What am I? 9 Clues and a Gift

  1. Meet unexpected small business needs
  2. Cover college expenses or pay off education debts
  3. Provide income to handle expenses if something happens to you
  4. Help make sure your family can stay in your home
  5. Leave a financial legacy for your heirs — free from federal income tax
  6. Provide for aging parents or children with special needs
  7. Cover final expenses
  8. Offer living benefits in case of critical or terminal illness
  9. Help guarantee future insurability for children

SO what is the gift, it is the gift you GIVE by considering a life insurance policy today, tomorrow is always one day closer to death for all of us.  It’s something no one wants to think about but know it is unavoidable.

Call me today to discuss your needs and get a quick quote.  Do NOT keep putting it off; this is not like cleaning the gutters or dusting – tomorrow may not be there.

Thanks for any consideration on this.

jeffspring@allstate.com

http://www.springfamilyinsuranceagency.com

toll free 844-675-2111

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Improving the Hoopty (not a dance)

Maybe your car just gets you from point A to point B, or maybe it’s a few years old and you are ready for an upgrade. Buying a new car may be an option, but it’s no small expense and may not be practical for you to add new or potentially higher car payments to your monthly bills. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can upgrade your car’s appearance and features without spending a ton. Check out the six low-cost or do-it-yourself car upgrades below to learn how to make your car feel newer, inside and out.

hoopty

1. Clean It Up

One of the best things about a new car is that it’s clean, shiny and has that new-car smell. You may be able to get some of the new car aroma back via an inexpensive air freshener, but scrubbing your old car from top to bottom can give it a newer look. Popular Mechanics Magazine suggests starting with shampooing the carpet and upholstery, vacuuming the seat cushions and floor, and clearing our buildup from the engine bay. If you have the proper cleaning products, you can also clean many of the actual engine parts including the battery connections. Then, wash and wax the outside. Consumer Reports says this will not only make your car shine, but will also get rid of paint-damaging dirt and elements from the road.

2. Remove Dents

Detailing your car may reveal dents and scratches you might not have noticed before. Consumer Reports explains you may be able to avoid paying a car shop if you try a DIY dent removal kit. These can be purchased online for as low as $20 and offer all the tools you need to flatten out dents. But keep in mind, the smaller the dent, the trickier it is to fix, according to Consumer Reports.

Minor dents and dings, the kind your car might receive from a hail storm, for example, can be repaired by one of two methods: paintless dent removal or the traditional body shop repair/paint method, according to The National Alliance of Paintless Dent Repair Technicians (NAPDRT).

Because of details of repair dents, it may be a good idea to contact a professional auto body shop or dent repair shop to fix any dent, big or small.

elephantcar

3. Upgrade Your Sound System

If your car is 5-7 years old (or more), there’s a good chance your sound system is out-of-date. But, according to Popular Mechanics Magazine, you can get a new radio head unit that integrates with mobile devices or satellite radio and has Bluetooth capabilities for less than $100 online.

4. Turn Your Cigarette Lighter Into a Power Source

Whether you upgrade your sound system or already had one that was compatible with mobile devices, certain features will only be useful if your electronics have battery life. If you are stuck in traffic or taking longer trips, you may run out of juice before you can charge again. For this reason, Popular Mechanics Magazine suggests adding a power source through your cigarette lighter. There are units available that plug in to the cigarette lighter socket and offer USB plugs for charging electronic devices. With one of these gadgets, you don’t have to worry about your phone dying before your maps app can get you to your destination.

carbandaid

5. Cover up Scratches

Unsightly scratches and chips in your car’s paint may make your vehicle look aged and worn. To give your car a newer look from the outside, Consumer Reports suggests hiding the wear and tear by applying touch-up paint. Many auto dealers and some auto-parts shops have small bottles of matching paint you can purchase for a low cost. If the scratch is shallow and doesn’t hit the primer or bare metal, you may be able to just dab the paint on the scratch with a paintbrush, let it dry for a couple of days, and then polish the area with a microfiber or foam applicator pad to make sure it blends, says Consumer Reports.

6. Docking Stations for Electronics

Even if you can use your electronics in the car, it may not be practical, safe, or even legal, in some cases, to hold them while you drive. However, using your phone’s navigation system may require your phone to be in clear view all the time. If your older car doesn’t have a fancy, big-screen navigation system installed in its dashboard, you can purchase a mount for your dash, center console or cupholder for your GPS-enabled phone for approximately $10 to $20, according to Consumer Reports.

