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home maintenance

10 Simple Steps to Keep Your Home in Shape

Maintaining your home can be a daunting task at first. Unexpected mishaps occur, causing homeowners and landlords costly repairs. But with diligent checkups, you can prevent those mishaps from getting unmanageable and keep your home in shape all year long. Below are 10 basic maintenance routines that can save you headaches and prevent major repairs.

  1. Routine checkups

Start simple: Test and replace the batteries for your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Even hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that need to be tested and replaced. This routine checkup can prevent massive home damage and keep your loved ones safe.

  1. Yes, fire extinguishers do expire

If you’re not sure if you can still rely on your fire extinguisher, check the pressure gauge. If the needle is in the green, your fire extinguisher is in the clear. Otherwise, it’s time to get a new one.

  1. You have the power

Every month, test all Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) outlets by pressing the “test” button or using a GFCI tester. Call a professional electrician to help if you’re unsure.

  1. Clean air, clean home

Change your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) filters every one to three months, depending on your household. If you have a large household with pets, your filter may need to be checked more often. If your filter is damaged, replace immediately. Regular filter changes are key to maintaining healthy air quality in your home. Bonus benefit: increased HVAC efficiency, which means lower cost to run.

  1. Test the waters

If you have rooms that aren’t occupied daily, such as a guest bathroom, be sure to run the faucet and flush the toilet. This will help prevent grime or buildup.

  1. Rinse and repeat

If your washing machine and dryer are not routinely monitored, it can be hazardous to your home. Regularly check for exhaust to come out of your dryer. (Tip: it should smell like fresh laundry!) If exhaust is not coming out, check for blockages — this may require a professional. Additionally, be sure there are no leaks in your supply hose. If you have a metal supply hose, tighten it until it cannot be tightened any further.

  1. Clean the lint

Always clean the dryer lint screen after every load of laundry to prevent fires!

  1. Basement patrol

Don’t forget about the basement! Take a look through the area for any repairs and mold. If your concrete walls are visible, make note of any cracks and water because these can be indicators of foundation issues. Use a piece of chalk to mark any cracks so you can track the “growth.”

  1. Chimney sweep

To prevent a chimney fire, check the chimney, fireplace and vents at least once a year to remove buildup of soot and creosote. Removing creosote can be a challenge, so it’s recommended to have your chimney inspected by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Another tip: Never burn trash, cardboard boxes or trees in your fireplace because these can spark fires!

  1. Deep clean

Just as dentists recommend flossing your teeth in addition to daily brushing, it’s recommended to give your home a deep clean to enhance home care. Take one day a month to walk through your home and clean all the nooks and crannies. This includes baseboards, doorframes, cabinets and more. A clean home is a healthy home.

 

By regularly completing these 10 basic tips, you reduce your risk of frequent and costly home repairs. When in doubt, contact an experienced plumber, electrician or other professional.

As all homeowners know, anything can happen; so make sure your property is covered with a home insurance policy from Madison Mutual. Be a champion of safety and contact an agent today to determine the best coverage for you.

winter tips for farmers

5 Must-Follow Winter Tips for Farmers

All famers know that just because the harvest is finished doesn’t mean that the work is complete. A little preparation goes a long way come spring. Use the acronym FARMS to remember these vital 5 winterization steps:

Fill Tanks – Topping off fuel and hydraulic oil tanks prevent condensation from forming as the temperature changes with the seasons. If you are planning to keep using your equipment throughout the winter, be sure to take steps to prevent the diesel fuel from gelling such as adding cold flow improvers.

Adequately Lubricate Metal – Any metal that is not painted needs to be greased to prevent damage from the elements like rust, which can diminish both the quality and value of the equipment. Refer to your user manual for more information about how to properly lubricate.

Repair Damage – Fixing broken or damaged parts now will protect the equipment from rusting or degrading over the winter. Be sure to check for worn or loose belts and leaks in addition to damaged parts. This will ensure that come springtime, you can get to work faster.

