Are you one of the millions who wears a fitness tracker? This technology has become so mainstream, even high-fashion and well-known designers are joining the craze and creating custom devices and stylish accessories to personalize them. Is this just another fad or do wearables actually deliver?

Not a Silver Bullet
A fitness tracker may help you lose weight but not necessarily more than if you didn’t wear it, according to a 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The research centered around wearables and weight loss showed a surprising trend: Those logging their meals and exercise on a website lost more weight than the individuals wearing tracking devices.

Fitness-tracking devices monitor and report data, but they can backfire without a human layer to meaningfully interpret that information. Plus, our brains can justify overindulgence or otherwise counterproductive behavior when we’re able to review our progress in real time.

Consider the Right Metrics
Corporations and businesses have been integrating wearable technology stats into wellness programs to improve the health and productivity of the workforce. But wearables track a great deal of data, which can be troubling for those who value their security and privacy. And it’s important to consider the information in a careful context given that fitness technology can still include incomplete or faulty data.

Remember, wearable tech trackers are still in their infancy, but professional athletes and those involved with innovating this technology see a lot of hope on the horizon. And consumers can reap some of the benefits as these companies present personal health metrics in a more personalized, human-centric and psychologically optimized fashion.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Are you always looking for the latest gadget, or do you prefer to wait and see what stands the test of time? Either way, you’re likely connected to the internet of things whether you know it or not. What exactly does this trendy terminology mean? Here’s an overview to bring you up to speed.

Everyone’s Getting Into It
In a nutshell, the internet of things describes a technological ecosystem of devices — think cars, heart monitors and kitchen appliances — that send and receive data via the internet. This trend is spreading to diverse and surprising industries, including agriculture, retail and transportation, as hardware gets stronger and cheaper.

Less About the Device, More About the Data
Don’t expect to browse the web, stream your favorite TV show or use instant messaging services on these gadgets like you can on your smartphone or computer. Reminder alerts, seamless firmware updates and similar features will appeal to consumers, but the real draw is for manufacturers and other companies. They will benefit from the enormous amount of data that can provide analytics and insight into how people are using the devices, as well as personal data like health-related metrics.

Exciting Pros, Worrisome Cons
Security and privacy are the primary concerns surfacing with the internet of things and for good reason. The extensive data flowing from so many devices poses a logistical issue for IT infrastructure, not to mention the vulnerability to hackers and other cyberattacks.

Staying current with new tech can feel like a full-time hobby, but for those looking to constantly improve and optimize their lives, each year brings further advancements. Just remember to embrace the internet of things and other changes with your eyes wide open.

If your family is gearing up to make a college decision in the coming months, a tour of prospective campuses may be on your agenda. Here are a few strategic tips to help you compare higher education choices and get the most from your visit.

Explore Your Tour Options Well in Advance
Every college and university is different, and so are their visitation opportunities. Are you looking for an on-site overnight stay or the ability to meet with certain professors or departments? Check with the admissions office of each campus to determine your options. Candid, face-to-face time with current students can also provide a valuable look into everyday collegiate life.

Budget Appropriately
Like any trip, you can expect to spend on travel and meals, even if the campus tours are available at no cost. From a budget perspective, treat a college visitation like a vacation; explore the city as well as the neighborhoods surrounding the school to get an authentic feel for the overall environment.

Gather Details to Review Later
You can maximize the experience by putting the technology you’ve got on hand to work for you. Use your smartphone to record interviews with current students and faculty and take snapshots or video footage to keep the visit fresh in your mind. Don’t let the excitement of an institution’s grandeur overshadow the importance of capturing the information that will factor into a final acceptance decision.

Higher education is a serious financial investment. Despite all the research you do online, nothing beats going to the source, so make those firsthand moments count.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Looking for a vacation that offers a spiritual break or the opportunity for introspection? Embarking on a pilgrimage where you walk historic paths and visit sacred sites may be the perfect vacation alternative. Here are a few historically significant options, whether you’re looking to go near or far.

