Business Digest - January, 2010

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Quick Tips: Travel Tip  Three Symptoms You Should Never Ignore  Money Bad Habits You Can Break  Theo's Corner 

Beat that Morning Stress

Your morning can have a big impact on the rest of your day. If you are starting out your day rushed, harried, and stressed, it may be time to reevaluate your daybreak routines. Think about these tips next time you are scrambling to get out the door.

  • Figure out what you have to do each morning and allow enough time for it all. You may have to get up a few minutes earlier than you are accustomed to give yourself enough time for everything.

  • Breakfast is an important start to your day. Instead of grabbing coffee and a doughnut on the way out, try to get a healthy start to your day. This will give you a good boost to your metabolism. Try a bowl of oatmeal, some yogurt, cheese, eggs, or whole wheat toast. Add in some fresh fruit and you'll get the energy you need.

  • Another great way to start the day is get in a little bit of exercise. Exercise boosts energy levels and endorphins, leading to a jumpstart of your metabolism. If you can exercise outdoors, you'll also get the benefit of added sunshine. This can increase your vitamin D levels and helps regulate the pineal gland, which controls melatonin levels.

  • To make sure you don't forget anything, make a list the night before of tasks you have to complete before walking out the door. Include items you need to take with you and things you will be doing the next day. Knowing what to expect can help you feel less scattered in the morning.

  • Children can get in on the act too. They should pick out their clothes the night before. You can also pack lunches and set out the dishes for breakfast. All essentials that need to be taken for the day should be placed by the entry door so nothing is forgotten.

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Quick Tips: Travel Tip

If you are planning on traveling after any type of surgery, you should be aware of the risks. Air travel can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis, which is a potentially fatal blood clot that develops in the deep veins of the legs. This risk increases if you've had recent surgery. In general, you should wait 10 to 14 days before flying after an operation. When you do finally board the plane, be sure to stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol, walk the aisles as often as possible, and do seated stretching exercises. You may also consider wearing compression stockings for added support.

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Three Symptoms You Should Never Ignore

Every year, thousands of people risk their lives because they ignore symptoms they think are minor. Many emergency room visits could be avoided if these common symptoms were treated before they became desperate emergencies. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your health care provider for guidance.

A cough that will not go away.

It is easy to treat congestion and a cough with over-the-counter medication, but if your cough persists more than four days, you should seek treatment. A simple respiratory infection can be cured with a round of antibiotics. Untreated, it can turn into pneumonia, eventually leading to septic shock.

A very painful sore throat.

While a sore throat is very common, it is not something that should be ignored. A sore throat that gets worse over several days could be leading to epiglottitis, a rare and sometime deadly inflammation of the flap of tissue that covers your windpipe. If throat soreness is affecting your ability to swallow or breath, or you've felt the pain more than two days, it is time to seek medical attention.

Sudden body aches or pain.

Whether it is from an injury or other medical condition, sudden onset of body pain should not be ignored. If it is from a sprain or a broken bone, continuing to use that part of your body can result in lasting damage. Sudden abdominal pain can be caused by appendicitis or an ectopic pregnancy, both of which can be life-threatening. While back pain can result from everyday strain, sudden pain in your back can have causes that range from injury to pulmonary embolism to kidney infection.

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Money Bad Habits You Can Break

If you are in debt or have little savings, you may be able to blame your money bad habits. These behaviors can keep you from getting ahead. Fortunately, by understanding your shortcomings, you can work to break the cycle and get on the track to financial security. See if you have any of these common financial bad habits.

1.  Ignoring your credit reports.

You have no excuse on this one. Getting a credit report from each of the credit reporting agencies is easy and free. AnnualCreditReport.com provides this to all consumers once a year. You should order your credit report and check it for errors. Fixing any errors can help you get better interest rates on loans, protect you from identity theft, and even land you a better job. Banks, insurance companies, and even employers, use information from your credit reports to determine your financial worthiness.

2.  Refusing to use a budget.

You may say you don't want to use a budget, or it seems too hard to keep track of everything, but this attitude will end up costing you money. A simple budget can be easy to maintain with a little practice. You will then be able to plan for big expenses and can keep track of the little ones that can add up. A budget will also help you see where your money is going and help you decide where to cut back.

3.  Using credit cards to get the perks.

It may seem like a good idea to charge that purchase to get the airline miles or to save another 15 percent. But if you are racking up huge interest charges on a card that has a high rate, you are doing yourself no good. If you are paying off the balance each month, this may make sense. When you carry a balance, however, you will end up paying more in interest than you are saving with the perks.

4.  Not having an emergency fund.

You should always have some money put away for those unexpected and sudden expenses. Thinking that you will just charge it is not the way to go. Ideally, you should have an emergency fund of at least three to six months' worth of living expenses, but even a small amount of money put away for a rainy day can make a big difference.

5.  Making only the minimum payment.

This habit can set you back years when trying to pay off your debt. Always add at least a little extra when paying your credit card bill. If you can send a large amount in, that is even better. If you are finding it difficult to find extra money to add to your minimum payments, consider working an extra part-time job or decrease your expenses. Not only will you pay off your debt faster, but you will save a considerable amount in interest charges.

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Theo's Corner

Is My Dog Too Fat?

Many pet owners think that a little bit of chubbiness in their furry companion is no big deal. But obesity can be a serious problem for dogs. It is one of the most common nutritional medical disorders affecting companion animals, with approximately 35 percent of pets being classified as overweight.

The most common cause of obesity is overeating coupled with a lack of adequate activity. The age of the animal, along with its breed, hormonal composition, and gender can also be contributing factors. Some hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, and Shelties are the breeds more commonly affected. Also prone to weight gain are neutered females, dogs older than four years of age, and pets belonging to obese owners.

If you suspect your dog is overweight, you should consult with a veterinarian for advice. Your dog's diet may need to be adjusted or reduced. In general, a reduction by 10 to 20 percent in calories can have good results. It can be harmful to reduce calorie intake any further than this without an increase in vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Increased exercise is a critical part of keeping your dog healthy. Regular exercise will not only keep your dog's weight in the normal range, but will also help build lean muscle mass. It is good for you too, allowing you to get some exercise along with your animal companion.

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Sharing Your Table With Fido

Many pet owners think that one of the nicer things they can do for their pets is to feed them human food, often scraps from their own table. This actually can pose a significant health risk to your pet, however. Experts recommend that dogs and cats should not eat any human food. There are some foods, however, that are more of a threat than others. These foods should never be given to your companion animal:

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Caffeine

  • Chocolate

  • Fat trimmings

  • Raisins

  • Grapes

  • Chicken and turkey bones

  • Onions

  • Garlic

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Mushrooms

  • Raw eggs

  • Salt

  • Sugar

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