Pandemic Sparked Family Conversations We All Should Have

(NewsUSA) – And you thought nothing good came out of the COVID-19 pandemic.According to a new survey from financial services firm Edward Jones, a third of all U.S. adults say that the trying stretch we’ve been through actually sparked conversations about their end-of-life plans and preferences with close family members. For 44.5 million of them, it was the first time they’d ever broached such subjects as finances, health and legal plans.And yet, the nationally representative survey of 2,020 adults ages 18 and older, conducted in partnership with Age Wave and The Harris Poll, also found that 60 percent of respondents cited various "roadblocks" that made initiating those discussions harder when it specifically came to financial matters. Among them:

Let Your Small Business Thrive with Smart Financial Planning

(NewsUSA) – Sales on Small Business Saturday and during the holiday season can often make or break a small business.During this time, many small businesses are focused on revenues and operational efficiency. But they should also dedicate time to address their financial risks.Small business owners can manage these risks by adapting their individual financial plans to the risks of business ownership.The top financial planning areas of concern for small business owners are:1. Tax planning. Businesses and individuals have different marginal tax rates at different income brackets. A CFP® professional can help you coordinate your business and personal income taxes for maximum returns.2. Insurance coverage. Small businesses require specialized insurance coverage beyond what the owners may have for themselves and their families. Small businesses need to have a safety net in the event that they are affected by a natural disaster, death or disability of the owner or other key individual, loss of property, or lawsuits from negligence or defective products.3. Retirement. Small business owners need more retirement planning rather than less. The good news is that business ownership affords all sorts of tax-advantaged ways to save for retirement. The ability to put aside amounts is considerably larger than what is permissible to non-business owners.4. Investments. Most small businesses are self-financed by their owners. This may mean that the business is the owner’s major or only investment. Small business owners who have extra capital may want to reinvest the money back into the business. CFP® professionals may help you diversify your investments to offset your financial risk as an owner.5. Succession planning. Small business owners need to have a plan for what they want to do with their business after retirement. The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly added a great deal of complexity to the lives of small business owners who wish to monetize their life’s work and pass on their business to someone else. Working with a CFP® professional can help small business owners determine all the options for a successful transition.If you are a small business owner or thinking about starting your own business, visit LetsMakeAPlan.org for more information on how to find a CFP® professional and how smart financial planning can help your small business succeed

Get Fit from Home with Resistance Bands, Videos and App

(NewsUSA) -In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, more people are interested not only in working from home, but working out from home.Professional trainers have stepped up to meet this demand with videos and apps to build relationships with their clients while staying in place and providing personalized fitness programs.Trainer Solomon Pratt has the enthusiasm and expertise to engage fitness seekers in person and online with a series of videos demonstrating exercises to target all major muscle groups using a specialized resistance band.Exercise bands have become a go-to product for home workout enthusiasts because they take up no space, but are versatile enough to target upper body, lower body, and core muscle groups.Pratt’s trademark power-resistance bands are available in four different levels to provide a complete workout for any fitness level. The bundle is called the Champion 4 pack, retails for $95 and is excellent for both men and women, Pratt says.Specialized ankle-resistance bands come in three different levels and are available for those seeking additional challenges. The "Incredible Bundle" retails for $60 and works for both men and women The Diva Bundle, which costs $79 and equates to 75% of Pratt’s sales, includs one ankle band, three levels of the glute-resistance bands, and one power resistance band.This, Pratt says, should be in every woman’s purse to enhance their curves and tone their body anywhere."If it don’t challenge you, it won’t change you," Pratt emphasizes.Pratt’s videos and app include exercises using the bands for toning, sculpting, and strengthening to help burn fat and build muscle, at levels that can benefit anyone from beginners to seasoned athletes.With these tools, Pratt says you can get healthy without indulging in dangerous and expensive surgeries."Your success depends on your cooperation," says Pratt. Cooperation is easy with his YouTube videos, which provide detailed demonstrations of exercises using the band.Fitness seekers of any level can sign up for Pratt’s customized programs delivered through his app. The programs allow users to track their progress, receive new workouts, and choose videos aimed at different muscle groups.In addition, Pratt’s book, "The Health and Fitness Bible," is an inspirational accompaniment to his training programs. The book offers readers "a simple and effective way to develop the mindset and discipline to achieve their health and fitness goals," says Pratt. The dedication to physical fitness translates to toughness to handle the challenges in the rest of your life, he emphasizes.For more information and links to videos and products, visit SolomonsFitnessWorld.com.To connect on Instagram, go to TrainerDoctorFlex04, and on Facebook at Solomon Pratt and King Solomons Gem. "The Health and Fitness Bible" is also available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FZYP2MM.

