Wednesday, December 21, 2016

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

There can be many factors that influence how much someone spends on an engagement ring. Though traditional standards suggest spending two to three months’ salary on a ring, many couples are now challenging the old rules and taking more personalized approaches.
A recent study estimates the average price of an engagement ring is $5,855. Still, there are no set rules. How much you should spend on an engagement ring will largely be dictated by your financial situation and what kind of ring your partner wants.
If you find yourself part of the average that can afford a $6,000 ring, then you will likely be looking for rings that meet certain standards of quality when it comes to the cut, color, clarity and carat weight, often referred to as the 4Cs grading system. At this price point, you will also be looking at a ring that has a carat weight of about 0.9 carats, the average carat weight for a purchased engagement ring in 2015.
Engagement rings with higher diamond grades usually have a greater carat weight and they are flawless. These rings have a tendency to be of rare quality and more expensive. In fact, rings of this quality can be the most expensive engagement rings you can buy, selling for between $500,000 and $8 million dollars.
Staying within your budget and purchasing something that can be treasured for years to come can be tricky, but there are different strategies available to you. Jewelry specialists often recommend buying a ring that’s just under the pricing plateau that’s higher than you want to go. So instead of a full carat ring, which sells at a premium rate, buy a 0.9 carat ring. These types of non-standard weights can reduce the cost of a ring significantly and with little noticeable difference in appearance.
Finally, if you are looking for something inexpensive but still stylish, a cubic zirconia engagement ring is a good option. For many it can be hard to distinguish between fake and real diamonds, and the difference in price is significant.
How much you spend on an engagement ring, whether it’s in a store or from an online retailer, will obviously be based on your personal financial situation. But with so many classes of rings out there, it’s possible to find something that you and your beloved really like that suits your budget, too.
Buying an engagement ring is the first of many decisions you’ll make when planning a wedding. Make sure to protect your special day with wedding insurance, which provides liability coverage and helps protect you from financial loss if you have to cancel or reschedule.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Buying Experiences vs. Things

Americans Buy ‘Experiences’ Instead of ‘Things’

Buying Experiences
As the U.S. economy continues its slow but steady improvement since the Great Recession — with joblessness currently at its lowest rate since 2008 — Americans are showing a greater willingness to spend. However, studies and market trends indicate their spending priorities are changing.
Instead of buying more things, Americans are preferring to purchase new “experiences.” The couple that might have added new items to their wardrobes in the past are now saving for a rock-climbing trip. Rather than buying a necklace for a birthday present, a spouse or partner may now decide to splurge on a special evening out.
Savvy business owners are taking advantage of this trend by adding “experiences” to their offerings or by augmenting their products and services with fun things to do.

Spending switch is on

According to the Mintel research firm, the greatest gains in U.S. consumer spending from 2015 to 2019 are expected to be in the “nonessential” category, where a 26 percent increase is projected for spending on experiences such as vacations, entertainment and dining out. Total U.S. consumer spending for that same period is projected to grow 22 percent..
The start of this trend could be spotted in 2014, when December’s monthly sales at restaurants exceeded grocery store sales for the first time in history. That trend has continued, according to Annika Stensson, director of research communications for the National Restaurant Association. “Restaurant sales continue to outpace grocery-store sales as consumers seek the convenience, quality and service provided by restaurants,” Stensson said.
A study by the PricewaterhouseCoopers accounting firm attributed much of the spending switch to millennials — people born in the 1980s and 1990s — who are more likely than baby boomers to spend their earnings on travel and other experiences. In the 2015 holiday season, for example, the millennials surveyed said 52 percent of their holiday spending would be for experiences such as travel and entertainment, while baby boomers expected to spend 39 percent on such experiences.

