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wake up happy
73 tips to help you get a good night’s sleep, have more relaxing days and look good and feel great in 2018

01/04/18
By Matt Ingersoll listings@hippopress.com, Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com, Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com, Ethan Hogan



6 questions for a…

sleep specialist
Dr. George Neal, MD, of Bedford is a neurologist and the medical director of the New England Sleep Center at Catholic Medical Center. 
 
What are some easy ways to help you fall asleep?
...Going to bed and getting up at the same times every day ... helps to synchronize the brain’s biological clock for sleep. You should also avoid any activities close to bedtime that are made to disrupt sleep, such as too much light exposure, too much exercise. The avoidance of alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime is recommended too. It’s also suggested that avoiding activities that a person would normally partake in when they are awake, such as watching TV or reading in bed, is beneficial.
 
How do my exercise habits affect my sleep?
It’s best to avoid any sort of strenuous [activity] around four to six hours before bedtime and to exercise earlier in the day, if possible.
 
Does what/when I eat affect how well I will sleep?
The recommendations are … to avoid heavy eating before bedtime, especially spicy meals or fatty meals, as well as any stimulants like chocolate, coffee or tea.
 
How do you deal with snoring?
About one-third of the population snores. It can be a common suggestive symptom of sleep apnea as well but does not necessarily mean people who snore have it. Managing snoring can include avoiding sleeping on the back, avoiding alcohol close to bedtime and weight reduction.
 
What are the best ways to eliminate grinding your teeth when you sleep?
Grinding your teeth is also a common symptom in people with sleep apnea, but it can also occur in a number of conditions. There are dental appliances that can be applied by dentists like bite guards.
 
How do you prevent oversleeping?
Typically, if a person has trouble [with] sleeping through their alarm, it’s due to chronic sleep deprivation. Developing a sleep rhythm builds several weeks over time. In other words, how you sleep tonight has an impact not only on the following night but … in the subsequent two weeks. — Matt Ingersoll
 
6 questions for a...
general doctor
Dr. Maria Boylan of New Boston is a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Elliot Family Medicine at Bedford Commons, a practice of the Elliot Physician Network, and specializes in family practice and prenatal care. 
 
What’s the best way to get rid of a headache?
The most common type of headache is a tension headache caused from strains and spasms in the neck and shoulders. It ties a lot into stress and the things that we do every single day. So the best thing is to do some neck stretches and to pay attention to your shoulders as well. I think tea is also a great resource for headaches and neck pains, because it promotes blood flow to those areas. When you talk about preventive steps, yoga is really great too. 
 
How can you maintain a healthy blood pressure?
The biggest things are to get enough sleep and to not have too much sodium in your diet, because that will really drive up your blood pressure. Total lack of exercise is also a big [cause of high blood pressure]. … Limit your alcohol intake to no more than two or three drinks a week. ... Making sure you see a doctor regularly can also help prevent your blood pressure from going up in the first place.
 
What are the best home remedies for a sore throat?
Sore throats are very common especially this time of year and are usually due to a viral infection. Keeping a humidifier in your bedroom at night will help add moisture to the air and keep your airways clear. But believe it or not, honey is the single best thing you can take for a sore throat. Hot water, tea, peppermint, and salt water gargles are also helpful, depending on what your preferences are.
 
What are the best ways to deal with the common cold?
There’s really no way to shorten a cold — you sort of need to let it run its course. Over-the-counter medications don’t actually help shorten the cold; they just help with the symptoms. So it’s more important to make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating good, healthy foods and definitely avoiding alcohol and caffeine when you’re sick.
 
How do you stay well when someone in your household is sick?
The best things you can do are to avoid close contact and to make sure everyone is good about washing their hands, as well as regularly washing sheets and pillowcases and getting rid of old toothbrushes when you start to feel better again.
 
