Monday, November 25, 2013

Stair Climbing to Good Health

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I am always looking for ways to maximize the health benefits of exercise with the minimum of effort. I have written a number of times about interval training as a means of doing so in just a few minutes several times a week."High Intensity Interval Training for Fitness and Lowering Blood Sugar." Today, on his website, Dr.Andrew Weil, the holistic physician and guru, referred to a recent British study that showed that climbing stairs for as little as seven minutes a day can reduce your risk of developing heart disease by as much as 60%.

The best thing about this finding is that no special equipment or club membership is required. Walking up your steps at home or office can be an easy way to achieve that goal. Or, if you prefer, walking the steps at your local high school stadium also is an excellent way to get in your seven minutes.

A study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has shown that stair climbing burns 400 percent more calories than walking at two miles per hour. Those who are overweight can lose up to 12 pounds a year (one pound a month) by just climbing two flights of stairs every day. This assumes that the person does not increase his or her food intake.

Stair climbing, as we all know, is not easy.  But these studies make clear that the health benefits may be worth it.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Do You Want to Play the Lottery and Never Lose?

Who doesn't like to play the lottery?  But how often do you actually win something? Oh, maybe you win a few dollars here and there.  And don't you just hate it when you lose  What if I told you that there is a lottery that you can enter that you never lose?

The answer lies in something called Prize-Linked Savings Accounts. What, you have never heard of them? You are not alone, neither have most people.I discovered them recently when I came across a reference to them in the editor's note to the December 2013 Money Magazine.  Intrigued, I did a little research and was quite astonished how simple and useful they are as savings mechanisms and as a means of satisfying that inner voice that insists that the next time I play the lottery, despite all the evidence to the contrary, I will win big.

Prize linked savings accounts are savings accounts offered by banks, credit unions and local and national governments which pay little or no interest, but which are eligible for participation in a lottery, where the   proceeds of the lottery are paid from earnings on the deposits. In other words, the savings portion of the account is never touched, but if lucky enough, you may win money with absolutely no risk of losing any of your savings. Sound too good to be true?  Well, in Europe and elsewhere, they have been offered since at least the mid 1950s.

In Great Britain, which was one of the first countries to adopt the accounts, it has been shown to have substantially increased the amount people have saved. It is estimated that more than 25 billion pounds have been saved by people in Great Britain since the program was initiated there.

While many states in the US consider these accounts to be a form of illegal gambling, four states, Michigan, Nebraska, Washington and North Carolina permit these types of win-win lotteries.Consideration is being given in other states as well to allow these accounts including Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, Mississippi and Maryland.

I don't know about you, but it seems to make a lot of sense to permit these types of accounts. After all, most states now permit certain types of lotteries and many allow casinos. With the personal savings rate in the US an  abysmal 2 to 3 percent, the Prize-linked savings account may just be the motivation needed to improve that rate. This step not only gives the state's residents a chance to win money, it guarantees that none of the money deposited will be lost.

Sources:  Money Magazine, The Financial Brand

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Latest Superfood: Eating Nuts May Save Your Life

In a study released yesterday in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Harvard School of Medicine concluded that eating as few as one ounce of nuts each day can reduce the likelihood of dying from heart disease by as much as 25%, cancer by 10% and 20% from diabetes and lung disease.

The study showed that all types of nuts were able to bring about these effects: walnuts, almonds, cashews and even peanuts. The researchers also concluded that the desired effects could be achieved regardless of whether the study participants exercised or were overweight.

The Harvard study actually confirmed a 10 year old study by the US Food and Drug Administration.

According to the researchers, the beneficial effects of eating nuts is derived from the substantial amounts of folate, potassium, fiber, good monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.

Given these results, it would seem that nuts are the latest superfood.

Sources: USA Today,New England Journal of Medicine

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Negotiation Techniques from Goldman Sachs

Recently, the Huffington Post Small Business section published an article entitled, "7 Negotiation Techniques Every Small Business Owner Should Know", posted by Goldman Sachs.
The techniques are as follows:
1.Figure out your goals.
2.Do the research.
3. Know what you're willing to give up.
4.Know when you should walk away.
5.Know about your counter party's past performance.
6.Write down the outcomes.
7. Look at your own company's resources to see how you can use them to seal the deal.
I have discussed many of these same points in various posts on this blog and in my ebook, "How to Get the Best Deal Every Time", which is available on Amazon.

They are all good points and are equally applicable to almost any type of negotiation, whether buying a new car or house or trying to get a raise from your boss.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Consumer Reports Magazine Supports "Haggling" for Gifts

The Christmas buying season is upon us, even though we have yet to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It happens every year and sales seem to begin earlier and earlier. Christmas in July may not just be a joke soon.

So, if you are beginning to search around for gifts for your family and friends, here is a tip you might want to consider.

Many people will be buying electronics gifts this year: HD and 3D televisions, Smartphones, cameras and just about anything else you can plug into the wall or load up with batteries. Most people will be going to Big Box stores or small specialty shops. Whichever you shop, keep in mind that the price listed on the product is not the price you must pay.  Haggling over the price or the warranty or some other aspect of the purchase is not only good practice, to do anything else is just plain unwise unless you enjoy paying full price (and nobody I know likes that).

I have written several times in this blog about how you can save money by negotiating for the best price. :;; I have even written a book on the subject which is available on Amazon entilted,"How to Get the Best Deal Every Time," which is available as an e-book.

In its annual gift issue,  Consumer Reports,, suggests that "haggling" for the purchase of appliances and electronics gifts is a sure way to save money. Consumer Reports, December 2013. We couldn't agree more. And Consumer Reports provides the best information on which brand to buy and where best to buy the products you are shopping for this season.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to Approach Negotiations and Win

I have written several times on various negotiation techniques to give you an edge. Today's New York Times suggests a novel approach: exertion. In an article entitled "Work Up A Sweat, and Bargain Better," the author reports on a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that concluded that if you approach negotiations with an attitude of excitement, you are likely to be even more successful if you are moving during the negotiations.

The study showed that a certain level of exertion appeared to result in a better outcome. The study, reported in the journal, Psychological Science, involved participants who negotiated over the phone while walking versus those who remained seated or walking slower.

The study confirmed what we always suspected: the "movers and shakers" will do better in negotiations. How can you become a mover or shaker? Other research shows that just telling yourself that you are "excited" may be enough.

So, go ahead and give yourself a little pep talk before beginning to negotiate for that new car or the terms of that new job. You might be surprised how well you do.