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  • No Gym Required for These (Financial) Fitness Tips

    February 20, 2020

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    If you’re like me, your social-media feeds are jammed with headlines about getting “healthy and fit” in the new year. Of course, they’re referring to diet and exercise and common resolutions to drop pounds and work out more often.

    But it’s just as important to be concerned about your financial fitness—where you can also drop some baggage and get some strength training without going near a gym. (In fact, if you have a subscription to a gym membership but aren’t going, that’s one financial fix you can make right now.)

    Here are some tips to consider for any age:

    IN YOUR 20s:

    Workout: Have a portion of each paycheck deposited into your savings account, or take advantage of bank programs that “round up” or have other automated savings features. Trust me, you won’t feel this burn.

    Diet: Start making coffee at home or at the office instead of going for expensive lattes. Fewer calories, and more money in your pocket. This is a good time to consider getting life insurance (whether you are single or attached) as it is less expensive the younger and healthier you are.

    You also need to consider disability insurance, which pays you a portion of your salary if you are sick or injured and unable to work—because who would pay your bills if you couldn’t? Your work may offer this as an employee benefit, so check with your HR department to find out if you have it and what it covers (short-term, long-term disability, etc.)

    IN YOUR 30s:

    Workout: You probably have a retirement program at work or some other preliminary retirement planning in place. If you don’t, start.

    If you do, why not increase the amount you divert into retirement by a percentage point each year—equaling your company match percentage, if they have it, is a good target.

    Diet: You may not have gotten life insurance beyond what you have through your workplace, but now is the time to consider an individual policy that you own. Remember, when you leave a job, you typically lose that life insurance offered through your workplace. And, given that life insurance through the workplace usually equals one or two times you salary (or a set amount like $50,000), it’s no longer going to cut it if you have a growing family.

    If money’s tight, as it often is with a growing family, lingering student loans, and perhaps a mortgage, a term life insurance policy can protect you through the lean years. But don’t overlook the long-term benefits of a permanent life insurance policy. The cash value can be tapped later for needs that may arise. Plus, there’s nothing that says you can’t have a combination of both.

    Also, consider an individual disability insurance policy that you personally own and follows you throughout your career. If you’re relying on work coverage, know that it goes away when you leave that job, and often these policies have bare-bones coverage.

    IN YOUR 40s:

    Workout: Do you have a financial professional helping you out? Navigating the ins and outs of a growing investment portfolio can be tricky as you move through your career and want to use traditional or Roth IRAs, and the tax benefits of various planning strategies. This may also be the time that you can add a permanent life insurance policy, if you haven’t before, which allows you to accrue cash value and obtain benefits that extend later into your life.

    Diet: If you’re still carrying extra debt at this point, it’s time to get that paid down. Tackle higher-interest debts first, and celebrate each paid-off card or loan with … a bigger payment to the next one on the list.

    IN YOUR 50s:

    Workout: Max out your retirement contributions, especially once your kids are through college. This is also a good time to start researching things like long-term care insurance, and to make sure that your investment portfolio is built in such a way that you can reach your goals.

    Diet: It may be very tempting to take on a new debt now: some folks want a vacation home, or the time may be right to start a business. But beware of any super-risky moves that can spell catastrophe with limited time to recoup losses, or that leave you with unexpected bills.

    IN YOUR 60s and beyond:

    Workout: Evaluate your Social Security situation against your retirement portfolio to determine the best time to retire. Understand the “living benefits” of your life insurance policies and how annuities may help you create a retirement income stream that you can’t outlive.

    Diet: Is it time to downsize? It can be hard letting go of “stuff” so that you can go from that four-bedroom house to a two-bedroom condo. But the financial benefit of doing so may surprise you—plus there is less to clean and take care of (not to mention the ease of jetting off at a moment’s notice with no need for someone to look after your home.)

    A lot depends on factors like your relationship status, your career path, whether you have kids or not, and what your long-term goals are, and these can change at any time in our lives.

    The long and short of it is that just as when it comes to “health and fitness” goals, you’d get an annual physical. Need to know if you’re financially fit? Talk to an insurance professional or financial advisor today.

    By Helen Mosher

    Originally posted on lifehappens.org

  • Eat Your Way to a Healthy Heart

    February 10, 2020

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    Each February we focus on ways to improve our heart health in honor of American Heart Month. This year we want to help you by turning your attention to the foods you eat and how to make smart choices with our “This or That” challenge!

