Tag: protect

Home Decor Projects for When You’re Snowed In

Sometimes it’s hard to see the upside of harsh winter weather, especially when snow storms leave you stuck inside. However, you can take advantage of a snow day by using the opportunity to improve your home decor. Here are some simple DIY projects for when you’re snowed in. Ask your children to help out (safely) for family fun time that may add a bit of luxury to your living space.

Decorative Lampshade
Add some pizzazz to a lampshade by gluing an inlaid paper cutout on its inner surface. Use a blade to cut a design from paper (either freehand or from a template), making sure to place a rubber mat down first to protect the surface underneath. With a mixture of 50% glue and 50% water, decoupage the paper cutout inside of the lampshade. Once it’s dry, turn the lamp on and admire the glowing design!

Fabric Wall Art
If you have some bold print fabric, use it to create art that pops. All you’ll need to buy are wooden frames of varying sizes and a hot glue gun. Cut the fabric wide enough so that there will be two inches leftover when stretched across a frame. Cover, glue, and voila! Create a gallery wall to display your new pieces.

Hanging Planters
If you have small planters in your indoor garden, consider hanging them for a fun look that will free up surface space. Simply drill two small holes close to the top edge of the planter. Make sure they’re exactly opposite from one another. Knot a thin but sturdy rope or twine inside each of the holes so you can hang them from a hook. Tip: Install the hook near a window so your plant can still get the sunlight it needs.

Memory Table
Memory tables are a great way to personalize your home. You’ll need a deep photo display and a similar sized coffee table. Using a strong wood glue, adhere the back of the photo display to the table. You can now place objects in the display to create a sentimental scene. Try using objects that are cohesive, such as trinkets and photos from a memorable family trip. You may want to glue the objects in place so they are not disturbed when the table is moved.

If you keep one (or more) of these projects in mind for your next snow day, getting snowed in might not seem so bad!

The post Home Decor Projects for When You’re Snowed In first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

How to Get Squirrels Out of Your Yard

DIY Squirrel Repellent

If squirrels are getting into your garden, keep them away with a homemade pepper spray. Take a cup of your favorite hot sauce, add a spoonful of cayenne pepper and a capful of Murphy’s Oil Soap, and mix together. Spray the mixture in whatever areas you want the squirrels to steer clear of, like the borders of your garden. Squirrels don’t like the texture or the smell, and will stay away.

Keep Squirrels Away From Birdfeeders

Wondering how to keep a squirrel off a birdfeeder? If it’s held up by a pole or metal arm, grease it up with petroleum jelly. Squirrels can’t hold on with the slippery substance and won’t be able to reach the birdseed.

Related: How to Keep Birds Away From Your Patio, Pool, and Garden

Protect Your Grill

Make sure squirrels and other rodents don’t chew through the rubber pipeline that connects your propane tank with your grill—reinforce the entire thing with duct tape by applying duct tape in rings around it. This is a good idea for anything else in your yard made out of rubber, as this is a favorite chew toy of rodents!

Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden

Squirrels can be one of the trickiest garden pests to deal with. They chomp on flower bulbs and other leaves, dig up your favorite plants, and otherwise love to wreck your garden. Protect it by grating some Irish Spring soap around your plants. Squirrels can’t stand the smell of it and will stay away.

See also: How to Keep Snakes Out of Your Yard 

Plant Mint to Repel Squirrels

Squirrels hate the aroma of mint, so plant mint (which grows easily) around gardens and trees that squirrels like to frequent. It smells great (at least, to you) and you can even pick it and use it in drinks like iced tea and mojitos.

Another Great Squirrel Repellent

If you’ve ever bitten into a shred of foil that had gotten stuck to a piece of candy, you know how unpleasant the sensation is. Rodents hate the feeling of foil between their teeth, too, so placing strips of foil in your garden mulch will help deter squirrels and some bugs. If squirrels are eating the bark of your tree, you can also wrap the trunk in foil.

For more ways to get rid of pests from all around the internet, check out our Bug and Pest Natural Remedies board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook for our Tip of the Day!

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

How to Financially Prepare for Post-Pandemic Life

As the dust slowly begins to settle and we observe businesses putting their action plans in place to recover, we all sit and wonder what this may look like for us. How will I recover from this? How am I going to cover these unexpected expenses? How will I increase my earning potential? Whether you’re navigating the muddy waters of being unemployed, furloughed, return to office plans or continue working remotely – we have many things to consider as time continues to quickly progress. How should we handle debt? Are there any more relief programs or funding? How can we pick up the pieces and properly recuperate what may have been lost? Use the tips below to jumpstart your journey of reclaiming your finances.

Identify your financial focuses

Over the course of this year, many financial goals that were initially set needed to be tweaked or came to a screeching halt altogether. While it would be nice if we could rectify the many financial aspirations we have for ourselves and our families all at once, it’s simply not realistic. To alleviate the impounding pressure many have had to experience for a good chunk of time this year, it’s best to identify two to three key areas of focus. Not only does narrowing your focus help direct where your efforts should lie, it removes unnecessary stress so that a plan of attack can be created and executed upon. For example, if you would like to begin rebuilding your emergency fund, savings or simply get caught up on bills and other overhead expenses – make sure the actionable steps you take align with the overarching goal. This helps create tunnel vision to execute on the goal while quieting the noise of things that can be tackled at a later time. You owe it to yourself and your finances to see these goals through to the finish line.

