Riding season is here. It’s spring and summer will be here in no time. Although the weather can be very volatile, it’s still warm enough to ride! You have warm weather that allows you to engage in outdoor activities, including feeling the warm breeze while riding your motorcycle.
However, before you hit the road and travel far distances, it’s best to make sure you’re safe while doing so! The best way to ensure safety is to make sure your motorcycle is tuned up and have all the repairs needed to avoid serious injury or worse.
Check Brake Fluid
Brake fluid attracts a lot of moisture. Brake chains should be inspected for wear and brake fluid levels should be checked and topped off. Coolant should be added to appropriate levels as well.
Check your battery
Your motorcycle sits during the cold winter months, so it’s very common if you have a dead battery. You should first remove the battery and check for any white powder. If you find any, it’s best to replace it immediately. If not, hook it up to your trickle charger and give it a kick. Once it’s done, put it back in your bike and take it for a spin!
Change oil & oil filter
Simply put, if you didn’t change the oil on your motorcycle before putting it up for the winter, you need to change it before taking it for a spin this spring. These are very important components that need to be checked. The last thing you want is a locked engine on the side of the road.
Inspect your tires
It’s very natural to try and squeeze every single mile that you can out of your tires before you change them. This couldn’t be more dangerous. This is especially true since motorcycles themselves are high risks vehicles due to you being exposed versus inside of a vehicle.
Make sure to check for any cracks or flat spots that may have formed over the Winter. If everything checks out here, go on and check the tire pressure and fill or remove air as needed.
Give it fresh fuel
If you’ve had fuel sitting in your motorcycle all winter, most likely it’s not any good at this point. This can be very harmful to the engine and can cost you tons of money in the long-run. We recommend changing it altogether.
Give it a good cleaning
You want your bike to look good when you’re driving it in the warm weather, so give it a good shine. Besides, a clean bike adds to your appearance as well!
Ensuring your bike is ready to hit the road is essential when it comes to enjoying your bike rides accident-free. Of course, you can do everything yourself if you’re a handy person. If not, take it to a shop and tell them what you want inspected. Or at the very least, do some of the above mentioned items yourself and allow the shop to do the rest. This way, you save a little cash.
Many millennials are entering into an exciting stage of their life. Some are graduating college and starting careers. While adjusting to true adulthood, it can be challenging to think about the future and begin planning for retirement. This is due to a number of reasons. What they don’t consider, especially in their 20s, is the best time to begin saving is now!
We’ve came up with 4 advantages on why millennials should consider saving in their early 20s.
Being away from your parents and living on your own terms is a lot of responsibility. You especially have to be smart about your finances. You will have to plan for future expenses by putting money aside for short term and long term goals. Saving for retirement early helps change the way you think about money and financial stability in your future. This mindset shift will help you create greater wealth and save you financial heartache in the long-run.
Starting young at anything is an advantage. It gives you time to make mistakes and plan. In this case, you have over 40 years ahead of you to make your money work for you, utilizing the power of compounding. For example, if you’re 26 years old and you decide to place $500 bucks into a retirement plan each month, with an average of 8% being earned annually, and allowing it to grow for 40 years, you would have over $1 million when you’re 65-66 years old. However, if you procrastinate until your 30s to begin this process, you wouldn’t be so happy with your retirement savings.
Also, keep in mind that you can earn more than 8% annually, depending on how or where you invest your money. This can easily earn you a couple million dollars by the time you retire. Sounds good right? We know.
Sometimes voluntarily putting money into a retirement account is hard. In that case, this is where workplace retirement plans such as 401(k) or a 403(b) come in handy. They will automatically take a percentage of your salary and deposit it into your plan. A good thing about this is that you are not required to pay taxes on the growth of your funds until you begin withdrawing money. This also lowers your taxable income. However, any withdrawals before the age 59 1/2, in tax-deferred retirement plans, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty.
Besides student loans, millennials still have less financial burdens than someone older who has a family. Especially since you may still utilize the help of your parents. With that being said, it’s easier to free up a few dollars to place into a retirement plan. Establishing this habit now will greatly improve your living situation after retirement.
