Military Families Get Relief in Roof for Troops

It’s a good thing no one joins the armed forces to get rich, because it turns out a higher percentage of military families are in debt than civilians.

And that has one New Jersey company ticked off enough to do something about it.

According to a report by the Financial Industry Regulation Authority’s Investor Education Foundation, 27 percent of military families surveyed admitted having more than $10,000 in credit card debt, compared to 16 percent of civilian adults. And while the foundation noted that “navigating the complexities of today’s economy can be challenging” for anyone, it singled out one issue — frequent moves and deployments — that “further complicate” military families’ finances.

5 Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

(NewsUSA) – The overwhelming mass of uninsured Americans is firsthand evidence that health insurance is too expensive — as if we didn’t already know.On average, middle-income families with individual coverage spend 22 percent of their income on health care. Others pay up to 50 percent of their household income on health coverage, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.To avoid paying more for less quality coverage, it’s essential to compare insurance options and gather as many quotes as possible. There are, however, some other ways to save money on health insurance, too.Check out five tricks and tips to save on health coverage:1. If you get a call from an insurance provider as part of an application process, do not divulge any additional details. Since these calls are usually recorded, disclosing extra info could come back to bite you as a higher premium.2. Know your insurance policy well, and review it when needed. You should know precisely what services and costs are and are not covered. Visiting in-network doctors, for example, can save a lot of money. In the event of complex surgeries or assessments, ask both the doctor and insurance provider explicitly what is covered before undergoing a procedure.3. Exhaust group insurance options before buying an individual policy. Group insurance is always cheaper, but if your employer doesn’t offer health insurance, or if you’re self-employed, consider other group options. Groups like labor unions, fraternal and business organizations, student associations and other special-interest groups may offer coverage.4. Consider reputable discount opportunities. Several states offer discount programs, and the Medicare Prescription Drug Discount Card and the Together Rx Access Card both save money on medication costs. Also, a new consumer-driven movement called All Our Power emerged recently that provides group buying power for individuals. As more people join the movement at www.allourpower.com, AOP negotiates with top insurance companies to secure lower rates for its members.5. Regardless of your coverage, ask physicians and hospitals about paying for services in cash. Many hospitals offer huge discounts for patients paying in cash, but your insurance provider likely won’t be forthcoming about that tidbit.

Bulk Buying and Other Resourceful Consumer Trends

(NewsUSA) – When the economy nosedived, and companies had reason to be scared, a few businesses got resourceful.Low incomes and record job losses pushed consumers toward trends like buying in bulk and using group discount websites. And where there was demand, supply soon followed.In came the success of wholesalers like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s. But warehouse clubs weren’t the only stores seeing growth in bulk sales. Farmers markets, co-ops and natural food stores observed more supersized shopping. Whole Foods said bulk food purchases were growing by approximately 25 percent every year.That wasn’t the only buying trend to emerge, however."The Groupon following led to an explosion of similar sites, like LivingSocial and Dealfind, not to mention all of the city-specific ones," says Joe Kalfa, the leader of a new movement of group buying called All Our Power."You can buy virtually any commodity in bulk and get all kinds of group discounts on spas, restaurants and vacations galore, but what about monthly expenses like car insurance, gas and health care? It seems to me like there’s room for some improvement," adds Kalfa.Well, maybe there is.According to Time magazine’s Moneyland, warehouse club members can save 25 to 35 percent on their food budget. Shoppers who forego packaging altogether and buy food from bins or dispensers save anywhere from 30 to 90 percent over prepackaged products.Imagine those types of savings applied to insurance policies, gas prices, medical bills, cell phone plans and more.All Our Power, which seeks to rally 10 million members and secure membership discounts from all kinds of service providers and retailers, could be the next group-buying trend to take flight.A buzz has already formed around the young movement as consumers worldwide realize the potential benefits of a free membership with access to serious negotiating power.Are you tired of paying too much for car insurance or gas? You’re not the only one. Sign up and learn more about your buying power at www.allourpower.com. Or, see what others are saying on Twitter @ AllOurPower.

Got Diabetes? Take Your Multivitamin

(NewsUSA) – For people with diabetes, taking a multivitamin every day can mean much more than a little protection against the common cold.Research is finding that multivitamins can be the first line of defense against many different types of infections, including respiratory infections and influenza."Once a person with diabetes gets an infection, it’s much harder for them to get rid of it, and it can lead to dire consequences, even death," says Registered and Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist Debra Spector. "And since some diabetic patients don’t normally respond well to treatment, prevention is key."Taking a special diabetes multivitamin — usually found in the diabetes section of a drugstore, not the vitamin section — allows a diabetic person to be proactive with their health, and avoid nutrient deficiencies that can lead to problems.The year-long study among 130 patients, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that the incidence of infection was much lower among diabetics who took a multivitamin versus those who did not.Infection occurred in only 17 percent of diabetic patients who took a multivitamin versus the 93 percent who took a placebo. The study also found that regular multivitamin usage reduced the rate of minor urinary tract and gastrointestinal infections in people with diabetes.Because of the nature of the disease, it’s not uncommon for diabetics to experience nutrient deficiencies. Diabetes medications and frequent urination can lead to the loss of vital nutrients that protect the body."Since there are many health risks that can result from vitamin and mineral deficiencies, I encourage my diabetic patients to find a multivitamin supplement with more potent levels of important nutrients to meet their needs," says Spector. "It should contain Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), an important nutrient that most ‘regular’ multivitamins do not have. I like Multi-betic Diabetes Multi-Vitamin since it has 23 important nutrients, including ALA, designed to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels, support vision and promote nerve function."Learn more about Multi-betic and other diabetic products at www.diabeticproducts.com

What Are You Paying Too Much For?