More services and experiences

A recent B2B International survey of senior marketing executives found 58 percent were making value marketing their top priority, up from 39 percent in 2015. That change reflects a shift toward providing more customer service and experiences, and a reduction in the steep discount pricing of recent years.
Target, for example, recently partnered with SoulCycle to produce a line of fitness clothing, and the partnership included putting wellness shops and free spinning classes in some stores. Lululemon stores not only sell yoga pants and equipment but also offer in-store yoga classes, group exercise activities and trips to international yoga festivals and retreats. Clothing retailers such as Talbots are holding in-store fashion shows and styling sessions to attract more interest.
“Retailers have had to look to ways to drive shopper traffic into stores and enhance the in-store shopping experience,” said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director and principal analyst for Prosper Insights & Analytics. “Shoppers are increasingly multitasking and time starved, and are shopping online due to convenience, low prices, and free shipping. In-store experiences are retailers’ attempts to divert this digital attention back into physical retail locations.”
Because consumers are able to go online and use mobile devices to instantly compare prices, Goodfellow said, shopper loyalty has suffered and businesses have had to work harder at “offering shoppers that little something extra” to differentiate themselves and to win loyalty.
“Shopper experience seems to be an extension of customer service,” Goodfellow said. “Customer service never goes out of style.”

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Prepping your business for Winter

6 tips for staying ahead of the storm
Nov 15, 2016 | By Wayne MaynardFred Sanford

Following these tips can help your clients prevent costly losses in dangerous winter weather.  With winter on the way, the promise of snow and freezing temperatures looms for many businesses — along with risks of slips and falls, burst pipes, service interruptions, and more. Companies that have a good understanding of winter-related exposures and take proactive measures to mitigate them are better positioned to protect the public and their employees and properties and manage their total cost of risk.

Following these six tips can help your clients prevent costly losses.

When treating outdoor areas, not all de-icers are created equal.
During cold weather, using de-icers on outside areas like parking lots and sidewalks can reduce slips, trips, and falls. De-icers can vary by price, corrosiveness, and effectiveness. A business should consider weather conditions and the application area when choosing one. For example, sodium chloride (rock salt) is inexpensive, but corrosive to concrete and less effective at lower temperatures. Ice melt blends (magnesium chloride or calcium chloride) are more effective at lower temperatures, but also more expensive. Proper application is also important. Melting snow can re-freeze overnight, so treat areas first thing in the morning, prior to the arrival of employees and visitors.

Don’t forget about the entryways (all of them)
The risk of slips and falls does not end once someone enters a building. Snow, ice, sand, and salt tracked in from outside can create hazards in entryways. Businesses should keep these areas clean and dry and use matting to absorb moisture to help mitigate these risks. An entryway’s size, flooring type, and traffic volume can affect the housekeeping schedule, floor mat length, and how often a mat should be replaced. Review plans to ensure they address each entryway.

Even dry pipe sprinkler systems can “freeze-up”
As the name implies, dry pipe sprinklers contain pressurized air that is replaced with water only once the system is activated by heat. Even these systems are susceptible to freeze-ups and are the cause of many winter-related losses. Transient water or condensation from the air within the system can build up and freeze during cold weather, causing damage to steel pipes and fittings. To minimize this risk, business owners should make sure systems are properly installed, with pipes sloped so water collects at low points, and that pipes are drained on a quarterly basis. 

Burst pipes can lead to significant damage and safety issues
Freeze-ups in piping typically occur in areas that are not adequately heated or insulated, such as in vacant buildings, near drafty windows, or in attics. Adding insulation can help, but if pipes do freeze up and burst, they are not only costly to fix, they could lead to extensive damage if water is not quickly turned off at the main source. It’s important that responsible personnel know the location of water shut-off valves (and how to use them) to minimize damage. If sprinkler systems are impaired as a result, a business should contact its insurance partners and local fire department to alert them of the potential hazard. 

Winter preparedness is everyone’s responsibility 
When preparing for winter weather, everyone — from housekeeping staff and front-line employees to managers and interns — bears some responsibility. Each party should clearly communicate its role, responsibilities, and expectations when it comes to maintenance and safety. For example, who is responsible for keeping hallways dry and clean? Are workers careful to put excess snow in areas that do not block fire exits, vents, or drains? Employees should know whom to contact when confronting a hazard.

Your insurance partners can boost your efforts
A knowledgeable insurer can help you offer expertise and support to clients putting their winter plans in place. An insurer may provide pre-season preparation guides and more timely communications right before a storm that review maintenance procedures. If your clients are building new locations or renovating their current spaces, your carrier may be able to offer guidance on entryway designs, flooring material, and more that can help reduce the risk of injuries.
As with most hazards, an ounce of winter weather risk prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowledge, communication, and support from the right partners can save businesses time — and money — when winter arrives.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Car Dashboard Lights - What Do They Mean?