What are the best ways to deal with stress and anxiety?
Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night, exercising regularly and just eating well really limit the things that are going to make the body feel bad, as well as limiting your sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake. As far as more natural things, essential oils like lavender are great to alleviate stress and anxiety. I also like to tell my patients that detaching from things like social media, cell phones or email and not to be consumed with technology are also helpful. — Matt Ingersoll
 
9 questions for a...
meditation expert
Debra LeClair of Manchester is a psychologist, life coach and meditation teacher.
 
Can you tell us what some of the different types of meditation techniques are out there and what makes them different?
Mindfulness, actually it’s a way of being ... but also it’s a way of using just meditation to bring yourself into the present moment ... without judgment. A lot of what we’re looking at there is working through body sensation and later getting into just watching thoughts, as opposed to letting thoughts take us away, and that goes the same for feelings. Transcendental meditation is … you receive a mantra, and that’s a sanskrit phrase that you should be repeating over and over as a way of stabilizing the mind, in order to put yourself into a meditative state. There are other sorts of meditations that are really just basic, and a lot of these more known types have these as a foundation, but just noticing the breath, being connected to the breath. 
 
When is it a good time to meditate?
Everyone’s a little bit different in that. … I would say the general recommendation is [to meditate] in the morning, usually right after you wake up because your mind is usually fresh … and it’s a good way to start the day, a good way to set the tone. … I personally find mid-day a nice time to kind of hit the reset button with a meditation, a short one.
 
What if someone wants to make meditation a part of their life but often just don’t feel like it?
One thing is to not overwhelm yourself with ‘Oh, I’m gonna do 25 minutes’ or ‘I’m gonna go on a silent retreat.’ I think the idea is ‘You know what, I don’t really feel like doing it, but maybe if I just set the timer and I do it for two minutes, that’s something. Just notice my breath. Maybe I’ll just notice three breath cycles, just so that I’m still training my brain, training my nervous system and connecting into the practice.’ 
 
What are some of those thoughts and feelings that make it harder to meditate?
One is just being tired, being sleepy. … One will be that thought of doubt like ‘Hmm, am I doing this right? Am I really getting any benefit from this? Should I be putting my time into this?’ … Others are just restlessness, where you can’t stop fidgeting, you can’t stop moving around. … One thing we forget to do, in this culture, is yoga. The original intention of yoga is to prepare the body for meditation, meaning that you’d have things stretched out … where the body feels comfortable.
 
Should we avoid anything in our environment that isn’t conducive to meditation?
It’s not that you [need to] have no noise. In fact, a good mindful meditation is to pay attention to the sounds that you hear. So maybe you’re hearing the air conditioner going off or the heating kick in, you’re hearing birds, you’re hearing the creaks of the house or the building. Those are all great things because they bring you right into the present moment. But I think to have a lot of distracting noises or things that set your nervous system off like your alarms going off on your phone, or beeps and buzzes going off, I think that can certainly be counterproductive.
 
Is giving your mind a break through meditation kind of a luxury these days?
I guess I would feel uncomfortable calling it a luxury. I think it’s an absolute necessity. I think, when we have so many more demands on our mind, in fact we have things that are absolutely designed to grab our attention here and there and everywhere, which sets us off to have very short attention spans and be kind of on the edge all the time. ‘Did they call? Did they text?’ Or ‘I gotta hurry up and answer that.’ When you’ve got all that going on … there’s probably even more need to have that stillness and that quieting of mind that’s creating stability in the mind, so that these things don’t actually impact you negatively, which we’re finding they do.
 
What sort of techniques are helpful for cutting through distractions?
What could be helpful there is to really notice your feet on the ground … to really get curious about it, get connected to it. Again, this puts you in the present moment, takes you out of the past and the future where you’re worrying. … If you can do that for a moment, it’s like hitting the reset button. … What’s helpful is a very practical thing, which is just earbuds or headphones and using an app and being able to just focus in on whatever the guided meditation is going to be. 
 
