Pick 5: NASA-Approved Houseplants, Salt, Telemedicine, Better Planning, and The Truth About Apple Cider Vinegar
Every week we pick five things worth sharing--this week we cover everything from obscure kitchen ingredients to the doctor visits of the future.
But if you’re just here for our free and easy insurance quotes, you can take this shortcut now:
Ready to read on? Let’s get to it.
Back in 1989, NASA partnered with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America to find nifty ways to keep the air in space stations clean and healthy for human lungs.
Thanks to this study, they found a number of indoor plants that appear to cut back on toxins like benzene (linked to harmful effects on bone marrow) and formaldehyde (high concentrations can negatively impact lungs and the lining of the nose and throat).
With at least one plant suggested per 100 square feet of space, you too can breathe like an astronaut. Check out some of our favorites below:
Take It With A Grain of Salt: Sodium Chloride Is Not As Bad For You As You Think
According to official Parillo-certified trainer Scott Canatsey, an excessively salty diet is only a major problem if you already have high blood pressure or if you’re considered obese.
There’s a reason you see huge salt-blocks out on the farm: we can’t absorb sodium from our environment like we can absorb, say, Vitamin D from the sun. It's not only essential for farm critters, but for human beings as well. Salt, or sodium chloride, is one of the human body’s most regulated minerals. It’s therefore important to keep a reasonable amount in our system. Too little iodine, a prime ingredient in salt, can impede the production of the thyroid hormone.
Canatsey only recommends using one type of salt in any liberal capacity however:
“Table salt is something I could only recommend being used non-liberally,” he says, “But sea salt, which naturally packs more of a mineral punch, I use liberally in my own diet,”
He'd also like to note that the benefits get even better if you’re washing everything down with ¾ to one full gallon of water.
In addition, salt can actually help you sleep better, regulate the thyroid hormone, and maintain good brain development! So consider gargling a little saltwater before you go to bed--it’ll help soothe your throat and cleanse your tastebuds.
Or, a bowl of chicken noodle soup never hurt anything but a cold.
Telemedicine: Doctor Checkups on the Go
Telemedicine is on the rise.
The ability to check in with your doctor from your phone or tablet saves everyone involved a chunk of change and a nice slice of time. How does this work?
You basically have a conference call with your doctor. Using a computer or phone, your doctor can diagnose common medical complaints (headaches, colds, back pain, etc.), perform post-visit check-ups, and speed up the refill process.
This is also great for those patients who are unable to leave their houses easily or at all, or who may be experiencing a medical concern at an otherwise irregular time, such as the holidays or on the weekends.
Many of the health insurance packages we sell provide access to a telemedicine network--inquire today!
Better Planning: Clip Your Tickets
Sometimes it’s tough planning events out way in advance. Other life events throw us for a loop, we lose our tickets, addresses and phone numbers get mixed up, plans change.
So forgive us if this particular tip seems obvious: clip your tickets! If you’ve got an event to attend, make sure you get a copy of your tickets/invitation/address and stick it where you have easy access. For guys, you might stick it in your wallet. For gals, you might tape it near the appropriate date in your planner.
No matter how much we love our tech, physical reminders always trump digital ones. So write down your appointments by hand, collect your tickets, and never think twice about your monthly schedule again.
Speaking of better planning, have you taken care of your insurance this year? Don’t worry about Open Enrollment. If you’re not currently covered, or feel that you’re undercovered, well, we’ve got you covered!
Inquire for a free quote today! Real human service guaranteed.
The Truth About Apple Cider Vinegar
Just like salt, you never know if apple cider vinegar is coming or going. One year the fad says it’ll take away belly fat--the next year it says it’s the reason it’s sticking around.
Like with every story, there are two sides.
The good news is, a little apple cider vinegar never hurt anybody.
But there is a proper way to consume it.
The solution? Dilution.
If there’s anything you take away from this week’s Pick 5, it’s that water covers a multitude of sins. In this case, water can help circulate the benefits of sodium and apple cider vinegar while protecting us against possible negatives. In the case of apple cider vinegar, chugging the stuff raw can actually harm the enamel on our teeth.
Consider mixing a tablespoon or two in water or lemonade and calling it good.
The benefits of even a small amount of apple cider vinegar include decreased risk of heart disease, more control over one’s appetite, and improved insulin sensitivity.