Know What Your Car Dashboard Lights Are Telling You

dashboard symbols
Today’s cars have many different dashboard lights designed to alert drivers to possible problems and to make sure you can take care of those problems quickly.
Here’s a quick guide to common dashboard warning lights and car symbols.

Check engine

In newer cars, the lit icon will look like an engine. It means the vehicle’s computer has triggered a diagnostic trouble code indicating there’s an issue. If it occasionally turns on and off, it’s an intermittent problem and you’ll just want to have it checked next time you take it in for maintenance.
However, if it stays on, it means there’s an ongoing problem – though it could be as simple as the gas cap not being closed tightly. If the problem continues, get the engine checked out. If the light flashes rapidly, the problem may be serious and you should get to a repair shop immediately.

Low tire pressure light

This dashboard light looks like a tire with an exclamation point in it and means that at least one of your tires is underinflated. You’ll want to check your tire’s air pressure immediately.


This dashboard light stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System and when it comes on, there’s a problem with the monitoring system – probably a failed sensor in one of the wheels. Some people mistakenly believe this means the air pressure is low in the tires, but the TPMS is responsible for keeping track of air pressure in the tires; when it notices a tire is low, it triggers the low tire pressure light. If the TPMS light remains on, have the sensors checked during regular maintenance – and never rely solely on warning signals. You still should check your tire pressureonce a month.

Oil pressure

If you see a dashboard light that looks like an oil can, you need to pull over at the nearest gas station. This light signals the loss of oil pressure, and you need to check to make sure you aren’t losing oil.

Coolant temperature

A warning dashboard light that looks like a thermometer means the engine’s temperature is beyond the normal limits, and it should be checked immediately to keep your car from overheating. You’ll want to check the coolant level and make sure the radiator cap is properly sealed as well as look for coolant leaks. Always allow time for the engine to cool down before checking the coolant level, however, to avoid getting burned.


When the dashboard light that looks like a battery comes on, your voltage level is below normal. It means the vehicle’s charging system isn’t functioning properly, so you need to have the battery terminals and alternator belt checked. If it’s an older battery, you may need to replace it.

Brake system

The dashboard light that looks like a circle inside a set of parenthesis with an exclamation point in the middle represents your brake system – and if it comes on while driving, you need to pay immediate attention to it. It could be triggered by driving with the parking brake on, but it can also mean you’re losing brake fluid.
If it comes on and off intermittently, and you don’t notice a change in braking ability, you should get it to a repair shop as soon as possible. But if it stays on there’s a problem that needs to be taken care of immediately, and you should have it towed to a repair shop.
In the case that you do need to go to a repair shop and have work done, make sure you have the best coverage. Learn more about how Nationwide auto insurance can protect you and save you money.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Need to save a little money for the Holidays?! Energy efficiency may be one of the ways to do it!

7 Ways to Stop Drafts in Your Home

Drafts, or air leaks, can come into your home through windows, fireplaces and even electrical outlets, making your house feel several degrees colder and driving up your heating bills. The potential energy savings from reducing drafts can range from 5% to 30% per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Here are seven ways to find and fix drafts in your home before winter’s frigid temperatures hit.

Windows and doors

Most people automatically think to check for gaps around their windows and doors, and many will opt to use self-sticking weather stripping or a decorative draft stopper to stop air leakage. Others will caulk around their doors and windows. Caulking, however, isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“Caulking seems easy until it’s coming out of the end of the tube and you can’t control it, it goes all over the place and it doesn’t go where you want it to go,” says Mark Clement, co-host of a home improvement radio show. The problem, he says, is there are so many different types of caulking to choose from. The best choice is to use a high-quality latex caulk that cleans up with water.
You should also check for cracked caulking around your doors and windows. If you find any cracks, you will need to re-caulk those areas to prevent cold air from seeping in. If you want to add an extra barrier between the outside air and your home, you could also install an insulating plastic film over your windows to provide an airtight seal.

