Start the New Year with a survey of your fitness levels

With so much health advice in the news today, just thinking about what you should or should not be doing can be a dizzying prospect. Harvard doctors agree that health can be an overwhelming topic. But they say that if you have a handle on these four numbers, you can have a pretty good idea of where you stand and what to do about it.

  1. Your body mass index (BMI). Many people are overweight and don’t think they are. The health risks climb when you reach the overweight level. Here’s what they mean:
    Underweight is a BMI of less than 18.5, and normal weight is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
    Overweight is a BMI of 25 to 29.9, and obesity is a BMI of 30 or over. If your calculation shows more than 24.9, it’s time to lose weight. To get a fast BMI rating, see nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm. Just enter your height and weight.
  2. Your blood pressure. Ideally, it should be 120/80 or below. Starting at 115/75, the risk for heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disease doubles with each increment of 20/10.
    People with systolic blood pressure (the first number) of 120 to 139 or a diastolic of 80 to 90 are “prehypertensive.” Changes in diet and activity patterns can help prevent cardiovascular disease at this level.
  3. Your fasting glucose. If you have two fasting plasma glucose measurements of 126 mg/dL or greater, you have diabetes.
  4. Your LDL cholesterol level. Your bad cholesterol reading should be below 100, but 70 is better. Diet, exercise, and medications like statins, or all three, can lower your LDL, reducing your heart disease risk by about a third

How to Get RV Insurance in Cypress, Texas

Owning an RV is a great choice for many Texas residents, since it has some great RV parks, such as Grand Texas RV Resort and Fredericksburg RV Park, both in the Houston area. However, owning an RV comes with some obligations. When driving or staying in an RV, especially in the Cypress, TX area, you will need to get RV insurance.

While we have touched on when RV insurance is required, you may be wondering how to get RV insurance. Luckily, it is easy to get RV insurance for your recreational vehicle in Cypress, TX. Below are some simple ways to get started and get your insurance quote as soon as possible.

Call an Insurance Agent

By calling an agency such as InsureUS, which serves Cypress, TX, you will be able to connect to a real person right away to speak about your specific needs. When you speak to an agency that has local agents that work and live in your area, it can make the insurance process much smoother for all involved so that you don’t have to worry.

All of InsureUS agents are only a phone call away and are locally owned and operated.

Request a Quote Online

One of the simplest ways to start getting RV insurance for your vehicle is to fill out a form and request an RV quote online.

With an online form, you simply leave your name, contact information, the coverage needed, and whatever comments or questions that you’d like answered. This option is best for people on-the-go who may not have time to make a phone call or want to see their quote in writing.

Get a Quote Now

InsureUS is here for all of your RV insurance needs in Cypress, TX. Call, email, or fill out our form to learn more.

Cost of retirement: More expensive than you might think

The cost of retirement can vary dramatically depending on where you live and what choices you make before you retire.
Ideally, you want to have enough social security and investments to maintain your current lifestyle.
While investment advisers routinely say $1 million in investments will ensure a happy retirement, this is not necessarily true. In high-tax states with high cost of living, a big retirement pot is probably essential. But, in lower tax states with lower cost of living, retirees might need about a fourth of that amount.
The key question is how you prepare before retirement.

  • Run the numbers. Check with Social Security for an estimate of retirement income. But, remember your Medicare and taxes will be deducted from social security, so that number will be lower. For other income, you will be paying cash for taxes. Look at all your expenses. Medicare plus supplements and prescriptions could run more than you think. For example, some prescriptions could cost $100-$300 per month, even with a prescription plan.
  • Get out of debt. The best strategy is to be out of debt before retirement. Aim for zero credit balances.
  • Pay off the mortgage. In some cases, holding a mortgage might be financially wise, depending on how much your investments are making as opposed to the interest rate on your mortgage. But good general advice is to pay off the mortgage before retirement.
  • Transportation. Plan to have a late model car that is paid off before retirement. A car payment soaks up retirement funds.
  • Emergency fund. Build one with at least 3 to 6 months of expenses. Emergencies won’t stop just because you are retired, and you won’t have money coming in. You must avoid credit card debt.
  • Long-term care insurance. Plan early to buy long-term care insurance when prices will be lower.

The Golden Years in business

“What am I going to do with all this time?”

That’s a question retirees often ask themselves these days. The trend of retired Americans or those close to it is to keep working. Some need income; others use it for travel and leisure activities, hobbies, or purely for the personal fulfillment of work and staying involved with others.