Maintain and Clean – Use a high-pressure washer to clean out dirt and debris from equipment before storing it for the season. Be cautious when cleaning seals and bearings. It is a good idea to remove the batteries and store them in a dry location.

Store Equipment – If possible, store equipment inside to avoid the worst of the winter elements. When storing equipment outdoors, cover it with material that is both water-resistant and protects delicate electronics from too much sun.

Always remember to consult your equipment’s user manual for the best way to winterize and care for your specific product. Equipment is a large investment for most farmers. Taking good care of it will ensure that it will serve you for several future growing seasons.

Madison Mutual is dedicated to protecting you and your farm this upcoming winter and always. Read more about our Farmowner Coverage here.

fire safety tips

7 Fire Safety Tips to Keep You Safe During the Cold Months

As the cold weather creeps upon us, many homeowners and renters will begin turning on their furnaces or fireplaces to keep warm. Before the winter arrives, however, we need to take a step back and think about fire safety. Each year, approximately 3,400 people’s lives are taken in home fires or by burn injuries. Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 fire-related deaths occur at home.

Fires can be largely preventable, and Madison Mutual is here to help keep you safe. Here are 7 of our best tips to help you prevent fires in your home:

Watch What You’re Cooking – Did you know that cooking, especially stove-top cooking, is the leading cause of home fires across the nation? These accidents are preventable and mostly occur because someone is distracted. When you’re cooking, give the task your undivided attention! If you do happen to leave the kitchen for some reason, don’t leave the stove on. Turn off the burner before you leave the room instead!

Give Heaters Some Space – Space heaters are a leading concern in the winter months since sheets and window curtains can come in contact with a unit in use and ignite. Give your space heater some, well, space! Make sure that the unit has 3 feet of clear space all around it in all directions, and keep it away from draperies, bedspreads, furniture, other people, and pets.

Get Your Furnace and Fireplace Inspected – Before the winter arrives, be sure to get your furnace inspected and serviced by a professional. This will not only help prevent fires but will also keep you warm throughout the cold months. Have a fireplace? Make sure to get it serviced and cleaned annually as well.

Check Your Electrical Cords – Cords that are frayed or cracked can pose as a danger to your home. They can easily create sparks, and if those sparks reach flammable surfaces, you could have a fire on your hands. Remember to check all of your electrical cords periodically and replace those that are in good shape.

Install Working Smoke Detectors – This is one of the best defensive moves you can make in protecting yourself and your home from a fire. Put a smoke detector on every level of your home and outside of each bedroom. Remember to test and clean them every year and replace the batteries twice a year.

Be Careful With Candles – Candles are a mainstay in many households across the nation, but they can also be a common source of home fires. If you light a candle, be sure to remain in the room with it and extinguish it whenever you leave the room. You can also consider using battery-operated candles that look and function like a real candle.

Create a Solid Escape Plan – It’s always a smart idea to create, review, and practice an escape plan! Teach the members of your family to stay low to the ground and practice escaping from each room frequently. Additionally, keep a fire extinguisher nearby in an easily accessible location, and teach everyone in the family how to use it.

Be sure to protect your home as well. Home insurance can help protect you, your family, and your valuables in the event of a fire. If you’re in need of more information or a home insurance policy, call the best – Madison Mutual. You can reach us at 1-800-766-MMIC or learn more online at www.madisonmutual.com.

prepare car for fall

8 Smart Tips to Help You Prepare Your Car for Colder Weather

Fall will officially be here on September 22! While there’s plenty of time to enjoy the crisp weather, vibrant colors of the fallen leaves, and pumpkin spice everything, winter will be here before you know it. During this time of the year, it’s especially important to pay close attention to your car and the many parts that make your vehicle function properly so that you can remain safe on the road.