(NewsUSA) – The 99 percent has watched gas prices follow a perpetual climb that has left consumers wallowing at the pump. By the beginning of April, the national average was $3.92. Though it’s since fallen about 18 cents for most regions, the west coast is stillstaring at billboards offering $4.37 a gallon.Fuel isn’t the only cost crippling middle-class Americans. While the consumer price index (CPI) may be relatively unchanged on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Wall Street Journal says core inflation is rising — and the Federal Reserve can’t ignore that for long.Core inflation, an estimate excluding food and energy costs, rose in April for the eighth time in the past 11 months. The increase in core inflation can be pinned on the typical products and services, which are primarily the ones we can’t live without."CPI numbers report annual spikes in the usual suspects: rent, used cars, air fares and medical services. As higher and higher prices meet stagnant income levels, Americans lose their purchasing power," says Joe Kalfa, founder of All Our Power (AOP). AOP is a growing social movement seeking to create the world’s largest group purchasing organization with free membership.Group purchasing gives individuals a platform to negotiate with megacorporations, and AOP wants to put purchasing power back into consumer hands.As more people join the movement, AOP aims to secure discounts and membership benefits for a variety of consumer products — car rentals, health insurance, cell phone plans, groceries and maybe even gas.The trend in Groupon-style buying shows marked interest in discount opportunities. The Occupy protests made income inequality a national issue, but purchasing power is still diminishing.According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, average personal income rose from 2009 to 2010. However, the richest 1 percent of Americans received 90 percent of that growth. More recently, MarketWatch reported that hourly earnings flatlined, and when adjusted for inflation, wages actually dropped.As a result, U.S. News Weekly says big retailers like Costco and Target saw sales below expectations. With two eyes glued to income inequality and consumer unrest, AOP may offer a solution for individuals who are tired of unreasonable prices.To learn more about your purchasing power, visit www.allourpower.com.

Watermelon Kebabs Satisfy Picky Eaters and Make for Healthy School Lunches

As another school year rolls around with new wardrobes and flashy electronics, the war for healthy school lunches  wages on.

“With childhood obesity on the rise and kids eating worse today than they did 20 years ago, it is so important for parents to take their children’s diets seriously,” says Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian, nutritionist and author of “Eat Your Way to Happiness.”

But, as many busy moms and dads know firsthand, it’s not easy to pack a quality lunch at 6 a.m., especially if your kid is likely to opt for a slice of cafeteria pizza regardless.

Looking for a Way to Boost College Persistence

It’s great to get low-income students to college, but what if they drop out during their first year? What is the difference between those students who persist in college and those who do not? A new study revealed that the persistence rate in college from participants of a program that engages them to work in meaningful internships during high school is greater than it is for their peers.

“Once students experience professional success while in high school, continuing on a path to a lifetime of low-wage occupations is no longer an option, so when the going gets tough in college, they stay determined to succeed,” said Rafael Alvarez, Founder and CEO of Genesys Works www.genesysworks.org (www.genesysworks.org).

5 Tips to Save Money While Getting Quality Health Care

The overwhelming mass of uninsured Americans is firsthand evidence that health insurance is too expensive – as if we didn’t already know.

On average, middle-income families with individual coverage spend 22 percent of their income on health care. Others pay up to 50 percent of their household income on health coverage, according to data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

To avoid paying more for less quality coverage, it’s essential to compare insurance options and gather as many quotes as possible. There are, however, some other ways to save money on health insurance, too.

New Technology Can Conserve Fuel for Better Gas Mileage

Gas prices are getting as dangerously high as unemployment rates, and both mean a whole new level of penny pinching for the nation’s 99 percent.

As drivers spend about $4 per gallon, finding ways to get better gas mileage is more important than ever. Fortunately, affordable technology is finally catching up to the escalating problem.

Some auto companies are trying to ease the burden of astronomical gas prices by improving technology and making it accessible.

De-Junk Before Spring Cleaning

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – A refreshing swim can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These are vascular health bonuses for people who are at risk for stroke, the leading cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.
In 2010, 137,000 Americans died of stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Swimming is a vascular health bonanza,” said David H. Stone, MD, and a member of the Society for Vascular Surgery. “Low-impact swimming provides a total cardiovascular workout. Regular exercise strengthens the heart muscle, resulting in less effort and a decrease in blood pressure.”
One in every three Americans over 20 years old — 74 million Americans — has high blood pressure according to 2010 statistics from the CDC. One in every six American adults has high cholesterol (more than 250 mg/d L). More American women than men have high cholesterol.
To reduce high cholesterol levels, exercise and diet are important factors. The American Council on Exercise suggests that adults burn 2000 calories a week from exercise.
The lack of regular physical activity results in 250,000 deaths annually, according to a 2003 report in the journal Circulation.
As long as the exercise regimen continues, the health benefits remain.
After 12 to 14 weeks of a three- to five-days-a-week exercise regimen of 20 to 60 minutes at an intensity of 60 to 90 percent heart rate, bad (LDL) cholesterol can decrease by up to 20 percent according to Livestrong.com. Another bonus: aerobic exercise can increase good (HDL) cholesterol.
In a 2010 University of Western Australia study, 100 women swimmers, ages 50 to 70, lowered their bad cholesterol and lost more inches in the waist and hips than walkers. Likewise, swimming is easy on the joints and doesn’t result in overheating.
There are non-invasive screening tests that can detect vascular disease. Medication can treat vascular disease. For free print and electronic vascular health information, visit VascularWeb.org.