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Half of older Americans have nothing saved for retirement, study says

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Even though the number of people with nothing saved for retirement is grim, it’s better than it was about 12 years ago.

Of those 55 and older, 48 percent have nothing put away in a 401(k)-type contribution plan or an IRA, according to the Government Accountability Office report released in March 2019.

That is better than 52 percent who had nothing saved in 2013.

Of those that have nothing saved, 29 percent had neither a pension or any other financial assets.

The GAO reported that Social Security provides most of the income for about half of households age 65 and older.

As an example: The average Social Security retirement benefit in 2017 was $1,360 per month, or about $16,000 per year. But if a person who has worked for at least 40 years in a medium paying job would probably receive just under $2,000 per month in Social Security.

That income is rarely enough to live on and Social Security was not intended to be a single source of retirement income.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute estimates that 41 percent of households headed by someone age 35 to 64 will probably run out of money in retirement. But that number is down 1.7 percentage points since 2014. So, in other words, more people are getting the message that they must save for retirement.

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5 ways to make e-shopping eco-friendly

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The impact of online shopping on the environment is largely dependent on consumer behavior. Here are five ways to responsibly shop online and reduce your carbon footprint.

1. Choose carefully
Take steps to ensure you won’t need to return a package as this creates more pollution. Refer to clothing size charts, customer reviews, and product tests by experts before making a decision.

2. Favor proximity

To reduce transportation emissions, choose products that are made locally or sold by vendors in your area. Above all, avoid airfreight service as much as possible.

3. Group your purchases
Wait until you need several items before placing an order or create one shopping list for your entire household. Make sure to request that your purchases be shipped together rather than as soon as each product becomes available.

4. Order in advance
An efficient delivery schedule minimizes greenhouse gas emissions, and express delivery service hinders a company’s ability to plan its shipping route. This results in more half-empty trucks on the road.

5. Prepare for pickup
If you won’t be home when your package arrives, request to have it sent directly to a nearby post office or pickup location to avoid multiple delivery attempts. If possible, choose a spot along your commute.

Although shopping online can be convenient, there are many benefits to doing it in person. You can see the product first-hand and draw on the staff’s expertise. Plus, you don’t have to wait for the item to be delivered.

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10 fun things seniors can do online

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Regardless of your interests and hobbies, the internet can be a virtually endless source of entertainment. Here are 10 fun online activities that require little technical know-how.

1. Read
You can stay up to date with the digital edition of your local newspaper or fill your virtual library with e-books of all kinds. Online magazines and blogs are also a rich source of reading material on a variety of topics.

2. Socialize

Whether you prefer to use video chat, email, or social media, technology makes it easy to keep in touch with loved ones. It can also allow you to reconnect with old friends and establish new connections with like-minded people.

3. Shop
Groceries, clothing, electronics, and more can be purchased online. Visit the websites of merchants in your area to order anything you need or simply enjoy window shopping from your couch.

4. Listen
If you love to listen to music, you can find plenty of it online in nearly every category and genre. Alternatively, delve into the world of podcasts to hear engaging interviews, tutorials, comedy shows, and more. Audiobooks of all kinds are also worth exploring for those who love to listen to stories.

5. Learn
Expand your knowledge or acquire a new skill from the comfort of your living room. By signing up for an online class, you can learn how to speak another language, knit a sweater, play the piano, or almost anything else.

6. Watch
Leave the real world behind for a few hours while you settle in for a movie marathon or catch up on a TV show. Cute videos of cats and kids are also available if you’re looking for something to make you smile.

7. Play
Whether you prefer puzzles, card games, board games or action-packed video games, there’s at least one online game you’re bound to enjoy. They can be played from a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

8. Write
Start a blog on a subject you’re passionate about or make up fairy tales for your grandchildren. Alternatively, get started on that memoir you’ve been meaning to write. You can share your work with the whole world or a select group of friends and family members.

9. Discover
Marvel at works of art or soak up some history. Plenty of museums and galleries around the world offer virtual tours of their exhibits. You can peruse their works at your own pace and avoid having to deal with crowds.

10. Reminisce
Transfer photos from your camera to your computer and take a trip down memory lane. Try your hand at photo editing, put together a slideshow, or print your best shots so you can preserve them in a scrapbook.

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How to liven up gray-painted rooms

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Gray is a common wall color because it works well with most home decor styles. However, sometimes painting a room this color can make it look cold and sterile. Here’s how to ensure your gray-painted interior is warm and inviting.