We understand retirement is the last thing millennials think about, but it shouldn’t be. We have helped many individuals from all age groups set up individual retirement accounts. If you are interested and would like a free consultation, give us a call at 217-345-7063 to invest in your future. Contributions do not have to be big. Whatever is affordable for you is sufficient.
Preventing a fire is not an impossible task. It’s simple quite frankly. However, having a fire prevention guide isn’t something many households think about creating. Everyone loves to assume that they’re very responsible people and that nothing can happen to them. While there’s no doubt you’re a responsible individual, fires can happen from the least expected culprits. Many people make grocery lists to remember to buy certain things. Why not make a fire prevention list as well?
Below is a complete guide to take preventive measures when it comes to fire safety for the sake of you and your loved ones.
The National Fire Prevention Association reported 475,500 brick and mortar fires causing 2,950 civilian deaths, 12,755 injuries, and $7.9 billion in property damages. Those are outrageous numbers, right? Who knows when this can strike close to home?
We have a quick quiz for you. What part of your home do you believe is most likely to cause the most fires? That’s right, the kitchen! 50% of fires inside of a resident’s home originate from the kitchen, with many of these fires being caused by forgetting that food is actually cooking on the stove. With that being said, it only makes sense if your fire prevention guide begins with the kitchen!
- Ensure that there’s no food left unattended while cooking (try utilizing a timer)
- Going off of the last point, the worst thing you can do is leave your home, even if for a moment, while food is cooking
- Ensure small appliances aren’t plugged in while not being used
- Avoid built up grease on the stove-top and inside the oven
- Avoid using a power strip or extension cord for larger appliances. Ensure they’re plugged directly into the wall
- Ensure space heaters are in good condition and keep anything that can catch fire at least 5 feet away & also keep them unplugged if not in use
- Hire a professional or someone knowledgeable with chimney cleaning and ensure it’s cleaned thoroughly every year
- Going off the last point, your furnace or boiler should be inspected and cleaned annually as well
- Try to keep extension cords and power strips are not so overloaded & also keep them from under rugs or anything else made out of cloth
- Flammable items and liquids should be kept outdoors and away from sources of heat
- If possible, limit smoking to the outdoors (although we would prefer to have you avoid smoking in general for health reasons)
- Ensure your dryer and dryer exhaust is free of lint (this is highly overlooked)
- Make sure candles are not still lit when you decide to leave the house or sleep
- Barbecue grills should not be left indoors, especially if it’s a propane grill. When outdoors, they should not be underneath tree branches or a hanging part of your roof since that can catch fire as well
Additional Information on Fire Prevention
- NEVER try to extinguish a grease or oil fire with water, it will only make matters worse!
- Each floor in your home should have a fire extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should be replaced at least every 5 years or when it shows signs of rust.
- Make sure you have at least 1 safety route from each room in your home if a fire were to break out
- All smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide detectors) should be functional (updated batteries) and placed in the kitchen and each sleeping room
- Create an evacuation plan and make sure to share it with any kids in the house hold until they have a full understanding of it
Our reason for putting together this guide is because we know how overlooked this topic is. Fire safety is a must if you want to protect yourself and your loved ones. Preparation and knowledge on this topic is the best way to make sure you don’t find yourself in this situation. If you enjoyed this blog, check out some of our other blogs here and learn more about various topics.
A basic science class teaches you that some mold is beneficial to the environment. It helps with the decomposition of organic material such as fallen trees. You consume it as well when you order that nice bleu cheese burger or when you use soy sauce on your Chinese food. However, the types of molds that we’re referring to are detrimental to your health and can cause severe damage. The symptoms that can occur varies between individuals and can mimic other illnesses. Because of this, we want to educate on this matter and ensure everyone is well equipped to handle this.
The reason we take mold so serious is due to the fact that it’s not easily spotted. All that’s needed for mold to develop is a damp environment. Because of this, a leaking pipe or even a home with high humidity can encourage mold growth within your walls, under carpets, and even behind appliances.