International Destinations
Taking the time to explore other cultures on foot can put you in the frame of mind to savor nuanced details. Here are a few pilgrimage options:

  • Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s southerly islands, is home to an ancient pilgrimage trail honoring Buddhist monk Kukai. The approximately 750-mile course, which can take as many as 60 days to complete, features 88 intricate temples.
  • The Camino de Santiago, also known as the “Way of St. James,” leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, where legend says the apostle is buried. The trail contains several branches, though the last 62 miles of the Camino Frances is the most popular.
  • Take in the English countryside on a roughly 53-mile walk (including detours) along the Great Stones Way, which includes a stop at the prehistoric Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

Domestic Pilgrimages
You don’t have to look outside the U.S. to find a pilgrimage path. There are several across the country, including the following:

  • Navigate part of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, which begins in Nauvoo, Illinois, and leads to Salt Lake City, Utah. More than 70,000 Mormons traveled this 1,300-mile, five-state path in the mid-1800s to escape religious persecution.
  • If you’d like to make a journey by car, venture through the Texas Hill Country and stop by the area’s historic painted churches. These Czech- and German-inspired beauties built in the mid- to late 1800s feature intricate artisanal handiwork and bold colors.

Craving the kind of getaway that helps you hit the reset button in a deep, meaningful way? Find a pilgrimage that resonates with you.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

When was the last time you took a few vacation days and left work behind? In a 2016 Indeed poll of approximately 2,000 adults, 20 percent didn’t take a summer vacation and 59 percent of those who did worked while on the break. A busy work life with little to no time to unwind puts you at high risk for burnout. A well-planned sabbatical could be just what you need to recharge.

Taking an Extended Break
Employees may have a couple of options when it comes to getting away for a while. A sabbatical is a period of employer-approved leave that may or may not be paid; it can be as short as a month or as long as a year. When it’s over, you usually return to your job and pick up where you left off.

If you want more time away or don’t want to continue with the same employer, a career break may better suit you. Many who choose this type of hiatus quit their job and use the extensive period away from employment to travel, volunteer or work abroad. When the career break is over, they search for another job, often with a renewed sense of commitment.

Does Your Employer Have a Sabbatical Policy?
Many companies see value in offering a sanctioned gap year to top talent, especially when it comes to high-value employees with a thirst for adventure. If you’re interested, check with your company’s human resources department or scan your employee benefits package to see if a sabbatical policy exists.

When You Return
Once you have your sabbatical behind you, know how to leverage your time away during interviews and other career-related conversations. What lessons did you learn? How did the break make you better? What skills did you improve or acquire during your time away? Let your answers reflect the unique benefits only you can provide.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results

Vacations allow you to escape the routine of your everyday life. Making the most of your time away from home is up to you. If you’re interested in springing for once-in-a-lifetime hotel accommodations, here are a few unusual options.

Relax in Luxury
Looking to indulge beyond the traditional hotel and continental breakfast? A well-appointed retreat that makes you the focus can help you recharge your mind, body and spirit. One option: the art-centric Hotel Marques de Riscal in northern Spain, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and sits on an established vineyard of the same name.

Or you can add a little adventure to your luxury getaway. At Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambore, India, guests can sip champagne from the observation tower and spot royal Bengal tigers at a nearby watering hole, along with other indigenous wildlife.

Travel off the Beaten Path
If a real escape sounds like music to your ears, consider a remote destination where you can avoid real-world interruptions. How about a quiet island retreat off the east coast of Africa? The Manta Resort on Zanzibar’s Pemba Island offers privacy and romance and the option to stay in an underwater room surrounded by untouched coral reefs and their inhabitants.

If that’s not remote enough, consider White Desert’s Whichaway Camp in Antarctica. From November through January, travelers can experience the South Pole and all of its beauty in comfort and style.

