Monday, January 29, 2018

Nationwide Recognized for Providing Outstanding Retirement Plan Service

DALBAR, the nation’s leading financial services market research firm, has once again honored Nationwide for its outstanding service to retirement plans. This year, Nationwide earned three separate DALBAR awards recognizing the level of service being provided to its retirement plan partners, plan sponsors and participants. The awards earned are:
  • 2017 Plan Participant Service Award for contact center support to plan participants in both public and private sector plans
  • 2017 Recognition for Excellence for telephone support and relationship management through the New Plan Implementation and Conversionsprocesses
  • 2017 Recognition for Excellence for email support and relationship management by the Client Services Team to plan sponsors, third-party administrators and financial advisors
2017 marked the fourth straight year that Nationwide has earned both the Plan Participant Service Award for contact center support and the Recognition for Excellence for email support to plan sponsors and TPAs. This is the third consecutive year that Nationwide has been recognized for telephone support and relationship management for new plan implementation and conversions.
“Nationwide’s focus on the customer experience extends across the life cycle of its retirement plans, from the initial implementation through disbursement,” said Brendan Yeager, DALBAR director.  “Nationwide is committed to providing an award-winning experience to all of its stakeholders, from the financial advisor and third-party administrator to the plan sponsor and, of course, individual participant. The company excels at both transactional interactions through its contact center and at building trust-based relationships with plan sponsors and business partners.”
Wendy Shaw, Nationwide’s vice president of retirement plan operations, said the awards demonstrate Nationwide’s commitment to providing a superior standard of care to retirement plan customers, and its ongoing investments in its people and technology.
“We’ve worked hard to build a culture that’s committed to excellence and continuous improvement,” said Shaw. “Our commitment extends from the plan sponsor or third-party administrator all the way to individual plan participants. It starts from the time a retirement plan comes to Nationwide and carries through to each and every plan sponsor and participant interaction – from their first payroll contribution all the way through retirement. These awards are clear evidence that we are delivering on that promise, and we’re extremely proud of our service leaders and associates who consistently deliver an outstanding experience to our retirement plan clients.”
The recognition of excellence is only awarded to firms that exceed strict standards for communication. The service award is based on systematic testing of customer service throughout the year based on thousands of tests measuring how financial companies respond to the service needs of their customers.
Learn more about how you can begin working with Nationwide’s award-winning retirement planning services to help you prepare for the future.

Friday, January 26, 2018

7 Ways to Teach Kids How to Save Money


Starting early can make a world of difference when it comes to teaching children to save and make sound financial decisions.
Luckily, there are simple ways to teach kids about money and help youngsters learn smart saving techniques. Here are some approaches to teaching children the valuable art of saving.

1. Teach kids about money with actual money 

In a world where anything can be purchased with the swipe of a card or typing of a password, the simple reality of cash can help teach the value of a dollar. That’s why using physical currency can be a smart way to teach kids about money. Counting coins and bills can also help preschoolers with hand-eye coordination and math skills.

2. Give an allowance

Giving children their own money is a good way to start teaching them how to save. Kindergarten is a great age to start a weekly or monthly allowance. A good rule of thumb is to pay $1 for every year of their age, so the incentive grows as they do. Make sure the allowance is based on completed chores, though. That way, kids understand that money is earned.

3. See the savings

Using a clear container as a bank can help give kids a sense of accomplishment watching the coins and dollars stack up. Make goals visible by marking a line on the side of the container as a target to reach. Not only does this teach children about saving, it makes reaching goals exciting and fun!

4. Teach children to allocate their savings

To introduce money management, as well as delayed gratification and charity, encourage your child to divide their money into three piles: savings, spending and sharing. You can do this online with the website Threejars.com, where kids can track their earned allowance and even earn interest on savings.

5. Set saving goals

Help your child develop savings targets to make sure savings isn’t an open-ended concept. The first goals should be reachable, fun and defined by both the parent and child. Sure, it may seem silly to save for a small toy, but the sense of achievement is worth it.

6. Teach kids about saving money in a bank account

As your child matures and has accumulated at least $100 in long-term savings, look into a bank savings account. Most major banks offer children’s savings accounts that can be opened online or at a local branch. A trip to the bank may be a new and fascinating experience for your child, inspiring a sense of maturity and financial responsibility. It’s also a great time to teach kids about other money concepts, like interest and risk.

