Smart Ways You Can Invest Your Income Tax Refund

It’s that time of year again, when some of us can look forward to a very welcome tax rebate, and start thinking of ways to spend it! Even though you might already have picked out several things you want to spend your money on, it’s important to remember that this isn’t simply bonus money, but money that’s already yours and is now being given back to you.

With this in mind, it’s best not to get too carried away with spur-of-the-moment purchases. This is your money: so give it a purpose, and start thinking about how to spend it wisely. Below, we’ve detailed just a few practical ways you can look after your money, and do something long-lasting with your tax rebate this year.

Increase Your Emergency Fund

We should all have a little extra cash put aside, ready for those unexpected disasters we sometimes encounter in life. Whether you’re only just starting your emergency fund, or adding to an existing account, be aware that ideally you should have 6 – 8 months’ worth of savings in an easily accessible, interest-bearing account. Instead of taking a little bit out of every pay check and adding to it that way, your tax rebate can be a lucrative addition to your rainy-days account.

Pay Off High-Interest Debt

After setting up an emergency fund, the next most sensible plan you should have in place is to get rid of any high-interest debt that’s hanging over your head. Make your refund work for you, by paying off payday loans, putting in place a debt elimination programme, and taking the edge off car loans or any credit card debt. Your future self will thank you!

Donate to Charity

When you’re keeping an eye on your savings, it can be easy to forget to give something back to your community. But with the unexpected windfall of your tax rebate, you could make a real difference to the area you live in by donating a portion of it to a cause close to your heart. And it’s a financially savvy expenditure as well, because you’ll be able to claim your donation as a future tax deduction, too!

Insure Your Home and Family

Insurance might be low down your priority list at most times of the year, but with the return of your tax, you could increase the insurance protection for your home and family for another year, giving you future peace of mind! What could be better?

Spend it On Something You Want

Finally, you can of course spend it on something you want. Treat your family to a much-needed vacation, make those home improvements you’ve been putting off, or simply take the pressure off budgeting for another month. No matter what you do, just try not to get too carried away, and make sure you’re making the smart choice, for you and your loved ones.

What do you plan on doing with your refund this year?

How You Can Spring Clean Your Insurance

It might feel like winter is never-ending, but over the next few weeks we’ll start to feel the fresh spring air roll into our neighborhoods, towns, and cities, and as nature blooms into view again, we all know that it’s about time for bit of Spring cleaning. But as you tip out winter blankets and scrub beneath ornaments, remember that the start of the new year is also the perfect time to give your insurance policies a spring renewal.

Check up on your car insurance

Once we’ve chosen our car insurance it’s rare that we’ll try and change it, but having an annual review of your policy, rates, and premiums may very well get you a better deal. You may be entitled to discounts for membership to professional associations you weren’t a member of before, for example.

And if you have an older car as well, sticking with comprehensive insurance might not be the best option for you, because if your car is damaged in a major accident, the cost of the repairs might be greater than the car’s value. There are a number of other options that are worth looking into if that is the case, so it’s always best not to delay.

Brush up on your homeowner’s policy

As your home and family grows and changes, your homeowner’s policy should as well. The first thing you need to make sure of is that your premiums are still competitive, and that the policy still fits your needs if it is. If you’ve made renovations to your home, for example, you might be underinsured, and if you’ve invested in expensive jewellery or electronics, you might also need to add a rider to your policy to make sure they’re covered in the event of theft or damage.

As it’s spring and your house will undoubtedly look shiny and clean, it’s the perfect time to update your home inventory, and take pictures of the new possessions covered under your policy as well.

Review your life insurance

In particular, the start of the new year is the perfect time to review the beneficiaries of your life insurance policy. It’s important to remember that no matter how much your life may have moved on, any life insurance you’ve taken out will pass onto whichever beneficiary the insurance company has on file – whether that’s an ex-spouse, or someone else you’re no longer in contact with!

So no matter what you find in the cellar or loft this spring, make sure you’re fully up-to-date with your insurance policies, and can face the new year head-on, and prepared for whatever it may bring. If you’re not sure where to start, contact Brandt Insurance, and we’ll make sure we’re here to support you and your family, no matter the season!

Protect Yourself This New Year

2016 has come to an end, and as we look forward to the start of a bright and exciting New Year, many of us will attempt to make changes in our lives. This past year has been a historical one, but while many of us have been thinking about politics, it’s easy to neglect the little things we want to change – both for ourselves and the people around us.

We don’t have to change the world with our resolutions, but it’s always nice to strive for something new as a fresh year rolls into view. No matter what goal you set yourself this year, make sure you grab it with both hands!

