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5 tips to feel better immediately during spring allergy season

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(BPT) – From flowers poking through the ground to ditching heavy winter parkas, it’s easy to look forward to spring. Unless, of course, you have allergies. Then, the path to warmer weather and additional daylight could be marked with watery eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. Makes it hard to be excited, right?

It doesn’t have to.

While spring carries its own concerns for allergy sufferers everywhere, there is relief. Now is the perfect time to set plans in place to help ease your allergy symptoms before they begin.

“People think they’re doing everything they can to battle spring allergies,” says allergist Bradley Chipps, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “But many still find themselves under siege from pollen and other allergens that appear once the weather starts to warm up. What they don’t realize is that by following a few simple rules they can make life a lot more pleasant, and their allergies more bearable.”

As you start your spring allergy planning, keep these five tips from ACAAI in mind. Use them and your spring will be filled with flowers and breezes, not coughing and sneezes.

1. It may not only be allergies. In some cases the symptoms you are experiencing may not be caused by allergies alone but by another complication such as asthma. Research shows two-thirds of people with asthma also suffer from allergies, making symptoms worse during the spring season. If your symptoms include a persistent cough or feeling winded quickly, asthma could be the cause of your trouble. If this sounds familiar, consult your allergist. Your allergist can help identify the source of your asthma and help treat your allergies to manage your symptoms.

2. Take a deep dive for spring cleaning. Spring cleaning is a must for many people, but if you suffer from allergies, it’s even more important. Clearing dust and cobwebs can ease your sneezing, but for better results, roll up your sleeves and give your home a deep scrub. A thorough cleaning can eliminate allergens such as dust mites and mold, and clear the air.

3. Start your relief early on. Don’t wait for your eyes to begin watering before taking your allergy medicine. Start your medications at least two weeks before the season begins, and they will already be in your system when you really need it.

4. Clean your air effectively. When looking for support to clean the air in your home, don’t choose an ionic air filter. These filters require more airflow to operate properly than most homes are able to provide. Instead choose a HEPA room air cleaner rated with a Clean Air Delivery Rate. If you have central air, change your filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 to keep your air as clean as possible.

5. Resist the urge to breathe in fresh air. After months cooped up indoors, you want a fresh breeze, but before you open your windows, beware. Opening windows allows pollen and other debris into your home where they can settle in your carpet or upholstery. As hard as it can be, you’re better off keeping your windows closed during peak allergy season. Use your air conditioning to regulate your home’s temperature instead.

For people with allergies, spring’s annual arrival feels like a mixed blessing. By using the tips above, you can ensure that you have everything you need to make spring great. And you’ll do so with less of the coughing and sneezing that can go with it.

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Why you next car will probably be electric

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(BPT) – Love them, hate them, or don’t really care, electric vehicles are beginning to take over transportation conversations and roadways, and soon, boats and planes. Already, there were 16.5 million electric cars on the road worldwide in 2021, three times more than in 2018, according to S&P Global. Though still in the early adopter phase, here are four reasons your next vehicle is likely to be electric.

Auto manufacturers are phasing out the production of internal combustion engine (ICE) models. General Motors announced in 2021 that the company will only sell vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, across all global markets. Similarly, leading companies like Ford committed to zero emissions globally by 2040 and no later than 2035 in key markets. Some states are making the same commitment. Through Michigan’s Healthy Climate plan, for example, the state is working to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050, including through electrifying vehicles and increasing public transit.

States are accelerating the push for EVs through legislation. The Air Resources Board is offering a Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, making new and used electric cars more affordable for consumers, as some states seek to ban the sale of ICE model vehicles. On the federal level, as part of a broad new Inflation Reduction Act — designed to address climate change, healthcare, and taxes — a new tax credit of up to $4,000 on used electric cars and revised tax credits of up to $7,500 on certain new EVs are available for prospective buyers to take advantage of. These legislative changes highlight the need for tangible progress in increasing the accessibility of EVs.

States are building out supporting infrastructure for EVs. All over the United States, you will find EV chargers popping up at local supermarkets, malls and sporting events. Michigan is taking it a step further by bringing chargers to state parks and working with public universities on pilot programs and research programs to improve battery design. The Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour, for example, is a network of EV chargers that, once completed, will span over 1,100 miles of drivable shoreline around Lake Michigan throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

“We are going to see a huge uptick in EV adoption, especially as manufacturers continue to diversify the EV models on the market, lower prices for increased accessibility, and partner with states to ensure infrastructure is catching up with the high-tech innovation happening across the country,” says Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer for the State of Michigan. “It’s only a matter of time before your neighbors are driving one too.”

