Going Toe to Toe With Nail Fungus

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Most people will walk the equivalent of three times around the earth in their lifetime. That’s a huge amount of wear and tear on your foot’s many bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles — and, more to the point, it increases the potential that you’ll develop a very painful and/or unsightly case of toenail infection.
Specifically, we’re talking onychomycosis, the medical term for fungal infection of nails. An estimated 35 million Americans have it, and you can understand why — despite having spent more than $350 million in 2010 alone trying to get rid of it — they don’t much like discussing it: Toenails turn embarrassingly yellow and crumbly from fungi that squeeze under them and then hide out.
And, oh, yes, for reasons not clearly understood, the fungi dig in even deeper as we age.
“Feet are the most neglected body part until there is a problem,” says Dr. Krista Archer, a Manhattan foot specialist and podiatric surgeon.

It’s Tax Time. Are You Taking All the Deductions Allowed?

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Here’s a scary number to keep in mind if you’re just getting your tax receipts together: $1 billion.
No, it’s not the amount that Warren Buffet’s secretary — let alone Buffet personally — paid the IRS in her lifetime. It’s how much taxpayers approximately wind up forfeiting each year to the government because of self-inflicted tax errors like: failing to claim tax credits and deductions legally due them; choosing the wrong filing status; and not bothering to send in a return at all.
Well, guess what? A slew of recent changes in the tax law won’t make things any easier this year.
“At a time when taxpayers are hurting, it really doesn’t make sense to leave money on the table,” says Elaine Smith, master tax advisor at H&R Block, the giant tax preparation firm (www.hrblock.com).
Here are some things — good and bad — to watch out for:
* Casualty losses. Hurricane Irene. Midwest tornadoes. Texas wildfires. Mother Nature went a little nutty last year, and — if the president declared your area a disaster — you could be able to claim your loss as an itemized deduction on your 2011 return or on an amended 2010 one.
* Reduction in the Energy Savings Home Improvement Credit. At its height, this was a 30-percent credit on the cost of high-efficiency windows, furnaces, central AC and the like. It’s now 10 percent. Plus, the maximum lifetime credit went from $1,500 to $500. “That means if you spent a total of $5,000 on IRS-approved upgrades in 2011,” says Smith, “you can claim a $500 credit. Unless, that is, you’d already maxed out in prior years.”
* Expiration of the tax credit for hybrid cars. If you bought a Prius last year, you did so without the feds’ help. However, the green cars du jour — i.e., the electric-drive Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf — will score you a $7,500 credit. And there are goodies for things like conversion kits, too.
* New cost-basis reporting requirements. Apparently, some of you were inflating the price you paid for stocks to reduce the taxes owed on capital gains. Or at least the government fears that was happening. So look out for a mandatory statement from your broker reporting your “cost basis” for stocks and securities held in taxable accounts — as opposed to 401(k)s and IRAs — that you sold in 2011.
Of course, with the April 17 filing deadline approaching, those worried about becoming a member of the $1 Billion Club might want to consult a professional like those at H&R Block, which offers in-person services at its retail offices nationwide as well as the only face-to-face online preparation through Block LiveSM.

Preventive Care for People With Diabetes

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Preventive care is a critical component of limiting lifetime complications for persons with diabetes. According to the Society for Vascular …

Make Your ‘I Do’ Last Forever

<b>Make Your ‘I Do’ Last Forever</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In between the guest list, the flowers and the perfect three-tier cake, it can be hard to find time to shop for your wedding rings. However, it is important to remember that most of the wedding details are fleeting and gone after a few hours of enjoyment, while your rings are enjoyed forever. So, whether you are having a smaller gathering or a more traditional affair, this important to-do on your event checklist should not be overlooked, especially since your rings mark your commitment to one another and will last a lifetime.

Jewelry and style expert Michael O’Connor has a few tips that are sure to help you find matrimonial bliss when it comes to ring selection:

* Create a budget. There are many details to consider when planning a wedding that can quickly drain your budget. It is important to set aside money for a lifelong symbol like your wedding bands. Not sure how much to budget? Consider that in 2006, couples spent an average of $2,079 on wedding bands, according to the CN American Wedding Study. And since the age-old rule for purchasing an engagement ring is to spend two months salary, plan to spend one month’s salary for the two wedding bands. Check out the “Budget Calculator” at www.TheKnot.com.

* Shop together. It is a good idea to shop for rings together. In fact, 80 percent of couples do, which isn’t a surprise since your rings, which don’t have to match, should reflect your personal styles and tastes.

* Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping for your wedding bands, they’re simply too important. Plan to start shopping for your rings six months prior to your “I do’s.” Not only do you need time to research and shop, but you also need to allot time for custom orders, sizing and engraving.

* Invest in quality. Because you want your ring to last a lifetime, it is important to put thought into the quality of metal you choose. Platinum 950 is the most durable precious metal and will last a lifetime. It’s 30 times more rare than gold, and for wedding bands set with diamonds, its natural whiteness will ensure the diamonds sparkle and stay secure. It is no wonder that Hollywood’s A-list designers such as Tacori, DeBeers, Ritani and Kwiat are all choosing Platinum in their designs. But don’t worry, you don’t have to be a star to own a Platinum ring. Platinum engagement and wedding rings are available for a wide variety of budgets -; making it an affordable luxury. Some resources that offer popular price points include Lieberfarb, Scott Kay and Blue Nile. “As the ultimate metal, Platinum’s unmatched durability and beauty make it a top pick among designers and 81 percent of brides,” said Michael O’Connor.

For more information, visit www.engagementguide.com and www.preciousplatinum.com.

Going Toe-to-Toe With Foot Pain

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – If it’s getting harder to put one foot in front of the other, chances are you’re not alone.

In fact, podiatrists say that millions of Americans experience some kind of foot trouble on a regular basis. These problems can range from foot odor to ingrown toenails to various types of pain.

Foot ailments are among the most common health problems affecting the American population. However, many don’t seek medical treatment because they mistakenly believe that discomfort and pain are normal and expectable – especially with age.

A recent survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association of 1,695 adults ages 18 to 60 found that 47 percent had experienced a foot ailment in their lifetime. Although the prevalence of foot ailments was high, only about 7 percent had visited a podiatrist. About 16 percent treated their condition with over-the-counter products.

Men experienced slightly more cases of tendonitis, skin cancer and nail problems, while women suffered more general types of foot pain, including pain in the balls of the feet, heel pain and pain from shoes or orthotics, the survey found. More women than men had bunions: 3.31 percent versus 1.57 percent, respectively.

More than 11 percent of those surveyed said they did nothing to treat their conditions and instead lived with the pain.

Nearly 19 percent of the respondents admitted that foot pain inhibited them from performing daily activities such as going to work or the gym. Among the older people surveyed, that number increased to nearly 29 percent.

Although some foot ailments can be traced to heredity, many stem from the cumulative impact of a lifetime of abuse and neglect. And because of the amount of mileage we put on our feet, podiatrists say the feet are more susceptible to injury than any part of the body.

For more information about foot care and managing foot pain, visit www.apma.org.

Six Tips to Improve Your Customer Loyalty

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<p>(NewsUSA) – Statistics show that, on average, U.S. companies lose half of their customers every five years.</p>
<p>It’s true that acquiring new customers will help your business grow. However, your current customers are the lifeblood of your business and keeping them happy should be your highest priority. Here are a few ways to make sure your customers keep coming back.</p>
<p>* Understand lost customers. Many business owners mistakenly believe that customers choose to patronize other companies solely because of better prices. While pricing can be a concern, customers often head to the competition when they don’t feel valued.</p>
<p>A change of lifestyle may have also created a situation where customers no longer need your product. By staying in touch with their needs, you might be able to adjust your offering to continue servicing them.</p>
<p>* Know your customer’s top priority. Maybe it’s reliability or speed or cost. Your company should know your clientele’s No. 1 priority and consistently deliver it. Remember, customers’ desires change frequently, so ask yourself this question every six months.</p>
<p>* Acknowledge the lifetime value of customers. The lifetime value of your customers is the income you would gain if a customer stayed with you as long as they could possibly buy your product or service.</p>
<p>For example, the lifetime value of a customer employing a financial adviser could be several decades and could span several generations. Treat the parents well and you could win the children’s business.</p>
<p>* Create a positive first impression. Good first impressions tend to generate loyal customers, and you get only one chance to make a positive first impression.  Appearance is important. The exterior and interior of your business should be neat and clean.</p>
<p>* Listen to the customer. Employees should listen actively to customers. Reassure your customers that you genuinely want to help them. Customers will judge your business based on the politeness, empathy, effort   and honesty of your staff.</p>
<p>* Address and resolve complaints quickly and effectively. Inevitably, your employees will encounter unsatisfied customers. Whether they’re returning an item or changing a service, customers expect a fair policy. If you cannot offer a resolution immediately, let the customer know when he or she can expect an answer.</p>
<p>Demos Parneros is president of U.S. stores at Staples Inc. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today is the world’s largest office supply retailer serving small businesses.</p>
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