Getting Fit

Many of us make the decision to begin a new fitness regime at the start of a New Year. Making a firm plan and seeking professional advice on how best to reach your fitness goals can be a good place to start, but there are many hurdles to getting fit, and one of them can be health worries.

Even though you might want to get fitter and healthier, niggling pain or other health concerns can mean you’re tempted to put off your new goal until you feel better. While this is understandable, doing gentle exercise can improve your recovery time, so if you’re worried about health problems, it might be worth talking to an insurance company about how best to cover yourself, to support your long-term goals.

With insurance, you’re not just supporting your medical journey, but you may also save money on gym memberships, and on any private medical assessments you want to undertake. Remember: if in doubt, always consult a professional!

Travel Somewhere New

Many of us have a dream holiday we think about to pass the time while we’re at work, so maybe this year is the year you finally make it happen? Planning an adventure to a new place is half of the fun of going, but it’s also important to make sure you’re fully covered for whatever activities you’ll be doing.

Think about your trip carefully, and talk to travel agents and insurers to make sure you’re fully protected, so you can be sure that your dream holiday doesn’t turn into a nightmare!

Reduce Your Stress Levels

It’s easy to get swept up in all the stresses of modern life, but why not make 2017 the year you help yourself to relax? Whether it’s taking up meditation, scheduling more free time to spend with family and friends, or taking up a new, fulfilling hobby that’s just for you, there are lots of little changes you can make to help yourself de-stress.

Whatever your resolution this year, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a blank slate, and neglect the practical things you need to do to protect yourself and your new goals. No matter what you’re striving for in 2017, make sure you don’t put off getting insurance, so you can have the peace of mind to pursue whatever new target you’ve set your sights on.

At Brandt Insurance, we wish you and the people closest to you a healthy, happy, and successful New Year. But in all the excitement, make sure you don’t overlook the little things – like proper insurance protection – in your rush to do all of the big things.

Remember, if you need help this New Year, we’re only a click away!

‘Tis the Season for Accidents: Make Sure You’re Protected

Christmas is a time for giving, and the season to get all of your family and friends over to eat, drink and be merry. Unfortunately, it’s also a high-risk time for home burglaries and accidental injuries, so while you’re wrapping the presents and putting up the Christmas tree this year, take some time to make sure your insurance fully covers you for holiday mishaps.

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Christmas Burglary

The Christmas season sees a big increase in home burglaries. A home burglary can be costly and distressing at any time of year, but around this period, it’s likely that the contents in our homes will be worth a lot more than usual, as we carefully gift wrap presents for our friends and loved ones and lay them out beneath the tree.

Many insurers will offer additional home insurance contents cover over the festive period, but not all of them will apply it automatically. Additionally, although some policies will temporarily increase your contents insurance for special gifts, your single item limit might still apply.

The single item limit is the highest amount your insurer will pay out for an individual item, so if you’re planning on treating someone to something really special this year, such as jewellery or electrical equipment, then you might need to update your insurance.

Festive Mishaps

With friends and family visiting, and children running around excited and filled with food and candy, Christmas accidents do happen. Some of our favorite decorations, like fairy lights and their electrical wires, can also put us at risk of a fire in the home.

To protect your visitors, make sure you have additional visitor insurance for over the festive period, but it’s also a good idea to follow a few basic safety rules to minimise the risk of accidents.

  • Switch off all fairy lights when you’re not at home, or as you’re going to bed
  • Make sure there are no broken bulbs or loose connections in your light fittings, as that’s all that’s needed to start a fire
  • Keep wrapping paper, flammable decorations, or Christmas cards away from open flames, and from other light fittings
  • As always, don’t leave burning candles unattended, and certainly don’t put them on your Christmas tree
  • Stock up on batteries, and don’t be tempted to remove them from smoke detectors – no matter how much the kids want to play with their new presents straight away!

While the number one tip to avoid a Christmas disaster is to make sure you follow the usual safety procedures you would throughout the year, the festive period is a stressful and exciting time for everyone, and accidents can still happen.

Home insurance might not be the first thing you think of during the excitement of this holiday season, but it is an important way to protect your home and your family, should the worst happen.

To discuss your homeowners’ insurance policy before you start to put up your tree, get in touch with Brandt Insurance today. Make sure you and your home stay safe, not just this holiday season, but the whole year round!

Protect Yourself Against Thanksgiving Disasters

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and delicious food, but it’s also a high-risk time for accidents that can hit homeowners out of the blue. While you’re carving up your turkey this year, make sure you don’t fall foul of unwanted accidents and mishaps in your home.

