If you've ever had painful wrists, dry eyes or an aching back at work, you know the importance of good ergonomics. Here are the basics.
Avoid glare from windows or overhead lights. Close the window shades to stop light from hitting your computer screen, and position your desk away from direct, glaring lights. Make sure the room has proper air circulation.
Your monitor should be at arm's length from your body with the top of the monitor at eye level so you are looking slightly down when you are working. Many new flat-screen monitors are easily adjustable. When typing, your arms should be positioned so that your wrists are not bent when you type. When using a mouse, make sure it's not too high or it will strain your wrist. Use a mouse mat with a pad as support.
Your desk and chair
Adjust your chair so your back is well supported, from top to bottom. Use a lumbar support, if you need one. Sit upright and don't slouch. When you are typing, your elbows should be at 90 degrees or slightly less. Your feet should reach the floor (use a footrest, if needed) and your thighs should be parallel to the floor with your knees bent 90 degrees.
Finding your dream home is easy, but obtaining a competitive home loan is not. Thankfully, with sufficient planning, you can obtain the best mortgage possible – providing you with significant financial savings in the long run.
Check for Credit Score Errors
The most important element of obtaining a competitive loan is your credit score. Even if you have stellar credit, obtain a copy of your credit report from the three reporting agencies to check for any reporting errors. Considering that 40% of credit reports have errors, it is important to resolve these problems before you apply for your mortgage.
Raise Your Credit Score
Generally, it takes six months to one year to improve your credit. The earlier you begin, the better your score will be. However, if you plan on applying for a loan within the next two months, you can still improve your credit. Reduce your debt-utilization ratio by paying down your credit cards and staying well below your maximum credit limits.
Show Your Savings
During the mortgage application process, the lenders will scrutinize your financial health. Do not keep your savings in a checking account. Instead, open a savings account or CD to demonstrate your ability to save money. Remember, the more you have for your down payment, the better your mortgage rate will be.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.” Conduct of this nature becomes unlawful when it creates “a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.”
If an employee feels he or she has experienced workplace harassment, the company may be held liable. Resulting lawsuits can prove quite costly to the employer. This makes proper precautions to prevent workplace harassment vitally important to business operations.
To protect your employees from harassment and protect your company from lawsuits, take the following steps.
Create a written policy: Put your workplace harassment policies in writing. Be sure to include clear descriptions of various types of harassment, what employees should do if they feel harassed, and what actions will be taken by the company if this occurs.
Consult with professionals: To ensure your policy adheres to current laws, ask an attorney to review your statement. He or she can ensure that it clearly defines harassment and provides a complete picture of your policy. Your regional or district office of the EEOC is another good source for guidance in creating this written policy.
Revise the handbook: Once you have prepared your written policy, make sure it is included in your employee handbook. Your handbook should also include an equal employment opportunity statement and an at-will employment statement.
If necessary, revise the current book and redistribute copies to all employees. This may require some investment of resources, but it does no good to create a policy unless everyone is made aware of it.
Train your employees: Make training on workplace harassment mandatory for employees. This might involve a video, presentation, or a simple meeting to review your policy. Ensure every employee fully understands your procedures for the reporting, investigation, and resolution of workplace harassment complaints.
When employees complete this training, have them sign an acknowledgment form that states they understand the policy. Keep these forms in each employee’s file.
Take immediate action: If an employee reports an occurrence of workplace harassment, act on the complaint right away. Don’t ignore it. Don’t put it at the bottom of the priority pile. Fully investigate any claim of harassment.
Refer to your policy for proper protocols to handle the situation. An improper response can easily lead to a lawsuit or further incidents, so making the time is well worth the effort. An immediate response helps provide a safe work environment for employees and protects your bottom line.
Consult with your insurance agent to determine which type of policy and how much coverage are appropriate for your business.
As you gear up for retirement, you may have heard of “safe money solutions.” Are they right for you? It’s an important question, especially since retirement planning is more difficult than it's ever been in history.
Past generations could count on company pensions that would pay them every month without fail until they died. But the disappearance of these pensions, coupled with the increase in longevity for retirees, has left many people with more questions than answers.
While Social Security will cover at least some of their expenses, most retirees will have to rely on income from their own investments and savings to make up the difference.
However, what many call a bewildering amount of financial choices in today’s market can leave people feeling frustrated.
