The Effects of Childhood Obesity

September is not only back to school month, but it’s also Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States that affects more than 30 percent of children. This number has tripled since 1980 making it one of the biggest threats to the health of American children. If trends continue, children today could be the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.

When you are a parent, your goal is to protect your children. While you don’t have control over everything your children encounter, you play a major part in their health and wellness. Preventing and managing childhood obesity starts in the home. It’s easy to put the TV on for the kids while you get caught up on household chores. Sometimes that’s the best fix for that particular situation. It becomes a problem when this behavior becomes a habit and a lifestyle for your family.

Why is childhood obesity a health problem?

Childhood obesity has negative immediate and long-term health concerns. Obese children are being diagnosed with health conditions that used to be only seen in adults. Unhealthy weight can lead to medical problems such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Liver disease
  • Bone and joint issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Respiratory problems such as asthma
  • Sleep apnea

Unfortunately, obese children may also face psychological difficulties such as:

  • Being teased and bullied
  • Becoming a bully
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Depression
  • Poor social skills
  • Stress and anxiety

Being a parent is stressful enough without having to think about your children dealing with health and/or emotional problems. And being a child these days can’t be easy with social media and unrealistic “expectations” that exist. There are simple ways to help establish good habits and encourage healthy lifestyles for your family.

Develop healthy eating habits.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes you need a reminder on how you can encourage healthy eating at home.

  • Eat lots of veggies, fruits, and whole-grain products
  • Choose lean meats
  • Limit sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks
  • Limit saturated fat
  • Recognize portion control

Get active.

Again, this may seem like common sense, but keep in mind how easy it is for kids to get in the routine of watching TV, playing video games or spending endless hours on the iPad.  As a parent, encourage your kids to get involved in sports or other physical activities at school.

Here are few ways to sneak some physical activity into family time:

  • Make a game out of household chores. After completing a chore list, have a reward of a dance off or play catch. If you’re feeling really creative you could pretend that all the toys need to be saved from the dirty floor and put safely in the toy chest. Be as fun and creative as you want to encourage everyone to help out.
  • Take pre and post dinner walks. If it’s a struggle to get the family to get out and go on a walk, make it interactive by playing “I spy” or a similar game.
  • If you have that TV show you just have to watch, use the commercial breaks as quick fitness breaks. Get the kids up and dancing or have a sit-up or push-up contest. It’s amazing how much kids love burpees!
  • Get extra steps in whenever possible. Take the stairs, walk to the store or park at the end of the parking lot. Just like adults, kids can benefit from the extra activity.

Instill good habits into your kids while they are young so that healthy living becomes a way of life. If childhood obesity isn’t managed, it can lead to serious health issues as an adult.

Obesity not only causes serious health conditions, but also leads to increased health care costs and higher life insurance premiums. One of the first things life insurance companies look at when determining your premium is your height to weight ratio and your health status.

Here at Quotacy, our goal is to get you the best price and policy for your unique situation. We work with multiple insurance carriers to shop your case and compare pricing and options. Feel free to contact us with questions or use our free quoting tool to see how much it would cost to protect your family.

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The Pros and Cons of Having a Home Warranty

If you purchase a second-hand home, you might mostly be offered a home warranty so that anything wrong with the home can be fixed at an affordable price. This can offer you financial protection against unprecedented damages you might have to face.

The advantages of having a home warranty

If you don’t have an emergency fund or if you have one and you want to protect it, you can use a home warranty as a safeguard. Home warranties are also very handy if you don’t have the knack for fixing things on your own or even if you have very expensive tastes in home appliances. If you only have a little knowledge of how well your home components have been maintained, having a home warranty can be very reassuring. A warranty can also help if you have spent most of your savings on purchasing your new home by taking care of any possible additional expenses.

The disadvantages of having a home warranty

Having a home warranty won’t cover items that have been poorly maintained. However, what exactly constitutes ‘poor maintenance’ is a matter of dispute. Home warranties also come with certain limitations on what can be covered and how many dollars’ worth of repair can be done each year. So if you have outdated equipment that the previous owner failed to maintain, it might not be covered under your warranty. Conversely, you might not suffer any damages at all during your time at your new house, in which case you might have paid for a home warranty for nothing. Instead, money could have been put into an emergency fund to make repairs and replacements.

