If the sweetheart you want to snuggle up to on Valentine’s Day is passionate about protecting the planet, the way to their heart maybe with an eco-friendly dinner and gift. Here’s how to pull it off.
Wining and dining
Whether you decide to eat out, order in, or cook a meal, opt for a dinner made with organic, locally grown ingredients. Your loved one will be impressed that you considered the importance of sourcing fresh food, supporting local farmers, and limiting the fossil fuels used to transport goods. You’ll find these ingredients at farmers markets and in specialty aisles at your local grocery store. If you’d rather not cook, look for a farm-to-table restaurant in your area.
As for the wine, opt for one that’s organic and comes from a sustainable vineyard. There are many great choices available, and you’re sure to find one that suits your palette and budget.
The perfect gift
Woo your love-interest with one or more of these gifts:
• Organic flowers or, better yet, a potted plant. Easy-to-care-for options include aloe vera, philodendrons, and snake plants.
• Fair-trade, organic chocolate. Some brands also use environmentally friendly packaging.
• An all-natural perfume. Look for one that’s never been tested on animals and is certified organic, vegan, and free of petrochemicals, solvents, dyes, and alcohol.
• Sustainable undies. Choose garments made of organic cotton, bamboo, or hemp.
• Jewelry sourced from a supplier that uses conflict-free diamonds and gemstones mined using sustainable, low-impact practices.
You can find these and other eco-friendly gifts at the stores in your region.
Buying local for the holidays: a gift to your community
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for many merchants and service providers in your area. But did you know that if you buy local this Christmas, you’ll help support your community?
Here’s what you should know.
A small gesture with a big impact
In addition to endorsing the merchants in your area, buying local allows you to contribute to your region’s economy by keeping jobs in the community. Plus, it’s a great way to invest in your neighborhood’s businesses. After all, your support is what makes it possible for them to offer a wide variety of products and services.
Furthermore, a business that earns more money from transactions made by local citizens contributes a greater amount of tax revenue to the government. This money can then be reinvested in services that benefit the entire community.
Finally, buying local products helps protect the environment. This is because fewer greenhouse gases are emitted when locally made goods are transported to stores in the area.
Think outside the box
Buying local isn’t just about the products you can put in a shopping cart; it’s also about investing in your region’s many services. For example, think of the various offerings provided by regional businesses in the arts such as museums, theaters, galleries, and more.
This year for Christmas, consider giving an experience as a gift. It may turn out to be the perfect way to spend quality time with a loved one.
Special deals and great opportunities
During the holiday season, it’s not uncommon to see city officials and business organizations implement initiatives to encourage people to buy locally. This may include posting online directories that list all the businesses in the area. In addition, sometimes stores will offer special promotions, gifts, and discounts to local residents.
This year for Christmas, give yourself and your community the gift of buying local.
The benefits of shopping on Black Friday
Black Friday is just around the corner, and for many, this kicks off the holiday shopping season. Are you wondering whether it’s worth braving crowded stores to take advantage of incredible deals? Here are three major perks to shopping on November 26, 2021.
1. You get more bang for your buck. Black Friday is a prime opportunity to stock up on all the items you need at a reduced price. Not only will you pay less than usual, but the deals offered will likely allow you to afford high-quality models of the items you want.
2. You get to finish your holiday shopping. With the right preparation, you can check most gifts off your shopping list before December even starts. This will reduce your stress in the coming weeks and allow you to focus on spending time with loved ones.
3. You get to be more generous. With so many items on sale, you don’t have to think twice about spoiling family and friends. You’ll also find plenty of well-priced products for co-workers, children’s teachers, and other people on your gift list.
While it does have its benefits, Black Friday can be a tumultuous event. Keep in mind the spirit of the season, and remember to be courteous toward other shoppers and retail staff.
Tularemia and how to prevent it
Do you enjoy hunting or trapping small game? If so, you must take a few precautions to avoid contracting tularemia. Here’s an overview of what you need to know.
Tularemia is a rare infectious disease that affects wild animals such as hares, beavers, muskrats, and squirrels. Humans can contract this potentially fatal disease in a variety of ways, including:
• Coming into contact with the droppings of an infected animal
• Handling the carcass of an infected animal
• Consuming the undercooked meat of an infected animal
• Getting bitten by certain species of ticks, mosquitos, and flies
• Inhaling or ingesting airborne tularemia bacteria
Animals infected with tularemia usually exhibit unusual behavior and may have visible sores and swollen glands.
