Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.

 

4 Reasons Why You Need to Be More Safety-Conscious

Are you safe? Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t as safe as they think. In 2014, 136,000 Americans died accidentally, according to the American Safety Council. Accidental overdoses have overtaken car crashes as the No. 1 killer of Americans, and deaths from falls are up 63 percent over the last decade due to an aging population. Meanwhile, one in 36 U.S. homes will be burglarized this year, according to FBI data. And a record 15.4 million U.S. consumers became victims of identity theft last year, a Javelin Strategy & Research report found.

Safety risks lurk everywhere. Fortunately, taking proactive steps can mitigate the most common safety threats. Here are reasons why you should be more safety-conscious, along with some tips to help you stay safe:

Reasons to Be Safety-Conscious

The first reason to be more safety-conscious is to protect your health. Many American have unsafe dietary habits - let's take a look at some numbers:

One in five adults failing to eat vegetables every day, and four in 10 neglect to eat fruit daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Half of U.S. adults don’t get enough aerobic exercise, says the Department of Health and Human Services.

As a result of these and other poor health habits, one in three Americans has at least one cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association.

Exercism

Second, poor health and safety habits also hit you in the pocketbook, which is another reason to adopt safe behaviors. Obese people pay $1,400 more per year for medical care than healthy people, a study published in Health Affairs found. The average hospital cost of a fall injury is $30,000, reported a study published in the Journal of Safety Research. The average cost of being hit by identity theft is $1,343, according to the Department of Justice.

The third reason to be more safety-conscious is insurance. High-risk lifestyles and behaviors can raise your insurance rates, while being more safety-conscious can lower them. For instance, insurers allow companies that have wellness programs the option of offering up to 30 percent discounts as incentives.

A fourth reason to be more safety-conscious is to gain peace of mind. Not only will you feel less stress, but you will be helping your physical and mental health, as well as your financial health. As much as eight percent of healthcare costs stem from stress, according to Harvard Business School professor Joel Goh.

Tips for Staying Safe

Health: Staying safety-conscious starts with following safer health habits. The American Heart Association recommends a healthy diet and exercise as the best prevention against cardiovascular disease. To maintain weight, use up at least as many calories as you take in; to lose weight, use up more calories than you consume. Eat a balanced diet from all the food groups, including fruits and vegetables, avoiding trans and saturated fat, and sweets. Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity in each week. If you need to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, aim for 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity three to four times a week. Schedule regular preventive screenings to intercept potential problems early.

Money: To keep your finances safe, avoid giving out your Social Security number, health care information, and other personal information when it’s not needed, recommends the U.S. government’s identity theft protection page. Pick up your mail promptly, and ask the post office to hold your mail if you’ll be away for a while. Review monthly credit statements and check your credit report once a year to watch for unauthorized activity. Use firewalls, anti-virus software, and secure connections when going online, and only use HTTPS-protected sites for online financial transactions.

Home: To keep your home safe, Allstate recommends you change your locks when moving into a new home, and make sure all doors have deadbolts. Take steps to make your home look occupied when you’re not home, such as leaving a car in the driveway or leaving a loud radio on. Install motion-activated lights and alarms, and consider timers or home automation to give the impression that someone is home. Set up video surveillance cameras to identify intruders. The best surveillance cameras from providers such as Lorex have high-definition resolution with night vision so that you can capture suspect details such as hair and eye color even in low-light conditions. Install fire and smoke alarms, and check the batteries regularly.

These are just some examples of the risks and countermeasures available to you. Sometimes, it helps to think like an auditor and try to look objectively at your habits, surroundings, and so forth - if you always operate out of habit, you can overlook the risks. What about you - do you have any tips to share on this topic?

The Grad's Ultimate Guide for Writing a CV / Résumé

Donna Moores

Donna Moores

I recently met Donna Moores, who is a professional recruiter and writer. She spends her time trying to help people find their dream job, and has spent more than 5 years learning outstanding HR principles in large industries and businesses.

Donna has a cool infographic designed to help graduates as they seek to market themselves in the world, and has been kind enough to share that with us, along with an introduction (below). To find out more about Donna, you can follow her on FaceBook and check out her Professional Blog.

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Job-seeking was never an easy business, especially for graduates. Lack of experience and knowledge plays a huge role when it comes to applying for a first job. The question is - how can someone prepare oneself to meet the criteria set by employers?

To answer this, we need to look back at the common misconceptions that College and University graduates have about their first job-seeking experience.

First off, there is a discord between the perception of one's skillset and the requirements set by companies and institutions. While college graduates tend to think that their Academy prepared them well for their first job experience, the truth is far from that.