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10 COMMON CAR MAINTENANCE MISTAKES

 

Conducting car maintenance can be both a do-it-yourself (DIY) thing and a matter best left to the caring hands of professional mechanics. Given that cars are valuable investments, car owners are always encouraged to practice proper car maintenance, but it can’t be helped that errors may set in (we’re all human right?).

To ensure that your car doesn’t turn out to be an investment gone bad, you must exercise responsibility in taking good care of it, especially during maintenance work. Here are the five most common instances where car maintenance mistakes take place. Read on to find out what to avoid and how to deal with them moving forward.

  1. Taking the smallest things for granted

Always remember that even the most seemingly-insignificant things matter a lot when it comes to car maintenance. From conducting proper engine startups to replacing old wipers, paying attention to mundane details allows your car to last longer. That’s the reason why some motorists tend to encounter problems with their cars early on – they think that the smallest issues won’t transpire to bigger ones as they neglect them.

  1. Neglecting the air filter

Don’t think of the air filter as a component that can be dealt with just by cleaning it. Replacing your car’s air filter is something that you must do on a regular basis – once it accumulates too much dirt, then that’s the time to make the right move. Air filters are pretty much generic in form and are easily available in any auto parts store, so those who have allowed their cars to choke in performance through dirty air filters would’ve gotten away had they been more responsible.

  1. Skipping on inspecting car fluids

Several motorists have compromised their cars’ performance simply because they neglected the importance of replenishing the various fluids their cars have. Another issue of note is the need for changing engine oil – some motorists have experienced the worst in the form of engine damage simply because they overlooked such process. To make sure your car gets to perform better as it steers away from component damage, keep your eyes on the lookout for changes in car fluids.

  1. Overlooking brake pads

Having a case of bad brakes can never be part of good news for every motorist. Most of the time, unreplaced brake pads have led to greater problems attributed to the integrity of steering systems. In other words, not replacing your brake pads exposes your car to greater risks – the worst being crashes caused by faulty brakes. For that, make sure to replace your car’s brake pads the moment they start showing untenable wear and tear.

  1. Overlooking tire conditions

There are several things that can happen when you neglect your car’s tires, the most common being tire blowouts and loss of vehicular control leading to crashes. If you fail to have your tires rotated or inflated according to the right pressure, then chances are that those dire consequences can take place with greater possibility. Never ignore your car’s tires – see if they’re in tip-top shape to see if they’re fit for the standard idea of safe travels.

  1. Driving with an overheated engine

Why some drivers still insist on driving with their engine compartment already smoking is a question no one has the answer to (they’ll try to give you an answer but it just doesn’t make sense). Obviously, an overheated engine should prompt you to stop driving already, lest you wish to flirt with the idea of your car getting caught in flames. In case of engine overheating, dial for roadside assistance or a towing service.

  1. Proceeding with DIY without proper knowledge

Again, car maintenance is truly a DIY thing. But in cases where you do not have the proper know-how, you should not risk doing things on your own. When in doubt, always call for roadside assistance should you find yourself at a standstill in the middle of the road. Also, keep numbers of professional technicians who can inspect your car and restore it to full health.

  1. Ignoring your windshield wipers

It is always easy to take the smallest things for granted. Take the case of windshield wipers – while they tend to be overused particularly during the rainy season, their replacement tends to be the least concern of some car owners. But as time passes, windshield wipers become more brittle, leading it to leave unwanted stains on your windshield during use. For that, it always pays for you to have time to check your windshield wipers and see if they should be replaced.

  1. Neglecting your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning light

Your tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) warning light indicates whether your tires need to have their tire pressure increased. Unless you wish to experience how having a tire blowout feels like, you should not risk ignoring your TPMS warning light the moment it lights up. Bring your car to the nearest service center to have your tire pressure increased, or you may do so on your own with the proper equipment and know-how.

  1. Disregarding the Check Engine warning light

Sure, your car may still operate normally with your Check Engine warning light already glaring on your dashboard. But the thing is, you should never keep your complacency high when your Check Engine warning light starts lighting up. Take your car to the nearest service center for a checkup, or prepare yourself with some essential diagnostic tools if you wish to deal with that through DIY in the future.