According to “The Cleveland Clinic”, some of the symptoms you may experience include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Inflamed Lungs
- Sore throat
- Cough with spots of blood
You’re probably thinking, “that wasn’t helpful, those are common cold/flu symptoms.” Our point exactly! This makes it even more serious. Some of these symptoms, when left untreated, can lead to a serious disease.
How to Prevent Mold Growth
Dry wet areas promptly
Moisture is what allows mold to grow to begin with. Eliminate moisture, you eliminate the opportunity for mold to grow. You may have seepage in a basement after it rains or accumulation of water from a leaky pipe. These issues should be resolved within 2 days, at most, to avoid the possibility of mold growing. Even the little things that we do every day can put us at risk. Leaving wet clothes in a washer without drying them in a reasonable amount of time is bad, or spilling a drink on a carpet without cleaning it up can produce mold. Simply put, ensure wet areas are dried within a good time frame.
Clean & repair roof gutters
Damaged gutters lead to leaky roofs that can produce mold. The gutters on your roof should always be cleaned and inspected. A sign that your roof may be leaking is water stains after a storm.
Don’t overlook household plants
Household plants are very attractive and helps give your house a homey feeling. They also help purify the air. However, mold loves the moist soil inside household plants as well. When mold begins to grow, the air you breathe can become more detrimental than beneficial. This accumulation of mold can be due to poor maintenance or over-watering.
There are a few ways you can rid your plants of mold. One popular way is to scrape the mold off the affected areas of the soil. This should be done wearing a mask to avoid inhaling it. If there’s a lot of mold, repotting the plant is your best bet. You can sprinkle a tad bit of cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, or baking soda on top of the soil, which acts as an anti-fungal solution.
Invest in Humidity Monitors
Humidity monitors gives you a good estimate on how much humidity your house is currently holding. The EPA suggests keeping your home humidity between 30-60%. A moisture meter can be purchased at a decent hardware store near you.
Air holds less moisture when the temperature drops. To increase the flow of air in your home, opening doors and windows is the best route. Without this air flowing in, excessive moisture can accumulate on walls, windows and floors.
We relay information onto you because we care about your safety and health. If you suspect you may have mold sickness or have an abundance of mold growing in your home, please act quickly to resolve the issue!
Choosing a beneficiary is a very important decision in your life, especially when choosing a life insurance policy. This is the individual who you wish to grant financial security to after your passing, which is the most likely reason you’re purchasing the policy in the first place. Because of this, make sure you’re not making these 5 common mistakes when choosing the beneficiary on your policy.
Forgetting to Update Beneficiaries Periodically
As you progress through life, things change. Your lifestyle changes and more importantly, the life of your beneficiary may change. Divorces can occur, marriage, and unfortunately death. Incorrect information about a beneficiary can cause lots of confusion and can delay the payment of money. Also, having a beneficiary (maybe an ex-spouse) who no longer belongs on the policy can be an even bigger issue if you’re in a new marriage.
Appointing Minors as a Beneficiary
A minor in most states is considered to be under the age of 18 and cannot be responsible for their actions and decisions. The child will have to wait until they’re 18 years of age to receive all of the money (21 in some states) regardless of maturity. An 18 year old having a large lump sum of money usually doesn’t turn out good. A good way to avoid this chaos is to set up a trust that receives the life insurance death benefit. If this route is taken, you can specify whether you want the money to be paid at a specific age, for a specific purpose (college expenses), or in installments, lump sums, etc.
Assuming a Will Overrides a Life Insurance Policy
An insurance policy is a contract, which means that it controls what will happen to your policy when you pass away. Your will does NOT have this kind of power. Let’s say your ex-wife is the beneficiary on your life insurance policy. However, your current wife is included in your will so you believe she’s entitled to money. Wrong. Your ex-wife will receive all money included in the policy, despite your will. Doesn’t sound so good right?