Do you know of any specific apps that can be helpful?
Sure, my favorite, but it’s not cheap … is Headspace. ... I think there’s a 14-day free trial. … There definitely are free ones. … Calm is one in particular.
 
Is there a type of person who needs meditation the most?
Honestly, I think every human benefits from it, whether they’re already calm or not, because there’s so much more to meditation than just stress management. … You definitely increase your focus and your ability to tap into being able to creatively problem-solve or just be creative in general. — Ryan Lessard
 
7 questions for a...
hair stylist 
Amanda Skiff has been working at 5 Diamond Salon in Manchester for three years and is now a master stylist specializing in hair color, extensions and bridal hair.   
 
How do you choose the right haircut? 
Know your hair type and be realistic in your choice. If you have curly hair, sometimes it can be heavy, and it’s nice to have a shorter cut. Thinner hair also looks better when it’s short because it looks fuller. If you have a lot of hair, you might want to try layers to debulk. You should only get bangs if you’re someone who wants to style their hair every morning. If you’re a person who wants to throw it in a ponytail and go to work, it’s not a good idea. 
 
And the right color?
If you have grays, having some highlights around the face can brighten your face and help with blending the grays. Balayage hair has been popular and is low-maintenance. It’s basically [coloring] the mid and bottom part of your hair instead of using a solid color that starts at your root and having to deal with the regrowth. Another thing to remember is the seasons. Darker colors can fade in the summertime with the sun, and blonds tend to dull with the winter dryness. 
 
How do you keep your hair looking good in the winter (despite static electricity, wearing winter hats, etc.)?
Nourish your scalp whenever you can. Doing a coconut oil mask at home can be a good boost for your hair when you notice a dry scalp. There are also products that help with static and frizziness. If you’re able to put your hair under your hat in a loose bun on top of your head, that can help you not lose so much volume. When you take your hat off, just let it down and shake it out. It’s also good to bring a mini hair spray or dry shampoo with you to help bring your hair back to life. 
 
What’s the best thing you can do to keep your hair healthy? 
Vitamins. Taking biotin is really helpful if you throw that in with your everyday routine. You can get it at the drugstore. Also, don’t overdo it with hot tools. If you flat iron your hair too much, you can make it look lifeless. If you’re picking a drastic change with your color, know that you want to stick with it instead of going back and forth with different colors, because that can damage your hair, too. 
 
Is it true that it’s bad for your hair if you wash it every day?
It’s not the worst thing, and some people need to with their jobs or if they go to the gym, but every time you shampoo, you strip your sebum glands, which makes them produce oil, so the more you shampoo, the more oily it gets. If you can stretch it out between washes, your scalp will get used to it and not produce as much oil, and your hair will feel better. It puts a lot less wear and tear on your hair.  
 
What are some quick and easy hairstyles for when you’re running low on time? 
Dry shampoo is always good. You could also use a beachy texture spray, dampen your hair a bit and rough dry it to give it some loose waves. If you’re short on time, focus on styling it mostly in the front. Just blow dry the front and the sides and let the rest do what it wants, and you’ll at least have a polished look in the front. 
 
What are the worst misconceptions people have when it comes to hair care? 
It’s physically impossible to cut three layers in your hair; a lot of people ask for that. People also think they need to have dirty hair when they come in for an updo, but it’s better to come in with clean hair and let us mess it up with as much product as we need. If you’re trying to grow your hair, don’t think just growing it without getting a trim will make it long. You have to get a trim, because the ends will get split ends and break off. 
— Angie Sykeny
 
6 questions for a...
life coach 
Tucker McCarthy started a life coaching business called Progression Forward in Milford this year, where he specializes in issues such as substance abuse, personal finance, relationships, career, mindfulness and spiritual well-being. 
 
