(NewsUSA) – If, like many people, you have your important paperwork scattered helter skelter everywhere (think birth certifiate and IRS tax returns), you may want to consider getting financially organized before it’s absolutely imperative you put your hands on it. While just the thought of getting organized may sound exhausting, it helps to start small. One way is to decide whether you’re ready to enter the 21st century, or go old school and pay for either a bank security box or get a locked fireproof box to keep in your closet. To that point, you should know that even before Fidelity Investments officially introduced it a year ago, Barron’s magazine gave the free, online storage service FidSafe, five stars for being what it called “the first cloud-based safe deposit box we’ve seen that’s secure enough to organize everything from financial statements, insurance policies, and real estate records to a will, IRA beneficiaries, and even passwords.” Bonus? You don’t even have to be a Fidelity customer to use it. However, your approach to getting things in order should be the same no matter how you store things: • Start by identifying the documents you need to keep, which can be a liberating experience by itself. • Separate items by category. While you might not need all 10 of the documents some experts suggest, adding things like “medical history” and “legal documents” to more obvious financial topics could be a good starting point. • Tell a trusted family member or friend where everything is. “Having an effective system in place cannot exist in a vacuum,” notes Andrew Peterson, FidSafe’s vice president and product manager. From a security standpoint, FidSafe is heads and shoulders above the rest because of its end-to-end encryption — meaning, your documents are scrambled both in transit, while uploading them, and on the site’s servers — as well as its log-in protections. In addition, you also get up to 5GB of storage, which is enough to handle a heck of a lot of material (including video of home upgrades and possessions, should you want to memorialize these for insurance purposes). And you can even add trusted contacts like family and advisors to share specific documents with. That said, if you’re not interested in being able to access your information anywhere via a web browser or iOS app, there’s always that fireproof box in your closet or a trip to the bank. But then, unlike FidSafe, the box won’t automatically transfer your documents to a designee of your choice after your death so that loved ones are spared the trauma that FidSafe’s developer has been quoted saying he hoped to prevent: “People shared stories like, ‘My dad died, and my mom doesn’t know where anything is,’ and vice versa.”
(NewsUSA) – It happens during any given dental appointment; that embarassing moment when your hygenist asks how often you floss, and your reply (most likely) is, "Not often enough," at the same time he or she clucks disapprovingly and shakes his or her head.Turns out they know what they’re talking about.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly half of American adults aged 30 years and older (47.2 percent) suffer from some form of gum disease.Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one of the main threats to dental health, but maintaining a healthy mouth goes beyond the benefits of a bright smile.Gum disease is a chronic, inflammatory condition, and recent studies suggest that gum disease and tooth decay may be associated with an increased risk of other inflammatory conditions, including heart attacks and strokes if left untreated.The CDC describes common warning signs of gum disease, including bad breath, gums that are red, swollen, bleeding, or tender; pain when chewing; loose or sensitive teeth; receding gums; change in bite; and change in the fit of partial dentures. Additional factors that increase the risk of gum disease include smoking, diabetes, stress, and poor oral hygiene.That said, most people can improve their dental hygiene and reduce their risk for developing gum disease by following a few simple steps:- Brush. Brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste. Pick a toothbrush style that fits your mouth and feels comfortable, and you will be more likely to use it. If your teeth are sensitive or you want them to be whiter, look around; there’s a toothpaste for that.- Floss. Floss your teeth once a day. Dental floss is available in a variety of widths and thicknesses, although some people prefer disposable flossers, which are often easier for children to use.- Rinse. Oral rinses play an important role in a dental health routine. Gum disease is caused by bacteria, but an oral rinse formulated with bacteria-targeting ingredients can help keep gum disease at bay.Healthy Gums Oral Rinse from TheraBreath contains cetylpyridinium chloride, an ingredient approved by the FDA and clinically proven to kill the germs linked to gum disease."Gum disease is more serious than people think. It starts out with just bleeding and sensitive gums, but in its advanced stages, it can cause tooth loss," says Dr. Harold Katz, founder and chief researcher for TheraBreath.For more information about keeping your mouth healthy and reducing your risk of gum disease, go to therabreathhealthygums.com.Healthy Gums Oral Rinse fromTheraBreath is available at Walmart.
(NewsUSA) – Finally ready to take the plunge? Join the club.After having waited on the sidelines for what seemed like forever, first-time homebuyers last year made 38 percent of all U.S. single-family home purchases – the biggest share since 2000 – and the 2.07 million new or existing houses they bought ended up being 7 percent more than in 2016, Bloomberg.com reported."Pent-up demand" is how the news site described it, citing Millennials as one of the driving forces.But the market for house-hunting newbies like yourself has changed considerably from that most recent high mark of nearly two decades ago. And you know what they say: "Forewarned is forearmed." Read on.* Inventory is tight.So tight, in fact – especially for lower-priced starter-homes – that, as the Wall Street Journal wrote, even "buyers in historically calm markets such as Boise, Idaho, and Minneapolis are facing bidding wars, prompting them to dig deep into their coffers to win deals."Not into bidding wars? Well, there’s always Little Rock, Arkansas.Unlike Denver, Seattle and San Francisco – which LendingTree named the "most challenging" cities in the nation for first-time buyers – Little Rock was rated a veritable paradise for house hunters.* There’s still a lot of all-cash buyers out there, so don’t be afraid to get creative.Though the number of all-cash transactions peaked at 40 percent in 2011 and 2012 – with savvy investors still taking advantage of the subprime mortgage crisis by buying up homes many then rented out – last year’s 28.8 percent figure remains above normal. (One reason for the tight inventory: "Investors (are) making too much money as landlords to sell," according to MarketWatch.com.)Granted, you’re at a disadvantage if someone else waves $500,000 in cash in front of a seller even if you arrive pre-approved for a mortgage. However, HDTV.com tells the story of a couple who got a "great deal" on their Denver home – yes, Denver – by adding a contingency to their $300,000 bid that they’d pay $1,000 over any other competing offer up to a maximum of $329,000."Although unconventional," the site admitted, "a creative strategy like this can be very effective in today’s market."* Don’t automatically reject a fixer-upper because you’re not handy enough to fix things like the roof.Everyone knows you can save a bundle by buying a house that needs work, but some things – including electrical system overhauls and extensive roof repairs – are safer left to the pros. So the question becomes this: How far ahead would you come out, financially, after deducting those costs from the house’s likely post-renovation market value?"An attractive roof is the ultimate curb enhancer, so it’s important to figure that into your calculations," said Patsy O’Neill, a sales associate with Sotheby’s in Montclair, New Jersey.You can play around with different looks (i.e., Victorian vs. ranch) by using the free Virtual Home Remodeler launched by GAF (gaf.com), North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. And the website’s GAF Master Elite Contractor database can help you find the most reputable and adequately insured professionals in your area.* You may be being watched.Literally.With owners leerier these days of strangers walking through their properties, they’re increasingly employing devices capable of tracking prospective buyers’ conversations and actions.Yes, it can be creepy. The bigger danger, though, as MarketWatch.com noted, is that – if you don’t watch what you’re saying – there’s "a real risk" of tipping your hand enough that you wind up overpaying.