Fires. Tornadoes. Floods. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that natural disasters in the United States are on the rise. Are you and your family prepared if a natural disaster strikes your community?
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the first step in emergency preparedness is to formulate an emergency plan. A critical part of this plan is to ensure access to your medications in an emergency. Since many people are on multiple medications, the first place to start is the development of a comprehensive list of all medications and dosages. Include your own, those of family members, and any pet medications.
Next, remain prepared with an ample supply. If storms are brewing that may result in a loss of access to your pharmacy, be sure to obtain early refills. If your drug plan provider resists, call and explain why you need the early refill. Never wait until the last minute to obtain refills. Keep at least seven to 10 days’ worth of medication on hand, including pet medications.
If you use a mail-order pharmacy, and a storm or another natural disaster is on the horizon, provide an alternative shipping address where your provider can send your medications. Additionally, take a picture of your health card, including the pharmaceutical information, in case the card is lost or damaged. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends keeping your pets’ medical records with you in case you must board your pet after a disaster. Proof of vaccinations and medications will be vital to your furry friend’s safety.
To further prepare, ensure your medications are in watertight containers if flooding may occur. If the disaster contaminates local water supplies, and your medication requires water, use only bottled water to reconstitute medications. Also keep in mind that power disruption often accompanies a natural disaster. Consider how you will store any medications that require refrigeration.
Filing taxes without preparation is like running a marathon without training. It is a long, hard go. With good preparation, filing next year’s tax return will be more like a walk in the park. Start getting ready now.
In 2017, there were 10,000 cases of business identity theft in the United States. Credit agency Experian reports small and midsize businesses in North America are losing up to $1 billion a year to these imposters. Crimes include tax fraud, credit card use, and website ransom. Is your business protected?
Too often, smaller businesses are targets for fraudsters because thieves realize these companies have fewer resources devoted to protection.
Fortunately, there are several simple and affordable steps you can take to guard your company against identity theft.
Monitoring service: Businesses can enroll in a monitoring service that keeps watch over the company’s credit report. The service will monitor for red flags in credit activity.
EIN: Many entrepreneurs run their businesses under their personal Social Security number. To increase protection, obtain an employer identification number (EIN) and keep personal and business finances separate.
Data protection: If you maintain paper records, use a secure mailbox, shred unneeded documents, and keep sensitive information in locked files. To guard digital files, use firewalls, anti-malware technology, and antivirus software. Change passwords quarterly, using random password generators.
Credit scores are becoming increasingly important, with many employers even factoring this into their hiring decisions. A credit score is based on a credit report, which is a detailed account of one’s credit history, borrowings, repayments, and credit inquiries. It indicates the financial responsibility of an individual, including on-time monthly payments, types of credit accrued, and complete credit history.
The three prominent credit bureaus which maintain credit records are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Any non-payment is immediately reported to these bureaus and reflected in one’s credit report. A credit score is calculated by a special type of software from Fair Issac Corporation Company, from which the FICO score name stems.
There are several different components, with individual weightings, that comprise your credit score:
Payment History - This accounts for 35% of a credit score and indicates timely payment of monthly bills or otherwise.
Extent of Indebtedness - How much an individual owes constitutes as high as 30% of the total credit score. Thus, it is important to keep your borrowings low, preferably below 40% of maximum credit limits.
Length of Credit History - How long a person has maintained credit carries a weighting of 15%. The longer the credit history, the better this reflects on your score.
Types of Credit - The composition and different types of credit that a person has comprise 10% of the credit score.
New Credit - The size of new credit and inquiries has a weighting of the remaining 10% on the credit score.
How we greet the morning has tremendous impact on our productivity and pleasure all day long. Here are eight tips for a good start.
No alarm. Waking up to an alarm breaks into natural sleep cycles and makes us feel groggy. Plenty of sleep helps us to awake naturally before the alarm goes off.
Stretch. Stretch before breakfast. Simple, short exercises that increase blood flow, condition muscles and release good-feeling chemicals will provide a day-long boost.
Sit still. Take a few minutes to sit still and think of nothing. Let any thoughts that pop into your head pass through the mind and away without censure. Stillness gives power and focus to the day.
Gratitude. Gratitude changes everything. Write down five things that you like. Each morning, write five different things. Do this again before bed to ensure a restful sleep.
Food and music. As your Mom said, eat a nutritious breakfast. Follow it with quality vitamins. Play gentle music to get your brain and your spirit into gear.
No news. Starting the day with bad news is discouraging. Commercials make us dissatisfied with life, so avoid them morning and night, the times we’re most susceptible to influence.
Agenda. Ten minutes spent making a prioritized agenda helps to reduce vague, overshadowing anxiety. Try to do this the night before.
“In polite society, we call our obsessions hobbies,” notes author Stephen King. So what are your obsessions/hobbies?
Do they involve a significant investment in collectibles? Expensive equipment? If your hobby is running, you probably don’t have additional insurance concerns. However, if you collect rare coins, build and operate radio-controlled vehicles, or restore and sell antiques, you likely have a lot more to consider.
If your home houses a hobby that is vulnerable to loss, it’s important to evaluate what insurance coverage you need. Limits on homeowner and renter policies may be too low, or the causes of loss that are covered might not be appropriate. These may not be sufficient to cover your hobby. For example, consider the following:
Consumers spend billions of dollars each year on overpriced and unnecessary auto repairs. To get value for your money, become familiar with your vehicle, develop a good relationship with the garage, and examine the bill carefully.
Know Your Vehicle
The owner’s manual provides a checklist and timetable for regular maintenance, along with much useful data on the vehicle. Study the manual, and have it handy at the garage. A well-informed consumer is a small target for auto-repair scams.
Listen to your car’s performance so that you are alert to problems. Make a note of symptoms, which will be useful to the mechanic diagnosing the problem. Let him determine the cause.
Develop a Good Relationship
Find a repair shop that gets positive reviews from family, friends and colleagues. Take your car in for an oil change. If you’re satisfied with the service and comfortable in the shop, develop an ongoing relationship.
An independent garage may have top-flight mechanics and be as competent as the dealers’ repair shops. For common makes of cars, good choices are plentiful. Ask questions that help you to become familiar with the facility and with your vehicle. Avoid hanging over the mechanic’s shoulder while he works.
Get a Written Estimate
Ask for a written estimate before authorizing work. Check whether parts are from the vehicle’s manufacturer or are after-market parts, which differ in quality among makers and countries of origin. Look up the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Call other garages, and compare costs for the same work.
$10,000 and Up
*Referring SafeMoney.com Advisor: Jennifer Lang
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