Go With What Speaks to You
Finding a one-of-a-kind stay isn’t as hard as you may imagine; just give some thought to your personal interests. Car enthusiast? The 4.5-star, auto-themed V8 Hotel in Stuttgart, Germany, may speak to you. Nature lover? Sleep among the clouds in one of the treetop rooms in Sweden’s aptly named Treehotel. Your options for unconventional lodging across the globe are nearly limitless.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

One common trait among the highly successful is their endless drive to improve and learn. Take a page from their book during your downtime this holiday season by feeding your curiosity and keeping your mind engaged. Make space on your digital device for some of these popular finance-focused podcasts:

  1. National Public Radio’s Planet Money tackles broad economic topics with a fun, inventive approach. One example: In August, a five-episode series chronicled their 100-barrel oil purchase, following it from a Kansas well to its final stop at an Iowa gas station. Look for new podcasts once or twice a week.
  2. Marketplace delivers a daily podcast that takes a detailed look at the day’s business and financial news in a relatable and highly digestible format.
  3. What started in 1997 as a syndicated newspaper feature has evolved into Motley Fool Money, a weekly radio show and podcast. A team of analysts helms this production, deciphering technical jargon and covering investing-related stories and interviews.
  4. Fans of the 2005 nonfiction bestseller “Freakonomics” may appreciate the eponymous weekly podcast, which looks at economic systems from fresh perspectives. Podcast topics range from an economist’s take on ride-sharing apps to conversations with innovative entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss and more.
  5. Stacking Benjamins focuses on personal finance, alternating between guest interviews that touch on earning, saving and spending, and a roundtable format that features other podcasters and bloggers.

Time is money, so spend it wisely. Put your downtime to good use with these and other informative podcasts.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

When unexpected or worrisome financial news hits, what do you do? Constantly checking your portfolio can derail you from long-term goals, while having zero awareness of your finances can lead to reckless overspending or other bad behavior.

Information travels faster than ever these days, and it’s easy for investors to feel alarmed or panicked about finances when they read the headlines. Get a handle on financial anxiety with a few helpful strategies.

  • Start to see others’ fears as opportunities. When the markets go down, investments can lose value and appear on sale. That’s when some say it’s time to buy rather than sell. Whatever you choose, zoom out on S&P 500 charts to get some perspective and look at the long-term picture.
  • Revisit your goal-based investment plan regularly but not necessarily in response to world events. Sometimes all it takes is a check-in to remember why you have a particular portfolio set up just so. If changes must be made, consider timing them with significant life events like a birth, death, career move or change in marital status.
  • Begin incorporating mindfulness techniques and meditation into your daily life. Not only are these practices ideal for reducing anxiety and stress, which can lead to larger health conditions that are expensive to treat, but they can also improve cognition and concentration.

With the potential for more volatility on the horizon as markets tend to fluctuate during presidential election years, there’s no time like the present to practice taming financial anxiety with the above suggestions. Employing thoughtful techniques can help you stay balanced and on track, both mentally and financially.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Looking for long-term success? Some of the most productive people throughout history — from Benjamin Franklin to Steve Jobs — put useful routines into practice the moment they woke. Just as a financial plan must be customized for each person, so should your morning routine. Personalize the details to suit your goals and lifestyle, and leverage new technology and time-tested wisdom to establish a healthy, lasting habit.

Focus on the Physical
For your mind to perform at its peak, your body must be well maintained and have energy to fuel your brain. This starts with eating a nutrient-rich diet and reaping the benefits of regular workouts. Caring for your mind and body as a daily, long-term practice can help guard against deterioration and illness. Because poor health can be expensive to fix with doctor visits, medication and procedures, it’s smart to invest in preventive care.

Automate the Hard Parts
When it comes to optimizing your ideal morning routine, you now have many mobile app options that can do some of the heavy lifting for you. For example, if you’re not an early riser by nature, consider an alarm clock app that can sense the optimal time to wake you up, or take advantage of curated playlists filled with energizing tunes chosen specifically to get your blood pumping.

Reflect and Engage
Each morning gives you a fresh start, so use it to ruminate and act on your personal priorities. Whether that’s spending some quality time with the family or enjoying a quiet meditation before the busy day begins, aim to bring a better sense of work-life balance and perspective to the tasks before you

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.