    Below you will see two foods to choose between. Your goal is to choose the food that is the healthier option. Answers can be found at the end of the challenge.

     

     

    Diet Soda vs Carbonated Water

    Skip the drink with the high levels of artificial sweeteners and choose carbonated water! Diet drinks have been linked to symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Some symptoms of this include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and lower than normal HDL cholesterol levels. Pour yourself a glass of carbonated water and put a slice of fruit in your glass instead!

     

    Butter vs Olive Oil

    Pour on the olive oil to maintain good heart health. Butter is full of high amounts of saturated fat. Butter is also known to raise the bad cholesterol levels in your blood. Olive oil and even canola and sunflower oils contain heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

     

    Sweet Potato Fries vs French Fries

    Warm up your new Air Fryer and start cooking sweet potato fries with a little olive oil. French fries are full of fat and salt and a study linked eating 2-3 servings of fries a week to a higher chance of an early death.

     

    1 oz Salted Nuts vs 1 oz Potato Chips

    Pass the pecans, please! When you choose nuts over chips, you are also choosing your health. Regular nut snackers are 14% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease and 20% less likely to develop coronary heart disease.

     

    1.5 oz Dark Chocolate vs 2 Chocolate Chip Cookies

    No matter how much you love Grandma’s cookie recipe, your heart needs you to choose the dark chocolate. A study has found that those people who eat dark chocolate 3 times a week reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 11%.

     

    T-bone Steak vs Grilled Salmon Fillet

    Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Salmon is chock full of omega 3 fatty acids which reduce fat in your blood and reduces clogged arteries. Steak is famous for high levels of saturated fat and LDL cholesterol.

     

    Coca-Cola vs Red Wine

    Pop the cork, not the soda tab. Carbonated sodas are full of artificial ingredients and sugar. Red wine has been shown to increase your good cholesterol levels and has many antioxidants that can help protect the lining of the blood vessels in your heart.

     

    You are now a “This or That” Food Challenge winner! Go celebrate with a grilled salmon dinner, a glass of red wine, and a handful of dark chocolate!

     

    Sources:

    https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-bad-heart

    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-hearthealthy-food-swaps

    https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

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    Everyone knows that eating healthy, getting exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our lifetime being spent sleeping, this part of our life must take importance. Let’s delve into why sleep is important and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At different stages in our life, we require different amounts of sleep. From birth to 4-years old, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep. They are growing and learning both cognitively and emotionally and this takes lots of energy. To restore that energy that is expended during these active toddler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age children are some of the most active humans on the planet. Being at school from 8-3 everyday really wears their little bodies out. Because of their activity, these children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8-10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7-9 solid hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    During our restful time of sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring, rejuvenating, growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones. To say the least, our bodies are never at rest. When we are awake and moving, we are busy processing stimuli, converting calories to energy, and growing, to name a few basic functions.  When we sleep, these processes continue but our body also does the intricate work of strengthening our immune system, fighting disease and infection, and processing the day’s emotions through dreams. Scientists say the benefits of good sleep include:

    • Sharper brain
    • Healthier heart
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Weight control
    • Mood boosters
    • Steadier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Section

    To get the optimized benefits of sleep you have to get your body in the correct circadian rhythm.  According to the National Institutes of Health, “Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.  They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm.  Your body’s biological clock, which is based on a roughly 24-hour day, controls most circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues (light, temperature) about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.” Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and even external lights can interfere with this rhythm and therefore have a negative impact on your overall health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to optimize that circadian rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a consistent schedule of both bedtime AND waketime
    2. Go for a morning walk—getting your body up and moving when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Limit evening technology
      1. bright lights confuse the brain into believing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in laptops and cellphones—should be turned off within 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Understanding the importance of and the benefits from a good night’s sleep will help you prioritize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of setting a consistent bedtime and build up to turning off that cellphone game early.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

  • Obamacare going down? While rates are going up? Court Challenges Continue

    January 21, 2020

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    A District Court in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional as soon as they dropped the penalty, saying that its elimination ended the tax justification cited by the Supreme Court when they reviewed it.  A group of 17 states filed suit and said that the ACA should stay…but an appeals court voted 2-1 against it.  And the controversy continues.

  • International Hiring Strategy

    January 15, 2020

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    In today’s business world, there is more pressure than ever to maintain a high rate of growth and reach new revenue goals. And growth usually means hiring.

    The work of HR is an important part of that work, especially where fast-growing companies are concerned. There are many reasons why going beyond borders and hiring talent internationally can help a company reach its objectives.

