Finance

Spending Your Money

Job Corps Healthcare Costs Homebuyers Shop For Financial Products Your Encore Career Protect Water and Save Money Protect Your Benefits

Getting The Most Out Of Your Breakfast

(NAPSI)—Calling breakfast the most important meal of the day is no exaggeration. Without breakfast, your metabolism can suffer, performance and concentration are apt to decrease, and hunger throughout the day can result in overeating during future meals.

In addition to nutrition, a growing number of consumers are finding that there are other aspects of breakfast that are important. For them, making the most of breakfast includes watching how they spend their money and not wasting anything they buy. To help, here are some tips on how to get the most out of your breakfast—and your money.

• When prices go higher, find a thrifty way to keep your breakfast necessities—Higher food prices don’t necessarily mean you have to forgo any of your favorite morning staples. Try out some of the better value brands, such as Mom’s Best or Malt-O-Meal. You can often find the more economical brands on the highest and lowest shelves in the aisle.

• Use food in a variety of ways—If you use your food in a variety of ways, you’ll find that you can make the most out of just about everything in the kitchen. For example, bread that has gone slightly stale might not make the best sandwich but it can often be used to make excellent French toast.

To get even more out of your cereal, such as Oat Blenders or Golden Puffs, try putting some in yogurt or using them as a substitute for breadcrumbs or as a topping for a dinner casserole.

• Compost—According to the EPA, Americans diverted a mere 5 percent of the 36 million tons of food waste from landfills in 2012. Instead of contributing to these dismal recovery rates, start to save your uneaten food scraps for the compost bin. Items such as uncooked veggies left over from a morning omelet, used coffee grounds and their filters, or eggshells make additions to any compost. Not only will you prevent these items from going to a landfill, but you’ll be getting the most out of your morning meals by turning uneaten portions into a more beautiful yard or garden.

• Think twice about packaging—According to the experts at TerraCycle, food packaging can be more than just a container. For example, you can clean and save packaging to be recycled for creative DIY projects. MOM Brands cereal has developed a series of engaging ways to recycle your packaging that can keep the family busy until lunch.

TerraCycle is a leader in the collection and reuse of nonrecyclable, postconsumer waste. To learn about how you can get the most out of your cereal and recycle the bag it comes in, go to www.TerraCycle.com.

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Job Corps Works

(NAPSI)—For many young people, traditional paths to successful careers do not always take a straight, well-marked line.

The expense of college, family turmoil, economic hardship and other unexpected events can alter a young person’s plans. To increase the opportunities available for all young people, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill that created the Job Corps 50 years ago.

As the nation’s only federally-funded, residential job-training program for disadvantaged youths aged 16 to 24, it has helped more than 2.7 million young people. At more than 120 Job Corps centers across the country, students are trained in more than 100 occupations-from culinary arts to health care, and from advanced manufacturing to information technology. They can earn a high school diploma or GED. Heavyweight boxing champion and entrepreneur George Foreman is a Job Corps graduate.

Learn More

For more information, including how to apply, visit www.jobcorps.gov or call 800-733-JOBS (5627).

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Dietary Supplements May Help Reduce Health Care Costs

(NAPSI)—Here’s food for thought about finances: Use of specific dietary supplements in U.S. adults over the age of 55 not only helps improve their health but, according to a new economic report, can also mean significant savings in health care costs.

The Study

The new report, “Smart Prevention—Health Care Cost Savings Resulting from the Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements,” issued by the economic firm Frost & Sullivan, examined four separate chronic diseases and the potential for health care cost savings when U.S. adults over the age of 55, diagnosed with these conditions, used one of eight different dietary supplement regimens. The report found that utilizing certain dietary supplements that have been shown scientifically to help reduce the risk of experiencing a costly disease event among high disease-risk population groups can also be effective at controlling potential health care costs—in some cases, resulting in billions of dollars in savings. The study was funded through a grant from the Council for Responsible Nutrition Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association for the dietary supplement industry.

The Problem

Approximately 75 percent of total U.S. health care dollars are spent treating preventable diseases, with only 3 percent spent on disease prevention programs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, medical events—that is, inpatient procedures, hospital stays and emergency room visits—related to coronary heart disease (CHD), one of the conditions examined in the report, cost $78 billion a year.