Not Informing the Beneficiary
You would assume that this is a given, but many individuals tend to forget about this step. They assign a beneficiary who they never seem to inform. If this happens, they won’t know that they’re able to file a claim when you die. This will lead to a lump sum of money not being claimed so it’s important to let them know.
Forgetting About Government Assistance
This is arguably the most overlooked scenario when it comes to beneficiaries. Government assistance, if the individual receives it, can come to an end if they receive a death benefit. If it’s a person with disability or a child, setting up a special needs trust would work best to avoid this setback.
Avoiding these mistakes will save your loved ones lots of stress and money when you pass. Feel free to give us a call at 217-345-7063 to review or update your beneficiary information if necessary. If you wish to set up a life insurance policy, feel free to take a look at our life insurance page.
There’s no doubt that children love Halloween. They get to go trick-or-treating, eat lots of candy, dress up in costumes, have classroom parties at school, and maybe stay up a little later than usual. However, sometimes adults can get caught up in the fun that their children will have and forget about the safety issues that should be of concern, especially road and pedestrian safety.
Important Statistics to Know
1. Approximately 6,700 pedestrian deaths and about 160,000 injuries that required a hospital visit was due to motor vehicle accidents.
- 15% of these deaths occurred because of low lighting and dark clothing (Very common on Halloween)
- 17% of these deaths occurred because of crossing the street improperly (Also very common on Halloween)
- 15% of these were also due to darting into the road in kids ages 5-9 (You know what I’m going to say here)
2. A statistic no one wishes was true is the fact that children are more than twice as likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than any other time of the year.
These statistics are unfortunate, but very true. It’s best to know what the facts are so that you can plan accordingly and avoid tragic situations that could’ve been prevented.
Good Safety Practices for Halloween
1. This is pretty cliché and may seem like common sense, but some parents allow their older children to watch over their younger children. However, we recommend having a responsible adult to accompany younger children while they’re out on Halloween.
2. Try to avoid masks, since they don’t allow you to have complete vision of your surroundings.
3. Avoid dark costumes if possible. If not, use reflective tape to place on their costumes or give them glow sticks to be seen at night.
4. Plan a safe route for your older children if they’re going alone to ensure they’re exposed to the least amount of dangers.
5. Ensure that your children understand that everyone they encounter is a stranger and should be treated as such. Make sure they understand that they should not get into anyone’s vehicle or go inside anyone’s home for candy.
6. Instruct your children to not eat any candy until they’re safe at home just in case it’s been tampered with.
Safety Practices for Drivers
1. Look both ways and slowly exit driveways and alleys. Make sure that you blow your horn as well to get the attention of anyone who may be walking behind your vehicle that’s not visible to you.
2. Make sure to avoid jumping the curb when driving, as children may be walking there and on medians during the night
3. Turn on your bright lights in places with dim lighting to detect children in dark clothing ahead of time
Some of these may seem like pretty simple techniques, but many people never think about these safety precautions until it’s too late. We want everyone to enjoy their Halloween holiday while remaining safe.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lobo235/58965867
Imagine coming home from a nice weekend getaway with your family. The weekend couldn’t have gotten any better. You pull into your driveway and proceed to enter your home. You then notice that your backdoor is open and you immediately realize that someone broke into your home while you were away. The next logical thing to do is to take inventory and see what was stolen. You notice that your iPad and your flat screen television are gone. Unfortunately, the ring that your grandmother gave you is gone, along with other necklaces that were gifted to you by your spouse and loved ones.
Why to Insure Jewelry
No one ever wants to be in this situation. Unfortunately, it happens more often now days since thieves are getting smarter and more calculated, security systems can be hacked and disabled, and the response time for authorities to arrive on the scene is not fast enough to stop thieves before they get away.
The best thing you can do is take precautions and make sure you’re covered just in case an unfortunate event like this occurs.
Many may believe that it’s pointless to purchase jewelry insurance when you have a homeowners policy and renters insurance. But, that may not be the case most of the time. A regular policy covers many things which usually consist of; fires, lodging when your home is uninhabitable, and replacement of personal belongings. However, expensive things such as precious jewelry may require an enhancement due to the value being so high.
