume-free, hypoallergenic and gentle on skin.

By implementing some of these simple tips, you and your kids can look and feel your best, setting up a seamless, stress-free transition back to the school year. Find more information at all-laundry.com.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Ways to Make the World a Better Place for Seniors

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(Family Features) By 2050, the senior population (adults age 65 and older) will be more than double that of the world’s youngest citizens, and the number of people living beyond age 80 is expected to triple over the next 30 years.

As the aging population increases, some 11.3 million seniors are living alone, according to the Institute on Aging. In addition, women are twice as likely as older men to live by themselves.

Without proper support, seniors may face a wide range of issues including limited mobility, chronic conditions, improper nutrition and feelings of loneliness. For example, older adults can have problems chewing or may take medications which interfere with their appetites. However, research shows lack of companionship may be the biggest challenge.

In fact, an AARP survey found 1 in 5 adults over the age of 40 were “socially disconnected,” which can impact health. People who reportedly experienced loneliness and isolation had lower mental well-being scores, and those who were dissatisfied with their level of social engagement were more likely to report a decline in cognitive function, as well.

While anyone can benefit from a kind gesture, seniors are some of the most in-need members in many communities. There is likely a wide range of opportunities to enhance the lives of seniors in your area. Numerous programs and agencies exist to help you determine the best way to make a difference.

One example is Ready to Care, an initiative from Home Instead Senior Care that challenges people to complete weekly care missions. Each activity guides members through various ways to give to senior-related causes, learn about the aging crisis and issues impacting seniors, and serve seniors through small actions of kindness.

Most care missions are simple acts, such as opening a door, learning about Alzheimer’s or helping with a chore. Each week, a new mission is delivered to participants’ phones via text message.

Small gestures, like these simple acts of kindness, can go a long way toward improving a senior’s day.

Physical assistance: Most seniors are eager to retain their independence, but everyday tasks can pose fall risks or require exposure to harsh weather conditions that can be dangerous to older adults.

  • Offer to bring in the daily newspaper or mail.
  • Mow their lawn or offer to help with other yardwork.
  • Lend a hand in caring for pets, such as taking a dog for a walk or helping clean up waste from the yard.
  • Offer moral support and a sense of physical safety by volunteering to join them on a walk.

Social support: Loneliness is common among seniors, especially those who live alone. Show seniors in your area they have a meaningful place in the community and options for companionship.

  • Offer a friendly wave and say hello when you see them out.
  • Invite them to dinner, either at your home or at a restaurant.
  • Have your children or kids you know in the area draw pictures or write letters.
  • Make a date for an afternoon or evening of entertainment, such as cards, a movie or board games.

Practical solutions: For various reasons, some seniors may be unable to complete everyday tasks. Offer a helping hand in their daily routines when possible.

  • Lend your time to take them to run errands.
  • Deliver baked goods or a home-cooked meal to improve access to nourishing foods.
  • Help arrange for professional assistance and services, such as an audit to ensure homes are safe.

How You Can Help

Consider these simple ways you can help the aging population by taking action and learning about issues impacting seniors:

  • Lend your voice. Be an advocate for change in public actions and medical research for the aging society. If you’re an expert by experience, share your knowledge about senior-related issues and public policy measures.
  • Give from your heart. Less than 1% of charitable donations go to organizations that help seniors. Find senior-focused non-profits to give your next charitable donations to, such as one dedicated to raising awareness, inspiring change and accelerating progress in Alzheimer’s care and research.
  • Get prepared to care. Educate yourself on issues that impact seniors and complete small acts of kindness for seniors in your life. Sign up for weekly care missions and find additional information to better equip yourself to care for seniors at imreadytocare.com.
  • Give your time. Volunteer with local non-profit organizations that help seniors or offer support related to senior-affiliated issues.

To find more ways you can care for the seniors in your community, visit imreadytocare.com.

Seek Outdoor Entertainment for Personal Satisfaction

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(Family Features) Making time to enjoy the outdoors is a simple way to boost your physical and mental well-being, no matter your age. Whether you venture out to the porch to watch the sunset or lace up your golf shoes for an afternoon on the course, there are plenty of ways you can take in some fresh air.