Don’t fall behind on your car maintenance this year! Make sure that your car is ready for the upcoming cold weather by following these 8 car maintenance tips:

Check Your Tire Tread – Pay close attention to the tread on your tires now before winter arrives. Without proper tread depth, your car won’t be able to grip the road properly, which means that you will have a greater potential to hydroplane on wet roads. All you need is a penny! Insert Abe Lincoln’s head into the tread in a couple different spots on each tire. If you can see the entire top of his head, that means that your tread is less than 1/16th of an inch deep, and your tires should be replaced.

Get the Radiator Flushed – Over time, the coolant in your radiator will begin to break down and corrode the inside of the radiator. This can lead to cooling problems and even repairs to the radiator. This fall, remember to change out your coolant in order to protect your radiator throughout the winter.

Replace Torn Wiper Blades – Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to drive in inclement weather only to have your windshield wipers smudge the wintery precipitation across your windshield. If your wiper blades are torn, cracked, or don’t properly clean your windshield, have them replaced! As a good rule of thumb, your blades should be replaced every 6 months. Don’t forget to make sure that your fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir is full, too!

Get Your Belts and Hoses Checked – Before the cold weather settles in, get your vehicle’s belts and hoses serviced. You will want to ensure that the belts are not worn down and that all the fittings are tight and not rusted, and your hoses shouldn’t have any holes in them.

Check Your Headlights – Before you know it, the days will grow even shorter, and you will find yourself driving home from work in the dark. It’s important to take care of your headlights during this time of the year! Take a look to see if you need to replace any headlight bulbs. It’s not only unsafe to drive without a headlight, but you can also get a ticket for doing so!

Check Your HVAC System – You might think you can handle driving without any ventilation, but it’s really unwise to do so. Check your heating, ventilating, and air condition (HVAC) system to see that it is properly functioning. Your heating and cooling is important for not only your personal comfort during the changing seasons, but also for safety reasons such as defrosting your vehicle.

Get Your Brakes Checked – During this time of the year, consider having your brakes and braking system checked. This includes your brake linings, drums, and rotors as well. Your brakes are absolutely paramount to your safety, especially in snow and on ice-covered roads, so make sure that they are in solid working condition before the bad weather comes!

Keep an Eye on Your Battery – Batteries very rarely give off warning signs that they will soon fail, so take a peek to make sure that the battery’s connections are tight, clean, and corrosion-free. Remember, cold weather is especially hard on batteries, so take good care of it now before winter arrives. If your battery is more than three years old, consider replacing it.

Make sure that your car is properly protected with an auto insurance policy from Madison Mutual Insurance Company! Call your agent to get your policy updated or visit us at www.madisonmutual.com to learn more about how we can serve you.

factors that could affect auto insurance

5 Factors That Could Impact Your Auto Insurance Rates

Are you in the hunt for a solid auto insurance policy that will protect you and your car while saving you money? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, your auto insurance rates can vary depending on a few factors. Here are 5 factors that can impact your auto insurance costs:

Your Driving History – Have you been involved in a handful of accidents or fender-benders? Have you been issued a glovebox-full of speeding tickets? If this is the case, you might need to pay higher auto insurance rates. Conversely, if you are a safe driver and have very few incidents of accidents or tickets, you may possibly lower your rates!

Your Deductible and Discounts – Sometimes, a higher deductible can mean a lower premium. If you want to save money, choose the highest deductible that you feel comfortable with. Just keep in mind that you will need to pay the amount of your deductible out-of-pocket in the event of a covered loss. Don’t forget to ask about discounts, too! You might be able to take advantage of discounts such as a safe driver discount or good student discount.

Where You Live – Rates can vary from state to state and even from city to city. If you live in a metropolitan area, which tends to have more traffic, you might pay higher rates. Live in a rural area? You might be able to enjoy lower rates.

Your Vehicle and How Often You Drive It – If you have a longer commute, you might find yourself with more elevated auto insurance rates. That’s because the longer you spend on the road, the higher the chances are that something could happen. Also, if you drive a vehicle that has strong safety ratings, your rates could go down. Conversely, if you have a car that doesn’t have the best safety track record or that has a higher likelihood of being stolen, you could see your rates go up.