An easy way to stop air leakage, says Clement, is to lock your windows. Sometimes a window will look closed but, until it is locked, it’s hard to tell if the window is shut tight, he says. If you can’t lock your window, try opening it all the way and closing it again to make sure the window is still on its track. If that doesn’t work, you might need to call a professional to check your window.


If you have an unfinished basement, there is a good chance your floors feel cold when you walk around in bare feet and even when you wear socks, Clement says. The best way to stop cold air from penetrating the floor is to add insulation under the flooring.

Cable lines and wires

Anywhere a cable, wire or pipe goes from inside to out, there is typically an air leak. If the hole around the wire or pipe is a quarter of an inch or less, you can use caulk to seal it, Clement says. If it is larger, use foam insulation to close the hole.

Electrical devices

Contractors often under-insulate light switches and plugs, says Clement. As a result, they can become wind tunnels. If you remove the electrical wall plate around your light switch or plug, you may see a gap between the device and the wall. You can fill up the cavity with low-expanding foam insulation. This video explains how to do it (but when in doubt, consult a professional).


Make sure your attic is properly insulated. It’s important to seal areas where exhaust fans, attic stairs and small holes allow cool air to seep into your home. Foam insulation and weather stripping can be added to the plywood or drywall in your attic to help seal up those areas.


The damper inside your chimney is meant to keep the cold air out but since dampers are typically made of cast iron, they don’t entirely keep the cold away. One way to stop drafts from fireplaces is to insert a piece of thick foam insulation covered with decorative fabric at the fireplace opening when you aren’t using the fireplace.

Buffer your home with landscaping

Shrubs and trees planted around your home can help protect it from the wind in the winter and provide shade in the summer. For instance, says Clement, if you plant an evergreen tree in front of your house it will protect your home from the wind, keeping the cold air from hitting your house and windows directly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

5 Tips for Windshield Crack Prevention and Repair

5 Tips for Windshield Crack Prevention and Repair

All it takes is one small chip in the windshield before it becomes a full-fledged crack. Small yes, but you want to be safe. Here’s how to prevent a windshield crack from interfering with your safety.

1. Decide if it needs immediate attention

First, where’s the crack located? Is it off to the side or is it obscuring your view? If it interferes with your ability to see the road, you should deal with even a small crack immediately by taking your car to the repair shop. However, if it’s not really impairing your ability to see the road, grab a ruler.

2. Determine whether it needs repaired or replaced

If the crack is less than 12 inches long, or the chip is smaller than the size of a quarter, the integrity of the windshield hasn’t been compromised and probably doesn’t require replacing, according to But every crack or chip is different, and it’s important to consult an expert. The goal is to ensure a crack from getting bigger or in any way compromising safety.

3. Avoid dirt and debris

One of the biggest things to guard against is dirt. If dirt gets into the crack, it can make a simple repair much more complicated. But that doesn’t mean you should head for the car wash or reach for a bucket. If water seeps into the crack, what began as a small repair has now become a complete replacement. Instead, keep dirt and moisture away from the crack with a piece of clear packing tape, which is strong but won’t obscure your view.

4. Park indoors to avoid the sun

If possible, park the car inside, where it will be protected against rain as well as the sun, which can cause the windshield to heat up and allow the crack to expand. If you don’t have a garage, try parking in a shaded spot.

5. Avoid temperature extremes

Likewise, keep in mind that extreme cold is not good for the cracked windshield. Refrain from putting your air conditioner or defroster on high. If necessary, use the heater moderately to gradually defrost the windows.

6. Drive carefully

Another way to keep the crack from getting larger is to drive with extra caution. That means steering clear of potholes and staying away from rough roads. Jostling the car is the last thing that you need when driving with a crack, and you also want to be careful when getting in and out of the car and avoid slamming the doors or the trunk.
Above all, keep safety in mind at all times; the sooner you get the windshield in for replacement or repair, the better. Beyond repairing a cracked windshield, performing regular car maintenance is key to sustaining your car in the long term. Check out the ultimate car maintenance schedule and keep your ride up to date.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

We love your referrals!

At Lynn Cary-Wheeler and Associates we rely on your referrals! We've built our business on a reputation that we're the best at that we do, don't believe us? Check out what people are saying about us by clicking here!

We also want to give an opportunity for those who have been with us and have been behind our brand for so long an opportunity to get a little something from us.

