Unique Ways to Save for Your Retirement (Other Than a 401k)

Saving up for retirement isn’t an easy task. Not only does it cost a lot of money, but it’s not necessarily the most glamorous thing to put your savings toward. Maybe you have your sights set on a new blazer to add to your Fall 2019 wardrobe, or perhaps you’d rather put your hard-earned dollars toward a weekend trip to San Diego. But if you want to eventually enjoy your retirement at its fullest when the time comes, you’ll need to start saving well in advance. But before you make excuses for your company’s lack of a 401k program, remember that there are plenty of other ways you can start building your retirement savings even if you aren’t eligible for an employee-sponsored retirement plan.

If you’re looking for unique ways to save up for your retirement without having a 401k, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss 4 creative ways you can start building your savings today.

1) Use your assets wisely

Since your income will likely be limited when you retire, it’s important to use the financial assets that you currently have to your advantage when saving for retirement. If you have property, for example, you might consider leasing it out as you can to bolster your savings. Perhaps you can lease out a section of your home to a tenant or on a vacation rental site for a less permanent solution.

Another way you can use your property as a retirement savings asset is with a reverse mortgage. A reverse mortgage converts the equity you have in your home into cash that you can ultimately fund your retirement. Of course, there are plenty of considerations to make with any major financial decision, so be sure to do your research. This reverse mortgage explained article provides some more helpful insight to determine if this option could work for you.

2) Build your investments

In addition to real estate investments, you may have some other financial assets like stocks, bonds, or CD accounts that could build a great foundation for your retirement savings, even if you don’t have a 401k savings.

If you haven’t developed your financial profile thus far, here are some tips to help you do so:

  • If you are investing as a beginner, use an investment app to help you make and manage your investments.
  • Before liquidating your assets, consider the market and other indicators to decide if it’s really the right time to sell.
  • Don’t invest blindly—consider a number of different industries and investment avenues to choose the best investment method for your current finances and retirement situation.

3) Save up your bonuses

If your hard work’s paid off throughout the year and you’re lucky enough to receive a bonus, you might be tempted to spend it on something to reward yourself now, but saving it for the future could be even more rewarding in the long-run. That’s not to say you can’t treat yourself to a well-deserved treat, but you may want to allocate a certain percentage toward your retirement savings too!

In addition to saving your bonuses, you can also do the same for any tax returns you’re issued at the end of the tax season. Typically these kinds of contributions are larger than those you’d make periodically throughout the year, so they’ll definitely make a sizeable difference.

4) Get a part-time gig

Even if you already know the importance of saving up for retirement, you might feel like it’s impossible to do so when you have rent to make and bills to pay. And although every dollar counts, it might not feel like you’re making enough progress. One consideration you might make is getting a part-time job to fully allocate toward your retirement savings. This way, you’ll accrue a more substantial amount and you can keep your primary income and secondary income separate.

There are plenty of opportunities to make a few extra bucks here and there, even if you don’t have tons of time to spare. Here are a few ideas:

Final thoughts

Saving for retirement without a 401k isn’t always the easiest route, but it’s entirely possible if you follow these tips!

5 Pro Tips to Prep Homes for Winter

Before blustery winter days arrive, there are plenty of home improvement projects contractors can tackle for homeowners. Many cooler weather projects focus on cost efficiency and sustainability, making the improvements all around smart investments.

Winter is the perfect time to implement upgrades that boost energy efficiency and lower heating bills, helping to manage household costs while improving comfort and enjoyment of the home. Consider these practical upgrade ideas.

Add insulation. Depending on the age of the home, improving the quality or increasing the volume of insulation can make a difference in the home’s energy efficiency. An expert can determine whether old insulation needs to be removed or new insulation should simply be added. A contractor can examine the home to determine where there may be gaps, as well as provide recommendations on the type and amount of insulation needed.

Seal air leaks. Air leaks can cause chilly drafts, contribute to frozen pipes and lead to energy loss. Eliminating leaks is an important aspect of winterizing any home, but not all leaks are easily identified. A skilled contractor can scour the home, checking unknown areas like basement through-wall penetrations, sill plates and the tops of concrete walls. Interior features like light receptacles and outlets are also common sources of air leakage. The caulking around windows and doors is another common culprit to be examined by an expert.

