8 Easy Tips to Keep You Safe During the Holidays

The holidays are upon us! It’s a time for fun, celebration, and spending quality time with our family and friends. Unfortunately, the typical hectic pace of the season can present many dangers and increased risks. That’s why it’s important to be extra vigilant during the holidays.

Check out the following 8 tips to keep you and what matters most safe this holiday season!

Be Smart in Parking Lots – Take extra care when you’re in parking lots, especially when it’s dark outside. Make sure to hide all of your valuables, lock your car, and park in well-lit, populated areas. Keep your keys close by, and stay alert of your surroundings. If you notice any suspicious people, vehicles, or situations, avoid them and alert the authorities, if possible.

Stay Alert When Shopping – Shopping during the holidays can be a stressful time, especially because of the crowds of people who are out looking for the perfect gifts. Be very cognizant of your surroundings, and make sure that you aren’t loaded down with packages and that you are maintaining your visibility and mobility at all times. Refrain from wearing expensive jewelry and carrying large amounts of valuables or cash, and keep your wallet in a safe place.

Keep Your Children Safe When Shopping – If you have children in tow with you while you’re out shopping, keep a cautious eye on them at all times. You can even consider teaching them to find a store clerk or security guard in case you get separated. Make sure that they know their first and last name so you can be easily reunited, and give them a contact phone number that they can keep on them at all times should they get lost.

Be a Smart, Savvy Online Shopper – If you don’t feel like tackling the crowds to get your shopping done, you can always find fantastic gifts online. But beware – making purchases online does carry its own risks. The National Cyber Security Alliance recommends that you have a firewall, anti-virus software, and anti-spyware software installed and updated regularly before doing your shopping. Additionally, only make purchases on secure sites; these sites will have “https” at the beginning of their URL address. Your purchases and account information will be much more secure this way.

Stay Safe at Home – You should exercise caution while at home as well during the holiday season. Make sure that your windows and doors are locked whether you are home or not, and keep your gifts and valuable items out of plain sight. Consider also setting indoor and outdoor lights on timers to make it appear as if someone is home. Keep your blinds and curtains closed as well so that a potential burglar won’t be able to see what is inside your home.

Tell Someone You Trust About Your Holiday Travels – Heading out to visit loved ones or just to take a vacation by yourself this holiday season? Make sure you tell someone you trust where you’ll be going and the timeframe that you’ll be gone. In the event of an accident or inclement weather, you will have someone back home who will check in with you to ensure that you’re safe. Ask a neighbor or trusted friend or family member to watch your home while you’re out as well.

Stay Safe on the Roads – Holiday travel can be hectic. There’s an increase in drivers on the road, and weather can be slippery and tricky, making travel dicey. Drive defensively and stay tuned in to weather conditions. Keep emergency supplies in your vehicle including a blanket, batteries, a flashlight, dry food and water bottles, a radio, and other supplies in case you get stranded.

Celebrate Responsibly – If you’re going to be one of the many celebrating the season by attending holiday parties with your friends and family, make sure to enjoy these celebrations responsibly. Too often do these times of joy turn so quickly into a tragedy. Remember, this is completely preventable. Keep yourself and others safe by watching how you drink, and never drink and drive.

Want to stay extra safe this holiday season? Call your agent here at Madison Mutual to ensure that your insurance policies are up-to-date. Call today at 1-800-766-MMIC or learn more online at www.madisonmutual.com.

Dream of a Green Christmas: Your Essential Guide to a Stress-Free, Debtless Holiday Season

Thanksgiving is just about here, which means that Christmas is right around the corner. Along with the colder weather and yuletide decorations, this time of the year also means that there will be more and more people in malls and stores nationwide who will be searching for the perfect gifts for their loved ones. While shopping for the best gifts can be quite a lot of fun, it can also bring a lot of stress, especially for those who aren’t a fan of crowds.

We’ve put together a quick guide to help you have not only a stress-free holiday season but also one that will help you stay in the black and not in the red. Read our 8 tips below!

Develop a Budget – The most boring and most difficult yet most essential part of your holiday spending plan is coming up with a solid budget. Look at your finances and figure out how much you can set aside realistically for gift-giving this year without the help of credit cards. Once you have the figures in place, make the commitment to stick with the plan. You can also include how much you are willing to spend on holiday parties, food, gift wrapping supplies, decorations, stocking stuffers, and more.

Say No to Using Credit Cards – While you want to give your friends and loved ones the best gifts possible, you don’t want to go into debt doing so. Many wind up overspending during the holidays, which leads to debt in the new year. Just say no to using credit cards to fund your gift-giving and stick to the budget.

Make a List – Santa’s got the right idea! Make a list of all the people you need to buy for, and if you can, write down beside their names what they want or what you would like to give them and an estimate of how much those gifts might cost. You can also include handmade gifts, which are always greatly appreciated.

Cut Where You Can – You probably want to buy for all of your friends and family members, but sometime that isn’t possible, especially if you have a large family. Trim you list where you can. If your circle of friends or family is large, consider having a gift exchange with a fixed amount of money or only buying gifts for the children in the family. You can also try to chip in for one large gift.

Find Ways to Increase Your Budget – If you really don’t want to cut anyone from your list, consider finding ways to make a few extra bucks quickly to put toward your gift list. Apply to work for seasonal help, sell unwanted or unused things around your home, or consider re-gifting nice items that you don’t use instead of letting it languish in your basement or attic.

