3 Reasons Why You Should Consider an IRA

NewsUSA  |  2016-03-15

Are you ready for retirement?

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - April 18 is the deadline to file income tax returns with the federal government this year. But tax day is another important deadline: Up until then, workers can still make contributions to their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) for the previous year. And, IRAs offer a great tax-advantaged savings opportunity.

Here are three reasons why you should consider an IRA as a valuable tool for your retirement savings:

  1. Traditional IRAs provide all workers, regardless of income, with access to tax incentives to save for retirement. Tax deferral helps workers build a nest egg over time by putting off taxes on your investment earnings until you retire. Contributing to an IRA is a great way to invest and build retirement savings.

  2. The flexible structure of IRAs provides Americans with choices when it comes to their retirement savings. For example, workers decide how much they want to contribute and when. Workers who are age 49 and younger currently can contribute up to $5,500 to their IRAs, and workers 50 and older can contribute up to $6,500. IRA contributions can be made at any time during the year. Workers who meet certain qualifications may decide to open a Roth IRA. Unlike traditional IRAs, workers pay tax when they make contributions into Roth IRAs and pay no taxes on qualified withdrawals in retirement.

  3. Workers can easily roll over their employer-sponsored 401(k) assets into an IRA upon leaving a job. Job changers who simply cash out their 401(k) may have to pay taxes on their assets and possibly a penalty tax for early withdrawal. These taxes and penalties can be avoided by rolling over 401(k) assets into an IRA, which is not tied to an employer and allows the individual to keep saving for retirement.

Today, Americans are increasingly using IRAs to grow and maintain their savings for retirement. As of 2015, more than 40 million U.S. households reported that they owned IRAs, according to “The Role of IRAs in U.S. Households’ Saving for Retirement, 2015” published by the Investment Company Institute (ICI). Other research from ICI shows that Americans have $7.3 trillion invested in these accounts.

But IRAs are only one piece of our multilayered retirement savings system. When IRA assets are combined with all other assets earmarked for retirement, Americans have set aside $23.5 trillion. The various pieces of the entire system -- including IRAs, employer-provided defined benefit and defined contribution plans, personal savings, and Social Security -- are working well for millions of workers. In fact, successive generations of near-retirees have reached retirement with higher wealth than the previous generation.

To learn more about IRAs and the strength of America’s retirement system, please visit www.ici.org/retirement.

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Making a Healthy Change for You, Your Community and the Environment

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-10

(BPT) - Just because New Year’s Day has come and gone, your chance for making a change for the better hasn’t. Whether looking to give a boost to your health, your fellow man or even the environment, there’s no deadline on picking up positive habits.

Make easy nutritional choices

If you’re looking to trim your waistline, but have little time to prepare nutritious meals at home, simple fish recipes can provide a punch of protein and flavor in 30 minutes or less. Lake raised tilapia has become popular for its firm texture, mild taste and overall versatility. Plus, it’s high in protein, low in fat, and a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. Consider using tilapia in a meatless Monday dinner, or add a fish Friday recipe to your weekly repertoire for a healthier you. Regal Springs produces fresh and frozen all-natural, lake grown tilapia in Mexico, Honduras and Java. Asking your seafood counter for products from these regions is a great way to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product.

As with any product, not all tilapia are created equal. To ensure the fish - or other seafood you choose - is high quality, look for certifications by credible independent agencies that monitor the conditions in which the proteins are raised and processed. Some endorsements to look for include the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, the British Retail Council and the Global Aquaculture Alliance/Best Aquaculture Practices.

Pay it forward

You can make healthy changes in your diet and your community at the same time. For example, fish like the tilapia previously mentioned can be a more economical protein compared to beef or pork. So, if you can afford to do so, think about purchasing more cost-effective foods and setting aside what you’re saving each week. At the end of each month, make a donation to your local food bank or another charity of your choice.

Or, consider where some of your favorite things come from and how you can support their communities, particularly those in developing countries. If you indulge in coffee or chocolate, seek out versions that are Fair Trade to ensure that the producers and growers are being compensated fully for their labors and can develop sustainable businesses.

If you’re trying to decide between two similar products, the greater social impacts by one brand may help tip the scales. Simple research can uncover how a business treats the communities that are relied upon for raw ingredients or labor. Most companies are proud of how they’re supporting their suppliers and share their efforts online. Companies operating in developing countries recognize the benefits of healthy communities and invest in ways to improve necessities like housing, health care, education and economic development.

Respect for Mother Nature

Healthy communities also depend upon the state of the environment, and consumers can make a difference with their dollars by supporting environmentally friendly companies. While looking into a brand’s social initiatives, take a look at their green initiatives. Companies relying on aquatic systems, for instance, will want to maintain pristine conditions by monitoring water quality, treating wastewater, improving sanitation systems and contributing to reforestation. Other companies may pursue policies that move toward zero waste or no carbon emissions.