You could also create your own DIY electronics dock using a 6-inch by 6-inch piece of stiff plastic and self-adhesive strips of “velcro” fasteners, explains Popular Mechanics.

While these updates and car improvements will not make your vehicle new again, they may help you see it in a new light. Knowing how to improve your car with functional upgrades or some minor body work may give you what you want in a vehicle, without having to spend a hefty amount.

car-accident-paint-scratch

Thanks to the Allstate Blog for this nice article and don’t forget to call us for a free quote or policy review

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jeffspring@allstate.com

toll-free 844-675-2111

What’s This Business Networking Stuff?

Networking is one of those “must-do” tasks for all small business owners. After all, new clients and projects don’t automatically show up at your doorstep. They’re often the result of connecting with other business owners in your community and work niche. But what do you do if the thought of striking up conversations with strangers makes your palms sweat?

social network - people and speech bubbles

Shift your mindset, suggests Jill Lublin, business consultant and author of “Networking Magic: How to Find Connections That Transform Your Life.”

“Networking today is less about acting like a car salesman and more about making real connections with people, being authentic and offering your help,” Lublin says.

Lublin also notes that most business owners relax a little when they call the process “connecting” instead of “networking.”

Here are some simple ways to connect with potential new customers and colleagues — even if you’re a bit on the shy side:

At events, take advantage of ambassadors.

Lublin says most conferences and Chamber of Commerce-type meetings usually have greeters, whose jobs are to show around attendees. “At the registration table, say, ‘This is my first time here. Is there anyone who could help me meet a few people in the XYZ industry?” she suggests. This removes the pressure to walk up cold and introduce yourself and may be a faster way to find the people you’d like to meet, she says.

Listen more than you talk.

Focus on asking new contacts about their companies and whom they’d like to meet in the next month or so to help support their business, suggests Lublin. When you’re nervous, it’s often easier to ask new people about themselves rather than promoting yourself. “Asking questions also makes you look helpful and interested, which is a great way to sell yourself and your business without really doing anything,” she says.

Develop a quick “about-me” script.

Prepare a brief description of your small business, suggests Lublin. Practice your script ahead of time it so it sounds natural. And be descriptive. “Instead of just saying, ‘I’m a chiropractor,’ say, ‘My chiropractic practice focuses on helping stressed-out people relax and get healthy,’” Lublin notes. The added detail makes it easier for the other party to follow up with questions.

Make referrals.

A great way to show your value to a would-be client is to offer help, says Lublin. If the person you met is looking for help with publicity, for example, can you email them the names of a few firms that you know do good work? A no-strings-attached referral can leave a good feeling in your contact’s mind and encourage him or her to consider working with you in the future, according to Lublin.

Volunteer and join activities you like.

Some of your best business contacts might be made while you’re helping with a park cleanup or attending a ceramics class, says Lublin. Volunteer activities and hobbies are a very low-pressure way to make connections. “People like to do business with people with whom they have something in common, so you may meet clients when you’re not even trying,” she says. Just in case, always carry business cards with you.

Of course, be sure to join organizations you authentically enjoy — not just groups you think will be good for networking, advises Lublin. Most people can spot someone who is just out to make work connections and can get turned off by that, she says.

Follow up, follow up, follow up.

When you meet a new contact, it’s ideal to follow up with a phone call or email within 48 hours, Lublin advises. Later is OK, too, however, if time is tight. “Remind the person of when and how you met, and what you talked about. Then ask, ‘I wondered if we could have a further conversation about working together on X. Could we set a time to do that in the next week or so?’” she says.

Once you’ve talked, touch base every month or so by email, suggests Lublin. You could offer a helpful article, make a referral, or even say, “Just wanted to make sure I’m still on your radar. I’d love to help you with your business whenever you’re ready.”

Business Communication Duplicate model

The bottom line: Networking honestly doesn’t have to be a hard sell, says Lublin. “If you approach it with the attitude of finding good people you’d like to work with, and being helpful to them, the right connections will happen automatically,” she says.

