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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

8 Ways To Protect Yourself From Summer Sun



Summer is fun in the sun, but not with a sunburn. In addition to the discomfort, overexposure to the sun can lead to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer, including melanoma. As you can see above, I'm ALWAYS in a hat when out in the sun, whether I'm in Washington or Hawaii.  Here are some suggestions to protect yourself:

1. Watch the clock.
The sun's damaging UV rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daylight savings time in the continental U.S. Use extra protection.

2. Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
Make sure it offers both UVA and UVB protection.

3. Check that your sunscreen is fresh. Note the expiration date – sunscreen lasts no more than three years, less if it's been exposed to high temperatures on the beach or in a closed car.

4. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Put on more when you're out beyond two hours, after a swim, or if you've been sweating. 

5. Wear clothing. No one likes extra clothes in the summer, but they do shield the skin from the sun. Loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants made of tightly woven fabric work best. T-shirts have an SPF under 15, wet t-shirts even less, so still use sunscreen.

6. Cover your head. A hat with a brim all around is best. Tightly woven fabrics like canvas are better than straw hats with holes. With baseball caps, protect your ears and neck with sunscreen or clothing.

7. Wear sunglasses. Most sold in the U.S. block both UVA and UVB rays, but check to make sure. Look for styles that wrap around and protect the tender skin near your eyes.

8. Seek out shade. You can really reduce the risk of skin damage by getting under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter, especially midday. But still put on sunscreen or protective clothing.

 

Monday, July 1, 2013

7 Retirement Planning Tips No Matter What Your Age

Preparing for retirement is important, whether it's a few years or decades away. Instead of pensions, many employers now offer 401(k) or other defined contribution plans. That means you are the one responsible for saving for your retirement. But don't worry. It's never too late to start – or too early! Here are some retirement tips, no matter what your age.

1.      Adopt a savings mindset. Look at putting retirement money away as paying yourself first. Decide how much to contribute each paycheck, and then have your employer direct deposit the amount into your retirement account. Experts suggest 8% to 10% of your income. Come up with the number by making a budget for all your expenses and other savings, and then deduct this from your net income.

2.     Sign up for your employer's 401(k) or 403(b) plan. Contributions are tax-free to certain limits. Employers often match your contribution, so put in enough to qualify. Seek professional advice in choosing investment options.

3.      Set up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). If your employer doesn't have a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, open an IRA or a Roth IRA, or a SEP IRA if you're self-employed. There are different requirements and limits for how much you can contribute tax-free. Consult a tax professional for details about any investments with tax implications.

4.     Take advantage of bigger benefits as you get older. Once you reach 50, federal regulations let you contribute more into tax-advantaged retirement accounts to let you "catch up." Seek professional advice on this, but most experts recommend putting in the maximum allowed. 

5.      Start an emergency fund. This is for emergency expenses, such as major home or vehicle repairs, or to help pay the bills between jobs. You don't want to touch your retirement account because you could lose tax benefits or pay withdrawal penalties. Try to set aside 3 to 6 months of living expenses.

6.     Save as much as you can. In addition to retirement and emergency accounts, cut expenses where you can and put money into a savings account you can draw on when you're no longer working. 

7.     Pay off credit card debt. Set up a pay-off plan now, so you won't have to use your retirement money. Once it's paid off, keep making those payments – into your savings account!