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Is Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance a Good Option?



We often get asked questions along the lines of “My aging parent is very ill and medical bills have drained his/her savings account, but I cannot afford to pay for the funeral if he/she should pass away.  Can I buy life insurance on my parent?”  In this scenario, we do not advise purchasing “regular” fully underwritten life insurance.  More often than not, term life insurance is going to be ideal for most people, but not in this scenario.

Why we wouldn’t recommend term insurance in this case…

Term life insurance would typically not work in this case because the coverage amount would be too small, the client would likely be uninsurable because of health issues, and the client’s age would be outside the range a life insurance company would approve coverage for.

What we would recommend…

When we get this question, we usually tell inquirers that they have two options:

  1. Take the money you would have spent each month on term insurance and instead put it into a savings account so it can start accruing interest. You can then access these funds later when in need of money for your loved one’s final expenses.
  2. Purchase a guaranteed issue life insurance policy.

What is a guaranteed issue life insurance policy?

Guaranteed issue life insurance is a type of life insurance that you cannot be denied coverage on, hence “guaranteed”.  There are a few things you should know about this type of insurance.

  1. Guaranteed issue life insurance is typically known as “last resort” life insurance. It’s meant for those who may have been denied previously and/or are not in good health.
  2. Guaranteed issue life insurance policies are designed so that surviving loved ones can pay for your final expenses, such as a funeral, burial, and medical bills.
  3. Guaranteed issue life insurance premiums will never increase.
  4. A guaranteed issue life insurance policy accumulates cash value.
  5. Guaranteed issue life insurance policies have significantly lower death benefit amounts compared to term or permanent policies.
  6. There is no medical exam or questionnaire required for guaranteed issue life insurance. The only factor that is really taken into consideration is the age of the insured.  Because of this, guaranteed issue life insurance premiums are higher per thousand than most other types of life insurance.
  7. Benefits are limited to the first two years. This is called a Graded Death Benefit period.  What this means is that if you die within two years of buying the policy for any reason other than an accident, your beneficiaries typically only receive the total amount of what you paid in premiums.  (This can vary depending on the carrier.)

So, if you’re in relatively good health, fully underwritten life insurance may be a better option for you.  However, guaranteed issue life insurance is a great option for those with a desperate need.

How much does guaranteed issue life insurance cost?

While you can get millions of dollars’ worth of term life insurance coverage, guaranteed issue life insurance coverage often caps at $50,000.  Again, its design is based around simply helping your surviving loved ones pay for your final expenses.

Quotacy works with Gerber Life to provide guaranteed issue coverage options.  Gerber’s guaranteed issue policy is available in all U.S. states except for Montana.  Take a look at the examples and table below to get an idea on what a guaranteed issue policy can cost.

Example #1

 John Smith is 55 years old and has been denied for traditional life insurance because of his Stage IV prostate cancer.  He does not want to burden his children with his final expenses so he plans on purchasing guaranteed issue life insurance.

He’s automatically approved without having to undergo a medical exam or fill out any health forms.  John obtains $20,000 in coverage and his premiums are $91.30 per month.

If John passes away within two years, Gerber Life will refund to his beneficiaries all premiums that had been paid plus 10% interest.  However, if John happens to die because of an accident unrelated to his health within those two years, his beneficiaries will receive the full $20,000 death benefit.  After two years, his beneficiaries will receive the full death benefit regardless of how he dies.

Example #2

 Jane Doe takes care of her 79-year-old mother Sally.  Sally does not have any life insurance and Jane is worried that she won’t have the funds to give her mother the funeral she deserves.  Jane decides to buy a guaranteed issue life insurance policy on Sally.

A $12,000 policy is enough for Jane to ensure she can pay for a proper funeral and burial.  Sally is approved for coverage and the policy will cost $165.70 per month.

Although this type of policy is easy to acquire, it offers less coverage and higher premiums than traditional life insurance, so explore all your options.  If you aren’t sure if guaranteed issue life insurance is the best choice for you or want more information, contact us here at Quotacy and we can help you.

Recap of Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance:

  • If you’re between 50 and 80 years old, you can be accepted for guaranteed issue coverage regardless of your health.
  • There are no medical exams to complete or health questionnaires to fill out.
  • Cash value accumulates within the policy.