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Thanksgiving Hazards

Across the US every year, Thanksgiving Day sees around 2,000 accidental house fires, which cause millions of dollars’ worth of property damage and in the worst cases, even deaths. The number one cause of Thanksgiving fires is cooking that’s left unattended. With so many different dishes to be prepared and guests to entertain, it’s easy for hosts to get swept up in the excitement and leave the stove unattended.

When the turkey is left cooking unsupervised, a carelessly placed oven mitt and numerous other easily-forgotten hazards can lead to disastrous consequences for your home and insurance policy.

It’s also important to remember that if someone becomes sick after eating food at your holiday party, you as the host may actually be liable for the cost of their treatment. It might seem like an unlikely problem, but foodborne illnesses are responsible for around 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths across the country every year.

What Can You Do?

• More than a third of fires caused by deep fat fryers start in a garage or outdoor space. To minimize the chance of fire damage, make sure that when you’re cooking outdoors, you’re a safe distance away from buildings or trees.

• Don’t cook on top of a wooden structure like a table or patio, as these can easily be set alight.

• Make sure your turkey has completely defrosted and is dry before lowering it into the oil.

• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby at all times, and don’t use water to try and put out an oil fire.

• Don’t leave your turkey fryer, oven, or stove unattended.

• Keep anything that can catch fire, like oven mitts or food packaging, well away from the stove top.

• Practice safe kitchen hygiene by washing your hands and cooking utensils when handling meat, and wiping down any surfaces that have had raw turkey come into contact with them.

While the number one tip to avoid disaster is to supervise your kitchen closely and practice perfect kitchen hygiene, accidents can still happen, so it’s important to be prepared in case of a Thanksgiving emergency.

Home insurance might not be the first thing you think of during the excitement of this holiday season, but it is an important way to protect your home and your family, should the worst happen.

To discuss your homeowners’ insurance policy before the feast begins, get in touch with Brandt Insurance today. Make sure you and your home stay safe, not just this holiday season, but the whole year round!

Staying healthy as you get older

During our whole life, we try to work hard and provide for our family so that one day when we reach our retirement we can enjoy it with our loved ones. But what is the point of it all if we become sick in our old age.

It is no secret that elderly people are more prone to chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. A lot of studies show that almost half of the adult population suffers from some kind of chronic health condition. These statistics might seem worrying, but it doesn’t have to be this way. That is why we have decided to put together this list of health tips so that you can enjoy your golden age stronger, healthier and happier than ever before.

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Be careful with what you eat and drink

Our number one health tip involves your drinking and eating habits. It is easy to eat junk food like pizzas and hamburgers when you are young, but when you come to a certain age it is very damaging to your body. Having a balanced diet is crucial. This involves low-fat foods, lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and fish. When it comes to drinks you should avoid sugary fizzy drinks and don’t drink too much alcohol. Water, tea and fruit juices are the best ways to stay hydrated and they have no negative effects on your health.

Take the tests

There is no need to avoid regular checkups with your doctor. As we get older our body starts to deteriorate, especially our vision and hearing. If you are over 70 years old, have your eyes checked every year. This will help you detect and correct any problem with your eyes before it turns into a serious condition. Same goes for hearing. If you have trouble tuning into conversations it is time to visit your doctor. This is nothing unusual, hearing problems are common with elderly people.

Also, there are other tests for some more serious illnesses and they usually cost a lot of money. That is why it is very important to have a Brandt Insurance agent help you choose the best coverage for your needs and price range. After all, it`s better to be safe than sorry.

Be active

One of the most important tips on our list is to stay active. A lot of people give up on exercising when they reach a certain age. But keeping your body active with some simple exercises is very beneficial for your overall health. It will lower your risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. On top of that, it will boost your self-esteem, energy and might even improve your sleep. If you are not used to exercising, start with small, easy workouts and slowly build up to harder ones. Also, make your goal to work out at least twice a week.

Stay in contact with other people

Reaching your retirement days doesn’t mean you should stay at home and watch television for the whole day. If you want to avoid feeling lonely or anxious, you should stay in touch with your old friends and family. Learn to use Skype, if you don’t already know, and make video calls to your far away friends or even find some new hobbies and meet new people. There is absolutely no reason to spend your retirement days sealed off in your living room.

Your retirement should be the best part of your life so don’t ruin it by not taking care of your health. As you can see there are more than a few ways to make yourself healthy and happy no matter what your age is. Just remember to watch your diet, exercise, socialize and of course, enjoy your well-deserved retirement.

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