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Five tips for financial fitness in 2017

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) If a commitment to improving finances is among your resolutions for 2017, you’re not alone.

A survey from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) shows that more than two-thirds of U.S. adults will make a financial resolution this year.

However, one out of three Americans said their financial quality of life is worse than they expect, as saving money and debt concerns top the list of stressors. Additionally, almost two-thirds of respondents experienced a financial setback in 2016, with transportation issues, housing repairs and medical care cited as the leading causes. For the nearly 50 percent of those who admit they’re living paycheck to paycheck, significant unplanned expenses can add up.

“To be successful with your financial resolutions in 2017, set thoughtful, realistic goals,” said Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE. “If your goal is to build an emergency savings, start with a small amount like $500 dollars to show yourself you actually can achieve that mark then set the bar higher. It’s not uncommon to be hit with an unexpected expense, so be prepared.”

These five tips can help get you on the path toward tackling your financial goals:

1. Get debt under control. Take a hard look at what you owe. If there are warning signs of too much debt, take action. Set a goal to reduce your debt next year by 5-10 percent. That might mean reducing impulse shopping, which six out of 10 people admit to doing, and 80 percent regret the purchases later. When you face temptation, walk away for at least 30 minutes to make sure you still want the item.

2. Start saving now. Ideally, you should have six to nine months of income set aside, but achieving a small goal can provide a sense of security and reduce stress. The rules of retirement have changed: Review your long-term savings and ensure they are appropriate and on target.

3. Shop for better services. Make a game out of shopping providers to find the best value in the services you use. How long has it been since you shopped your insurance policies? Is there any chance you can save money on your cell phone, internet or utilities? Visit current providers and ask, “What’s the best deal?” Be sure to understand your policies and services so that you are comparing fairly and accurately.

4. Understand what’s behind your financial decisions. If you’ve ever wondered why you feel good about spending money on vacations but avoid saving for retirement, the answer may lie in your unique values and how they influence your financial decision-making. Take the LifeValues Quiz at SmartAboutMoney.org.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Recruit a “financial buddy” and share your resolutions with a trusted family member or friend who can provide support in helping you meet your financial goals. Find someone who will hold you accountable and set a good example for you to follow.

For more help getting your finances in order, visit SmartAboutMoney.org.

Posted in Business, Featured, New Year'sComments (0)

New Year’s resolutions for a healthier you

Whip up a simple sorbet to indulge your sweet tooth healthfully.

Whip up a simple sorbet to indulge your sweet tooth healthfully.

(StatePoint) New Year’s resolutions can be a double-edged sword. While many of us feel inspired to make goals to improve our health, happiness and wellbeing, we often find the changes hard to sustain, and sometimes end up reverting back to old practices.

Check out these tips for starting and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

Baby Steps

Many people start a new year hoping to improve their fitness routines and eating habits, and quickly become discouraged when results aren’t immediate. Instead of cancelling your new gym membership and opting for a box of chocolates by Valentine’s Day, set achievable and realistic goals to stay on track.

If losing weight is the objective, aim for 10 pounds instead of 50. If you succeed at losing the first 10, celebrate and make a new goal.

Instead of adopting an extreme diet, cut back on one snack a day or incorporate a smoothie as a healthy meal replacement. Use ingredients like fresh fruit, dark leafy greens, flax or chia seeds—even savory vegetables like beets–the possibilities are endless.

Fuel Up to Get Fit

Sticking to fitness goals takes the right fuel. Eating whole foods instead of processed foods will give you more and longer-lasting energy. Plus, a whole-food diet is more simple and sustainable than restrictive calorie counting or elimination diets.

Powering your body with snacks like low-fat yogurt topped with granola, fresh hummus and whole-grain pita, or an apple and peanut butter, will carry your body through a workout and help you feel fuller longer. To make delicious homemade nut butter, throw three cups of roasted, unsalted peanuts or cashews into a high-powered blender like a Vitamix machine and blend for a minute or so. The result is a gooey, good-for-you treat that will provide ample energy for healthy pursuits.