Remember, term life insurance quotes are free to run on and there is no penalty for applying.  It doesn’t hurt to apply for term life insurance, then opt for the guaranteed issue if you end up being denied.  The more options you have, the better decision you can make.

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The difference between an Automobile Warranty and an Extended Auto Warranty / Extended Service Program

When you buy a vehicle you will be provided various options to buy along-side of it and one such choice is that of extended automobile warranty. Sometimes referred to as a service contract, or extended service program, an extended automobile warranty is designed to offset repair expenses following the purchase of a new or used automobile. In essence, an extended warranty is a safeguard against costly, unforeseen repairs. Not to be confused with manufacturer’s warranties, an extended warranty kicks in subsequent to the expiration of the manufacturer’s bumper to bumper warranty. An extended auto warranty is typically sold as a separate contract, and – unlike a manufacturer’s auto warranty – is not included in the purchase price.

You need to be aware of the benefits of this extended service program which coincides with this option even as you consider whether to obtain this kind of warranty for your car and this will assist you to find out whether an extended auto warranty is a suitable choice for you. There are a couple of benefits of having this kind of warranty. First, it provides the car owner of with peace of mind in recognizing that a number of aspects are covered. Because each warranty type will differ with regards to what’s covered under it, it’s imperative to peruse the extended service program document in order to see the coverage points included. By choosing an extended auto warranty you will understand that certain areas are covered on your vehicle in case something happens, which will result in the vehicle requiring to be fixed.

Extended auto warranties will also ascertain that your financial investment gets protected. Because many people live on a restricted budget, it is usually a good idea to put forth the finances whenever you have them in order that you won’t be caught short in the future should anything go wrong with the automobile and you’ll have to get it fixed. Besides, the cost of an extended automobile warranty is oftentimes much more reasonable as compared to what you would be needed to pay should one necessitate to have their car fixed in the future. As a result, by you spending a smaller sum of money, in the beginning, you might save quite a couple of dollars eventually should replacement parts or repairs be necessary for your automobile.

In the strictest sense of the word, this is not a warranty at all. Like auto warranties, this plan covers repairs for an agreed upon period of time. True warranties, however, are included in the cost of the car; extended auto warranties are actually service contracts, or extended service program because they cost extra and are sold separately. An extended automobile warranty may be bought at the time you purchase your vehicle; it is also possible to buy one much further along in your car ownership experience. If you are the type who prefers to be prepared for all eventualities, an extended warranty may be just what you are looking for. Considering the ever-increasing cost of car repairs, these service contracts do make a lot of sense. If you are interested in buying an extended automobile warranty, you need to know that the car service contracts industry is slowly moving away from the phrase “warranty” since it is confusing to consumers. Try looking for “Extended Service Programs” instead.

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Should you buy or lease solar panels? The answer is yes.

More than a million American families and businesses have installed solar panels – and with each passing day, thousands more are joining them.

People across the country are using solar power to save money, reduce carbon pollution, increase energy independence, conserve water, and create a more resilient electric grid.

There are more ways than ever to adopt solar technology. Beyond buying a panel system outright, a homeowner can choose among solar loans, leases, power purchase agreements, or other customized payment plans. These options have helped solar become commonplace, but myths and misconceptions about them still abound, from online marketplaces to mainstream media outlets.

SolarCity has installed more than 9 million solar panels for upwards of 285,000 customers under all the options listed above. What we’ve learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach; the best option depends on the customer’s situation.

One of the most common questions we get about financing solar panels, however, is a pretty simple one: buy or lease?

 

The answer of course depends on your unique circumstances. Here are some considerations to think through.

Should you buy your solar panels?

Purchasing a solar power system – especially through a loan – is the fastest-growing way to go solar in the U.S.

Cash purchases and loan options can be very attractive if you are looking to maximize the long-term financial benefits of going solar.

Solar loans offer a range of payment terms — the most popular tend to be $0-down with fixed monthly payments. One way to differentiate among loan options is by looking at the services that are included. The best loans include a full 20-year system warranty and a performance guarantee (which encourages the provider to ensure the system is always delivering on expectations). While some service plans don’t amount to much in practice, a full built-in warranty is extremely valuable: replacing a power inverter, for example, can alone be worth more than a thousand dollars for a typical household.