7. Have conversations about saving

The best tool for money management is conversation. Parents should talk to their kids about money matters like budgeting and investing. Aim to mirror good money behaviors, but remember it’s also okay to admit to your own money mistakes.
Show your kids what smart money management is. Visit Nationwide Bank for information on banking, investing and more.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How to Negotiate Your Rent

woman negotiating her rent with landlord

Whether you’re apartment hunting and the perfect place is slightly out of your price range, or your landlord is raising the rent on your current apartment, you have the option to try and negotiate your rent. It sounds intimidating, but with a little strategy, you just might win over the landlord. Here are some ways you can go about negotiating your rent price:

Ask the landlord if rent price is open to discussion

Politely ask if the landlord is willing to discuss rent prices and when a good time to talk would be. If you’re negotiating price for a new place, it’s important to know who you are talking to. A large property company is less likely to negotiate terms, while an independent landlord has more leeway to change prices.
If you’re facing a rent increase, start the conversation at least a month before your lease ends so your landlord has enough time to consider your offer or, if need be, you have time to make other plans.

Highlight your strengths as a tenant

If you’re looking for a new place, you can show you’re financially stable by offering the landlord a few concessions, such as paying a few months of rent in advance or signing on for a longer lease which saves the landlord money in turnover.
In the case of a rent increase, you should remind the landlord what a reliable, responsible tenant you’ve been. If you’ve always paid your rent on time, are courteous to other tenants and have kept the property in good shape, make sure your landlord knows it. It can help prove your worthiness and give them an incentive to keep your current rent.

Inquire about extending the lease

Showing that you plan to stay in your apartment for a substantial length of time can demonstrate that you’re a stable investment. If the lease is annual, offer to extend it to 18-24 months in exchange for keeping your current rent. If the landlord knows he or she won’t have to take a risk with a new tenant, this could be a good compromise.

Offer to end the lease in the summer

Landlords know the summer is usually an easier time to find tenants. Since most people have more flexible schedules then, such as recently graduated college students looking for first apartments, there are simply more people looking for rental spaces. Offering to end your lease in the summer can be an attractive option for a landlord, and they might be willing to shave prices in exchange for the convenient end date.

Research the property’s value

Consider if the is rent beyond the actual worth of the prevailing market. Research rent rates by talking to other landlords or neighbors in the area. Knowing average property prices and frequency of rent hikes in the neighborhood may give you leverage.

Be open to compromise

Unless you’re simply unwilling or unable to afford the rent rate, suggest a compromise amount that you can afford. For instance, if the rent is $100 higher than you’d like, offer to pay $50 instead. Back up your offer by mentioning your research findings and focusing on your stability as a tenant.

Negotiate in person, follow up in writing

Try to talk to the landlord in person as face to face negotiation is usually best. Remain calm, polite and professional during the discussion – never rude or defensive. Follow up the discussion within 24 hours with a brief email thanking them for the meeting and reiterating your “ask.”

Have a backup plan

If you’re looking for a new place, you should have more than one apartment, house or condo on your radar. Banking on a landlord decreasing rent prices can be risky, especially if you have a set date you need to move out of your old place.
If you’re facing a rent increase, you have to decide if you’d be willing to pay the higher rate just in case negotiations don’t go as planned. If you are definitely unwilling or unable to accept the new rate, it’s a good idea to start researching new apartments. If you decide to stay and pay more each month, you can request property upgrades to make the increase more palatable, such as repainting the walls or updating the landscaping.

Rent increases aren’t the only unexpected thing that can happen to renters. Find out how Nationwide renters insurance can protect you against theft, damage to personal belongings, and more.

Monday, January 22, 2018

6 Energy-Efficient Technologies to Make Your Home Greener


Energy efficient technology in the home
Installing energy-saving technology is a great idea, whether you’re moving into a new place or upgrading your current home.
Different devices and types of technology can increase the comfort of your home and help you save money. They can also help you become more environmentally conscious.
There’s an increasing array of devices and software programs that can help you increase your energy efficiency. Below you’ll find 6 ways that you can use green home technology to help the environment and your wallet.
1. Programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat is easy to install, and you can program it to change the temperature at times when you don’t need as much heating or cooling, including when you’re at work, on vacation or asleep. Some thermostats allow you to control them an app on your phone or on your computer, making it easy for you to change the temperature when you’re not home.