Shop Early – If at all possible, get your shopping done early so you can eliminate stress during the holiday season. You don’t have to wait for Black Friday for sales; there are good deals all around you, so keep your eyes peeled throughout the year to find the best price on the items you’re hunting for.

Tackle the Black Friday Sales – This certainly isn’t a stress-free endeavor, but if you are feeling adventurous, plan out your attack and head out the Friday after Thanksgiving to get your gift shopping done. Don’t want to head outside? There are plenty of good deals online both on Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

Follow Your Favorites on Facebook – Do you really enjoy certain products? Go ahead and follow them on social media! Oftentimes, companies will have special promotions, giveaways, sales, and more that they will advertise online through their social media pages. Be sure to check them regularly to save some money on products you and your loved ones enjoy.

We hope that these 8 tips will help you have an enjoyable, debt-free holiday season! Make sure that your stress levels are at an all-time low by talking with your insurance agent at Madison Mutual to ensure that your insurance is up-to-date. Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

4 Tips to Help You Drive in Foggy Weather Like a Pro

Foggy weather is one of the most dangerous weather conditions for motorists to drive in. It can decrease visibility greatly, so it is important for drivers to pay full attention and stay focused to stay safe. After all, fog has been a huge contributing factor to many accidents and fatalities on the road nationwide.

While we suggest staying off the road when fog settles on the road, sometimes you can’t avoid fog. If that’s the case, read up on these 4 tips below to help you navigate your way through the fog safely and effectively!

Turn Your Lights On – When it’s foggy, it is important to keep your headlights fully on so that other motorists can see you. Fog reflects bright light and decreases visibility, but you need to have your lights on to ensure that other drivers can see you. If your vehicle has fog lights, use those, too. However, DO NOT use your high beam lights. It will decrease visibility even more.

Slow Down – Fog can make it hard for people to perceive how fast they are actually moving because it masks surroundings, and people have a tendency to subconsciously speed up. Be aware of this and slow down. Check your speedometer to make sure you are not speeding up without realizing.

Watch the Lines – When driving, people are often drawn to look at the lights ahead of them as their guide while on the road. This is especially dangerous in foggy weather, so follow the lane lines on the right side as a guide instead. Don’t use the lines on the left – doing so can move you closer to oncoming traffic.

Don’t Stop on the Road – Sometimes fog is so dense that it becomes unsafe to continue driving. In this case, it may be best to stop driving and wait until the fog lifts. Pull off into a parking lot, driveway, or rest area, but never stop on the road. Get as far away from traffic as possible and turn off your headlights so other drivers won’t confuse you for the lane of travel.

While these tips will help you tackle the fog like a seasoned driver, it’s still vital to remember that anything can happen on the road, no matter how prepared you are. Let all of us at Madison Mutual help keep you and your vehicle safe. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to speak with your agent today!

7 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Try With Your Leftover Halloween Candy

Halloween has come and gone, and, well, maybe you didn’t get rid of all the Halloween candy that you bought for those adorable trick-or-treaters after all. While you’ve probably been munching on a few bars of your favorite leftovers here and there, you might be getting a little bit bored of just eating plain old store-bought candy, but you don’t want to throw it away either. What can you do to spice up your holiday snacking a bit?

We’ve come up with 7 easy, scrumptious recipes that you can try out with your leftover Halloween candy below! Get creative and try one, a few, or all of them out and share them with your family and friends!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butterfinger Cupcakes
Tired of opening all those candy wrappers just to enjoy a quick bite or two of that amazingly delicious Butterfinger? Turn it into something even more amazing with this recipe! Dark chocolate cupcakes topped with Butterfinger buttercream frosting with chocolate ganache will satisfy your sweet tooth right away. Try the recipe here!

Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Rice Krispies Treats
For an ooey-gooey treat that’s sure to delight, try this mixture of puffed rice cereal, chocolate, and caramel bits! In about 30 minutes, you’ll have a tasty dessert to snack on and share with your friends. Find the recipe here!

No Bake Snickers Pie
Need a dessert that’s fast and satisfying? The No-Bake Snickers Pie is the way to go. You don’t even need an oven; just grab some leftover Snickers bars, some cream cheese, an Oreo cookie piecrust, and a few other simple ingredients, follow the directions, and get ready to chow down! Here’s the recipe!

Salted Caramel Twix Brownies
Love Twix and brownies? How about combining them for the ultimate treat? Grab your leftover Twix bars, some chocolate, caramel sauce, and a few other baked goods, and you’re on your way to making a delicious dessert! Try it out here!

M&M Brownie Bars
Let’s face it. M&Ms are tasty on their own, but they taste even better in just about any kind of dessert! All you need for this dish is 1 box of brownie mix, 12 chocolate sandwich cookies, and 2/3 cup of M&Ms. Check out the recipe to get started!
(link: http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/mm-brownie-bars-miniature-cookie-ice-cream-cakes/)

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Protein Bites
For any regular leftover chocolate you might have, grab a stand mixer and combine creamy peanut butter, old-fashioned oats, peanuts, honey, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder to make this fast and easy treat! Roll them up into balls and enjoy!
Check out the recipe here!

Mississippi Mud Pie
Who doesn’t love the cool, creamy texture of an ice cream pie? With a chocolate graham cracker crust, a filling of chocolate and heavy cream, and a garnish of Heath and coffee ice cream, you just can’t go wrong with this recipe! You can find the recipe here!

What are your favorite go-to recipes to use whenever you have too much leftover candy? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page! Better yet, send us photos of your tasty recipes – we love seeing what our awesome customers come up with!