Activities for the Family to Keep Everyone Fit

You may enjoy watching your son or daughter from the bleachers, but it is doing nothing to improve your heart health, reduce your cholesterol or help you lose weight. It may be fun watching a football game on TV together but that is not helping you build muscle or trim down.

Here are some activities the whole family can do to stay active, maintain fitness and build memories.

Bicycling

Bicycling around the neighborhood can be fun but heading out to a bike trail or paved “rails to trails route” can turn into an hours long adventure. Pack some beverages and snacks and preplan your route on a designated path. They are safer than biking on the road are a nice way to get some needed exercise while enjoying the outdoors.

Canoeing and Kayaking

If you have lakes or rivers nearby, explore the opportunities for canoeing or kayaking. Canoeing, in particular, will help build balance and core strength while, of course, exercising arms, shoulders and upper backs. Bring along a cooler and sandwiches and make an afternoon of it. Don’t forget the suntan lotion and bug spray.

Hiking

You don’t necessarily need mountains or even hills to go hiking. Many state parks have hiking trails where you can get some exercise while enjoying Mother Nature. Maybe you can begin to appreciate bird watching or keeping an eye our for squirrels, chipmunks or deer.

Jogging
A marathon doesn’t have to be in your future to enjoy jogging. You may enjoy it enough to join in on a community 3k or 5k as a family. It is a terrific way to get the family involved in a charitable or civic event while investing in your physical health and well-being.

Swimming

If you have a community pool or YMCA, you may have access to swimming as a family activity. Swimming is low impact but a great way to exercise most parts of the body. It may also present a way to teach younger family members potentially life-saving skills they’ll have for a lifetime.
Enjoying life, happiness and heath is something to be appreciated and protected. In the scheme of things, life insurance is such an easy and affordable task to accomplish, every family should have it. We would be honored to help you secure your family’s future. Contact us today for a no obligation life insurance review and quote.

Pre-Planning Doesn’t Require Pre-Paying

One of the big misperceptions about pre-planning for your own final services is that you have to have the financial resources to pay for your funeral upfront. There may be tax benefits in doing so and a funeral home may even “lock-in” your price when paying upfront, there are other options.

Many funeral directors have payment plans or allow you to pay what you can when you can in pre-paying. An even simpler and straight forward way to cover the costs of your pre-planned funeral is through a life insurance policy.

You can start the pre-planning process on your own or with the help of a funeral director. The assistance of a funeral director is beneficial in that it can help you determine more accurately the pricing of services or a “Celebration of Life”. Most begin by deciding whether they would prefer a traditional burial or cremation. Pre-planning may include choosing an urn or casket, selecting a burial plot or choosing a favored place to have ashes buried or dispersed. Pre-planning gives you the option of picking the music you want played, who you would like to give a eulogy and even what you would wear. It actually can be rewarding and bring you peace of mind. It also will take some of the emotional burden from your family.

You’ll want to make sure you have enough life insurance to cover everything involved in your final expenses, relieving additional stress from loved ones. Place your wishes along with your life insurance policy in a safe place with the contact number of the funeral home who may have helped you.

Pre-planning can also be as simple as letting those you care about (in writing) that you wish to be cremated and have a simple ceremony. But even simple ceremonies can reach into the thousands of dollars. Adequate life insurance is a critical part of the equation.

Even if you already have a larger life insurance policy, a policy designated for your final arrangements can be very helpful, and thoughtful. Give it some thought.

If you have questions or would like a quote to see how just affordable life insurance can be, contact us. Our experienced independent agents can help find a life insurance program to fit your needs and budget.

How to Encourage Kids to Have Healthier Eating Habits

Teaching children healthy eating habits has been a struggle for parents for generations. Steering kids toward healthier food choices can often lead to parents giving up, giving in or trying to create a whirlwind of rewards and punishments revolving around food.

It is likely you were either a member of or promoter of the “clean plate club”. Perhaps you were told or told your children about starving children in other countries. You may have even declared there would be no snacks or desert without eating compliance.

