Don’t make it easy for identity thieves

hand-with-walletHere are 5 things that you should never keep in your wallet or purse just in case it gets stolen.

  1. Social Security Card – or any paper with your Social Security Number (SSN) on it. Unlike a credit or debit card, you cannot just cancel your Social Security card or change the number.
  2. Birth Certificate. A birth certificate can get a criminal a replacement Social Security card, a passport, a driver’s license and many other forms of identification.
  3. Bank account and routing numbers. A criminal can use these numbers to empty your account(s). You would need to close the account and open an entirely new one.
  4. Password cheat sheets.
  5. Passport. This document can be used to get a new Social Security card, driver’s license or state ID card. It can also be used as an identifying document in getting a loan or opening a new credit account.

Learn more at

Source: Identity Theft Resource Center


4 ways to break bad spending habits so they don’t break the bank

sip-banking-blogWhether you have a soft-drink addiction, are a sucker for new shoes or can’t resist the latest electronic gadget, getting a handle on your discretionary spending habits may be a worthy goal.

  • Quit cold turkey – Effective for some, but it’s not for everyone. Try to avoid temptation. If you’re prone to online shopping, unsubscribe to email sales alerts.
  • Reduce rather than remove – Set limits. Tell yourself that you will only spend $X per week/month/year on your craving.
  • Talk to yourself – Before you give in to your bad spending habit, take 10 seconds to close your eyes, breathe deeply and remind yourself that the habit is a want, not a need.
  • Go public with your goal – Tell people that you want to curb your spending habit. You will be creating a support network that can cheer you on and hold you accountable.

Learn more at


Acing your class reunion

reunionCatching up with old classmates can be fun, but it can also lead to stress for many. Here are some notes to nail the exam.

  • Figure out what you’re going to say before you get to the reunion. Decide what you’re comfortable sharing about yourself – who you are and what you have done.
  • Don’t worry about your weight. Opt against a crash diet. Drastic weight loss can be unhealthy and usually doesn’t lead to long-term changes.
  • Don’t stress about how you dress. Don’t rush to buy something new or worry about being overly trendy or fashionable. Whatever you wear will likely be new to everyone there because you haven’t seen one another in years. Wear something that makes you feel comfortable.

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Be sugar smart

sugarsToo much sugar may sour your health. And, if you’re like most people, you’re getting more of the sweet substance than you realize or should probably have.

The World Health Organization recommends that adults keep sugar to under 10% of their total daily calories, and ideally less than 5%. That means:

  • 25 grams – or roughly 6 teaspoons for women
  • 38 grams – or about 9 teaspoons for men
  • 12 to 25 grams – or 3 to 6 teaspoons for children

However, the average American takes in 19 ½ teaspoons every day – that amounts to 66 pounds of added sugar a year per person.

If you want to curb sugar consumption, consider:

  • Limiting regular soda pop to once or twice a week and switching to fruit-infused water or tea sweetened with stevia as your go-to beverage treat.
  • Having fruit for dessert.
  • Avoiding processed foods where hidden sugar may lurk.
  • Reading food labels on packaged foods and knowing sugar aliases.

For a list of other names that sugar goes by, visit

Sources: Sugar Science;


Creating bonds across generations

sip-generations-blogThe grandparent-grandchild relationship is second only to the parent-child connection in a child’s emotional growth. Kids develop appreciation for family legacy and learn healthy views of aging by interacting with grandparents.

Here are tips to keep the grandparent connection strong for children:

  • Check yourself – Your relationship with your parents sets the tone for the connection your children make with their grandparents.
  • Communicate – Have a family meeting to discuss the role you want your parents to play in the lives of your children. Many grandparents are fearful of intruding. Let grandparents know what they can do to make your parenting role easier.
  • Connect weekly – Make it a priority to communicate with grandparents at least once per week. Make sure grandparents hear what the grandkids are interested in and acknowledge their accomplishments.
  • Share history – Grandparents are a great connection to the past for children. Encourage them to share their history with your kids; no one else can take those family stories into the future.
  • Show appreciation – When grandparents do something special with the kids, make sure they get a note of appreciation.

Learn more at

Source: Susan Bosak, author of “How to Build the Grandma Connection”


Checking in on goals may up your chances of success

Trying to reach a goal? The more you monitor how you’re doing, the more likely you may succeed. You may be able to increase your chances of success if you report your progress publicly or physically record it.

  • Sharing your goal with others: Select a few close, supportive friends or family members and share your goal with them. Ask them to check in with you from time to time on how you’re doing with your goal. To make your goal more public, you might consider posting a note on social media, which could prompt others to come forward and share their goals or join in on yours.
  • Writing it down: Come up with an action plan. Put down all the steps you’ll need to take to reach your goal. Then, check off the steps as you reach them. Meeting the mini-goals along the way may just provide you the motivation and momentum to push through to your ultimate goal.

Learn more at

Source: American Psychological Association press release, “Frequently Monitoring Progress Toward Goals Increases Chance of Success,” Oct. 28, 2015


Listen to what your mouth tells you

Going in for regular dental cleanings and exams is highly recommended, even though some 100 million Americans don’t visit a dentist each year.

Regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental diseases and can help alert you to other problems at an early stage.

Whether or not you get regular dental cleanings and exams, here are a few signs or symptoms that you should always get checked out:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Red, tender or swollen gums
  • Gums that start to pull away from your teeth
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Changes in how your top and bottom teeth align with each other
  • Unusual sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Mouth sores that don’t heal
  • Ongoing bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth

Learn more at

Source: American Dental Association