Going outside generally results in more physical activity than if you were to stay cooped up inside, and it’s an easy way to socialize and interact with others. It also plays an important part in maintaining your vibrancy.

Get inspired to spend some quality time outside with these ideas:

Take up a hobby. Planting a garden or tending a flower bed is terrific motivation to spend more time outdoors, and you’ll have the bounty of your work to enjoy, as well. Even a box garden designed for a smaller space requires regular care, so you’ll find yourself outdoors on a consistent basis nurturing plants to grow.

Take in a performance. Outdoor theaters offer numerous forms of entertainment from music concerts to plays. Before shopping for tickets, be sure to consider any discounts you might be able to use. For example, AARP members can find discounts on tickets for a wide range of events.

Increase your exercise. Even if you have some physical limits, keeping your muscles stretched helps maintain mobility. That might mean taking a walk or playing a round of golf. You could gather family or neighbors for a game of croquet or just move outdoors to do your daily stretches. Find a way to blend your daily exercise with the chance to get some fresh air for maximum benefits.

Go on a trip. The sights and sounds that go along with exploring somewhere new make it easy to enjoy spending time outside. Be sure to make plans for entertainment while you’re on the road, and rather than driving home in the dark or when you’re tired, consider making a hotel reservation through the AARP Travel Center. You might even consider organizing a weekend getaway with a partner or friend who shares your interest in discovering a new destination.

Enjoy a meal out. Dining al fresco is a treat when the weather cooperates, but you can incorporate a delicious meal as a bonus when you’re out and about even when the weather is less than ideal. You could opt to spend your wait time outdoors, or reward yourself after a walk with a special seafood, Italian or steak dinner. You might even pair the meal with a concert or a show for a truly enjoyable evening away from home.

Get creative when you think about how you’ll make more time to spend outdoors and remember that resources exist to assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at aarp.org/memberbenefits.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Get the Most Out of Your Benefits Enrollment

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(Family Features) A lackadaisical approach to benefits enrollment could leave you short on coverage or end up costing you more than it should. Gathering information and making time to thoroughly consider your options and needs can help ensure you’re getting the best value from your employer’s benefits package.

Approach this year’s open enrollment with these tips from the experts at Colonial Life in mind:

Take life changes into account. A major event like a birth or marriage makes you eligible to adjust your benefits between enrollment periods, but there are many other factors that may affect your coverage needs. For example, you may not bother with dental coverage for a newborn, but once that child has some teeth and is mobile, it’s a good idea to add coverage in the event a fall damages a tooth.

Be conscious of changes. It’s quite common to allow your benefits to renew automatically when the enrollment period rolls around. This can create problems as plans and coverages often change from year to year. Deductible amounts, office visit co-pays and even categories of coverage can shift from one year to the next. Even if there aren’t changes to the coverage, there may be a new pricing structure or additions to coverage that could benefit you.

Dedicate some time. When signing up for benefits for the first time, most people spend at least a little time reviewing each plan option. If you have your premiums deducted from your paycheck automatically, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to your benefits, especially if you’re relatively healthy. Open enrollment is the time to give them more than a passing thought.

A survey by Colonial Life showed 69% of employees spend less than 60 minutes learning about their benefits choices, but that limited time commitment can ultimately affect overall job satisfaction.

“This can be a huge problem for both employees and their employers, because a lack of engagement with the benefits program leads to lower morale and higher turnover,” said Steven Johnson, vice president of enrollment solutions at Colonial Life.

Instead of a cursory flip through the materials, dedicate some time to thoroughly review all the information and make notes about areas you have questions.

Discuss your options. Benefits can be complicated, and there are a lot of terms and jargon in the insurance world that can make it hard to understand exactly what your benefits will cover. That’s why it’s a good idea to sit down with a knowledgeable benefits counselor to discuss your family and personal financial situation.