Isn’t it interesting that through all this, many of us don’t choose to eat healthier until we are adults?

You may even know people, just like you, who even today love or hate pasta, appreciate a rare steak or love or won’t try sushi. That doesn’t mean we can’t at least encourage our children to eat healthier.

Here are some things to keep in mind.

Some choices are Better Than Others

Eating isn’t necessarily black or white nor right or wrong. That being said, most would agree a fresh cup of fruit is healthier than a pre-packaged pudding cup or chocolate candy bar. Just try to make better choices for your child.

Keep Your Home Stocked with Better Choices.

If all you have in your pantry are sugar-coated cookies, pop and gummy bears, that doesn’t leave a lot of options. Make sure you have bananas, strawberries, peaches and grapes on hand. Even microwave popcorn may be a better choice than a peanut butter cup.

Teach Kids Food is Fuel

Who doesn’t want to be a superhero? Teaching kids that what they eat fuels their bodies can help them build that connection between feeling good and feeling bad. Food provides good energy and helps them develop their superpowers.

Grow Some Fruits and Vegetables

Growing edible plants can help children learn patience, the power of nurturing and how food is grown. Green peppers, tomatoes or green beans may never become their favorites, but it will be a terrific learning experience.

Cook with Them

Children are more likely to at least try something they had a hand in making. This can be everything from vegetable soup to a healthier pizza. Get them involved and to understand that foods are a magical blend of flavors and ingredients. They are helping to create something. They can then decide if they like it. If they don’t, talk about what might make the recipe more appealing the next time.

You can encourage better eating habits in children through availability and example. Make better choices for you and you may find your child following along. If not, you can head them in the right direction for later in life.

Healthier eating is all about doing the right thing. That is also the case with life insurance. It is not difficult. Should something happen to you, your children will be better off if you had life insurance. This is pretty black and white, but the decision is yours. Contact us for a no obligation quote to see how affordable life insurance can be.

The Rising Popularity of “Celebrations of Life”

The versatility and uses of the proceeds of life insurance have changed through the years. Once, just a basic way to help assure burial expenses would be covered, life insurance today helps protect income, mortgages and even college expenses. It, of course, is still used to cover final and burial expenses as well. But even those have changed through the years.

Today, cremations have exceeded traditional burials, and “Celebrations of Life” are becoming increasingly popular to recognize the deceased.

Rather than a somber, dark traditional final service, celebrations of life are a way to appreciate the life, accomplishments and loves of the departed in a more light, celebratory way.

Celebrations of life will often include contemporary music, some of which may have even seemed inappropriate just decades ago. They will frequently include touching, and even humorous slide shows and video presentations. These images may include slightly awkward or embarrassing images of the deceased with family and friends. These celebrations will usually include some form of recognition for a beloved hobby or sports team.

Eulogies will often be seasoned with funny and heartwarming stories and memories, resulting in both laughter and tears from those in attendance. Most of all, the atmosphere is generally lighted throughout a celebration of life than a traditional final service.

What doesn’t change with a celebration of life is the expense. There will still be final expenses, perhaps even including expensive medical costs. There will be the costs of the funeral director and the services they provide.

Funerals may change through the years, but life insurance will continue to play a critical role for those left behind. It can not only cover bills owed by the insured, but is a ready source of cash while an estate goes through probate. This can be a remarkable, caring gift to a loved one left behind.

If you aren’t sure of the amount of life insurance you have, or are unsure it is sufficient, contact us. As independent agents, we can review policies issued by any company. Our team of independent insurance professionals work with multiple companies in getting the best value for your budget.

Whether you are pre-planning for a traditional final service and burial, cremation or celebration of life, there will be expenses. Make sure you are properly covered by contacting us today.

Seven Good Reasons to Take Up Biking

Most of us learn to ride a bicycle at an early age. They say you never forget how to ride a bike, but if you haven’t ridden in decades, your reintroduction to the activity can be a bit wobbly. Before you know it, however, you’ll be riding like a 12-year-old again.