Revisit your budget and make adjustments as necessary

Many think of budgeting like that pesky chore you put off every single week. It’s that ‘thing’ you know needs to be done, but you always find something else to do instead. However, once it’s done – you’re always glad that you did it. Even if you have to have an adult temper tantrum, pull out the pen and paper (once again) to compare your income with expenses. Has your income increased or decreased? Are there expenses that are no longer on the list? Are there certain wants or luxuries that can be temporarily put on hold until things settle down? Take all of these factors into consideration when recalibrating your budget. Since there’s an increased amount of time indoors, are there any spending habits you’ve noticed that have been on the rise? If these questions are not easily answered, commit to reviewing the last few months of your bank statements. Do you notice more to-go food orders? An increased amount of emotional or impulsive purchases? Be honest with yourself and your habits so that you can address and make changes to healthily rebuild your finances.

Adjust debt payoff plan

If you haven’t taken the opportunity to contact your creditors – consider this as a reminder! It’s imperative you maintain an open line of communication with all lenders. These conversations can potentially lead to various options being available to assist you in your debt payoff process. Remember to keep in mind that you are not the only person experiencing financial hardship, so let pride become a thing of the past and be candid. Are there relief options during the pandemic? Are interest rates being lowered because of the current climate? If I were to miss a payment, what are the consequences? Are negative remarks being reported to the credit bureaus? Be very clear in your delivery. There are thousands and thousands of people attempting to pick up the pieces on their money journey. Take some time to check all creditor accounts for the most recent balances. From there, create (or readjust) your plan based on your personal circumstances. If it’s easier to tackle the smallest debt, shift your attention to those accounts. If catching up and restoring good standing with utilities and other overhead expenses need to be addressed first, do that. There is no right or wrong way to approach your plan; just don’t adopt the spirit of avoidance.

Monitor your credit score regularly

There’s been a huge surge in personal data being compromised due to the pandemic. To protect yourself and your credit score, be sure to obtain a copy of your credit report from at least one of the bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) and review regularly. Normally, you are allotted one free credit report every year – however, because of the pandemic you can now request your report weekly at no cost to you until April 2021. We all know there’s a lot on all of our plates, but this can be incorporated in your weekly routine to make sure information stays accurate. During your review if there’s anything that’s false, submit a dispute and be sure to have any supporting documentation that can serve as evidence to support your claim.

Even though we don’t like to admit it, life can present a lot of challenges that we may not be fully prepared for in our ever-changing adulthood journey. This pandemic has shined a light on the areas in our lives that can use some more time, intention and attention. Instead of beating ourselves up about the lack of preparedness, let’s be sure to make adjustments now so no matter what happens with the economy or the state of this country it does not have such a huge, negative impact to our financial goals. Let’s face it – even in the midst of tragedy, this year equipped us with a different level of endurance and resilience. It reminded us what really matters and where our energy should really be dedicated to. Start where you are and do what you can. Refrain from comparing your personal money story to someone else’s. We all have unique situations and obligations that influence our saving and spending plans. Dust yourself off, grant yourself grace and begin a new chapter in your financial journey.

 

The post How to Financially Prepare for Post-Pandemic Life appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

February Class-Action Settlements Involve Godiva, Walmart and More

Consumers alleged FGF Brands bakes its naan in a conveyor-style, gas-heated oven even though the company claims the breads are baked in a tandoor oven, which is a clay oven that uses charcoal heat that produces smoky flavors.
If you purchased disposable contacts made by Alcon, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, CVI or Bausch & Lomb between June 1, 2013 and Dec. 4 ,2018, you may be eligible for compensation. However, Bausch & Lomb contact lenses bought through 1-800-Contacts after July 1, 2015 are not included in this settlement.
In October 2015, hackers accessed names, Social Security numbers, doctors’ names, medical diagnoses, treatment plans and insurance information. Patients whose data was breached should have received a notice from the cancer treatment center in March 2016.

AmeriGas Propane Tanks

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
The exact cash payment per customer is not available and will depend upon the number of claims filed and the net settlement fund after attorney’s fees, costs and other expenses are deducted.
The settlement money provided by ABB will be added to the claims made under previous settlements with contact lens manufacturers. The estimated amount that will be provided to each consumer is not available at this time.
Payment amounts will vary, but are estimated between and .

  • The Indirect Purchaser Settlement Class is made up of those who purchased AmeriGas or Blue Rhino propane tanks, other than a wholesale purchase directly from AmeriGas or Blue Rhino for resale, in Arizona, California, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah or West Virginia between Dec. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2020.
  • The Direct Purchaser Settlement Class is made up of consumers nationwide who purchased one of the propane tanks directly from AmeriGas or Blue Rhino through a vending machine at retailers or other locations, or paid one of the companies directly through a vending machine to exchange a previously purchased propane tank, other than a wholesale purchase intended for resale.

Submit your valid claim by March 8, 2021.
If you did not submit a valid claim response to the 2016 notice, but you do qualify for this settlement, submit your claim by March 22, 2021.

ABB Optical Group LLC Contact Lenses

Consumers may receive .50 for each product purchased, but only five may be claimed without a receipt. With proof of purchase, consumers can claim an unlimited number of products.
Sometimes, you notice right away if you have been overcharged for an item. If you pick up a box of cereal marked .99 and see it listed at .22 on your receipt, that error is pretty easy to spot.
Eligible class members might have received a notice regarding a Godiva settlement in 2016 as the case was pending in U.S. District Court in Florida. The case was later refiled in Cook County, Illinois, so if you submitted a valid claim response to the 2016 notice, you do not need to file a new claim in order to receive a payment.
The lawsuit alleges FGF Brands used fraudulent and deceptive advertising to market its use of a tandoor oven. FGF Brands denies that it has violated any laws.
There are two settlement classes:

Synchrony Bank

Submit your valid claim by March 1, 2021.
Submit your valid claim by the May 10, 2021 deadline.
See if you qualify and submit your valid claim by March 10, 2021.
Check out this month’s highlighted class-action settlement offers, some of which have taken years of litigation, to see if you can benefit.

