RE/MAX 440
Cheryl Goedeke
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA   18944
Phone: 267-664-2288
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Fax: 267-354-6833
email: cheryl@remax440.com
Cheryl Goedeke

My Blog

Tests Show Consumers Unnecessarily Exposed to Potential Cancer Risk in Many Soft Drinks

January 27, 2014 5:24 am

In Consumer Reports' recent tests of sodas and other soft drinks, varying levels of 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI), a potentially-carcinogenic chemical byproduct of the production of certain types of caramel color, were found in all of the samples that listed caramel color as an ingredient. Twelve brands of sodas and soft drinks from five manufacturers – including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Goya – were tested.

"We are concerned about both the levels of 4-MeI we found in many of the soft drinks tested and the variations observed among brands, especially given the widespread consumption of these types of beverages. There is no reason why consumers need to be exposed to this avoidable and unnecessary risk that can stem from coloring food and beverages brown," said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, a toxicologist and Executive Director of the Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center.

Caramel color is used in certain food and beverages as a coloring agent and should not be confused with real caramel. Some types of this artificial coloring contain 4-MeI which has been recognized as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

While there are no existing federal limits on the amount of caramel color allowed in food and beverages, products sold in California that would expose consumers to more than 29 micrograms of 4-MeI in a day are supposed to carry a warning label under the state's Proposition 65 law.

Between April and September 2013, Consumer Reports tested 81 cans and bottles of various popular brands of soft drinks purchased in stores in California and the New York metropolitan region. Twenty-nine additional samples were purchased and tested in December 2013.

In its tests, Consumer Reports found that 12-ounce, single servings of two products purchased multiple times during an eight-month period in the state of California – Pepsi One and Malta Goya – exceeded 29 micrograms per can or bottle.

After Consumer Reports informed PepsiCo of its test results, the company issued a statement that said that Proposition 65 is based on per-day exposure and not exposure per can. It also cited government consumption data that shows that the average amount of diet soda consumed by people who drink it is 100 milliliters per day, or less than a third of a 12-ounce can. For that reason, they believe that Pepsi One does not require cancer-risk warning labels – even if the amount of 4-MeI in a single can exceeds 29 micrograms.

Other findings from Consumer Reports' tests include:

• Coca-Cola products tested had the lowest levels of 4-MeI for products with caramel color listed on the label.
• While Whole Foods' Dr. Snap has a "natural" label, its products contained 4-MeI. All caramel colors are considered artificial.

What the Government Can Do
Consumers Union, the policy and action arm of Consumer Reports, has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Specifically, it is asking the FDA to:

• Set a standard for limiting the formation of 4-MeI in those caramel colors that contain it (caramel III and IV).
• Require labeling of specific caramel colors in the ingredient lists of food where it is added, so consumers can make informed choices. Not all caramel color contains 4-MeI, but consumers have no way of knowing. Europe already requires this type of labeling.
• Bar products from carrying the "natural" label if they contain caramel colors.

What Consumers Can Do

At this point, the best consumers can do to avoid exposure to 4-MeI is to choose soft drinks and other foods that do not list "caramel color" or "artificial color" on their ingredient list.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Insider Tips on Scoring Seats for the Best Eats

January 27, 2014 5:24 am

Restaurant discovery app Urbanspoon released its top tips for snagging the hottest table in town. And while we may not be able to help diners afford the latest $195 tasting menu, these insider tricks will at least help get your foot in the door.
Here are our Top 10 Tips to help increase your chances of scoring a coveted reservation:

1. Tweet for your seat. Social media isn't just for finding new dining spots and sharing favorites with friends. In fact, more top restaurants are looking to social media to share exclusive offers with fans and followers and engage with new diners. Restaurants sometimes release last minute tables on their social media accounts. Don't be afraid to send a public message as well. Often a heartfelt story of an anniversary or other event, played out in a public forum, can help secure a spot from a restaurant that wants to be seen accommodating their customers.

2. Membership has its rewards. Credit card companies frequently run special deals and exclusive seatings with top restaurants. Check your statements or call your credit card rewards hotline to inquire about exclusive dining offers.

3. Persistence pays. If every phone call is met with the dreaded busy signal, use multiple lines simultaneously to increase your chances of getting through. Leave messages and be clear that you're open to last minute cancellations. In addition, check online at all hours of the night. Sometimes restaurants will release reservations in the middle of the night so set your alarm and check around 1-2am for those desired reservations.