How to prevent infection
There are several ways you can protect yourself from tularemia. You should:
• Avoid coming into contact with wild animals that appear ill
• Wear gloves and goggles when handling or preparing game meat, and sanitize any surfaces and equipment with a diluted bleach solution
• Avoid eating organ meats that are swollen or have whitish spots
• Cook game meat thoroughly
• Wash your hands with soap and water after handling game
In addition, it’s a good idea to use insect repellent and wear long pants, long sleeves, and socks to prevent bug bites.
The symptoms of tularemia
The symptoms of tularemia vary depending on how the affected person was exposed to the bacteria. Possible indicators include fever, muscle and abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, skin ulcers, throat inflammation, and vomiting. If you experience any of these symptoms after being bitten by an insect or coming into contact with a wild animal, immediately consult a doctor to receive the appropriate antibiotic treatment.
How to avoid falling victim to consumer fraud
To help ensure you don’t get scammed out of your hard-earned money, here’s an overview of how to detect and prevent some of the most common types of consumer fraud.
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information, such as your name, social insurance number, and bank account information, for financial gain.
A few ways to safeguard your information include:
• Using complex, secure passwords on all your online accounts
• Shredding credit card receipts, utility bills, and bank account statements
• Leaving important ID documents at home in a safe place
If you don’t know why someone is requesting your personal information, it’s always a good idea to ask them for clarification.
Debt collection fraud
This type of fraud happens when scammers pose as collection agencies and demand payment of fake outstanding debts.
Fraudulent debt collectors will:
• Withhold information from you, including the exact amount of the so-called debt and the name of the creditor
• Pressure you to pay with cash, a prepaid debit card, or by money transfer
• Ask for personal information, such as your bank account or social insurance number
Never share any financial or personal information unless you’re 100 percent certain you’re dealing with a real collection agency.
This kind of fraud occurs when phony fundraisers request donations for a charitable organization.
Fraudulent charities will:
• Pressure you to donate immediately
• Only accept cash, gift cards, and wire transfers
• Refuse to provide detailed information about the organization
To avoid a charity scam, ask for information in writing before you donate.
Lastly, you should always trust your gut instinct. If something feels off, it probably is.
6 tips to help you save for retirement
Many Americans struggle to understand the logistics of retirement and how to save. In fact, one in four Americans have no retirement savings and, in many cases, those who are saving aren’t putting away enough. Here are six practical tips to help you get ready for retirement.
1. Understand your current spending. Know how much you currently spend so you can compare it with your projected retirement spending. Managing your current spending can help you save for the future.
2. Plan your future lifestyle. Now’s the time to think about how you want to live out your golden years. Many people assume their retirement spending will amount to approximately 70 percent of their current spending (known as the 70 percent rule). This may not be realistic by today’s standards. Consider how you want to spend your retirement, and create a budget to match that lifestyle.
3. Expect inflation. Rising prices are inevitable. Be sure to keep inflation in mind when planning your retirement.
4. Save on auto-pilot. Setting up regular deposits into a savings account can help you build your nest egg without having to lift a finger.
5. Pay off your mortgage. Home expenses comprise a significant portion of your fixed costs. Paying off your mortgage before retirement can help eliminate this monthly expense.
6. Work with a financial adviser. Hire a good investment professional and work with them regularly to keep your savings on track. Ask friends and family members for recommendations if you don’t currently work with a financial adviser.
With proper planning and a little help, you can prepare yourself for the realities of retirement.
How to set retirement goals
Having clear retirement objectives can help you save for the future. Here’s how to set achievable goals for this chapter in your life.
Budget for retirement
Do you know how you want to spend your retirement? While certain expenses will disappear, others will increase. Having an idea of what you want your lifestyle to look like will help you determine how much money you’ll need to live on each year when you’re retired.
Estimate the length of your retirement
Once you know how much you plan to spend annually, you’ll need to estimate the number of years you’ll spend in retirement. This will help you determine when you can retire. The current life expectancy in Canada is approximately 80 years for men and 84 years for women. If you retire at age 65, you can expect to live another 15 to 19 years on average.
Determine how much you need to save
It’s recommended that you set aside at least 10 percent of your net annual income for retirement. This amount will vary depending on your age when you start saving, the rate of return on your investments, and your retirement budget.
If you’re struggling to achieve your goals, don’t hesitate to consult a financial adviser. A professional can help you come up with a winning strategy to achieve your objectives.