Jewelry that’s often covered includes; engagement rings and jewelry passed down from loved ones. Of course, if something were to happen to a special piece of jewelry that was passed down from family members, getting compensated for it won’t bring that exact piece back. It has high personal value and we understand that. But, it can give you a means of trying to get it replaced and continue the cycle.
Steps to Insuring Your Jewelry
The first step to get an appraisal of the jewelry that you may want covered. We recommend you keep the receipt and the results of the appraisal, along with photos of your jewelry, and keep them in a safe location until you’re ready to purchase coverage.
The next step is to get in contact with a trusted and knowledgeable insurance agency to proceed with getting a quote for your precious items. The cost of your policy and the coverage depends on several things such as; your appraisal, whether you have a security system or if you keep your possessions in a safe (having these can land you a nice discount).
An important thing to remember is that you must remember to get your jewelry appraised every 2-4 years. This is because the value of it can change and you should adjust your policy to meet your new needs.
If you’re interested in learning more about covering your jewelry, feel free to get in touch with an agent at Bob Oetting & Associates to take steps in covering your valuables at 217-345-7063.
Once retirement hits, the only thing on your mind may be vacationing and spending time with loved ones. You have money saved up and the last thing on your mind is paying for a life insurance policy. In fact, it seems pointless to most retirees. Here are 6 reasons why that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
1. About 70% of retirees believe they will continue to work part-time or full-time to meet their financial needs. If you have a surviving partner or spouse when you pass away, a life insurance policy can be used to replace that lost stream of income from you working part or full time.
2. With income-tax free life insurance proceeds, you can be more aggressive when spending your retirement money. This is because your assets will be replaced by the life insurance policy upon your death.
3. Getting an illness during the retirement stages of life isn’t very uncommon. Death benefits do come with your policy, and a portion of this can be used if you require additional care or develop a terminal illness.
4. The cash value of your policy can provide more cushioning if a financial emergency arises.
5. Just because you’re retired, doesn’t mean you’re debt free. For retirees that may have some debt left over, a life insurance policy can help pay it off after death.
6. If you’ve been married more than once in your lifetime, and you have multiple children from 2 or more marriages, a life insurance policy can help with the process of dividing assets between your offspring.
“Life insurance is not for those who die, it’s for those who live.” This couldn’t be more spot on. As you age and head into retirement, you may want to think harder before dropping any insurance or believing that you do not need insurance anymore. Your loved ones deserve a peace of mind when your time finally come.
If you want to discuss options or speak to one of our specialists about coverages, that’s best for retirees, feel free to give us a call at 217-345-7063 or request a quote here.
Out of all the months with warm and hot weather, July and August tends to be more popular among most families that take vacation time to go on a trip. Of course, this means if you’re planning on taking a road trip in July month, you need to be safe!
Besides, 91% of summer trips are taken in personal vehicles, with the average distance driven being 284 miles one way(statisticbrain.com). What does this mean? This means that there’s always a big risk of an accident when taking summer road trips.
So, we’ve put together a list of ways you can stay safe during a road trip.
Go for a tune up
This is probably one of the best safety precautions you can take before a long road trip. Make sure your car is in good condition for a long drive. Some things you may want to check on can consist of; making sure tire are properly inflated and not “bald”, all fluids are at their recommended levels, and that neither your engine, or brake lights are on.
This will allow you to determine whether your car is in good enough condition for a road trip. It is best to have a professional mechanic inspect your vehicle, versus inspecting your vehicle yourself.
Get a good night’s rest
Driving drowsy contributes to 100,000 accidents annually according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). To avoid falling victim to this inconvenience, it’s important to be well rested, and if possible, take turns driving with another adult.