There are lots of good reasons to climb aboard a bicycle. Here are seven of them.

  1. It’s a Low Impact Way to Get in Better Shape

Bicycling is much less stressful on the knees, feet and ankles than running or jogging, while still providing many of their benefits. Those in their 40s, 50s and 60s may find biking an easy, pain-free experience.

  1. It is Affordable

While serious bikers may spend $1,000-$1,5000 or more on a bicycle, for most recreational bikers, a good quality bicycle can be purchased for under $500. Choosing the right bike is important, however, so make sure you understand the differences between a mountain bike, road bike, hybrid and others that are available. It is also critical you get a bike that is appropriate for your height.

  1. It’s a Terrific Family Activity or to Enjoy Alone

You can enjoy cycling with a group of friends and family or head out on the road alone. Many find a leisurely bike ride as rejuvenating as time meditating. Family members of all ages can enjoy the activity (especially on designated paved bike trails) and even bike trailers are available to bring the little ones along.

  1. It Can Be Enjoyed in a Variety of Ways

Odds are there could be off-road trails near your community for mountain and off-road bikes and there may be paved “rails to trails” bike paths that prohibit powered vehicles. Serious road course bikers will use the side of the roads. Many communities have become increasingly bike friendly, encouraging in-city bike use.

  1. It is Eco-Friendly Transportation

Almost one million Americans bikes to work every day. Sadly, that is barely one half of one percent of all workers. Cycling, however, is a very affordable form of transportation and can greatly reduce your carbon footprint, even when just riding bikes for errands.

  1. It Reduces Traffic

Just about every bike reduces a car on the roadways. Even modern, planned communities are including bike paths and accounting for more bikers in their plans. As more people work from home and see biking as an alternative to driving, traffic may continue to lessen.

  1. The Number of Paved Trails is Increasing

Various states have embraced bicycling on a variety of levels. Some have long term plans to be able to bicycle across their entire state. Some paved trails already stretch for hundreds of miles allowing for day and days long biking adventures. Millions have been spent building new trails and bike and walking bridges across dangerous roadways.

Before you decide bicycling is not for you, borrow or rent a bike and find a paved trail near you. You may just rediscover this healthful, enjoyable activity.

Is your family adequately protected with life insurance? Life insurance, like biking, can play an important role in your life at all ages. Contact one of our independent agents and get a quote today. You may be surprised at just how affordable life insurance can be!

The Most Compelling Reason to Get Life Insurance

If you don’t currently have life insurance, or have little protection, you may not see the need to or urgency in acquiring coverage. There are, however, plenty of good reasons to build a life insurance program as part of your overall financial plan.

They include the basics like paying for final funeral expenses, but the reasons and purposes of life insurance are more far reaching.

Life insurance can provide relatively quick access to cash following a death. This can be a blessing in troubled times when everything seems to be in jeopardy. Life insurance can also be used to retire debts, including medical expenses. Privately funded student loans that a parent co-signed for can be eliminated with life insurance proceeds. They can also be used to pay off a mortgage and provide funding for your families lifestyle into the future. Life insurance can cover the cost of a child’s college education that may be in jeopardy following the death of a parent. But what is the most compelling reason to get life insurance? It just may be peace of mind.

The peace of mind knowing that any debts you leave behind will be taken care of without issue. That funds will be available to your family without confusing or detailed paperwork. That none left behind will be held responsible for any debts even if they co-signed for you. You can have peace of mind knowing you gave the final, ultimate gift. That although your family will miss you, they will struggle less financially because of your decision to secure life insurance.

Yes, there are dozens of reasons to apply for life insurance. The most important and compelling, however, may just be your peace of mind.

