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HOW TO CHOOSE

A guide to products & services in the Golden Triangle

Sunday, January 27, 2019


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f you’re putting your house up for sale, you selling homes similar to yours.

HOW TO
need a reputable realtor. It’s that simple. Look at an agency’s listings to see if your
Selling a home can be a really stressful home would fit in nicely with their existing
experience. Of course you want your property clients. If you were purchasing a home, would
sold as quickly as possible, and at the best you find their listings easy to read and infor-

CHOOSE
price possible. But many buyers settle, taking mative?
lowball offers just to get the sale over with. The size of the agency will have an impact
A good real estate service, though, can on your experience. Small agencies can pro-
make a world of difference. vide more personalized service, but they may
When putting your home on the market, not have the networking advantages of a large
you need a real estate agency that will act in company. Big agencies have more opportuni-
m your best interests. So it’s critical that you ties to network and sell your home, but they
m work with a high-quality agency. Seek rec- may have to divide their time among many
ommendations from your family, friends and clients.
A real estate
m neighbors. They may have been through the Be prepared to ask an agency the following
m process already, and can offer helpful advice questions if you are selling your home:

agency m on finding a reputable realtor. • How will you advertise my home? Will
Be sure to get all the information you can you use the Internet and newspapers?
m on how other people feel about their own • How many pictures of my house will
m experiences. appear online?
When you have written down a list of pos- • On which sites will my home be featured?
m sibilities, it’s time to do some research. Learn • Do you have other homes that have re-
m how long the agency you’re considering has cently been sold in this price range?
m been in business. Working with people who • How long has the agency been selling
know your community is the ideal option. homes in my neighborhood?
m Buying and selling homes is a full time job, • What makes your agency unique?
m so look for dedicated realtors. If the real estate The two biggest financial decisions you will
agency is merely a side business, it might not make in your lifetime are buying and selling
m give you the best results. a home. Protect your investment and peace of
m Go online, reading Internet websites that mind by choosing the best and most trust-
m feature customer service reviews. These worthy real estate agency you can find.
reviews should also help shape your overall
m impression of an agency.
m After you’ve narrowed your list, contact
some businesses and ask them questions.
m You should know about their listings, fees and
m commissions.
m Choose an agency that has connections
with the community, a sharp understanding
m of neighborhoods that interest you, and solid
m contacts with other realty companies.
This assumes major importance when
m you’re selling your current house, because
m the agency usually handles the sale while the
realtor helps you find your new one.
m The marketing strategy and advertising is
m what makes each agency unique. It will great-
m ly influence the sale of your home.
Although most companies might look the
m same, real estate agencies have a preference
m for the kind of properties they show or sell.
These concentrations might include commer-
m cial properties or high-end homes. Try to find
m a business with a focus that concentrates on
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veryone can benefit from the services for each advisor. Has the rate of return on

HOW TO
of a financial adviser. It’s not just for his recommendations outpaced the average
the wealthy. Whether your assets are market rate of return over time? An advisor
modest or are valued in the millions, a good with a solid rate of return conducts research
financial adviser can help you achieve your to strengthen his clients’ portfolios.

CHOOSE
financial goals. During tough or stagnant economic times,
A good financial planner will listen to you experience will play a vital role. Has your advi-
and develop a plan tailored to your particular sor weathered previous economic slowdowns?
needs. They can teach you to take charge of Do clients thrive in bleak environments? Or
your household expenses, help you plan for have clients taken multiple hits to their port-
retirement and give you tips on reducing your folios?
m tax burden.
m They can also educate you on strategies for Fees or commissions
handling your investments and serve as great
A financial
m advisors to help steer your finances when the
Inquire about how your advisor is paid for
m services. Most offer fee-based or commis-
larger economy takes a downturn. sion-based services.

advisor m Not everyone has the same financial goals A commission-based advisor is prone to
and a good adviser will recognize your unique suggesting financial products that offer a
m goals and help you plan for the future. professional commission. It could needlessly
m A good place to start when you’re ready increase your exposure to risk. Only use a
to find a financial advisor is by talking to the
m people you know and trust.
commission-based advisor if he or she has a
proven track record of success.
m Narrow your choices down to three or four When you need someone who puts your
m options. Then start taking a closer look at best interests first, go with a fee-based advi-
each of your choices. Consider going with a sor. He or she will be compensated only for
m financial advisor who is a certified financial the time spent on serving your portfolio.
m planner. These professionals will have re-
ceived additional training, and passed rigor-
m ous standard examinations leading to their Interview
m certification. Once you have narrowed your prospects to
The next step is to contact the certifying two or three possibilities, schedule a meeting
m with each professional. During this consulta-
organizations to discover whether there
m have been any complaints made against each tion, communicate your goals honestly and
advisor you’re considering. If that’s the case, clearly. A financial planner should be someone
m who will guide and inform you. He or she will
be sure to find out how those complaints were
m resolved. continually increase your knowledge about
m your current financial situation and how to
m Areas of expertise improve it.
Financial products can contribute to your
m well-being and peace of mind. Some common Put it in writing
m investing tools include bonds, mutual funds, Once you have narrowed your list to one or
stocks and commodities. two advisors; ask each to write a plan for mov-
m Weighing risk is essential. Some products ing you from where you are to where you want
m will undoubtedly be better for your portfolio to be. Get a written copy of this proposal.
than others. An experienced financial advisor This document should have your short-
m can customize a portfolio especially for you. term and long-term goals, and also state who
m You can also do some research to find a else will profit from the proposal.
m segment of the market that might be a good This plan should be written clearly so you
fit for your situation. Then look for an advisor completely understand it.
m who specializes in that investment. Once everything has been completed to
m your satisfaction, you can choose a financial
m Rate of success advisor. Then you can comfortably relax and
Success rate will also play a prominent role know that your money and future are in good
m in your decision. Look at the rate of success hands.
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high-quality lawn tractor can assist you While they have been used for years by com-

HOW TO
with a variety of tasks, from making mercial lawn crews, only recently have these
landscaping easier and even more mowers become affordable for the average
enjoyable. homeowner.
Tractors used for lawn care are available in Zero-turn mowers are particularly useful

CHOOSE
many price ranges, but carefully considering when mowing close to homes, playground
your needs will help find the right cost. equipment and other tight areas.
Lawn tractors make your yard work much
easier, diminishing the time it takes to mow
your lawn. Finding a good lawn tractor; one
Durability
The longevity of your lawn tractor is also an
that’s built to last, will go a long way toward important consideration.
m making your job less of a hassle and more The brand’s reputation should weigh heav-
m pleasant. ily when you are making a decision. Research
Consider the following guidelines before
A lawn
m you make the purchase:
consumer reviews and talk to your friends and
family members about the best brands of lawn
m products.
The right fit
tractor m
m Lawn tractors come in a variety of capabili-
ties and price points. Most range from $1,000
Also, visiting a retail store and talking to
knowledgeable salespeople will also help you.
There are plenty of low-end, affordable
m for a simple, basic model to $8,000 or more riding mowers out there, but few have a rep-
m for a fully-featured, commercial-grade tractor. utation for durability. It is economical in the
In between, you will find a vast mixture of long run to choose a well-built model from a
m features and quality. reputable manufacturer.
m You can select the right model by asking Inspect the construction of each lawn
m yourself how you will use the lawn tractor. mower careful to verify that it will meet your
The size of your lawn is important, of course. needs. While you probably don’t need the
m Bigger lawns need a wider mowing deck. You extreme engineering and high price of a
m should also consider other things you will do commercial-grade model, you ought to buy
with your lawn tractor. the best model you can afford and follow the
m High-end lawn tractors are more like piec- maintenance directions closely. It will help
m es of farm equipment than traditional ride-on you get the most usage for your money.
mowers. You can purchase accessories for Finding a good dealer is an essential part of
m them, such as baggers, trailers, powerful the process. When you locate an experienced
m tillers and snowblowers. local retailer with a long track record of happy
m You are not only buying a lawn mower. customers, you will be well on your way to
These tractors are platforms that can be used selecting the right lawn tractor for you.
m for all kinds of jobs. So check on the accesso-
m ries that come with each model, even if you
don’t plan on purchasing them yet. You may
m appreciate the choices in the future.
m
m Speed, maneuverability
Most people want to finish the job in the
m least amount of time.
m While it is true that large mowing decks
m will cover more ground with each pass, there
are other things to consider as well.
m The transmission and speed is also a factor.
m How easy is it for you to change gears and
turn in different directions?
m The zero-turn mower is another popular
m option. These vehicles can turn quickly and
precisely to cut lawns of all sizes and shapes.
m
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or 2019, Side by Sides (UTV) tend to knees aren’t quite what they use to be or

HOW TO
be the choice for the off road buyer. For you’ve never ridden but would like to, you need
drivers 16 and older, there is still room to look into ‘triking” or actually four-wheeling.
for passengers and they are equipped with The “Voyager” kit adds two wheels, much
seat belts. They come in all sizes and speeds. like training wheels. The Voyager kit has the

