Please Leave Home Without It

Concerns over identity theft continue to grow, especially with news of data breaches at major companies and financial institutions. Unfortunately, you have little control over the hacking of these companies, but you do have control over your actions.

Ten Things to Leave at Home

  1. Social Security Card — A Social Security card may be used to open credit card accounts and take out loans. Taking it out where it might be stolen is tantamount to handing the keys to the kingdom to a thief. For seniors, this also includes your Medicare card since that has your Social Security number on it.
  2. Multiple Credit Cards — Carry a single card for general use and emergencies. Only carry another card if you plan on using it that day. Keeping all those cards at home will save you considerable time in reporting lost cards and disputing charges.
  3. Gift Cards and Certificates — They’re like cash. Keep them home until you’re ready to use them.
  4. Spare Keys — Your wallet or purse contains your home address. No sense making the theft worse by endangering your home and family.
  5. USB Drive — Very convenient for carrying important files, but it’s gone forever if your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
  6. Password Cheat Sheet — Carrying passwords makes it possible for them to fall into the wrong hands. Don’t carry your cheat sheet? How about those ATM PINs? That’s a sure way to lose cash fast.
  7. Checks — Carrying around a blank check is an obvious risk. Even a canceled check is a risk, since it has your routing and account numbers, which may be used to transfer cash.
  8. Receipts — Besides being bulky, they will contain the last five numbers of your credit card. A thief might “phish” to find the rest of these numbers.
  9. Passport — A thief could use this to travel under your name, open bank accounts, or even get a Social Security card. Not good.
  10. Business Cards — Consider a separate case and carry them in your pocket. Do you really want a thief to know where you work?

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Changing Unhealthy Behaviors

Most Americans know the fundamentals of good health: exercise, proper diet, sufficient sleep, regular check-ups, and no smoking or excessive alcohol. Yet, despite this knowledge, changing existing behaviors can be difficult. Look no further than the New Year’s Resolution, with its 8% success rate.¹

Generally, negative motivations are inadequate to affect change. (“I need to quit smoking because my spouse hates it.”) Motivation needs to come from within and be positively oriented. (“I want to quit smoking so I see my grandchildren graduate.”)

Goals must be specific, measurable, realistic, and time-related. In other words, “I am going to exercise more” is not enough. You need to set a more defined goal, such as, “I am going to walk 30 minutes a day, five days a week.”

Permanent Change is Evolutionary, not Revolutionary

As a rule, individuals travel through stages on their way to permanent change. These stages can’t be rushed or skipped.

Phase one: Precontemplation. Whether through lack of knowledge or because of past failures, you are not consciously thinking about any change.

Phase two: Contemplation. You are considering change, but aren’t yet committed to it. To help move through this phase, it may be useful to write out the pros and cons of changing your behavior. Examine the barriers to change. Not enough time to exercise? How could you create that time?

Phase three: Preparation. You’re at the point of believing change is necessary and you can succeed. When making plans, it’s critical to begin anticipating potential obstacles. How will you address temptations that test your resolve? For instance, how will you decline a colleague’s lunch invitation to that greasy spoon restaurant?

Phase four: Taking action. This is the start of change. Practice your alternative strategies to avoid temptation. Remind yourself daily of your motivation; write it down if necessary. Get support from family and friends.

Phase five: Maintenance. You’ve been faithful to your new behavior. Now it’s time to prevent relapse and integrate this change into your life.

Remember, this process is not a straight line. You may fail, even repeatedly, but don’t let failure discourage you. Reflect on why you failed and apply that knowledge to your efforts going forward.

  1. StatisticBrain.com, December 27, 2015

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Debt Stress

The average American household with debt owes $132,158. And credit card debt accounts for $15,675 of that.¹

Little wonder that money worries are a major cause of stress.

The Link Between Stress and Health

Humans have an innate response called “flight or fight.” It is nature’s way of launching our bodies into action; consider the physical responses we feel during moments of stress—faster heartbeat, accelerated breathing, tightening of muscles, and increase in sweating.