2. Smart home automation systems

Smart home systems integrate and can improve various functions. For example, a smart alarm system combined with cameras or sensors that monitor specific areas can keep your home safer by letting you know via your smartphone when someone is there. Smart thermostats can adjust and control temperature automatically Other programs control lighting with similar precision and efficiency. For example, with some of the latest lighting systems, you can turn off lighting by room or area, or create a schedule for when certain lights should switch on or off. That way, even if someone leaves the lights on in one room, they’ll still turn off at a designated time. Some systems control smart appliances, turning on an oven, for instance, so it’s already pre-heated when you get home; turning off a coffee maker you accidentally left on; or closing a garage door at your command.

3. Energy-efficient windows

Energy-efficient windows can decrease your heating and air conditioning costs. Switching from single-pane to double-pane windows requires an initial investment, but the cost savings will add up as you spend less on energy bills. Older windows allow hot or cold air to escape through cracks, and single-paned designs don’t retain heat or cool air as well. If you aren’t ready to upgrade your windows, you can insulate each window, which can cut some of the air leakage.
Window coverings can also help. By keeping windows shaded on hot days, you can cut down on air conditioning usage. On cold days, keep those same window shades open to allow in natural, warm sunlight.

4. Energy-efficient air conditioners

In addition to using an energy-efficient air conditioner (look for one with an Energy Star rating), energy-savings solutions include closing off air conditioning vents in parts of the home you might not be using. That way, you’re not cooling an area that’s sitting empty, which is a great way to save energy during the summer. Also, consider raising the thermostat temperature a few degrees higher from where you normally set it. A new normal for you might mean lower energy bills, and you’ll still be comfortable. If you’re using a window air conditioning unit, be sure there’s a tight fit so air doesn’t escape out the window.

5. LED lights

Controlling your lighting makes your home more comfortable, makes it easier to see and helps you relax. You can do this with automated systems by changing out some your light bulbs. LED lights use less energy and are cooler when running than traditional incandescent lights, and they also last longer. Swapping out  light bulbs helps your home go green and can save you money in the long run. Consider installing smart bulbs for even more control over your home lighting; these devices pair with a smartphone app, so you can turn them on or off or switch their color remotely.

6. Energy-saving devices

Home appliances including refrigerators, hot water heaters, dishwashers and clothes dryers consume a lot of energy. Consider purchasing energy-efficient appliances with Energy Star ratings if you’re in the market for new appliances or are looking to upgrade. Their energy-saving technology is an easy way to reduce your energy usage.
Are you on a roll with saving energy around your home? Keep up the momentum. Learn even more ways to use green technology to improve the energy-efficiency of your appliances.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

5 Ways to Get Your Car Out of the Snow

car stuck in snow
Getting stuck in the middle of a big pile of snow or on a stretch of ice can be an all-too-common occurrence during the cold winter months. Luckily, we have a few tips and tricks that can get your car free in no time, even if you don’t have one of the best vehicles for winter driving. Here are some things you can try if your car is stuck in snow:

1. Clear a path around your tires

Try to dig snow and ice away from the drive tires. You want to free up a few feet in front of and behind the tires so you can move the car back and forth. Also, dig out any snow under the front or middle of your car that is higher than its ground clearance.
Of course a shovel makes this much easier, so try and store one in your trunk along with some other winter emergency items if you plan on driving in snowy conditions.

2. Rock your car free of the snow

Carefully switching from drive to reverse can help dislodge some of the snow around your wheels. “You go into drive, then reverse, then repeat,” says Mark Osborne, who oversees Michigan Technological University’s Winter Driving School. “But you have to be careful not to wreck your transmission. I put my foot on the brake at the peak of each ‘rock,’ so the car is motionless when I change gears. It’s also helpful to shift to neutral for a second before making the transition.”

3. Don’t floor the gas

You’ll always be tempted to floor it if you’re stuck. But don’t. Go easy on the pedal to give the vehicle just a little gas for a moment, then let off. Repeat to enhance the needed “rocking” motion. It’s momentum that sets you free, not power.