For most leaks, a solution like Great Stuff Pro™ Polyurethane Foam Sealant can seal gaps and cracks to help block air, moisture and pests from entering the home. In some cases, blocking drafty vents with cut pieces of foam board insulation or replacing seals will suffice to address leaks.

Install a programable thermostat. A programmable thermostat helps to regulate temperatures based on daily routines, so homeowners aren’t heating homes while no one is there to appreciate it. Experts can ensure electrical installation is done safely and provide guidance selecting a model that is appropriate for managing a home’s heating and cooling needs.

Replace weather stripping and seal trim. Over time and with frequent use, weather stripping breaks down and loses its shape, even becoming brittle. Cracked trim around doors and windows leads to air leaks, and sometimes homeowners think the only solution is replacing windows and doors, but they still end up with drafts. Contractors can periodically replace trim using foam sealant to help eliminate inevitable drafts and save homeowners money in the long run – a more cost-effective approach than paying for new windows and doors.

Prevent ice dams. Snow-covered roofs and freezing weather can lead to ice dams – thick ridges of solid ice that build up in gutters and along eaves. Dams can damage gutters and shingles and cause water to back up, which could force the water inside where it can peel paint, warp floors and lead to stained or sagging ceilings. To prevent damming, have a professional clear your gutters of leaves and debris ahead of the first snow and consider installing gutter guards to help prevent melting snow from refreezing in gutters.

For more tips and ideas on how to prepare homes for winter, visit GreatStuff.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Great Stuff

5 Tips to Ward Off Cold Weather

Colder weather brings plenty of changes, especially in the ways you take care of your home and self. Especially when the temperature drops, extreme winter conditions can play havoc not only with your skin and health, but also your family’s comfort.

Take steps to protect your family and household as the weather starts to cool this season with these practical tips:

Take steps to help prevent the flu. As temperatures drop, the chances of getting sick rise. That’s partly because certain germs and viruses thrive in colder temperatures, and because the cold puts extra strain on your immune system. When it is cold outside, people are also more likely to spend time indoors (and in closer quarters) where germs are more easily spread. Do your part to help prevent the flu by washing your hands often and covering your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze. Also be sure to stay home if you’re sick and avoid exposing others to your illness.

Prepare your wardrobe. Colder weather outside means more skin sensitivities and dryness. Long pants and sleeves don’t just add warmth; they also protect your skin from harsh outdoor elements. When you haul your winter wardrobe out of storage, start the season on a comfy note by washing everything with an option like ‘all Free Clear Liquid Detergent or Mighty Pacs. It’s the No. 1 laundry detergent brand recommended by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin due to its hypoallergenic formula.

Dress in layers from head to toe. Bundle up with winter accessories to match the daily weather forecast. For chillier mornings and nights, cover exposed areas such as your head with a hat, neck with a scarf and hands with gloves. To accommodate warmer weather during the day, layer flexible clothing options to accommodate temperature shifts.

Stay active. Physical activity naturally warms your body in the short term. In fact, shivering is your body’s natural physical response to generate body heat when you’re cold. Aside from the immediate benefits, keeping active during the colder months can help in other ways, too. A healthy cardiovascular system keeps your blood flow steady and strong, and a good circulatory system plays an important role in keeping your body, and especially your extremities, warm when temperatures take a dip.

Nourish your body and skin. Preventing painful dry cracks and itchy, scaly skin is a job that requires attention inside and out. Externally, moisturize shortly after showering to trap in the water lingering on your skin, use extra lotion throughout the day on areas prone to drying and reapply lotion after washing hands. Remember to protect sensitive spots like your lips that can easily chap and crack. You can also prevent dry skin by ensuring you’re drinking plenty of water and eating a healthy diet with plenty of essential vitamins and healthy fats.

For more ideas to prepare for changing weather, visit all-laundry.com. (Family Features)

Content courtesy of ‘all

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
‘all

Ready for Winter Weather

Tips to keep your family safe and warm

Winters with heavy snowfall can be magnificent, but they can also be challenging for homeowners. Accumulated snow and ice have the potential to damage many aspects of your home and property, including exterior components of your propane system.