4. Walk in to book. If all that persistence still leaves you waiting to talk to a live person, stop by the restaurant to inquire about openings. Go early in the day, when the restaurant first opens, or near the end of the night, when it's off-peak hours and you're less likely to encounter a frazzled host.

5. …and walk in to eat: Usually restaurants will try to accommodate you if you're willing to wait. Missed reservations or tables held for VIP guests are released back to the public towards the end of the night. And if the restaurant commits to accommodating you, don't be afraid to check in with the host frequently – ultimately you are responsible for getting your table.

6. Watch the clock: If you are trying to snag a table as a walk-in, ask the host or hostess when they need the table back. Restaurants often pad reservation times because they don't want to have to kick a diner out. Assure the host you'll be out well in advance of the next booking for the table to increase your chances of being seated.

7. Open minds mean open tables. You're unlikely to snag the hottest ticket in town if you're only willing to dine at 8pm on a Friday or Saturday night. Ask for mid-week reservations or be open to dining at times you'd typically associate with the early bird special or late night munchies. Also, be flexible on where you're willing to sit. Being open to smaller tables, or being seated near the bathroom or kitchen make you more likely to actually get a seat at all.

8. Don't bite the hand that seats you. Being a good tipper is great but don't forget the maître d after you've dined as well. A small thank you tip on the way out, or inexpensive gift around the holidays will ensure a prime seat the next time you visit.

9. Cozy up to the Concierge. Restaurants often hold a few tables for guests of top local hotels and in return, the hotel will recommend the eatery to their guests. If you're traveling, don't hesitate to ask the front desk about that new trendy spot – they might be able to get you in even if your own efforts weren't successful.

10. Sup at the stools. While there might be only one or two spots available at a time, this is still an option for singles or couples that are dining. Not only do most places serve food at the bar, your bartender might be less rushed than the on-duty wait staff.

Source: Urbanspoon

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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London, Paris and Toronto Are Americans' Favorite International Destinations

January 24, 2014 5:18 am

While London and Paris continue to dominate the list of most popular foreign destinations, several cities saw a significant boost in American tourism in 2013. Toronto surpassed Rome as the third-most popular international destination for the first time since 2010. With the Canadian exchange at a three-year low, now is an opportune time for U.S. travelers to cross the border and explore the country's cultural and entertainment capital.

Mexico City made the most significant stride, jumping into the top 20 as the 17th most popular destination (from 21st). The Mexico Tourism Board has been diligently focused on increasing tourism with its “Live it to Believe it” consumer marketing campaign, and Mexico City is making efforts to appeal to more vacationers with its extensive culinary and cultural scene.

On the other side of the world, Dubai commanded the industry's attention with its world-class facilities, 16 new hotel openings, expansion of new routes being offered by Emirates Airline, and the opening of the Dubai World Central airport. Major concerts and sporting events, such as the Dubai World Cup and pop sensation, Justin Bieber's first concert in the Middle East have also helped Dubai usurp Madrid, Florence and Venice as the 14th most popular destination. Other Asia-Pacific destinations that experienced a surge in American tourism last year include Tokyo (#6), Hong Kong (#7) and Bangkok (#11).

Domestically, overseas travelers continued to flock to the Broadway lights of New York, the grand casinos of Las Vegas and the mystical Disney appeal of Orlando, with Miami and Los Angeles rounding out the Top Five list for the second year in a row.

Source: Hotels.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Consumers Are Stealthy about Eating (un)Healthy

January 23, 2014 5:18 am

Some Americans who made New Year's resolutions to eat healthy are indulging in unhealthy foods when no one is around (and may even be destroying the evidence). Research outlined in a new white paper, "Our Appetite for Healthy Eating," explores consumers' behavior toward healthy food choices and how they strive to eat right.

"Eating healthy is a daunting task for many. Through our research, we've found that the heightened pressure to eat better results in people applauding their healthy choices and feeling guilty about their unhealthy ones, creating an emotional rollercoaster," said Erika Chance, senior FoodThink researcher.

In this latest white paper from Sullivan Higdon & Sink (SHS) FoodThink, consumers admit to a variety of emotions when it comes to food and health:

• 61 percent of American consumers feel guilty about eating unhealthy food.
• 47 percent agree they're more likely to eat unhealthy foods when they're alone.
• 28 percent admit to hiding the evidence when they eat unhealthy food.