Stonefire Naan Bread

Complete and submit your valid online claim form by April 1, 2021.
You may be eligible for a portion of a .9 million settlement from the maker of Stonefire Naan products, FGF Brands, if you bought their naan bread that was marketed as baked in a tandoor oven between Nov. 16, 2013 and Oct. 23, 2020.

  • Stonefire Original Naan
  • Stonefire Roasted Garlic Naan
  • Stonefire Whole Grain Naan
  • Stonefire Organic Original Naan
  • Stonefire Original Mini Naan
  • Stonefire Ancient Grain Mini Naan
  • Stonefire Naan Dippers

Potential awards are expected to be between and .
Submit your valid claim by Feb. 18, 2021.
Synchrony Bank allegedly violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by calling individuals who did not have an account with the bank. These unsolicited calls were made by an automatic dialing system or artificial/pre-recorded voice, which is in violation of the TCPA unless the caller has prior written consent from the recipient.
If you bought any of these products within that time period, you may claim .50 for each item purchased:

21st Century Oncology

Customers who returned an item bought at Walmart or Sam’s Club between July 17, 2015 and Nov. 25, 2020 may be eligible for part of a million settlement.
The complaint alleged Godiva receipts contained 10 digits, including the first six and the last four of the card numbers on its point-of-sale receipts.
AmeriGas and Blue Rhino allegedly agreed with each other to reduce the amount of propane in the pre-filled tanks they sold from 17 pounds to 15 pounds without reducing the price, according to court documents. The lawsuit accused the companies of colluding to reduce the amount of product in the propane tanks while keeping the cost the same in order to increase their profit margin by more than 13% per pound.
If you received a call from Synchrony Bank between June 1, 2016 and Oct. 19, 2020, you could receive a portion of a .9 million class-action settlement.

  • Two years of credit monitoring through Identity Guard.
  • Cash payments up to $40 for lost time without any documentation (two hours valued at $20 per hour.)
  • Cash payments of up to $260 for lost time with documentation (13 hours valued at $20 per hour.)
  • Cash payments of up to $10,000 for any fraud and out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the data breach.

Walmart and Sam’s Club were accused providing some customers with incomplete refunds by not including the sales tax paid on the original purchase.

FROM THE MAKE MONEY FORUM

Walmart, Sam’s Club Sales Tax Refund

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
If you bought an AmeriGas or Blue Rhino pre-filled propane tank between Dec. 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2020, you could be eligible for a portion of a .5 million settlement.
Several forms of relief are available, including:
Consumers can claim a cash payment of for each tank when they provide proof of purchase along with a completed claim form. If no proof of purchase is submitted, the payment is .50 each for a maximum of 50 propane tanks.

Godiva Chocolatier

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) prohibits any more than the last five digits from appearing on such a receipt in order to protect consumers.
Several affected consumers filed lawsuits alleging 21st Century Oncology failed to take reasonable cybersecurity steps to protect personal data. 21st Century Oncology admitted to no wrongdoing, but agreed to the settlement to resolve the litigation.
You may be eligible to share in a .2 million settlement reached with contact lens distributor ABB Optical Group LLC over allegations of a conspiracy to increase the cost of contact lenses.
If you made a purchase at a Godiva Chocolatier retail store between April 6, 2013 and Nov. 20, 2015, you may be eligible to share in a .3 million class-action settlement.
AmeriGas admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to the settlement to end litigation. Even though consumers who bought either AmeriGas or Blue Rhino propane tanks may be affected by this settlement, it only resolves claims made regarding AmeriGas because the Blue Rhino case is ongoing.
If you are one of the 2.2 million patients whose personal information was accessed through a 2015 data breach of 21stCentury Oncology, you could be eligible for compensation from a .5 million class-action settlement.
The settlement benefits customers who made a debit or credit card purchase and received a point-of-sale receipt that displayed more than the last five digits of the card number.
The suit alleged contact lens manufacturers, independent optometrists and ABB agreed to “unilateral pricing policies” that prevented competition from online and discount contact lens retailers. This agreement purportedly began in June 2013.
In other cases, price discrepancies aren’t so obvious, as seen in a new pre-filled propane tank class-action settlement offer.

Shelter Insurance Review: Car, Home, and More

Shelter Insurance is a mutual insurance company that was founded in 1946 and operates out of Columbia, Missouri. This highly-rated, award-winning insurance company offers a wealth of insurance products across the states of Colorado, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Louisiana.

In this Shelter Insurance review, we’ll look at insurance policies, coverage options, customer satisfaction, liability cover, and more, before seeing how Shelter compares to other leading insurance companies.

Shelter Car Insurance Coverage Options

Shelter is a leading auto insurance company in Missouri and other serviced states. It isn’t always the cheapest (more on that below) but it does provide a wealth of coverage options, including:

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage is the most basic, bare-bones insurance type and one that is required in most states. Liability insurance covers bodily insurance (per person and per accident) and property damage. It essentially covers you for the damage you do to another driver and their property during a car accident.

Collision Coverage

An optional form of auto insurance that covers you for damage done to your own vehicle, regardless of who was at fault. If you have collision coverage on your auto policy, you will get a payout when you hit a guardrail, wall, tree or building.

However, it’s one of the most expensive add-ons and a lot of the damage you do to your own vehicle may not be severe enough to warrant paying the deductible.

Comprehensive Coverage

With comprehensive coverage, you will be covered for many of the things that collision insurance doesn’t cover. For instance, it provides protection against vandalism and damage from extreme weather events. It also covers you in the event of an animal collision, which is surprisingly not covered by collision insurance.

Personal Injury Protection

With PIP insurance, you will be covered for some of the personal losses you incur due to an injury sustained in a car accident. For instance, if you’re hit by another driver and suffer severe injuries that cause you to miss work, PIP will pay for the money you lose. It will also cover the money needed to cover traveling for doctor and hospital appointments, as well as childcare costs.