Getting started is not difficult, and in fact, may be more affordable than you imagine. Depending on your individual application, a physical may not even be required. It starts with a call to one of our independent life insurance agents. They will talk with you about your current life situation and products that can provide the best protection. They can go and search, contacting multiple companies requesting rate quotes. They will quickly get back to you explaining your options. You decide.

We are confident you will find peace of mind affordable, at least when it comes to life insurance. Connect with us and let’s get started today.

Staying Healthier: A Home Gym in the Space of a Closet

If your excuse for not exercising is you live in an apartment or have a small living space, sorry, but that is just not good enough. You don’t need a large treadmill or exercise cycle to get and stay fit. In fact, there are steps you can take to build a home gym that can fit in the space of a closet! Here’s what you can do.

Build a collection of smaller free-weights. You don’t need an extensive set of barbells and free weights to get in shape and build muscle. Repetitive exercises with smaller free weights can work well. Hand-held weights can be purchased from one to ten pounds or more and are excellent for tightening arms and chest muscles. Even bleach or other bottles can be filled with water for the budget minded.

Buy a Jump Rope. A jump rope takes up no space and can be a powerful tool for a healthier you, especially when it comes to aerobics. The key is a quality, weighted rope that will be easy to use. Of course, if you live on a second floor, you may want to exercise outside.

Look into Stretchable Devices. There are a myriad of stretchable tools that can be used to tone up arms and legs. These devices can either be used as freestanding devices or attached to doors or doorknobs to create a valuable fitness experience.

Velcro Weights. Space efficient velcro-style weights that can be wrapped around wrists and ankles can add a layer of difficulty to walking and running. Weights can be increased as strength builds.

Exercise Ball. Exercise balls are terrific for stretching and keeping the body limber and in shape. These are large air-filled balls capable of holding the body’s weight and can as fun to use as they are effective.

Exercise mats. Exercise mats will help you facilitate more comfortable leg lifts, push-ups and sit-ups. Many times, just bringing out an exercise mat can serve as the impetus to encourage you.

Staying in shape helps your physical appearance, health, attitude and energy level. Lack of space should not be an excuse. Buy efficient tools that can fit into a closet and make sure to use them to be a better you!

If you are young and in good shape, now is the best time to buy life insurance. It will never be more more cost effective. Contact one of our independent insurance agents to get coverage you can afford. We will be glad to assist you.

Life Insurance For All Phases of Life

We generally think life insurance is for those who have major financial responsibility or to cover final expenses. Today’s life insurance products are designed, however, for every phase of life. Here’s a quick look at how life insurance can play a part no matter the age of the insured.

Babies. Babies are usually born healthy and life insurance rates are extremely inexpensive. This makes life insurance appealing to protect against the unthinkable. It also is the best time to buy whole life insurance that can build value as the child ages.

Children. How many toys does a child need? Life insurance can be a much more practical gift that will build in value for a first car or college. It is a great choice for parents or grandparents to buy.

College Age. As students begin to explore life on their own and secure debts, life insurance is increasingly important. Buying insurance when young and healthy also assures future availability of protect and the insured enters the next phases of life.

Young Singles and Marrieds. Young single people and young marrieds generally have plenty of debts including credit cards, car payments and student loans to consider. Life insurance can help ensure those left behind will not be held responsible.

Young Parents and Homeowners. Having children and buying a home adds a whole new layer of responsibility. Life insurance can help cover mortgage payments, living expenses and even provide for future college expenses. Term insurance can be an affordable way to get the protection one needs during this critical period.

Empty Nesters. Even empty nesters should have their life insurance reviewed. The need for coverage may be less, but thoughts may turn to leaving a legacy for children and grandchildren.

Seniors. This is when final expenses and remaining debts should be accounted for. Insurance can be expensive during this period, which is why one should secure life insurance when young.

No matter what stage of life you are in, life insurance should play a role and it can be surprisingly affordable, especially when purchased young. Contact one of our independent life insurance pros to get a quote today. Protect your family and get the peace of mind you deserve. Move forward with your life insurance program today!