4. Improve traction

If you still can’t get your car free, you can next try and improve traction under your wheels. Things such as sandbags, salt, dirt or even kitty litter can be used when your car is stuck in snow. Throw several handfuls under your tires for improved traction, then try the gas again.

5. Get others to help push your car

If you have other people in your car, or friendly onlookers who can help, simply pushing your car out of the snow can be an easy solution. Gently press the gas while the car is being pushed to add additional momentum. Safety always comes first, so make sure you’re in forward gear and the ground isn’t too slippery for helpers to push.

Always keep a cool head

Whether you’re stuck in snow or hit a stretch of ice, try and remain calm. Don’t do anything abrupt, like slamming the brakes. “If you do that, you’ll transfer your vehicle’s weight to your front wheels,” Osborne says. “That lightens up the rear, making it likely that your rear end will spin.” Instead, Osborne says, gradually let off the gas and hold the steering steady until you’ve cleared the ice.
If all else fails, an emergency roadside assistance service can give your car a tow. Learn more about the benefits of our Roadside Assistance program here.
Your car getting stuck isn’t the only concern when winter comes along. Snowy and icy pavement can lead to accidents. To help you navigate inclement weather this winter, check out our safety tips for driving in a snowstorm.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lock the Door on Theft – Home Security Tips [Infographic]

Did you know that one home is broken into every 14.6 seconds? Home break-in crimes may be more common than you think, but taking certain precautions before you leave the house (and while you’re in it) can greatly reduce your risk of a burglary attempt. The infographic below shows a few surprising stats about break-ins and essential home safety tips and security information that can help you protect what’s important to you.

Lock the Door on Theft - Home Security Tips [Infographic]
Provided by Nationwide


If you’d like to take steps to prevent burglary attempts, use these theft prevention tips and our other Safety & Care tips to create a home safety checklist. It’s also important to protect your home and belongings with a homeowners insurance policyto help cover you in the event of theft, vandalism, and more.

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Complete Wedding Planning Checklist: 43 To-Do’s Before Saying Your “I Do’s”

couple sitting together at a wedding
The congratulatory calls and engagement parties have waned. Now what? It’s time to get down to serious wedding planning. Fun? Yes! Overwhelming? Oh, yes. But don’t fret. We’ve compiled this pre-wedding timeline and wedding planning checklist for soon-to-be brides and grooms.

16-9 months before your wedding day

1. Create a file or binder to keep wedding information organized and together
  • Wedding planning sections should include the following:
    BudgetDate
    VenueGuests
    Wedding partyVendors
    AttireStyling
    CeremonyReception
    EntertainmentMenu
    Pre-wedding plans: rehearsal dinner, bachelor party, bridal shower etc.Post-wedding plans: honeymoon
2. Plan your budget. TheKnot.com’s budget allocation chart can help:
Reception48-50%
Attire8-10%
Flowers/D├ęcor8-10%
Entertainment/Music8-10%
Photography/Video10-12%
Favors and Gifts2-3%
Ceremony2-3%
Stationary2-3%
Wedding Rings2-3%
Transportation2-3%
Miscellaneous8%
When planning your budget, it’s a good idea to avoid piling up bills that you’ll be paying back for years to come. Here are some wedding financing tips to help you avoid going into debt. 3. Set a date and reserve a venue for the ceremony and reception
3. Set a date and reserve a venue for the ceremony and reception
Research listings and compare features, cost, size, etc. Arrange visits and bring a list of questions to ask venue planners. Also, consider wedding insurance for protection in case of a cancellation or damage to the venue.
4. Create the guest list
  • Draft the list based on your budget and venue size.
  • Use Google Docs or similar resources to keep the list organized and easily editable.
  • Make sure guests’ names are on the RSVP card to avoid any confusion.
5. Choose your wedding party
6. Hire a wedding planner to help with details
7. Have the engagement ring appraised
You will most likely be able to have your ring appraised for free at the jewelry store where the ring was purchased. In the event your ring is lost or damaged, it’s a good idea to keep the appraisal and receipts in a safe place.
8. Insure the engagement ring for protection
Research your options when it comes to insuring your ring. You can contact your agent for more details on the steps you should take.
9. Choose an officiant for the ceremony

