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Spring Cleaning Tips to Get You Motivated and Save Time and Money

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

It’s that time of year again! Spring cleaning is a time-honored tradition that dates back to the 19th century. Prior to modern amenities such as the vacuum cleaner, March was considered the best time for dusting and sweeping since it was warm enough to open windows but not warm enough for insects.

If you dream of clean but are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work that must be done, here are a few tips that may help.

Don’t be a weekend warrior! Pace yourself! Your house isn’t going anywhere; take the whole month! Map out your plan of attack on a monthly calendar. Walk through each room with your calendar and write in the specific chores to be done per day.

Week 1: Kitchen/Dining Room
Week 2: Living Room
Week 3: Bedrooms/Closets
Week 4: Other (Attic, Mud Room, Basement, etc.)

De-Clutter. Get organized. Get rid of all that stuff you’ve socked away in the closets and drawers that you know you do not need! Don’t be afraid; throwing stuff away is very liberating! Even if you just take a quick trip through each room of the house with a garbage bag in hand, you may surprise yourself by how much you find that can be tossed.

There are a lot of inexpensive organizers that you can use in drawers, cabinets, and closets. Wicker baskets on shelves are a good way to disguise the things that you must keep. You can find tons of other great organizing tips online.

Not a fan of strong chemical cleaners? Many people have gone green and look for less harsh, more kid/pet/eco-friendly products. You can make your own cleaners with household products that are more natural, work just as well or better, and are much cheaper. You can find several “recipes” online. The common ingredients are vinegar, baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and borax.

Clean smarter, not harder. Put a pillow case over ceiling fan blades before cleaning so dust doesn’t fall to the floor. Seal stove burners in a Ziploc bag with ¼ cup of ammonia overnight, and they will wipe clean the next morning. With a little research, you can find many other tips like these.

Get motivated. Plant thoughts of success in your head. Imagine the feeling of achievement and satisfaction you will have when you are finished. Picture how nice everything will look and how fresh your house will smell. Purchase a couple of new knickknacks to put out when you are finished. Remind yourself how many germs and allergens you are getting rid of.

Get busy. Cleanliness is NOT next to impossible! Time to open up the windows and blow the dust off!

Tami
Lead Supervisor

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Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

It’s been said that people’s #1 fear is public speaking and #2 is death (people would rather die than speak in public). For most people I know (there are those few crazy exceptions), public speaking and death are both way outside their comfort zones. There are many other things that are outside our comfort zones that feel just as scary as public speaking or death.

My friend (let’s call her Marge) would rather die than go to a movie by herself. This is an activity I have found very enjoyable. I like going whenever the mood strikes me. I don’t have to coordinate my schedule with anyone else. I don’t have to share the armrest, and there is no debate about whether or not to butter the popcorn (by the way, the answer is always YES). Marge says she would not be caught dead at a movie by herself. I have tried many times to explain the feeling and the freedom, but she just won’t do it.

It was a small step, but for me it was a step in the right direction. Breaking out of my comfort zone about moviegoing has led to bigger steps. Over the years, I have left my comfort zone a few times and have been able to check things off my bucket list. I have been skydiving. I went back to college as an adult (and had to take a public speaking class—imagine my surprise, when in fact, I did not die), and now I own my own home. All these things were very scary at the time and were way outside my comfort zone.

The really important stuff happens outside your comfort zone. It’s time—time to try something small and a little scary. The voice you hear says, “I am afraid to go to the movies by myself,” but now add, “…but I’m going to do it anyway.” If it makes you feel better, write it down. Do whatever it takes to make it stick with you. Then do it.

Now rejoice in your victory. This is an important step. Remember what it felt like when you overcame that fear, when you did something that you thought was impossible. Voice your joy.

Try this and you will be on your way. Start with the small stuff and move toward the big stuff. Take one step at a time, and the big stuff doesn’t seem so overwhelming.

I’ll see you at the movies.

Kim Frederking
Claim Analyst

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MyFitnessPal … A Real Eye-Opener

Posted by on Feb 9, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 69% of adults age 20 years and over are overweight. Well, last year at this time, I was part of that 69%. I ate what I wanted, did what I wanted, and used every excuse in the world to justify my weight.

No problem I told myself; I’ll just exercise, and the weight will just fall off like I’m 20 years old again … NOT. Then my daughter told me about a free app for my smartphone that would make it convenient to count my calories called MyFitnessPal.

MyFitnessPal allows you to enter the names of foods or scan barcodes to find items in a large database of over 3 million foods or select foods from a list of most frequently eaten foods. MyFitnessPal also tracks different exercises so that when the number of minutes spent exercising is entered, the amount of calories burned is calculated and added to the total number of calories you should eat each day.

So I set my current weight, set my goal weight, told it I was basically lazy and wanted to lose a pound a week, and it automatically set my daily calories necessary to achieve my goals. One year later, I have lost 52 pounds, taking my weight from 247 pounds down to 195 pounds.

My point is not to brag about my weight loss but to let you know that information is the key to your success, and it is at your fingertips. The MyFitnessPal app and many others like it allow you to monitor your calorie intake and the nutritional values that are necessary to weight loss. Over time, it has made me realize the amount of unnecessary food I was eating. My portions were too big, and the fast food I consumed was packed with sodium and other additives not good for my health.