Toys for Tots Brings Joy to Children in Need

(NewsUSA) – It has been another challenging year as American families and parents continue to struggle to find work, put food on the table, and make financial ends meet. Being able to give their children a merry Christmas can feel out of reach.Supply chain and economic hurdles bring extra challenges this year to Toys for Tots, the 74-year-old national charitable program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.Their annual mission is to provide toys, books, and games to children in need while delivering a message of hope to inspire children and build their self-esteem.The annual Toys for Tots campaign also serves as a way to bring communities together, as schools, churches, and community centers serve as collection sites for donated items.The 2021 Toys for Tots campaign season is under way in 832 counties across the Nation, but we are facing a critical shortage of toys this year, and we need the Nation’s help to ensure that no child has to endure Christmas morning without even one present to open.Last year, despite the pandemic, Toys for Tots brought joy, hope, and toys to 7.4 million children, but this year even more children are in need.As the 2021 campaign season hits the halfway mark, Toys for Tots is asking for support now more than ever.Last year,Toys for Tots encouraged their supporters to donate to their Giving Tuesday campaign, calling their day of generosity, Giving TOYSday. This year, Toys for Tots is asking for the same generosity on Giving TOYSday.Giving Tuesday, November 30, has become known as a global day of generosity to highlight the joy of giving to others. Giving TOYSday is special, especially this year when so many children and families have experienced so much stress, anxiety, and despair."Every child deserves a little Christmas, and now more than ever, children living in unimaginable poverty need your messages of love, comfort, joy, and hope," says Lieutenant General Jim Laster, USMC (Retired), President & CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation."Your Giving TOYSday gift is urgently needed to help us ensure that no child wakes up brokenhearted on Christmas morning," he adds.Marines and volunteers are busy engaging with local businesses, media, and community leaders to collect new, unwrapped toys for distribution to less fortunate children.The National website provides donors with multiple avenues for donating as well.One way Toys for Tots’ donors can support the 2021 campaign is by making a monetary donation through the website. The Holiday Recognition Program is another way for donors to give to less fortunate children while honoring friends, family members, clients, or business associates.Toys for Tots needs your help to deliver the magic of Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. Please donate today by visiting toysfortots.org, and please consider donating on Giving TOYSday! Together, we can give children in need the Christmas they deserve.