"Usually with each new year, Americans are challenging themselves to make healthy improvements. Food marketers who work to understand these emotions involving food, both positive and negative, can help consumers make better food choices not only during this time, but all year round," said Chance.

Source: Sullivan Higdon & Sink

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Health Insurance Shopping Shortcuts Can Result in Expensive Mistakes

January 23, 2014 5:18 am

For consumers who use healthcare moderately, unnecessary out-of-pocket spending can result if a higher-tier health plan (e.g. silver over bronze) is purchased without confirming that the lower-tier options in the area have more costly deductibles and caps on annual out-of-pocket costs. Even though national averages show deductibles and out-of-pocket limits getting lower as the health plan tier rises (bronze, silver, gold, platinum), cost-sharing can still vary significantly among plans within each tier.

In order to demonstrate the range of cost-sharing within each health plan tier, HealthPocket examined the lowest to highest deductibles and out-of-pocket caps for the new Affordable Care Act health plans in 34 states. In three of the four health plan tiers (bronze, silver, and gold) HealthPocket saw deductible ranges spanning thousands of dollars among insurance policies belonging to the same category. The largest range was within silver plans where the lowest deductible recorded was $0 and the highest was $6,250. The smallest range was among platinum plans where the lowest deductible was $0 and the highest was $1,000.

HealthPocket found a situation with out-of-pocket cost caps similar to what was found for deductibles. For example, there was the possibility that a top-tier platinum plan could have a higher cap than an entry-level bronze plan. Both gold health plans and platinum health plans had the widest range of out-of-pocket caps ($4,850 difference from the lowest to the highest cap).

HealthPocket also found the small business health insurance market had similar characteristics as observed for the individual and family health insurance market.

"The inventory and cost-sharing burdens of health plans can vary widely from one region to another," said Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket, "The 'devil is in the details' so consumers need to take their time and review all their health plan options, both on exchange and off exchange, carefully before enrolling in a particular plan."

Consumers are advised to examine their local health plan options carefully, judging cost-sharing individually rather than based on averages for a plan's particular metal tier category. Failure to follow this advice could result in some unpleasant surprises with respect to deductibles and out-of-pocket expense limits.

Source: HealthPocket

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Shedding Light on Replacement Windows

January 23, 2014 5:18 am

(Family Features) Windows can bring new life to existing homes by letting in fresh air, flooding rooms with natural light and opening up beautiful views. They also come in all shapes, sizes and materials. Important considerations for selecting the right window are type, material, style, climate and budget.

Type
A pocket window is perfect in situations where the home’s existing window frame and surrounding wall are in good condition, but the sash is in need of improvement. Installing a complete replacement window is a good choice for projects involving more substantial renovation.

Material
The most common materials used for windows are vinyl, wood, clad-wood and aluminum. Your choice depends on what factors are most important to you.

• Vinyl — A strong PVC material that is used for its durability, energy efficiency and ability to stand up to the elements. This material resists fading and won’t flake, peel or rot.
• Wood — Wood comes from trees with a range of characteristics, such as grain, color and sap content. Cladding is a strong layer of metal over the wood, providing extra protection and low maintenance benefits with no exterior painting required.
• Aluminum — A lightweight and strong material that is a cost effective alternative to wood. This material is corrosion-resistant and performs well in most climates.

Style
Awning, bay, bow, casement, double-hung, fixed, garden, single-hung, sliding and tilt and turn — windows are available in many shapes, sizes and combination units.

Budget
When it comes to budget, it’s important to factor in long-term value beyond the initial purchase price. Energy efficiency and a longer warranty can all help save maintenance and replacement costs over time. Resale value is also a key consideration — beautiful, more efficient windows are a big selling feature.