Re-blog from the Allstate Blog posted January 7, 2015 by Nicole Markle

jeffspring@allstate.com

http://www.springfamilyinsuranceagency.com

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A Still, Small Voice -or- Anxiety Aids

Most people think of Elijah when they hear of the Bible verses in 1 Kings that include the phrase “still small voice”. My thoughts go back to my grandmother’s house where I lived as a young child. We all have experienced hard times but in the midst of mayhem, I distinctly recall a voice from nowhere – a comforting, calming voice.  Sure, it could have been God or it could have been something less grandiose; but the result was peace regardless the source.

Peace, however, can be very elusive.  While I would facilitate a adult discussion in church and where my peace was commonplace, it was not a decade later that that gave way to nervousness and then anxiety.  And as I speak openly about my anxiety, I find so many in my life with the same problem.  So many of these new-found friends are intelligent, extremely creative, and passionate – and all deal with their malady in different ways.

Word cloud for Anxiety disorder

Here is some advice I found that may help bring a little peace…

1. Take a deep breath.

“The first thing to do when you get anxious is to breathe,” said Tom Corboy, MFT, the founder and executive director of the OCD Center of Los Angeles, and co-author of the upcoming book The Mindfulness Workbook for OCD.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful anxiety-reducing technique because it activates the body’s relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system, said Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC.

She suggested this practice: “Try slowly inhaling to a count of 4, filling your belly first and then your chest, gently holding your breath to a count of 4, and slowly exhaling to a count of 4 and repeat several times.”

2. Accept that you’re anxious.

Remember that “anxiety is just a feeling, like any other feeling,” said Deibler, also author of the Psych Central blog “Therapy That Works.” By reminding yourself that anxiety is simply an emotional reaction, you can start to accept it, Corboy said.

Acceptance is critical because trying to wrangle or eliminate anxiety often worsens it. It just perpetuates the idea that your anxiety is intolerable, he said.

But accepting your anxiety doesn’t mean liking it or resigning yourself to a miserable existence.

“It just means you would benefit by accepting reality as it is – and in that moment, reality includes anxiety. The bottom line is that the feeling of anxiety is less than ideal, but it is not intolerable.”

3. Realize that your brain is playing tricks on you.

Psychiatrist Kelli Hyland, M.D., has seen first-hand how a person’s brain can make them believe they’re dying of a heart attack when they’re actually having a panic attack. She recalled an experience she had as a medical student.

“I had seen people having heart attacks and look this ill on the medical floors for medical reasons and it looked exactly the same. A wise, kind and experienced psychiatrist came over to [the patient] and gently, calmly reminded him that he is not dying, that it will pass and his brain is playing tricks on him. It calmed me too and we both just stayed with him until [the panic attack] was over.”

Today, Dr. Hyland, who has a private practice in Salt Lake City, Utah, tells her patients the same thing. “It helps remove the shame, guilt, pressure and responsibility for fixing yourself or judging yourself in the midst of needing nurturing more than ever.”

Insomnia

4. Question your thoughts.

“When people are anxious, their brains start coming up with all sorts of outlandish ideas, many of which are highly unrealistic and unlikely to occur,” Corboy said. And these thoughts only heighten an individual’s already anxious state.

For instance, say you’re about to give a wedding toast. Thoughts like “Oh my God, I can’t do this. It will kill me” may be running through your brain.

Remind yourself, however, that this isn’t a catastrophe, and in reality, no one has died giving a toast, Corboy said.

“Yes, you may be anxious, and you may even flub your toast. But the worst thing that will happen is that some people, many of whom will never see you again, will get a few chuckles, and that by tomorrow they will have completely forgotten about it.”

Deibler also suggested asking yourself these questions when challenging your thoughts:

“Is this worry realistic?
Is this really likely to happen?
If the worst possible outcome happens, what would be so bad about that?
Could I handle that?
What might I do?
If something bad happens, what might that mean about me?
Is this really true or does it just seem that way?
What might I do to prepare for whatever may happen?”

5. Use a calming visualization.

Hyland suggested practicing the following meditation regularly, which will make it easier to access when you’re anxious in the moment.

“Picture yourself on a river bank or outside in a favorite park, field or beach. Watch leaves pass by on the river or clouds pass by in the sky. Assign [your] emotions, thoughts [and] sensations to the clouds and leaves, and just watch them float by.”

This is very different from what people typically do. Typically, we assign emotions, thoughts and physical sensations certain qualities and judgments, such as good or bad, right or wrong, Hyland said. And this often amplifies anxiety. Remember that “it is all just information.”

