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Here’s something that ought to get your attention: “Your Household Clutter Is Costing You a Bundle.” That comes from award-winning journalist Nancy Fitzgerald, who wrote a very helpful piece for our friends at NextAvenue.org in which she offers six ways to get organized and, she says, put cash in your pocket.

1. Pile, don’t file. Can’t find your bills? It happens to everybody, Breininger says— even the rich and famous have had their utilities disconnected simply because statements went missing.

The solution: Use a piling system instead of a filing system, she advises.

Clear out a bookcase and use the shelves to pile your paperwork into categories. The most important one: your To Be Paid pile. Add piles for other categories, too, like medical information and bank statements. “It doesn’t have to be pretty,” Breininger says, “it just has to be predictable. Never misplace your bills again.”

2. Round up receipts. Ever bought a sweater without trying it on, only to realize later it didn’t fit? But if you couldn’t find the receipt, that sweater — along with the one you bought to replace it — is still in your closet. “In one home,” says Breininger, “I found a new mattress in the garage, still in plastic wrapping. The owners didn’t like it, but since they couldn’t find the receipt to return it, they just bought another one. That cost them $1,000 and kept them from parking their car in the garage.”

The solution: Grab a shoebox and stash receipts inside after every shopping trip. Or, go high-tech and snap a picture of sales slips with your cellphone. Then, create an electronic file.

3. Deposit your documents. Every single misplaced document can cost you money and stress. Need to renew your passport but your birth certificate’s gone AWOL? It’ll cost you up to $30 and put you in a panic that you’ll miss your trip.

Your roof’s damaged in a storm but you can’t find your insurance policy? That’s money down the drain. “It happens all the time,” says Breininger. “Not only do people misplace the policy, but they can’t remember who they’re insured with. Company names — and agent reps — change so often and those details are either clogged in their email inbox or in a pile of unopened envelopes. And by the time they figure it all out, it’s often too late.”

The solution: Create a binder — or a file on your computer — and insert every important document, from birth and marriage certificates to tax records and insurance policies.

4. Lock up your savings. One of the top stressors is losing your keys. That’s expensive: the average cost of hiring a locksmith to rekey your house is $181.

“I’ve had clients whose car sat in the driveway for months because the keys were missing,” says Breininger. “The battery drained and the tires needed to be replaced.” Cha-ching.

 

A cheaper way for baby boomers to see the world

We’re always on the lookout for better ways to live, better ways to retire, and better ways for baby boomers to travel.

Travelers this year can save up to a third by booking their hotel at just the right time.

According to a new report based on the most popular destinations this summer, it’s best to book a hotel in Paris within two months of your stay; but for Kuta, in Bali, it’s cheaper if you book up to seven months in advance.

Of the 28 locations included in the research, travelers to Budapest stand to gain the most from booking at the optimum time – with a potential saving of 35 per cent if booking three to five months before the trip.

According to a new report based on the most popular destinations this summer, it’s best to book a hotel in Paris (pictured) within two months of your stay

TripAdvisor’s annual ‘Best Time to Book’ summer report was based on its hotel pricing data.

It analyzed the cost of hotel rates for the months of June, July and August, depending on how long in advance they were reserved.

Istanbul and Barcelona follow Budapest in terms of how sensitive pricing is according to time.

In both these destinations, travelers can save 33 per cent when booking within five months and three to nine months respectively.

Travelers to Budapest  stand to gain the most from booking at the optimum time – with a potential saving of 35 per cent if booking three to five months out

Dubai hotels comes next at 24 per cent cheaper when booked within six months.

However, for Brits heading to the rest of the Middle East and Asia, the biggest savings come when booking closer to the date of the trip.

Travellers going to the Middle East can save 19 per cent when booking within two months of their summer trip, while booking hotels in Asia within three months of the trip can secure 14 per cent off the average summer hotel rate at its peak price.

‘While there is no special one size fits all formula, the Best Time to Book report shows that for many destinations, hotel prices are lowest a few months ahead of the trip,’ commented TripAdvisor spokesperson, Hayley Coleman.