Sometimes, it’s possible to help yourself, others and the environment in one go. For instance, Regal Springs, a leading producer in Mexico, Honduras and Indonesia who provides approximately 70 percent of America’s fresh tilapia, is committed to raising a nutritious fish while being a good steward of the environment and the communities in which it operates. Whether in Mexico, Honduras or Indonesia, the company invests millions of dollars annually to improve the overall quality of life of their employees and their local communities while producing high quality, all natural tilapia that grocers like Costco, Kroger, HEB, Sprouts and Giant Eagle can feel proud to carry and you can feel good about eating.

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The One Test That Can Improve Your Health Today

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-08

(BPT) - When you provide just one sample of your DNA, researchers are able to use it to learn more about your health history, assess your chances of contracting certain diseases and even gain a better understanding of the importance family history can play in your health outlook. It sounds futuristic, but it is all very real. It’s modern genetic testing, otherwise known as genomic sequencing, and it represents one of the most important tests being used today to improve health outcomes.

To better understand genomic sequencing and how it can help you lead a happier, healthier life, Dr. Richard Sharp, director of the Biomedical Ethics program at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine, offers these five things you need to know about this groundbreaking preventive treatment.

  1. Genomic sequencing can be tailored to your specific concern. If you’re interested in pursuing genomic sequencing, you have more testing options today than ever before. Researchers can use your sample to analyze a large number of different genes and assess your lifetime risks of developing a whole range of different diseases. They can also narrow the set to specifically measure your risk of developing certain cancers. Finally, they can even look at individual genes to determine your risk of developing traditional genetic diseases.

  2. Common fears about genetic testing may be misplaced. “Many patients wonder, ‘If I undergo genetic testing and it reveals that I have this risk of developing disease, is it possible that I might lose my job, that I won’t find a new job, or I won’t be able to get health insurance?’”   says Dr. Sharp. Fortunately, laws are in place to alleviate those concerns. In the United States, current legislation protects people from allowing their genetic information to be used against them by employers or insurers.

  3. Genetic testing may uncover unexpected information as well. Your test to determine your risk of developing breast cancer may also shed light on your risks for other diseases such as Alzheimer’s. These so-called secondary findings may or may not be reported to you based on the lab and clinician you work with, so it’s important to discuss how secondary findings will be handled before having your genetic test done.

  4. The benefits of genetic testing extend beyond merely analyzing your disease risks. As the science of genetic testing continues to improve, its uses do as well. Today, genetic testing is being used not only to identify a patient’s risk of contracting a certain disease but also to understand how the person’s body metabolizes drugs, and even to avoid the potential for future negative reactions to certain drugs.

  5. Your genetic testing may be covered by your insurance. “Many forms of genetic testing are covered by insurers, although like with any new technology or diagnostic test, there can be gaps in coverage,” says Dr. Sharp. “The Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic has been very interested in trying to find ways to demonstrate the value of genetic testing so that a large number of payers will feel comfortable covering that kind of test.”

To find out more about genomic sequencing and other research initiatives, please visit the Center for Individualized Medicine at Mayo Clinic. For journalists interested in speaking with Dr. Richard Sharp, please email your request to newsbureau@mayo.edu.

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New Television Series Pays Homage to America's Artisans

NewsUSA  |  2016-03-01

Photo courtesy of INSP.

(NewsUSA) - Sponsored News - In the ‘50s and ‘60s, certain classes, such as home economics and woodshop, were required in most high schools. Maybe that’s why Americans are so fascinated with handcrafted projects.

This new revolution, called the maker movement, is where people create and market products from raw materials, and the movement has given rise to websites such as Kickstarter, Etsy, Pinterest and Maker Faire, which boast millions of followers and billions of dollars.

Now a new series on family entertainment television network, INSP, is celebrating artisans and their work. In Handcrafted America, viewers will meet fascinating people from all across America who are dedicated to their crafts. In every half-hour episode, host Jill Wagner (Teen Wolf, Wipeout, Christmas in the Smokies) meets three gifted artisans (some more than five generations in their field), and takes you on a behind-the-scenes look at how they create their products, from start to finish. Along the way, Wagner will delve into the history and cultural heritage that inspire and influence the design of their handcrafted products. Viewers will become part of these artisans’ lives as they tell the stories of their families, their journeys and their dreams.

“From glass blowing to ornate clock making to blacksmithing, Handcrafted America entertains and informs - not in a dry, academic way, but with adventure, spirited discovery, fun and authenticity. America’s passion for making things continues to be strong, and Artisans from coast to coast still create handcrafted treasures. This is the focal point of the series,” says Craig Miller, VP of original programming at INSP.