CHOOSE
In choosing your Side by Side, you need to advantage of not changing the integrity of the
decide exactly what your main activity will motorcycle frame. It can be removed if and
be—whether speed, mud, work, or leisure is when you want to go back to two wheels.
the most important! Scooters are another option for those want-
If you are going for the traditional ATV— ing to feel the wind in their face. They come in
the four-wheeler, you need to be aware of all sizes from the 50cc units to the large 650cc.
m Federal age requirements. Full size units are Prices range from under $1500 to $10,000.
m for 16 and older. Smaller units are available Always remember your safety gear—a
for children as young as six years old. They good fitting helmet, eye protection in the form
A motorcycle
m come in manual shift or automatic or electric of glasses or face shield, a jacket (even in
m shift with and without power steering. The summer) to protect your arms, long pants for
m four-wheelers are made for a single driver and your legs, gloves, boots preferably, but at least
warn against riding passengers. shoes! NO FLIPFLOPS! Rain suits can be
m Dirt bikes are the machines of choice for stuffed into back packs or under the seats of
m beginning riders. As soon as a child can ride a most bikes. Leather is good but in the South,
bicycle, they can be ready for their first motor- Steel mesh is cooler and very tough. Hi Viz
m cycle. Engine sizes range from 50cc to 125cc yellow is the color of choice for lots of riders
m in non-competition dirt bikes. Motocross or this year.
m Enduro bikes range from 85cc to 450 or larger, The biggest part of choosing a motorcycle
depending or the size and experience of the is choosing your dealership. The internet is
m rider. great for looking but you need to buy in a store
m Whether it is street or dirt or dual sport or from someone that will show you the features
ATV or Side by Side (UTV) the first step is of the bikes, service your bike, explain your
m to go to your local dealership and see what is warranty, and help you have a great adventure.
m available. You can always go online and see ev- A word of caution about internet and “furni-
m erything, but there is nothing like the chrome, ture store” scooters and motorcycles: Often
rubber and steel to get your motor running. they have odd sized batteries and tires and are
m Sit on the bikes (most dealers encourage it!) hard to get any warranty work done on them.
m See how it feels. Check out your leg and foot “Cheap prices” are for throw away bikes. Most
position and your arm reach for a comfortable shops can’t work on them because they have
m ride. Know if you will be having a passenger no specs or service manuals, and parts are
m and how comfortable the extra seat is for the ordered generically by looking at pictures on
m passenger and if you will be making long trips the computer screen. Will the place you buy
or short. be there next year for service and parts? Get
m The full dressed tourers are the favorites value not bargains.
m of the retiring crowd- something big, com- Motorcycles and scooters are great ma-
fortable and ready to take on a long road trip. chines for fun and transportation. Take the
m They already have windshields, bags, floor- Motorcycle Safety Foundation course and
m board and guard with lots of other extras that learn the ins and outs. You can usually get a
are easily added. discount on your insurance if you have had the
m The dual sports or on/off road bikes are a course. Read the State licensing book careful-
m favorite of those that have to navigate dirt or ly before you go to the Highway Patrol Station
m gravel roads on their daily commute or those to take the test. It’s online under the Mississip-
that want to take short side trips on the week- pi Public Safety web site. It’s your responsibili-
m end. The larger dual sports, 650cc and up, are ty to be seen. Black says “ biker” but reflective
m for those Adventure riders who are ready for orange and green say “safety” and white is
the big trip cross country or cross continent cooler in the summer. Have fun and been seen.
m ride. Ride the adventure and live your dream.
m If you are rekindling the passion but the
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sed car dealers often get a bad rap — tors of a reliable business.

HOW TO
and some disreputable sellers certainly When you find a business that gets more
deserve it. But a good used car from than one positive review, make sure to check
a reputable dealer can be a great value. And them out.
with a little careful research, you can avoid

CHOOSE
getting stuck with a lemon from a dishonest
dealer.
Make appointments
Compile a list of dealerships you want to
Buying a used car can be challenging, visit.
especially if it is an unexpected purchase due Call and make appointments with salespeo-
to a wreck or breakdown. But being well-in- ple. Ask them about financing and extended
formed will help you make smart decisions warranties. Both may figure prominently in
m rather than impulse buys once you get on the your decision-making process.
m car lot. Try to speak with everyone on your list.
Most importantly, informed shopping
A used car
m means you’ll avoid getting taken advantage
Comparing as many people as possible will
help you avoid making a hasty, uninformed
m of. Your goal is to find a gently used vehicle decision.
m without paying more than necessary.
Here are some steps to help you choose the
m right dealer.
Visit the dealerships
See each dealership in person to look for
m cars that match your type. Going there will
m Choose your vehicle help you feel confident about doing business
If you know the type of vehicle you’re look- with them.
m ing for, it will save you time and effort. Even if When you look at cars, ask about mainte-
m you don’t know the exact make and model, at nance and previous owner reports.
m least have an idea of the automobile type. Don’t purchase a car on the first visit. Just
Are you searching for a sports car, SUV, take a business card and move on to the next
m pickup truck or van? Focusing on the type of dealership on your list.
m car will help you avoid wasting time visiting Once you have seen everyone on your list,
dealerships that don’t sell the type of used car research customer reviews of the ones who
m you need. impressed you the most. You will find the best
m dealership by considering who will give you
m Search “Kelly’s Blue Book” the best deal and who has received the best
Know how much you can afford to spend. customer reviews.
m Knowing your budget ahead of time is crucial.
m How much do you want to pay, both upfront Finding the right used car dealer is almost
and in financing? Search the Kelly Blue as important as buying the best used vehicle.
m Book (http://kbb.com) or the NADA Guides After all, you want to make sure you are doing
m (http://nada.com/) for what you might spend business with reputable people who will stand
m on the type of car you prefer. behind their sales. You don’t want to end up
Search the Internet and car websites, too. with a ‘lemon’ and end up having to start the
m They can be great resources to help you get a search for a new used car all over again.
m firm idea of the asking prices for the type of
car you’re looking for.
m
m Talk to friends and family
m Chances are, you already know someone
who’s knowledgeable about cars and dealers.
m Friends and family members who enjoy cars
m as a hobby will have information for you about
m reliable dealers. If they have recently pur-
chased a used car, they will have experience
m with who treated them right — as well as who
m didn’t. Word of mouth is one of the best indica-
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ar repairs are among the most disruptive repaired?

HOW TO
intrusions into a busy person’s sched- • Inquire about their customer satisfaction
ule. That’s why it’s important to catch policy. Look around the shop. Is the equip-
small problems early, before they balloon into ment in good condition? Is it clean, well-lit and
bigger, more expensive ones. organized? These factors all contribute to a

CHOOSE
If you’re looking to keep your car running level of professionalism.
great and avoid large repair bills, the solu- • Look for brand names and proper certifi-
tion is simple: regular maintenance for your cation. Does the auto repair shop use brand-
vehicle. name parts? These parts are engineered to
As an automobile owner, you should con- meet the manufacturer’s specifications and
sider building a good relationship with a local, will likely come with a warranty. Shops may
m high-quality auto repair shop. That relation- use remade or generic brands which your
m ship can make a huge difference when you insurance policy may not cover, so be sure to
find yourself facing unexpected repairs. check.
An auto
m No matter your car’s age, maintaining a • Are the auto technicians certified by a
m relationship with a repair shop is crucial. Cars specific car manufacturer, the National Insti-

repair shop m always need tires, oil changes or even major tute for Automotive Services or Automotive
maintenance, like an engine or transmission Science Excellence? Is the shop approved by
m replacement. A standing relationship with a the American Automobile Association? If so,
m reputable auto repair shop makes it much eas- this indicates a customer approval rating of 90
ier to address repairs and other maintenance percent or higher and the ability to adequately
m issues. perform the services advertised.
m What if you don’t have a relationship with a • Compare the services and fees of each
m good mechanic? Locate a shop and take your shop in the area to find out the average price
car in for its scheduled tune-up and mainte- ranges.
m nance work. Regard this as an audition for the Don’t pick a shop based on cost; poor repair
m shop you’ve chosen: your car needs the pre- work will mean higher costs in the long run.
ventive maintenance work anyway, and taking Once you have found a shop you trust,
m it in for an oil change or air conditioning establish a good working relationship with
m service is a great way to try out a mechanic your mechanic. When you have great commu-
m and find out whether they’re equipped to meet nication, getting repair work completed will
your needs. be less painful.
m Consider these additional things to bear in
m mind when you’re looking for an auto repair
shop:
m • Most people choose an auto repair shop
m based on a referral from friends, family or
m coworkers. Fewer than 40 percent of new
customers are walk-ins.
m • The Better Business Bureau can inform
m you about the repair shop’s performance and
reliability.
m • People who travel often usually work
m with shops that offer a national warranty. For
instance, a warranty of 12,000 miles or 12
m months is handy for issues that keep cropping
m up, particularly in older cars.
m • Ask about the shop’s range of services.
They will need the latest technology to diag-
m nose problems with newer cars. For example,
m can your prospective shop handle brake
systems, electrical components and warranty
m repairs? Does the shop provide a loaner, rental
m car, or shuttle service while your car is being
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ou may be among the many parents who a subset of specific questions for each school.

HOW TO
want to explore school options available Then start contacting the institutions. If their
to families in your community. Many answers are satisfactory, make an appoint-
parents prefer private schools due to teach- ment to visit them. While there, inquire about
er-student ratio, quality of instruction, aca- the enrollment paperwork and any testing

CHOOSE
demic performance, opportunities, etc. your child will have to complete.
With so much information out there, choos- Check out the atmosphere of the school. Is
ing the right private school for your child can it relaxed or competitive? Is there structure
sometimes be overwhelming. You may even and discipline, or is it more relaxed? Most
be struggling with the choice between public importantly, will your child feel comfortable
and private schools. But the process will be there?
m easier, and your decision clearer, if you con- Be aware of how you are treated by the staff
m duct some research. at the schools you visit. They will be dealing
Consider the following tips as you think with your child throughout the day. Are they
A private
m about what you’re looking for in a private friendly, helpful and respectful? Try to meet as
m school. They can help you determine the right many of the staff and teachers as you can.

school m school for your child. Imagine your family engaging in school ac-
First of all, evaluate your child’s education- tivities. Is it easy to picture your child there? If
m al goals and needs. Does he have natural gifts your child accompanies you to these appoint-
m you are seeking to nurture? Are there any spe- ments, ask him or her about the school. Chil-
cial learning or medical needs that need to be dren often have special insights and reactions
m addressed? Has your child voiced an interest to environments.
m in any extra-curricular activities or academic After all tours are complete, review your
m subjects? findings. You should be able to start eliminat-
Friends, family members or teachers may ing schools.
m be able to offer you referrals. That should Now that you have visited the school, asked
m make for a strong start. questions and met the staff, you can also
Next, think about the features in a school develop a better understanding of the financial
m that are important to you (academics, location, cost of each school. Ask about financial aid, if
m safety, etc.) Make a list of these features. Will needed.
m your child attend a local day school or board- With diligence and forethought, you should
ing school? Are there travel or budgetary be able to find a great school option for your
m restrictions? Are extracurricular activities, child!
m such as sports, art or debate club important
and are they available?
m Internet research can provide an answer
m to many of these questions. Most sites will
m provide plenty of information as well as policy
summaries. Look at photo galleries and vid-
m eos. Some sites may even give virtual tours of
m the facilities.
Think about your child’s daily commute to
m school. Is transportation provided?
m After looking at these considerations, you
can now make a “short list” of schools. It will
m consist of institutions that fit your criteria.
m Ask your child for his or her opinion about
m these schools. Talk it over to decide which
ones are best.
m When the list is complete, it is time to nar-
m row it down even further. Determine entrance
requirements and be sure your child meets
m them.
m Make a list of general questions along with
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eady for college? With more than 4,000 perhaps even give you another hobby. You