Use the right materials
Introduce warmth and depth to a gray room by styling it with items made of natural materials. Choose rattan, wicker, wool, and linen for your furniture and decorative items. Wood is a good choice for tables, chairs, and floors. Including plants will add life and color to space.

Play with accent colors

In order to add interest to your gray interior, choose one or two accent colors. If you prefer a soft look, opt for pastel tones such as blush pink, butter yellow or sky blue. If you prefer to make a statement, consider neon or jewel tones. When used minimally in an otherwise neutral room, they won’t be overwhelming.

Lastly, be sure to choose a neutral gray with no warm or cool undertones. This will guarantee that your walls match everything, allowing you to change your decor without repainting.

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How to organize a backyard summer bash

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From picnics by the pool to barbecues and corn roasts, outdoor summer parties are a highlight of the season. If you’re planning your own event, you’ll need to prepare for it. Here are a few steps to follow when hosting an outdoor gathering.

Set the mood
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or hosting a casual event, decorations can help set the right mood. Balloons, streamers, paper lanterns, floral arrangements, tiki torches, and lawn ornaments can all be used to good effect. Additionally, be sure to provide sufficient seating for your guests. If you plan to keep the party going after sunset, stairs and walkways should be well lit with lanterns or string lights.

Plan activities

It’s a good idea to provide entertainment for adult guests and their children. This can include setting up a bubble station, a bean bag toss, a horseshoe pit, a volleyball net, or buckets of water balloons. A campfire is a great way to wrap up the evening, especially if some of your guests are willing to bring a musical instrument like a guitar, ukulele, or harmonica.

Prepare the food
Once you’ve decided on a menu, make sure you have the means to keep the food you want to serve at the right temperature. You’ll need a cooler for drinks and a slow cooker or warming tray for dishes best enjoyed hot. Place vegetable platters and salads over ice to keep them chilled.

Check the weather
Rent a few umbrellas or a party tent. This way you can offer shade if it’s sunny and shelter if it rains. Inflatable kiddie pools will help keep your guests comfortable on a hot day, and patio heaters are ideal for a cool evening. You should also securely fasten tablecloths and decorations in case it gets windy.

Finally, remember to be courteous and invite your neighbors to join the fun. They’re less likely to be disturbed by your event if they’re guests.

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How to house-train your ferret

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If you want to let your ferret wander freely in your home, here’s how to house-train it.

In the cage
Set up a litter box in one corner of your ferret’s cage and place its food, water, and bedding in the other corners. Since ferrets like to keep their living spaces clean, you’ll limit the places where your pet is likely to relieve itself. Place your ferret in the litter box as soon as it wakes up and before taking it out to play. This will help your ferret develop good bathroom habits.

Around the house

Once your ferret learns how to use the litter box in its cage, set up one in every room of the house where your friend is allowed to roam. Pay attention, and if you see your ferret back into a corner and lift its tail, pick up your pet and place it in a nearby litter box.

If you notice your ferret prefers to do its business in a particular area of the house, set up a litter box there. If it’s an inconvenient location, make it a spot for food or bedding instead. This way your ferret will associate the space with other activities.

Positive reinforcement will speed up learning, so remember to reward your ferret with affection or a toy immediately after a successful trip to the litter box.

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How to make your pool more energy efficient

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Swimming pools require a ton of energy to heat and operate. Here’s how to make it less costly for you and the environment.

• Use a solar cover. It’ll capture the sun’s heat during the day and help maintain the water’s temperature at night. To maximize the benefits, keep your pool covered for at least 16 hours a day. A solar cover also allows you to conserve water (and the pool chemicals in it) by reducing evaporation.

• Install an efficient pump. Water needs to circulate through the pump faster for cleaning than it does for filtration. A variable or two-speed system automatically adjusts the flow rate based on its operation. An in-ground pool will use up to 65 percent less energy if an Energy Star certified pump is installed.

• Opt for a heat pump. This type of pump draws considerably less electricity because it mostly relies on ambient summer air to heat the pool’s water. For increased energy savings, lower the programmed temperature by a few degrees.

Even without investing in this equipment, you can reduce the amount of energy it takes to maintain your pool. Set up a timer on the pump so it’ll turn it off periodically. This allows the pump to use less power without compromising water quality.

Hot tubs
Ideally, hot tubs should be sheltered from the elements, particularly the wind. Choose a sturdy, well-insulated cover and make sure to close it after you use the hot tub. If you know you won’t be using it for a while, set it to sleep mode. Shut it off completely for the winter.

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