Beyond incentives and legislation, we’re still human and want to keep up with our neighbors and peers. EVs have been around for almost 30 years, with the first mass-produced, purpose-built modern electric car from one of the industry’s key players released in 1996 from General Motors. Soon, EVs will make up a majority of new cars available. And, with the many financial incentives and user benefits associated with making the shift to EVs, it may not take long for you to begin reimagining how an EV could fit into your life, too.

While your next car choice will hinge on a range of factors — lifestyle, brand preference, car features, safety ratings, availability and price — you may be surprised how many boxes an EV can tick. Even without gas, there’s a lot of sustainable power under their hoods.

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Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away

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Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away

(BPT) – Food and gas prices continue to rise, on top of record-high housing costs in many cities across the U.S. If you’re an older adult who is already living on a tight budget, today’s inflation can be particularly difficult. Fortunately, there are programs available that can help you save money on health care, prescriptions, food, utilities and more.

One of the easiest ways to find out if you’re eligible for benefits is to visit the National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckUp.org. The free and confidential tool connects older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers to benefit programs. The site is easy to use, even for people with minimal digital experience.

“It only takes a few minutes to learn about all the programs available and how to apply,” said Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of NCOA. “For example, there are Medicare programs that can boost your budget by helping with prescription drug costs, as well as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.”

There are thousands of programs on BenefitsCheckUp, including:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can help you pay for healthy food
  • The Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs, which can help people with Medicare afford their out-of-pocket health care expenses
  • The Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing Programs, which can help with housing costs
  • Supplemental Security Income, which provides cash for basic needs
  • The Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounted internet services
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can help you pay for home heating and cooling

Millions of older adults are eligible for, but not enrolled in these programs. In fact, NCOA estimates that $30 billion in benefits go unused each year simply because older adults don’t know about these programs — or how to apply.

BenefitsCheckUp.org will give you a personalized list of benefits you may be eligible for and the steps you need to apply, including links to the correct government agencies and applications. Just a few minutes could save you money every month.

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Helping teens develop financial literacy

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(Family Features) Developing financial knowledge and effective money management habits are important stepping stones for teenagers to become financially stable adults who aspire to build assets and achieve personal goals.

For example, most teens (88%) would like to own a home someday, according to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of Junior Achievement USA and Fannie Mae. The survey of 1,000 teens ages 13-17 in the United States found most (85%) believe “owning a home” is part of “the good life,” compared to nearly as many adults (87%). However, fewer than half (45%) could correctly identify the definition of a home mortgage and 76% said they lacked clear understanding of credit scores.

“There’s been this theme that younger Americans aren’t interested in homeownership, but the results of this survey contradict that assumption,” said Jack E. Kosakowski, president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA. “Teens appear interested in owning a home someday but seem to realize they need more information on how to do it.”

To help teens gain a better understanding of financial decisions they’ll face in adulthood, consider these common terms.

Credit Score
While nearly all teens (96%) believe credit scores play an important role in the ability to purchase a home, approximately 3 in 4 (76%) said they understood credit scores only “somewhat,” “a little” or “not at all.” A credit score is a number from 300-850 based on a number of factors, including credit history, open accounts, total debt, repayment history and more. Lenders use credit scores to evaluate a person’s ability to repay loans.

A person’s credit score may also determine the size of a down payment needed when purchasing a smartphone or home, or the deposit needed for renting property or obtaining utilities and may impact interest rates and credit limits on credit cards. Generally, scores below 620 may require paying a higher rate, a shorter repayment term or a co-signer. Scores of 700 or higher are considered more favorable to creditors and may result in lower interest rates while scores higher than 800 typically provide the most benefits to consumers.

Mortgage
While a slight majority of white teens (52%) correctly identified the definition of a mortgage, only around a quarter (26%) of Black teens and fewer than half (41%) of Hispanic or Latino teens could do so. A mortgage is a type of loan used to purchase or maintain a home, land or other types of real estate. The borrower makes a down payment for a portion of the purchase price then borrows the rest from a lender. The borrower then repays the lender over a number of years – typically 15-30 – via a series of regular payments that are divided into principal (the money originally borrowed) and interest with the property serving as security.

Nearly all teens surveyed (97%) thought it would be helpful if schools offered lessons that explained homeownership, including mortgages. In response, Fannie Mae is supporting the development and deployment of Junior Achievement learning experiences for thousands of students annually in various age groups by integrating relevant content from its HomeView homeownership course materials and resources, which are designed with first-time homebuyers in mind.

“Young people today are the homebuyers of tomorrow,” said Jeffery Hayward, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, Fannie Mae. “By providing them access to quality, foundational education now, Fannie Mae and Junior Achievement are helping these future homeowners prepare for the mortgage and homebuying process when they’re ready to take that step.”

Visit ja.org for more tips and information to help teens improve their financial knowledge and reach their goals.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


SOURCE:
Junior Achievement

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