These are response mechanisms that prepared our ancestors to run from, or confront, a danger on the savanna. But they can be less useful in more modern times.

In the short term, stress can manifest itself in physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, an upset stomach, and general irritability.

These brief episodes of stress usually do not cause lasting harm to personal health.

However, debt—and the stress it causes—is typically a persistent problem. If your stress system stays activated over longer periods of time, it can lead to serious health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.²

Managing Stress and Debt

If you are experiencing debt-related stress, you should consider attacking the root of the problem. Generally, it takes time to work down debt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage the stress during the interim period.³

Developing a strategy to eliminate your debt is the first step to lowering stress, since the sense of control that a strategy gives you might furnish you with hope and optimism.

It’s also important that you keep your debt worries in perspective. Remind yourself that debt may not permanently ruin your life. Writing in a journal can be helpful as an outlet to the worried thoughts that can cycle endlessly through your mind. Seek social support—knowing that family and friends are in your corner can be a great source of strength.

Finally, find time for laughter and extending small kindnesses—each unleashes wonderfully positive chemical reactions that are good for the soul and the body.

  1. NerdWallet, 2016
  2. WebMD, 2016
  3. This is a hypothetical example used for illustrative purposes only. It is not representative of any specific debt-reduction strategy or approach.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Avoiding Cognitive Decline

Of those aged 65 and older, 10 to 20 percent have mild cognitive impairment. In addition, women have more than a 1 in 6 chance — and men have a 1 in 11 chance — of developing Alzheimer’s during the remainder of their lives.¹

There are three basic forms of cognitive decline associated with aging:

  • Age-related changes in memory are a natural consequence of aging.
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment involves mild memory loss, such as forgetting important events or appointments, or an inability or difficulty with finding the right word in a conversation.
  • Dementia, which includes Alzheimer’s disease, is a chronic, progressive, irreversible and comprehensive cognitive impairment that may affect daily functioning.

There are a range of risk factors that can lead to cognitive decline, including:

  • Increased age
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Smoking
  • Excessive use of alcohol
  • Physical and mental inactivity
  • Chronic stress
  • Medical conditions, such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hardening of the arteries
  • Low social involvement

Strategies to Help Prevent Cognitive Decline

Intellectual Stimulation

Reading, learning a musical instrument, and playing cards or board games are all activities that stimulate the brain and may reduce cognitive decline.

Exercise

Staying physically active can improve your mood, reduce stress, and help eliminate some of the medical conditions that are risk factors.

Low-Fat Diet

A nutritious diet, low in fat, may help reduce contributory risks such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, hardening of the arteries, and high cholesterol.

A Sound Night’s Sleep

It’s normal for sleeping difficulties to emerge with age, but insufficient sleep can impair memory and learning. Going to bed and waking up at the same time can help. However, if you have a sleep disorder, consider seeking qualified assistance.

Stay Social

Staying engaged with friends and family stimulates the brain. If you live alone or have limited social ties, look to build up contact with neighbors and social groups.

Talk to Your Doctor

It’s best not to self-diagnose or treat yourself if you think you are suffering from cognitive impairment. Visit your doctor to explain your symptoms and let him or her assess your condition and recommend the necessary treatment and counseling.

  1. Alzheimer’s Association, 2015

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Raising Healthy Children

One of the greatest legacies any parent can give a child is a framework for living an enduring healthy lifestyle.

It is hard to underestimate the power parents have on their children’s development, which is why parenting is such a profound responsibility.

The attitudes and habits formed in childhood can determine your child’s health in his or her adult years. Here are some ideas for parents who are looking to raise healthy children that grow up to be healthy adults.

Start Early: Good eating, sleeping, and exercise habits should begin early in childhood. It’ll save you (and your adult child) from the difficulties of breaking bad habits later on.