6. Be an observer — without judgment.

Hyland gives her new patients a 3×5 index card with the following written on it: “Practice observing (thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, judgment) with compassion, or without judgment.”

“I have had patients come back after months or years and say that they still have that card on their mirror or up on their car dash, and it helps them.”

anxiety

7. Use positive self-talk.

Anxiety can produce a lot of negative chatter. Tell yourself “positive coping statements,” Deibler said. For instance, you might say, “this anxiety feels bad, but I can use strategies to manage it.”

8. Focus on right now.

“When people are anxious, they are usually obsessing about something that might occur in the future,” Corboy said. Instead, pause, breathe and pay attention to what’s happening right now, he said. Even if something serious is happening, focusing on the present moment will improve your ability to manage the situation, he added.

9. Focus on meaningful activities.

When you’re feeling anxious, it’s also helpful to focus your attention on a “meaningful, goal-directed activity,” Corboy said. He suggested asking yourself what you’d be doing if you weren’t anxious.

If you were going to see a movie, still go. If you were going to do the laundry, still do it.

“The worst thing you can do when anxious is to passively sit around obsessing about how you feel.” Doing what needs to get done teaches you key lessons, he said: getting out of your head feels better; you’re able to live your life even though you’re anxious; and you’ll get things done.

“The bottom line is, get busy with the business of life. Don’t sit around focusing on being anxious – nothing good will come of that.”

Stress

The 9 steps article quote above is courtesy of http://psychcentral.com/lib/9-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-right-here-right-now

jeffspring@allstate.com

http://www.springfamilyinsuranceagency.com

http://www.facebook.com/springfamilyinsuranceagency

How to Buy the Right ATV

Pine Lake was a blast on Saturday – no races, just good times off-roading by a nice group of new friends.  Lake County Off-Road invited me to sponsor their biannual event and I am so happy I did.  It made me think of an Allstate blog I found:

atv

Whether you’re buying your first all-terrain vehicle (ATV) or upgrading your current model, there’s a lot to consider. For example, should you buy a new or used vehicle? And once you’ve made your selection, what steps can you take to help protect yourself on the open terrain? Here are some things that may help you make those decisions.

Do Your Research

Before diving into that big purchase, here are some questions to consider:
•What’s your budget? In addition to your vehicle’s purchase price, you’ll likely need additional funds to pay for gear, accessories and insurance.
•Who will be riding? Remember that these vehicles are designed for either one or two riders. Never allow a second rider on a single-passenger vehicle, the ATV Safety Institute cautions. If you plan to ride with a passenger, make sure you purchase a model built for two riders.

atv3

Should You Buy New or Used?

There’s more to it than just your budget, so consider your options before you hit the showroom floor. For instance:
•Set priorities: Like automobiles and virtually anything else, new ATVs are more expensive than used models. So think about your priorities — your ideal all-terrain vehicle or off-road vehicle may be within reach if you choose an used model.
•Think incentives: Dealers may offer loans, financing or rebates to help you pay for your new ride. Your current ATV may also have trade-in value. Don’t forget to factor in possible incentives when making your decision.
•Consider warranties: Some dealers offer warranties and service contracts to help protect you from the costs of repairs and maintenance.
•Bring a mechanic: When you buy from a private owner you get what you get — no warranties or service contracts included. Consider bringing along a mechanic to give the vehicle a thorough once-over before handing over your cash.
•Research recalls: Always check to see if the model’s been recalled for any reason. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) maintains a current list of all ATV recalls.
•Handle paperwork: If you buy from a private party, it’s up to you to sort through registration and title transfers for your all-terrain vehicle or off-road vehicle. Whether you’re buying or selling, check with your state’s department of motor vehicles for procedures for vehicle sales and transfers.
•Save with used: Some dealers offer certified used vehicles. These all-terrain vehicles will likely cost less than a new ride and may come with a limited warranty or a service contract.

atv4

Play it Safe

Once you’ve bought your ATV and all the extras, you’re ready to roll, right? Not so fast. Take a few minutes to review safety considerations before you hit the trail including staying off paved roads and wearing protective gear.
Whichever ATV you choose, take steps to make sure it’s the right one for you and your budget. And be sure to play it safe when exploring the terrain, so you can enjoy the journey again and again.

lcordisplay

jeffspring@allstate.com

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Sharing Sucks – Yo Quiero Taco Bell?