BookTrib’s Bites: Unsung Hero, Kids Fun, Covid Theory, Fair Pay

(NewsUSA)Last"Honor Through Sacrafice"
by J.L. Doucette"A man can fight if he can see daylight down the road somewhere," said President Lyndon B. Johnson. "But there ain’t no daylight in Vietnam — there’s not a bit." As he said that, he was committing the first U.S. ground combat units and initiating a massive bombing campaign in North Vietnam. Unaware of Johnson’s misgivings, Gordon Lippman dutifully entered Vietnam as an Infantry Division executive officer.Lippman was the man soldiers wanted to follow, a stud from small-town America destined to become a leading member of "The Greatest Generation."This is a sweeping story on the broad landscape of twentieth-century compromise, accommodation and conflict, from the allied war in Europe to the forgotten victory in Korea to the televised dinnertime war in Vietnam. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3Gtv4BD.Last"Xavier Marx and the Missing Masterpieces"
by Hilary Genga and Sean CroninWhen shy Xavier goes on a field trip to an art museum, all he wants to see is Vincent van Gogh’s "The Starry Night." But suddenly the museum’s masterpieces go missing and Xavier must figure out where the paintings went, who took them, and why.This fun mystery’s whimsical rhymes and joyous pictures take readers on a dazzling journey of discovery. Featuring art from children around the world, this book is a treat for all ages. Get ready to let your curiosity soar. The book includes a real-life treasure hunt hidden within the pages, with a $10,000 prize. This treasure hunt benefits the International Child Art Foundation and proudly features works from child artists around the world. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3nR9azI.Last"And The Sky Fell"
by Justin C. Denton"Somebody’s playing a game with us," says General Beringer in War Games. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many questions have been asked: Who is responsible? Where did the virus come from? What happened in the Wuhan Institute of Virology? Why did this happen? And more.In this book, many of the dots are connected, and the navigation buoys are anchored and ready to steer you through this most terrible fact-filled account of the proceedings that have caused the event. The entire world has been played and is the victim of crimes against humanity. This book will inform, make you think and help you understand the event that continues now and in the foreseeable future. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3nHBOTP.
Last"Leveling the Paying Field"
by Rick GillisFor anyone who takes home a paycheck, is seeking a new job opportunity or carving out their own career path, here’s the opportunity to take pay parity into your own hands. Several books exist on the topic of fair pay, but none offers an individual approach to achieving fair pay such as "Leveling the Paying Field."Author Rick Gillis has created a rich new metric for measuring the value of the work you produce which he calls the QTNT® (pronounced: ‘quotient’). Your QTNT score can then be used to reasonably and realistically challenge your current rate of pay. Not only can equal pay for equal work ultimately be realized, but proper pay for outstanding performance becomes the new normal. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3All21g.NOTE: BookBites is presented by BookTrib.com.

Baby Safety Tips for Visiting Family this Holiday Season

(NewsUSA) – With winter holidays approaching, families are planning long-delayed visits. Adding to the excitement, many grandparents and relatives may be welcoming babies and toddlers into their homes for the first time!Keeping young children away from potentially unsafe areas in new settings can be a challenge. Simple tips and baby-proofing solutions can help give families and caregivers peace of mind while socializing during the holidays. Dreambaby® Co-Founder and Product Development Director, Carolyn Ziegler shares their child- safety essentials for holiday visits.1. Dreambaby® Outlet Covers and Dreambaby® Safety Catches are easy to slip into a purse, diaper bag, or suitcase, for easy access when staying in a setting that is not already childproof.2. Whether staying in a hotel or with friends or family, a reliable and simple booster seat is a must-have for caregivers with little ones. The Dreambaby® Grab ‘N Go Booster Seat is lightweight, compact and comes with a storage compartment for bottles, diapers, wipes, and snacks.3. When it’s bath time and bedtime, babies and toddlers thrive on routines. The Dreambaby® Room and Bath Thermometer is small and easy to pack, and the duck will bring a smile to a young face in an unfamiliar bedroom and bathroom. The thermometer rechecks temperature every 10 seconds and makes a great stocking stuffer for new parents. Additionally, the Dreambaby® Savoy Bed Rail helps keep bedtime stress-free and provides extra security for your young children as it suits mattresses up to queen size.4. When traveling by car, many drivers appreciate being able to see their babies in rear-facing car seats. The Dreambaby® Car Back Seat Tablet Holder & Mirror is an ideal solution for any road trip. The extra-large mirror offers a wide-angle view and attaches easily to the headrest of a back seat or elsewhere with various attachment options. The reverse side of the mirror is an iPad holder that is essential for long trips with children who are forward-facing.5. For added safety in any setting, traveling families will love the Dreambaby® Royale 3-in-1 Converta Play-Pen Gate, a combination play-pen and gate that helps keep children safer in any room. The sturdy metal design shifts from a hardware-mounted barrier gate to a defined play space, and it packs away easily for travel or storage.6. And finally, what is a holiday without a delicious meal? To keep babies fresh in their holiday outfits, the deluxe Dreambaby® Character Bibs will protect kids from spills and messes and has cute themes, such as princess, fairy, doctor and veterinarian. The bibs cover the full torso and arms, so no need to worry about sleeves in the sauce or condiments dripping onto their holiday outfits. Other key features include a crumb-catcher pocket and waterproof, wipeable material so they are ready to go immediately after mealtime.Dreambaby® is a family-owned and internationally renowned company with more than 20 years of experience in developing affordable, high-quality child-safety products.Follow @dreambabysafety on social media and visit dream-baby.com to purchase baby safety solutions or find more information. 

