Sign up to receive the newsletter to your email!
Or subscribe to our RSS feed:
July 26, 2013
May 30, 2013
Many travelers operate under the misconception that car rental rates are all about the same, and that shopping is a waste of time. But rates do vary, sometimes by quite a bit, between companies and destinations. Our agency has a few tips for you.
1. Book on-line: The web often offers the best deals.
2. Try renting mid-week, if your travel plans allow.
3. Avoiding unnecessary insurance: Car rental companies try to sell insurance to accompany your rental, but many homeowners or home automobile insurance policies and some premium credit cards already cover car rental insurance so it always pays to check before accepting this option. Contact our agency to make sure you have the necessary insurance.
4. Always buy your gas away from the airport; it can be as much as .25 per gallon less.
5. Join reward programs: Many car rental agencies, hotels and airlines offer discounts if you are a member of a travel program.
6. Look into renting the car for longer than you need, some agencies give you better daily rates for a week, and don’t charge you for early returns.
7. Supply your own car seat if possible, they really upcharge you for this.
8. Many rental car companies will try to up-sell you to a bigger vehicle or ask you add other features like GPS. Don’t do it. Remember your smart phone can be your GPS.
9. Double check all fees.
10. Make sure that you have towing coverage on the car you insure with us.
Before you drive away from the pickup station, inspect the car carefully for damage. Be sure the lights and turn signals are working properly, and check the mileage odometer. Report any defects at once. You can always contact us for a review of your coverage and how it might apply when you rent a car.
May 30, 2013
Summer vacation is a great time for kids to enjoy time off from school and the availability of outdoor activities and fun, but it can be a stressful time for parents. As kids have more free time and spend more time outdoors and near water, health and safety risks can increase greatly. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, each year a startling one in four kids is subject to an injury that requires professional medical attention. Additionally, 42 percent of all deaths that are a result of an injury occur in the summer months, between May and August.
There are tips parents can follow to ensure their kids enjoy not only a fun but also a safe summer vacation this year.
Keep Kids Bite and Sting-Free
Summer is a time when insects, including mosquitos and bees are out in full force. Bee stings can lead to allergic reactions that can potentially be deadly, and mosquitos are transmitting a record number of cases of West Nile Virus. In order to prevent bites and stings, spray children with a DEET-free insect repellant every time they go outdoors, even if it’s only for a short period of time.
Never leave kids unattended near any type of water, even if they are great swimmers. It’s also important that if you have a home pool, it has a fence that’s at least 5 feet high surrounding it, and pool alarms are another beneficial idea for residential pools. This can help prevent accidents for not only your own children, but also neighborhood children.
Remember a Helmet
Always ensure your child wears a helmet when riding bicycles, roller skates, scooters or skateboards. Almost 300,000 kids visit the emergency room each year because of injuries related to riding bikes, and helmets are one of the best ways to prevent a severe or even deadly injury from occurring. Another way to maintain safety when riding a bicycle is to make sure your child’s bike is a good fit for their size. Bikes that are too large or small contribute to a large number of accidents. In order to check, a child should straddle the bike with his or her feet placed flat on the ground. When doing so, there should be a 1-3 inch gap between the top bar of the bike and the child.
Summer is a great time to enjoy picnics, barbecues and parties, but with these events come the risk for food contamination. There are a number of food-borne sicknesses that can be particularly difficult when they affect children. These include salmonella and viruses and sicknesses caused by bacteria such as E.Coli. When preparing foods for summer activities, don’t let them stay at room temperature for more than an hour. All raw meat should be cooked thoroughly, and shouldn’t be stored with other food items. Fruits and vegetables can also be a source of bacteria, so they should always be washed and properly refrigerated.
March 6, 2013
You have probably heard many people say that you should always have money for a rainy day. This doesn’t necessarily mean money to spend on things that you don’t need, but can often mean more of an emergency fund. Having a proper emergency fund is one of the most important things that you can do for your financial security.
If at all possible, it is good to have 3 months of living expenses saved because there is really never any way of knowing what could happen next. The economy can change quickly, which makes knowing how much you will need unpredictable. No matter how much money you make, if you don’t have some saved away for the unexpected, you’re simply gambling with your financial security.
Some of the unexpected things that can happen are having the transmission go out in your car ($3000 and up), having a water heater rupture and flood a room in your home, getting seriously ill and accruing significant medical bills, etc. Your emergency fund is money that you save/stash for the primary purpose of being used in an unexpected turn of events. While your emergency fund won’t prevent the hassle or emotional reaction of an unpleasant turn of financial events, it will allow you to pay the bills, which is some peace of mind.
Your emergency fund should be in an easily accessible account, such as a savings account, so that the money can be withdrawn without penalty very quickly if necessary. There have been studies conducted that reveal that most Americans wouldn’t be able to come up with $1,000 to handle an emergency. The lack of an emergency fund is not only a source of stress for many people, but ends up driving people into debt. When you don’t set aside any money for emergencies, you may have to max out a credit card to pay for something, which sends you into debt if you aren’t already there.
A job loss for even a short amount of time can really be financially devastating to an individual or family if they don’t have money set aside. People think they can live on their credit card, but you can’t live for 6 months or longer on a credit card because you could be paying off that debt for the next 10 to 15 years. Because not many people have the amounts that they need to set aside currently, it is best to begin putting money away every month on a regular basis, so that you can eventually arrive at your target emergency fund amount.
Something is better than nothing, so even if you can only set aside a little bit each month, at least you’re making progress. It may also be beneficial to examine your spending habits to see if there is areas where you could spend less to increase the monthly contribution to your emergency fund. Start out putting aside what you can and try to spend less if possible, and over time you will start to gradually increase your emergency fund. Another great benefit of at least putting some money aside is that you will start to gain some peace of mind that if a small to medium size financial emergency were to strike, you might be able to handle it.
August 20, 2012
If you are like many people, you have probably wondered how to best organize and store your life insurance records. You should store all of your insurance policies, regardless of what type, in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box. You can always keep copies of the originals in your regular files at home, but it is a good idea to keep the originals in a fire-proof safe or safety deposit box because they will have a much higher level of protection. It is critical (in case something happens to you) that the individuals who may ever need to access the policies, know about the policies, know where they are located, and are able to access them.
Life Insurance Policies Specifically
Many people have more than one life insurance policy, which can be because we have one or more through our employer, and/or because we have also obtained private policies or annuities. To keep your life insurance records organized and easy to locate, it’s a good idea to put all of your policies in one “life insurance” file and store it in either a safety deposit box or fire-proof safe with your other policies. You want to make sure that your life insurance records are safe and can be located easily because if something were to happen to you, the last thing you would want is for your beneficiaries to have difficulty locating such records while dealing with the stress of your passing.
As mentioned earlier, you should keep original policies in a fire-proof safe of safety deposit box, and keep copies at home or the home of a trusted individual. The reason for this is that you will have the originals well-protected, but will also now have copies of the policies in two different places. The purpose of this is to enable your beneficiaries to locate the necessary life insurance documents in the event of your passing, but is also designed to protect these important documents from being destroyed or lost due to fire, flood, theft, or another cause. With two sets of records, if one set of records was lost or couldn’t be located, there would still be another set.
For each life insurance policy and in each storage location, you should keep the following information:
The reason why you want to keep such detailed information about each policy is because you want to prevent your beneficiaries from having to deal with the unfortunate event of your passing and the additional stress that could result from any confusion or difficulty in verifying or locating policy. Keeping your policies organized and safe will provide you with this peace of mind.