What are some of the best ways to reduce stress? 
Some of the best things are maintaining regular exercise and keeping in good physical health. I’ve also seen great benefits from regular meditation; as little as 10 minutes a day makes a difference and can reduce stress and anxiety. Try to live and focus on the moment instead of thinking about the past or the future and all the things you need to get to. It’s also important to make a conscious effort to regularly check out from social media and the internet and your phone and focus on yourself and your family.  
 
How can you be more confident and outgoing in social situations? 
Take a minute before you go into it to take some deep breaths and calm down, and understand that a lot of other people feel the same way that you do. Introduce yourself to people and ask them questions; people like to talk about themselves, and that will get the dialogue going. Then, maybe they’ll introduce you to the people they know. Force yourself to be uncomfortable and embrace it. Any time you can walk through that fear, you’ll realize it wasn’t so bad, and you’ll feel more confident next time.  
 
How can you fight off loneliness when you live or work alone? 
Make it a point to have human interaction. Today, people rely too much on social media and technology to communicate, but it’s important to get out on nights and weekends and spend time with family and friends. If you’re new to the area and don’t have family close, sign up to volunteer for something, or go to a flea market — anything where there are other people. Feeling a sense of community is important for fighting off loneliness. 
 
What are the steps to accomplishing a life goal? 
Write down your goals. You won’t take it seriously until it’s there on paper and real in front of you. Then, you need to make a plan. A goal without a plan is just a dream. You need to lay out how you will accomplish it. Then, let someone else know about your goal and check in with them to hold yourself accountable. Don’t just talk about it; take action. Try to do one thing every day, even if it’s something small, that keeps you moving toward that goal. 
 
What’s the most important thing you can do for your mental health? 
Regularly communicate with someone you can trust, whether that’s a friend or family member or therapist. Let someone know how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life, the good and the bad. It’s also important to remember that feelings are temporary. They come and go, and if we don’t react immediately, we may feel differently a few hours later or the next day. Having that perspective is important for mental health. 
 
What are some simple ways to create joy in your day?
Do something nice for someone. It can be as simple as holding a door open or paying for the coffee for the person in line behind you. You never know what will make someone’s day. The key is to do it and not expect anything in return. Another thing is to practice positive thinking and gratitude in whatever situation you’re in, and that will create joy and happiness in your day. — Angie Sykeny
 
6 questions for a...
personal trainer
Mary Wiseman is a certified personal trainer and the owner of FitWise Personal Training in Manchester. 
 
What is the best way to get into personal training if you’ve never done it before?
For starters, you want to make sure your trainer has a certification, and it can be just a matter of going in and interviewing the trainer instead of letting them interview you. Make sure your personalities match, that they answer all of your questions, and that there is just an overall sense of comfortability. That the trainer has a basic working knowledge to help you reach your goals is important.
 
What kinds of things should you look for in knowing a personal trainer is right for your needs?
Anybody can say they are a trainer and not necessarily have that knowledge, so it wouldn’t hurt to go in with a list of questions for them, and maybe ask for a few references. 
 
What are some common misconceptions about working with a personal trainer?
What I still sometimes see is that people feel like training has to be extreme to be able to get anything out of it. But the whole ‘no pain, no gain’ aspect is totally false. You don’t have to hurt after a session for it to be effective.
 
What should you always do before a workout?
Everyone’s session is tailored toward the individual. The general guidelines are to make sure you are properly hydrated, that you’re wearing comfortable clothes to work out in, and maybe keeping a fitness log to keep track of your progress. Trainers should kind of outline what each session consists of to give you an idea. It could be somebody who’s younger who comes in because they want to put on some lean muscle and compete in a sport, or you could have someone who is 60 years old and is just looking to train to gain ... flexibility. So, it just depends.
 
Should there be a balance of cardio and weights? More cardio or more weights?
That differs for everybody. ... There is the person that belongs to a gym and just wants that guidance once a week, while they are doing other things on their own. Then there are other people that want to get it all done while they are there, so it depends on what time and affordability people have.
 