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The (Easy) Homemade Elixir You Need for Cold and Flu Season

As the infamous cold season approaches, there are sniffles, sneezes, and coughs everywhere you turn: in the office, riding the train, on the sidewalk, etc. But this natural homemade tonic (which I suggest always having on hand) will support your immune system, so if you do catch whatever’s going around, you have a new trick to get you back up and running ASAP. The best part? It comes together in just 10 minutes.

Start with a large knob of ginger (about 4 inches), rinsed and sliced. (No need to peel it). Place the ginger in a medium pot with 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and let it steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into a liquid measuring cup (or anything in your kitchen large enough to hold and store it) and stir in 2 tablespoons raw honey, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and the juice of one lemon. That’s it! You have a reviving elixir ready to enjoy. Drink it warm, cold, or at room temperature.

To store, cover and refrigerate and consume within two days. Just make sure not to reheat it once it cools, since the raw honey will lose its healing properties. If you prefer it warm, skip the honey and sweeten to taste after you reheat.

So how does this magic elixir work to support your immune system? It’s packed with immune-boosting ingredients (ginger and cinnamon), as well as anti-bacterial raw honey. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory, and although it’s normally used to promote healthy digestion and aid nausea, it also has the ability to reduce aches and pains. Because of its detox properties, it can also help fend off bacteria, as can star anise. In this elixir, star anise also lends a helping hand for cough and flu.

Countertop’s Golden Honey (raw honey blended with turmeric and other spices) works wonderfully in this tonic—use it in place of traditional raw honey. It acts as a nutritionally dense and functional sweetener. We also love it stirred into our tea, and drizzled on almond butter toast.

I’ve been sipping on this tonic to fend off or shorten unwanted colds. And recently, I made a big batch and passed it around like candy for the office. It got rave reviews, and some even said they felt better from it. Not only is it good for you, but it’s delicious, too!


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Health benefits of walking for people over age 50

Walking is healthy. It’s a fact, backed up by research and people who are in the habit of walking. What’s surprising is just how powerful a medicine a daily or near-daily walk can be. New studies find new benefits all the time: preventing heart disease and diabetes, relieving back pain, reducing anxiety, and improving quality of life.

“Walking is the single best exercise we can recommend on a large scale,” says Bob Sallis, MD, physician-spokesperson for Everybody Walk!, a national public health campaign created by Kaiser Permanente. “Exercise is like a medication we should be prescribing for our patients,” he says. “And the simplest exercise prescription is walking.”

Here are six new health benefits for regular walks:

1. A mere 15-minute walk after dinner lowers blood sugar

At George Washington University School of Public Health in Washington, D.C., researchers studied inactive men and women over 60. Their blood sugar was a little elevated (105 to 125 mg/dL), but they didn’t have diabetes (yet). Walking 15 minutes at a moderately brisk pace—a little under 3 miles an hour—helped control their after-dinner blood-sugar spike for the next three hours. The group that had after-dinner walks also had lower 24-hour blood sugar levels. “Walking burns up the sugar that’s in your blood, and it strengthens muscles so you use blood sugar more efficiently,” says Dr. Sallis. “It’s helps your insulin work better. The benefit is almost instantaneous.”

2. When it comes to your heart, walking is as good as running

When researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at long-term studies of runners and walkers, they found a surprise: If you cover the same distance, the heart health benefits were about the same. Both walking and running led to similar reductions in high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even coronary heart disease. “Walking has the same benefits as running—it just takes a little longer,” says Dr. Sallis.

3. Lower back pain? Walking’s as good as specialized rehab exercises

When you have lower back pain, it can help to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles. You can go a clinic to do back-strengthening exercises on special equipment under professional supervision. Or you can take a walk for 20 to 40 minutes, three times a week—it strengthens the same muscles. When Tel Aviv researchers studied 52 patients of varying ages with lower back pain, they asked half to do strengthening exercises, half to walk. After six weeks, both groups had improved equally—and the walkers were fitter and healthier. Every back pain patient is different, so by all means see your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, or masseuse. Just keep moving, too. “When you have back pain, bed rest beyond a day or two is counterproductive,” says Dr. Sallis. “Sometimes my patients have pain that’s so bad they can’t get out of bed, can’t walk. The sooner I can get them walking, the better they will be.”

