You’ve probably all heard the old adage about boiling a frog. As a southerner, I love a good colorful metaphor. The premise is that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, the frog will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. Okay, so that’s not a pretty picture, but it could be an apt representation of what is happening with your current retirement plan. I’m amazed how many people don’t do the math to make certain their financial path gets them to where they want to be. Wouldn’t it be a shame to work all your life saving for retirement and then when retirement time rolls around not have enough money to live the lifestyle you desire?
Since the 1980s, you have been told to put money in 401k plans or IRAs to defer the “terrible” tax we have to pay. Most people have blindly followed this plan without regard to the income tax that they will be required to pay at a later date and at a rate required by the IRS (that could potentially change at any time). You look around and “everyone is doing it.” You check your balances from time to time, but the changes are gradual and like the frog as the water heats, you don’t notice the end result on the value of your savings. I’ve seen individuals blindly follow a financial adviser’s advice that, “you have enough money to retire.” Are you aware that the safe withdrawal rate from your 401k is 3% annually? Let’s say you have a million dollars in your 401k. The safe withdrawal rate of 3% would only produce $30,000 a year, and that’s before taxes. Is $30,000 minus income taxes enough to maintain your current lifestyle? Continue reading →
What a special time of year. I love the holidays. Some of my favorite memories are from Christmases gathered around the fire with candles burning. When I became an insurance professional, my perspective changed because now I see the dangers in many of these rituals. Over 15,000 people will be seriously injured and take a trip to the emergency room during the holidays. The insurance industry sees many house fires this time of year associated with holiday celebrations. You don’t want to make a trip to the emergency room, and you certainly don’t want to be displaced during this time of year.
Although dangers are associated with the holiday season, a few practices can make for a safer holiday. You can keep your family traditions, but add these safety precautions as well. Continue reading →
Life happens. How many times have you heard that phrase? And how many times are you still surprised by what life throws your way? In my agency, we see so many difficult situations. Peoples’ lives are changed in ways they never imagined. Insurance is for “what you couldn’t imagine.” It’s funny how many people say to me, “that will never happen to me.” If they could only be that lucky, and I joke, “I will take you and your crystal ball to Vegas.” I’m not throwing darts because I am also guilty of taking life and my current situation for granted. One small misstep by you or someone else can drastically change your life forever. Unfortunately, bad things happen even when it is not your fault. Why am I talking about this? Because estate planning is important BEFORE the worst happens. This is vital if you have a family or someone who depends on you! Considering your own death is not a popular thought but getting your affairs in order and estate planning is critical for everyone.
The relationship between an insurance agent and a client is a two-way street. When we talk with clients trying to determine if they want us to handle their insurance program, we are interviewing them as well. In my humble opinion, too many clients think insurance agents want to write every piece of business available and that we should be thankful for every call regardless of how last minute it is. The truth is professional agents who conduct business wisely are as selective about their clients as the clients are about them.
We, as agents, understand the importance of insurance because we have seen the terrible results of not being protected. As they say, “you can’t make this stuff up!” I don’t have to make up stories. I get stories every day in my agency. Accidents happen and change lives forever. What makes the conversation about coverage and premium difficult for insurance agents is that the difference between good coverage and bad coverage is usually only a few dollars. Seeing people make bad decisions due to an extra $20 a month is tough. As my good friend, Tammy White, says,“ Penny wise, pound foolish.” Continue reading →
Clients always surprise me with their responses to questions concerning their insurance limits. Most of the time they make me smile, but sometimes they make me very sad. I’ve actually had people tell me they don’t need high limits on auto insurance because they are safe drivers, or they don’t have accidents. Really?? Have you ever said that or perhaps thought it? Can you predict the future? If so, I’ll take you on the next flight to Vegas with those crystal ball skills!
The definition of accident is, “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” To be more specific, the legal definition of accident is, “in general, an unplanned, unexpected, and undesigned (not purposefully caused) event which occurs suddenly and causes (1) injury or loss, (2) a decrease in value of the resources, or (3) an increase in liabilities.” Accidents are unplanned or they would not be accidents. Continue reading →
I must admit, when I bought my first home in 1985, I was so naïve. Growing up on a small farm with livestock, we were fairly self-sufficient. My dad made sure we knew how to handle many things around the farm, but there was still plenty I did not know. I remember when I got my first car, (a 1967 Toyota Corolla given to me by an aunt and uncle) my dad made me change all four tires, so I would know how to change a tire and not need to depend on anyone else. Roadside assistance – no way! And God knows we couldn’t afford it even if it had been available. I wish everyone ascribed to my dad’s idea of preparedness when it comes to owning a home. I’ve created a list of things YOU need to know about your home.
A client called me around 10:00 pm one night in October of 2018 exclaiming, “My toilet is overflowing.” When I asked if she had turned the water off, her answer was, “I don’t know where the cut-off valve is. My neighbor is trying to find it!” What a horrible time to try to locate the water control—it’s dark and gallons of water are flooding your home. Continue reading →
I’ve been very fortunate in my 50+ years to travel a LOT! Lucky me, a small-town (population 500 with one caution light, but that’s another story!) Georgia girl has seen most of the US and much of Europe. Being out of town this week at two different conference made me think about traveling tips, travel safety, and travel insurance.
Do you overpack or are you more organized than me? I’m getting better with practice, but sometimes it’s still a struggle. I’m sharing some tips to help with packing that I find very helpful. Continue reading →
I can’t tell you the number of times I see clients make bad decisions about coverage options, but I have to respect that it is their decision. All I can do as your insurance agent is educate and give my professional opinion. Don’t I wish I could make decisions for our clients to properly protect them. If you don’t choose the coverage we suggest, we require you to sign a declination of coverage, and then we pray you don’t have a claim. I could tell hundreds of stories from my 20+ years in the business, but I’ll limit it to five stories to show you what I mean. Continue reading →
With the new year close at hand, multitudes of people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their lifestyles with diet, exercise, or mastering new skills. Unfortunately, most New Year’s resolutions last approximately 21 days. Instead of making a resolution, why not commit to getting your financial house in order? Money may not be the most important thing, but it can allow you to do things that are most important to you. Start your new year with these six essential tasks to get your financial house in order.
Set a budget. Using a budget requires discipline and takes time to plan and carry out correctly. Byron Deese of Glass Jacobson Financial Group recommends living on 70% of your net income. Use half of that total for home and transportation, another 20% for food and an emergency fund, and 10% each for savings, retirement, and charity. Following a budget plan is the easiest way to get yourself financially on track. Continue reading →
For the majority of people, purchasing a home is the biggest single investment of their lives. To protect their home and its valuable contents, they purchase a homeowners insurance policy. When buying a homeowners policy, most people think “everything” in their home is covered by their policy, and when I say everything, I mean everything. I know I did before I became a licensed insurance professional. Many times I have talked with clients who got several quotes for homeowners insurance coverage, but when I ask them what type of coverage they were quoted, they have no idea. The agents who quoted them did not even explain the coverage to them. It is difficult to believe someone would choose an insurance agent who only gives price as a solution.
After a homeowner chooses their homeowners insurance policy, they sign what is commonly called an insurance application. These applications are actually legal contracts and will determine coverage should a coverage question ever arise. Once these insurance contracts are signed, the homeowner receives a multi-page bound policy document filled with language enumerating the conditions of the insurance agreement. The first few pages of this new insurance policy includes a “Declaration of Coverage.”