How quickly can you see results from personal training sessions?
That varies too, so what I try to do is help them set realistic goals. If somebody is looking to lose weight or gain muscle strength for example, then no, it won’t happen right away. So I’ll lay out a timeline for them, what to expect and when to expect it as long as they put the time and effort in. I try to let my clients walk out after their first session with positive thoughts and to feel better after it mentally. — Matt Ingersoll
 
6 questions for a…
dermatologist
Dr. David Posnick works at Nashua Dermatology Associates in Nashua.
 
What’s the best way to quickly handle a zit? 
First of all, you shouldn’t pop it or play with it because it could lead to scarring. If you have a big inflamed zit, or a cyst we call it, you need to use a warm compress for a few minutes to a day because it brings it to a head. If you want to use over the counter products, I recommend gels with benzoyl peroxide. You apply that once a day, which should help dry it up. 
 
How do you deal with poison ivy? 
It’s an allergic contact dermatitis. Usually you can treat it with just topical steroids like over the counter hydrocortisone it’s mild. If it’s severe, you need to see a doctor and get a prescription strength steroid. For the itching, you can use calamine lotion or anything with menthol should work OK. 
 
Does drinking lots of water really help your skin?
Yes, it’s good to stay hydrated. You don’t want to over drink, despite what Tom Brady says. You want to stay hydrated, water is better than carbonated drinks of course. It doesn’t prevent sunburn as far as I know, you need sunscreen for that. 
 
How do you prevent wrinkles?
The best way to prevent wrinkles is to wear sunscreen, SPF 30 or higher. Basically, wrinkles are caused by the UVA spectrum so you want a UVA and preferably a UVB sunblock. There are over the counter retinols found in some moisturizers. You can use prescription retinoids, which help to build collagen and prevent wrinkles. UVB causes skin cancer but UVA goes down deeper into the collagen and it breaks down the collagen and as you get older the ultraviolet light actually disrupts the collagen … Same thing with smoking, it eats away the collagen with the free radicals destroy the collagen in the skin.
 
How do you know if a mole is suspicious? 
You want to look for anything that is asymmetric, has an irregular border, changing in color from darker to lighter, and diameter bigger than a pencil eraser. Size does matter with moles, especially if it growing. Anything that changes. If you have a mole your whole life and it just looks different or you wake up and you have mole that wasn’t there the day before, that’s when you want to approach a doctor about it. 
 
What’s the most effective way to protect yourself from the sun? 
Use sunscreen; you want to use an SPF 30 or greater. Make sure it has zinc oxide or titanium oxide because those are mineral sunblocks. There’s chemical sunscreen and there’s mineral sun block. The chemical sunscreen, some people are allergic to them and there are different reports in the literature of them causing different problems. … The best sunscreen is clothing or a mineral sunblock with either zinc oxide or titanium oxide. — Ethan Hogan
 
5 questions for a...
fashion expert 
Lisa Rivera runs a small family-owned boutique in Manchester and Derry called Marilisa’s Fashion Inc., where she sells affordable clothing for women.
 
What’s one clothing item that can make anyone look good?
There’s peplum shirts that are flattering for anyone of any shape or body type. It’s a nice top that can flatter the waistline along with sometimes hiding some areas that you don’t want showing. It can go with any outfit — it can go with jeans, it can go with pencil skirts.
 
How about fashionable winter footwear for men and women?
For women definitely boots. Anything that has little booties or little heels. Also, flats are very comfortable. I know in the fashion industry, Uggs have been very popular, especially during the snow time because they’re comfortable for workwear and bringing them out to the street, changing from your heels so you’re not always in heels. For men, boots as well. … Nowadays there are very comfortable boots that you can wear with anything. Timberlands are still in fashion and also North Face has very good fashionable winter boots that keep your feet warm and not wet.
 