While grocery shopping, stick to the outer perimeter of the store and pick up nutrient-rich and versatile ingredients like avocados, chickpeas, bananas, nuts and spinach, that can stand alone or be mixed into everything from healthy salads to frozen desserts.

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

Being healthy and eating whole foods doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sweet tooth. Before you plunge into a tub of cookie dough, consider other ways to curb cravings. Make your own, customized whole-food ice cream without artificial colors, flavors or preservatives using a blender. Varieties like apple pie and spiced strawberry will delight without guilt.

Or try a simple sorbet: blend two peeled oranges, two tablespoons sugar and four cups of ice. Use a blender with special settings for this purpose, such as the Vitamix Professional Series 750. Its Frozen Dessert program, one of the machine’s five pre-programmed settings, allows you to make an easy, healthy dessert in minutes.

Looking for something that feels even more decadent? Find recipes like chocolate hazelnut spread and more at vitamix.com/Find-Recipes.

For a healthier new year, focus on small, attainable goals, and use whole foods to get creative with your diet.

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Five resolutions to keep your eyes healthy in 2017

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) UBER IMAGES - Fotolia.com

PHOTO SOURCE: (c) UBER IMAGES – Fotolia.com

(StatePoint) The new year is the perfect opportunity for reflection, renewal and the chance to start fresh. Consider making lifestyle changes that can improve your vision and health throughout the year.

Here are five ways that you can help keep your eyes and body healthy in 2017.

1. Get an eye exam. An annual trip to the eye doctor is critical for the entire family to ensure healthy and sharp vision. But did you know your visit to the optometrist is important to your overall health too? A routine eye exam can potentially detect signs of chronic diseases like diabetes, high cholesterol, and more. Because many symptoms of health conditions often don’t appear until damage has occurred, eye exams are a powerful, preventative health tool to keep tabs on what’s happening in your body.

An eye exam is a small investment for your eyes and body that’s well worth it, and a vision plan can help you keep the cost down. To search for a vision plan, visit vspdirect.com.

2. Eat an eye-healthy diet. You probably know carrots are good for your eyes, but so are dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables for a hefty punch of key vitamins, and a vision protecting-substance called lutein.

3. Quit smoking (or never start). Smoking cigarettes has many well-known associated health risks, such as cardiovascular problems and cancer. Did you also know that smoking can contribute to the cause of many vision problems? Research links smoking to an increased risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and optic nerve damage, all of which can lead to blindness.

4. Maintain a healthy weight. Weight is a contributing factor for your overall health as well as your eyes. Conditions such as obesity and diabetes can lead to vision problems, like cataracts. By eating healthy portions and exercising regularly, you can reduce your risk.

5. Protect eyes from blue light. Much of our days are spent with our faces glued to devices like smartphones, computers and televisions. Those digital screens emit high-energy blue light, which causes digital eye strain that leads to headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and even neck pain.

Ask your eye doctor about the best options to help you reduce eye strain, including using lenses with coatings that reflect and absorb blue light. You can also follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something at least 20 feet away.

With a balanced approach to preventative care, you can help keep your eyes and body healthy throughout 2017 and beyond.

Posted in Health, New Year'sComments (0)

New Year, New You: Resources to help you keep your resolutions

new-resources

(StatePoint) Making and keeping resolutions is difficult without direction or the advice of experts. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources to help, no matter what you are trying to accomplish.

Here are four books that can help you stick to your goals throughout the year.

Clean Eating

From quinoa and chia seeds to spinach and pomegranate, “Super Clean Super Foods” is a colorfully illustrated, comprehensive guide that shows readers how to incorporate unfamiliar ingredients into everyday dishes. The book explores the incredible health properties of each super food and includes tips on how to maximize its health benefits, allowing readers to work toward specific goals. For instance, you can create a food plan to boost energy, have a healthier pregnancy, limit jetlag, reduce aging, and more.

Achieve More

Whether you are seeking improvement in your career, relationships, or in your overall performance, “Success: The Psychology of Achievement,” can help equip you with the tools you need to drive yourself toward success using proven psychological strategies and expert advice. From positive thinking to work-life balance to learning how to say “no,” the lessons in this dynamic infographic guide, authored by an organizational psychologist, are tailored to your personal situation through questionnaires and self-analysis exercises.