PVA Fights for Safer Air Travel for People with Disabilties

(NewsUSA) – It is the busiest travel season of the year, and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is warning that airplane travel is often inhumane and dangerous for many people with disabilities.The warning comes as reports link a California woman’s death to complications after an airline broke her custom-made wheelchair, causing her to spend weeks in a loaner chair and possibly leading to a deadly pressure sore.Broken wheelchairs are common, as well as injuries from improper transfers to and from airline seats, and no access to in-flight restrooms, according to PVA, an organization that has advocated for veterans and all people with disabilities for 75 years.Paralyzed Marine Veteran Charles Brown, the national president of PVA, was critically injured two years ago when airline personnel improperly transferred him from his power wheelchair into an aisle chair to board a plane. Airline contractors, who were inadequately trained, dropped him onto the jet bridge, fracturing his tailbone and causing a serious infection in his spine that doctors say he was lucky to survive. Now Brown is leading the charge for change."It is unacceptable that 35 years after the legislation was passed someone in a wheelchair still cannot access a bathroom on an airplane and risks serious injury or death because airline personnel are not properly trained," Brown says."These are basic safety and civil rights issues, and every American should be outraged at the inhumane circumstances paralyzed veterans and millions of others with disabilities are forced to deal with to travel on an airplane," adds Brown.Air travel is subject to different regulations than public spaces on land, and PVA says air travel is the top complaint heard from its members. It’s been 35 years since the Air Carrier Access Act was passed, which legally began the move toward accessible air travel, but PVA says the industry is still decades behind in safety accommodations, particularly for wheelchair users.PVA is leading the fight to demand safer, more accessible airline travel for people with disabilities and is asking the public to join them by signing their petition at PVA.org/AirTravel. The nonprofit organization is pushing for new legislation demanding stricter standards for accessibility on planes and better enforcement of the law.These issues potentially affect 65 million Americans with disabilities, which could include you or someone in your family in the future.These issues potentially affect 65 million Americans with disabilities, which could include you or someone in your family in the future. To learn more about accessible travel, sign PVA’s petition, and join their fight, visit PVA.org/AirTravel.

Lifesaving Wearable Saves Single Father from Cardiac Arrest

(NewsUSA) -Most people know the common signs of a heart attack, such as chest pain, left arm tingling, or shortness of breath, but they may be less aware of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), which strikes without warning when an electrical malfunction in the heart disrupts its ability to pump blood to the body and brain. Victims may suddenly pass out before they can call for help, and fewer than ten percent survive.Alan Williams, a single father, is an SCA survivor who shares his story to help raise awareness and save more lives.Many people who experience SCA have not had any prior heart issues. However, for others, a prior cardiac event or diagnosis puts them at greater risk for SCA, and for those known to be at higher risk, there are lifesaving treatment options available. The most effective treatment for SCA is defibrillation, which is the use of an electrical shock to restore the heart to normal rhythm.These at-risk heart patients, such as Williams, may be able to enjoy peace of mind with ZOLL LifeVest, a unique wearable defibrillator, which is designed to monitor heart rhythms around the clock, even during sleep, and deliver a lifesaving shock if it detects certain abnormal heart rhythms.Williams, of Kansas City, was prescribed LifeVest because a heart condition put him at risk for SCA. With LifeVest, Williams was able to continue his daily activities. "I was back to work," he says. "Because I had LifeVest, I knew that if something happened, it would take care of me."Williams wore LifeVest for one month before experiencing SCA while in the laundromat with his son. He suddenly lost consciousness, and within about one minute, LifeVest delivered a treatment shock that restored Williams’s normal heart rhythm and saved his life. After the treatment, Williams regained consciousness, and paramedics took him to a local hospital."If it had not been for the LifeVest, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now," says Williams.The LifeVest wearable defibrillator consists of a garment, electrode belt, and monitor. The garment is worn under the clothing, directly against the skin, as it contains the electrode belt designed to deliver lifesaving shocks when needed. The monitor can be worn around the waist or on a shoulder strap. No bystander assistance is needed; LifeVest can respond automatically to provide appropriate treatment.Most individuals wear LifeVest as short-term protection against SCA, until their heart becomes stronger or until their doctor determines a long-term treatment. If you or your family member suffers from certain heart diseases, your doctor may recommend LifeVest."LifeVest saved my life," Williams says. "It gave me a future."He adds, "You don’t want to ever take your health for granted." 

