A New Year, A New You
January 1 marks the beginning of a new year, but for many of us, it also symbolizes the start of a new change we commit to making in our lives. Although sometimes easy to forget about once February rolls around, New Years resolutions can represent a great way to implement a positive change in your life. From identifying your financial resources and calculating your net worth, to finding time for fitness and maintaining a healthy weight, use the following New Years resolution tips to help you move toward a financially and physically healthy 2012.
Planning for a Future of Financial Stability - New Years Resolution Tips for a Financially Stable 2012
Obtaining the peace of mind financial stability brings starts with reviewing your current financial resources. This is important because your financial resources affect not only your ability to achieve your goals, but also your ability to protect those goals from potential financial crises. One unique New Years resolution tip is to review your financial resources by calculating your net worth, which isn't as difficult as it may sound. Your net worth is simply the total value of what you own - your assets, minus what you owe - your liabilities. In other words, it's a snapshot of your financial health.
To calculate your net worth, first add up the approximate value of all of your assets, which include personal possessions, vehicles, homes, checking and savings accounts, and the cash value (not the death benefits) of any life insurance policies you may have. Include the current value of investments, such as stocks, real estate, certificates of deposit, retirement accounts, IRAs and the current value of any pensions you have.
Now add up your liabilities: the remaining mortgage on your home, credit card debt, taxes due on the profits of your investments, if you cashed them in and any other outstanding bills. Subtract your liabilities from your assets and analyze the data. Do you have more assets than liabilities or more liabilities than assets?
Naturally, your goal is to create a positive net worth - one that will grow each year. Your net worth is part of what you will draw on to pay for financial goals like retirement. In addition, in the unfortunate event that you experience an financial crisis, a strong net worth will help you overcome the obstacle. It's important to review and recalculate your net worth annually, as this will allow you to closely monitor your financial health.
Aside from assets and liabilities, it's wise to identify other financial resources that may not be included in your net worth but can help you through financially straining times. These resources include the death benefits of your life insurance policies, Social Security survivor's benefits, health care coverage, disability insurance, liability insurance, and auto and home insurance. Although you may have to pay for some of these resources, they offer financial protection in case of illness, accidents or other catastrophes.
Maintaining a Balanced Diet - New Years Resolution Tips for a Healthy 2012
Healthy Portion Sizes
When it comes to making a New Years resolution, shedding extra pounds often emerges as a common goal. Although there are many factors involved in successfully losing weight, awareness of healthy portion sizes is crucial. For a general idea of the amount of food you should be consuming, use the following tips:
Making Time for Fitness
- A serving of meat is approximately two or three ounces - about the size of a deck of cards, or the palm of your hand.
- One serving of grains is equal to one slice of bread, one ounce of cereal, or 1/2 cup of pasta or rice.
- A serving of fruit or vegetables is equal to one piece of fresh fruit or vegetable, ½ cup chopped, or ¾ cup of fruit or vegetable juice. In general, it's not as necessary to be vigilant about vegetable and fruit intake, as any amount is healthy-just be aware of the sugar content in fruit.
- The key to any meal is to have 75 percent of your plate covered with vegetables and 25 percent covered with meat or pasta.
In addition to healthy portion sizes, another key factor in slimming down is fitting fitness into your schedule. Although your life may already seem too hectic with your job, family and other commitments, there's still time to tend to your health and fitness. Exercising for just 20 to 30 minutes per day will not only improve your health and overall wellbeing, but it can also be fun. If your New Years resolution involves incorporating fitness into a hectic schedule, here are some helpful tips:
Knowing Your Numbers
- Park your car far away, and walk farther to your destination.
- Participate in a charity run, walk or bike event.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
- Squeeze a stress ball while at work to relieve tension, burn calories, increase flexibility and improve blood flow.
- Exercise during your lunch hour, even if it's just a walk around the block or up and down a flight of stairs.