Keep a safety kit
When going on a road trip, the NHTSA suggests to pack the following items;
- Tools to change a tire
- First aid kit
- Jumper Cables
- A fully charged cell phone
Properly install booster seat
Of course, you can’t leave the little one at home if you’re going on a family road trip! However, did you know that 8 out of 10 booster seats are not installed properly? That could pose as a huge issue if an accident were to occur. Putting your little on in harm’s way. You can call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a nearby location for a free safety seat inspection!
Avoid Driving non-stop
Many individuals choose not to stop during a road trip. They want to arrive at their destination as soon as possible, which is understandable. However, by doing this sometimes, you put yourself in danger of making many mistakes behind the wheel due to being exhausted.
Our recommendation is that you make pit stops every now and then, and grab a snack to refuel while resting.
If possible, share the responsibility of driving with another passenger in the car. That way, you can watch after one another while getting some rest and enjoying the trip.
Trips are very common in July and August, especially road trips. This is why we compiled this list to ensure the safety of everyone who’s planning on taking a road trip this month. If you have any questions or want any more tips, feel free to give us a call at (217) 345-7063.
Have you ever woken up to find your dog pacing back and forth and for some reason has diarrhea? You then notice that there’s a chocolate candy bar on the floor that he managed to get his paws on. Now you’re stuck rushing him to the vet in a panic before anything worse happens. This is a situation that many dog owners can relate to. They’re good at getting their paws on items they shouldn’t have. Sometimes it can be annoying, but in cases like this, it can cause serious harm, a coma, or worse.
Here are 8 surprising foods that can be toxic to dogs.
Chocolate is one snack that dogs love believe it or not. They enjoy it until they start feeling the consequences of eating it! You can find both caffeine and Theobromine in chocolate. Both of which have unusual effects on dogs in particular.
Need help to identify whether your little friend has chocolate indigestion? Some of the symptoms include; rapid breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, and even a coma or heart failure.
Onions & Garlic
This one is usually a big surprise for many. Although small amounts may not cause any harm, when it’s eaten regularly or in large amounts, it can cause serious anemia that must be treated.
If you’re suspecting that your dog has been the victim of onion poisoning, look for symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, drooling, blood in the urine, pale gums, and an elevated heart rate. Keep in mind that some of these symptoms will take several days to notice.
Yes, bread dough is bad as well. Allowing your dog to eat unbaked dough can even be deadly. What happens is that the dough rises and expands which causes a twisted stomach.
Some symptoms to check for consists of; huge increase in heart rate, severe weakness, a bloated stomach, and unfortunately death.
Who hasn’t treated their dog to some popcorn? Our point exactly. It’s one of the most common snacks to give them to snack on. This can go either way and it all depends on whether you pop your own popcorn at home or buy it from the store. Popcorn that is store bought is more than likely to be fully loaded with sodium. Salt toxicity can lead to vomiting, tremors, seizures, frequent urination and even a coma, says The Pet Poison Helpline.
Xylitol? Yeah, we never heard of it until recently either. However, it’s a sweetener found in almost everything. Literally, everything. You can find it in toothpaste, gum, candy, etc. Now, does this mean that you should completely eliminate ‘everything’ from the list of things your dog can consume? No. You should simply be cautious of the things you allow your dog to get their hands on that may contain this sweetener.
Does this mean your dog can’t have peanut butter? No. Peanut butter is fine. However, macadamia nuts can cause fevers, weakness, and vomiting. Getting help early on will eliminate any symptoms that may have occurred.
Grapes & Raisins
Consuming grapes and raisins can be very toxic for dogs. It has not yet been discovered what exactly causes this reaction in them, according to PetMD. However, it can cause acute kidney failure. The unfortunate part is that it’s hard to catch until things have already taken a turn for the worst. Vomiting and excessive urination are possible symptoms.
Get Help Quick
If after reading this article you realize that you’ve given your little one anything on this list, call your local veterinarian fast. They will make sure to see your dog as soon as possible for the best outcome.
Anything can happen while your dog isn’t under close supervision. If you are interested in learning more about pet insurance, feel free to give us a call at 217-345-7063 and speak with one of our specialists.