HOW TO
universities to choose from, finding the might even enjoy your electives so much that
right one for your education needs can you decide to switch majors. Before applying
be a challenge. to a college, view a list of possible electives.
Making the right choice is vital to your

CHOOSE
future. Picking the wrong school can not only
derail your academic plans, but it can also
Alumni connections
Don’t forget to think of alumni connections
jeopardize your career future. in your family or circle of friends. A letter of
In other words, achieving your dream life recommendation or contact with others in
starts with picking an excellent institution your prospective field of study can advance
that reflects your specific educational needs. your career. Colleges look kindly upon people
m It’s a crucial decision, and choosing wisely with alumni connections. These profession-
m pays dividends that last a lifetime. als could also give you insight into avoiding
Here are some planning tips to help you be
A university
m confident you’re making the right choices for
pitfalls and how to best use your degree after
graduation.
m your future.
m Social activities
m Large or small school? Extracurricular activities and social events
How do you learn. Not everyone absorbs are another element to consider when choos-
m information and ideas in the same way. Con- ing a college. Connections you make outside
m sider whether you learn better in an intimate of the classroom are very important. Some
setting or a large classroom. Some schools universities are famous for their sororities
m have a small student-to-teacher ratio, while and fraternities. Others colleges have excel-
m others have auditoriums filled with students lent sports programs. Any school activities
m listening to a lecture. can help you network and make new friends.
When you start researching universities, Students even develop lifelong friendships this
m be sure to look for information on student way. The culture of your prospective universi-
m population and class sizes. ty should be a strong factor in your decision.
m Areas of specialty
m Online classes
A university’s reputation is very important. When you have outside commitments or
m In some professions, it can open up career op- you prefer to learn at home, consider taking
portunities that might otherwise never appear. online courses. Internet classes can save you
m Most colleges are renowned for a handful of money, especially when it comes to transpor-
m majors. Does the learning institution spe- tation.
cialize in your area of interest? Attending a Online courses may allow you to work at a
m prestigious university or college will give you faster pace than traditional university classes.
m opportunities and resources. The possibility Working at your own speed can assist you in
m of employment after graduation also dramat- graduating quickly or tend to your active life.
ically improves when your school has good If you are thinking about choosing an
m name recognition. online school, be sure to check their academic
m credentials and reputation. Also pick an insti-
m Minors tution in good standing.
After you’ve settled on a major, think about
m your other areas of interest. Many colleges Choosing an institution for higher educa-
m offer students the choice of adding a double tion doesn’t have to be a daunting task. And
major or minor to their plan of study. Even if taking the right steps can ensure that you
m you are going to pursue only one major, you begin your career training with an advantage.
m will likely need to have elective courses in This begins with understanding your academ-
m your schedule. ic and lifestyle needs.
These classes allow you to study something
m that will be beneficial and meaningful. They
m can also add a dimension to your work and
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f you’ve spent much time in hospitals, you pital may be accredited with the Joint Com-

HOW TO
know that they differ greatly. Some have mission, an organization that verifies specific
earned stellar reputations for providing the standards of care within medical facilities.
very best care using state-of-the-art technol- Accreditation means that they are passing
ogy and a world-class medical faculty. Others frequent performance reviews. You can be

CHOOSE
make the news for failing to measure up in one confident you are receiving quality care.
way or another. Awards and other certifications indicate
In short, all hospitals are not created equal. that a hospital offers consistent and safe care.
A facility with ultra-modern technology and The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit
a friendly, competent staff stands head and health care ratings organization was founded
shoulders above the rest. It’s the kind of facili- in 2000 by large employers and other purchas-
m ty you’d want for yourself or your loved ones. ers. The group uses 27 measures of publicly
m It’s important to select a hospital in your available hospital safety data to assign A, B,
area that will suit your needs — well before C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S.
A hospital
m you ever suffer an injury or become ill. Assess- hospitals twice each year. It is calculated by
m ing a hospital’s services in advance will allow top patient-safety experts, peer reviewed, fully
m you to make an informed decision, so that an transparent and free to the public. The Mag-
emergency will never catch you unprepared. net program recognizes excellence in nursing
m Consider these points as you look for the care and other aspects of hospital work.
m best hospital near you. Not all hospitals are Magnet certified. In
fact, this award is only given to a select few
m Convenience is important when it comes to facilities in the country.
m health care. A hospital’s location will make a
m difference in which one you choose. Ideally, Hospitals often have several areas in which
the hospital should be close to your home or they specialize. For example, two hospitals in
m place of work. the same city may offer care, but one special-
m In some areas, there’s only one hospital to izes in gastroenterology, while another has an
serve a smaller or widely dispersed popula- advanced cardiac unit.
m tion. Choosing a facility that’s out of the way Choosing the right hospital for your proce-
m will not only add to travel time, it is simply not dure will ensure you receive the highest level
m practical. After all, when an emergency hap- of care. In fact, some hospitals will transfer
pens, you will need to get to qualified person- patients to another facility if it has better
m nel as soon as possible. equipment and specialists.
m But if you have a medical condition and an
alternative facility farther away specializes in Determining the highest quality hospital
m it, that hospital might be a good choice. for your condition will help you achieve the
m You will have to balance convenience with best outcome during instances of illness or
m your personal circumstances. injury. Since hospitals offer a variety of care
and service types, be sure to analyze all the
m Check with your doctor about where he can options before you decide.
m work. Your preferred doctor should have priv- By knowing the facts and keeping your
ileges at the facility you choose. Physicians own priorities in mind, you will make a wise
m send patients to specific hospitals because it choice when selecting the hospital that is best
m is convenient for them. They are familiar with for you.
the site and can use the equipment there.
m Insurance carriers will pay some of the cost
m of services from a preferred provider, includ-
m ing hospitals. Verify which hospitals are in
your carrier’s network. If you choose a facility
m that is not covered by your policy, you run the
m risk of incurring significant charges.
m Another consideration is what other fea-
m tures a hospital may offer. For example, a hos-
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ursing homes were once the only your physician. The doctor will also be able

HOW TO
option for adults or young people with to tell you what qualifications in-home care
debilitating diseases who could not live providers should have in your situation.
independently.
But in recent years, in-home care has Personal care

CHOOSE
become a viable alternative to the nursing Caregivers can help with daily grooming,
home. In-home care offers just what you or mobility and any special diet requirements.
your loved one needs for a more satisfying and They can help prepare meals or run simple
productive life. errands.
Although many nursing homes provide
compassionate care, the move can be costly
m and traumatic, forcing patients to leave a
Companionship
m Homebound people often need compan-
familiar environment, and their belongings,
ionship. An in-home care professional will
behind.
In-home
m And in-home care is becoming more
provide a friendly face and good conversation
m as well as general care. It might be a matter
common. It allows patients who need regular
of reading aloud to your loved one, discussing

care m attention to live at home in the company of


the daily news or playing a game of cards.
family and friends. In-home care can be the
m perfect compromise and enhance the quality
Quality in-home care providers understand
that patients also need mental stimulation and
m of life for the patient and families.
human contact in order to stay well.
Trained professionals visit the home of
m the patient to provide services. Not only is it
m Before entering a contract, understand
convenient and comfortable, it is typically less
the services that will be provided. You want
m expensive than the care offered at a full-time
to make sure you are getting what you need
facility.
m without paying for services that are not
Because it is growing in popularity, many
required. If personal care is all that is needed,
m in-home care companies often specialize in
you should not have to pay for medical care as
services ranging from housekeeping and
m errand running to daily medical assistance.
well.
m Everyone, including you, should be com-
Talk to your loved one’s primary care physi-
fortable with the people who work for the com-
m cian to help you understand your choices.
pany. In-home caregivers will quickly become
The doctor can help you select a provid-
m part of your life, especially as they enter and
er and help you determine the level of care
exit the house. Get referrals from people who
m required. This professional may even have
have been in a similar situation.
referrals to give you.
m After speaking to several in-home care pro-
The best in-home care provider is about
finding the right combination of services.
m viders, you can compare the range of services
Once you have the right company, the patient
m they offer. Typically, they will fall into three
will receive companionship, comfort and cost
categories:
m savings that make in-home care such a fantas-
tic choice.
m Medical care
m Providers vary greatly in terms of the types
of medical care they provide. Some may be
m able to offer 24-hour care while others are
m better with simple tasks, such as monitoring
blood sugar or reminding patients to take
m medication.
m Always inquire about the medical quali-
fications of any in-home care providers you
m are considering. All workers should have the
m proper training, degrees and certifications.
m If you are unclear about the exact level of
medical care your loved one will require, ask
m
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ging often brings with it the need to ments outside the facility and access to bar-

HOW TO
seek the services of a nursing home. bers and beauticians for the residents.
It can be a difficult decision. Your
loved one should receive the very best of care,
but it can be tough to know for certain that
Talk with others
You might have a chance to talk with a rel-

CHOOSE
you’re making the best decision when it’s time ative of a patient who is currently living in the
to select a nursing home. Finding the best nursing home. Don’t be afraid of asking them
care for a family member can help that person, for honest opinions about the facility.
and the entire family, live a happier, healthier Query them about the staff and quality of
life. It can bring peace of mind. care received by the residents. Solicit their
Before making the choice to place a loved input on whether you should place your own
m one in a nursing home, there are important loved one in this facility.
m factors to consider to ensure the care is excel- These relatives are usually eager to share
lent and that everyone is comfortable they’ve
A nursing
m made the best choice.
their experiences with you. Hearing their
impressions will help ease your own anxieties
m Think about these things when you look for about this important decision.

home m a nursing home for a loved one.


m Ask the doctor
Visit the facility If you are still unsure about your decision,
m Go to the facility and take a tour. Pay or if you have reservations about the facility,
m attention to the environment and the attitude discuss the matter with your loved one’s pri-
of the staff. You should intuitively feel warmth mary care physician. This professional should
m and safety. Your visit will also provide clues also be able to recommend good nursing facili-
m about the general atmosphere and morale of ties in your area.
m the residents. There should be lots of natural The doctor may suggest additional facilities
light, cheerful colors, bright wall art and hints not on your original list. When your loved one
m of laughter from the staff and patients. has special needs, the doctor will know which
m Focus on the cleanliness, staffing levels facility or center can best meet these require-
and the appearance of other residents. Is ments.
m the air fresh and free from unpleasant odors Deciding to put a family member or loved
m such as urine, feces and stale food? Are there one in a nursing facility is never easy. Care-
enough nurses and attendants on duty? Are fully weigh the expectations of your family
m residents appropriately dressed? Do they member with your impressions and the rec-
m seem clean and freshly bathed? ommendations of others.
m Bring the prospective resident along for This is one of life’s most difficult decisions.
the tour. This facility may become home. Your Taking the time and doing the research will
m loved one deserves to have a voice in selecting result in a better quality of life for your loved
m the facility. Feeling welcomed are cues that one and peace of mind for yourself.
this could be a positive living experience.
m Socializing is important. Are there op-
m portunities for residents to meet each other?
m Regular activities such as music and crafts or
an outdoor area for enjoying the sunshine will
m enhance quality of life.
m Most nursing home facilities are happy to
provide a tour of the building. Once you see
m the environment, ask for a consultation with a
m staff member. This is an opportunity for you to
ask questions and address special needs of the
m prospective patient.
m Possible questions might include avail-
m ability of physical and occupational therapy,
accommodation of patients’ doctors’ appoint-
m
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W
hen a loved one passes away, it is neral home what types of packages they offer.