Technology may be king for many aspects of life, but the survey found just 11% of employees name the internet as the place they turn to learn about benefits during enrollment each year. However, 76% of employees turn to humans including HR professionals, coworkers, family and friends.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for benefits, but a one-on-one counseling session can help simplify the entire benefits process. A private consultation may help you understand how each benefit election impacts your paycheck, as well as simplifying complex benefit concepts, answering your questions and walking you through the enrollment process.

Learn more about how to maximize your benefits at ColonialLife.com.

Benefits Glossary

To gain a better understanding of your benefits, these definitions from HealthCare.gov can help you identify and recognize some common terms.

Benefits: The health care items or services covered under a health insurance plan. 

Coinsurance: The percentage of costs of a covered health care service you pay (20%, for example) after you’ve paid your deductible.

Copayment: A fixed amount ($20, for example) you pay for a covered health care service after you’ve paid your deductible.

Deductible: The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay. 

Flexible Spending Account: An arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars. 

Health Savings Account: A type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. 

Network: The facilities, providers and suppliers your health insurer or plan has contracted with to provide health care services.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Boat Safe

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Ensure your boat is ready for the water with this checklist

(eLivingtoday.com) No matter how much experience you have on the water, prepping your boat – and your passengers – before leaving the dock can make for a more enjoyable experience.

To prepare for a safe and comfortable trip, review this pre-departure checklist to ensure your vessel is in good working order and well-stocked for the adventure:

  • Documentation – Have all required documentation for planned activities, including boat registration, fishing permits and boater education cards readily accessible.
  • Float Plan – File a float plan with a responsible party who will remain on land. Provide contact info, explain where you’re going, when you intend to return and what to do in case he or she doesn’t hear from you.
  • Weather Forecast – Always check the forecast before you head out on the water. To regularly monitor any changes, keep a handheld radio onboard.
  • Fuel – Before leaving, check that your fuel level is adequate for the trip and that other fluids, like oil and coolant, are at the proper levels.
  • Batteries – Check to make sure the boat’s battery, as well as battery-operated items like flashlights and handheld radios, are fully charged and operational.
  • Lights – Check to make sure you have properly functioning navigation and instrument lights and pack a flashlight, as well.
  • Life Jackets – Ensure you have at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device per passenger with a minimum of two onboard. If your boat is longer than 16 feet, you’ll also need a throwable device.
  • Anchor – Keep at least one anchor, attached to an anchor line, and at least two fenders for docking onboard.
  • Bilge – Before launching your boat, ensure the bilge is dry, clear of waste and has a properly functioning pump.
  • Fire Extinguisher – Keep a U.S. Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher securely mounted in an accessible place.
  • Distress Signals – Store flares and day signals in a dry, accessible location and ensure all passengers onboard know how to use them. Also have a noise-making device, such as an air horn, bell or whistle, capable of producing a 4-second blast audible for at least 1/2 mile readily available.
  • Tools – Keep a basic toolbox onboard with commonly used tools and spare parts like wrenches, screwdrivers, batteries, fuel filters, hull plugs and light bulbs.
  • First-Aid Kit – Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit – and extra sunscreen – in an accessible location in case of accidents.

Find more tips for safely enjoying time on the water at eLivingtoday.com.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Emergency Preparedness Tips to Help Ensure Pet Safety

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(Family Features) Preparing for an emergency can be a challenge. It oftentimes is hard to foresee when disaster will strike and how to properly prepare before it occurs.

When it comes to managing pet safety during an emergency, the unpredictable can make the preparation process even more difficult. Regardless of a pet’s size or demeanor, a disaster can take a toll on a pet without proper planning. Keep in mind that all pets are different, particularly when the unexpected occurs. From accommodating their nervousness to tracking their food or medication requirements, understanding the needs of your pets can make a difference in the handling of an emergency.

Consider these tips from PetSmart Charities to help create a preparedness plan for you and your pets.

Pack in Advance

Arranging emergency supplies ahead of time can be a helpful first step when creating a pet preparedness plan. Essentials for packing include bowls for food and water, basic first aid items, lists of vaccinations and medications and a spare leash and collar. Consider adding the pet’s name and your phone number to the collar to ensure you can be contacted if you become separated from your pet.