Climate Considerations
Wet, humid, hot, severe storms, salty air — different climates have different window needs when it comes to material and glass choices. Talk to a reputable contractor or window dealer in your particular area to help select products that may work best for you. He or she may recommend hardware for a coastal environment, rot-resistant wood or another of the following materials or options:

• Coastal climates, wet and damp and/or high humidity — Specially treated wood windows or vinyl windows offer good moisture protection. Because these conditions can require more maintenance, including regular repainting and touch-ups, windows that require less maintenance and won’t need painting, such as vinyl, and clad-wood windows, are a good choice.
• Energy efficiency — With more homeowners looking for ways to save energy and money with building and remodeling projects, the demand for energy efficient windows grows. The W-2500 window from JELD-WEN, www.jeld-wen.com, can meet ENERGY STAR® criteria in all four climate zones in the U.S. and comes with an industry-leading warranty against wood rot. There are several criteria that must be met for a product to receive the ENERGY STAR designation. It is given in North, North Central and South Central climate zones with the standard glass package of Low-E270 with argon, and in the Southern zone when grilles are used. Without grilles, Southern zone ENERGY STAR criteria are achieved with Low-E366 and argon.
• Exceptionally hot/harsh sun exposure — Rather than window material type, glass and window location is key. The right glass can help protect against UV exposure and keep interior furnishings from fading. Choose insulated Low-E glass, which reduces the amount of heat entering the home and lowers cooling needs. It also blocks up to 85 percent of harmful UV rays that cause interior fading. Look for the ENERGY STAR label suitable for your region. Pay attention to window labels including the solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC), which indicates the ability to block heat generated by sunlight. The greater the protection, the lower the SHGC. U-factor is also important, which is the amount of heat flowing through a product. The lower the number, the more energy efficient it is. Proper overhangs and location of windows are also important. When building a home in a sunny region, place larger windows facing north.
• Severe, hurricane-force storms — In hurricane-prone regions, look for windows designed to meet local building codes. These windows come with options that resist impacts from wind borne debris and keep windows intact during storms.

Depending on location, new windows can save you money year after year. They can also increase your home’s value. Most importantly, new windows enhance the entire look of your home and add to priceless curb appeal — a must when it comes time to sell your home.

Don’t Let Money Go Out the Window
Windows have a significant impact on your heating and cooling bills. So, it’s extremely important to make the most energy-efficient choice for your home.

Replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR qualified windows can lower household energy bills by 7 to 15 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Lower energy consumption also reduces greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and shrinks a house’s carbon footprint. ENERGY STAR divides the U.S. into four climate zones, each with its own unique set of energy performance requirements. Energy efficiency for windows and doors is compared by using two important measurements:

• U-Factor: U-factor measures insulating value and indicates how much heat or cold transfers through the window or door. The lower the U-factor, the more energy efficient the product is.
• SHGC: Solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) measures a window’s ability to block the sun’s heat. The more solar heat it blocks, the lower the SHGC number. Where air conditioning is prevalent, ENERGY STAR requires a lower SHGC. Where heating is more prevalent, opt for a higher SHGC so the sun’s rays can stream in on cold winter days.

In the northern zones, U-Factor and SHGC requirements focus on helping reduce the need for heating. In the southern zones, requirements generally aim to reduce the need for air conditioning. Special glass coatings help control how much of the sun’s heat enters and how much of the controlled air temperature inside escapes.

To earn the ENERGY STAR label, windows must meet rigorous energy performance levels. Qualified products must also have third-party certification based on testing in recognized laboratories.

Source: JELD-WEN

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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How to be a Smart Foodie When Dining Out

January 21, 2014 5:18 am

Dining out can sometimes feel like a gamble: Does the restaurant practice good food safety, or will a bite out result in a night of food-poisoning misery? BeSmartBeWell.com provides diners tips to avoid food poisoning.

Food poisoning is possible at any type of restaurant.
Food poisoning strikes about 48 million people in the United States each year, and nearly half of recent foodborne illness outbreaks were caused by food consumed in a restaurant. Just 21 percent were caused by food consumed in a private home, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

It doesn't matter how fancy a restaurant is; if the staff doesn't follow good restaurant food safety practices, there is a risk for food poisoning. "You can get foodborne illness from any type of restaurant—from the lowest level of the mom-and-pop all the way to the fine dining restaurant," says Ben Vaughn, host of Food Network’s Health Inspectors.

Dining out, but staying in control
While most diners do not have the behind-the-scenes access that Vaughn does, anyone can be a "smart foodie." "Just because you're dining out doesn't mean you're not in control," he says.

Tip: Scope the scene.
The first thing a diner should do upon entering a restaurant is take a close look at the public areas. The cleanliness and orderliness of a restaurant can be an indicator of what's going on behind the kitchen door, according to Vaughn.