Handcrafted America can be seen on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on INSP. For additional information, including information on where to watch in your area, please visit www.insp.com.

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Life Hacks for Better Living: 5 Easy Steps to Help You Address Hearing Loss

Brandpoint  |  2016-03-01

(BPT) - Life’s “To Do” list can be pretty daunting. And often, getting started on something is the hardest part. This can be especially true for addressing hearing loss.

In fact, most people wait roughly seven years to do anything about it once they realize they have hearing loss. And that’s too bad - research shows that when people treat even just mild hearing loss, their quality of life goes up. Plus, when people with hearing loss use hearing aids, they get more pleasure from doing things and feel more engaged in life.

Conversely, non-hearing aid users are more prone to feel down, depressed or hopeless, a Better Hearing Institute (BHI) survey found. They’re also more likely than hearing aid users to say they find themselves getting more forgetful. Groundbreaking studies, in fact, discovered that hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline and dementia. Add to that, BHI research showing that untreated hearing loss can take a significant toll on earnings - up to $30,000 annually.

The tricky thing is, we live in a noisy world. It’s hard not to be affected. Many of us undoubtedly feel the impact of blaring music, earbuds, noisy restaurants, clubs and coffee shops, high-decibel ball games and motor sports, ear-piercingly shrill power tools, loud workplaces, and more.

It all boils down to this: You’re not alone in the changes and struggles you’re experiencing with your hearing. You have lots of company. Almost 40 million others in the United States have some degree of hearing loss. Research even suggests that hearing loss is now common among people in their 40’s, and is increasing among 20-to-39-year-olds.

Luckily, the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids - which are now cooler, sleeker, smaller, more powerful, and work better than ever before. They’ve transformed dramatically, even in just the last couple of years.

So if you’re tired of turning up the TV volume, missing what people are saying at work, asking family and friends to repeat things, can barely remember the sound of morning birds, or are simply worn out from coping with a neglected hearing loss, do something about it. This may be your monumental moment. You can make the most of it.

To help, we’ve put together five easy, achievable steps to get you started. The road to better hearing - and a better quality of life - is a single step away.

1. Take a convenient online hearing check at www.BetterHearing.org.
BHI offers a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check you can take in the privacy and comfort of your home. A series of questions helps you determine if you need a more comprehensive hearing test by a hearing care professional. It’s a great way to get started - because you can ease into the possibility that it’s time to do something about your hearing difficulty. Useful information on hearing loss and hearing aid technologies awaits you on the site as well.

2. Visit a local hearing care professional.
Hearing care professionals - audiologists, hearing aid specialists, and ENTs (Ear, Nose, and Throat doctors or doctors of otology and otolaryngology) - are best-suited to help you. Audiologists and hearing aid specialists are expressly trained in all aspects of hearing aids and amplification, and are licensed by your state. Many work in practices with ENT doctors. They have the most appropriate and accurate equipment to give you a precise read on your current hearing level. And they can reliably counsel you on treatment options. Most important, going to a hearing care professional helps ensure that any underlying medical issue behind your hearing loss is identified and addressed. Simply, seeing a hearing care professional is your best safety net for proper diagnosis and treatment. The smartest thing you can do is to get it right the first time. And be assured, research shows that the great majority of people who visit hearing care professionals say they’re happy with the quality of service and counseling they receive. Most hearing care professionals even provide free trials so you can see what using hearing aids is like, with a minimal service fee if you decide not to keep them.

3. Gather Information.
Educating yourself helps you reach acceptance and peace of mind. Go to www.BetterHearing.org and learn what you need to know. Among other things, you’ll find:

  • You can do this.

  • You’re not alone.

  • New, sleek and stylish, state-of-the-art hearing aids make it much easier to manage hearing difficulty without a lot of fuss.

  • Many new hearing aids are virtually invisible; they sit inside the ear canal, out of sight.

  • Treating hearing loss means better quality of life and more effortless living for you.

4. Window Shop.
It’s OK to “just look.” You set the pace. Visit the “Hearing Aids Can Help” tab at www.BetterHearing.org. Opportunities to online window shop for hearing aids are right there for you. But most important, be up-front with your hearing care professional. Tell them you’re not ready to buy. But do let them know you’re ready to learn about the best hearing aid technologies for you if hearing aids are what they recommend, to get demonstrations on how they work, and to try them out at no cost or obligation. And remember, hearing aids are only sold by licensed hearing care professionals. True hearing aids that are designed to treat hearing loss and are cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) need to be fitted, adjusted, and tuned to your ears and specific needs, with appropriate follow-up. This is what makes leading-edge hearing aids so beneficial. So when you do seek out information, make sure you go to a hearing care professional.