Can fashionable be comfortable?
Yes. Fashionable can definitely be comfortable especially because this new generation has invented comfort — from leggings that are very thick and warm but also can be fashionable depending on the top that you wear to even jeans that are stretchy enough that they’re not so tight on you but feel good and also flatter your shape. And for tops, there are cotton [options] that are back for the past couple of years that are nice and soft. Surprisingly, polyester has come a long way with different forms of fabric and how they create it, so they go from soft to the old-fashioned styles. But they are very comfortable and flattering for the body. 
 
What’s going to be “in” in 2018?
The few things that we’ve actually seen in style for 2018 have been what they call crop trousers. They are like capri trousers but those are actually coming back with the mini-checkered design for prints. We have seen that pencil skirts are still trending very high for the new season for women. Trench coats as well are trending pretty high.
 
How often should people update their wardrobe?
For our area we are kind of forced to update our wardrobe every season between layer up and layer down, having the right jackets, having the right tops to be in to the season. But I normally only update my wardrobe once a year and I try to donate. ... That way you are still staying with the trends but also keeping it fresh and your closet isn’t overly stuffed.
— Ethan Hogan
 
9 questions for a…
social worker
James J. Foster is a licensed independent clinical social worker at James J. Foster & Associates in Manchester.
 
How can post-college millennials and parent live amicably together? 
By understanding each other. Something happened which was pretty dramatic in our social history and the dividing line is 1982. Anybody born in 1982 or after was born into the computer era, so computers are their first language. Anybody born before 1982 has had to learn computers as a second language. … If they don’t expect each to be like the other, if they understand that there is a difference between them, they both have a value. For instance, if you have a company set up, you really need both because you need the rapid working style of a millennial but you also need the depth of understanding [of the older generation] to know what direction to move in. They make a nice marriage.
 
What’s the best way to reach out to a loved one who you haven’t spoken to in a long time?
Well, part of that has to do with why you haven’t spoken to them in a long time. If it was accidental or just not possible then it shouldn’t be a problem to just make contact. If there has been some ill feeling I think the best approach is to contact them and ask them if they’d like to speak before beginning to talk with them.  
 
What is a healthy and fun way to connect as a family?
Primarily through activities. When people engage in activities it’s important that every member of the family be able to relate to the activity. ... If the activities are a blending of intellectual and physical contact, I think they would be most enjoyable. 
How can you stay connected with your siblings as you grow up?
The best way is to maintain contact throughout the year and not just on holidays. 
 
What is one common mistake people make while in a committed relationship? 
I think they tend to easily take the other person for granted. And you begin to presume that you know what they think and they feel. It’s much healthier to maintain a continued curiosity. 
 
What are some easy steps to have better communication with your partner?
The key is really to listen. When people talk they frequently focus on wanting to be heard but better communication is achieved through developing listening skills, not talking skills. Men and women talk differently and they have a different language, they have a different way of thinking and approaching problem-solving and the understanding of problems. The more they can appreciate each other’s differences, the more they will be able to communicate amicably. 
 
What are ways to let your partner know you love them without simply saying it?
Being considerate, respecting their limits and their boundaries. Never asking them to do something that they would be uncomfortable with. Again, men and women have different ways of doing [things]. Men typically focus on tasks and activities. Women are more likely to attend directly to the relationship; they’ll avoid bringing up subjects that are touchy subjects. They’ll do things to please the partner directly. They will focus more on the immediate interaction between themselves and their partner.
 
It is ever healthy to change something about yourself for your partner?
Only if it’s also good for you. People are always trying to find out what would please the partner but in order to be able to make an authentic change that fits, it has to be for the changer, not for the other person. If, for instance, your partner wants you to stop smoking cigarettes, that’s not a bad idea, but it should be done only when you are ready to do it for yourself and it’s an additional benefit that pleases your partner. But it shouldn’t be done for the partner.
 