HOW TO
a difficult and emotional time for This applies whether your deceased loved one
family and friends alike. For family, had a specific list for their final wishes, or you
everyone must deal with the sense of loss; the have to make these decisions for yourself.
emotional pain and suffering that accompa- You will find that not all funeral homes

CHOOSE
nies the death of a loved one. Yet someone in are created equal, and each offers their own
the family will also have the difficult task of different ways of handling a service. No
handling the practical side of things. matter what type of requirements you have, it
Handling funeral arrangements is one such is best to choose a funeral home that will cater
task. Often, the biggest part of that task is to your specific needs in order to make this
choosing the right funeral home. difficult situation a little less daunting.
m It’s never easy to take on the burden of
m selecting a funeral home for a loved one. But Caring staff
there are some ways to make the process easi-
A funeral
m er for yourself, as well as for your family.
When visiting a potential funeral home, the
funeral director can be a major deciding factor
m If you are in need of finding the best when you choose whether or not to use this

home m funeral home for a family member, consider particular company to handle the funeral of
these tips. They can help make the burden of your loved one.
m choosing the right funeral home a little less A caring and professional funeral director
m stressful. and staff will take the time to explain all your
m options in an empathetic way so you can make
m Compare prices a better choice when choosing a funeral home.
Convenience and familiarity play a role for If the director seems short or uninterested
m many when it comes to choosing a funeral in your needs or makes you feel like you and
m home. And, if you’ve been involved in the your deceased loved one aren’t important, you
process before, it might be tempting simply to won’t want to choose this facility to handle the
m opt for the funeral home that’s most familiar funeral of your loved one.
m to you. In some cases, this is a fine approach, While dealing with the death of a loved one
but for many, it’s not the best option. is hard, choosing the right funeral home can
m It is always wise to consider the financial help relieve you of some stress.
m cost of a funeral, and to investigate different If you want your loved one to receive the
options. Depending on how much time has proper funeral he or she deserves, following
m passed since you last made funeral arrange- the above listed tips should help you make the
m ments for a family member, the cost of the right choice.
m funeral home you’ve used may have increased.
So it’s vital that you shop around, and be
m willing to compare the prices of the various
m funeral homes in your community.
m
m
Ask for references from friends
Everyone, at some point, comes into con-
m tact with a funeral home. And even if you’ve
never been in that position yourself, it’s likely
m that you have a friend or two who has. Talk to
m the people you know. Ask your friends if they
m would recommend the services provided at
the funeral homes they have used.
m They may be able to share valuable infor-
m mation about the staff, facility and prices of a
specific funeral home.
m
m Ask about packages
m It is important that you ask a potential fu-
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A
sizable portion of the U.S. population your goals. You might want a complete hear-

HOW TO
lives with some type of hearing impair- ing evaluation. Perhaps you need a fitting for
ment. And the gradual onset of hearing a new hearing aid or a replacement. Or maybe
loss means many of the nearly 40 million you need more information about ear care and
Americans who experience it may not even be preventing hearing loss.

CHOOSE
aware of their condition. Research has shown It is usually impossible to resolve an issue
that it takes about seven years before people with one appointment. Follow up visits for
with hearing impairment to seek treatment. tests, consultations and fittings, will likely be
It’s not all bad news, though. In the major- necessary.
ity of cases, hearing problems aren’t difficult If you have experienced hearing loss, then
to treat. And medical innovation is continually your relationship with your audiologist should
m improving the scope and quality of treatment. be ongoing. Make sure you are comfortable
m If you or someone close to you is suffering with this person.
hearing loss, it may be time to turn to an audi- While you’re at it, it is never too early to
An
m ologist for help. have a child’s ears checked by a qualified
m The first step in seeking treatment for hear- practitioner. Children who have a hard time

audiologist m ing loss is to make an appointment with your hearing will have a difficult time in school,
primary care doctor, who can rule out physical and the sooner the condition is treated, the
m causes for your problem, such as excessive ear better off the child will be.
m wax or infection. If it turns out your problem There is no shame in getting help for
has a cause that isn’t so easily treated, your hearing impairment. These problems do not
m primary doctor will likely refer you to an ear, go away by themselves. Visiting an audiologist
m nose and throat specialist, or to an audiologist. can improve the quality of your life.
m If this is the case, your doctor may even
present you with a number of different audi-
m ologists from which to choose. This is when
m you’ll need to step in and do a little research.
Audiologists specialize in different areas
m of hearing loss and treatment. Some may
m specialize according to a particular skill area,
m like cochlear implants. Others, though, may
treat older patients with age-related hearing
m problems, while their colleagues treat younger
m patients.
If you already have a friend or family mem-
m ber who’s suffered hearing loss, talk to them
m as you seek an audiologist. It’s possible they’re
m already familiar with a local audiologist and
can give you a firsthand recommendation
m based on their own experience.
m Once you’ve narrowed your list down to two
or three choices, call their offices and conduct
m a preliminary interview. Before anything else,
m make sure they accept new patients as well as
your insurance. You don’t want to spend a lot
m of time on an audiologist you won’t be able to
m see.
m They should inform you about the audiol-
ogist’s background and specialization, along
m with the wait time for new patients.
m Ensure that the professional has the proper
license and reliable references to patients he
m has treated.
m Before making an appointment, consider
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T
reating musculoskeletal disorders with Also, contact your state board of physical

HOW TO
the help of physical therapy can bring therapy to see if any complaints have been
much-needed relief from pain. filed against the professional you are consid-
Patients most often visit physical therapists ering.
for chronic pain from injuries, or if they’ve The best physical therapists will provide

CHOOSE
recently had surgery. They may have pain in emotional support as well. Treatment and
their backs, knees, neck, shoulder or other recovery is very hard work, especially for
joints can receive benefits from finding a phys- patients in severe pain. When you feel ex-
ical therapist. hausted, the physical therapist will provide
Patients who suffer back pain can receive motivation. She will not allow you to make
physical therapy to strengthen the core mus- excuses. Instead, a physical therapist will
m cles in their back. Physical therapy not only push you to your limits, which will aid in your
m helps them feel better; it also helps restore full recovery. The therapist will inspire you to
their body’s full function. regain your full independence. This is espe-
A physical
m Fortunately for patients, most insurance cially important for elderly people who have
m companies agree about the benefits of phys- problems getting around on their own.

therapist m ical therapy. In fact, physical therapy can It is important that you feel comfortable
actually negate the need for surgery. Most with whichever physical therapist you choose.
m companies require patients to try physical This professional may have to examine sensi-
m therapy before turning to expensive surgery tive areas of your body to check for swelling
to fix the problem. or heat. She may also massage your muscles
m Physical therapy can also serve as part of as part of therapy. You should feel at ease and
m the aftercare and recovery process for patients safe during this process.
m who have undergone surgery. For example, The physical therapist will likely provide
when you have surgery to repair a rotator cuff, you with follow-through exercises at home. It
m a therapist can play a huge part in a successful is very important you act on her recommenda-
m recovery. tions. It will help you recover faster.
Those diagnosed with degenerative disc With the assistance of a good physical ther-
m problems of the back will also benefit from apist and your own hard work, you can often
m a physical therapy regimen. It can help ease make recover fully and enjoy life again.
m pressure and pain in their lower back. Normal-
ly, a problem like this requires surgery, but
m physical therapy can help patients regain a full
m range of motion.
On top of all that, physical therapists are
m often the best sources for remedying a host
m of other injuries. Someone with a reattached
m finger will need to practice with a physical
therapist to regain feeling and movement.
m A person who has been incapacitated for an
m extended period may need physical therapy to
regain their functionality.
m Check with your health insurance carrier.
m Insurance companies usually have specific
requirements that can affect which therapist
m you use. You may have to choose a therapy
m that is in-network, rather than out-of-network.
m Your insurance may also limit the amount of
visits they cover.
m Once you have narrowed your search to
m a few potential candidates, inquire about the
physical therapist’s previous work history.
m Don’t be afraid of asking directly about their
m success rates and potential problems.
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H
earing loss is a more prevalent problem ics. Nearly all hearing aids available today are

HOW TO
thank you may think. In America alone, digital. They will filter out background noise,
there are more than 40 million people enabling the wearer to hear a conversation
who suffer form some kind of hearing impari- clearly. This technology is particularly effec-
ment or hearing loss. tive in crowded settings.