The Digital Transformation of Our Holiday Shopping Season

(EastBanc Technologies) – The term "digital transformation" is used a lot in business, and while the concept has existed for years, it’s discussed more than ever today as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital transformation describes a company’s adoption of software so it can adapt quickly to business and market changes and stay competitive in a rapidly-evolving landscape. Local brick-and-mortar stores opening e-commerce websites to sell products and services online, restaurants introducing online order capabilities for takeout and local attractions such as zoos and museums adding online reservation tools and virtual visit options to their websites are all examples of digital transformation in action.Most market sectors have been touched by digital transformation, and the financial services industry is no different, with traditional providers, such as retail banks and credit unions, evolving to allow customers to access their accounts and pay for services rendered quickly and securely via the services they use in their day-to-day, from rideshare apps to digital wallets. The pandemic forced financial services companies to move quickly and, as a result, opened the door to new, improved digital experiences that consumers expect are here to stay.As consumers prepare for this year’s "new normal" holiday shopping season, read on to learn about three of the top trends today’s innovative financial services companies are supporting during the holidays — and beyond — to stay competitive while helping consumers easily manage their finances, stay safe and make purchases securely.Contactless PaymentsThe adoption of contactless payment options skyrocketed during the pandemic as consumers looked to socially distance and limit close contact with others in stores. In fact, 70 percent of merchants in the U.S. say their customers are requesting tap-and-go or mobile app payment options as a result of the pandemic (American Express, 2020). With contactless payments, consumers avoid using physical money or inserting a credit card in a kiosk by instead quickly tapping a physical card, wearable or smartphone with radio frequency identification (RFID) or near- field communication (NFC) technologies to a payment kiosk. This fast and convenient payment option is not going away either; nearly half of global consumers (46 percent) have changed their usual credit card for one that supports contactless payments, and 74 percent say they will continue to use contactless payment options post-pandemic (Mastercard, 2020).Embedded PaymentsTaking contactless payments one step further, consumers can expect that the process of using their bank accounts while on-the-go to purchase their goods and services will get even easier and streamlined as more brands offer mobile app experiences and embedded payment options within them. Much like taking an Uber or buying groceries through Instacart, embedded payments are conducted automatically after a service is complete and without having to swipe a credit card or even tap a smartphone to a kiosk. More broadly, embedded finance, or embedded banking, is an emerging opportunity for financial services companies to seize as the segment grows to an expected $230 billion in revenue by 2025, a 10x increase from 2020 (Lightyear Capital, 2021).Seamless Omnichannel PurchasesMore than half of U.S. consumers (58 percent) are more comfortable shopping in stores today than they were a year ago because vaccines are now widely available (NPD Group, 2021). Coupled with today’s online buying habits, hybrid purchasing activity adds complexity for financial services providers. For example, consumers may make a purchase at a physical pop-up shop by scanning a QR code at the register. They may later want to order more items from that pop-up shop and do so instead via the store’s e-commerce site because they are no longer out shopping. Payment providers and banks must ensure that they do not add any friction at the point of purchase, from knowing when to flag a potentially fraudulent transaction to processing payments immediately.None of these capabilities are possible without sophisticated technology systems operating in the background that connect financial services companies to retailers and payment infrastructure providers. Agile software development processes are a must for financial services companies to ensure they can introduce new customer-facing features with control and the ability to test and improve them iteratively without disrupting the experience. Digital products and services also require a cloud-based infrastructure to provide flexible support using application programming interfaces (APIs), scale via container orchestration if desired, and added security. With these layers in place, financial services companies will be able to organize and analyze data illustrating usage, issues and opportunities, as well as automate personalized experiences and features using artificial intelligence.The pace of innovation as a result of digital transformation is not going to slow down after this year’s holiday buying season or anytime soon because consumers are now accustomed to more convenient and personalized experiences. While this is great news for consumers, the pressure has never been higher for financial services companies to evolve legacy systems, adapt their business models and align themselves with partners to seamlessly support customers wherever they are managing their finances and spending money, in-person and digitally. 