Keeping these items close will be essential if you’re able to stay in your home but if there comes a time to leave your home, bring along a week’s supply of food and water, labeled pet medication and a crate to provide a safe space for pets that may feel nervous or frightened.

“Plastic or wire crates will not only safely contain and transport pets, but they also condition relaxed behavior,” said Amanda Landis-Hanna, DVM, senior manager of veterinary outreach at PetSmart Charities. “Using a crate can provide a familiar reference point for pets during times of fear, uncertainty and anxiety.”

Pick a Safe Location

Knowing where to turn in the case of a crisis can be tricky when bringing pets along. Try locating an array of safe places that allow pets and keep the list on-hand in the event of an emergency. Locations range from the homes of friends and relatives to hotels and disaster shelters, however, be sure the accommodations are pet-friendly and do not have restrictions on specific animals or breeds. If those locations won’t suffice, check with your local humane society or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to see if they offer facilities during disasters or can provide recommendations.

Ready Yourself

When disasters take place, try to maintain as much of a ready-to-go mindset as possible. With items packed in advance and locations in mind, it can be beneficial to have details and items sorted, like a toothbrush and other easily overlooked necessities. Although the needs of your family members, whether they are four-legged or two-legged, are at the forefront of your mind, it can put you at ease knowing your needs are in check.

For more tips to prepare you and your pets for an emergency, visit petsmartcharities.org.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Keep Summer Movie Season Going at Home

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(Family Features) The summer movie season may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit your enjoyment of films outside the theater.

If you’ve gotten your fill of testosterone-fueled summer action movies such as “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” you may be ready for something with a lighter touch. An option like Tubi, the world’s largest free movie and TV service, features a library of more than 15,000 on-demand movies and TV shows on over 25 different device types, including mobile devices, smart TVs, video game consoles and more, without the hassle of credit cards and subscription fees.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect movie for date night or a ladies’ night in, TV and radio host, producer, voice actor, founder of GeekBomb.net and pop culture junkie Maude Garrett recommends checking out these ‘chick flick’ favorites debuting on-demand in August:

  • Two best friends set out on an adventure in “Thelma & Louise,” but it turns into a terrifying escape from police for crimes they committed.
  • An average British woman struggling against her imperfections keeps a personal diary for a year while looking for love in “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
  • Over the course of “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” a committed bachelor must deal with the fact that he may have discovered love.

“With more than 20 million people using Tubi each month, it offers something for nearly everyone regardless of tastes in cinema or viewing preferences,” Garrett said. “If you’re looking for romantic comedies, action movies, horror films, Westerns, superheroes or anything else you can imagine, the service is adding more and more options all the time.”

To take advantage of the expansive library of film and TV titles right at your fingertips, and to learn more about starting your free subscription, visit Tubi.TV.

4 Tips to Keep Pets Out of Trouble During Back-to-School Season

(Family Features) When structured school days and hours away from home return to the schedule, all members of the household feel the shift, even pets. Pets go from long days with the family in the yard to less time and activities with their favorite people. 

Keep them in mind as you plan your days to ensure they get the activity they need and remain in a safe environment. When left to their own devices, furry family members can make questionable decisions, and the old “dog ate my homework” adage can come to life in a number of ways.

However, pet owners can count on an option like

GREENIES Dental Treats

to distract their pets from bad behavior and be their dog’s best decision of the day. Be on the lookout for these potential mishaps, and visit

Greenies.com

for more information on better doggie decisions.

Watch the Door

Going from all-day adventures with kids to long hours away may leave your pet feeling bored and lonely. If your dog is craving a little adventure, following his or her friends outside and onto the school bus may seem like a reasonable solution. Make it a safe activity that both dogs and kids can look forward to by leashing your dog and joining them for the daily sendoff.

Store Lunches and Goodies Safely

While homework and paper aren’t appealing to all dogs, bake sale snacks or packed lunches may pique more interest. A simple way to divert your pet’s attention while you’re prepping and packing food and goodies is an option like a GREENIES Dental Treat. Not only can the treat keep your furry friend occupied and away from countertops, but the chewy texture also helps clean his or her teeth by fighting both plaque and tartar buildup, freshening breath and helping to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Keep Backpacks Zipped

You never know what you’ll find in a child’s backpack. In addition to the basics like notebooks, pens and pencils, there’s always a chance of finding leftover food. Because dogs are known to stick their noses where they don’t belong, it’s important to keep schoolbags zipped and out of their reach.