Your Age, Marital Status, and Sex – Statistically speaking, married drivers tend to have fewer accidents than single drivers, which can ultimately mean lower premiums for married drivers. Younger drivers tend to pay more for their auto insurance since they are inexperienced; typically, the rates will be lowered a little once a driver turns 25. In addition, female drivers tend to experience fewer accidents, so they might receive lower auto insurance rates than their male counterparts.

Have any questions about these 5 rating factors? Want to get a great auto insurance policy that will cover and protect you and your car? Call Madison Mutual Insurance Company today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

Car buying tips

9 Steps to Help You Find Your Perfect Car

Getting a new car (or a new-to-you car) is an exciting endeavor! Whether you’re in the hunt for a new car for your growing family or if you need a new car after your trusty old clunker has finally bitten the dust, car shopping can be exhilarating but also stressful if you don’t know what you want or how to go about buying the right car for you.

So how do you find a car that you will enjoy driving while suiting your needs for years to come? Just follow our 9 steps below!

Step 1: Assess Your Needs – Sure, you might want to drive that hot red Mustang or that bright green Corvette that you saw on that car commercial the other day, but when it comes to owning a vehicle, it’s best to think practically. Think about your needs now and in the future as well. How many passengers will you be carrying with you? What type of driving will you be doing? Do you have a long commute or need a lot of cargo space? Will you be doing any towing or using children’s car seats? These are all vital questions to answer before you even begin car searching.

Step 2: Set Your Budget – Unless you plan on paying for your car with cash, you’ll have to figure out your budget and find out how much you can set aside for purchasing and paying off your car. Determine how much money you can put toward car payments each month. The general rule is no more than 20% of your monthly take-home pay.

Step 3: Consider Other Cars in the Same Class – You might have your heart and mind set on a particular car, but is it really the best car for you? In today’s ever-changing market, there are always new vehicles coming out; you might not have even considered a type that could be the best for your needs. If you have a car already in mind, search for it to see a list of similar cars in the same class. Whenever you find one that you like, get all the information on pricing, specs, features, and road tests.

Step 4: Consider the Costs of Ownership – It’s easy to look at the initial cost of the car. In fact, you might gravitate toward one car over the other because it is cheaper to buy. Be sure to figure out why that particular vehicle costs less. If two cars cost about the same to purchase, one could depreciate more quickly or could be more costly to insure and maintain.

Step 5: Start Shopping – Back in the day, when you wanted to buy a car, you had to hoof it over to the local dealership to check out their stock. Now, however, you can look at a dealership’s stock online from the comfort of your own couch. This will help you cover more ground more quickly and ultimately save you money.

Step 6: Make an Appointment – After you’ve found the car that seems right for you, it’s time to schedule an appointment with the car dealership in question! Don’t dawdle on making an appointment as cars can be gone as quickly as they are listed. Schedule a day and time that works for you and the dealership for a test drive.

Step 7: Know What to Look for In Your Test Drive – A car might seem to have everything you could ever want and dream about, but you won’t know until you test drive it. Be sure to take the vehicle out on the types of roads that you would drive during your everyday life including stop-and-go traffic and highways. Don’t be afraid to take sharper corners or drive over bumps; you need to get a good feel for the car.

Step 8: Choose Your Car – Perhaps the first car you test drive is the car for you. Maybe you need to test drive several different models and makes of cars before you settle on one. If the choice for your next car isn’t clear, try sleeping on it and deciding in the morning.

Step 9: Bring It Home – Congratulations! You’ve chosen your next new ride! Now you just need to purchase it from the dealership, sign the necessary paperwork, and take your vehicle home with you!