Be Family-Centric: Make healthy living a family affair. Consider the impact even small actions can have. Did you know that kids who eat more frequently with their families tend to choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables over soft drinks and fast food? Likewise, kids who eat more often with their families generally continue their healthy habits into adulthood.¹

Plan for Healthy Meals and Snacks: Modern lives are busy, but try to plan ahead by stocking healthy foods and snacks in the house. You may even want to cook a few meals during the weekend for the week ahead. If you’re looking to improve dieting behaviors, be sure to move slowly with these changes. The less the kids notice, the more effective the transition will likely be. Expose your child to different foods by pairing them with foods he or she already likes.

Be Active: It may be harder than ever to tear children away from the phone, computer, and TV, but it’s crucial that children engage in active play. It doesn’t have to be an organized event. Challenge your child to a push-up contest, or offer to play goalie so he or she can practice soccer kicks. Connect physical activity to a positive experience.

Be a Role Model: Lessons are difficult to teach if the teacher is not practicing what he or she preaches. Be sure to lead by example.

  1. Competitor.com, May 10, 2016

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Good Health is Good Business

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, productivity losses linked to employees not showing up for work cost employers $226 billion annually, or $1,685 per worker.¹ Business owners and managers understand very well the rising cost of health care and the loss of productivity associated with absenteeism and employee disengagement.

Which is why 98% of employers surveyed by Willis Towers Watson, a global advisory firm, say they’re committed to health and productivity improvement in the years ahead.²

Employer efforts are bearing fruit. According to one report, medical costs fell approximately $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs, while absenteeism costs fell about $2.73 for every dollar spent.³

The Profile of a Successful Wellness Program

Tailored: An effective employee wellness program is multifaceted and must reflect the personal needs and interests of a diverse workforce.

Incentives: Incentives, such as rewards and recognition, communicate the employer’s care and support for the program and help drive employee participation.

Measurable: To maintain ongoing support, there should be tracking of the program’s impact.

Common Wellness Program Offerings

The most common employer wellness offerings include smoking cessation, physical activity, mental health, health club membership, and weight management.

Yet 76% of employers agree that their companies are focusing more on overall wellbeing, as opposed to just physical wellbeing. As a result, many are adding other features to their wellness programs, such as social health and financial management.

A Bonus

Good health is as much a social endeavor as it is a personal journey. These programs can often create employee interactions unlikely to occur during the workday, prompting conversations and relations that catalyze new ideas and improve your work culture.

  1. CDCFoundation.org, January 28, 2015
  2. Willis Towers Watson, “2015/2016 Global Staying@Work Survey”
  3. Healthcare Trends Institute, March 9, 2015
  4. Virgin Pulse, 2016, “The Business of Healthy Employees”

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Money Draining Food Myths

The road to better health may sometimes involve an extra expense here and there, but you should be careful about wasting money on diet ideas with promises that are more based on myth than fact.

Identified below are four diet strategies that may be ineffective and financially expensive.

Multi Vitamins

There is no clear evidence of multi-vitamins’ health efficacy, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins.¹ Not only are they of questionable value, but, in excess, they can be harmful. Some supplements may be of some use to some people, but determining the right supplement for your age, gender, and personal health status is best left to you and your physician.

Gluten Free

The growth of gluten-free products has been explosive. And, in many cases, consumers are paying a higher premium for them. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and is more beneficial than detrimental. Gluten is harmful to individuals with celiac disease and can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in individuals with a gluten sensitivity.

However, there is no evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet helps with other health issues or losing weight. Unless you are one of the minority of Americans who truly needs to avoid gluten, you may be wasting money on gluten-free products.

Detoxing

Body detoxification using special juices has been touted as a way to lose weight, rid the body of “poisons,” and treat or prevent any number of diseases. These expensive juices, however, don’t live up to their billing. Indeed, detoxing may be dangerously unhealthy to some people.

Your body already does a wonderful job of detoxing, thanks to your liver, kidneys, and intestines. Save the money and let your body do what it’s ideally designed to do.