Tip: Order fresh, order smart.
Smart ordering can help lower the risk of food poisoning, Vaughn says. "Be regionally respectful," he recommends. "The farther food has to travel to reach your plate, the higher the risk it has been improperly handled somewhere along the way. Look for ingredients that don't belong in that area and don't order them."

Tip: Review the health inspection report.
Restaurants are required to post their health inspection reports, or make them available upon request. "Health inspection scores should be posted at the front door. If you don't see a health inspection or you don't see a current health inspection, ask," Vaughn says.

Source: Be Smart Be Well

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Super Bowl Drives Most TV Purchases in 2014

January 21, 2014 5:18 am

FatWallet.com announced results from its 2014 TV Buyer Survey. Of those surveyed online, 30 percent said they will purchase a new TV this year (35 percent males and 38 percent under age 30). Almost one third of those will buy a TV during Super Bowl sales. The survey also reveals that their purchasing decisions are influenced most by price (45 percent), followed by TV features (35 percent) and brand (20 percent).

Key survey results for those that said they will purchase a new TV this year:

• Almost one third (32 percent) are most likely to buy a new TV during Super Bowl sales, 25 percent during Black Friday sales, 8 percent during December/Holiday, 6 percent during Cyber Monday and 18 percent noted a wide variety of other seasonal sales event throughout the year.
• More than half said they will spend less than $500 with 14 percent to spend less than $300, 34 percent between $300-$499, 34 percent between $500-$699, and 32 percent will spend $700 or more.
• Samsung was top choice for TV buyers (33 percent), especially with higher annual income shoppers, and is almost twice as popular as Sony (18 percent), followed by LG (16 percent) and Vizio (14 percent) rounding out the top four. Only 4 percent said they will most likely buy a budget brand TV in 2014.
• The majority of TV buyers (80 percent) will seek 1080p resolution and more than one third (35 percent) prefer it to have "smart" capabilities (45 percent under age 50). Only 6 percent said they will be buying a 4K TV (surprisingly 10 percent for those with an annual income under $30k), while 14 percent are still satisfied buying a 720p TV.
• Mid-size 40-54" TV models are most popular with 45 percent (56 percent under age 30), while 31 percent will buy a new TV 55" or bigger. Only 6 percent will purchase a new TV 70" or bigger.
• Surprisingly, more than 7 percent said they will make their TV purchase via mobile device.

"The Super Bowl offers the perfect storm for shoppers to improve their game watching experience while saving money on a high quality, big-ticket item," states Brent Shelton, FatWallet spokesperson.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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7 Steps for Millennials to Define Their Financial Future

January 20, 2014 5:18 am

Like other age groups, not saving enough for retirement is the biggest vulnerability facing Millennials. However, they’re the only generation that doesn’t seem to know it, as Millennials ranked more urgent needs like managing cash flow, getting out of debt and investing as higher priorities. Here are some steps Millennials can take to strike a better balance between the needs of today and tomorrow.

1. Take control over your day-to-day finances. Millennials rank managing cash flow as their top priority. The first step is to find out where your money is going by looking at previous bank and credit card statements and categorizing them on a worksheet or a free site like Mint or Yodlee MoneyCenter that can track spending online or via smartphone apps. You can then search for ways to cut back on some of those expenses to bring your spending in line with your income and free up money that can be used to pay down debt or save for the future.

2. Know the difference between good and bad debt. Getting out of debt was their second most important priority, but not all debt is equal. Debt taken to enhance career opportunities like a student loan, to purchase a vehicle needed to commute to work, or to invest in an appreciating asset like a home tends to be low interest and can be characterized as “good debt.” Credit card debt taken to purchase the latest iPad is typically charged much higher interest rates and should be considered “bad debt.”

While auto and student loans may be frustrating, they don’t typically cost as much in interest or have as negative an impact on your credit score as credit card debt. In fact, it may make more sense to invest extra money rather than pay down these good debts since the investments can be expected to earn more than you save in interest. On the other hand, you should pay any high-interest debt off as soon as possible.

3. Protect your credit. Millennials are already the most likely age group to check their credit report on an annual basis, likely due to the impact it has on their opportunities for jobs and home ownership. You can take it one step further by signing up for free credit advice and monitoring on sites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. For even stronger protection, you may want to put a security freeze on each of your credit reports to prevent would-be identity thieves from opening credit in your name.