According to the Investment Company Institute, nearly 120,000 regulated investment funds are available to retirement savers today. And what about other options? There are more annuities than hedge funds available, which doesn’t even begin to cover the universe of countless other instruments that can be tapped for retirement goals.
All that being said, what if you are looking for some choices that help guard your money and maximize income for retirement? Safe money solutions might be worth a look. And what are they? Generally speaking, a safe money solution:
Annuities as a Safe Money Solution for Income
One example speaks powerfully to how annuities can provide permanent streams of monthly income, often at less cost than what other asset classes might give.
Dr. Wade Pfau of the American College for Financial Planning recently showed a comparison of different income-planning approaches. His presentation was at the combined Financial Planning Association (FPA) and Academy of Financial Services 2019 annual conference.
Pfau is the director of the Retirement Income Certified Professional program at the college. He showed how a 65-year old woman who purchases an immediate annuity with a life-only payout for $172,915 would receive $10,000 a year for life at current rates.
Comparatively, the same amount of money invested in savings today would produce about $6,920 per year, assuming 4% annual withdrawals.
Using Annuities or Bonds for Retirement Income
Pfau went on to compare the same annuity to a ladder of risk-free zero coupon bonds. A 35-year ladder of bonds that would guarantee $10,000 a year for 35 years would cost $224,872.
So the hypothetical woman in this example could put money in the immediate annuity, then allocate the $52,000 difference in an equity portfolio to guard against inflation.
However, every situation has trade-offs, and this scenario isn't any different.
While the annuity pays more, the woman is forfeiting control of most of her money in order to receive the life-only payout. If she were to pass away early, the remaining balance of money in the immediate annuity would go to the insurance company.
What might be some alternatives, then? One answer is to put the money instead into a fixed indexed annuity with a guaranteed income rider. Let's assume that she chose an "income-today" strategy, meaning she started payments to her right away.
This index annuity alternative would also yield $10,000 per year but only cost $165,070 upfront. What's more, it would also allow the woman to retain control of at least some of her money and also possibly leave a legacy for her heirs.
If she were to invest the above balance into savings and withdraw it at a rate of 4% per year, she would only receive $6,602.80 per year for 25 years.
What Else Can an Annuity Do for You?
Fixed and fixed indexed annuities are backed by the insurance carrier's cash reserves on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Most carriers have even more than a dollar in reserve for every dollar of outstanding premium that they issue.
Insurance companies do have ratings given to them by the rating agencies such as Fitch, Moody and Standard & Poor's.
Any carrier with a BBB or B++ rating can be a safe haven for your money. Be sure to check the carrier’s solvency ratio, or the ratio of dollars-and-cents in reserves for each dollar of annuity premium they hold.
Those who have yet to get an A rating will often offer more competitive annuity contracts in order to entice retirees and mature-aged individuals to buy them.
A sound safe money solution for your retirement is going to incorporate at least a few of the following principles:
If you are in the retirement "red zone" (within 10 years of retirement in either direction), make sure that your portfolio is adequately diversified.
The "Rule of 100" (100 minus your age equals the percent of your portfolio you should have in equities) can be a good tool to start with. Keep in mind that it's a back-of-envelope tool and a starting point. The equity portion of a portfolio is also important.
Your financial advisor can help you ensure the equity portion of your portfolio is in in several different segments of the economy and also all of the major cap sizes for mutual funds (i.e. small, medium, and large cap).
You will probably need some diversification in the fixed-income segment of your portfolio as well.
Determine Your Monthly Retirement Spending
The next step is to figure out your expenses during retirement.
This should include all of the basics, such as healthcare, clothing, rent or mortgage payments (if there is one), taxes, insurance, food and entertainment.
Be sure to also include miscellaneous expenses such as holiday and birthday gifts, unforeseen medical expenses, and car repair and maintenance bills. Long-term care expenses should also be considered here.
This schedule of expenses should probably be projected out for at least 30 years, and inflation should also be taken into account.
Put Your Income Strategy into Action
Once you know what your retirement expenses will be, you can begin plotting out an income plan that will cover them. The foundation of this plan will most likely be Social Security. Be sure to talk to a Social Security expert before making an election.
If you are planning on taking Social Security at age 62, you can increase your monthly benefit by three-quarters if you wait until age 70.
