Winter Weather

Be Prepared for Winter Weather With These 15 Tips!

The cold blasts of arctic air this weekend have reminded us that winter is on its way and is coming a lot more quickly than we’d probably like it to! While winter can be a fun time filled with snowball fights, hot cocoa, and sledding, it’s important to remember what to do in case the weather turns dangerous and the temperatures plummet.

Follow our 15 winter weather tips below to keep you and your loved ones safe and warm this winter season!

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Bolster Your Emergency Kit – Take the time now to add the following items to your emergency kit: rock salt, sand, snow shovels, dry and seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove, heavy clothing, and blankets to keep you warm in case you lose power.

Make a Plan – Your family might not be together when disaster strikes, so make a family plan before bad weather arrives. Establish how you will contact each other and how you will get back together and what you will do in the event of an emergency.

Tune In – During winter, the weather can change rapidly and unexpectedly from simple rain to sleet to snow and back again. Keep updated on the weather by listening to your local news channels or to the NOAA Weather Radio for important information from the National Weather Service so you and your family can stay safe.

Stay Indoors – Minimize your traveling as much as you can. If you really have to drive anywhere, be sure that you keep a disaster kit in your car.

Bring Pets Inside – If you have outdoor pets, bring them inside during the bad weather. If this isn’t possible or if you have livestock animals, move them to a sheltered location.

Prepare Your Vehicle – Before winter arrives, check or have your mechanic check your vehicle to make sure the following items are up-to-date:

*Antifreeze levels
*Battery and ignition system
*Brakes
*Exhaust system
*Fuel and air filters
*Heater and defroster
*Lights and flashing hazard lights
*Oil
*Thermostat
*Windshield wiper equipment

Additionally, consider installing good winter tires, especially if you live in an area in which snow can be quite heavy.

Prepare Your Home – Ensure that you have ample insulation and that your doors and windows are caulked and weather-stripped so you can keep the heat inside. Repair any roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on your home during a storm. Insulate your pipes, get your furnace and chimney inspected and cleaned, and be sure you know how to shut off your water valves in case a pipe bursts.

During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Stay Indoors – Remain indoors when the storm hits. If you have to go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, and warm clothing, mittens, a hat, and a scarf to cover your mouth and protect your lungs from the cold. Be sure to walk very carefully on snowy or icy walkways.

Shovel with Care – Take it easy on the shoveling and avoid overexerting yourself. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack, which is a major cause of death in the winter. Be sure to stretch before shoveling and take several breaks if you need to.

Stay Dry – Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and causes heat to leave quite quickly. Change any wet clothing frequently to keep your body warm.

Know the Signs of Frostbite – If your experience a loss of feeling and white or pale appearances in your fingers, toes, earlobes, and the tip of your nose, you might be experiencing frostbite. Seek medical attention immediately if this happens to you or a loved one.

Be Smart on the Road – Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you have to drive, travel in the day, and don’t travel alone. Keep others informed of your schedule, avoid back roads, and let someone know your destination, route, and your estimated time of arrival.

After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Seek Shelter – If your home loses power or heat, seek out a designated public shelter in the extreme cold. Text “SHELTER” and your zip code to 43362 (4FEMA) so you can find the nearest shelter in your area.

Stay Warm – Don’t let your defenses down. Keep yourself dressed in warm, dry, loose-fitting layers of clothing in order to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia. If at all possible, stay indoors to keep warm.

Stay Informed – Knowledge is power. Keep abreast of the weather and traffic situations so you won’t be caught by surprise by more winter weather, unstable conditions, or any roads that might be shut down.

You might also consider reviewing your home insurance policy and your auto insurance policy before the winter weather strikes this year. If you’d like to review your policies with us, please give us a call at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com for more information!

Diamond Ring

Schedule Your Valuables with Madison Mutual!

Do you know how much your belongings are worth? They might actually be worth more than you might think they are, and it just so happens that your most valuable possessions are also the easiest to steal.

Now, you know that you can get your home, automobile, and your life insured, but did you know that you can insure your valuables? You certainly can! In fact, insuring your valuables is a great thing to do in case they ever become misplaced, stolen, or destroyed by a natural disaster.

Most homeowner’s policies have special limits on the amount of coverage that they can put toward their valuables like jewelry, furs, silverware, collectibles, and more. If you get your valuables scheduled, however, you can be covered for any and all loss that might occur without a deductible.

Before coming in to get your items scheduled, take a moment to walk around your home and look for items that have appreciated in value since you have obtained them or items that cost a lot of money. Write down everything that is of value on a piece of paper followed by a short description of the items, especially the ones that are the most important personally or financially. This complete description of your items will help ensure that you will receive an item of like quality and kind in the vent of damage or a loss – and you’ll be covered for the loss, too!

Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick checklist to help you get started:

*Jewelry

*Cameras

*Furs

*Silverware

*Firearms

*Fine arts

*Laptops

*Postage stamps, coin collections, or any other collections

*Musical instruments

*Rare books and manuscripts

*Rare items or items that have historical or artistic merit

*Anything else you deem worthy

Now that you’ve written down all of your valuables and a short description of each on a piece of paper, it’s time to stop by our office to see us! We can help insure your scheduled items in order to help settle any future claims you might have regarding an lost or damaged items. We can help you figure out what type of coverage you might need to make sure that all of your valuable items are covered in the event of loss, theft, or damage. Be sure to review, take photos, and update your valuable items on a regular basis!

Ready to schedule your items? Stop by our office or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to get started! Be proactive and let us help you protect what matters most to you!