What are some healthy ways to handle a breakup?
Work on accepting what the other person is saying. Try to gain an understanding as to why the relationship can’t go on. It’s hard, but it’s to try not thinking of the ex partner in a romantic way. And if you continue to relate to them, relate to them as a co-parent or as a friend or even as an acquaintance. Try not to relate to them as somebody who you feel owes you something. If you have those kinds of feelings, then it’s better not to have contact.
 — Ethan Hogan
 
6 questions for a...
money expert
Jeff Parsons of Bedford is the principal at Parsons Financial Associates in Concord.
 
What should people do if they can’t seem to save money?
Typically, the first place we would have them go is to their 401(k)s or 403(b)s at work ... because the money comes out before it gets to their pocket and it’s kind of a forced way to save. … If they don’t have a job that has it, then it’s just a matter of discipline more than anything. Have a certain amount of money taken out [of each paycheck] … and put it in savings plans until you reach a point when you have an investable amount, let’s say $5,000. And then you would put into some kind of an investment. Either an IRA, Roth IRA or something like that. … You obviously want to have different savings pots, if you will: a short-term savings goal, an intermediate savings goal and a long-term savings goal. The long-term is obviously retirement. The intermediate term would be a save-to-spend account, let’s say for a home or something. And then, the short-term saving would just really be a bank account that’s designed to be very liquid and easy to get to. … The first thing people should do is their own budget and find out what they can afford to save.
 
If costs seem to be too high and income is too low, what would you say is the first step to achieving a balanced budget?
It starts with what is necessary. What do we really have to pay, there’s no getting out of it? And that would include things like rent, a car payment and things like that. And once you have all of your fixed costs that you know you have to pay, then you have what’s called discretionary costs. People would say that their phone would be under their fixed costs, but phones are actually discretionary. I mean, we could always downsize on a phone. … Discretionary would also include anything that you do on the weekends. ... So when you do your budget and you have too-high fixed costs, you do have an issue — you have to figure out how to live. But it really comes down to budgeting, at the end of the day. … And not a lot of people do that anymore.
 
Let’s say someone did all the steps you recommend; they create a budget and cut out discretionary spending. What do they do if they’re still not balanced?
Well, something would have to give. You need to find a different career that makes you more money if you’re choosing to live that lifestyle or, on the other hand, you could curb your lifestyle. Find cheaper rents ... get a roommate, which is a popular thing to do if you’re trying to save money, try to share expenses with someone else until you can get to the point where you can afford to pay your own way. But really, it’s dollars and cents. The money comes in and it goes out. … Basically, just taking a really hard look at yourself and your budget and saying, ‘How can we do it from here?’
 
When should someone start to think about retirement?
[When you start] job No. 1. … Both my daughters, their first job, I said ‘Look, you’re basically gonna earn 90 percent of what they tell you because your first 10 percent is gonna go into a Roth IRA.’ And they both have done that. And I tell that to all my clients. You really have to start saving when you’re young. The longer you wait, the higher the percentage of your income you have to save. But for the young kids, I use 10 percent as a rule of thumb. As you get into your 30s, it’s 15 to 20 percent.
 
What are the best ways to set aside money for retirement these days?
I prefer a Roth for the younger people, and that’s an after-tax contribution with tax-free money later. And if I had my druthers, I would have them do it through work, because anything that is payroll deducted gets done. You’re not waiting until the end of the month and saving what’s left over. You’re basically paying yourself first. But I would exhaust the Roth option first. And then you have more latitude in a 401(k). In other words, a Roth 401(k) has much higher limits than an ordinary Roth would. So if you have those options at work, the 401(k) would allow you do up to $18,000 a year into a Roth or a traditional 401(k), or a combination of the two.
 
What’s something people often overlook when it comes to managing their money?
Proper asset allocation, meaning where the money goes. A lot of people put all their eggs in one basket; they’re not properly diversified. In other words, maybe they’re too aggressive when it comes to investments, or they’re not aggressive enough. 
— Ryan Lessard
 
7 questions for a...
social media expert
Chris Halvorson is the owner of Halvorson New Media based in Peterborough.
 