5. Let it all sink in and make a plan.
Consider everything you’ve learned and take time to think about it. But do give yourself a timeline for making a decision. If - after you’ve educated yourself about hearing loss and hearing aids - you decide to wait, set a hard date for re-evaluating your decision. Research shows that the sooner you treat hearing loss, the better it is for you and your quality of life.

For more information on hearing loss and to take a free, quick, confidential, online hearing check to determine if you need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing care professional, visit www.BetterHearing.org. Follow BHI on Twitter @better_hearing. Like BHI on Facebook at www.facebook.com/betterhearinginstitute.

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5 Ways to Tackle Tech Trouble Today

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-17

(BPT) - Your next tech-tastrophy could take many forms. Maybe it's the quick flash out of your monitor screen, the smoke coming from your printer or that mysterious clunking sound your favorite device keeps making - just because you accidently dropped it one or five times.

If you're a small business professional trying to manage the budget, the last thing you have lying around is extra money to replace what you already have. But breathe easily, because these terrible tech tragedies can be prevented. To help you keep your tech safe, Staples Tech Services has teamed up with tech and small business expert Ramon Ray for five tips you'll want to upload into your daily lifestyle immediately.

Keep software updated

Software problems can render your devices unusable more quickly than hardware damage. To protect against malware and security breaches, your software should be updated regularly. This includes the definition updates for your antivirus software as well as your operating system, which has built-in protections against malware. Businesses with multiple pieces of equipment should make sure they update automatically rather than requiring administrators to manually update each device.

Line up emergency tech support

You rely on your equipment to be functional. So when it's not, you need an affordable tech support service. For small businesses in particular, tech issues can impact productivity and the bottom line. Staples' new Next Day Guarantee means that PCs brought in before noon are serviced by 5 p.m. the next day. Staples' tech team will also handle problems like malware removal and PC tune-ups and select Staples stores will handle mobile repairs, including broken screens, poor batteries, and home buttons.

Educate your staff

Some of the biggest dangers faced by your organization relate to the behaviors of your employees. Poor password-management policies can lead to outsiders guessing your system passwords and finding a way into your databases. Employees can also let in malicious traffic by clicking on links in emails or on social media sites. Hire a technology expert to train your staff on responsible technology use and make sure you sit in on the class as well.

Keep it clean

Don't discount the importance of keeping your PCs and servers clean. Over the course of multiple months, dust can build up inside desktop units and servers, and over time, that dust can cause components to work inefficiently. With a can of compressed air, cotton swabs and a cleaning cloth, you can keep the internal workings of your computer clean for as long as it's in use.

Pay extra for quality

If you're operating on a budget, as every business is, it can be tempting to opt for less expensive equipment, especially if you're buying multiple items at once. However, less expensive devices can fail more quickly than some of the more expensive options. You'll be better off for the long-term when you invest in high-quality equipment that will remain reliable for many years.

Your business depends on its technology every single day, so support your bottom line by employing the tips above to keep your tech running as long as possible. Because once you see the smoke, it's already too late. For more technology help, see the experts at Staples Tech Services today.

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5 Easy Ways for Modern Couples to Take Date Night to the Next Level

Brandpoint  |  2016-02-10

(BPT) - Romance is much more than a simple card on Valentine's Day. Amid the hectic schedules and chaos of everyday life, romantics across the country are looking for ways to spice up that intimate evening with someone special. Since crowded restaurants and cold temperatures are a sure-fire way to kill the mood, a celebration at home can be much more appealing. Incorporate these modern twists on a romantic night in to take your next date night to the next level.

Uncork the night

Set the mood for a romantic evening at home with a bottle of decadent red wine. Apothic Crush is a red blend that combines red fruit flavors with notes of caramel. Its velvety smooth mouthfeel is sure to please every palate.

Modern day gourmet

Meal subscription services make it easy for even novice cooks to create culinary masterpieces. Tantalize your taste buds with exciting seasonal recipes using exotic ingredients delivered right to your door. The joint activity adds an element of adventure, livening up a night at home.

Travel down memory lane

Memories of relationship milestones and special moments generate warm feelings of nostalgia. Create a digital scrapbook of images from your most memorable experiences together and spend some time reminiscing about the magic that started it all.

Personalize your playlist

Surprise your significant other with a throwback radio dedication via Spotify. Your personalized message shared with a special song is sure to impress while evoking the carefree days of mixtapes and long conversations over landlines. To make your dedication, visit Apothic.com/CrushMusic.

A gift that keeps on giving

It's important to take time out of our busy lives for date night. Keep the magic of the night alive with a "2016 Save the Date Night" booklet where you can schedule future date night outings or activities all year long. Remember, everyone loves a little mystery and subtle creativity trumps extravagance every time.

For more great date night ideas, visit www.apothic.com.

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