As with anything involving your diet or overall health, consult your doctor and pay attention to your body and your family history as you implement changes in your routines.
In our last Financial Literacy blog, we gave you a mental primer on finances, but this week the rubber hits the road.
Don’t worry, it’s just 3 simple steps you can literally finish before tomorrow: everything from getting your credit report to calculating your actual insurance needs to investing with your pocket change.
Let’s get to it.
If you own even one credit card or have taken out any type of loan, no matter how long you’ve had these accounts, go ahead and get your credit report. Once a year you are legally entitled to a FREE report over at www.annualcreditreport.com.
We think maybe you’ve been sold on the complexity of finances. Let’s bust that myth, shall we? Your credit report is as easy as knowing your social security number--which, incidentally, is all you need to request it.
What does your credit report tell you?
Your credit report gives you a snapshot of how lenders view you. This is the main lens they look through when considering a loan. Less important is your personal story or reasons for the loan, no matter how compelling. So it’s important to look at your credit report from a lender’s perspective.
A credit report includes your identifying information (name, social security, etc.), trade lines (which are the amount and types of credit you have, such as credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages, and how long you’ve had them), credit inquiries (how many times you have requested a loan and a lender has looked into your report), and public records and collection notices.
All of these are things that you know, but a credit report gives you an organized bird’s-eye view.
Keep in mind that multiple different kinds of credit work in your favor, but the biggest factors for improving your credit score are how long you’ve had these accounts, how consistently you’ve made your payments, and your overall utilization (how much of your credit max you’re using).
What’s the difference between a credit report and a credit score?
Your credit report is the summary of your credit while your credit score reflects how your credit is rated. Your credit report includes all the elements influencing your credit score. Even if you currently have bad credit, you’ll now have a simplified answer and game plan on how to improve it.
Will I get a ding on my credit score if I request a look at my report?
Requesting your credit score does not put a ding on your credit score.
Requesting your free credit report does not put a ding on your credit score.
Both of these are considered soft inquiries.
What does affect your credit report (by a few niggling points) are the amount of hard inquiries lenders make into your credit report. Since most people only request one loan over a broad range of time, this isn’t normally an issue.
The free credit report is the first drill you’ll ever have to perform on the road to financial literacy. And thankfully, it requires no skill. However, it’s perfectly normal if you feel a sense of dread towards looking at your credit history. At the end of the day, it’s just numbers on a page, and time is the #1 factor for change. As in, the older your accounts, the better. But that’s not something you can expedite, so don’t worry over something that you’ll have to wait on regardless.
2. Figure Out How Much Life Insurance You Need
Most people purchase between $100k and $250k of life insurance. But here are the factors you should consider when choosing a policy, and how to calculate how much benefit your family will receive on a month-by-month basis.
You can see our example chart below:
Financial independence, which most millennials have now identified as their defining factor for true adulthood, is about providing in every circumstance to the best of our abilities. A roof over our head, bread on the table, and insurance for the worst-case scenarios. You can’t look at insurance soon enough--and you’re not shoehorned into any one type of policy. That’s what we’re here for!
3) Invest 50 Bucks (Or More, If You’re So Inclined)
There is no one right way to invest. And you don’t need a huge budget to get started.
Getting started is the smartest, richest thing you can do.
Whether you’re conservative or a risk-taker, you’re in the right. But getting started (as simple as opening an Acorns account or spending $50 on some tried-and-true stock options) is the only step you need to worry about.
Albert Einstein himself said it best:
Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.
And who are we to argue with Einstein?
Here’s a few easy ways to get started:
And yes, only having $50 to get started is totally okay.
Sitting money only does one thing: sit. Take Albert Einstein’s advice and take the largest amount of money you’re comfortable with and put it to work for you.
You ARE Financially Literate--No Credentials Required
You don’t have to be a financial expert or a stockbroker to make money tick. If you’re not yet sure what you want your money to do for you, check out our other financial literacy blog and do some soul-searching. Then get ready to overlook your credit, think about your future, and start investing.
As always, we’re rooting for you.
And if you want our advice on investing in great health or life insurance, we hope we’re the first team you call.