Superfoods

There is no generally accepted definition of a superfood, and it certainly has no meaning among nutrition scientists. Superfood is more marketing than it is science. Before you spend good money on the latest superfood, find out if the claims are backed by any independent qualified research. If there is none, save your money and stick with a balanced diet.

If you’re considering a diet, you should consult your physician to determine the best approach for you.

  1. HopkinsMedicine.org, 2015

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG Suite is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Apps That Help Achieve Goals

The gap between setting goals and achieving them can be difficult to bridge. To enhance the chances of achieving personal goals, reminders and motivation are essential; making a New Year’s resolution is simply not enough.

A number of apps have been developed in recent years to help you pursue your goals and develop better life habits. To get you started, consider this app:

  • Optimized: A goal setting and daily tracking app, Optimized can analyze your activities as well as help you set goals and pursue them by charting your daily progress. Visit site

In contrast to the above app, which is a straightforward goal setting and tracking tool, the following apps add a layer of motivation that may be exactly what some individuals need to turn aspirations into reality.

  • StickK: Using a “commitment contract,” this app attaches incentives and accountability to goal setting, incorporating a user-appointed referee and a social network to encourage success. Visit site
  • 21Habit: This app requires a user to pledge $21 to commit to a daily action for the next 21 days. For each day the user successfully takes action, one dollar is returned. In the event that the user does not take the pledged action, one dollar is forfeited and donated to charity. Visit site
  • Beeminder: Beeminder is an app that raises the commitment ante by assessing you a $5 charge for each time you fail to meet the commitment you’ve made (the first fail is free). Visit site

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Building Your Legacy

Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.¹
Shannon L. Alder
The desire to leave a legacy may be the height of altruism, for it is a gift to the future; you may never witness the benefits of it nor feel the appreciation of others.

Creating your legacy does not happen overnight, and it doesn’t come without a strategy and hard work.

Create Your Vision

You should have an end in mind before you begin. Start by reflecting on what you value and care most about. Consider your passions and the unique skills you have. Your career and hobbies are good places to start. Be sure to ask your friends and family to weigh in. They may offer insights you don’t see about yourself.

Determine Your Legacy

Think about the legacy you wish to leave and the impact you want to make. A legacy can come in many colors. It can be financial, institutional, instructional or wish fulfillment, or the passing on of values and life lessons.

Develop a Strategy

A legacy will not happen without a blueprint and the persistent pursuit of your objective. A strategy can help you organize your efforts and keep you on the path that leads to success.

Live Your Legacy

A legacy is not only what you leave behind, but the impact you make on others while alive. Be sure to live your values with your family, at work, and in your community. Nothing is more likely to survive you than your impact on the lives you touch today.

  1. Goodreads, 2016

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.

Creative Ways to Motivate Your Employees

The common thread that runs through all small businesses, from professional services to manufacturing, is that a motivated workforce is central to the business’s success.

Here are some quick, inexpensive, and potentially effective ways to motivate your employees and improve your employee retention.

Weekly “Good News” Emails

Too often the business day can be about addressing problems or issues, large and small. We forget to recognize the “wins” and other positive accomplishments. Yet, it is the successes we achieve that inspire us to reach new heights.

Encourage Mental Breaks

Whether it is making sure employees go out for lunch, take a mid-day walk, or even take a short “power nap,” these breaks away from the grind can re-energize, refresh, and even lead to new ideas.

Be Visible

As a leader, your troops appreciate your visibility and a human connection to you. Walk around the floor. Write handwritten notes of appreciation. Roll up your sleeves to help meet a deadline.

Break the Routine

Think about bringing in a community speaker for a “lunch and learn” session. Perhaps even sponsor a “bring your pet to work day!” Changing up the routine inspires, invigorates, and makes it more fun to be at work.

Invite Staff to Client Visits

Not only will an employee appreciate the opportunity to visit with a client and the vote of confidence it implies, but he or she will gain a valuable perspective on what a client needs and the integral role he or she has in delivering your service or product.

The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2017 FMG Suite.