Achieving a healthy 2012 not only means incorporating diet and exercise into your life, but it also requires knowledge and monitoring of your numbers. Knowing your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) are extremely vital in determining whether you are at risk for developing major illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you know your numbers are out of healthy range, you can take measures to get yourself back into good health. Cholesterol:
An unexpected heart attack can be caused by years of living with high cholesterol and extra fat stored in the body. It's important to ask your doctor what your HDL cholesterol (good) and LDL cholesterol (bad) levels are, keeping in mind that total cholesterol should be 200 or less. Blood Pressure:
Blood pressure is the amount of force that it takes for your heart to pump blood through your body. High blood pressure, known as hypertension, increases your risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease and can cause damage to your brain, eyes and arteries. Blood pressure should be around 120 over 80. Blood Sugar:
Glucose is sugar that is stored in the blood as your main source of energy, and if your glucose levels are too high or too low, you can develop diabetes. The normal range for blood sugar is 80 to 120. Body Mass Index:
BMI measures your weight in relation to your height. This measurement indicates whether your weight falls within a normal, healthy range. Your BMI should be less than 25. A BMI over 25 indicates you are overweight, and a BMI over 30 indicates obesity. For a quick and easy way to calculate your BMI, input your height and weight into BMI-Calculator.net's
useful BMI Calculator
Source: U.S. Department of Labor (Financial Stability) www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/savingsfitness.pdf
The holiday season is filled with fun, family, friends, and food, but there’s one “f” that can ruin this special time of year – fire. Although decorating adds to the beauty of the holidays, it can also create fire hazards in your home or office. In fact, there are approximately 2,600 people injured from accidental fires during the holiday season each year. Use the following 20 holiday safety tips to ensure that your festivities remain fire-free.
Christmas Tree Safety
- If you celebrate Christmas with a live tree, it’s best to cut a 1- or 2-inch diagonal off the bottom of the trunk before erecting it in your home. This will allow your tree to better absorb water, preserving its freshness.
- Regardless of whether you opt for a real or artificial tree, be sure to place it at least three feet away from a heat source like a fireplace or heating vent.
- Don’t plan too far in advance, as keeping a fresh tree in your home for more than two weeks will cause it to dry out and become extremely flammable.
- Place the tree in a sturdy water-holding stand with widespread legs, and keep the stand filled with water to prevent the tree from drying out.
- Keep young children as well as curious pets at a safe distance from the tree to prevent it from accidentally knocking over.
Holiday Safety Tips for Hanging Lights
- Keep outside lights outdoors and inside lights indoors, as mixing and matching lights can create a fire hazard.
- When purchasing lights, always choose products bearing the name of an independent testing lab like UL, which indicates that the lights have been tested for safety hazards.
- Although we are often quick to toss them aside, following the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance is the safest idea.
- Before hanging last year’s lights, it’s important to inspect them for cracks and exposed or loose wires and dispose of them accordingly. Inspecting newly purchased decorations is also a wise idea, as lights can be damaged in transit.
- When stringing lights together, use built in connectors and be careful not to join more than 200 midget lights or 50 larger lamps through one string or cord.
- Before going to sleep or leaving your home or office, remember to unplug all lights and decorations, both indoors and outdoors.
- To avoid overloading an outlet, don’t connect more than three sets of lights to one extension cord.
- When placing your lights, ensure that cords are not closed in doors or windows, run under rugs or carpeting, or stretch across a walkway and create a tripping hazard.
- If decorating your office, avoid placing lights and decorations in areas that block doorways, walkways, exit signs or stairwells.
- If you blow a fuse, unplug the lights from the outlet and immediately replace the blown fuse. If the replacement fuse also blows, a short circuit may be present and in this case, you should throw away the defective light string or decoration, or if newly purchased, return it for a refund.
Candle Safety During the Holiday Season
- If using candles to decorate, place them in stable holders and in a location where they can’t be easily knocked over.
- Never use lit candles to decorate your Christmas tree.
- Be sure to never leave a lit candle unattended and always extinguish burning candles before leaving a room or going to bed.
- Avoid placing candles near flammable objects.
- Keep burning candles out of the reach of young children and curious pets.
For many families, the holiday season is “the most wonderful time of the year,” and keeping these holiday safety tips in mind when infusing your home or office with Christmas spirit will ensure that this special season also remains safe.