You may have to work for a few more years than you intended in order to maintain your current lifestyle when you retire. Then again, working until age 70 can provide a triple financial benefit.
Not only can it allow you to defer taking Social Security until you are 70 years old. It also shaves a few years off the timespan that you will have to stretch your savings over.
What's more, you can also beef up your retirement portfolio with additional contributions to your IRAs and/or employer-sponsored retirement plan.
Benefits to Delaying
Working until age 70 may also enable you to pay off more of your debt. A retirement cash-flow plan that doesn't include a mortgage payment will stretch much further and be more forgiving than a plan with one.
Even paying off a car loan will stretch your dollars much further, so the more debt that you can eliminate before retirement, the better.
A Secure Retirement Starts Today
Planning for retirement in today's world is much different than in times past. But an adequately diversified portfolio that is tailored to your risk tolerance, retirement objectives, and time horizon can go a long way towards providing the income security that you need.
Contact us for more information on creating a safe income solution that meets your needs. Help is only a click away at JenniferLangFinancialServices.com.
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How much do you spend on workers compensation? Between insurance premiums and claim payouts, this figure could be significant. But by improving safety measures in your business, you can significantly impact this cost.
To keep these expenditures down, many business owners are turning to technology. Today’s tech often gets a bad rap (“Employees are on their smartphones instead of working.” “Robots are stealing jobs.”) But technology can also prove useful in making work environments safer and reducing costs. Following are a few tools that business owners can implement in their company operations to cut risk. The results should be lower insurance costs and safer employees.
Instant access – Upload manuals, instructions, and safety reports to your company website, and allow employees to access this information easily on tablets and phones while on the job. They can quickly reference the appropriate procedures for potentially dangerous situations. In case of an accident, they can easily and instantaneously complete required reporting.
Apps – Most employees now carry smartphones, and many apps are available to boost on-the-job safety. With the addition of a few apps, a smartphone can also be a flashlight, a level, or another tool. Does your business have a unique need? Work with an applications developer on the perfect app for your employees to make their jobs easier and safer.
Cameras and video – Surveillance cameras can help protect against break-ins and theft, but portable cameras and videos can do so much more. They can record safety walk-throughs for future reference and review, take pictures of hazards to report them, and photograph accident sites for accurate, instant reporting.
Drones – In addition to handheld or hard-hat-mounted devices, drones are great tools for photographing or recording a worksite for safety evaluation. Reviewing these images allows analysis of risk factors that could pose safety concerns or cause errors.
Personal sensors – Like boots, hard hats, safety harnesses, and vests, sensors can be used as personal safety equipment. These can let employees know if they have been standing too long or their heart rate is too high.
Site sensors – Sensors can be set up in at-risk areas of worksites to detect specific safety concerns: they can alert employees if they are in an area where it’s too hot to safely work, or alert them to potential hazards ahead that may cause slips or falls.
What technology could benefit your business? A quick review of your recent incidents may reveal where you need to beef up safety protocols. Once these at-risk areas are determined, consider what technology could improve employee safety in those situations. Spending a bit on technology could save you a bundle on your workers compensation claims.
However much we research the options available when buying life insurance, and discuss them with friends and family, there are some things we might just never know.
Following are suggestions from insiders – those who are involved in life-insurance matters on a daily basis.
Include payment with your application.
What would happen if you were to die after applying for a life-insurance policy, but before the application is processed? You wouldn’t have a policy, unless you take one important step: if you include a check for the first payment when you submit an application, your coverage will be retroactively binding to that day.
Don’t name a minor as a beneficiary.
One reason we buy life insurance is to provide for our children. But minors can’t receive life-insurance proceeds, at least not directly. If you name a child as a beneficiary, he or she may have a hard time getting the money before turning eighteen. And, at that point, the child receives the money with no controls over how it’s used. A better option may be to create a life-insurance trust that receives the money and specifies its use. For example, the trust can disburse the funds over time on milestones you define, such as when your child turns twenty-one, thirty, etc.
Don’t use group life insurance to satisfy a divorce agreement.
If a divorce agreement provides you with alimony or child support, it also likely requires your ex-spouse to have a life insurance policy naming you as a beneficiary. However, if your ex-spouse suggests using a work policy to satisfy this requirement, you may need to ask him or her to reconsider: if your ex-spouse changes jobs, the agreed-upon coverage may be lost.