Don’t forget that obtaining a new vehicle means getting an updated auto insurance policy. Stop by our office or call us at 1-800-766-MMIC to get your auto insurance policy updated after you purchase your vehicle! We’ll take care of all the details to ensure that your new car is totally insured.

greatriverroadwi

7 Epic Road Trips for the True Adventurer

Are you tired of the same old routine? Want to just hop in your car and drive somewhere different to get away from the stresses of every day life? If you’ve answered “yes” to these questions, then we have the solution for you!

Summertime is all about vacations, relaxing, and discovering new things. Road trips are the perfect way to get away from your everyday life and experience new sights. We’ve compiled a list of 7 epic road trips that every true adventurer should take sometime. Check them out below!

The Great River Road – If Huck Finn had a driver’s license, what would he do? We’re positive he would take a road trip down the Great River Road! This scenic byway hugs the Mississippi from its headwaters in northern Minnesota all the way to its mouth in Louisiana. You’ll see farms, upland meadows, cypress swamps, thick forests, gorgeous bluffs and limestone cliffs, and dozens of parks along the way. Make some memories along the way at close-by attractions such as the Potosi Brewing Company in Wisconsin, the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois, the Mark Twain Museum in Missouri, and other historic sites.

US-50: The Loneliest Road – Dubbed “the loneliest road” by travel writers and tourist boards alike, US-50 extends from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California, stretching 3,200 miles. The road cuts through a dozen states, 4 state capitals, and Washington D.C., and it includes some of the country’s most gorgeous landscapes including the Sierra Nevada, the Appalachians and the Rockies, the Great Plains, and the deserts of Utah and Nevada. Follow the footsteps of the pioneers on this long stretch of road for a different sort of adventure!

Route 66 – You’ve heard the song. You’ve memorized the lyrics. You know that Route 66 extends from Chicago to L.A. Why not give “The Mother Road” a try on your next road trip? Extending over 2,000 miles, Route 66 passes through the golden sands of L.A., the majesty of the Grand Canyon, Native American communities of the desert southwest, and the busy cities of St. Louis and Chicago. Cure your nostalgia for the good ol’ days with this road trip!

Pacific Coastline – Want to see the Pacific in all its beauty? Give the Pacific Coastline road trip a whirl! Start in San Diego, California and head north – you’ll be within sight of the ocean almost all of the way from the Mexican border to Canada! This mostly two-lane road stretches for 1,500 miles and takes you through everything from temperate rainforests to near-deserts, beaches, and redwood forests. Stop in Seattle for a fun time in the city or go a little farther north into Vancouver in Canada to do some killer whale watching!

Atlantic Coastline – Is the Atlantic side of the states more of your style? Then head on over to New York City near the Statue of Liberty to get started on your eastern journey! Altering between wildly different beach resort areas, stretches of gorgeous coastal wilderness, and quirky seaside towns and villages, this route will take you all the way down to Key West, Florida for some fabulous R&R. This is the route you’ll definitely want to take if you’re interested in photogenic lighthouses, beaches, great food, and lots of history.

Canada to Mexico – Are coastlines too clichéd for you? Try the border-to-border road trip! You can drive anywhere from the very northern reaches of the United States to as far south as you can go in the states, but if we were to suggest one route to take, it would have to be US-93. Beginning in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies, US-93 takes you through some of the most rugged lands imaginable from stunning mountains and glaciated valleys to rivers, two starkly different deserts, Las Vegas, and nearly untouched wilderness. From Canada and Montana all the way to Arizona, you’ll experience some of the most diverse and unique sights you can come across in the nation! Just make sure you have a reliable automobile for the southern portion for those challenging deserts!

The Great North – If you’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path, then this is the road trip for you! US-2 is the road you will want to take to get you from Seattle, Washington all the way to Acadia National Park in Maine. This road cuts through a variety of landscape, filled with some of the most unforgettable and gorgeous scenery you will ever encounter. You’ll be treated to the Cascade Range in Washington, the beauty of the Idaho panhandle, the majesty of Glacier National Park in Montana, windswept prairies across the northern Great Plains, the Great North Woods country of Minnesota, the rugged and nearly untouched beauty of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the beautiful mountains of New England. Your final destination – Bar Harbor, Maine and Acadia National Park, are stunning in themselves, especially in the fall. You’ll truly “get away from it all” on this road trip!