If you’re like most of our clients, you’ve thought long and hard about the financial aspects of your retirement. You’ve likely worked hard and saved diligently. But, retirement for each person is different. Perhaps you plan on a working retirement with a new job and less stress, focused on what you love. Or, perhaps you plan to travel, play golf, or just rock on the porch. Or, maybe you want to downsize to a smaller house, spend time with the grand-kids, or take up sky diving. Who knows? Whatever the plan, don’t forget to consider the location you plan to call home.

Where you “officially” call home can make a difference in your retirement lifestyle. Even if you plan to travel or live out of your RV, the place you officially live can impact your taxes and other living cost factors. Obviously, most people realize that retiring to California or New York will be generally more expensive than retiring to Tennessee. So, what are some of the factors to consider when picking a retirement destination?

For most retirees, the two largest expenses in retirement will be medical care and taxes. Yes, a milder climate not only means a more enjoyable tennis match, but it can also mean lower utility bills. However, lower utilities are not likely to be as big of a financial factor as other considerations. Regarding medical expenses, BenefitsPRO recently completed an analysis on healthcare costs in the US. Now, keep in mind that the analysis merely compares Medicare premiums, but this can still be a fair comparison on what average medical costs by state may be because Medicare premiums consider medical costs as a major factor. Believe it or not, the cost to have a heart attack is different in different parts of the country. So, on average, Florida has the highest Medicare premiums running 35% more than Hawaii, which has the lowest. This makes sense from a supply and demand standpoint; there are many more retirees in Florida needing medical care, which likely means there are consistent strains on supply, which in turn drives up the cost. Tennessee did not make the top ten lowest or highest for Medicare premiums.

Taxes are the other major factor for most retirees. Kiplinger recently listed six factors to consider when picking a retirement destination and each of the six factors were different types of taxes. Most retirees consider income taxes and while income taxes can be a major factor for some retirees, Sales Tax, Property Tax, and Estate Tax can be even more important. This is because once you reach retirement, you may have already earned most of your income; now it is more a matter of spending it. If income taxes are really your biggest issue, you might actually consider life outside the US. Over half-a-dozen countries actually have no income tax, but keep in mind, you’ll have to give up your US citizenship and other expenses may far outweigh the income tax savings unless your income is significant. Also keep in mind, the IRS will make you pay tax on your IRA before you expatriate, so don’t look to leaving the US as a way to avoid your Required Minimum Distribution (RMD). One income tax you may want to watch out for is income tax on certain investments. For instance, Tennessee has no income tax on earned income; however, it does have income tax on interest income over a certain level. These hidden taxes can sneak up on you and make a difference. Another somewhat hidden income tax is Social Security income tax. Some states have been moving away from taxing SS, but as of this writing, thirteen states still do tax it.

If you are less affluent, then sales taxes and property taxes will likely be more significant factors. When considering property tax, keep in mind that most often this is a function of county government rather than state or federal government. If you own or plan to own significant amounts of real property, moving across the county line could mean a significant difference. Also consider if the county/state allows for a property tax “freeze” for owners who reside in the property. This can ensure that property taxes do not go up for you.

As for sales taxes, this is a function of states and local municipalities, but usually more dependent upon the state’s rate. Again, moving across a state or county line or even out of city limits can be factor. Also be aware that the sales tax rate may vary by item. For instance, some states do not charge sales tax on food or may charge a different rate on certain large purchases.

Finally, there are estate and inheritance taxes. The difference in these two is the way they are calculated. Estate taxes are charged to the estate, but inheritance taxes are charged to the inheritor, which may have differing rates depending upon whether the inheritor is a spouse, child, sibling, or unrelated. And, not only do the rates vary, the exemption amounts (how much you can pass on without having the tax) varies by state. Some states match the federal government’s exemption, but most don’t.

In all determining where to retire is an important consideration for which weather may be a big consideration. Just don’t forget to look at the financial implications of location too. And, if you need help evaluating those consideration, call us at 877-5WEALTH.

The information provided in Eddleman’s Economic Insight is not intended to be used as investment advice; rather it is provided as general economic news and information for your awareness or for discussions with your investment professional. Please consult your investment professional or CPA for advice specific to your situation! Past performance is not indicative of future results.