CHOOSE
In many of these cases, hearing aids can This technology can be tailored to help
help. Hearing aids have improved consider- with your particular kind of hearing loss. If
ably as technology has evolved, and they can you have an outdated hearing aid, consider
help hose with many types of hearing impair- upgrading to a more modern device. It will
ment to lead richer and fuller lives. help your hearing be as close to natural as
Are you suffering from hearing loss? If so, possible.
m it may be time to investigate your options. To-
m day’s hearing aids are sophisticated devices,
and they can be customized to conform to Options
Hearing aids
m each patient’s unique needs. When you are searching for a hearing aid,
m In recent years, hearing aid technology look for special features that will enhance
m has seen innovations like digital processors, your hearing and your life. Some examples
which are able to isolate and amplify the include:
m frequencies that fall within the human audible • Bluetooth connections: You could
m range of sound. They’ve also gotten smaller: connect wirelessly to Bluetooth electronic
many hearing aids are now so small they’re devices, such as smart phones. It allows you
m practically invisible, enabling their wearers to to hear phone conversations directly through
m use them discreetly. your hearing aid.
m The causes for hearing loss vary, and hear- • Telephone adapters: This feature
ing aids often can be designed and configured senses when you are talking on the phone
m to address each patient’s impairment. They and adjusts the setting to make it more clear
m even can be molded to fit the unique anatomy during your conversation.
of an individual’s ear. • Directional microphone: You can adjust
m
your device to pick up sound that is directly in
m Styles front of you. For example, when you are hav-
m These days, there’s no need for patients to ing one-on-one conversations with a person,
contend with bulky and easily-seen hearing it is useful to turn the microphone to improve
m aids. Technology has diminished the size and your hearing. You may also change the setting
m weight of hearing aids, making them versatile to a more general setting that would be useful
m options for people with hearing loss. at public performances or concerts.
The most popular hearing aids on the mar- • Remote control: Some devices allow
m ket fit completely within the ear canal. While you to adjust the settings without touching it.
m they are attractive and barely noticeable, A remote control can change the directional
their small size means they are typically more microphone or amplification.
m expensive. There are a lot of beautiful sounds in the
m Other styles include half-shell, full-shell, world. Don’t let your hearing loss cause you to
m behind-the-ear and open-fit hearing aids. miss any more of them. A hearing aid can help
Because these hearing aids come in a you.
m range of sizes and prices, consult with a spe-
m cialist to help you choose the right style to fit
your needs.
m
m Internal electronics
m A hearing aid’s design tends to correspond
to both its cost and performance. Two devices
m may look similar but produce dramatically
m different results.
The difference is in the internal electron-
m
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f you’ve ever had kidney stones, then you know Other things to consider

HOW TO
they can be a serious problem. Experience their practice for yourself. Take
And because the condition is seriously note of how the office staff treats you. Are
painful, unpredictable, and potentially deadly, they polite? Do they contact you promptly and
you’ll want to have a qualified urologist in make you feel comfortable?

CHOOSE
mind in case you are affected by this often The location of the office is another factor.
debilitating ailment. Will you be continuing treatment? If you need
Urologists play an essential role in the to go back for follow-ups, you will want an of-
medical care of the urinary tract. These fice that is convenient. Check the office hours
specialists can help you with a wide range of to make sure they will fit with your schedule.
issues commonly found in the female urinary
m tract system, as well as the male reproductive
Your potential urologist should be able to
answer all of your questions. Does he or she
m organs. Illnesses affecting these organs and have a good bedside manner?
systems range from bladder cancer to urinary
A urologist
m tract infections, kidney stones and inconti-
Research will give you peace of mind. And
m finding the right urologist will mean your
nence. ready to recover quickly from some of the
m Here are some things to keep in mind when most painful conditions.
looking for a urologist.
m
m Ask around
m Your doctor may know of a urologist in your
area. Check with your primary care doctor, as
m well as other physicians. They will likely have
m recommendations to help you obtain quality
m care.
Talk to the people you know and trust, too.
m Inquire with close friends or family members
m whom they have used. People don’t often like
to talk about medical problems involving this
m area of the body. However, these issues are ac-
m tually prevalent, so it’s likely you know people
who have had similar issues. They should be
m glad to give you a reference.
m It can be helpful to research urologists
m online. Reviews from other patients can help
guide your decisions. Though you should be
m aware that anonymous reviews can be faked
m and rarely tell an entire story.
m
m
Check credentials
Your state’s medical board maintains a
m listing of the urologists in your area. They will
be able to confirm a professional’s credential
m along with his history. It is important to know
m if the urologist has faced previous sanctions.
m Another resource is the American Board
of Medical Specialties (ABMS). This orga-
m nization can tell you if the urologist is board
m certified. They have a website (http://Certifi-
cationMatters.org) for patients to search for
m local specialists.
m
m
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onsulting a chiropractor offers many and results.

HOW TO
people an appealing option for over- Prior to selecting a chiropractor, inquire
coming or coping with a variety of about training and credentials. Make sure
bodily problems. Chiropractors can help their he or she is properly qualified, has a current
patients manage general afflictions like pain, licensee to practice, and has experience in the

CHOOSE
and can even help you achieve a better state of area you are looking for.
overall wellness.
Chiropractors are medical professionals
who are educated and trained to help relieve
Insurance coverage
Plenty of insurance carriers include chiro-
pain throughout the skeletal system of the practic care as part of their regular coverage.
body. They commonly see many patients who But you will need to verify that your
m seek treatment for pain in their back, head chiropractic treatment will be covered before
m and neck. Chiropractors approach their disci- you visit. You might be offered a discount for
pline with an essential belief that realigning
A
m or adjusting the spine can help alleviate and
choosing an “in-network” professional.
But if you don’t have insurance, many chi-
m prevent bodily pain. ropractors offer low cash rates or affordable

chiropractor m Those who benefit from a visit to the chi- plans to help patients. Even without health
ropractor often notice an immediate improve- insurance, you can still find chiropractor offer-
m ment. These patients report seeing a rapid ing quality, cost-effective care.
m and notable difference in the pain they had Check for discounts. Some chiropractors
previously experienced. They also often notice will offer incentive discounts for groups, refer-
m similarly rapid benefits in other areas, such as rals of new clients and other promotions.
m their bones, ligaments, muscles and joints.
m A visit to the chiropractor also can help
boost your general health. Some patients don’t
Get referrals
m Someone in your social or professional net-
even go to a chiropractor for skeletal pain
work has likely received excellent care from a
m — they go because they have persistent pains
chiropractor. Ask family, friends and co-work-
or problems elsewhere in the body. A session
m with a chiropractor can often relieve minor
ers for referrals.
m Inquire specifically about his or her de-
ailments such as sinus pain and headaches.
meanor and schedule. Is it easy to make an
m Consider the following tips when finding a
appointment? You should also find out about
chiropractor to best fit your needs.
m the chiropractor’s philosophy about health
and other wellness issues. Some practitioners
m Quality will suggest complementary forms of care,
m Chiropractors are advanced medical pro- including massage.
fessionals who undertake lengthy and rigor-
m ous education and training. The profession Given the results it can provide, chiroprac-
m has some of the most stringent educational tic care is still affordable and well worth the
requirements in all of health care. money. With time and effort, you are likely to
m According to the American Chiropractic find a quality chiropractor in your area.
m Association, accredited chiropractors go Researching the chiropractors in your area
m through at least 4,200 combined hours of will help ensure you get the type of care you
classroom, laboratory and clinical training want and need.
m time.
m Like doctors in training, chiropractic stu-
dents must spend four years in a pre-medical
m program, in addition to four or five years of
m professional training.
Not only do chiropractors study the body,
m they usually also study the muscular skeleton,
m pressure points, bone and joints, and nerves.
m Finding a chiropractor with these studies un-
der their belt can give you a better experience
m
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xpecting a baby is one of life’s most give you one or two local choices unless you’re

HOW TO
exciting times. But it can also be among willing to pay higher — and in some cases,
its most anxious. dramatically higher — out-of-network fees to
Foremost is the urgent question: Which pick a different doctor.
doctor will care for you and your baby during For most people, choosing an in-network

CHOOSE
the pregnancy? How can you be sure that provider is critical, so check with your insur-
you’ve made the best choice? ance company early in the process.
Selecting the right obstetrician and gyne-
cologist (OB-GYN) can make a world of dif- Birth location
ference in how your pregnancy is managed, as For some expecting mothers, the location
well as how you view the overall experience. A of their birth is a major consideration. If you
m good OB-GYN can bring confidence and reas- have a particular hospital or birthing center
m surance to expecting parents while using their in mind for your delivery, make sure your OB-
experience and training to deliver quality care
An
m for both mother and baby.
GYN is authorized to work there.
Most obstetricians have admitting priv-
m Treat your search for a good OB-GYN as ileges to just one hospital, so picking your

obstetrician m one of the most important shopping experi- OB-GYN means you’ll be choosing the place
ences of your life. You’re buying a service like you’ll be giving birth, too. Look carefully into
m no other. the services your doctor’s hospital provides to
m It’s wise to shop carefully to find the physi- make sure it meets your expectations.
cian who’ll be the right fit for your pregnancy.
m Here are some important things to think
m about.
The delivery
Because every delivery is different — often
m happening at unexpected times and occasion-
m Get recommendations ally with complications that can’t be predicted
Seek input from the people you know and — it’s hard to know what your delivery will be
m trust. The simplest place to start your search like with any precision.
m is with first-person references. If you have any The OB-GYN who delivers your baby, for
friends, family members or co-workers with example, may not be the one who did all your
m growing families, they’ll usually be happy to pregnancy care. There’s no way of knowing
m share their experiences with you and recom- whether your OB-GYN will be the one on call
mend an OB-GYN for you to use — or one to when you go into labor.
m avoid. That’s an important question to ask,
m Experience and training are obviously the though, and the answer will often depend on
m most important aspects of choosing any med- how large the OB-GYN’s practice is. For a
ical professional, but personal references can small practice, with only one or two doctors,
m give you other insights, too. The doctor should you’ll be very likely to know the doctor who
m have a personality and bedside manner that delivers your baby. But even if you choose an
makes you feel comfortable asking questions, individual practitioner who typically personal-
m and they should be able to communicate with ly attends your delivery, ask about their back-
m you clearly and completely. up plan if they happen to be sick, on vacation
m Getting these insights from new mothers or busy with another patient in labor at the
will help you know what to expect from differ- same time your baby is coming. You should
m ent OB-GYNs in your area. know what to expect.
m In the end, all these factors should come
m Check your insurance together to make you comfortable and happy
Another important consideration is which about your decision. Asking lots of questions
m doctors and hospitals are covered by your and picking a great OB-GYN will help make
m insurance plan. sure you have a happy and healthy childbirth
Your ability to shop for doctors will vary experience.
m widely depending on your particular policy.
m Some insurance plans have a large network of
OB-GYNs to pick from, but others may only
m
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oing to the dentist is something you and services. If you break a tooth or need to have

HOW TO
your family will be doing for years to a root canal done right away, you will want
come. So it stands to reason that finding to use your chosen dentist. You don’t want to
the right dentist can save you time and money. have to search for a dentist when you are in
Picking the right dentist — even for the pain.