In March of this year, the second annual Small Business Survey revealed 65% of more than 5,000 Americans polled said they envision opening a business when they retire.

These results are not surprising, according to Dr. Luke Pittaway, Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ohio University. People are living longer, he says, and more than ever before are choosing to start a business to stay active.

According to The Balance Small Business, any service that consumers and companies will pay for can be turned into a business. Among them are accounting, bookkeeping, handyman, landscaping, pet care, and more.

Freelance writing is more popular than ever with blogging, writing for businesses large and small, e-books, and memoirs, among others. Self-publishing is fast and affordable these days.

Nearly any hobby can be turned into a business too. How about gardening? Baking? Photography? A musical instrument?

Contact your former employers to offer your services. Access your network to find potential clients.

Starting a home-based business enables the retiree to profit from decades of experience in his or her profession. Selling one’s skills through a service-based home business is one of the fastest and least expensive ways to start making money at home. At or near the top of the possibilities are consulting and coaching. Both can be performed at home and enhanced by online tools.

Should you sell or buy a home in 2020?

According to Forbes, today’s mortgage rates — at about 3.75 percent — will stay low in 2020. At the same time, market watchers expect home prices to continue to escalate due to low inventory and high demand.
Without more listings on the market, competition will increase early in the year. Entry-level home prices will rise higher than incomes. Low-interest rates and the lack of starter homes will continue to raise prices.
Housing inventory will remain soft through most of the year. As one real estate agent remarked, “You can’t buy what’s not for sale.”
According to the National Association of Home Builders, new construction in late 2019 reached a 20-month high. Even so, months may be needed before building can sustain demand.
Realtor.com reveals Millennials constituted almost half — 46 percent — of mortgage originations in September 2019, up from 43 percent in 2018. At the same time, Baby Boomer and Gen X mortgage activity faded.
If today’s older adults (born between 1931 and 1959) behaved like previous generations, more than 1.6 million homes would have been on the market in 2019.
But Boomers are staying in their homes, not downsizing as did previous generations. One factor: Older people are working longer. Another factor is that young people are staying at home longer. In 2016, 16.1 percent of senior households had younger generations living with them, up from 14.4 percent in 2005, according to Trulia and Census figures.
As for homeowners, should they sell in 2020? According to the Federal Reserve, household equity in real estate has more than doubled since its shortage in 2012. Mortgage equity is at an all-time high
Homeowners with the flexibility to move in the next few years may be assuming that when they’re ready, the market will be as inviting as it is today. This is not necessarily true, and some vital housing-market drivers suggest 2020 could be a sweet spot for selling a home.
Mortgage interest rates are low. Potential buyers track them carefully. That’s a pleasant tailwind for buyers interested in a homeowners’ property,
Has the time come to book their profits and move on?
Only the homeowner knows.

Prevent hacks into home security system

The latest home security gadgets are a far cry from the early days of simple motion detectors. Whether it’s the Ring video doorbell, which alerts you to someone at your front door (and allows you to talk to them), or other systems that use facial or voice recognition, we’ve got cameras and eyes everywhere.
The downside, of course, is the potential for hackers to access those cameras and find their way into our homes.
Consumer Reports offers tips to keep our home security cameras from being hacked:

  • Keep your camera’s firmware up to date. Some cameras automatically download and install these updates, which fix software bugs and patch software vulnerabilities, while others require you to check for updates on your own.
  • Change your camera’s password. You should approach your security camera’s password the same as your other devices and use long and complex passwords without personally identifying information.
  • Set up two-factor authentication if possible. This means the camera company sends you a onetime-use passcode via text, phone, email, or authentication app that you input in addition to your username and password when you log in to the account. As CR points out, even if a hacker cracks your password, they won’t be able to access your camera unless they also gain access to your onetime code.
  • Set up a password manager. A password manager generates strong, random passwords and stores and remembers them for you. Many are free.

Time to get happy!