Stow Away Wires and Cords

From laptops and tablets to earbuds and chargers, tech devices are essential during the school year. While kids are busy doing homework, your dog’s attention could turn to these gadgets at any time, so keep cords and wires packed away and devices on top of tables and desks or in their protective cases when not in use.

Photos of family walking dog and women with laptop and dog courtesy of Adobe Stock. Photo of girl with backpack courtesy of Getty Images.

Grill like a boss with big BBQ flavor and bold wines

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(BPT) - Grilling is one of America’s greatest pastimes, and if you love grilled meat, chances are you also like hosting cookouts to show off your pit master prowess. Once you’ve mastered the art of the char, why not take it a step further? Serve wine that blows the lid off the meal, in the best possible way.

The right wine pairing makes all the difference. The aroma and flavor of wines can highlight and enhance the taste of grilled food like no other beverage. And the good news is, it’s not rocket science. Choosing wine depends mostly on what you’re grilling, and how you’re dressing it up — what kind of sauce or rubs you’re using.

Here’s a handy guide to wine pairings to take your cookout to the next level.

Bold barbecue needs bold wine

When you’re grilling cuts of beef like brisket, tenderloin, a juicy steak or ribs and using potent spices and flavors like classic Kansas City or Memphis-style barbecue sauce, cabernet sauvignon is a great choice to balance those intense flavors.

For example, within The Federalist’s portfolio of wines celebrating America’s heritage, The Federalist Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium weight red wine with a good grip from tannins, in wine speak — and what does that mean? It means the flavor and body of the wine is strong enough to hold up to the bold, smoky and spicy flavors of your meat. You can also serve it with game like venison, or roasted and smoked vegetables. This wine has an aroma of berries, tart cherries, sweet oak and cinnamon, along with a delicious flavor that will wow your meat-loving guests.

Another popular choice to serve with grilled meats like a flank steak is The Federalist Honest Red Blend, combining 53% merlot grapes with 30% zinfandel and 15% cabernet sauvignon. It marries the flavor of dark fruits with some spiciness and a rich, round mouthfeel. You can’t go wrong serving a bold red wine with grilled red meat, as the high-fat content in the meat is balanced by the strong tannins present in red wine.

Mix it up

If you’re serving a mix of grilled foods, including pork or barbecued chicken along with burgers and steaks, you’ll want to choose a versatile wine that pairs well with a variety of different types of meat and poultry. Since many pork recipes use sweet and tangy sauces, wine with a fruitier flavor may be just the ticket, like red zinfandel or a bourbon barrel aged wine. You may even want to add a little of the wine to the sauce.

The Federalist Bourbon Barrel-aged Zinfandel embraces the uniquely American tradition of aging wine in charred bourbon barrels. The result is a fruity, spicy wine with dark cherry and cola notes, making the wine a great choice to pair with chicken marinated in barbecue sauce or grilled smoked sausages. For a stronger tannin structure and cleansing acidity that pairs exceptionally well with steak, a Lodi sourced zinfandel adds some zing to balance spicy, smoky flavors from your grill or smoker.

Lighten it up

When you’re grilling lighter fare like fish or chicken, or if you're entertaining vegetarian or vegan friends, choose a white wine to enhance and match those delicate flavors and textures. Heavier barbecued meats and stronger flavors can easily overwhelm a lighter white wine, but a crisp chardonnay pairs very well with these foods. Chardonnay pairs perfectly with veggie burgers and grilled vegetables, chicken, and several types of fattier fish such as salmon, trout, tuna or rockfish. You can even serve it with Cornish game hen if you’re feeling fancy.

Grilling season is just getting started, so take advantage of it by making your next cookout a standout event. Tap into these tips to help you select the right flavor balance to show off your grilling skills. Check out @FederalistWines on Instagram to learn more about The Federalist wine portfolio and additional tips on how to survive grilling season.