4. Walking reduces anxiety, especially in women going through menopause

A regular walk is a reliable way to lower stress and anxiety and boost your mood. At Temple University, researchers studied 380 urban women over eight years as they went through menopause. Average age at study start: 42.The more they walked, the less stress, anxiety, and depression they experienced during and after menopause. The moderate group hoofed it for 40 minutes at four miles per hour, five days a week. The highest tier put in 90 minutes. “We’ve always assumed the biggest effect of walking was on the heart, but the most powerful effect turns out to be on the brain,” says Dr. Sallis. “When we walk, we’re less anxious, less stressed, and we feel better. For treatment of depression, a walking or biking program leads to lower remission rates than Prozac.”

5. For men over 55, the more daily steps, the better the quality of life

Canadian researchers gave pedometers to men over 55. The more steps, the better the physical and mental health, which added up to a better “quality of life” profile. The men averaged 8,539 steps a day—a little less than two miles. But even those who walked more moderate distances were healthier and felt better than those who walked fewer steps. “Small bouts of exercise are additive,” says Dr. Sallis. “Three 10-minute walks have the same health benefits of one 30-minute walk. The goal is to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate intensity walking a week, but you’re still getting benefits if you don’t achieve that.”

6. If you walk fast enough, you’ll never die

Well, not exactly. But the ability to walk at a moderate pace as you age is a good indicator of how long you’ll live. If you want to avoid the Grim Reaper, aim for a walking speed of at least 3 mph, found researchers at Concord Hospital in Sydney, Australia. They studied 1,705 men aged 70 or older for five years. Those who went on to pass away were slow walkers—averaging just 1.8 miles per hour. But among those who walked 3 miles an hour or faster, no one died. That’s walking a mile in about 20 minutes.


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9 Ways to stay mentally sharp

Well this is encouraging: as a baby boomer you might feel like you’re getting older, but you can have a youthful brain at any age. That’s the message that Drs. David Alter and Henry Emmons make in their book, Staying Sharp: 9 Keys for a Youthful Brain through Modern Science and Ageless Wisdom, which we are running thanks to our partners at NextAvenue.org. Since we all want to stay sharp, we think this excerpt is worth reading.

The heart of our approach [in the book] is the Staying Sharp program. This program … consists of nine key lessons from neuroscience that together provide the key elements to growing and maintaining a youthful brain. Each chapter introduces one key lesson, with the first three keys devoted to building a resilient brain; the next three keys focus on cultivating a vibrant mind; and the final three keys focus on discovering how to awaken your heart.

9 Keys to a Youthful Brain:

1.A youthful brain loves movement. You’ll learn how exercise and moving your body mindfully can directly improve brain health, energy, and the quality of your emotions.

2.A youthful brain is well rested. Sleep problems seem to rise exponentially as we age. You’ll learn how to recharge your mind through safe, natural, mind-body approaches to sleep.

3.A youthful brain is well nourished. You’ll learn about the best brain foods and supplements, as well as ways to bring mindful approaches to your eating habits.

4.A youthful brain cultivates curiosity. We discuss the potent brain fertilizers of novelty, play, and wonder and how you can incorporate more of these into your life.

5.A youthful brain is flexible. We will learn about neuroplasticity, the brain’s amazing capacity to change and adapt through the whole of our lives. By enhancing your own ability to remain flexible, you will be able to thrive despite the challenges you will undoubtedly face in the second half of life.

6.A youthful brain is optimistic. While we naturally vary in degrees of optimism, it is a skill that can be honed with great rewards. We highlight the science of optimism and show you how to cultivate this inner quality to enhance the legacy that you would like your life to have.

7.A youthful brain is empathic. Our brains are wired to care, to be generous and compassionate, and when we grow in the capacity to love well, so does our happiness. We discuss the science of empathy and show how you can use it to grow in your own level of joy.

8.A youthful brain is well connected. We are social beings, and our brains change when we are around others. We contemplate the importance of connecting with others in meaningful ways and developing an ever growing sense of belonging in the world.

9.A youthful brain is authentic. One of the most important goals of a well-lived life [is] to become more and more fully yourself. Living authentically is the fruit of all the other practices, and it can also be its own pursuit when we develop the capacity to live consciously and fully, expressing our own deepest nature.