Medical Payments

By adding medical payments cover onto your policy you will be protected against hefty medical bills resulting from a car accident. This option is required in just a few states but the coverage limits are often set very low.

Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorists are a growing problem on America’s roads. If you’re hit by one of these drivers and don’t have collision insurance, you could be left severely out of pocket. But not if you have underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance.

This coverage option will protect you against bodily injury and property damage resulting from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Roadside Assistance

Shelter car insurance policies offer optional roadside assistance cover, which gives you up to $100 per claim and covers you for expenses accrued when you are stranded by the roadside.

Roadside assistance is an emergency service designed to help you get back on the road or to tow your car to a nearby garage. It includes everything from lost key replacement to fuel delivery and tire changes.

Rental Car Reimbursement

If your car is stolen or damaged so badly that it needs to spend several days or weeks in a repair shop, rental car reimbursement can help you to stay on the road. It will cover you for the money you spend on rental cars, which means you won’t miss a single important car journey.

Your coverage will be limited to a specific time period and you will not be covered for rentals that extend beyond this period.

Accidental Death

A form of life insurance that covers you for accidental deaths, such as car accidents. If you die in an accident, for example, your spouse or family members will receive a payout. There are many more restrictions than you get with term life insurance policies, but the premiums are also much lower.

Disability Income Coverage

PIP can cover you if you suffer serious bodily injuries and miss work as a result, but what happens if you’re forced to miss up to a year of work? That’s where Disability Income Coverage comes in. With Shelter, you will be paid a sum of money every week for up to a year.

GAP Insurance

If you bought your car on finance and wreck it soon after, the insurance payout may not be enough to cover the losses due to the interest payments and the rapid deprecation that new cars experience. With GAP insurance, you will be covered for that extra amount. As a result, this type of car insurance is often required by auto loan companies.

New Car Replacement

If you have a car that is less than a year old and has fewer than 15,000 miles on the clock, you can apply for the new car replacement program, which gives you a like-for-like replacement. This is an essential addition for anyone driving an expensive new vehicle as the losses could be catastrophic without it.

Other Shelter Insurance Options

Shelter offers multiple additional insurance options, many of which can be bought along with your car insurance, allowing you to save money with a multi-policy discount.

As with Shelter car insurance, we recommend comparing rates to other insurance companies, making sure you’re getting the best coverage for the lowest rates. There are a huge number of insurance companies in the United States offering the same coverage options found at Shelter, and many of them are cheaper:

Homeowners Insurance

A homeowners policy from Shelter will protect your property and everything in it. You can get cover for the dwelling, personal property, medical payments, personal liability, living expenses, and more.

Shelter also offers additional coverage options pertaining to electronics, sewer damage, earthquake damage, loss of farming equipment, and more.

Renters Insurance

If you rent your home, you won’t need property insurance, but you still need to protect your personal property and that’s where renter’s insurance comes. If your flat/house is burgled and you lose expensive items, including heirlooms, jewelry, artwork, and electronics, you will be covered.

Umbrella Insurance

With a minimum liability of $1 million, umbrella insurance will step in and provide cover above and beyond what you are offered elsewhere. If you have a lot of personal assets and are worried about being sued above what your liability insurance can pay, this is the policy for you.

Business Insurance

A business insurance policy from Shelter will protect your business against property loss, equipment damage, liability claims, and more. This is essential for all businesses and at Shelter you can choose a range of customization options to make sure the policy is perfectly suited to your needs.

Flood Insurance

Your home insurance policy doesn’t cover you for flood damage and this is true whether you’re with Shelter or not. However, you can add flood insurance to your Shelter insurance policy, with the rates dependent on where you live and how common floods are in your area.

Life Insurance

In addition to accidental death cover, Shelter also has term life and whole life insurance policies. These provide payouts to your loved ones in the event of your death.

Your age, activity, medical history, and health will dictate the size of your insurance premiums and your death benefit.

Shelter Car Insurance Cost

We ran some car insurance quotes and found that Shelter was consistently more expensive than providers like GEICO, Allstate, State Farm, and Progressive. In fact, when comparing quotes for young drivers, Shelter car insurance premiums were more than double those offered by GEICO and were also substantially higher than other major carriers.

In many states, including Kentucky and Louisiana, Shelter ranked as one of the most expensive providers. The rates were a little more promising in Missouri, but you’ll probably still get better offers elsewhere.

Regardless of what you think about Shelter Insurance and whether or not you have had good experiences with them in the past, we recommend getting quotes from other providers first.

Of course, it isn’t all about price, but it takes some incredibly impressive customer support and benefits for a $3,000 policy to take precedent over one that costs $1,500 or less, and we’re not convinced Shelter has that level of support or those benefits.

Bottom Line: Shelter Insurance Review

Shelter is a dedicated, capable, and financially strong insurance provider that offers extensive coverage for both drivers and homeowners. It has good reviews from policyholders, has high ratings from AM Best, JD Power and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and there are very few complaints when compared to other providers.

Shelter serves a number of states and if you reside in one of these, it’s worth getting a quote. Just don’t forget to check other providers and don’t assume Shelter will offer the best rates. In our experience, it’s more likely to be one of the most expensive providers in your state, but you won’t know until you check.

Visit www.ShelterInsurance.com to learn more and to discuss an auto policy and/or home insurance policy with one of their representatives.

Shelter Insurance Review: Car, Home, and More is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

What Items Should You Put in a Fire Safe Box

If a fire happens, will your important documents stay safe?

Apartment dwellers need to be proactive about protecting critical information in case of a fire. Plenty of us have gone digital when it comes to storage of personal information, but certain items still need to come in hard copies. And some things, other than papers, also need a tangible safe place.