4 home fix-ups for fall

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(BPT) - With cooler days and temperate weather, fall is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects, as well as prep your home for winter.

“Cold weather can wreak havoc on your house, leaving you with a long list of repairs,” said Cathy McHugh, director, brand management at DAP. “It’s important to take preventative action now so you can enjoy the coming weather change, rather than making costly repairs later.”

Don’t know where to start? Here are the top five “must-do” repairs from the experts at DAP.

Refresh around windows and doors

Temperature fluctuations and weather extremes can cause cracks and crumbling in sealants around windows and doors. The resulting gaps allow air to creep inside, putting your energy bills on overdrive. In addition, if current sealant has any dirt build-up, the hot and humid weather of summer can foster mold and mildew. Protect your home and give your windows and doors a refresh and waterproof seal that stands up to the elements by applying a new exterior sealant like Dynaflex Ultra Advanced Exterior Sealant that will provide long-lasting all-weather, waterproof protection, resisting dirt build-up and water absorption. It also comes with a lifetime mold-, mildew- and algae-resistant guarantee. It’s easy to apply and is paint-ready in just an hour, allowing you to quickly repair problem areas.

Repair imperfections and surface damage

It’s important to take a walk around your property and inspect your home and outdoor living areas for surface damage issues caused by hail, wind and heavy rain. Common damage includes cracks in sidewalks and driveways, as well as chips in siding. Address problem areas like these with an exterior filler, which can fill in exposed, vulnerable areas and prevent further damage. To save time and money, choose a multipurpose filler designed specifically for exterior repairs like Platinum Patch Advanced Exterior Filler, formulated with innovative Weather MaxTechnology for long-lasting, all weather protection. The mold-, mildew- and algae-resistant formula creates a durable bond that prevents discoloration, as well as cracking and crumbling over time. It is sandable and paintable and offers superior adhesion to porous and non-porous building materials such as brick, concrete, metal, composite or wood decks, vinyl or fiber cement siding, PVC trim board and more.

Inspect your roof

Start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. Before hauling out the ladder, use binoculars or zoom in with a smartphone camera to spot obvious damage. If your roof has a relatively flat surface and you feel comfortable on a ladder, then go up for a closer look. Shingles that are cracked, buckled, loose or are missing granules need to be replaced. And of course, while you’re up there, be sure to clear any clogged gutters to prevent potential water damage.

Prepare your furnace for fall

Now is the time to prepare your furnace for fall. Change the filter, clean vents and remove any dirt or dust that has settled on the unit and connections. If you suspect problems, schedule a professional to check it out now — rather than wait until temperatures drop.

For more information to help tackle your to-do list, visit DAP.com.

Cutting-edge tumor tests reveal new cancer treatment options

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(BPT) - In the fall of 2017, Elissa Reynolds was shocked by a stage four colorectal cancer diagnosis at 35 years old. Almost two years later, she has hope for the future thanks to innovative tests on her living tumor tissue, which revealed personalized treatment options for her specific cancer.

“After my diagnosis, I was determined to do whatever it took to beat cancer, so I began researching all of the treatment options I could,” she said. “Meeting my oncologist, Dr. Christina Saurel, and surgeon, Dr. Ken Dixon, gave me a whole new perspective on the level of innovative care I could receive locally.”

While Reynolds and her health care team initially started a traditional chemotherapy course, due to the advanced nature of her cancer, they also considered other treatment methods.

“Because Elissa presented with an advanced colon cancer that had spread to her liver, we were uncertain of her care and had to think outside the box,” Saurel said. “Although one of her tumors responded to chemotherapy and shrank to the point Dr. Dixon could remove it, the other tumor did not, which meant we had to get creative.”

A new option for personalized treatment

Reynolds had other options to consider because Dixon preserved her living tumor tissue and shipped it to a state-of-the-art laboratory, where specialists tested the cells with more than 130 drugs to see what potential future treatments would be most effective.