CHOOSE
most routine dental needs — is vital for your Lead time for appointments is another
ongoing health, and for maintaining your consideration. Some offices might be able to
appearance. If you’re unfortunate enough to see you right away, while others may have a
encounter a dentist who is reckless or incom- three-week wait time.
petent, it can affect your health, your comfort Your prospective dentist should accept your
and your finances. dental insurance. If don’t have dental insur-
m Poor quality work should never be the rea- ance, inquire about payment plans. The office
m son you have to repeat a dental procedure. should give you an estimate before perform-
You will want to select a dentist who’s able ing any work.
A dentist
m to put you at ease. Find a dentist who makes When someone meets all of your require-
m you feel comfortable. Your dentist should be ments, visit the office. The staff should be
m focused on helping you to improve your dental professional and friendly. Every dentist should
health in a peaceful and hygienic environ- be willing to answer all of your questions.
m ment. Some people are afraid of dentists or of
m Convenience can also play a role. If you are pain. If you have any concerns, communicate
able to visit a dentist near your home or work- with the staff and dentist. Many professionals
m place, it can help you show up to your appoint- are willing to go above and beyond to help you
m ments on time. As you look for a dentist, check work through these issues.
m their regular office hours. Do the hours work A basic oral health history should be taken
for your schedule? How about your family by the dentist or staff. They should tell you
m members? about future treatment and prevention options.
m The first thing to do when beginning your A quality dentist will help you feel comfortable
search is to consult with family and people during your visit.
m in your social network. Friends, family and The best dentists offer friendly, happy
m colleagues may have good recommendations, dental experiences.
m and can be a great first resource for informa- Teeth are extremely important to your
tion. overall health. They can also help or hinder
m It can also be helpful to search the Internet your appearance. Finding a good dentist is
m for information about dental offices in your like finding a friend who consistently brings
area. Professional dental practices often have out your best smile.
m their own websites, which offer information
m about the backgrounds of those who work
m there. The website may also tell you about how
they handle procedures and appointments, as
m well as specialized services they offer.
m Your local newspaper will likely have adver-
tisements from local dentists. Oftentimes you
m can find specials and discounts.
m Once you have gathered a list, begin calling
each prospective dentist. You can talk to a
m receptionist or other staff person if the dentist
m is unavailable.
m Check to make sure the dentist earned the
necessary degree from a reputable school
m and is current on all licensing and continuing
m educational requirements. Ideally, he will be
familiar with the latest dental technologies
m and trends.
m Ask if the dental office provides emergency
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he early interactions of a medical profes- relaxed and homespun approach.

HOW TO
sional can have a lasting impact on how Parents who follow a wellness philosophy
your child views or reacts to health-re- might have to look harder to find a doctor who
lated issues for the rest of his or her life. is open-minded about alternative medicine.
Many children are afraid of going to a If you are interested in alternative vaccine

CHOOSE
doctor, so it’s important to find someone schedules, be sure to find out if your doctor is
your child will feel comfortable with from the receptive to this idea.
beginning.
That’s what makes choosing a good pedia- The visit
trician for your child so important. Bring your child along for this meeting. It
A friendly physician will help your child will help you gauge their interaction.
m develop a positive attitude toward health and The doctor should make your child feel
m wellness and ease anxieties about regular at ease. He should be patient, tolerant and
checkups. Keep these matters in mind to help
A
m make your search more rewarding.
friendly.
You must feel comfortable with this med-
m ical professional as well. He should take the
Recommendations
pediatrician m
m Talk to people whose judgment you trust.
Ask family, friends and acquaintances for rec-
time to answer your questions thoughtfully.
Inquire about their emergency policy. Does
the office accept walk-ins? If your child gets
m ommendations. Parents will be happy to share sick in the middle of the night, can you call the
m about their experiences at the pediatrician’s pediatrician or nurse? Find out about office
office. hours and when you need to visit the hospital
m You can also check with your family doctor instead.
m or OB/GYN who delivered your baby. They Is the office decorated with children in
m will have informed recommendations to help mind? Is it a safe, inviting atmosphere? Does
you select the best doctor. the practice use modern equipment? Are
m Don’t just collect one or two names. Ideally, exam rooms clean?
m you should have a list of at least three profes- Many pediatricians now offer separate wait-
sionals. It will help you compare and made the ing rooms for children who are not sick. These
m right selection. “well child” waiting areas help stop the spread
m of viruses. If your child is there for a checkup,
m Insurance it is a bad idea to have him sit next to another
child who has the flu.
Next, look at your insurance policy. Find
m out if any of the people on the list are part of
m your network plan. Remember that children With this strategy, you should have an
visit the doctor more frequently than adults easier time selecting a pediatrician. Choosing
m because they catch a lot of viruses while build- well now will save you time and trouble in the
m ing up their immune systems. Doctors not future.
m covered by your insurance should be crossed
off your list. You might also reconsider your
m insurance policy.
m
m Narrowing the list
It is time to arrange a meeting with each
m physician so you can find out who will work
m best with your child.
Look at their office locations. They should
m be in a convenient location, not far from your
m home. You will probably visit this doctor quite
m often, so convenience is a big factor.
When you meet with the doctor, focus
m on his or her philosophy. Some physicians
m prefer to run lots of tests. Others have a more
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he first dental visit can be intimidating Contact the pediatric dentist on your list

HOW TO
and scary for children and adults. With- and ask questions about hours of operation
out a gentle introduction, the sounds and any background information that may be
and smells of the dental office can be over- of importance to you.
whelming and frightening, especially to young Schedule an appointment for you and your

CHOOSE
children. child to meet the dentist and their team. This
Just as a pediatrician is a doctor specialized visit will help you understand the dentist’s
to treat infants and children, the pediatric den- personal skills and their ability to make your
tist has two to three years of specialty training child comfortable. The only real way to see if
after dental school where they learn to treat you have selected the right person is to watch
the emotional and dental needs of children, him or her interact with your children.
m including those with special medical needs, When your child is excited to visit his pedi-
m starting at birth and continuing through ado- atric dentist, you know you have selected the
lescence. The American Academy of Pediatric best one for your child! Remember, relation-
A pediatric
m Dentistry recommends a child having a dental ships begin with trust. Find a pediatric dental
m home by their first birthday to establish good home where you feel at home and trust the

dentist m habits early. The first dental visit should focus team caring for your child.
on establishing trust and communication
m between the child, the parent, and the dentist.
m A pediatric dentist can help children and their
parents feel comfortable in a setting that often
m takes time to accept and help cultivate healthy
m dental attitudes and oral health habits to last
m a lifetime. Choose the right pediatric dentist,
and the dental appointments will be fun and
m educational for the whole family, alleviating a
m lot of the fear and anxiety that parents often
have prior to their child’s first visit.
m
m Here are some important points to
m consider when choosing a pediatric
m dentist.
m First, you want to insure your pediatric
dentist is Board Certified. This tells you that
m they have received the additional training
m needed and have passed a series of rigorous
examinations in the field of pediatric den-
m tistry. The American Academy of Pediatric
m Dentistry will have a list of Board Certified
pediatric dentist in your area.
m Look for a list of Board Certified pediatric
m dentists on the internet, telephone book or
m in your local newspaper. Also, talk to parents
of other children in your community. They
m will be able to tell you where they take their
m children for dental care.
Know your insurance. You may be limited
m to a network dentist. There is a phone number
m on the back of your dental insurance card. Call
m and ask customer service for a list of pediatric
dentists within your network. Anyone without
m dental insurance should make a list based on
m personal recommendations and research.
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or many people, having cosmetic surgery In addition, you can look at before-and-after

HOW TO
to change or enhance a physical trait can photos that show the surgeon’s work. Ideally,
provide a massive confidence boost. Cos- you’ll want to look for patients who have a
metic surgery can greatly enrich a person’s similar facial structure, breast shape or body
quality of life. shape to your so you can see what to expect

CHOOSE
But like any surgery, cosmetic surgery is for your personal results.
serious business. Failing to pick a capable and
honest surgeon can cause big health prob- Connection
lems, or worse, for cosmetic surgery patients. While it’s less important than their medical
If you’re thinking about cosmetic surgery, background, it’s nonetheless worth mention-
here are some tips to consider as you look for ing that you should look for a doctor that you
m a good surgeon. connect well with personally.
m Communication is a big part of the cos-
Board certified
A cosmetic
m metic surgery process, and you should try
Start by looking for surgeons who are to find a doctor with whom you can clearly
m board certified in an American Board of Med- communicate your wants and expectations for

surgeon m
m
ical Specialties surgical field with specialty
training in cosmetic procedures.
The goal is a better outcome for patients
the procedure. You should be confident that
they understand how you want to look and can
deliver the right results for you.
m from procedures done by certified surgeons Trust is a big part of that relationship. You
m – rather than the results from work done by should be able to trust the surgeon’s recom-
doctors with less experience in the field. mendations and be comfortable discussing
m Find out if your surgeon is board certified, your detailed medical history and habits with
m as well as what training they’ve had in the them.
m specific procedure you’re considering. Find a cosmetic surgeon with the right
training, plenty of experience in your proce-
m Specialty dure and a good connection with you, and
m Some cosmetic surgeons are generalists, you’ll definitely be pleased with the outcome
performing a wide range of procedures. But of your procedure.
m others specialize in one particular subsec-
m tion of the field. They can perfect their skills
m over many years, performing that one type of
procedure.
m For example, some surgeons specialize in
m body procedures, while other might spend
most of their time doing facial surgery or
m breast augmentation.
m Ask how long the surgeon has been
m performing your particular procedure and
how many times they have performed it. That
m information can help guide your decision.
m
m Reputation
When it comes to cosmetic surgery, some
m doctors have better reputations than others.
m It can be tricky to find the best ones. After all,
some of the best cosmetic surgery work is the
m kind that no one can tell was done. It’s subtle.
m If you know someone who has undergone a
m cosmetic surgery procedure before, though,
you can try to find out what they thought
m about their experience. First-person referenc-
m es about doctors are always insightful.
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electing the right dermatologist isn’t an sonality, experience level and aggressiveness