Get up, get out, and get happy. Experts say that even if you have to fake it, you’ll soon be merry — or at least a little happier.
People can have a good reason to be wistful or even blue at the holidays. Family members are not always near, or physical conditions can limit activities.
Strange that just when we can’t remember where we put the car keys, memories from 30 years ago are accessible in every detail. It’s great to remember the good times, but to be happy today we need to stay in the present.
According to happiness guru Gretchen Rubin, the key is to actively plan for holidays and make new memories. Here are some ideas:

  • Consider some things you have loved: Songs, gift-giving, family. Start asking around early for churches that have carols and holiday activities. If you need a ride, ask at the church office.
  • Find out who needs a gift and give it!
  • Gather your own ‘family’ of neighbors and friends for a pitch-in dinner. It doesn’t have to be on Dec. 25.
    The bottom line: Make a plan and get out of the house.
    Do ask others about their plans; people often love to share holidays.
    Be grateful for the holiday you make for yourself. Don’t compare this holiday to happier times in the past and try not to compare this holiday to the one you imagined it would be. Create something for yourself and enjoy it, whether it is a modest decoration and dinner with a friend, or an all-out bash.

Best wishes for the holidays

From November to January, we have a pleasant, and sometimes hectic, list of things to do and people to see. It’s a bit of a roller coaster, but I hope you all manage to enjoy the ride.
And, I hope you do it with safety in mind. Shorter days, perhaps bad weather and slippery roads can all get in the way of our rush to finish our holiday plans. Patience, my friends. Let’s all see the new year in with health and happiness.
It seems such a short time ago that we were talking about our plans for 2019. Now, we are in the last phase of the year and rushing to the finish line. The year’s not quite over, however, so the work done between today and New Year’s Day will count and count a lot. Thank you for all your good humor and good work.
We can all be thankful for the many blessings of our work, homes, and holidays.
So to all: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!

Traveling for the Holidays? Safeguard Your Goods with Renter’s Insurance

Many renters are under the mistaken notion that their goods are protected by their landlord’s insurance. Truth is your landlord’s insurance protects his building and surrounding property, not your personal goods. To protect your personal goods, talk to an agent from InsureUS in Cypress, TX about renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance will safeguard your goods against theft and damage from such perils as theft, fire, vandalism, and other holiday disasters. Here’s why it’s a good idea to get a renter’s insurance policy before the holidays.

Disasters

There are so many stories about people returning from holiday travels to discover their home had been ransacked or destroyed by a disaster. Faulty plumbing could cause indoor flooding during your absence, destroying your goods along with the interior of your rental property. An unexpected wildfire could totally consume your rental home, destroying all that you own in the process. Natural disasters are becoming commonplace throughout the country. By being prepared, you can avoid losing all that you own, especially during the holidays.

Theft

Theft is a big problem during the holidays. While you’re gone, your home could be targeted by burglars who are on the lookout for empty properties. If you plan to be gone awhile, take precautions to reduce the risk of theft during your absence. Install an alarm, put in security lights, stop mail delivery and make sure your goods are protected with renter’s insurance coverage. If your valuables are stolen or you’re the victim of vandalism, you can recuperate your losses with replacement cost renter’s insurance coverage.

With renter’s insurance, you can travel with confidence this holiday season knowing your goods are protected against any eventuality. To learn more about renter’s insurance options and costs, call or visit InsureUS today in Cypress, TX.

That jingling you hear may not be bells. Could be what’s left in your pocket.

For those caught up in the buying frenzy of the holidays, Christmas Eve could find them with a handful of change in their pockets and little else.
Of course, every year you think you’ll avoid the rush by accumulating gifts throughout the year. That would be smart, but it doesn’t do much good in November and December and the shopping list looms.
A survey by The Wall Street Journal shows that more of us are controlling credit card debt by adopting new traditions that reduce the loot under the tree.
Women do most of the Christmas shopping, says Eileen Fischer of York University in Canada, who studies consumer behavior. They give gifts to reinforce relationships with spouses, kids, in-laws, co-workers, friends and helpers.
Here is some classic advice on keeping your holidays affordable:

  1. If you have a multitude of relatives to buy for, talk with them about exchanging cards this year. They will be happy to do it in most cases.
  2. Decide in advance how much you will spend on gifts.
  3. Give gift certificates to teens. They keep you within your specific amount, and teens enjoy shopping.
  4. Skip the stocking stuffers.
  5. Shop with a specific list, especially online where easy clicks add up to big money.
  6. Don’t buy for yourself at the same time. Stick to the project.
  7. Financial advisor Jane Bryant Quinn says: Add up your consumer debt and write the number at the top of your shopping list or computer.
  8. An advantage of buying less: Less time spent opening gifts. It can drag on and on for a large group.
    The holidays are more joyful when you know you can pay the bills as they arrive in January.