During the height of the manufacturing era, it wasn’t unusual for a business owner to experience massive losses due to boiler and machinery breakdowns.
To protect against the risk of business failure, lost contracts and the resulting costs associated with machinery breakdowns, commercial policies provided basic protection in the form of boiler and machinery insurance.
As machinery has become much more sophisticated, so has the coverage offered to business owners. Equipment breakdown coverage is now one of the most important forms of insurance offered by many underwriters.
If you think your business wouldn’t benefit from equipment breakdown insurance, you’d better think again. Experts say the electric system alone represents an average of 8% to 15% of the cost of a facility, and a single electrical arc can damage as much as 50% of a building’s infrastructure. This doesn’t include electronic equipment, transformers, office equipment and machinery that could be impacted.
The cost to a company can be staggering, especially when the total loss is added up. Repair costs, continuing operating expenses and loss of profits can easily add another 50% to total losses. Even business owners who rent or lease a building are not immune to the risk of equipment breakdown, as the cost of repairs, business disruption and loss of data may still fall on the shoulders of the commercial tenant.
Likewise, even brand-new equipment can be at risk due to storms, power outages or system malfunctions, making equipment breakdown insurance just as popular among new start-ups as among older entities.
Fortunately, underwriters recognize the needs of different organizations and have responded with a growing variety of choices for small-business owners. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, underwriters may offer a stand-alone policy or a policy that’s part of a larger package.
Exposure and risk assessments are becoming more responsive to the needs of each policyholder as the market for new technology matures, making self-insurance much less desirable than in the past.
Today’s equipment insurance rates are much more affordable than those of even 15 years ago, thanks in large part to better understanding of risk and protective factors.
Equipment insurance is quickly becoming an expectation in order to apply for funding or to raise capital, since investors and banks want assurances against unexpected losses or unanticipated disruptions of business.
In fact, the importance of equipment insurance is growing as partnership and solution providers also seek more stable relationships.
One way to reduce the inherent relationship risk involved in doing business with other providers is to make sure that they are not subject to business disruptions or interruptions.
Small-business owners hoping to secure funding or finance partnership opportunities may find equipment breakdown insurance an especially valuable investment.
Life insurance typically is used to provide replacement income for those who depend on you – spouses, children, or others. Here are three ways replacement income from your life insurance policy can help your dependents:
Funeral costs and estate taxes
When you die, you may leave taxes due or other end-of-life costs, such as funeral expenses. For example, the most recent information from the National Funeral Directors Association pegs the national median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial at $7,181 – and that doesn’t include additional costs such as monuments or markers, flowers, or published obituaries. A life-insurance policy can be used to cover these expenses, freeing your loved ones from paying for funeral and final estate costs.
Higher education costs
Perhaps you have children who have not yet attended college. Or perhaps your children are already in college or recently graduated, in which case they may have tuition costs or student loans outstanding. In these cases, your life insurance proceeds could be used to finance your children’s college education or to pay off their education-related debts.
The population is aging: In 2014, the latest year for which data is available, 14.5% of the U.S. population (some 46.2 million Americans) was 65 years of age or older. By 2040, the population of seniors is expected to grow to 21.7% of the population. As we age, we get ill, and many of us will suffer prolonged illnesses prior to death. We may need extended-care facilities, which can be costly. Consider giving your loved ones the gift of not worrying about medical or extended-care bills that may come due after your death by earmarking your life insurance policy to cover such costs.
Nearly one quarter of Americans have no emergency savings, according to a recent report.[i]Without an emergency fund, you can imagine that an unexpected expense could send your budget into a tailspin.
With credit card debt at an all-time high and no meaningful savings for many Americans, it’s important to learn how to start and grow your emergency savings. You CAN do this!
4 tips to building your emergency fund
$10,000 and Up
*Referring SafeMoney.com Advisor: Jennifer Lang
If I could show you a way to stay in control of your money until you take your last breath, but instead of giving that money to the government, nursing home or hospital, you could keep that
money in the family for generations to come, at the very least wouldn’t you want to know how to do that?
Learn how to protect your money from unnecessary risks.
Retirement Planning Beyond the Accumulation Phase: What You Should Know About Medicare and
Long-Term Care Before You Retire..
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