So if your New Year’s resolution was to lose weight or eat healthier and you are either struggling or just need an additional boost to move you along, I would recommend downloading MyFitnessPal on your smartphone. I guarantee it will be a real eye-opener.

Jay
Director of Financial Products

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Sticking With Your New Year’s Health Goals: Making the Investment

Posted by on Jan 22, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

As the New Year begins, most people are in the process of trying to improve themselves and their lifestyle in the form of their New Year’s resolutions. According to a University of Scranton survey published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, two of the top five most common resolutions are health-oriented. The most common resolution among all is to “lose weight,” with “staying fit and healthy” coming in at fifth most popular. Both of these goals are major lifestyle changes that require a serious commitment in order to be successful. That commitment ultimately comes to the person undertaking these challenges, and an effective way to set the year up for success is to invest time and some money into the things that will assist in achieving those goals.

First, and arguably most important, is a visit to a physician. It is widely recommended that before embarking on a weight loss regimen or other lifestyle change that you consult with your doctor about your health. This investment of time and possible co-pay can help in setting attainable goals to improve your quality of life. It can also help to keep tabs on common medical issues that you may be prone to develop.

Those who are looking to lose weight or strive to maintain a general level of good health often are looking to join gyms and fitness clubs. These facilities can vary in price based on the services and attention made available to each member. These membership fees should be viewed as an investment in your well-being, and just like with any other investment, a little bit of research can go a long way toward earning the returns you desire. Most gyms and clubs will provide a guided tour of the facility and information on the services available to members. By taking the time to research different clubs, you are better able to decide where you are most comfortable, what is most cost-efficient, and where you could most effectively exercise, thus making it more likely for you to go to the gym.

Finally, making time for these lifestyle changes is vital to ensuring that they become habit and successful resolutions. Changes such as these require a change in how people spend their time. People who wish to lose weight can schedule time to prepare meals at home rather than rely on the convenience of restaurants. Those who wish to stay fit and maintain good health can schedule more time to be at their gym. Time you spend in a day should be seen as an investment, and when you invest that time in yourself, these goals and others can be more easily achieved.

Good luck on your New Year’s health resolutions!

Dylan
Life Claim Analyst

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Help Support United Yorkie Rescue

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

Two years ago, I was looking to rescue a dog. In my research, I came across the United Yorkie Rescue (UYR) website. The United Yorkie Rescue was founded on August 05, 2002.

The United Yorkie Rescue’s mission statement is:

  • To take in as many stray, abandoned, or surrendered Yorkshire terriers or Yorkshire terrier mixes as possible, providing we have available and appropriate foster homes, and provide them with foster care, behavior screening, rehabilitation, and health care, with the ultimate goal of placing them in loving forever homes.
  • To educate the public about the nature and behavior of the Yorkshire terrier and the duties inherent in being a responsible pet owner, which include spaying and neutering all companion animals.
  • To help all who are interested in experiencing the joy of owning Yorkshire terriers as canine companions.

On the website, I found a small, underweight, three-pound Yorkie that had just been rescued from a puppy mill and was being cared for in an amazing foster home. Most of his teeth had to be removed due to rotting, and he had a leg that had been injured, and due to no care at the puppy mill, it healed poorly and was no longer able to bend. His name was Tig. The foster mom cared for him, and nurtured him to health. When I applied to adopt him, she brought him with her when she made a home visit. The second I saw him I adored him! Despite the challenges Tig has faced, he is thriving, doing well, and very much loved by our family.

The rescue is very much in need of foster homes for these rescued dogs. If you would like to help, please visit www.unitedyorkierescue.org.

Kathleen Wineburner
Customer Service Representative – Life

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Things to Consider When You Are Eligible for Medicare and You Have Employer-Provided Health Care Coverage

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Blog, Happy Together

Many people become eligible for Medicare coverage while they are working full-time and have employer-provided health insurance coverage. The question often arises—how will my group health plan coordinate with Medicare? The answer is found in the plan document provided by your employer. You should read your group health plan carefully when determining which Medicare benefits are best for you.

Some group health plans will automatically adjust the amount of benefits paid on a claim to reflect what Medicare would have paid on the claim. If you do not sign up for Medicare, you can be responsible for that amount. For example, let’s say a claim is $100 and Medicare would normally pay $80, leaving you with a $20 balance. The group health plan may pay the additional $20 that was not covered by Medicare. If you did not sign up for Medicare when you were eligible, the health plan might not pay the $80 that Medicare would have paid, leaving you responsible for $80. In this case, it is in the best interest of patients to have the Medicare coverage, even though they also have group health coverage.

A Medicare Supplement policy is another option when you become eligible for Medicare. There are different Medicare Supplement plans. You can choose a plan that will cover the Medicare deductibles and coinsurance amounts. It would be wise to compare the cost of a Medicare Supplement policy, to the cost of your employer’s health plan. Group health plan coverage may not pay the same way a supplement would. The group health plan may be considered secondary, not a supplement. With secondary coverage, you may still be responsible for deductibles and coinsurance amounts. Your group health plan will explain how it coordinates with Medicare so you can determine which options are best for you.

The website Medicare.gov is a good source of information to find out which Medicare benefits are available to you. An insurance agent may assist you with information about Medicare Supplement policy. Also, compare the cost and coverage of your employer’s health plan to Medicare Supplement policies to help you make the best-informed decision.

Carrie
Client Support Supervisor

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