Send a referral our way and we'll give you a little reward in return. Let us take care of your loved ones the way we have taken care of you!

Thanks so much for your continued support.

Friday, October 28, 2016

6 Common Car Smells and How to Remove Them

6 Common Car Smells and How to Remove Them

Everyone wants to keep the new car smell in their car as long as possible. What do you do when the air turns funky? Here’s a look at 6 common causes of car odors and how you can remove them.

1. How to check for hidden odor sources

Play detective and check around the car for anything that could be causing the odor. Look in pockets, under seats, on floor mats and even in the glove compartment for baby bottles in the back seat, moldy fruit in forgotten bags or unidentified blobs that may have been dragged in on the bottom of someone’s shoe. Immediately remove and throw any of these away and open the doors for a while to let any lingering odor dissipate. Don’t forget that sometimes a funky smell can also be a sign of an overheated car – or you may be in need of an oil change.

2. How to clean car carpet and upholstery

If you can’t find the source, pull out the car vacuum. Many times the upholstery, carpet or fabric interior can trap odors. Work the vacuum all around and down into crevices using the upholstery attachment. If this doesn’t do the trick but you believe this is the source of your odor issue, try steam cleaning where possible. If you have leather seats, you can clean them thoroughly in a few simple steps.

3. How to remove cigarette smell from car

If you’re a smoker or have a passenger who is, remember to empty the ashtrays regularly. Keep in mind smoke has a way of getting everywhere, including into the vents. Spray deodorizer into the vents as well as through the intake valve under the hood. In addition, open all of the windows and doors to air things out.
Keep in mind that smoking leaves behind tar, which is a sticky substance. Wipe down the interior panels with a 50/50 combination of water and vinegar solution. If the odor still lingers, mix in some dish soap as well. Once done, wipe the surfaces dry.

4. How to eliminate car sickness smells

Don’t forget about small children or pets who may have had an accident on the upholstery or who, may have had a carsick moment, . Even if these accidents were wiped up right away, a deeper clean may be necessary to fully get rid of the smell. If it has already dried, use your 50/50 water and vinegar solution to rehydrate the spot and then remove it with a wet/dry vacuum. Spreading kitty litter on the area or sprinkling it with baking soda can also help absorb odors.

5. How to remove mildew from cars

Mildew is another source of unwelcome odors. All you need is one rainstorm and an overlooked partially opened window (or even just a small leak with a buildup of condensation), to experience this. Luckily, removing mildew smells in cars is pretty straightforward. A wet/dry vacuum can help remove remaining water from carpets and upholstery but, in a pinch, even a hair dryer may work. If a small leak is the cause, you may have to hunt around a bit. Check under the mats as well as in the trunk for any condensation, including checking the area where your spare tire is stored.

6. How to eliminate car air conditioner smells

One other possible source of that mildew smell is the air conditioning system. One telltale sign is damp floor mats near the air conditioner. If you find an odor coming from this area, open the front cover and remove the filter. Use a nylon scrub pad to remove any mold growth, then use a cotton swab to dry it. (To finish drying things out, turn on the car’s heater.) When you’re sure the area is completely dry, apply an anti-mildew solution, enzyme cleaner or odor absorber. You could also sprinkle baking soda on the upholstery and leave it in place for a day or so before vacuuming away. By then, the smell should have dissipated. You also may, of course, remove any car mats and let them air out for a while.
After finding the source of car odors and treating them, your car should smell great. With the help of a new car smell air freshener, could almost smell as good as new.

For more information click here 

Trick or Treating Tips Infographic

Trick or Treating Tips Infographic

Halloween is just around the corner, and there are a few things to consider before October 31st. From picking out the right costume to keeping your house protected, Halloween requires some preparation. Check out these Halloween facts and trick or treating safety tips to help you and your family have a great Halloween. 

For more information click here
Trick or Treating Tips Infographic

6 Tips for Ladder Safety

6 Tips for Ladder Safety

Ladders are a common part of home repair and maintenance. They enable homeowners to complete tasks that would otherwise be difficult to reach. But as is the case for any tool, it’s important to use ladders safely.
Ladder-related injuries send more than 90,000 people a year to emergency rooms throughout the United States, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report.
Ladders were also involved in 81 percent of all injuries from falls that sent construction workers to emergency rooms, and 20 percent of injuries from falls that U.S. workers sustained on the job over a 10-year period studied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Many of these injuries occur because someone did not use the proper-size ladder or used a ladder improperly, says Mark Clement, co-host of the MyFixItUpLifehome-improvement radio show.