Smart Meals

Bowls are a delicious way to lose weight and eat healthy, but they can also be laden with hidden calories. Inspired by the very latest bowl food trend, “100 Weight Loss Bowls,” features color-coded recipes engineered to come in at under 400, 500, or 600 calories, allowing you to easily build a nutritious meal plan that meets your daily target for gradual and sustained weight loss.

Workout Buddy

The first full-color fitness book that teaches you how to actively engage a partner in your workout routine, “Partner Workouts” features bodyweight exercises, yoga positions, cardio and more. Three long-term, comprehensive exercise programs provide regimens so you and your partner can motivate each other to achieve your fitness goals over a period of time. From choosing your partner and setting your goals to tracking your progress and nutrition, this guide doesn’t require a gym membership or expensive fitness equipment.

Start 2017 off on the right foot. Relying on books, tools and other resources can help you achieve your goals.

Posted in Featured, Health, New Year'sComments (0)

Buying your first home? Follow this New Year’s plan to get fiscally fit

new-buying-first-home

(BPT) – So buying a new home tops your list of New Year’s resolutions. As you picture the big moment—the one where you pull up to your dream home in your moving truck, sprint up and unlock your front door—you probably understand there’s something you need to do first. You need to get your finances in shape.

Just like those who make resolutions to run a marathon, making this big investment starts with a plan. Runners know that if they run a certain distance each day, it gets them closer to accomplishing their goal.

“The same is true, in many ways, when it comes to buying a home,” says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. “Before taking on a loan, many home buyers find they need to build their ‘financial muscles’ and establish ‘healthy’ money habits.”

By following a few tips to reach financial fitness goals, you, too can achieve the goal of home ownership.

Do those daily sprints

People who reach their fitness goals begin with a look at their current habits and then make a plan to replace them with better ones. The same is true for homebuyers. First, look at the spending choices you’ve been making, and review three to six months’ worth of bank statements. Consider what is necessary and what needs to cut back. The goal is to trim the fat in your budget so you can use the extra money to reduce your debt and increase your savings.

Crunch your debt

Take a look at your debts and consider the monthly payments you make. Are there any debts standing in the way of making a house payment affordable? Those are the ones you want to knock out with an accelerated payment plan, using the money you freed up by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Try focusing on one debt at a time, paying close attention to the ones with the highest interest rates to pay off first.

Beef up your credit score

The good habits you exercise today will make all the difference on your interest rate later. Put in the extra work to raise your credit score. Your credit score pulls together many details from your past and current debts as well as other financial factors, and helps lenders determine your creditworthiness. Making the effort to raise your score is worthwhile because shaving off even one-quarter of a percentage point from a mortgage loan can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a 30-year mortgage. A credit score factors your history of on-time payments, the amount you owe on your debts, the type of credit you have, the age of that debt and any recently opened new credit lines as well as other factors. You may be able to improve your score and get the lowest possible interest rate on a home loan if you follow these “reps” every month: pay all your bills on time, don’t close old credit card accounts and don’t open new lines of credit.

Increase your intake of savings

Even when paying down debt, it’s still a good idea to start a small savings plan so you have some cash to fall back on if, say, you need to go to the doctor or get new tires for your car. Start by opening a savings account and set up automatic transfers each month. Even with $50 a month, you’ll have $600 in one year, which could bail you out of a number of small emergencies. Eventually, once your debts are paid off, you can divert those payments right into savings, which also can build your down payment for that new dream home

Prepare for the big event

All these steps lead to one main event: buying a home. Once you meet those smaller goals – following a budget, eliminating debt, raising your credit score, and saving for your down payment – you’re ready for the final push toward home ownership.