The safety deposit box at the local bank is still an option. However, bank hours aren’t always aligned with yours. If you want to go the digital route, look for companies that specialize in the storage of critical data. You can access your info directly from your phone, tablet or Amazon’s Alexa device. But if you prefer to go more old school — you need to think about protecting your valuables that are difficult to replace.

What will you need easy access to when you’re in an emergency fire crisis? Your list will probably look like this: an original birth certificate, social security card, insurance papers and car titles and other original docs. You could also include spare keys, passports and irreplaceable items like heirloom jewelry. A fireproof safe box will give you peace of mind. And, it will act as a security measure should a fire occur.

Are all fire safe boxes the same?

Did you know that not all fire safe boxes are alike? For example, standard fireproof safes protect your valuables against intense heat and smoke damage for periods of up to 120 minutes, according to Western Safe, while others can withstand the heat for longer. So, what’s the best type of fireproof box? Experts say it all depends on what you intend to store.

You should look for a fire safe box that has emergency override keys so you can open it up even if you forget the passcode. The keys are also good if the batteries run out on the keypad.

To help you know what things to keep in a fire safe box in your apartment, we’ve organized a list. These items make good sense to safeguard against fire:

  • Critical documents: Store your checking and savings account bank books, birth certificates, social security cards, wills and passports in a fire safe box. If you need to get out at a moment’s notice, these important documents will be safe and accessible.
  • Digital media: Your digital must-haves include USB sticks, memory cards and CDs. These items are your physical back-up. And this is especially true if you don’t want your most private data to live on remote servers.
  • Insurance policies: Talk to your insurance company about your renters insurance following the fire. Having access right away to your policy will help you to take action post-fire.
  • Cash: Life today is debit and credit card-driven. But it’s also smart to keep a stash of small bills on hand. If an emergency calls for quick cash, you’ll be glad you thought ahead and put some aside.
  • Other valuables: Remember to organize a file with essential information. Include emergency numbers of family members. Have your prescriptions, who your family doctor is and contact info for your pet’s vet, too.

apartment fire

Do your homework

Before purchasing a fire safe box, be sure to research what’s on the market. You’ll be surprised to find a range of choices. You can even select from fireproof safes that you can bolt to the ground or wall. Is the fire safe box waterproof? If not, be sure to protect all contents by storing them in plastic.

An official fire rating from the Underwriters Laboratory comes with all safes, according to Haven Life. The rating lets you know what temperature the fire safe box will stay inside during a fire. It will also let you know how long it will stay at that temperature.

Look for fire safe boxes that are either 125 degrees Fahrenheit or 325-degrees safe. They typically come with up to three hours’ worth of protection. Spruce reports that some fire safe boxes can withstand fires with temperatures up to 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.

Does size matter?

Fire safe boxes are compact to mid-size and come in a range to meet your needs. You can find options with a capacity of 0.17 cubic feet and weighing in at just 14 pounds. Or, one that weighs a little less than 28 pounds and can store flat 8-1/2-by-11-inch, letter-sized documents.

Extra-large capacity fire boxes can hold much more. They can weigh more than 100 pounds and measure more than 1-1/2-feet on each side. But the size is worth it because it gives your stuff a greater chance of surviving a disaster, according to Wirecutter. The site recommends a fire safe box the size of a mini-fridge that weighs in at 56 pounds.

Choose a fire safe box that has all the protective features and benefits to keep your important documents safe. In the long run, the investment could prove to be a wise one.

The post What Items Should You Put in a Fire Safe Box appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How to Find Affordable Life Insurance

Life insurance can be expensive and if it’s essential those high costs can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. You may wonder if it’s worth purchasing a policy at all, which could place your family in jeopardy as they won’t have the cover they need when you pass. 

However, there are a few ways you can bring those costs down and get affordable life insurance. So, don’t despair, and take a look at these top tips for cheap life insurance.

How are Life Insurance Payouts and Premiums Judged?

Insurance underwriters set your premiums and your payout based on the likelihood that you will die during the term. It sounds pretty morbid, but these are for-profit companies we’re talking about and when death is your only liability, there’s no time for gentility. 

It’s something that frustrates everyone who has ever been quoted high premiums, but it’s important to see things from the perspective of the underwriter. If you’re 100 pounds over your ideal weight, your risk of heart disease, cancer, and countless other diseases increases, and you become more of a liability. 

It doesn’t matter how much you convince them that you’re on a diet and will lose all of that weight eventually—as things stand right now, you’re more of a liability than someone who weighs 100 pounds less.

Of course, it’s possible to be 140 pounds and unhealthy, just as it’s possible to be 240 pounds and healthy, and this is an argument that many applicants make. But those are the exceptions. The oldest woman ever smoked until the day she died and made it halfway through her 122nd year, and everyone knows of at least one smoker that continued the habit well into their 70th and 80th year, seemingly unaffected. 

However, the average smoker will die 10 years before their non-smoking counterpart and their risk of contracting a host of diseases increases exponentially for every decade that they stick with the habit. Should a life insurance company dismiss your habit just because of a 122-year-old French woman? Of course not. 

These are statistics and probabilities; they focus on the most likely and the most common. By their very nature, there will always be exceptions and outliers. A life insurance company doesn’t care about any of these because as long as they focus on the events that are most likely (obese policyholders and smokers will die young; preexisting medical conditions are more likely to reoccur than if they didn’t exist at all) the premiums will exceed the payouts and they will turn a profit. 

Start Early

The sooner you apply for life insurance, the better your chances of getting a high payout and a low premium. Age is one of the biggest factors in determining your mortality risk. A 20-year-old has a high chance of surviving a 30-year-term, but for every additional year, those odds decline and by the time they hit 55, the odds are no longer in their favor.

Starting early doesn’t just protect your loved ones if you die before your time, it also gives you more options. This is when whole life insurance policies are at their most beneficial. These will payout regardless, even if you live to be 100. The life insurance company will still benefit, however, because many of these policies either lapse because of non-payment (a lot can happen in those 80 years) or the policyholder takes the cash value.