No two cancers are the same, and Dixon knew that her living tumor sample could offer information on how to treat her unique cancer that a traditional tissue sample could not. He feels so strongly about this matter that he founded SpeciCare, an organization dedicated to helping patients across the country preserve their living tumor tissue for their own benefit.

“Under current practice guidelines, cancer tissue dies when it is removed, which limits the information it can provide,” Dixon said. “However, if a tumor is preserved alive and tested, it has the power to unlock the secret to personalized care. SpeciCare links research, clinical care and precision medicine, so patients have the greatest chance at survival.”

Looking toward the future

The tests on Reynolds’ living tumor tissue found 20 new treatment options for her care team to consider that likely would have remained unknown if Dixon had not preserved her tumor. In fact, none of the new therapy options revealed through the tests are commonly used for metastatic colorectal cancer; traditionally, they are prescribed for other cancers, such as leukemia and breast cancer.

“Cancer is very tricky — you can’t always predict how a person’s unique cancer will react to a drug based on its location,” said Dixon.

For Reynolds, it doesn't matter how the drugs are normally used; her only concern is whether they kill her tumor cells. Now, because of the new treatment options available to her, Reynolds knows that if her cancer stops responding to one drug, there are other therapies she can try. Also, her living tumor tissue tests helped identify two clinical trials she can pursue.

“Without SpeciCare, there would be no more options for me; I’d be living with the tumor. Now this is giving me hope of shrinking it and having it removed,” Reynolds said. “This has opened up so many more options for treatment. It’s been a crazy journey, but it’s also been pretty miraculous.”

To learn more, visit specicare.com/hope or call 833-242-2873.

5 easy relaxation techniques to reduce stress at home

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(BPT) - Moms have to-do lists that are never done. From getting the kids to school, prepping family meals and everything in between, it’s a 24/7 job and can be hard to find a moment to stop and take a breath of fresh air. While the home should be a sanctuary to relax and de-stress, the reality is that a lot of life’s biggest activities happen there. The good news is that it only takes a few minutes to ground yourself through meditation. In fact, recent studies by the National Institutes of Health indicate that meditation can improve relaxation, lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Learning a few easy meditation techniques will give you the ability to power through even the toughest days.

To give back to busy moms, Air Wick has provided five easy ways you can take a moment to de-stress before tackling your to-do list.

Unplug for just 5 minutes

One of the biggest culprits of stress today is technology. When you're at home, set your phone on airplane mode, turn off the radio or TV, close the laptop — and just shut your eyes. Breathe deeply, in through the nose and out through the mouth, at least five times. Repeat a word or phrase in your mind like “Relax,” “Calm” or “Breathe in, breathe out.” When you’re ready, slowly re-acclimate to your surroundings and gently get back to your busy day.

The one-minute breath

For just a minute, commit to practicing this breathing technique to quiet your mind and restore energy.

  • Breathe in for 5 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 5 seconds.
  • Release the breath for 5 seconds.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.

Repeat just long enough to feel yourself become calmer.

Peace begins with you

When you’re standing in a long line, stuck in a meeting or even during a stressful argument, try this Kundalini meditation technique to help you stay centered even when you’re feeling frazzled.

  • Gently press the thumb of one hand against that hand’s index finger, middle finger, ring finger, then pinkie finger.
  • When you touch your index finger to your thumb, say to yourself, “Peace.”
  • When you touch your middle finger, say to yourself, “Begins.”
  • When you touch your ring finger, say to yourself, “With.”
  • When you touch your pinkie finger to your thumb, says to yourself, “Me.”
  • Breathe deeply as you think each word, and go as slowly or as quickly as you like.

Peace is in your pulse

For meditation beginners, this practice can help improve concentration and bring calm.

  • Sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor.
  • Close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows.
  • Place the four fingers of your right hand on your left wrist and feel your pulse.
  • The fingers are in a straight line, lightly pressed on the wrist so you can feel your pulse in each fingertip.
  • On each beat of your pulse, mentally hear the sound "Sat Nam," which means "truth identified."