Here are Clement’s six tips for proper ladder use:

Ladder safety tip #1: Read the safety label

Everything you need to know about proper ladder use is written on the ladder’s safety sticker, but many people are in too much of a rush or are too tired to read it, Clement says. As is the case with any tool in which safety is an important issue, take your time to read the directions. That can prevent an accident.

Ladder safety tip #2: Make sure the ladder is tall enough

The most popular ladder size, 18 feet, may not be tall enough to get you on and off a roof safely, Clement says. It’s barely tall enough to get to the edge of the roof. While you might be able to get off the ladder and onto the roof, getting back onto the ladder from the roof is another story with a ladder that is too short.
To safely return to the ladder from the roof, the ladder needs to extend 3 feet, or three rungs, above the roof to give you something to hold onto when you get back onto the ladder, Clement says. Otherwise, you will need to lie on your belly on the roof and try to hook the ladder with your feet. Most houses require a 24-foot ladder. If you have a two-story house, a 28-foot ladder is the better option.

Ladder safety tip #3: Don’t lean out too far

One of the most common falls from a ladder comes from losing your balance while cleaning out the gutters, Clement says. Eventually you get tired of going down the ladder, moving it 3 feet, and going back up. So, you start to lean over too far and you lose your balance. A good rule of thumb, is to keep your belt buckle between the rungs and never reach out any farther on either side.

Ladder safety tip #4: Use the ladder for its intended use

Don’t use the ladder as a bridge or scaffolding. Don’t use the shelf on the ladder as a step. People are tempted to step on that shelf because they choose a ladder that isn’t long enough, Clement says. They don’t want to get down and get another ladder, they just want to finish the job. That’s when people get hurt, he says.

Ladder safety tip #5: Make sure the ladder is on a firm, level surface

The ladder needs to be level at its base and on a firm surface to prevent it from tipping over while you are climbing on it. Rocky or uneven ground can destabilize a ladder.  If the ladder seems even a little wobbly, it’s best to adjust your location. Sometimes even just a couple of feet will be enough to ensure a safe base.

Ladder safety tip #6: Plan your route before moving the ladder

Most people store their ladder in the garage or the shed. Before you move it from storage to your work area, plan your route to make sure you don’t bump into any wires, cars or other objects, Clement says. Carry it horizontally and make sure the gate is open if you are moving it from the back yard to front yard.
Knowing proper ladder safety is key to protecting yourself against unforeseen accidents. Make sure your home and property have adequate protection by getting the right homeowners insurance policy. Learn more about Nationwide’s homeowners and renters insurance policies today.

For more information click here

How to Winterize Your Car: The Official Checklist

How to Winterize Your Car: The Official Checklist

Have you given your car the tender, loving care it needs to survive the ravages of winter? Following our checklist can help ensure it’s prepared to take on the cold.

Antifreeze and Cooling System

  • Before temperatures drop significantly, drain your cooling system and add new antifreeze (draining the car radiator and refilling it with new coolantshould be done at least once a year)
  • Check the owner’s manual for the proper coolant level
  • Make sure the reserve tank or overflow tank fluid levels are sufficient


  • Check tires weekly for proper tread and air pressure (you’ll find the recommended tire pressure inside the driver’s side door, doorframe or in the owner’s manual)
  • Replace worn tires
  • All-weather tires are generally adequate for winter, but some areas require vehicles to have chains or snow tires with studs, so make sure to check local laws
  • If you live in an area prone to snow and ice, consider winter tires, which are designed to better grip icy pavement

Windshield Wipers

  • Replace worn windshield wipers, since sand and salt will be more prevalentafter a snowstorm
  • Replace wiper fluid with a winter mixture and maintain the proper fluid level
  • Consider winter wiper blades to help cut through snow and ice


  • Check brake fluid levels and brake pads for wear and tear
  • Replace worn pads and rotors