4. Run a retirement calculator. With retirement so far off, only 29 percent of Millennials have run a retirement calculator, the lowest percentage of the generations. This lack of awareness is their greatest weakness. Using an employer-provided program like Financial Engines or Schwab GuidedChoice, or a retirement calculator can be an eye-opener.

5. Start saving for retirement. Millennials are the generation most likely to not be saving for retirement at all. While their incomes may be relatively low, and many are struggling with student loan payments, Millennials should still begin building the habit of regular saving. One place to start is to make sure you’re contributing at least enough to your employer’s retirement plan to get the full match and not leave any of that free money on the table. This also forces you to save money before you even have a chance to spend it. You can then gradually increase that contribution rate over time.

6. Open a Roth IRA. One place to put additional savings is a Roth IRA, which can be used to save for both short-term goals like emergencies, going back to school, or buying a home, and long-term goals like retirement. That’s because whatever you contribute to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn tax and penalty free at any time and for any reason so the money won’t be tied up. (Earnings can also be withdrawn penalty-free for education expenses and up to $10k for a first-time home purchase.)

On the other hand, whatever isn’t withdrawn grows to be tax-free after age 59 1/2. (Any earnings withdrawn before age 59 1/2 could be subject to taxes and a 10 percent penalty.) The key is to leave the Roth IRA invested someplace safe and accessible like a savings account or money market fund until there’s enough emergency savings (at least 3-6 months of necessary expenses) accumulated somewhere else. At that point, it can be invested more aggressively for retirement.

7. Get investment help. Investing was the third highest priority for Millennials and an area where their behavior trailed the other generations, probably due to their lack of investment experience. Target date retirement funds can simplify the process but they may actually be too aggressive for many Millennials as 43 percent characterized themselves as conservative investors. See if you can get more customized guidance and advice through your employer or use online tools like FutureAdvisor and Jemstep for free investment recommendations (there are fees if you want to have them manage the money for you).

Source: Financial Finesse

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Sticking with Your Financial Resolutions

January 17, 2014 5:15 am

(Family Features) With the new year underway, there is a heavy focus around resolutions. Whether you are making a resolution to celebrate a fresh start or looking to make a change no matter the time of year, maintaining resolutions can be difficult. In fact, a recent survey from Bank of America found that 49 percent of respondents don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they prefer to set goals throughout the year.

Goals tied to the new year, and those set at various points in the year, are all aimed at making significant life changes. According to the survey, 81 percent of resolutions involve health and fitness, 45 percent involve personal finances and 30 percent are targeted toward making changes in social life and relationships. With the large number of people planning to make changes in their finances, it is helpful to determine how to best ensure you achieve your goal.

Research shows that consumers who understand their behaviors and motivations are more likely to build and keep positive habits for the long term. That’s why it’s so important to have strategies to keep those financial resolutions throughout the year. A few pointers to stick with your financial resolutions include:

Prepare before your resolution begins
Putting thought into your resolutions before you spring into action can put you on the path to change. Starting early with a few small changes can also improve your odds of staying the course to achieve your goals.

Develop an action plan
It’s fine to make a resolution, but the odds of sticking with it improve dramatically if you create an action plan of smaller steps to support your goals. Creating a budget? Start by tracking your spending to see where the money is going. Then create a budget that’s tight but workable, to give you more flexibility to pay down debt, increase savings or invest for retirement. If you have to carry a balance, but want to responsibly manage your credit card, consider a card that helps build positive habits.

Write it down
Forty percent of survey respondents say they use written reminders to help stay on track with their resolutions. Try writing your resolutions on Post-it notes, in Evernote, in calendar reminders or on notes stuck to the refrigerator — whatever you’ll look at regularly — to keep yourself committed and on track.

Get a little help from your friends
Sometimes a gentle reminder from a family member or friend can work wonders. Share your resolutions with a trusted person and ask for occasional reminders.

Partner up
Find a friend or loved one with the same resolution and agree to motivate and support one another to stick to your goals. It’s easier to manage a diet, exercise plan or budget if you have support. Twenty percent of respondents plan to partner up to keep to their resolutions.

Start your New Year’s resolutions thinking today, and keep the big goals in mind every day, whether they aim for better health, sounder finances or better relationships. With the right attitude and commitment, 2014 could be a very good year.

Source: Bank of America

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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