They’re like a life insurance policy and saving account bundled into one, but they become less viable as you age.

Make Big Changes

You probably knew this tip was going to be here, but it’s worth mentioning: If you smoke, stop; if you’re obese, lose weight. We can’t stress enough how much of a difference these things will make to your life insurance application.

If you’re a smoker and you’re obese, you’re a massive liability. Statistically speaking, you’ll be beating the odds if you make it to your 60th year, which means a 30-year term stops being a viable option when you’re just 31! If that’s not enough to scare you, then there’s nothing we can say that will.

By quitting cigarettes and dropping a few dozen pounds, you improve your chances of living a long and full life, which, in turn, means you’ll get cheaper life insurance premiums.

And these are not the only changes you should consider making. Many applicants fail to calculate just how much of a liability they become when they partake in extreme sports and activities such as base jumping, parkour, sky diving, and rock climbing. Some of these are riskier than others, but in all cases, the underwriter will compare them to the averages to determine your likelihood of dying young.

Roughly 10 skydivers will die for every 1 million that jump on a regular basis. However, more than 40 times as many will die from base jumping and you’re 30 times more likely to die from extreme mountaineering than you are from base jumping. 

Some of these are less risky than you might think. For instance, you’re twice as likely to die from walking than you are from horseback riding, as the former puts you at risk of major pedestrian accidents. 

You’re also more likely to die from getting out of bed aged 45 than you are from SCUBA diving. So, assess the risks, try to look at your situation from the underwriter’s perspective, and make changes where necessary without giving up all the things that you enjoy.

Wait

You can apply for life insurance as soon as you lose weight or give up risky and dangerous activities. You can reap the benefits straight away when you do this, but the same can’t be said for everything. 

Smoking is a great example of this. If you quit smoking today, you will need to wait at least 12 months before that has an impact on your life insurance policy. It only makes sense when you consider the majority of short-term cessations will result in relapse. 

The underwriter also wants to protect their bottom line, because you won’t start feeling the health benefits until several months have passed and before that time elapses, you’re still a high risk for many diseases and conditions.

Look for Group Life Insurance 

If you can’t get life insurance by applying directly, you may be offered it through an employer. Group life insurance is offered to large groups of people and is typically provided by employers.

You probably won’t get the same extensive cover, but you will get some cover, and this is a great alternative if you’re struggling to seal the deal yourself.

Only Buy What You Need

It’s tempting to get a big payout when you’re buying life insurance as that payout can then provide a good life for your loved ones. But life insurance shouldn’t be like winning the lottery. It’s not designed to allow them to quit work and spend the rest of their lives sipping champagne on Mediterranean cruises.

The payout should cover all of their needs for several years, while also repaying any debts that you (or your loved ones) have. If you have a mortgage, it can also go towards repaying this.

Many life insurance experts recommend that you stick with the absolute basics in situations where the remaining family members can still support themselves. For instance, let’s suppose that you’re a 50-year man in relatively good health. You earn roughly the same money as your wife, but she’s 10 years younger than you and you also have a son at college and a mortgage with $50,000 left to pay.

In this case, the payout should be at least $50,000, plus the size of remaining debts. However, you don’t need to include all debts in this. Some debts, including all federal student loans, will die with you, which means your son or your wife won’t be burdened with them. For example, if you cosigned on a $20,000 federal student loan and also have $10,000 in joint credit card debt, a death benefit of $60,000 will be enough.

That way, your wife can clear the mortgage and debt in full, thus reducing monthly liabilities and putting more money in her pocket at the end of the money. If she ever faces a financial crisis, such as the loss of a job, she’ll have a fully paid house to use as collateral and can take loans and equity loans as needed.

This is the best way to provide for your family after your death without crippling your finances in the present.

And Finally, Take Your Time

The sooner you apply, the better. But that applies to years and not weeks, so don’t feel like you need to rush. If you’re not sure about the process and need a little advice, spend some more time reading through articles and guides and speaking with current policyholders.

Providing yourself with a little extra shopping time will also make it easier to compare and to find the best life insurance rates and the best payouts based on your specific budget and situation.

How to Find Affordable Life Insurance is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

7 Pros and Cons of Investing in a 401(k) Retirement Plan at Work

A 401(k) retirement plan is one of the most powerful savings vehicles on the planet. If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that offers one (or its sister for non-profits, a 403(b)), it’s a valuable benefit that you should take advantage of.

But many people ignore their retirement plan at work because they don’t understand the rules, which may seem confusing at first. Or they worry about what happens to their account after they leave the company or mistakenly believe you must be an investing expert to use a retirement plan.

Let's talk about seven primary pros and cons of using a 401(k). You’ll learn some lesser-known benefits and get tips to save quickly so you have plenty of money when you’re ready to kick back and enjoy retirement.

What is a 401(k) retirement plan?

Traditional retirement accounts give you an immediate benefit by making contributions on a pre-tax basis.

A 401(k) is a type of retirement plan that can be offered by an employer. And if you’re self-employed with no employees, you can have a similar account called a solo 401(k). These accounts allow you to contribute a portion of your paycheck or self-employment income and choose various savings and investment options such as CDs, stock funds, bond funds, and money market funds, to accelerate your account growth.

Traditional retirement accounts give you an immediate benefit by making contributions on a pre-tax basis, which reduces your annual taxable income and your tax liability. You defer paying income tax on contributions and account earnings until you take withdrawals in the future.

Roth retirement accounts require you to pay tax upfront on your contributions. However, your future withdrawals of contributions and investment earnings are entirely tax-free. A Roth 401(k) or 403(b) is similar to a Roth IRA; however, unlike a Roth IRA there isn’t an income limit to qualify. That means even high earners can participate in a Roth at work and reap the benefits.