What Happens to Your Debts After You Die?

It is probably not surprising that we have had people tell us that “I don’t need life insurance because I’ll be dead anyway.” It may be a bit of a cynical way to look at what happens at the end of life.

The fact is, however, that death does not eliminate debts. Many debts are left behind for loved ones to address. There is some truth to the expression “The only thing certain in life in death and taxes.” Here’s a closer look at how debts are handled upon a death.

Generally speaking, any remaining debts the deceased may owe are paid from the estate of the person who died. This means that far from “disappearing”, debts are still paid once the estate of the deceased has been established. This means that any debts will reduce any amount that would otherwise be left to loved ones.

Now, here is the important part. While no one other than the deceased is responsible for their debts, there are some exceptions.

  • If there are any loans that were co-signed by anyone other than the deceased, that debt is transferred to the co-signer. In some cases, this may come to a surprise to the co-signer who may have forgotten they guaranteed the debt.
  • If there is a joint account holder on credit card accounts, the surviving person will be responsible for the debt. This is different than an “authorized user” of a credit card account who is not usually accountable.
  • State law may require surviving spouses to pay debts of a deceased, especially as they relate to jointly owned property.

While it is common for government issued student loans to be forgiven upon a person’s death, those who have co-signed for private student loans may still be held responsible. This means, if you die with private student loans that someone has co-signed for, that loan will become the responsibility of co-signer. That would be unfortunate for someone who was trying to help you build your future.

As far as personal income taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says “In general, the final individual income tax return of a deceased is prepared and filed in the same manner as when they were alive. All income up to the date of death must be reported and all credits and deductions to which the deceased is entitled may be claimed.”

The point is, debts do not simply go away upon your death. Others will be responsible for accounting for them and fines may come from your estate to pay for them. It is not just as simple as stating. “I’ll be dead anyway.”

Make sure you are covered by securing at least a minimal amount of life insurance. We can help you get coverage that may be surprisingly affordable. Contact one of our independent agents to get started today.

Five Events That Should Trigger a Call to Your Life Insurance Agent

Do you have life insurance? If you do, odds are you simply make your payments and don’t give it much thought. This is particularly likely even when you make payments by auto-pay. Oh, you may get a newsletter once in a while or a Christmas card, but for the most part, life insurance is low maintenance. There are times, however, when contacting your life insurance agent can be important. Beyond the death of an insured, here are five life events that should trigger a call to your life insurance agent.

Marriage

There are several reasons to contact your life insurance when getting married. The first, of course, would be if a name change is involved for the insured. Marrieds may also want to change beneficiaries from a parent to their new spouse. Marriage can mean an increase in responsibilities, especially if children are involved. New marrieds may be able to benefit from a life insurance review to determine if current coverage is sufficient. Our independent insurance agents can help you choose affordable options.

The Birth of a Child

The birth of a child immediately creates more responsibility for parents that will last for decades. Life insurance can provide for childcare should there be a parental death. It could pay for college in the absence of a parent. A life insurance policy on a child is not only extremely affordable but may build cash value that the child may use later in life. Contact one of our agents to learn more about your options.

A Major Purchase

Another good opportunity to discuss your life insurance coverage is when you make a major purchase like an investment property, home or a business. Life insurance can minimize your risks and help assure your family is not left with more debt than they can handle in the event of death.

There Is a Change in a Beneficiary

There can be multiple reasons beneficiaries may change. It may be due to a divorce, marriage, a death or even a change of heart. It can be easy to overlook contacting your life insurance agent when this happens but it is critical. Changing a beneficiary is a relatively simple, but vital process.

When It Has Been Years Since You’ve Talked to a Life Insurance Agent

If it has been years since you’ve talked to a life insurance agent, contact one of our independent insurance agents for a no-obligation review. If you decide, you can benefit from an increase in coverage, we can shop multiple companies to find options. If you or someone you know has recently experienced a life change, contact an independent insurance agent soon. We look forward to assisting you.