 Each of us has an inherent resilience that can help us to engage life again. If you feel lost, as so many of us do in the middle of our lives, you may simply need some guidance to develop the skills needed to get yourself back onto the path of your own radiant life. As men who are aging ourselves, and trying to do so with some degree of grace and skill, we hope to share both what we know and how we try to live our own lives.

 


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5 activities for vivacious baby boomer retirees

Most baby boomers aren’t yet retired but a lot are and what’s more, all of us are closer to retirement than we are to the birth of our careers. So we think this piece by Phoenix’s Barry Duke might be helpful: 5 Unique Hobbies & Activities For Vivacious Baby Boomer Retirees.

Without kids to raise and a job to attend, retirement is blissful paradise. For the hardworking baby boomer generation, however, restlessness and boredom can easily set in. Here are six activities that can keep you active and feeling spry.

Travel Tours (Social)

Retirement is the time to relax and enjoy an active life to its max, especially with a loved one or good friends. Meeting new people and forming new friendships can be challenging for boomers though. Travel tours designed for people our age provide experiences of a lifetime and, most importantly, you’re in the good company of other travelers who are age 50+ and impassioned with wanderlust.

ElderTreks offers active and exotic adventures for small groups of people over age 50.From wildlife African safaris and hiking trips in the Himalayas to Arctic expeditions and cultural journeys in Asia, retired explorers can embark on any type of worldly experiences led by expert travelers. Travel tours for singles also provide a comfortable environment for those who have lost their partners, yet still have an active enthusiasm for new experiences and discoveries across the globe.

Nutritional Cooking Classes (Health)

Participating in a cooking class is a fun way to refine those culinary skills and introduce new fare into the recipe repertoire. Nutritional cooking classes in particular can inspire a healthy lifestyle and keep the palate satisfied with unique, expertly prepared cuisines. Whole Foods Market offers cooking, hands-on, and demonstration classes at its Culinary Center led by top chefs, artisans, growers, and in-store experts. Typical culinaryevents include “Cooking Class: Thai Fusion Party Food,” “Couples Cooking Class: Vive La France!”, and “School of Fish: Seafood Grilling.” For retirees who want to cultivate their culinary skills at home, SmartKitchen.com offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced kitchen lessons online.

Tai Chi (Fitness & Wellbeing)

Tai Chi, the slow-motion exercise derived from ancient Chinese martial arts, has grown to be “an ideal way for anyone to stay fit” says Reuters contributor Dorene Internicola. The graceful and gentle flowing movements of Tai Chi achieves balanced health and lowers stress and anxiety. Along with its mental benefits, the exercise increases energy, flexibility,agility, and muscle strength. The sequence of low-impact, functional postures move constantly and slowly with focus and deep breathing. Boomers should adopt the exercise in particular because it improves joint pain (arthritis) and symptoms of congestive heart failure, and it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Tai Chi master Arthur Rosenfeld, author of “Tai Chi — The Perfect Exercise: Finding Health, Happiness, Balance, and Strength,” advocates Tai Chi because it concentrates on how the body works. It promotes graceful aging without the drama.

Wine & Painting (Creativity)

Wine and paint events are the latest trends for unleashing creativity with some libations. Retired couples and friends can get out for a night and embrace their inner Picasso. Create a unique masterpiece while sipping on a cocktail and enjoy the stress-free artistic event. A performance artist guides the painting stroke by stroke and provides all the supplies, from acrylic paints and brushes to canvases and aprons.

Not only could a boozy painting class be fun, it can serve as a form of therapy to diminish stress and relax. Concentrating on artwork can also be meditative. The painter can release negative energies as creative expression to experience harmonies between the heart and mind.

Sailing & Boating Excursions (Luxury)

For retirees with an epic adventurous spirit, heading into open waters on a boat can create unforgettable memories. Bob Wonders tells My Boating Life, “There’s no better way to spend your kids’ inheritance than to buy a boat and enjoy the lifestyle…” A boat is an investment in luxury, upscale relaxation, and world-class angling. Wonders recommends trawler, flybridge, and sportscruiser vessels for superior coastal cruising. Fiberglass or aluminum powerboats also make excellent recreational boats. If you’re going to play the role of captain though, make sure to understand the safety rules of navigation. From understanding buoys and markers to docking and anchoring, navigating the water and knowing nautical theories are essential.


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