When considering a loan, it’s also important to look for a low interest rate that allows you to pay off the system over a reasonable time period (e.g. 10 to 20 years), with an option to pay it off sooner if you’d like (at no penalty).

Buying a solar power system is likely to save you more $ in the long term

A key reason that buying a solar power system (whether outright or through a loan) can help you maximize financial benefits is the opportunity to claim a valuable tax credit. The U.S. government currently offers a 30% tax credit to people who purchase a solar power system. If your federal taxes are high enough to qualify for the tax credit yourself, then buying a solar power system is likely to produce greater long-term energy cost savings than a lease.

The chart below shows this comparison for an example home in California: buying a solar power system outright is likely to yield the greatest long-term savings (relative to paying your same old utility bill), followed by the loan option, and then the lease option (check out the next section to learn more about solar leasing).

While the exact financial outcome is naturally different for each option, the key point is that the money saved by any of the options in this example can reach many thousands of dollars.

 

Consider, too, that after you pay off a purchased system, it’s yours to keep – so things can get even better down the road. In particular, customers that own their system can look forward to using solar electricity that doesn’t require any monthly payments to anyone.

To make sure you realize the full benefits of solar ownership, it’s crucial to carefully review your provider’s terms and conditions. You should make sure you are protected in all cases of equipment failure (including the power inverter), as well as protected against unfair circumstances like a lender putting a primary lien on your house.

Why should you buy solar panels (cash or $0 down loan)?
  • You want to pay less for electricity, be more energy independent, and save the planet.
  • You want to own your solar panels.
  • Your federal taxes are high enough to qualify for the solar investment tax credit.
  • You are focused on maximizing the financial benefits of going solar.
  • Full 20-year system warranty, monitoring, and performance guarantee
 

Should you lease your solar panels?

Solar leases – and similar arrangements called Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) – have made solar power more accessible for a wider range of homeowners, and have driven a tremendous amount of growth in residential solar. Their popularity is rooted in delivering instant gratification: they allow many customers to immediately pay less for solar electricity than utility electricity. While lease customers typically are unlikely to save as much as loan customers over the long term, many solar lease customers can start saving money right away.

These savings can add up to thousands of dollars over the life of the system, while also preventing thousands of pounds of global warming pollution from power plants.

A common reason that a solar lease may suit a particular household is simply related to taxes. As mentioned previously, the U.S. government currently offers a 30% tax credit to people who purchase a solar power system. But if your yearly tax bill is quite low, you may be ineligible to claim the tax credit yourself. In this case, a lease is almost certain to be a better choice. Regardless, the availability of the tax credit can still benefit you, since a solar provider can use it to reduce your monthly lease payments.

solar lease option

The industry’s best leases are offered with $0 down and fixed monthly payments, as well as service packages that are often more robust than those offered with loans. This not only includes strong repair and equipment replacement services and performance guarantees, but expansive insurance coverage. 

In all cases, solar leases should adhere to consumer protection guidelines published by the Solar Energy Industries Association, and contracts should comply with Solar Energy Finance Association standards.

Solar leases can give homeowners extensive benefits, all without entailing personal ownership of solar panels. After a 20-year lease term, the homeowner has the option to renew their lease agreement at a 10% discount relative to average utility rates at that time.

Why should you lease solar panels ($0 down)?
  • You want to pay less for electricity, be more energy independent, and save the planet.
  • You want to use solar power, but don’t care about owning the panels.
  • Your federal taxes are too low to qualify for the solar investment tax credit.
  • You value immediate financial savings over larger long-term savings
  • Full 20-year system warranty, monitoring, and performance guarantee
 

Regardless of how you pay to get solar power – lease or buy – you‘ll want a panel system that is built to last. The best systems hold up well for 35 years or more. The amount of money you save by going solar – and your positive impact on the planet – depends on how much power your panels produce. To make sure your system goes strong for decades, it’s important to select an attentive solar provider that can honor its warranty decades from now.

With a solar lease or loan from a reputable provider, you also have full control in deciding on your final system design and placement, and you can transfer your lease or loan to the next owner in case you sell your house. A common misconception is that a solar lease or loan can make it difficult to sell your house, but that’s simply not true if you have a responsible solar provider. 

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