First, figure out how much home you can afford: look at home prices in your area, use an online loan calculator to estimate your payments, and go through your budget. Then gather up the financial documents you’ll need, including proof of employment, bank statements and tax statements. Finally, choose a lender that is right for you. Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. has many programs that can fit many kinds of buyers. Perhaps you’re getting your first mortgage, have perfect credit, and in some cases, less-than-perfect credit. All loan programs are subject to credit approval and restrictions apply. Contact Vanderbilt for details. If you are interested in learning more about Vanderbilt, visit, http://www.vmfhomeloan.com. Vanderbilt is a Berkshire Hathaway national housing lender that has been in business for more than 40 years and has helped families just like yours find the right financing program.

“Following these habits can be challenging from a motivation standpoint,” Hamilton says. “It takes patience, but once you’ve followed the steps to get financially healthy, it is a very rewarding experience.”

Posted in New Year'sComments (0)

5 Steps For Easy Entertaining

ent-entertaining

(Family Features) Hosting a large group of family and friends can be overwhelming, especially if entertaining isn’t something you do often. No matter the occasion, these tips can help you avoid common party pitfalls so you can keep the focus on having fun.

Offer an assortment. Rather than attempting to plan the menu around a wide range of likes, dislikes, allergies and other considerations, simply create a menu that satisfies everyone’s cravings. If you’re serving a buffet, provide a mix of hot and cold dishes in a variety of tastes and textures. For a plated meal, offer several robust sides so if the main dish misses the mark for one or two guests, there’s no chance of anyone going hungry.

Create a beverage cart. The kitchen is likely to be a hotbed of activity, but setting up a remote beverage cart can help redirect some of that traffic. A cart or table with multiple shelves is ideal. Stock the cart with an ice bucket and tongs; garnish such as lemons, limes, olives and cherries; and an assortment of glasses. Offer a couple of bottled beers on ice (one light and one with a bolder flavor), at least one white and one red wine, and a couple of liquors that work with a wide array of mixers, such as vodka and rum. Round out the cart with a few mixers, including fruit juice so non-drinkers can enjoy mocktails as well.

Never compromise on wine. Lots of times, guests have wildly different tastes in wine and it can seem impossible to select a couple bottles that everyone will like. If you want to please everyone but worry you’ll end up with a stash of partially poured bottles, there is an alternative to pulling all those corks. The Coravin Wine System lets you serve wine without removing the cork, allowing your guests to pour as much or as little wine as they like (you can save the rest or what’s left for another day). Using a Coravin System is like having a wine bar in your house. Rather than settling for what is open, everyone can drink whatever they like, even if the entire group has dramatically different tastes. If someone wants to taste lots of different wines, they will have the freedom to do just that. Learn more at coravin.com.

Plan ahead for refills. Clear as much space as possible in the refrigerator for extras so you can easily replenish anything that runs out. Make extra pitchers of punch, and have bowls of popular items ready to replace as needed. For warm items, use the warming feature on your oven to hold dishes at serving temperatures, or simply leave the oven off and contain the precooked dishes’ warmth.

Remember to enjoy yourself. Your guests can easily sense when you’re frazzled or stressed, so plan ahead and get all your preparations completed well before anyone arrives. Then you’ll be ready to mingle, visit and set a warm and inviting tone for an event that everyone can enjoy.

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Featured, New Year'sComments (0)

Tour of Lights

There’s nothing like the warm glow of Christmas lights this time of year to give you a good dose of Christmas cheer! So pack up the kids, go for a ride, and enjoy the decorations your friends and neighbors have put up this year. We’re sure you’ll find a few other treasures along the way!

1. The Springs Church, 135 N. Grant Street (enter off First Street)

2. 88 N. Grant Street (Corner of Maple and Grant) Rosenberger home

3. Park and Oak Street

4. Elm Street east of Park St.

5. 19 N. Second Street – the Colborn family home between Cherry and Elm.

6. 65 E. Muskegon, corner of First and Muskegon Streets. The home of Larry and Audrey Young is a classic home decorated with style.

7. Downtown Cedar Springs is aglow with lights and decorations on the lampposts and the town Christmas tree is at the corner of Main and Ash.

8. 427 Northland Drive, near the corner of South Street and Northland. See the 90-foot evergreen Christmas tree at the Reep family home.