HOW TO
off-the-shelf process. Finding the der- about procedures and treatments. Some doc-
matologist who can address your needs tors will have different plans of action, partic-
means finding one who specializes in the ularly for cosmetic issues, so it’s a good idea
particular area of skin care that your needs to let them know your concerns and see what

CHOOSE
demand. It’s not as simple as picking a phone path they recommend for you going forward.
number out of the directory and expecting a Listening is the most important thing you
one-size-fits-all result. can do during a consultation. You may have
Dermatology is multifaceted, and derma- interest in a particular procedure that you had
tologists focus their practice on one of many read about in magazines or on the Internet,
areas of treatment. Each dermatologist pos- but let the doctor make a recommendation
m sesses a set of complex skills and can perform first. This will give you some insight into their
m specific procedures. style of practice.
In other words, not all dermatologists are
A
m
m
the same.
If you need to consult a dermatologist, keep
Certifications
It’s important for you to find out what

dermatologist m the following things in mind. certifications your prospective dermatologist


m holds. You can often find that information on
Know their specialty the doctor’s web site, and you can also dou-
m What does a dermatologist do? In general, ble-check it with the American Academy of
m a dermatologist is a doctor who specializes Dermatology (AAD) online at aad.org.
in treating skin conditions. But their practice The AAD keeps a database of dermatol-
m can focus on one of many sub-specialties. Only ogists who are certified to practice in the
m some of these specialities may be an appropri- United States. You can check that your doctor
m ate match for your health needs. is board certified and see a listing of their
One things all dermatologists have in specialties by searching online.
m common is their basic medical training.
m All certified dermatologists earn medical
degrees, followed by three years of post-resi-
Procedures
m If you’re going to the dermatologist for a
dency training in a specialty area that treats specific procedure, you should look for a doc-
m patients with conditions relating to their skin, tor who has plenty of experience in it. Some
hair and nails. of the best dermatologists will do the same
m There are general practitioners: many procedure several times per day, keeping
m dermatologists do have general practices, and their skills sharp and making them experts at
m they see patients who may have a wide variety performing it.
of skin problems. Often, people with common You should also ask who is going to per-
m skin conditions such as acne or wrinkles will form the procedure. In some cases, a nurse
m consult a general-practice dermatologist. or assistant will perform it under the doctor’s
Other dermatologists, though, specialize supervision. In other cases, the doctor will
m within a narrower aspect of the profession. personally perform it with their own hands.
m Dermatology practices dealing with cosmet- You should know up front who will be doing
m ics, surgery or conditions that affect children the procedure so that you’re comfortable with
are some examples of specialists in the field. your decision.
m
m Consultations
m Each practice is different, but many der-
matologists are willing to provide a first-visit
m consultation for a flat fee. They may be willing
m to apply this fee toward a procedure, should
you decide to move forward with it. It doesn’t
m hurt to ask.
m At your consultation, you’ll want to learn
more about the dermatologist, including per-
m
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HOW TO S
o, you are new to town, and/or you are Does the Spa have the training to back up
wondering where to go for some soothing
relaxation and beauty treatments. You are all of those exotic treatments?
looking for a Spa, but not just any Spa, you are Some Spas want to offer as many services
looking for quality. Here are 6 tips you should as possible- and end up overreaching. If you

CHOOSE
keep in mind while on your search. are interested in specialties like Bamboo
Do not choose a Salon or Spa based on Fusion, Chemical Peels, Lash Extensions,
price. V-Steams, or Thai Massage be sure to ask the
Many people have misconceptions when it therapist about their training. It is also great
comes to prices at Spas. Never choose a Spa to know that your therapist has continued
because it is “cheap”. You most likely will not their education outside of school.
m receive the customer service or the quality of
m service you are expecting. Then again, never Know spa etiquette!
choose a Spa just because it is “expensive”. If you are a Spa first-timer, the Spa’s
A spa
m You may be overcharged, and your expecta- employees will help guide you through the
m tions may be higher than the quality of service various services and procedures, letting you
m you could be over paying for. Choose a Spa know what is expected of both you and your
that gives you quality service at a reasonable therapist. These are general rules that most
m price. Spas adhere to, but if you have questions
m you should call and ask. Be aware that Spa
m Look for great customer service. employees have other appointments, so it is
important to be on time to ensure you are able
Customer service is a huge element of your
m spa experience. Let’s say you visit two Spas to enjoy maximum relaxation and be on your
m and receive a great massage at each business, way before the next appointment starts. Some
but the therapist at one Spa was more attentive Spas include a gratuity in the base cost of your
m to your needs, was kinder and more consider- service, but if they do not, it is customary to
m ate, and was genuinely interested in hearing tip your therapist or other service provider.
You can call ahead to find out how your Day
m your concerns. You will enjoy yourself more
Spa operates.
at a Spa like that! People who have had a great
m experience will often rave about it. Keep an
m eye out for these kinds of reviews on your Make sure it is clean.
search! One of the most important things you want
m to be sure about is cleanliness! Spas often
m Make sure they offer the kinds of services have many clients back to back. If the sheets
m are not changed after every client, or if the
you want. tools are not cleaned and sanitized after every
m Visit a Spa’s website or call and speak to service, germs and bacteria can spread rather
someone (also a great way to gauge the Spa’s
m friendliness and customer service) to check
easily. A good Spa is a clean Spa. For that
reason it is always a good idea to visit the spa
m out what services are offered. Spas usually before you’re appointment. Feel free to ask
have a “menu” that lists services and pric-
m es. Some smaller Day Spas may not offer a
about their safety and cleanliness practices
m and take a tour of their facility. Keep an eye
service you are interested in, so make sure to out for good sanitation practices and a staff
m check and see if they have what you are look- that behaves in a professional and courteous
ing for. A full service Day Spa will most likely
m offer Facial Treatments, Lash Extensions, Full
manner. Keep your standards high.
Choosing a Spa in town to get some “R&R”,
m Body Waxing, V-Steams, Teeth Whitening, isn’t hard if you follow these 6 tips!
and a wide variety of massage modalities from
m Swedish, Therapeutic, Deep Tissue, Thai, and
m SpaTreatment Enhancements just to name a
m few.

m
m
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nterior design is a great way to express there are three methods of payment.

HOW TO
your personality, uniqueness and style. The first is by-the-hour. The interior
Your home and even your office say a lot designer will ask that you pay for a minimum
about who you are. They reflect your personal- number of hours. Once those hours are gone,
ity and character. you may choose to purchase more time in bulk

CHOOSE
Is it time for an update to your home or or they may opt to work on an hourly basis.
office? Perhaps you’ve recently built a beauti- The second payment option is cost-plus.
ful new home, but need someone with a good When interior decorators purchase items for
design eye to help you complete the project. your home, they simply add a percentage to
Whatever your situation may be, selecting the cost. If the decorator uses this method, be
a skilled interior decorator can save you both sure to discuss your overall budget with them.
m money and time. They will welcome your honesty.
m The third choice is a combination of by-the-
Know your personal taste hour and cost-plus.
An interior
m
As you set out to hire a decorator, start by
m thinking about your personal tastes. Browse Certification and training
designer m
m
through magazines and clip out pictures of the
designs that appeal to you. This will help you
form an idea of what is available. You could
Currently, 26 states require interior decora-
tors to be certified. The National Kitchen and
Bath Association and the American Society of
m also look on the Internet and print out specific Interior Design oversee these certifications.
m looks you like. Put them in a three-ringed These professional organizations have their
binder or file folder with a comment about why own requirements. By their rules, decora-
m it attracts you. Seeing your preferences will tors must have at least an associate’s degree,
m help the decorator understand how to fulfill serve an apprenticeship, and then pass an
m your needs. exam to become certified. Once a decorator
It is also a good idea to learn some interi- has passed an initial exam, professionals can
m or design terminology so you can speak the continue their education to prove mastery in
m same language as the designer. Do you know specialized skills.
the difference between a club chair, armoire
m and highboy? Studying the words they use will Style
m help you avoid disappointment later. The best interior decorators have strong
m personal design philosophies. You will see
m
Locate interior decorators it in their portfolios and when you speak to
Research the names and contact infor- them. The ideal professional will have an
m mation of interior decorators. The National ability to understand and reflect your style.
Kitchen and Bath Association and the Amer- After all, you are the person who will live in
m ican Society of Interior Design have a list of your home.
m interior decorators in your area. Check with They should fit in with your style, not the
m your family and friends as well. In particular, other way around. Find someone who is flexi-
if you know someone whose home you adore, ble and communicative. If the person doesn’t
m ask who did the work. take criticism well, that is not a person you
m Choose three interior decorators to inter- want to work with.
view. Typically, these meetings occur in their Once you have interviewed three interior
m offices, but sometimes a prospective interior decorators, choose one you have a connection
m decorator will want to meet in your home. He with. Continue discussing time frames, costs
m or she might want to see the house in order and other details about the project. Do not
to provide specific details. Other decorators make payments until you have a contract.
m prefer to hold interviews in their offices so
m you can see their previous work and look at Finding an interior decorator might seem
samples. like an overwhelming task. Through research,
m communication and staying true to your own
m Cost of an interior decorator style, you can find a decorator who will trans-
Ask about how bills are handled. Usually form your house into a true home.
m
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urniture is a practical and decorative way Value, not just price

HOW TO
to add some pizzaz and personality to You can save money in the long run by pay-
your home. It’s a great way to surround ing a little more for quality from the start. It is
yourself with the things that express your val- best to pay more for a quality piece than to try
ues, while communicating a statement about to save money on something that will not last