Since you were a kid you’ve been told to share. Share this, share that – when does the sharing stop? How about with the $1.49 Grilled Stuft Nacho from Taco Bell, the first nachos designed not to be shared.

And if we rethink what we were taught about respect they may sell even more of their top-notch cuisine.  Am I the only one that thinks the person who designed this marketing masterpiece should be placed in remedial U of Phoenix marketing classes?

We know the target of Taco Bell’s ad campaigns; it is the teen through young adult market.  It is obvious by all their commercials.  Get the crowd that stays out late, needs “fourth meal” and where munchies come at all hours.  It’s all good, I was there once but never did we hear that we should be selfish in order to enjoy the delicacies passed through the window of a 3AM drive-thru.

Should this make our young generation angry to be thought of in this manner?  I find it very insulting to a generation where I see many looking to make a difference; a generation where volunteering is gaining momentum and who deal with life changes at paces never seen. So instead of encouraging a positive act, make it about me…me…me.

I would at least give McDonald’s an honorable mention for the “failed miserably” “Pay with Lovin” campaign from earlier this year.  It kicked off with much hype at the super bowl and then a deafening silence.  It seemed like it was going to be harmless fun (and free food) but embarrassing your clients may not be the way to play the philanthropic company.

So instead of promoting self, chose selflessness and maybe Taco Bell can make a commercial about showing respect, especially for authority.  Instead, they target the 10%ers – this time the bottom 10%.  That may be a little harsh but this just tasted sour.  Oh, but not as sour as:

No words.

jeffspring@allstate.com

http://www.springfamilyinsuranceagency.com

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Do You Know What Dad Wants for Father’s Day?

This Father’s Day, steer clear of the neck tie option and instead make him swoon with something he really wants—time with you. Decode your dad’s interests and allow him to unwrap an experience this June 15. We’ve broken down some “dad passion points” so that you can easily personalize his present this year.

happy-fathers-day-ties

For the outdoor lover: Whether it’s lounging in the backyard while sipping on a cold beverage, or setting up camp at a nearby site, a dad who loves nature will likely want to celebrate the holiday outside. You can buy him the latest outdoor gear he’s been eyeing (think a new lawn mower, grill, tools or camping gear); plan a free day for him to relax poolside; get the grill going for a barbecue; or take a family hike.

For the sporty dad: Dads who love sports are sometimes borderline obsessed with it. If this describes your pop, give dad a day in front of the tube. Set the channel to his dream team and pack the coffee table with his must-have snacks. If he’d rather be on the go, buy him a round of gold on his favorite nearby green; spend the day fishing; bike around the neighborhood; or head to a baseball game as a family. There may be a reason Father’s Day and baseball season overlap: outdoors, baseball, hot dogs—it’s the dad trifecta.

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For the foodie: If your dad knows the difference between arugula and iceberg, he may enjoy a food-centered celebration. Whether it’s brunch, dinner or drinks—think of the place that screams “him” or a place he’s been dying to try. If you’d rather eat at home, you can also surprise him with gourmet chocolate, fine meats, or a make-your-own whiskey or beer kit.

For the tech head: Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver, Danny Tanner—all top-notch TV dads. If your dad makes the list, and loves gadgets to enhance his TV-watching time—let him splurge at the local electronics depot on tech goods that’ll make him giggle with glee. Typically, tech-loving dads have all the latest gadgets, so it can be hard to shop without them. If you’re itching to surprise him, you can always invest in a unique tablet case, computer accessories, or a subscription to a tech-centric magazine, such as Wired, PC Magazine or Popular Science.

free-fathers-day-wallpapers-photos6

For the sentimental pop: If your dad is the kind of guy who tears up every time he watches “Rudy,” this June 15 try a gift that’ll inspire a few tears of joy. You can put together a personalized photo book with your favorite dad photos, write him a song, or sit around the table and share family stories about him—after all, it’s the perfect day to let your dad know how much he means to you.

Whatever unique experiences you opt for, grab a card, too. Nearly 94 million Father’s Day cards were given last year in the U.S., making Father’s Day the fourth-largest card-sending occasion, according to the Hallmark. Jump in on the trend and remember, it’s OK to get gushy.

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Courtesy of the Allstate Blog

jeffspring@allstate.com

http://www.springfamilyinsuranceagency.com

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