We challenge you to try at least one of these road trips in part or in whole this summer. Let us know how you enjoyed your road trip on our Facebook page or in the comment section below this post. Before you hit the road, though, be sure to make a travel checklist and abide by it. Come visit us as well to make sure that your insurance is up-to-date. Happy trails!

Caprese salad

3 Sweet Spring Recipes to Pair With Your Farmer’s Market Finds!

It may not feel like springtime yet, but pretty soon everyone will be attending the local farmer’s market, throwing backyard BBQ parties, and breaking out the baseball gloves for an impromptu game of catch.

What goes better with BBQ and warmer weather than enjoying some tasty fresh fruits and vegetables? Here are some delectable dishes to make the most of your farmer’s market finds this spring:

For starters, a fresh light salad:

Chopped Caprese Salad

Ingredients

  • 16 oz tomatoes, chopped (Any kind will do. We use grape tomatoes, quartered)
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. In a large salad bowl, toss the chopped tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, and basil until combined.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil vinegar and garlic with a fork. Pour over top of the tomato and mozzarella mixture.
  3. Season generously with salt and fresh pepper, then toss until the entire mixture is evenly coated.
  4. Serve immediately, or store covered with a damp paper towel in the refrigerator until ready to serve, no more than a few hours.

A savory side:

Grilled Mexican Corn

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ears corn
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup crema Mexicana
  • 6 lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Prepare grill.
  2. Combine first 3 ingredients.
  3. Place corn on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook 12 minutes or until corn is lightly browned, turning frequently. Place corn on a platter; drizzle with crema. Sprinkle with chipotle mixture. Garnish with lime wedges.

 

Now for a sweet ending to a delicious meal!

Grilled Peach Crisp Recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 medium peaches, halved and pitted

4 cups reduced-fat vanilla ice cream

1 cup reduced-fat granola

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over cut sides of peaches. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Using long-handled tons, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Place peaches cut side down on grill rack. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until peaches are tender and begin to caramelize.
  3. Place peaches in dessert bowls. Serve with ice cream and granola. Yield: 8 servings.

 

These recipes are sure to make your next cookout the talk of the neighborhood! The recipe for peace of mind is knowing that your property is protected by Madison Mutual. Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC, visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com, or feel free to stop by our office!

final-walkthrough

Make Your Final Walkthrough Before Closing a Success With These 10 Tips!

The day has finally come. You’ve found your dream home, made the offer, and have had it accepted by the seller! You’ve had the home inspected by a professional, and your loan is finalized. Now you just can’t wait to move in and make it yours!

We don’t mean to rain on your parade, but you’re not finished quite yet! You have one more big step to take before making the house unequivocally and officially yours – you have to do the final walkthrough!

A walkthrough is more than just simply walking through the house and making sure the seller took all of his or her stuff with them. If done incorrectly, you could find yourself living less than happily ever after in your dream home. But have no fear! Just read the following 10 tips to help you have a successful walkthrough before closing happens!

Come Prepared – When you come to the final walkthrough, you should make sure that you have your contract with you – you might need to refer to it while you’re there! You should also take a checklist of all the things you need to test and check during the walkthrough to ensure that everything is functioning properly.

Ask Your Agent to Come, Too – It’s always a good idea to have an additional set of eyes and knowledge with you to help pick up on things you might accidentally pass up. Ask your agent to accompany you; they’ll help ground you if any issues happen to arise in the home.