RELATED: How the COVID-19 CARES Act Affects Your Retirement

Pros of investing in a 401(k) retirement plan at work

When I was in my 20s and started my first job that offered a 401(k), I didn’t enroll in it. I was nervous about having investments with an employer because I didn’t understand what would happen if I left the company, or it went out of business.

I want to put your mind at ease about using a 401(k) because there are many more advantages than disadvantages.

I want to put your mind at ease about using a 401(k) because there are many more advantages than disadvantages. Here are four primary pros for using a retirement plan at work.

1. Having federal legal protection

Qualified workplace retirement plans are protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), a federal law. It sets minimum standards for employers that offer retirement plans, and the administrators who manage them.

ERISA offers workplace retirement plans a powerful but lesser-known benefit—protection from creditors.

ERISA was enacted to protect your and your beneficiaries’ interests in workplace retirement plans. Here are some of the protections they give you:

  • Disclosure of important facts about your plan features and funding 
  • A claims and appeals process to get your benefits from a plan 
  • Right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty if the plan is mismanaged 
  • Payment of certain benefits if you lose your job or a plan gets terminated

Additionally, ERISA offers workplace retirement plans a powerful but lesser-known benefit—protection from creditors. Let’s say you have money in a qualified account but lose your job and can’t pay your car loan. If the car lender gets a judgment against you, they can attempt to get repayment from you in various ways, but not by tapping your 401(k) or 403(b). There are exceptions when an ERISA plan is at risk, such as when you owe federal tax debts, criminal penalties, or an ex-spouse under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. 

When you leave an employer, you have the option to take your vested retirement funds with you. You can do a tax-free rollover to a new employer's retirement plan or into your own IRA. However, be aware that depending on your home state, assets in an IRA may not have the same legal protections as a workplace plan.

RELATED: 5 Options for Your Retirement Account When Leaving a Job

2. Getting matching funds

Many employers that offer a retirement plan also pay matching contributions. Those are additional funds that boost your account value.

Always set your 401(k) contributions to maximize an employer’s match so you never leave easy money on the table.

For example, your company might match 100% of what you contribute to your retirement plan up to 3% of your income. If you earn $50,000 per year and contribute 3% or $1,500, your employer would also contribute $1,500 on your behalf. You’d have $3,000 in total contributions and receive a 100% return on your $1,500 investment, which is fantastic!

Always set your 401(k) contributions to maximize an employer’s match, so you never leave easy money on the table.

3. Having a high annual contribution limit

Once you contribute enough to take advantage of any 401(k) matching, consider setting your sights higher by raising your savings rate every year. For 2021, the allowable limit remains $19,500, or $26,000 if you’re over age 50. A good rule of thumb is to save at least 10% to 15% of your gross income for retirement.

Most retirement plans have an automatic escalation feature that kicks up your contribution percentage at the beginning of each year. You might set it to increase your contributions by 1% per year until you reach 15%. That’s a simple way to set yourself up for a happy and secure retirement.

4. Getting free investing advice

After you enroll in a workplace retirement plan, you must choose from a menu of savings and investment options. Most plan providers are major brokerages (such as Fidelity or Vanguard) and have helpful resources, such as online assessments and free advisors. Take advantage of the opportunity to get customized advice for choosing the best investments for your financial situation, age, and risk tolerance.

In general, the more time you have until retirement, or the higher your risk tolerance, the more stock funds you should own. Likewise, having less time or a low tolerance for risk means you should own more conservative and stable investments, such as bonds or money market funds.

RELATED: A Beginner's Guide to Investing in Stocks

Cons of investing in a 401(k) retirement plan at work

While there are terrific advantages of investing in a retirement plan at work, here are three cons to consider.

1. You may have limited investment options

Compared to other types of retirement accounts, such as an IRA, or a taxable brokerage account, your 401(k) or 403 (b) may have fewer investment options. You won’t find any exotic choices, just basic asset classes, including stock, bond, and cash funds.

However, having a limited investment menu streamlines your investment choices and minimizes complexity.

2. You may have higher account fees

Due to the administrative responsibilities required by employer-sponsored retirement plans, they may charge high fees. And as a plan participant, you have little control over the fees you must pay.

One way to keep your workplace retirement account fees as low as possible is selecting low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) when possible.

One way to keep your workplace retirement account fees as low as possible is selecting low-cost index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) when possible.

3.  You must pay fees on early withdrawals

One of the inherent disadvantages of putting money in a retirement account is that you’re typically penalized 10% for early withdrawals before the official retirement age of 59½. Plus, you typically can’t tap a 401(k) or 403(b) unless you have a qualifying hardship. That discourages participants from tapping accounts, so they keep growing.

The takeaway is that you should only contribute funds to a retirement account that you won’t need for everyday living expenses. If you avoid expensive early withdrawals, the advantages of using a workplace retirement account far outweigh the downsides.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com

7 Big Insurance Mistakes to Avoid During the COVID Crisis

The coronavirus has upset lives and livelihoods all over the globe. While insurance can’t keep you from getting COVIID-19, having the right types of insurance can reduce your financial risk as the virus spreads.

There’s never been a better time to protect your health, life, property, and business with the right insurance. Let's take a look at seven insurance mistakes you might be making during the pandemic. You’ll learn how to face new risks and challenges with the help of different types of affordable insurance.

Coronavirus insurance mistakes

Here’s the detail on each mistake you should avoid to make sure you and your family stay safe during the pandemic.

1. Skipping health insurance

The coronavirus has changed the health insurance landscape in drastic ways. If you’ve become unemployed or have your work hours cut and lost employer-sponsored health insurance, don’t go without coverage when you may need it most.