What are some of the biggest no-no’s for social media posts?
For personal usage, one of the best things I ever heard was don’t put anything on there you wouldn’t want your mother to see. … We’ve all probably heard the examples these days of somebody posting a picture of themselves at a party and they’re drinking … underage or posting something stupid you may have done that you don’t want a future employer to hear about.
 
We all hear about how social media can cause issues with getting a job. Can social media ever be helpful for getting a job?
I absolutely think so. There’s that whole concept about personal branding. … You can, if you are let’s say a high school student or college student, start posting things about your extracurricular activities, your volunteer activities and ultimately, if that future employer gets permission to look at your feed before hiring you, that stuff can work in your favor, I think. I see plenty of people posting positive things like that; what they’ve done in the community, what they’ve done with their church, gathering food for the local food pantry. That’s all good. I also have been known to stop everybody, strangers on the street, and say, ‘Get yourself a LinkedIn [account].’ Because if you’re on LinkedIn and you have a good background and want to be discovered, that’s a great place to be and a great place to make it easy for future employers to find you.
 
What are some of the best ways to avoid falling for or reposting fake news that is circulated on social media?
That’s such an interesting conversation to watch happen … about this fake news. I hope that the high schools of America are certainly teaching students how to recognize fake news. For me, it’s sort of intuitive … because I’ve been with the web since it was invented, literally. … I would say, don’t believe something unless you’ve seen it in a couple of different places and it’s verified. … Is it the New York Times or something of a mystery publication or a mystery media that you’ve never heard of before? That’s your first clue.
 
It’s a common refrain that we should avoid topics like politics and religion at the dinner table. Are some topics on social media best left untouched as well?
Well, I’m going to answer like a lawyer: It depends. I think there was a time when using your personal Facebook page wasn’t the place to talk about politics, but at this moment it feels like the place to talk about politics. It’s the way we find those people who share our sentiments, or it’s the way we find those people to stay away from. Whether that’s good for our society or not, I think the jury is still out. 
 
Are there any risks, especially among young people, of too much social media use having negative effects on real-life social interactions?
I think the data shows that there is an effect happening but I wouldn’t limit it to young people. I think we’re all being affected by ... constantly watching social media. You’ve heard of the phenomenon of the fear of missing out. I feel that myself. And, for the record, I’m 59 years old. But I feel a little weird when I’ve gone a few minutes without looking at Facebook. Now, it is also my job. … I don’t know that [we’re] necessarily going to lose our ability to communicate or interact with people in person. I think the jury is still out on that. 
 
If you own a small business and you use social media to promote or run your business, what are some ways to improve engagement?
These days, it’s all about video. The world expects video and we resonate with video. We’ve been trained up thanks to YouTube to expect moving pictures on our internet and if you’re not doing that as a small business, I think you’re missing out. Facebook’s algorithm keeps changing and it gets harder and harder for businesses to use it in a way that gets them organic engagement. So they have to think about all the things that they can do to increase that, including paid advertising. But video is the No.1 way to improve that at this moment. And consistent posting. Don’t put up the Facebook page and let it lie fallow for anything more than two days at a time.
 
As far as videos are concerned, are there specific things they should do to make videos with the desired effect?
What I often advise my clients, who have no money to start with, basically, [is] you don’t have to be Steven Spielberg. It can be short, on the fly, as long as it’s something that your customers or your potential customers need to know or want to know or will be entertained by, that’s just going to help you. That’s good branding. … Do not put up long videos. Nobody will sit still for that. … If your target market is the younger age groups, you’ve got to be on Instagram and Snapchat these days. But what I tell every small business owner that talks to me is you must, must be on Facebook. … Every age group is using it now and it’s a giant amongst social media, and that’s not going away anytime soon.
— Ryan Lessard 





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