BookTrib’s Bites: Four Diverse Books Worthy of Your Consideration

(NewsUSA)Last Stop on The 6"Last Stop on The 6"
by Patricia DunnSays author Kathy Curto, "If you like quick-witted, fast-talking, and street-smart characters who have big dilemmas and even bigger hearts, look no further than Patricia Dunn’s "Last Stop on the 6."At times hilarious, at times heartbreaking, "Last Stop on the 6" is the return of the prodigal daughter to a world of long-buried hurts, political complexities and female resilience. Set at the dawn of the Gulf War, it tells the story of a young woman grappling with warring identities: that of her upbringing in working-class, Catholic, Italian American Pelham Bay and her new life as a Birkenstock-wearing, vegetarian anti-war activist in Los Angeles. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3dAJseu.Road Noise"Road Noise"
by DJ LynnDJ just wanted a life uncomplicated. Instead, she was barely 40 with four failed relationships, a college-age daughter who hated her and a witty preteen son with ADD. At the root, she supposed, were the men.There was the long-dispatched and unambitious Marley, who preferred surfing to working while waiting out his inheritance. But she was only 19 then, so stupidity figured into that one. On his heels was Tom, the Armani-wearing womanizer. Then Jason, who she couldn’t hate because he had more scars than she did. But the one who brought her to this point was Jim, a man 10 years younger who loved her just as she was but who just died of leukemia. So she decided to run. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3sp87cn.Hollywood Deco Fashions of the 1920s"Hollywood Deco Fashions of the 1920s"
by Roland J. BainThis book traces the experiences of a young French woman along the path she followed in 1919. She moves from a very small village in the south of France to the grandeur of Hollywood’s motion picture industry during its most electrifying and dazzling period: the golden age of the 1920s. Travel companion to a wealthy woman, Marianne Dunat’s rapture when experiencing the elegant fashion shows in New York and Paris evolved into a deep desire to develop her innate artistic skills.Readers are guided along artistic learning curves from the most elementary form, sketching, to portraying in great detail the rudimentary components of the female head and body, and finally to the creation of exquisite apparel. The extensive growth and eventual range of Ms. Dunat is self-evident. Purchase at https://amzn.to/2W1hN0I.Chameleon"Chameleon"
by Michael CaputoThis stirring memoir is a collection of the author’s intimate encounters growing up in a homophobic society. He wasn’t your stereotypical Brooklyn boy. He was raised Catholic and attended three parochial schools in the Sixties and Seventies. It was difficult to come into his own and impossible to even think gay. He went from being an innocent altar boy to a middle-aged gay man caught up in the middle of the John Travolta sex scandal that put him on the front page of The Daily News.This is his journey from being an ashamed and insecure teenager to becoming a proud gay man with a voice that will not be silent and feelings that will no longer be ignored. Purchase at https://amzn.to/3jDddix.NOTE: BookBites is presented by BookTrib.com.