A Solution

However, if U.S. adults over the age of 55 years with high cholesterol took psyllium dietary fiber daily, the net cost savings from medical events related to CHD could be almost $2.5 billion a year between 2013 and 2020. Similarly, if U.S. women over the age of 55 with osteoporosis took calcium and vitamin D at preventive intake levels daily, the health care system could save $1.5 billion a year. For many people, the report can be a wake-up call to talk to their doctor, nurse practitioner, pharmacist or dietitian about smart prevention, including which dietary supplements and what intake levels are right for them.

Learn More

The report is available in its entirety at www.supplementforsmartprevention.org. Visit www.crnusa.org. Follow CRN on Twitter @CRN_Supplements and @WannaBeWell and on Facebook.com/lifesupplemented.

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Homebuyers, Beware Before Buying

(NAPSI)—For many, finding and buying the right home is still a big part of the American dream.

However, that dream home can turn into a nightmare when hidden costs from weather and other types of damage start adding up.

It’s not uncommon for consumers to find out about these hidden costs rather late in the process. That’s because until now, buyers had to wait until just before closing to receive a “seller’s disclosure.”

This is a document that reveals details about the house the buyers plan to purchase. At that point, it’s likely that a prospective buyer has already paid thousands of dollars for legal fees, inspections, deposits and title fees and may be reluctant to back out of the deal.

Fortunately, there is a resource that buyers can call on earlier in the process. Real estate tycoon and “Shark Tank” host Barbara Corcoran suggests going online to find property history and insurance claims on a home. An Insurance Claims report can give homebuyers and Realtors information that was previously only available to homeowners.

For instance, a company called Housefax offers online reports that provide a comprehensive history of a home, including building permits; mortgage information; insurance claims; fire, flood, hail and catastrophic history; and other residential property details.

The reports also include information on schools in the district, current property assessment values and inspector alerts.

For more information, contact Housefax at www.housefax.com.

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Compare When You Shop For Financial Products

(NAPSI)—You wouldn’t buy laundry detergent without comparing features and prices among brands. Or a smartphone. Or a car.

But most Americans either don’t comparison shop for financial products—such as credit cards, car loans and mortgages—or conduct only limited searches for the best price or terms. The FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s National Financial Capability Study found that nearly two-thirds of all credit card holders report they didn’t compare offers to find the best rates or conditions.

Comparison shopping for financial products makes good sense and can save you money. Here are some good places to start.

• Unbiased online sites. You can compare different financial products on websites that gather information from an array of product and service providers. For example, there are sites that let you compare yields and fees for savings accounts and certificates of deposit, as well as terms and costs for insurance policies and credit cards.

• Consumer and money publications. Check out independent product-rating groups like Consumer Reports, consumer groups like the Better Business Bureau, and personal finance magazines and websites.

• Newspapers and news sites. Check the business or personal finance section of your local newspaper, national and financial newspapers and online business news sites for rates and fees on consumer financial products.

• Offering materials. These include term sheets for mortgages and other loans, as well as credit card terms. You can also find useful information in disclosure documents for investments, such as a prospectus for a mutual fund.

If you are talking with a financial professional, don’t be shy about asking questions. Right up front, find out how much you have to pay for the product or service, especially any ongoing account management fees. Ask to see a fee table if one is available.

Be sure to consider risk when thinking about savings, investment and insurance products. Some level of risk comes with every investment. A guarantee is only as strong as the institution that promises to return your principal or pay your policy. Don’t be afraid to ask about the downside of an investment, or even what the worst-case scenario might be.

Finally, read the fine print of any offer for a financial product. Comments and ratings from people who have used the product or service you’re interested in might offer some valuable insight, but remember that glowing reviews can also be easily faked.

You can find more tips about saving and investing at www.SaveAndInvest.org/LearnMore.

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Prepare For Your Encore Career

(NAPSI)—Whether you call it a second act or an encore career, or it’s just your desire to do a complete 180 in your profession, one thing remains the same: The path to reinvention often means taking your current job skills and giving them a new twist.

Expert Advice

To make it easier to navigate that sometimes winding career path, especially in today’s global economy, Dr. Ward Ulmer, associate dean of Walden University’s College of Management and Technology, offers some advice.

How To Do It

“Once you’ve decided you want a different career path, you have to prepare and make yourself marketable,” Dr. Ulmer says.

First, he suggests, identify and assess your skills. Jot down what you do well and what career you want to break into. Find out what you need to get there. You may need a new skill set, or you could also take skills from your first career, your education or even your hobby or volunteer activities to your new position. Get a second opinion from someone you trust who will be honest about your skills.