“Propane is one of the safest and most reliable sources of energy in winter,” said Tucker Perkins, president and CEO of the Propane Education Research Council (PERC). “It keeps your home warm and allows you to cook and have hot water. A propane generator ensures that you have reliable power in any weather.”

While you can’t predict the first snowstorm or hazardous weather conditions, you can put your family in the best position for safety and warmth by planning ahead.

Be Prepared

  • Get to know your propane system. If you are not familiar with your propane system, take a few minutes to review it. Identify core components, including the tank, regulators, meter, piping and supply valves, as well as any appliance vents. Be sure you know where your main gas supply valve is located in case you need to close it in the event of an emergency; in many cases it may be located on your propane tank.
  • Mark your tank and regulator. Use a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth as a marker to enable emergency and propane service personnel to locate your tank. Also mark your secondary pressure regulator or meter, which is usually near the side of your home. Check local ordinances about marking tanks and regulators and follow any rules applicable to your area.
  • Have an adequate supply of propane. Roads leading to your home might not be accessible for delivery, particularly after a snowstorm. Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane retailer or call to schedule a delivery when the percentage gauge reads 30% to give the retailer enough time to make a delivery and ensure you have an adequate supply of propane.
  • Talk to your contractors. If you use a snow removal service, make sure the service knows the location of all propane equipment on the property. Instruct them to keep their equipment clear of all parts of your propane system, especially tanks, regulators and gas meters. If they shovel snow off your roof, instruct them to never shovel snow onto any part of the propane system and not to block any appliance air intakes or exhaust vents. It may be helpful to designate an area to pile snow safely away from any equipment.

Take Action

  • Keep snow and ice from accumulating on propane equipment. Snow or ice accumulation can potentially cause parts of your propane system to crack or break, resulting in a gas leak. Gently brush away snow or ice that has accumulated around the tank, meter, regulator and any other piping by hand or using a broom. If you must use a shovel, use extreme caution. If you notice any snow or ice buildup that cannot be removed easily, contact your propane retailer. Do not attempt to remove snow or ice by kicking or hitting equipment.
  • Be alert to snow buildup. Frequently check areas where snow or ice collect on your roof, structures or nearby trees and clear it if you believe it might fall on any part of your propane system. Heavy accumulations of snow or ice falling on tanks, regulators, meters, piping or valves may cause damage that could result in a gas leak. In high snowfall areas, drifting snow and ice sliding off roofs may require additional regulator and vent protection. If you think this may be an issue, contact your propane supplier for guidance on protection of these components.
  • Keep vents clear. Appliance air intake and exhaust vents and chimney flues must always be clear of snow or ice. Some homes may have direct vents, which are close to the ground. Improper venting can cause carbon monoxide buildup in your home, which could lead to serious illness or even death.
  • Clear driveways and pathways to propane tanks. Remember that a propane delivery truck needs at least a 10-foot-wide path to be able to deliver fuel to your home. Keep the tank area and a path to the tank free of snow. When plowing, snow-blowing or shoveling, do not push or pile snow around your tank, meter, regulator or piping.

Stay Alert for Safety

As you look for ways to keep your family warm and comfortable, it’s important to keep safety at the top of your list. These tips from PERC can help keep you and your family safe during cold weather.

  • Never use a gas oven or range to heat your home.
  • Never use portable gas-powered heaters indoors unless they’re designed and approved for indoor use.
  • Never use an outdoor barbecue grill indoors for cooking or heating, and never use a generator in a garage or other enclosed area.
  • Keep chimneys, flues and appliance air intake and exhaust vents free of snow, ice and other debris.
  • Consider installing a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home.

If you smell gas:

1. Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or fire.

2. Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.

3. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).

4. From a neighbor’s home or other nearby building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.

5. Do not return to the building or area until your propane retailer or emergency personnel determine it is safe to do so.

6. Before you attempt to resume use of your propane appliances, have your propane retailer or a qualified service technician check your system to ensure it is leak-free.

For more safety tips and information, visit Propane.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Propane Education Research Council

Be Prepared When Natural Disaster Strikes

Emergency situations, especially those that pertain to natural disasters, can be difficult to recover from without proper planning, which is why it’s important to take small steps from the start to help protect your family.

With the change of seasons comes an increased risk of weather-related emergencies. This fall, Clorox has partnered with the American Red Cross to encourage everyone to be “Red Cross Ready.”

Consider these three actionable steps to get your household ready for an emergency:

Prepare a kit: At minimum, you should have an emergency kit assembled with basic supplies. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to evacuate versus remaining in your home, which will affect the amount of supplies you need. A good rule of thumb is a three-day supply if you are evacuating and a two-week supply if you’ll be in your home.

  • Water: Keep one gallon per person, per day
  • Food: Stock up on non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items.
  • Disinfecting bleach: After a natural disaster, water may not be safe to drink. A few drops of an option like Clorox Disinfecting Bleach can be used to make water potable and can also help clean up mold and fungi from a buildup of excess moisture. Always pay close attention to the label to be sure you are following exact dilution instructions.
  • Flashlight (and extra batteries): Having a flashlight ensures that you’re able to navigate in the dark if the electricity goes out. Always keep extra batteries on-hand to power your flashlight and other items you may need.
  • First aid kit: In cases of emergency, first-aid supplies are crucial to help keep family members as safe and healthy as possible. Make sure to stock the kit with things like bandages, gauze and antibiotic creams.
  • Multi-purpose tool: Tools with multiple functions can be used for everything from cutting wire to opening bottles.
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items: In addition to disinfecting bleach, it’s important to keep things like moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal cleanliness.

Make a plan: Discuss how to prepare with your family or household members and talk about the best ways you can respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team. Practice as many elements of your plan as possible.

Be informed: As an emergency is unfolding, normal communication systems like phone lines may be damaged or overloaded by call volume. Consider downloading smartphone apps such as the Red Cross Emergency App for customizable weather alerts, the “I’m safe”feature and other resources. It provides instant access to information for handling common first aid emergencies. You can also get trained in first aid and CPR so you’ll know what to do in case emergency help is delayed.

After a natural disaster, a safe and healthy recovery is key. Listen to local authorities and take safety precautions in case of storm aftershocks. Only use cellular or landline phones to report life-threatening conditions, keeping lines open for emergency responders. Return to your home only when authorities advise it’s safe to do so, making sure to also have photo identification to prove residency.

Learn more at clorox.com/redcrossready. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Clorox

Steps to Better Sleep for Peak Sports Performance

For fans and athletes alike, fall means gearing up for a new season of sports activities. While plenty of attention goes into developing skills and talent, other important components that affect an athlete’s performance can be overlooked. Especially considering the demands of an athlete’s training and game schedule, getting adequate sleep is often an afterthought.

However, a lack of sleep can significantly affect athletes’ performance both on and off the field.

Sleep quality, efficiency and duration all may decrease just before competition, limiting opportunities for athletes to get the optimal quality and quantity of sleep their bodies need due to intense practice and game schedules, according to research published in “Sports Medicine.”

The same research found sleep can affect several aspects of an athlete’s performance. Skills that require endurance tend to be more affected by sleep deprivation than short-term, high-power activities. Running speed and free throw accuracy improve with more sleep, for example. There is also evidence that getting inadequate sleep increases the risk of injury as sleep deprivation can cause low energy and problems with focus during the game. It may also negatively affect split-second decision-making.

Less sleep also means fewer opportunities for natural secretion of the growth hormones that occur in deep sleep and aide restoration, physical performance and a healthy metabolism.

Athletes can maximize their performance, recovery and overall health with these tips from Mattress Firm’s sleep health expert, Dr. Sujay Kansagra:

  • Ensure you are getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Athletes may need additional sleep due to strenuous daytime activity.
  • Keep your wake time and bedtime similar, regardless of your training schedule. Don’t wake up early to practice one day and sleep in the next. Try to keep it consistent.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep, avoid workouts late in the evening just before bed.
  • For competitive sports teams that travel across time zones, it’s important to try to adjust your circadian rhythm based on the time you will be playing in the new time zone. The goal is to time the game to when circadian rhythm and alertness are at their peaks, in the late morning and late afternoon or evening.
  • As the body works to repair itself during sleep, creating muscle tissue and releasing important hormones, sleeping on the proper mattress can provide support that aids in reducing aches and pains. If you need help selecting the right mattress, the experts at a retailer like Mattress Firm have a variety of sizes, options and accessories available that won’t break the bank.

Find more advice to ensure a better night’s sleep at MattressFirm.com. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Mattress Firm

The Benefits of Service Dogs

Supporting veterans when they return home

Service dogs offer countless benefits to help combat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but they can also be instrumental in rebuilding and uniting families after veterans come home from serving their country.

According to the National Institutes of Health, up to 30% of American military veterans experience PTSD after returning home from combat. Yet only about 40% of those individuals ever seek help.

Service animals are recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The designation is limited to dogs who are trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. In some cases, these tasks are highly physical in nature, such as guiding a person who is blind or pulling a wheelchair. Other roles service dogs play may be less immediately visible, such as providing a calming presence to a person with PTSD who is experiencing an anxiety attack.

More Than a Companion

Service dogs are highly trained to assist military veterans in achieving better quality of life. Veterans who utilize service dogs report lower levels of depression and anxiety, fewer hospitalizations and a reduction in medical and psychiatric costs, among other benefits. Beyond what these canines help prevent, consider these examples of what they empower:

  • Ease loneliness and stress
  • Reduce social anxiety
  • Decrease reliance on prescription drugs
  • Help veterans return to work or attend college
  • Strengthen personal relationships
  • Provide security, protection and unconditional love

Up to the Task

Just like the members of the armed forces they help, service dogs are highly trained professionals with an important job to do, including tasks such as these:

  • Turn on lights and open doors before a veteran enters his or her home
  • Nudging, pawing or licking to interrupt flashbacks or nightmares
  • Utilizing body weight as a grounding mechanism to reduce anxiety or alleviate panic
  • Retrieve bags with medications or a list of numbers to call during a medical emergency
  • Provide security and reduce hypervigilance in public places
  • Pick up dropped items and assist with mobility and ambulation

When You See a Service Dog

Service dogs are often large breeds that stand out in a crowd, and their calm demeanor can make it seem perfectly appropriate to approach and pet them. However, it’s important to remember that service dogs are at work and distractions can prevent them from providing the service their owners need.

The International Association of Canine Professionals offers these etiquette tips for interacting with service dogs and their owners:

  • Remember that a service dog is there as support for a person with a physical or health disability, which may or may not be readily apparent.
  • Respect that health conditions are private matters most people prefer not to discuss with strangers.
  • Just as you would not stare or point at a person in a wheelchair, avoid calling unnecessary attention to a person with a service dog.
  • If you must interact, always focus your attention on the handler, not the dog, so the dog can stay focused on its job. Avoid whistling, clapping or otherwise distracting the dog.
  • Teach children not to approach service dogs. Although most are trained to avoid aggression, a perceived threat to their handlers could result in warning growls or barks that may scare a child.

To see video stories of how service dogs have impacted the lives of veterans and their families, visit DogChow.com/service. In addition, for every purchase of specially marked bags of Dog Chow Complete Adult through Nov. 1, the brand will donate 5 cents, up to $100,000, to the Tony La Russa Animal Rescue Foundation Pets and Vets program, which matches veterans experiencing PTSD and other challenges with service dogs, free of charge. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Purina Dog Chow

The 3 Things to do Immediately After Moving Across the Country

Picking up and relocating yourself from one coast to another is hugely intimidating but massively impressive. It takes a lot of bravery to leave behind everything you know in favor of a brand new frontier! Whether you’re moving for a job, for love, or simply for yourself, there are some things you should keep in mind as you make yourself at home in a new city. Here are some suggestions on how you can go about settling in and acclimating to your new life.

1. Change Your Address

This might seem like a very obvious “duh”, but you’d be shocked to learn the amount of people who forget to update their address across all their various accounts. This includes all your credit card statements and automated billing accounts—you’re probably going to spend a bit of time at home unpacking or trying new takeout and the last thing you want is for your Spotify or Netflix account to turn off because a payment couldn’t process. Take the time to officially change your mailing address with the U.S. Post Office as well; that way, any mail that does come to your former address can be officially forwarded to your new home.

2. Set Goals

To keep your mind focused, identify why you moved and want you want to get out of this transition. Then, depending on your answers, create actionable steps that can help you achieve your goals. Here are some examples:

  • Moved for college – Buy a planner; rent textbooks; track flights around holidays
  • Moved for a relationship – Find balance; focus on self; explore hobbies
  • Moved for a job – Enroll in business course; research nearby lunch spots
  • Moved for self – Get outdoors; practice meditation; learn a skill

Use this radical transition as a time to reflect on self-improvement and personal growth.

3. Get to Know the Town

Once you’ve got the logistics figured out and your intentions set, you can have a blast exploring the new town you call home. To do so, you’ll need to be mobile. Maybe you’ve moved to the Big Apple or a similar city with an impressive public transportation, in which case you should start familiarizing yourself with those routes ASAP. If you road tripped across the country and already have a set of wheels at your disposal, then it’ll be easy for you to immediately immerse yourself in city life and all the nearby attractions.

But if you don’t have a car, you might consider buying one to avoid feeling immobilized, a prisoner to your new home. Those who know their move will be temporary might consider leasing a car versus buying one to avoid the hassle of shipping the car in the foreseeable future. For example, if you’re leaving the glitz of Hollywood to find your own beach on Florida’s East Coast, it’s probably easier to just lease a new Audi in Orlando. That way, you can avoid expensive shipping costs and don’t have to put the high mileage on your German sports car during the transcontinental drive.

Not sure where to go to meet new people and form new friendships? Here are the best happenings in the city to give you some inspiration!

  • Farmer’s Market – In Austin, you can go to the Lone Star Farmer’s Market every Sunday at the Hill County Galleria, but you’re guaranteed to find a similar farmer’s market in your new neighborhood. This gives you a prime opportunity to knock out your weekly grocery shopping while supporting and learning about small local businesses. Fruits and vegetables taste fresher when they’re locally sourced by farms you know personally! In addition to food stands, you’ll scroll through many booths and vendors give you a sense of what’s available around you and going on in the community.
  • Training Studio – Moving to a new city can be lonely, but exercise is a great way to cure that problem and productively kill time. Yoga in particular is known for its immense benefits on mental health as well as creating a foundation for many lasting friendships grounded in similar values.
  • Local Meet Ups – Meetup.com is a great resource you should use to discover online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests. Networking mixers, outdoor adventures… there are no shortage of options you can find!

These are our top three tips for how to follow up your big move—now get out there and start exploring!

5 Cool Ideas for Self-Improvement Month

Photography courtesy of (c) mavoimages / stock.Adobe.com.

There’s no good reason to wait until the new year to focus on self-improvement. There’s also no excuse. September is Self-Improvement Month, and a fine time to learn a new skill, take up an old hobby or set a goal.

Here are five cool ideas to try out over the course of the month:

• Start coding: Whether you want to switch careers and become a software or web developer or simply take up a new hobby, learning to code can open a world of possibilities, while keeping your mind active and vital. And these days, free online tutorials available in dozens of programming languages, can help you get started without any tools required but time and dedication.

• Learn to play piano: Learning a musical instrument can improve focus, enhance memory and reduce stress. For a fast-track to playing songs skillfully, check out the Casio CT-X700, which features a Step-Up Lesson system to easily learn songs from the keyboard’s built-in library. The display shows proper fingering and notation, and a six-track recorder allows you to quickly capture your inspiration.

• Set a reading goal: You don’t have to be a student to complete a reading challenge. Whether it’s to read 5 non-fiction books over the course of the month or get through that classic tome that’s been sitting on your bookshelf for years, give yourself a reading goal to achieve this month.

• Get outdoors: Spending time exercising in nature has powerful physical and mental health benefits. Give yourself the motivation needed to get outdoors with a wearable device, such as the WSD-F30 Pro Trek Smart Outdoor Watch, which includes a built-in compass, altimeter and barometer, as well as a slew of fitness and nature apps designed to promote wellness and help you better appreciate your surroundings.

• Start saving: If you don’t have a savings account, think about opening one during the month of September. Make it painless by having the fund draw automated monthly payments from your checking account. Then sit back and watch your savings grow.

Long before writing up resolutions, celebrate Self-Improvement Month, a perfect mid-year motivation for change and growth. (StatePoint)