Pick 5: Skip the Small Talk, Walk A Mile, Replace Placeholders, Ignore This Rule, and Get A Free Quote
Pick 5 is Health Benefits Now’s weekly “pick 5 good things and share them with others” post!
This week we cover easy exercise, psychological tricks, a 5-minute quoting process, and a tip for making more interesting conversation with strangers!
Let’s get to it.
Skip the Small Talk, Wear A Graphic Tee
Wearing something that stands out--especially a graphic T-shirt that might support your favorite band or hobby--creates an easy “Hey, you!” moment for strangers. Getting compliments feels good, but connecting with somebody over a shared love of Fleetwood Mac or Dachshunds is even better.
P.S. It’s also a great way to practice small talk, especially if you’re the kind stranger commenting on someone’s get-up.
Walk A Mile, Barefoot, In The Grass
Did you know that you burn the same amount of calories whether you walk or run a mile? So if you want to burn 100 calories and enjoy the spring breezes, consider taking a walk this week. Even better? If you decide to go barefoot, science has proven that the contact between our skin and the earth has hidden positive effects on the body, such as:
Maybe don’t walk barefoot in the city, or on your way to work or classes, but definitely take a stroll around your garden or take a minute to stand barefoot in your yard every now and then!
Replace Placeholders, Personalize Those Picture Frames
How many of us have picture frames still filled with pictures of people we don’t know? It has that same distancing effect as keeping around Blu-rays still wrapped in cellophane or clothes that still have their price tags.
The ubiquitous Marie Kondo puts it this way: there’s a lot of “noise” in our environment when it’s filled with branded products. Generic pictures, price tags, cellophane, the brands on our soap dispensers--it all adds up.
Even if you don’t have pictures that fit your frames, try filling them with a piece of colored paper and writing a quote on them. By starting this personalizing/debranding step, you may suddenly find the perfect picture to quickly fill up that new space anyway.
You know, the Law of Serendipity.
Know The 10,000 Hour Rule, Then Ignore It
Equally ubiquitous is Malcolm Gladwell’s famous “10,000 Hours of Intentional Practice = Mastery” Rule.
10,000 hours of intentional practice will finally get you mastery. 10,000 hours.
If you could choose one thing to become excellent at (and so many of us have multiple things we’d like to pursue), and you found the time and energy to commit 3 hours a day, you’re looking at entering the Big Leagues at around 10 years from now.
But that’s assuming life doesn’t get in the way.
How many of us even desire “mastery?” What are our actual goals? If you study a language for 3 hours a day for about 6 months in a country that only speaks that studied language, statistically you are good enough to hold conversations with locals. But according to this rule, you are nowhere near mastery.
But aren’t you able to use that skill for what it’s intended for, at a level of acquired ease that brings you choices?
That’s how we’d describe mastery.
What are the levels that come before that? If I want to improve at drawing, should I give up because, even if I draw an hour a day, I won’t be spectacular for another 27 years?
Being honest and upfront about the time costs of excellence isn’t a bad thing. But if, like for many people, it becomes a weight around your neck that causes you to dread practice and lose focus on the present moment, then it’s a hindrance.
So don’t pay attention to progress. Pay attention to process. How’s that for a bumper sticker?
Here’s one thing to keep in mind: no matter what you go to do, any repeat process is compounded by time itself.
For example, writing, reading, and editing are all skills that compound on each other. Even if you go a week between writing or reading anything new, when you go back to practicing those skills, you still have the foundation that you built up before. Foundations can go rusty, but they can’t be completely dismantled.
Most skills are like learning to ride the bike--once you learn, you don’t forget. The basic foundation is still there.
So get to know--and then ignore--the 10,000 Hour Rule.
Most masters becomes masters by accident anyway.
Under or Non-Insured? Get A Free, 5-Minute Quote
Lastly, we wouldn’t be insurance agents if we didn’t think insurance was an important factor in our day-to-day living.
Because speaking of things that bring you choices, the goal of insurance has always been to prepare for a Major Rainy Day scenario that won’t eat at your life savings.
So, if you find yourself under- or non-insured, and didn’t think you had any options outside of Open Enrollment, we invite you to fill out a free, no-obligations quote. You’ll be contacted by a real human being who cares about finding you the best deal for you--not for the company.
We hope you get to apply even one of these Pick 5 Good Things this week! And if you’re interested in an insurance quote, just click the button below: