Are you age 65 or older?
If so, you may be targeted by a new Medicare scam.
Medicare is issuing new benefit cards with new benefit ID numbers.
Look at your Medicare card. Your social security number, which is also your benefits number, is printed on your card. This has led to growing rates of identity theft among those 65 years and older.
Its easy for a thief to get your number. Anyone who stands close to you when you check out at the pharmacy can see the number and use it to steal your identity and may even fraudulently claim benefits in your name. The same thing can happen if someone sees your card when you open your wallet at the cash register, or finds your missing wallet (with your Medicare card inside).
The government redesigned the Medicare card so that it does not reveal your social security number. You will be assigned a new personal benefits number. Here's what the new card will look like:
What do you need to do?
That's important because scammers may try to take advantage of someone who is not aware of the process for receiving their new card.
The new card will be sent to you. You do not need to fill out a form, pay a fee, or give someone your social security number. Here's what the Federal Trade Commission advises to protect yourself:
- If you get a phone call, email, text or letter claiming to be from Medicare and asking for your social security or bank account number...
IGNORE it! That's a scam. Medicare will never call (or send an email, text message, or letter) and ask for this information.
- If someone asks you to pay for a new Medicare card...
IGNORE them. That's a scam. Your new Medicare card is free.
- If someone threatens to cancel you benefits unless you give them information or send money...
IGNORE them.That's also a scam. There will not be any changes to your benefits.
When will this change happen?
Delivery begins in April 2018 and will be completed by April 2019.
Learn more at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/medicare/new-medicare-card/nmc-home.html
Okay. We all know we need to eat more vegetables. I get it, but how does that translate into what I buy at the grocery store, cook, and serve my family every day? This is where the broccoli meets the plate, so to speak.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
That's a little more specific. But here's what helps me envision exactly what to eat. Nutrition experts divide "vegetables" into 5 groups based on the nutrients they provide:
- dark-green vegetables (DGV)
- red and orange vegetables
- beans and peas (does not include green beans or green peas
- starchy vegetables (such as white potatoes, corn, and green peas)
- other vegetables (such as iceberg lettuce, green beans, and onions)
Dark green vegetables---What are they?
All fresh, frozen, and canned dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli, cooked or raw fit into this vegetable group.
You're probably familiar with the many types of salad greens in this group, including romaine, arugula, spinach, and leaf lettuce. Here are other dark green vegetables that you may have not tried:
- bok choy
- broccoli rabe
- collard greens
- Mesclun (a mixture of baby greens)
- mustard greens
- Swiss chard
- turnip greens
Dark green vegetables---How do you prepare them?
Most of us make salads, and steamed broccoli is pretty basic. But don't stay away from the other DGV because you don't know what to do with them.
All the dark green leafy vegetables (fresh or frozen) can be steamed or cooked in the microwave with just a little water. (Growing up in the South where turnip and collard greens were everyday fare, I was surprised to learn that “greens” don't have to be cooked all day and that they taste good without adding salt pork or bacon.)
Try these ideas:
- Sauté Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil.
- Fill an omelet with spinach or make spinach quesadillas
- Make Asian lettuce wraps
- Put bok choy and broccoli in stir-fry dishes
- Add to soups, sandwiches, and casseroles
- Toss with hot pasta and top with a little parmesan cheese
Learn how to select, store, and prepare dark leafy greens—and find easy, healthful recipes on the Fruits and Veggies — More Matters website.
Dark green vegetables---How much to eat?
Take this “small step to health”: Eat 1- 2 ½ cups of dark green vegetables per week.
Less than half a cup a day puts you in the winners' circle! How easy is that?
Once you start enjoying dark green vegetables, you'll probably want to eat more (maybe a lot more) than just 2 ½ cups---they're tasty, low calorie, high fiber and loaded with vitamins and minerals.
• A child throws a baseball through your window
• Ouch! You need an unexpected root canal
• Dad's sick---you need to fly home unexpectedly
• A power outage caused everything in the refrigerator to spoil
If you needed $1,000 for an unplanned expense, where would you get the money?
A recent national survey asked nearly 2,700 people that question, and only 36% had enough savings to cover the cost.
Here's where the others would turn for the money:
• 9% would take out a loan
• 17% would borrow from friends or family
• 9% would get a cash advance on their credit card
• 17% would disregard other monthly expenses
• 12% would sell or pawn assets
How can you avoid going into debt when you have an emergency?!
According to America Saves, it only takes an e-fund of $500-$1,000 topay most unexpected expenses without going into debt.
Today's Small Step: Start your e-fund today.
Open a savings account and set up automatic deposits from your paycheck or checking account. Deposit $42 a month, and this time next year you'll have $500 saved up
---then next Halloween just watch a scary movie!
Have you had unexpected expenses this year?
Tell us about it. How did you cover the cost?
- Author: Patti C. Wooten Swanson
- Contributor: Morgan Carne
How often do you sit at a long traffic light and fume over the cost of the gas that you’re wasting while idling? Or, complain about the high cost of gas as you fill the tank at service station outside the national park for what seems like the 100th time on a family vacation?
1. Drive intelligently
This means no speeding, rapid acceleration or abrupt braking. “Intelligent” drivers increase their mileage 33% at highway speeds and 5% when running errands around town. That’s equivalent to saving $0.19-$1.24 per gallon*.
2. Follow the speed limit
Follow the posted speed limits to increase your gas mileage by 7-14%. Each five mph you creep up over the speed limit decreases your mileage, costing the equivalent of paying $0.26-$0.53 more per gallon to drive your car.
3. Get rid of excess weight
Take those extra garden tools or golf clubs out of your trunk to increase your MPG by 2% for every 100 pounds you remove. What’s more, the lighter your car is, the more excess weight affects it, stealing away any chances of saving the equivalent of $0.04-$0.08 per gallon.
4. Idle less
Simply reducing the amount of time you spend sitting at traffic lights, or running your car while parked, gives you a fuel cost savings of $0.01-$0.03 per minute with the AC off, and $0.02-$0.04 per minute with the AC on. This may not seem like much, but it adds up quickly, with only one hour of idling wasting a quarter to a half-gallon of gas.
5. Use cruise control and overdrive gears
Cruise control keeps you driving at a constant speed, often keeping you from going over 60 mph, which drastically reduces gas mileage. Overdrive gears reduce your engine speed, which saves gas as well.
6. Turn off the AC
According to the Federal Trade Commission, you can save gas by turning the AC off when it isn’t needed. Turn it off when you drive up inclines or hills to reduce the strain on your engine, or while you wait for a traffic light. You can also switch your AC to “economy,” “maximum” or “recirculation” settings to get some savings.
7. Eliminate the warm-up
Unless you drive a 1954 Fairlane, you don’t need to warm up your engine. Modern engines warm up as they run. You’ll save gas (and time) by driving as soon as your car starts.
*Estimated savings based on $3.75 per gallon on gas.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount you spend on gas is to drive less. It may sound simplistic, but the less you drive, the more you save!
Check out the math: On average, Americans drive 16,550 miles per year. Reduce that by 10% and you’ll drive 1,655 fewer miles per year. If your car gets 24 miles per gallon (MPG), you’ll use 69 fewer gallons of gas. At $4.00 gallon, that’s an annual savings of $276.
3 Steps to Driving Less
The Auto Club (AAA) of Southern California (insert link to press release 2/27/2012)--where prices are among the highest in the country--- recommends drivers start by tracking their daily mileage, analyze your mileage, then implementing plan to drive less.
1: Track your daily mileage
The first step to making long term changes is to get a clear understanding of your current behavior so you can figure out where changes are possible.
Record where, why, and how far you drive each day. Choose a record keeping tool that works for you:
- Create your own log in a small spiral bound notebook (keep it in the glove compartment so it’s easy to access)
- Download a gas mileage template, such as the free one offered by Microsoft. Use it on your tablet, laptop, or cell phone. Or print a copy and record by hand.
- Find and use a mileage app, such as MileBug, which is available for both apple and android devices.
2: Analyze your driving habits
Look for trips that could be combined, made less frequently, or eliminated altogether. Also consider alternate forms of transportation—walking, biking, car pooling, or using public transportation, if available.
Do you run to the grocery store several times a week to get just a few items? Are there some trips you could share with others—for example, carpooling to social events or taking public transportation to the baseball stadium. Your family might enjoy walking to a nearby yogurt shop instead of piling into the car for the short ride.
Could you pick up the dry cleaning on the way home from work to save an extra trip? Or walk to the drycleaners during your lunch hour? Changing to a drycleaner near your office might be worth the time and money you save by not driving there every week.
Step 3: Implement strategies to reduce how much you drive
Small changes can make a BIG difference. For example, if you currently drive 10 miles to work, but find a route that is only 9 miles, you can reduce your commute by 10%.
Here are some strategies to try:
- Organize and combine errands. For ideas, see Know Before You Go, the Art of List Making
- Take the shortest route. Use a GPS or an online mapping tool to plan trips so you don’t drive any farther than necessary.
- Reduce your commute by 20%. Carpool or rideshare to work just one day a week.
- Use technology instead of driving. Use online services or mobile apps to do business whenever possible---deposit checks, apply for a loan, order prescriptions, register to vote, renew your driver’s license, request an absentee ballot, or check out books and DVDs from the library.
- Pre-shop from the comfort of home. Before heading out in your car, go online to figure out what you want and where to buy it.
- Comparison shop without driving. Use a QR code reader on your cell phone or tablet to find the best prices instead of driving all over town to figure out who offers the best deal.
- Know before you go. If you are shopping for something very specific, such as an advertised piece of furniture, call ahead to see if the item is in stock before driving to the store to buy something.
- Shop online. Many companies offer free 2-day delivery if you spend a minimum amount. Don’t buy more than you need though. Even if you pay for delivery, the total cost may still be less than the driving and parking at the mall.