9. Dio Drive (off Northland, just south of town)

10. Northland south of 16 Mile.

11. Indian Lakes west of Northland Drive.

12. The Fieldstone Meadows subdivision, first cul de sac, just off 18 Mile. Head north on Main Street in Cedar Springs, turn east on 18 Mile. Go around curve, past mobile home park, and then east into Fieldstone.

13. Subdivision off Pine Street (behind Wesco)

14. 6th Street (south at dead end)

15. Vista View Estates on Algoma Ave., between 17 Mile and Indian Lakes.

16. Nolan Patin’s lights synced to music! Located at 2207 15 Mile Rd NE, Sparta 49345.

Posted in Hometown Holidays, NewsComments Off on Tour of Lights

Baby’s First Christmas 2016

brought to you by… The Cedar  Springs Post Newspaper ~ Still free but priceless!

36 E. Maple St./P.O. Box 370 | Cedar Springs, MI 49319 | Ph. 616.696.3655 | www.cedarspringspost.com

babysfirstchristmas2016

click here to download pdf

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Christmas Coloring Contest winners

Thank you to all who entered our Christmas Coloring Contest. Congratulations to all our winners listed below. 

You may pick up your prizes on Thursday, Dec. 22 between 10am-5pm at our office located at 36 E. Maple St., Cedar Springs or call for other arrangements 616-696-3655.

Age group 8-10 years Winner: Alaina Austin, age 10, of Cedar Springs

Age group 8-10 years Winner:
Alaina Austin, age 10, of Cedar Springs

Age group 4-5 years Winner: Mya Warner, age 5, of Sand Lake

Age group 4-5 years Winner:
Mya Warner, age 5, of Sand Lake

Age group 6-7 years Winner: Max Emmorey, age 7, of Cedar Springs

Age group 6-7 years Winner:
Max Emmorey, age 7, of Cedar Springs

Posted in Hometown HolidaysComments Off on Christmas Coloring Contest winners

Letters to Santa

sl-elisabeth-drawingto Santa Claus

From Eliszbeth V

Der Saetae I wut a Barbe Pop up camper and sed and shuvl

and Barbe hous

theas you

Love

Elisabeth V

Der SadClos

for crimis I rile wot two Balls plea be cos my old Balls deflated

 


 

Dear, Santa for Christmas

I want:

a puppy

a little couch

a pink pillow/little strings ON

tHe END, a fake little Red car,

a carPet/PiNk aND BLue, a little CHaiR, aND a ColeriNg BooK, aND last But Not least

a little LaMp.

Dear Santa,

I hope you can git to Kid’s Homes safely.

Love,

Kaylee leys

Merry Christmas to all and to you and to all a good night


 

 

sl-jadia-letterDear Santa

ELF

elf on the shelf

little pink notebook

little pet shops

little toy kitty

barbie doll

PJ’s

New Snow pants

Strawberry Short Cake puzzle

New pillow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Dear Santa how are you. im fine. I hope you get lot’s of cookes.

I just want transformers combiner wars or titons fetern.

I hope Chrismans goe’s well.

From

Timothy


 

 

Dear Santa

I would like soundwave transformer for Christmas.

Thank you!

Stephen VanSyckle


 

 

sl-ava-envelope

 

sl-ava-drawing

 


 

sl-sissell-drawing

 


 

 

Dear Santa

I want a dog, books, puzzles, movies, trucks, pjs car most of all just love & a home!!

Anonymous


 

 

Dear Santa

I was good this year and would like a football and coloring books

Computer. milk and cook and treats for the reinedeers.

Hope you like them.

Thank You

Ben Dorrance


 

 

To Santa Claws

From Paige Miller

One more Wiberd for my loker pleas.

elf on the shelf please.

Belltats

a nerf gon

Pokeeman eexes

a forree garten

Braslet

Bff nekslet

I saw you and mises Claws a oluf garten.

PS. thank you


 

 

sl-olivias-letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sl-charlie-list


 

sl-anne-list

 

sl-isabella-list

Posted in Hometown HolidaysComments Off on Letters to Santa