  • Make sure battery cables and terminals are secure and free from corrosion
  • Test your battery by turning on the headlights before starting the engine – if they get brighter once you start the engine, schedule an appointment with a mechanic for further electrical inspection
  • If your battery is more than 3 years old, have it inspected by a mechanic

Heater and Defroster

  • Turn your heater and defroster on and off to make sure they are working correctly


  • Make sure all lights are clean and working properly
  • Clean lights off prior to driving in any type of precipitation
  • Replace foggy, hazy or damaged lens covers to improve visibility


Exhaust System

  • Replace or repair leaks and crimped pipes to help keep carbon monoxide out of the passenger compartment

Fuel and Air Filters

  • Replace and keep water out of the system by using additives
  • To keep moisture in the gas line from freezing and for easier cold-weather starts, keep at least a half tank of gas in the tank


  • Prevent road salt from damaging your car’s paint by washing your vehicle periodically
  • Apply a fresh coat of wax to avoid corrosion
  • For better visibility, clear snow and ice from your car’s hood, roof, head and taillights before driving
  • Consider winter floor mats to protect your car’s carpeting
Along with these maintenance tips, make sure your vehicle has a winter emergency kit.

Any of the recommendations should only be done if consistent with the owner’s manual.

For more information click here

How to Avoid 5 Common Small Business Mistakes

How to Avoid 5 Common Small Business Mistakes

Only about half of all new businesses survive five years or more, and only about a third survive beyond 10 years, according to the Small Business Administration. From not having enough startup money to trying to do it all yourself to not investing in marketing, common errors in planning and management can provide challenges for small businesses when they’re starting out.
Here are a few of the most prevalent business mistakes and ways to overcome them:

1. Not connecting with a mentor or coach

Most small business owners know how to make their products or provide their services, but few know how to run a business, says Linda Murray Bullard, owner of LSMB Business Solutions. Many times a business fails not because the product or service they’re providing is inferior but because the owner isn’t properly attending to the management side of the business.
Connecting with a business expert, mentor or coach will help you strengthen your business knowledge, better identify your target market, build a sales strategy and create a sustainable enterprise. An expert can take many forms including an insurance professional that assists with protection options for your business.
“Sometimes small business owners think they have to do it all themselves and they don’t engage in business networks,” Bullard says.
Bullard suggests attending local Chamber of Commerce events and contacting the Small Business Administration. You don’t have to be a chamber member to go to meetings, she says. Through your local SBA chapter you can qualify for free consultations with an attorney or a business coach, Bullard says.

2. Marketing to everyone

Small business owners often forget they need to find their target market rather than casting too wide a net. Instead of creating a solid sales and marketing plan, they will often try to register on every social media platform to reach everyone. You don’t have to master them all, Bullard says, you just need to know which platform is right for your product.
For instance, if you’re selling something that has eye appeal, such as clothing, artwork or food, try Pinterest and Instagram. If you’re selling a professional service, like taxes or insurance, you will want to be on LinkedIn and Facebook where you can describe your services.
The same rules apply to advertising. If you know your target audience, then you can determine where to advertise. For instance, if you’re selling medical supplies it might make sense to place an ad in a daily newspaper, but if you’re selling home health care assistance, consider advertising through social media.

3. Selling your product or service at too low a price

Many business owners think cheaper prices will get them more customers, Bullard says. Or they mistakenly think if they set their price lower than their competitor’s, they will steal away customers. What happens instead, she says, is you end up having to keep increasing the price to meet your expenses until your product or service ends up being more expensive than the competition.
Start off with a comparable price that covers your expenses and allows you to stay in business, Bullard says.

4. Only considering traditional funding

Many small business owners don’t have a strong enough credit history to support a large business loan. Instead of giving up, business owners should explore other ways of raising funds. For instance, she says, if you need a $10,000 loan, ask 10 friends who believe in your idea to invest $1,000 each. You could also consider crowdfunding your business through Kickstarter or GoFundMe.

5. Assuming you’ll be profitable your first year

New business owners assume they are going to be immediately profitable, but most new businesses typically break even or lose money their first year. That doesn’t mean the business has failed. It could just mean spending more time to find your footing and laying the groundwork to be profitable in the future.

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