Test, Test, Test – Take the time to do some testing in the house. Turn on all the lights and faucets and check for leaks under each sink. Flush all toilets, check that the appliances that you purchased are all there and working properly, and run the dishwasher. Don’t forget to turn on the ceiling fans, ring the doorbell, and make sure that the hot water heater works! The goal is to make sure that everything works.

Check Doors and Windows – With each and every door and window you come across in your soon-to-be home, check that they work. Open and close each door and window. Are they functioning properly? Are the screens on each window in place? Is anything major out of place? These are issues that should be taken care of before the home becomes yours.

Test the Heating and Cooling – Whether it’s the during the heat of summer, the dead of winter, or sometime in between, you should take the time to test both the heating and air conditioning in the home. A few minutes of possible discomfort can save you from days, weeks, or even months of misery.

Do Some Spot-Checking – While you walk through the home, keep your eyes peeled to the ceilings, floors, and walls for any signs of mold or mildew, especially if the property has been vacant for a while. While you’re looking for mold and mildew, check to see that the movers didn’t leave any damage as well.

Confirm Repairs Were Made – Your seller might have promised some repairs to be made to the home before you purchased it. When you’re going on the walkthrough, make sure that all the repairs that were outlined in the sales agreement have been completed. Also, make sure that the seller provided you with warranties for any work that was done to the home as well as manuals for all the appliances that they leave.

Check For Trash and Debris – Sellers are required to leave the home as clean as they can and to make sure that they take their personal belongings with them. Check around the home, including the closets and storage areas, to see if any debris, trash, or belongings were left behind.

Go Outside – Don’t forget about the house’s exterior! Go outside to see if there have been any changes in the landscaping of if any damage has occurred, especially if there has been a strong storm since your last visit.

Get the Keys – If everything checks out, be sure to get all the keys to the home and the garage door opener. If you happen to be buying a condo, you’ll need the keys to your mailbox, storage space, and the common areas, too.

If there happen to be any issues to resolve after you’ve completed the walkthrough, you may need to delay the closing date until everything is amended and complete. If the date can’t be moved, work out the issues during the closing and have the seller compensate you for any costs.

When you purchase a new home, you’ll want to be sure to tell your insurance agent all about it so he or she can update your policy and make sure that you’re being covered properly. Call us at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to let us know about it! Don’t have home insurance? We can do that! Call us to see how we can protect you and what matters most in your life!

Impossible is Possible

14 Easy Ways to Stay Motivated to Keep Your Resolutions in 2014

Whether you chose to hit the gym more often, cut back on the sweets and red meats, or spend less time on the web and more time with your family, embracing the new patterns needed to make our resolutions a reality can be quite challenging. Shaking old habits is not the easiest thing to undertake, but a great deal of dedication and motivation can help you change your old ways in no time.

Read below to check out our 14 ways you can keep yourself motivated throughout 2014!

Make a Vision Board – Want to know the easiest way to help you stay motivated? Create a vision board so you can see your goals every day – literally! Grab a few old magazines and cut out your favorite photos, quotes, and anything else you’d like to include on your board. Anything that would embody your mission counts! Feel free to get as creative as you want as this is your personal project, and be sure to place it in a place you’ll see every day such as your bedroom or beside your bathroom mirror to keep your resolutions fresh in your mind year-round.

Team Up With a Friend – If a friend or family member is striving for a similar goal this year, you have the option of double-teaming on those goals together and giving each other added support. It’s easier to reach for the goal when you have someone to confide in and to help dissuade you from inevitable temptation. So call up your best friend or grab a relative to make a pact to dominate 2014 together!

Write About It – Keeping a daily journal is another way you can keep yourself motivated throughout the year. Use the journal to recap your accomplishments, track your progress, express your emotions and struggles, and focus on areas you’d want to improve. There’s no specific time you need to write in your journal. You can opt to do it over breakfast, mid-day, before you go to bed, or any other time! The point is that you just keep doing it.