    Why International Hiring?

    Growing globally Grab Market Share

    Over the last ten years or so, companies have seen huge growth, but they’re starting to exceed their size regionally.  As a result, companies are hiring internationally to take advantage of new markets and job applicant pools.

    Debbie Millin is the Chief Operating Officer for Globalization Partners, the organization behind the Global Expansion PlatformTM.  Millin says one popular way companies kickstart their expansion is by hiring sales people in new countries where they want to expand.  At the end of the day, companies need to grab global market share and hiring those workers is a good way to start.

    Competitive Advantage

    Millin says companies are going global earlier and faster than they used to, because if they don’t, someone else can use the idea and set up an in-country competitor.  One example:  Didi and Uber.  Uber didn’t get into the market quickly enough and lost out to Didi.

    Accessing a larger applicant pool

    Millin says you must go to the talent.  As the world continues to develop, it’s going to feel much smaller than it does now.  Organizations must start looking outside their current regional offices to scout the best talent available. Unemployment rates are low, and hiring is competitive so staying in your own backyard could severely limit the talent pool.

    The Contractor Trap

    But acquiring international talent does not necessarily mean hiring contractors. This is one of the common mistakes companies make. Leaders identify great talent in a place like Brazil or France and attempt to hire those workers.  The only problem? International contractor laws are the same as those in the United States; if the person acts like an employee, they are an employee. Following this action opens the company up to significant legal risk and financial penalties.

    Falling into “the contractor trap” really is a trap, because it’s not always easy to get out. If the relationship with the contractor begins to deteriorate, they could easily expose the working arrangement to the authorities, and you could potentially owe back taxes, fines, unpaid benefits and more.

    When companies are truly ready to go after the best global talent, hiring full-time makes the most sense. The best talent wants a full-time role, with benefits, and opportunities for growth.

    Where’s the growth?

    Based on data from Globalization Partners, Millin says the following 10 countries are at the top when it comes to expansion.

    1. Canada
    2. UK
    3. Singapore
    4. Mexico
    5. China
    6. Australia
    7. Brazil
    8. Germany
    9. India
    10. South Korea

    The UK tends to be the first stop after Canada 90% of the time, but that’s changing with Brexit. Companies are more hesitant to enter the UK of with the uncertainty of what Brexit will bring, showing how important it is for companies to be aware of the social and political issues in a country as you plan your global expansion.

    Millin says for HR professionals at companies that have decided to take advantage of the many opportunities associated with global growth, the next step is to figure out how to make it happen.

    The Process

    Decide whether to set up shop in another country

    Opening a compliant business entity in any country is challenging – and some are much harder than others. If the company chooses to set up a branch office or wholly-owned subsidiary, it can take six months to a year, or longer, before the company is legally able to operate in the region, not to mention several thousands of dollars.

    Plus, leaders will need to know about local registrations, bank accounts, corporate/tax filings, administering compliant payroll and benefits in country, and more. Some of the “gotchas” to look out for include bank account setup – it can take months. And some countries require in-person signatures. It’s not always feasible to be physically in-country throughout the entity set-up process.

    Lack of At-Will Employment

    In the United States, companies can hire and fire at will – as long as the reason for termination isn’t illegal. Outside of the U.S., this is an unknown concept. Employers must prove that an employee dismissal is legally justified, and in many countries, that is difficult to do, and evidence must be documented.

    If legal process aren’t followed properly, the company can open itself up to a wrongful termination lawsuit, which can be vastly more expensive, and take years to resolve.

    No One-Size-Fits-All Solution

    Benefits vary from country-to-country and from individual-to-individual. A global company must adhere to the idiosyncrasies of each country’s laws and customs and still offer “equal” benefits to all employees.

    On the plus side, so many countries have statutory benefits plans that in some locations your company may not need to provide supplementary benefits at all.

    Understanding the local market norms can help you stand out as an employer of choice.

    For global teams, HR should shape equitable benefit offerings around perks that maximize the quality of life for the company’s employees within the context of their own culture.  Research what benefits are most valued in a particular location, and what other employers are offering in that market beyond what is required.  This helps the company stay competitive, and gives the candidate confidence from the very first interaction with your company.

    But all of this takes time, as well as local knowledge and expertise, which can put additional burden on in-house HR teams who are managing the process alone.

    Going Forward

    So what are the options? One solution to expanding internationally is to use a Global Employer of Record. An employer of record is an organization that serves as the employer for tax purposes, while the employee performs their work at a different company.