Research the industry, trends, opportunities and even possible pitfalls of this new career.

Tailor your résumé toward the employer or industry you want. Pay special attention to skills and qualities that potential employers are seeking.

What Can Help

“Technology facilitates many possibilities not available even a few years ago. You’re also no longer constrained by geography,” Dr. Ulmer explains. “However, in this new global marketplace, there may be certain skills you’ll need to acquire.”

One skill is the ability to communicate effectively with people of different cultures because what may be perfectly acceptable in one part of the world may be frowned on in other parts.

Be A Lifelong Learner

It’s wise to be a lifelong learner, building the skills you need for your encore career even while still working at your current job. An online training seminar about communication or a class your company is offering can help.

More formal educational opportunities can also be useful. That may mean getting a graduate or postgraduate degree.

At Walden University, Dr. Ulmer points out, online students often work as part of virtual teams with a common goal. They collaborate in the online environment with international faculty and students, giving them a new ability to adapt and communicate with other cultures and countries.

Through online discussion boards or other classroom activities, they develop new skills to work more effectively and efficiently with others, regardless of geographic location.

Learn More

For more tips on starting your encore career, visit www.WaldenU.edu/secondact.

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Get SepticSmart About Your System—Protect Water And Save Money

(NAPSI)—Did you know that one in four homes in the U.S. rely on septic (on-site) systems to treat wastewater? Homeowners are responsible for making sure that their system works properly. If you aren’t, you could be looking at thousands of dollars in repair or replacement costs.

During SepticSmart Week, September 22-26, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding homeowners and communities that regular care and maintenance will prevent failure of septic systems.

Failing septic systems can contribute excess nutrients to our water sources—lakes, rivers and groundwater. This can affect the safety of your drinking water if you get water from a private well or from a lake, as we saw in Lake Erie this summer.

With winter approaching, now is the perfect time to get your system inspected to ensure it is operating as designed. The added use that comes from summertime parties can put stress on your system; better to have it inspected now than wait until the holidays arrive and find that your system is not ready to handle the next family gathering!

Inspecting your system is not a do-it-yourself project and putting an additive into your system will not do the job, so go with a pro! The EPA recommends a professional, licensed inspection every three to five years, or annually for advanced systems.

As kids head back to school this fall, you can do your own homework by taking a look at daily activities that can affect the functioning of your septic system. Here are a few SepticSmart tips that are easy to remember:

Think at the Sink! What goes down your drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works. If you have a septic system, you should not pour grease down the drain or use a garbage disposal.

Don’t Strain Your Drain! Efficient use of water and staggered use of water-based appliances can improve the operation of your septic system and reduce the risk of failure.

Shield Your Field! Trees, cars, livestock or other heavy things on your septic’s drainfield can cause damage.

Don’t Overload Your Commode! Your toilet is not a trash can. The only product you should flush is toilet paper. Anything else can clog and damage septic systems, even if it says “flushable.”

For a full list of the Dos and Don’ts and other helpful information, go to www.epa.gov/septicsmart and get SepticSmart!

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Note to Editors: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sponsors SepticSmart Week every year to remind Americans to take care of their septic systems. This year, SepticSmart Week is planned for September 22 through 26, 2014, but this story can run anytime before winter without the reference to SepticSmart Week. The EPA has a graphic available to post on websites during SepticSmart Week; contact Maureen Tooke at 208-378-5626 for artwork.

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The Law That Protects Your Benefits

(NAPSI)—Over the past 40 years, many workers have taken on what can seem like a second job: the responsibility of planning for their own retirement.

That’s because during that period, a growing number of companies and their employees have switched from traditional pensions to 401(k)s and similar plans.

With the rise of these defined contribution plans, America’s workers have had to assume the responsibility and the risk of saving, investing and managing their own money. Fortunately, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, commonly known as ERISA, was enacted to protect those workers.

Signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1974, ERISA established standards for private-sector pension and health-benefit plans, increasing protections for plan participants and their families.

The U.S. Labor Department enforces the protections provided by ERISA. The U.S. Treasury Department and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation also have roles to play.

By 2030, nearly one-fifth of the population will be 65 or older. ERISA will hit that milestone nine years later, but this law isn’t anywhere close to retiring.

In fact, as America’s retired population continues to grow, ERISA will remain the foundation for protecting retirement benefits. Learn more at www.dol.gov/erisa40.

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