CHOOSE
who you are. in the long term. The bigger the investment,
When you think about just how many op- the more important the design and build
tions there are today, it’s easy to see that there’s quality become.
never been a better time to buy new furniture. Concentrate on finding the best value. An
Regardless of your budget, there’s likely to be inexpensive sofa will not be a good value if it is
something out there that fits your tastes. Just
m by selecting new seating, tables, storage or
built with cheap and weak materials. Likewise,
the most expensive love seat will have a wise
m accessories, you can create a big impact that investment if the frame is not built solidly.
makes a difference in your everyday environ-
Furniture
m ment.
It’s best to look for brands with a long track
m record and good reputation.
Think about your tastes and preferences.
m What’s your particular look or style? What is it
about furniture that you value the most? How Service, delivery
m many family members should have a say in the Every store has a different customer ser-
m decision? vice policy. Choose a store that is well known
Think about the following things as you for being loyal to its customers.
m embark on the hunt for new furniture — and Inquire about return policies. Some fur-
m remember to enjoy the process! niture stores will allow you to exchange an
item within a certain time limit if it doesn’t
m meet your expectations. Learn what fees are
m Quality that lasts involved if you have to return an item — if that
Furniture is a long-term purchase, so qual- is allowed at all.
m ity matters. Search for a furniture store that As well, ask about the store’s delivery policy,
m deals in quality and durable items. including how much it costs, how far they’ll
The small and inexpensive items in your deliver and how quickly your furniture will
m home can change frequently, and the cost arrive.
m of doing so is relatively cheap. But for big If you are comparison shopping, factor
pieces of furniture — things like tables, sofas,
m beds and storage pieces — you’ll be making a
the delivery cost when considering different
stores. A low-priced couch will not save you
m larger investment. They’re intended to last a money if it comes with an expensive delivery
m long time, and to remain beautiful and useful fee. It may be worth it to pay a little more for
throughout their lifespan. the couch if free or reduced cost delivery is
m That’s why it’s important that your first prior- available.
m ity should be on how solidly constructed your The bottom line is that there are only two
furniture is. Quality matters more than even things that matter: the quality of the furniture
m the item’s appearance. you are purchasing, and the level of service
m Quality, solid construction isn’t always recog- you receive. Once you discover them both, fur-
m nizable at a mere glance. Of course a piece niture shopping can be a fun experience that
should feel solid and not flimsy. But, beyond will beautify your home for many years. And
m that, find out as much information as possible you can be happy and comfortable with the
m about the frame, materials, and what kind of furniture for generations to come.
warranty it comes with.
m A well-trained staff can inform you about
m their furniture, how they’re built and why the
construction matters. The best stores have
m employees who act as guides and teachers, not
m pushy salespeople.
m
m
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iving your home a new floor is a dra- Then check with the Better Business Bureau

HOW TO
matic and practical way to transform its to see if the company has had any complaints
look and feel. lodged against it. If so, look to see how they
A new floor can boost your home’s appeal. were resolved. You might also check with the
It can help give old, familiar rooms a new look, Chamber of Commerce.

CHOOSE
making them feel more cozy and intimate, or After making a list of potential dealers
more open and formal. New floors can even you are considering, give each of them a call.
make the rooms in your home appear larger or Inquire about the background of the company
smaller. and how long they’ve been in business. You
When it comes to flooring choices, there may ask for referrals from previous customers
are many. Residential flooring materials for references.
m include carpet, hardwood, bamboo, laminate, Find out about the installation services they
m stone, tile and even more exotic materials both use and their reliability. Do they use in-com-
synthetic and natural. pany groups or outside contractors? Also, find
Floor
m Owing to the sheer number of available out about prices and warranty coverage.
m options, it’s wise to work with an experienced If you visit their offices, they might even

covering m flooring dealer. A dealer can offer advice on show you a scrapbook of prior work.
the best brands, as well as the most durable Experience should play a role in which
m flooring types and which are suited to the use company you ultimately select. Quality of
m you have in mind. So choose a good dealer, materials, comparable or lower prices and
and let them help you decide which flooring good references will all make a big difference
m material best matches with your goals. in finding the right flooring dealer.
m Don’t cut corners: when looking for the
m ideal flooring and a dealer to assist you, try
not to be overly frugal. Consider the longevity
m of your purchase. While you may have a tight
m budget that makes cost an important concern,
remember that the money you spend now will
m go a long way in helping you achieve long-last-
m ing overall value.
m Think about the long term. What if some-
thing happens in 10 years and you have no
m warranty to repair or replace the damage? Or
m if the installers make a mistake and leave your
flooring permanently damaged?
m So be sure to look at additional support and
m services. Find a dealer who has a great reputa-
m tion and long track record of excellent cus-
tomer service. Spending extra money is worth
m purchasing a product from a flooring dealer
m you can trust. You aren’t just buying flooring.
You are also creating a relationship.
m When looking for a flooring dealer, look on
m the Internet or your local phone book.
On the Internet, you can find review sites
m to see how local flooring dealers compare. You
m can also check advertisements in your local
m newspaper to find specials and deals.
Keep in mind, though, the Internet can be
m misleading when it comes to finding a quali-
m fied floor dealer. Just because it is one of the
top search engine results doesn’t mean that
m the company is reliable.
m Instead, look on consumer review sites.
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leeping on an old mattress isn’t just un- aligned. Most mattress stores can show you

HOW TO
comfortable. It can actually hurt you. samples of their product lines. Choose the
Putting up with an old and sagging best construction you can afford.
mattress can do more harm than merely leave • “Memory” or high-density foam or latex
you with a few aches in the morning. mattress are helpful if you have physical

CHOOSE
If you can’t sleep, you’ll be irritable. Sleep issues, such as skeletal pain or circulatory
deprivation affects your mood, you health and problems. This mattress conforms to the
even your performance at work. shape of the body. It also minimizes pressure
But a new, quality mattress — one that can points from the head, shoulders and hips.
consistently deliver a restful night’s sleep — is • Adjustable air mattresses allow each
well worth the upfront cost. person to change the firmness through elec-
m There are plenty of choices available in tronic and mechanical devices that control air
m mattresses, so don’t be overwhelmed. Take it chambers. It is an ideal choice for partners
one step at a time by studying information and who need to have different mattress preferenc-
A mattress
m options on the Internet. And always ask for es. You can also alter firmness for yourself,
m recommendations to consider. depending on your physical condition.
m Often, expensive mattresses may be on sale When shopping for a mattress, don’t be
or part of a closeout event. Quality mattresses afraid of lying down and trying it out. Roll
m last longer, so you will not have to go through over and pay attention to how your body feels.
m the trouble of buying another mattress in a Are you comfortable?
year or two, or worry as much about the mat- Inquire about the mattress guarantee or
m tress sagging and breaking down. warranty. A standard warranty is 10 years. If
m Consider your bed size. Is it time to buy a the warranty is shorter or non-existent, look
m bigger bed? Perhaps you would like to sprawl elsewhere.
out and relax. Remember, your mattress is a long-term
m Here are a few other things to keep in investment. Choose wisely and you will be
m mind: rewarded with years of restful nights and
• Do you need a firm or soft mattress? energetic days.
m People with a bad back, neck or leg pain, or
m other circulatory problems might require firm
m support to keep their spines aligned. Other
people prefer flexible support that fits the
m contours of their bodies.
m • Do you sleep with another person?
Mattresses made of memory foam might be
m beneficial, as it will give you a personalized
m experience without disturbing the other per-
m son’s sleep.
• Standard mattresses can exacerbate
m allergies if you are sensitive to lint, cotton,
m dust or dust mites. If you or your partner have
allergies, consider getting a latex, foam or
m water mattress. You might also think about
m getting a hypoallergenic mattress cover.
When you are looking at actual mattress
m options, the following are popular choices:
m • Pillowtop mattresses are famous for
m their softness; however, they do have levels of
firmness. They also require a larger bottom
m sheet because the pillow top adds to their
m extra thickness.
• Coil spring construction are great
m choices for people who want a firm mattress.
m This option has the ability to keep your spine
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ometimes you just need a little more is to talk to the manager. A good manager can

HOW TO
room for all the extras. help you determine the size and type of unit
Whether you’re moving and need a you need.
place to temporarily stash your belongings, or The climate control vs. non climate de-
just need more space in your current home, a cision is pretty easy. If the items you are

CHOOSE
self storage facility can be a perfect solution. storing have been in your home or office, put
If you have concerns about leaving your them in a climate control unit. If the items you
belongings at a location away from your home, are storing have been in your garage or patio,
rest easy. Self storage facilities exist to help they will do just fine in a non climate unit.
you extend your space, and they’re convenient
m ways for you to expand your storage options.
Consider these tips to make sure your
Hours of access
Determine how often you will need to visit
m belongings are safe, protected and easily your items.
accessible.
A storage
m Some people store their belongings for
several months. They may only need access
m Location to them once or twice during that time. Other

facility m
m
Convenience is key when it comes to
getting at your stored possessions. Location
will be a major factor when selecting a storage
people might need to visit their unit several
times a week.
The hours of operation should fit your
m facility. Your ideal facility should be close to schedule easily. Most facilities offer access
m your home or office for ease of access. If you from 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. 7 days a week which
need to add or take something out of storage, works for most customers. If you need 24
m you will be glad that you picked a convenient hour access, ask the manager. If the facility
m location. offers computerized gate or door access,
m they can easily activate your code for 24 hour

m Security access.
A storage facility must be able to assure
m your belongings will be safe. Security is a Price
m very important consideration. Your valuables Price is important but should not be your
should be secure for the duration of the rental. only consideration. After all, if you choose
m If possible, do a drive by of the facility prior to an inexpensive facility, they may be cutting
m renting. The best facilities have the following back on important aspects such as security,
security layers. maintenance, lighting, computerized access
m 1. The facility should be fenced on all and pest control.
m sides of the property and have a gate or door Selecting a facility based solely on a low
with computerized access. price may cause you to pay in other ways. It is
m 2. Security cameras should be visible not fun having your items stolen or damaged.
m throughout the property. Of course, within a storage facility, a smaller
m 3. Drive by the facility at night to make sure unit will be cheaper to rent than a larger one,
the property has good lighting. but if the overall prices are lower than aver-
m 4. Once inside a secure facility, the MOST age, be very cautious.
m IMPORTANT decision is the type of lock you The best way to find a good storage center
use. The best choices are cylinder and disk is word of mouth. Ask your social network for
m locks. recommendations. Also, do a quick internet
m search and read their reviews.
m Unit sizes and climate control vs. non There are a few other things to look for
when choosing a self storage facility. Good
m climate storage facilities offer online renting and on-
The amount of belongings you have will
m line credit card, ACH bill payment and mobile
determine the unit you need. Most self-stor-
payment options.
m age facilities offer units as small as a 5 x 5 up
to a 20 x 30. To determine the size that best
m fits your needs, visit the facility’s website and
m look for a “What Fits” tool. The other option
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