Here are several ways to get health insurance:

Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) may be options for free or low-cost coverage if you can’t afford health insurance. These programs allow you to get coverage at any time of year, depending on your income, family size, and where you live. You can learn more at the Medicaid website at Medicaid.gov.

Your parent’s health plan may be an option if they have coverage, you’re under age 26, and they’re willing to insure you. Even if you’re married, not living with a parent, and not financially dependent on them, they can cover you until your 26th birthday.

COBRA coverage is typically available when you leave a job with group health insurance. Whether you quit, are laid-off, or get fired, COBRA is a federal regulation that gives you the option to continue your employer-sponsored health, dental, and vision insurance for a certain period, such as 18 months. However, if you have funds in a health savings account or HSA, you can use them to pay your COBRA premiums.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage is available through federal or state health online marketplaces, insurance brokers, and insurance websites. If your income is below certain limits based on your family size, you qualify for a federal subsidy, which reduces your healthcare premiums. No matter where you live, you can begin shopping at the federal exchange at Healthcare.gov.

2. Not using telehealth services

If you have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), it typically only covers certain preventive care costs, such as an annual physical or vaccinations, before you meet the yearly deductible.

The CARES Act makes it easier to use telehealth services because your plan must cover it cost-free before your HDHP deductible is satisfied.

However, the CARES Act makes it easier to use telehealth services because your plan must also cover it cost-free before your deductible is satisfied. For other types of health plans, such as HMOs and PPOs, they must also waive any cost-sharing or co-pays for remote health services.

The telehealth relief is only temporary for 2020 and 2021. However, it can give you significant savings if you have a non-emergency or medical question that you want to address with a doctor online.

3. Only getting minimum car insurance coverage

During tough financial times, it can be tempting to cut your auto insurance coverage or drive uninsured. Remember that it’s against the law to drive without having the minimum liability coverage for your home state.

Since many drivers are uninsured, you should never go without uninsured motorist coverage.

However, since many drivers are uninsured, you should never go without uninsured motorist coverage. This insurance protects you from a driver who hits-and-runs or is uninsured or underinsured for the damage they cause you, your passengers, and your car.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), 13 percent of drivers are uninsured nationwide. My home state, Florida, has the highest number—almost 27 percent! This data from 2015 is the most recent. Due to coronavirus-related financial hardships, I’d bet those numbers are much higher now.

If you drop any auto insurance coverage, make it collision or comprehensive, which repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged or stolen (after paying your deductible). Reducing or eliminating these coverages could make sense if your car isn’t worth much, such as less than $1,000. A good rule of thumb is to drop these coverages if their annual cost is 10% or more of your car’s cash value.

Another way to save on auto insurance is to increase your deductibles or bundle it with other coverage, such as your home or renters policy.

4. Not purchasing a non-owners auto insurance policy

If you’ve sold your car or you tend to borrow or rent cars when needed, don’t forget that you still need the protection of a non-owner auto insurance policy. This coverage gives you liability protection when you drive a car you don’t own or are a passenger in someone else’s car.

Here are some situations when you need non-owner car insurance:

  • You rent a car and don’t already have insurance on a vehicle you own.
  • You use ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft.
  • You borrow cars from family, friends, or neighbors for short or long trips.

5. Overlooking a renters insurance policy

According to the III, a surprisingly low number of renters, 35 percent have renters insurance. Whether you mistakenly believe that your landlord is responsible for your personal belongings (they’re not) or that you don’t have enough to insure (you probably do), you should have a policy.

Landlords only have insurance to protect the structure of a home or apartment you rent, not for a tenant’s personal property. Nor do they protect your liability if someone gets injured accidentally injured in your rental place.

Landlords only have insurance to protect the structure of a home or apartment you rent, not for a tenant’s personal property. Nor do they protect your liability if someone gets injured accidentally injured in your rental place.

Standard renters insurance offers a lot more protection than many people think. It covers your possessions if they’re stolen or damaged from a covered event, such as a water leak, fire, or natural disaster. A renters policy also pays living expenses if you have to move out while repairs get made after an insured disaster, such as a tornado or fire.

Even more important is the liability protection I mentioned. If you get involved in a lawsuit related to property damage or medical injuries, you’ll be covered up to your policy limit.

Renters insurance gives you a lot of protection for the money. It’s probably more affordable than you might think, costing only an average of $188 per year across the nation. Bundling it with your auto insurance could even reduce the cost.

6. Working from home without commercial coverage

Due to stay-at-home mandates during the pandemic, most people who can work from home are doing so. If you’re self-employed as a solopreneur or operate a small business from home, be aware that your home or renters insurance excludes most home-based business activities.

For instance, if you keep inventory at home or have special business equipment, they aren’t covered under a standard homeowner or renter policy. Make sure your business assets and liability are protected by having a separate commercial policy or adding a home-business rider or endorsement to your existing insurance.

The type of business coverage you need varies depending on your industry, whether you drive for business purposes, if you see clients at your home, the value of your business assets, and how much potential risk you have. But it could cost as little as $150 per year. Check with your existing insurance company or a trade association for your industry about getting coverage.

RELATED: How to Qualify for the Coronavirus Economic Relief Package

7. Thinking you can’t get life insurance

It’s not fun to think about death or what would happen to your family if you weren’t alive. If your surviving spouse, partner, children, parents, other dependents, or business partners would be hurt financially after your death, you need life insurance to protect them.

Think about how your survivors would care for your children and meet financial obligations without additional income. Consider how your children would survive if you and your spouse or partner died at the same time. If you’re procrastinating getting life insurance or increasing your current coverage, think about the legacy you want to leave.

The good news is that term life insurance is affordable and still readily available during the pandemic. For example, a $500,000 payout for your family could cost about $200 a year if you’re middle-aged and reasonably good health. Bankrate.com is a good site to learn more and get free life insurance quotes.

Source: quickanddirtytips.com