Just the fact of having a diploma does not set your bar higher automatically. As suggested by the latest interviews with HR experts, grads do struggle with identifying their own skillset properly. Academic experience helps you boost your critical thinking, research and communication skills; but that's never enough to outmatch the competition and get the job of your dreams.

When it comes to building up your own job-seeker profile, there is a lot of advice to consider. Lateral thinking and creativity are needed to get your resume to "sell".

If you are a graduate you might find yourself in a similar situation. The convocation is over and now it's time to get some real-world practice. How to keep it up?

HandMadeWritings prepared a stunningly practical "how to" material on this topic. The Grad's Guide to Writing a CV includes best practices, common mistakes and helpful advice from HR professionals, backed up with statistical data. It might serve as a roadmap for any graduate, seeking for their first successful employment.

Spotlight On Depression In Older Adults

If you know someone who's aging and struggling with depression, Juno Medical has some good guidance on how to help them.

Starting with the signs, here are some things to look for to determine whether depression may be a factor:

  • loss of interest in activities that they would normally enjoy and inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks
  • loss of energy, change in appetite; different sleeping patterns; anxiety; reduced concentration; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • depression among older people is often associated with physical conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Life events, such as losing a partner; and a reduced ability to do things that were possible when younger, may also contribute to depression.

As for helping, this infographic provides some guidance.

If you'd like to find out more, visit Juno Medical's site about depression in older adults.

Are Your AirPods Too Loose? Here Is A Great Fix

I have a love / hate relationship with my Apple Airpods. I love how they sound, I love the battery life, and I love how easy they are to pair and switch devices. I hate how they fit my ears. As someone with (apparently) large ear canals, they are very loose and fall out easily.

I didn't want to give up the convenience of my Airpods, so I started looking for a way to make them fit better. Luckily, I found a solution: Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover for Apple Airpods. These are comfortable, silicone covers with a small "hook" that help keep the airpods secure in your ears.

Easy and Effective - And They Come With Two Sizes

These TEKA covers are easy to put on and very comfortable to wear for hours (the silicone is soft and pliable, while providing enough tension on your ears to keep them in place. They are also perfectly designed to fit on the Airpods without covering any of the sound ports or ear sensors, so they don't impair performance at all.

Each set of these TEKA covers includes two sizes (small and large) so you can choose the ones that fit your ears best (and you can give the ones you don't use to someone else, if you want). Pretty cool.

Only One Annoyance

The only issue I have with these is that you can't put the Airpods in their charging case while the TEKA covers are in place, since there is not enough room in the charging case when the covers are on. This isn't a design flaw in the covers - it's just the reality of how Apple designed the charging case.

What that means is that you need to remove the covers to charge the Airpods. That is not a big deal, since they can be removed and reinstalled very easily - however, you'll need to make sure you keep the covers in a safe place during the charging process so you don't lose them. I bought a spare pair of covers and keep them in a snack-sized Ziploc bag in my laptop bag, just to make sure I don't get stranded without the covers. If you have a better solution for keeping track of them, I'd love to hear it.

That aside, I unreservedly recommend the Spigen TEKA RA200 Airpods Earhooks Cover for Apple Airpods.

 

Getting A Tax Refund? Think Before You Spend It...

Here in the US, April means "Tax Day" (April 18 this year). Filing your taxes can be a hassle, and it's particularly harsh if you have to pay additional taxes.

However, some people look forward to getting a tax refund. If you're one of those people, you might want to just go out and blow it on something fun, or a night on the town. Hold your horses! That may not be the best way to use that money.

Consider The Options For How To Spend Your Tax Refund

What are your options? The good folks at Earnest have put together a great infographic that take you through some of the stats, options, and the pros and cons of each - check it out:

Considerations for using your tax refund wisely - courtesy of Earnest.

Considerations for using your tax refund wisely - courtesy of Earnest.

When I look at the options in this graphic, my bias would be to pay down outstanding debt first starting with the highest interest rate. You should also consider “refinancing” high interest rate debt by transferring it to a lower-interest loan or line of credit. For example, you could refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate. This will give you more leverage from the money you earn, and your future self will thank you.

A Big Refund Is Probably Not A Good Goal

If you got a big, hefty refund, I'd talk with a tax advisor about how to adjust my withholding allowances to reduce the size of next year's refund. While it may feel good to get a big check for a refund, a big refund means you overpaid taxes and effectively gave the US Federal Government a free loan for most of the year. Changing your withholding so that you get a small refund at the end of the year means you have more money in your pocket each pay period.

Of course, if your tax refund is the only savings plan you have, that is another story. A financial advisor can help you develop a more strategic savings plan.

If you want to build a better plan on your own, I know people who swear by "The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness" by Dave Ramsey. It is a no-nonsense approach based on sound advice and no gimmicks.