Ways to save money in winter

8 Easy Ways You Can Lower Your Electric Bill This Winter

The leaves from the trees are mostly gone, and a noticeable chill permeates the air around the Midwest. While it’s still fall, we know that winter will be here soon enough, and when the temperatures plummet, you’re sure to see a climb in your electric bill.

But don’t panic! There are many great, easy ways you can save money on your electric bill this winter without having to sacrifice your comfort. Read the following 8 tips to help you save more money on your electric bill in the winter (and keep you warmer, too!).

Keep The Temperature Low – As tempting as it might seem to crank up the heat in the winter, try to keep your thermostat down by 2 degrees and cozy up in a blanket instead. You will save some money on your energy bill if you resist adjusting the thermostat. If all else fails, savor some hot chocolate to keep you toasty!

Fill Up the Dishwasher – Make sure that your dishwasher is full before turning it on. These days, dishwashers are more energy and water efficient when they are full. In fact, researchers have found that dishwashers do a consistently better job with less water than hand-washing, so load ‘em up!

Take Care of Your Fridge – Before winter comes, make sure you clean the dust off your refrigerator’s condenser coil to improve its efficiency. If you need a new fridge, look for one that has a more energy-efficient compressor, good insulation, and good temperature controls. These types of fridges offer energy savings that conventional models cannot.

A Clean Furnace is a Happy Furnace – Don’t forget about your winter workhorse – your furnace! Cleaning your furnace’s filter once every month can increase its efficiency drastically. You will also be able to enjoy cleaner air in your home.

Slay the Vampires – We’re not talking about Dracula – we mean your home electronics that suck out electricity when they’re not in use! Unplug your home electronics when you’re not using them to help you save some money on your energy bill. This especially includes computer and chargers, but you can also apply this to lamps and televisions if you like.

Use the Right Lights – Take the time to replace your home’s incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs. You’ll save energy with the lower wattage and reduce cooling costs as well!

Weatherproof Before Winter – Now is the perfect time to weatherproof your home before the full force of winter arrives. Make sure that you have enough insulation and that you caulk up any cracks to get rid of uncomfortable drafts. Weatherproofing your home will not only keep you warmer in the winter, but it can also save you some money on your heating bill!

Be Smart with Laundry – Everyone loves warm-and-fresh-out-of-the-dryer clothes, but you’ll need to be smarter when it comes to drying your clothes. Dry two or more loads of laundry in a row to take advantage of an already warm dryer, and be sure to remove them promptly to prevent wrinkling. Remember to clean the lint filter before every load – a clogged filter will not only increase your energy use, but it can also be a fire hazard!

Reviewing your home insurance plan can also be a very effective way to save money in the long haul. If you’d like to discuss your home insurance policy, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com for more information!

Planning Your Retirement

9 Ways You Can Start Planning for Retirement Now!

You might think that retirement is something you can put off for a few more years (or a few more decades), but retirement is something you should prepare for as soon as you can. Financial planners suggest starting to think about our lives after retirement decades before we’re even ready to retire. This includes calculating how much money you will need, saving your money, and envisioning how you want to live your life in your senior years.

If you haven’t thought about your retirement yet, don’t worry. It’s never too late. Check out these 9 tips to help you start planning for retirement now!

Save As Much As You Can Now – It’s true that it’s never too late to start saving for your retirement, but the sooner you can start putting money toward your retirement, the better off you’ll be. The money you will have saved early on will have more time to grow as well. It’s one of the best ways to accumulate money!

Consider a 401(k) – One of the best and easiest ways you can put money toward retirement is by opening a 401(k) account. When you contribute a sum of money to a 401(k) account, your money will have an immediate tax deduction, tax-deferred growth. This ultimately means you get more money in the bank!

Look Into Stocks for Long-Term Growth – To have the best chance of achieving high returns over long periods of times, give stocks a try. A healthy dose can ensure that your savings will grow faster than the inflation, which will increase the purchasing power of your nest egg.

Set Realistic Goals – Be honest about how you want to live in your retirement and how much you will need to live how you want. Calculate how much you need to save yearly in order to save for your retirement. Remember to project your retirement expenses based on your needs, not by rules of thumb.

Consider Working Part-Time – You might not be happy to see this tip, but working part-time in your retirement years can help you out in more ways than one. Not only will you reduce the amount of your nest egg that you need to withdraw annually after retirement, but you will also be able to stay socially engaged and intellectually stimulated. Ask for fewer hours at your current job or find an easier, less stressful part-time job that revolves around something you’re really passionate about.

Increase the Amount You Save In Time – As you earn more money at your job, do your best to put more aside for your retirement. If you can, try to save between 10 and 15 percent for retirement per paycheck. If you can’t reach that level, that’s okay! Just work your way up as time goes by. Try saving one more percent each year till you hit that 10 or 15 percent mark.

Make Life Plans – While it’s important to focus on financial factors when planning for your retirement, you should also consider what will make you happy in your retirement years. Maybe you want to travel the world, go fishing half of the week, or write the novel you’ve been wanting to write all these years. Make a life plan, stick with it, and cross off the ones you’ve done!

Don’t Touch the Fund – Your retirement fund is there for one reason – your retirement. As tempting as it might seem to delve into the fund to help you pay for a house, a car, or your college debt, resist it and take out loans instead.

Get Creative – There are other ways you can help save for your retirement. Sometimes relocating to an area with lower living expenses can help. You can also transform the equity in your home into income by taking out a reverse mortgage, if you’re able.

If you want expert help with your retirement plans, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-766-MMIC or check us out online at www.madisonmutual.com to see how we can better serve you!