Walk it out

When you’re feeling stressed, you feel disconnected from your body as well as the outside world. You can add meditation to your walking, even if you’re just going through the grocery store or from your car to your office. If you can get outside, just being outdoors can improve your mood. Between the vitamin D from the sun and the tendency to breathe more deeply when you’re around fresh air, trees or flowers, just getting outside for a little while can both relax and energize you.

  • Take a deep breath with every step or two.
  • Feel your feet and focus on being more grounded with every step.
  • Repeat a phrase or mantra while you walk, like “I am calm now.”

Moms have a lot on their plate, so worrying about lingering odors in the home (whether they're from the kids’ sweaty sports equipment, a wet dog or last night’s dinner) shouldn’t add to their stress. Air Wick Pure Automatic Spray provides continuous odor neutralization from common household odors found in living rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, hallways and offices, so she can check that stress right off her to-do list and make more time for herself. Mom can enjoy the scents of Pure Ocean Breeze, Lavender & Chamomile, Summer Delights and Sparkling Citrus filling every corner of the home with freshness while she breathes deeply and relaxes.

Time to think harder about your checking account

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(BPT) - When we imagine “financial literacy,” we often think about credit cards, loans and debt. But these building blocks of our financial infrastructures tend to cloud our perspective, pushing important details, like checking accounts, to the sidelines.

Checking accounts are often overlooked but are actually the backbone of personal finance and money management. Routinely using a well-kept checking account allows people to responsibly spend their money. For many, checking accounts are often children, teens and young adults’ first financial accounts, and serve as an introduction to money management and responsible spending.

Because checking accounts are so important, it’s critical that individuals find options that work with their lifestyle and are accessible anywhere. To make the most of your money, here’s what you should look for in a checking account:

1. Read the small print and avoid fees

Opening a checking account feels like a fairly standard practice, so it’s tempting to overlook the fine print. But that’s where hidden fees and charges often linger. The onus is generally on consumers to assess which options work best for them. When reading the fine print, focus on how much — and how often — charges will arise. If a financial institution claims to charge no fee on an account, confirm that there aren’t hidden fees that kick in after a certain amount of time. You don’t want to be surprised later on.

“Look for accounts that are ‘fee-free’ or boast ‘no monthly fees’ so that you ensure your money stays yours,” says Katie Miller, senior vice president of savings products at Navy Federal Credit Union. “It’s worth the time on the front end to save money on needless expenses in the long run.”

2. Access cash anywhere

Take a look at a checking account with a financial institution whose ATMs are scattered around your work, grocery stores and other favorite places that you frequent often. Many checking accounts offer solutions that make your cash even more accessible like ATM fee rebates. Sometimes, your bank of choice will charge you a fee to use an unaffiliated ATM; other times, the ATM itself will charge you a fee to access your money. Rather than pay extra to extract your own cash, some accounts allow you to use any ATM, fee-free. Offers like Navy Federal Credit Union’s Free eChecking account pay up to $120 a year in ATM fee rebates. Use any ATM, anywhere, regardless of fees, and receive up to $10 per statement period to cover those expenses.

3. Accomplish your goals with ease

Free eChecking is a great option for people who are always on the go. Being able to access your money with a few touches of your smartphone makes it easy to budget, plan and manage your money.

“You should bank the way you live,” continues Miller. “Look for offers that allow you to transfer money between accounts, for when you file away a percentage of your paycheck into your savings account. Select a checking account that takes the work out of managing your budget.”

4. Make your money work for you

Find an account that earns you monthly dividends to reward your loyalty and use. “Choosing a checking account that allows your money to earn dividends lets you make money without thinking about it,” says Miller. Some accounts even offer built-in money management tools that let you look at your spending to inform future budgeting endeavors.

Checking accounts teach us the basics of money management: They show us how much money we have and how much we’ve spent in real time. With the right checking account, you can take ownership over your money in a way that can be both impactful and instructive. And when one has the proper insights to avoid unnecessary fees and obstacles, this tool can be the perfect foundation for a healthy financial path.

For quite a few people, flying can be a stressful experience. Even folks who’ve been doing it for years will tell you that. Not only do you need to be a savvy passenger that organizes everything in advance, but you also need to be prepared for the unexpected. Some people even follow a strict…

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