Beware of holiday scams
Thieves employ a variety of techniques to steal identities and profit from them. Most offenders steal personal information from dumpsters, mailboxes, purses or wallets, according to Dr. Lynne M. Vieraitis, an associate professor of criminology in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences at UT Dallas.
“Even though there are substantial data breaches and organized criminal groups that deal in stolen credit card numbers, the typical identity thief is similar to other street criminals or middle-class fraudsters,” she said. “Protect yourself by shredding personal data and mail, and don’t leave valuable items unattended.”
Stick to the basics for successful New Year weight loss
After cookies, eggnog and holiday treats, sticking with a fitness routine might seem rough. Amanda Smith, assistant director of health education programs at UT Dallas, says setting New Year’s resolutions is often temporary. She recommends creating long-term goals that can be broken up into smaller pieces, and lifestyle changes that you will stick with for the long haul.
“Expect gyms and fitness centers to be crowded in January,” Smith said. “There are lots of people trying to adhere to resolutions, but don’t get frustrated and give up. Most gyms will begin to thin out by the end of the month. Also, find a friend to help keep you in check. Working out with a buddy creates a good accountability system since it’s much harder to skip if someone else is depending on you.”
Choosing the Smartest Toys for Under the Tree
Parents beware: Buying your child the “must have” toy of this holiday season might result in excited yelps on Christmas morning, but the thrill may be gone long before the first change of batteries.
Choose toys that are safe, developmentally appropriate and engaging enough to keep your child interested over a longer period of time, suggests Lyn Rodriguez Neisius of UT Dallas’ Center for Children and Families. Select toys that are flexible and can be used for multiple purposes. For example, children can use blocks for building, and also for sorting and as props in imaginative play. She recommends avoiding electronic toys for children younger than 4 years old because they limit exploration and communication with playmates.
As director of the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences’ Juega Conmigo, or Play With Me, program, Neisius offers the following toy shopping list:
· Dress up items: Hats, beads, cowboy boots and raincoats can be used by children in pretend play.
· Riding toys: Tricycles, wagons and, eventually, skates and scooters will help children develop motor skills.
· Toys that allow the children to make believe they are adults: Kids may enjoy “cooking” with a toy food set or conducting “exams” with a doctor’s kit.
· Age-appropriate board games: Playing games teaches children to take turns and gives them an opportunity to communicate with others.
· Art supplies: Crayons, paints and paper will let your child show his or her creative side.
Limit long-term financial pain with smart planning
The holidays are a time for giving, but if you’re not careful with budgeting, financial troubles may pop up after the joy of the holiday season ends. Jared Pickens, a professor of finance in the Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas, says that with some planning, there are ways to actually save during the holidays.
· Set a limit on spending per person, draw names to avoid buying for an entire family, or exchange homemade gifts.
· Send e-cards instead of traditional paper cards and recommends comparing prices online to find the best deals.
· Above all, use cash because credit card purchases can more than double the purchase price of your gifts in the long term.
About UT Dallas:
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls nearly 19,000 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The University offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the University’s website at www.utdallas.edu.