    Specifically, an Employer of Record such as Globalization Partners helps:

    • Onboard employees in over 170 countries
    • Manage payroll and taxes – compliantly
    • Navigate the complexities of local benefits, PTO, and bonus structures

    Working with a Global Employer of Record provides a quick time-to-market, until you reach a critical mass in country, or you can continue with this model indefinitely depending on your business.

    By Mason Stevenson

    Originally posted on hrexchangenetwork.com

  • What Workers Really Want – MetLife study about emerging employer trends for employees

    January 14, 2020

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    If employers rely on benefits to attract employees, what is it about the benefits that are attractive?  Essentially, alleviating the financial stress people may feel, coming from a variety of sources.  Is that working?  According to the recent MetLife survey, only 64% of employees agree.  With companies of less than 100 employees, that number plummets to 47%.  Surveyed further, the number of employees who agree with the statement “I am interested in having my employer provide a wider array of non-medical benefits I can choose to purchase and pay for on my own,” the number stratified by the length of employment.  Among those with less than five years in the workforce, 73% agreed.  For those with 5 to 10 years it was 69% and it only drops to 66% for those with 10 to 15 years in the workforce.

  • Communication in the Workplace

    January 7, 2020

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    Today’s workforce looks markedly different than it did just 10 years ago. 1 in 3 workers in the US are millennials and this makes them the largest generation in our current workforce. The way this generation communicates makes it necessary for the office to adjust its messaging strategy. What was seen as top-notch communication tech in the early 2000’s has been replaced by new options. As we peer into 2020, let’s take a look at some new ways to communicate effectively with employees both in an office setting and across the globe.

    Video Conferencing

    Utilizing tech to communicate in your workplace is essential. Office spaces that were previously filled with people who interacted with one another daily now house screens and common space workstations. Because of this, video conferencing has become a necessity to build a sense of unity and community within a department. Employees that are in the office are able to see and interact with their coworkers that may be at their home office or even across the globe in a different country via video services like Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Skype. Collaborating on projects no longer requires you to sit across the table from your team as you can sit in front of a computer screen and share ideas and update progress.

    Project Management

    Since it is no longer commonplace to have all employees in the same office each day, managing workflow digitally is a necessity. Sites like Basecamp allow projects to be created and teams assigned to jobs within the project. As tasks are completed, team members update their progress online and everything stays organized. Information is easily shared because anyone can log on and read the latest update or ask for help. Emails aren’t lost in an inbox or spam box as the communication happens on one platform. It’s a great way to manage both a physical or virtual office.

    Sharing is Caring

    There are so many options for sharing files across platforms and with team members. Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive are just a few examples of online tools to assist your team with sharing data, storing information and files in the cloud, and syncing files across multiple devices. These options can range from very basic and free to very secure and costly depending on your needs. Some services only offer small file storage and sharing capabilities and so you’ll want to do your homework to find an option should you have a large image file or data file that needs to be shared.

    TXT 2 TLK

    According to a survey with OpenMarket, 76% of millennials say texting is more convenient and allows them to communicate on their own schedule. 19% of them say they never check their voicemails. Why is this important to you? With millennials comprising the largest percentage of of the current workforce, you need to make sure you are communicating with them the best way possible. Texting to communicate upcoming events, meetings, reminders, or even to conduct employee surveys is a great option for relaying information to your staff. One thing to remember is that when sending a message via text, the context or heart behind the message is somewhat harder to convey than when delivering it verbally. Make sure the message is not open to interpretation so that the end result isn’t skewed.

    As we ring in the new year, take the time to consider new ways to communicate and conduct business in your physical and virtual offices. Test out the methods mentioned here and maybe you’ll find a great new avenue for connecting with your employees!

  • It may work unless it doesn’t – NBER Paper shows pitfalls of Medicare for All

    January 6, 2020

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    A recent study by three high-level economists shows some of the flaws in the current Medicare system, which means placing a large bet on Medicare for All may be problematic.  Main points:

    1. Medicare provides more generous access to providers and new treatments than public programs in other developed countries.
    2. Three major shifts make a uniform design less efficient today than when Medicare began in 1965: rising income inequality, a dramatic expansion of expensive medical technology and the mounting economic costs of the plan with tax financing of the system.
    3. The recommendation is not just a blanket “Medicare for Everyone,” but a base system that everyone can use (less generous than current Medicare) with the option of “topping up” for a private insurance plan as a supplement, with individuals choosing their own coverage.

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