Hold Yourself Accountable – Did you know that it takes 21 days to change your thoughts and develop a new habit? Those first 3 weeks might be the toughest part of your goal, but they are incredibly crucial. In that time frame, you must not let anything slide or become lazy with your goals, so make yourself accountable. Tell your best friend what you’re up to. Put a goal list on your fridge for everyone in your family to see. Shout it out loud on your Facebook page. Do whatever you need to hold yourself accountable and form new, positive habits!

Cheat a Bit – As much as you might not want to admit it, it’s unrealistic to shoot to go cold turkey and all of a sudden eat more healthily every single day or cut off social media all the time. The void will only make you want what you banished even more. Instead, give yourself a designated cheat day! Allow yourself a sweet treat once a week or a quick visit to the Facebook once in a while. You’ll feel a lot more at peace if you permit yourself to have just a little instead of not at all.

Work Your Willpower – Willpower isn’t just a steady, steely resolve fro you to accomplish what you set your sights to – it’s more like a muscle. Like muscles, the more you exercise your willpower, the stronger it gets and the easier it is to say no pretty quickly. But don’t expect to have a great amount of willpower overnight. As a muscle, pushing too hard or under conditions that are too challenging, and your resolve will collapse. Pick your battles wisely!

Have Some OJ – When you show a lot of self-restraint (like stifling your desire to disagree in a politically charged conversation, for example), you can reduce blood glucose levels to less-than-optimal. Luckily, a glass of orange juice or even fresh lemonade can help replenish your blood glucose levels! The brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for energy, so make sure it’s the real thing and not artificially sweetened drinks!

Take One Step at a Time – Taking on too much can diminish your willpower pretty quickly, especially since the changes you’re more than likely aiming to make are actually behavior changes. Take everything one step at a time and make changes slowly. You will soon be accustomed to the new changes and will be much more apt to hold onto your new, healthier habits!

Outsmart Your Rebel Side – Who likes to follow super-strict rules? No one! If you make 100% resolutions such as never having sweets again or never using your credit card ever, your rebel side will find a way to get around your rules. Instead, try using more limited restrictions such as “I’ll have sweets only once a week” so that you won’t feel depraved.

Break It Up – It might be hard to believe, but specific resolutions like losing 10 pounds might be harder to keep. Instead, make looser resolutions and break up your goals into smaller, more attainable chunks. For instance, turn your resolution into losing 10 pounds into aiming to get to the gym to work out at least 3 times this week or taking the stairs at work more often and bringing a healthy lunch with you every day. You’ll feel good when you accomplish each goal, and your success will help bolster your resolve.

Stay Positive – Whenever you feel discouraged or miss a few goals, remind yourself how much you’ve accomplished already or in the past. Resist the urge to beat yourself up over not losing weight or skipping out on your workout for the day – it will only make matters worse. Write down a few things you’re proud of, even if it’s making yourself get out of bed when you don’t want to, and remind yourself of how much willpower you really do have!

Use Your Senses – Our cravings are highly susceptible to visual cues (Don’t you get hungrier after seeing a fast food commercial?!). Draw on the strength of images by putting photos of a thinner you on the fridge or a picture of the place you’re saving up to visit in your wallet by your credit cards. These visual cues will remind you what you are striving for and will help you exercise your willpower even more.

Dodge Temptation Like a Pro – It’s important to know when your resistance is tapped out. Stress, fatigue, and hunger can wear down your resolve quickly. Whenever you feel tempted to eat a few cupcakes or spend a little more money spontaneously, get away from whatever is tempting you until you’ve eaten and rested. This strategy should give you the willpower to stick to your goals.

Enjoy the Journey – Setting resolutions each year and working hard to achieve them can be tough work. Remember to have fun with the process, even if you fall short or lose sight of your goals for a bit. After all, every day is a new chance to give your resolutions another try!

Is one of your resolutions to protect yourself, your family, and your home and car better throughout 2014 and beyond? We can help! Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC, visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com, or stop by our office to see how we can help you reach that goal in no time!