8 months before your wedding day

 10. Select a photographer and videographer
  • Decide on a photography style – candid, classic, edgy?
  • Read client reviews.
  • Interview prospective photographers and view their work.
  • Compare photo packages.
  • Inquire about your rights to the photos, since many photographers own the rights to all wedding images.
  • Find out post-production details, such as how long it takes to get your photos, how many you’ll receive, and whether the photographer offers retouching options.
11. Decide on entertainment
When choosing between a band or DJ, consider the following:
  • Vibe – Music sets the tone, theme and ambiance of your wedding
  • Variety – Make sure the entertainment can play the mix of genres you desire
  • Budget – While a DJ generally costs less than a band, the price of a band often depends on the number of musicians
  • Space – Check with the venue about restrictions. For example, is there a limit to the number of musicians or pieces of equipment you can bring in?
12. Choose a caterer
Schedule a tasting of what you want to serve and find out exactly what’s included, such as plates, silverware, table linens, etc.
13. Plan attire for the bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl and ring bearer
Schedule fittings and keep track of dates. Don’t forget jewelry, bag, shoes, bridal veil and other accessories.
14. Reserve a block of hotel rooms for out-of-town guests
15. Register for gifts with at least three retailers
Print out a wedding registry checklist to avoid missing any essentials.
16. Look into coverage options for any new gifts you receive
Check your homeowners or renters policy to find out if new gifts are already covered. If not, look into different property insurance options that could insure your new items.

7-6 months before your wedding day

17. Design invitations
  • Choose text and colors that are legible.
  • Order at least 25 extra invitations in the event of re-sends.
18. Plan your honeymoon
Planning your honeymoon well in advance can help avoid any last minute problems and can save you money. It’s also a good idea to get travel insurance so you’re protected if an incident affects your trip.
19. Send save-the-date cards
20. Reserve things like portable restrooms and outdoor lighting if needed
21. Book a florist
22. Create a music playlist, including a list of no-play songs
23. Arrange transportation for guests
  • Book transportation for the wedding party, as well as for you if you plan to arrive separately.
  • Hire a shuttle or bus to take guests to and from the hotel.

5-4 months before your wedding day

24. Finalize the menu
25. Choose a wedding cake
Schedule a tasting with bakeries so you can try different types of cakes, ask questions and review the bakery’s portfolio.
26. Address wedding invitations
Consider hiring a calligrapher to make your invitations more elegant and consistent.

3 months before your wedding day

27. Map out the ceremony with your officiant
28. Choose wedding favors for your guests
29. Create a list of who will be toasting at the reception
Be sure to allot time for speeches in your day-of schedule.
30. Purchase bride and groom wedding bands

2 months before your wedding day

31. Confirm times with all vendors
Send your day-of schedule to vendors and confirm appointments for hair and makeup.
32. Buy gifts for your wedding party
33. Send invitations

1 month before your wedding day

34. Get your marriage license
35. Separate RSVPs as you receive them by “attending” and “not attending”
The RSVP date should be 2-3 three weeks before your wedding in order to give the caterer a head count and set your seating chart a week ahead of time.
36. Schedule the timing for all day-of activities, such as the cake cutting and the first dance
A wedding planner or coordinator can help.
37. Put together gift bags for out-of-town guests

Week of the wedding

38. Assign seating for the reception
Create a seating chart at least a week before the big day. A site like seatingarrangement.com can help with the task.
39. Confirm honeymoon details
40. Deliver gift bags to guests at the hotel
41. Put tips and final payments for vendors into separate envelopes
42. Pack for your honeymoon
Check out our tips for efficient packing, and our guide to following TSA carry-on rules so your honeymoon isn’t derailed at the airport.
43. Breathe and enjoy as all your planning comes together!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

5 Surprising Reasons You Need Life Insurance


A key benefit of life insurance is it can provide enough money to help family members stay in their homes, even funding living expenses as well as debt left behind so the survivors have less financial stress during this difficult time. However, there are other reasons to purchase life insurance that are less commonly known but just as important. Here are some other ways life insurance can help you:

1. Paying for final expenses

The median cost of an adult funeral, with burial and viewing, was $7,181 in 2014, according to the latest figures available from the National Funeral Directors Association. But funeral expenses are only one part of the equation. Some people accumulate high medical bills at the end of life, and these aren’t all covered by health insurance. Legal help to settle the estate, can add up as well.
Even if a person doesn’t have a lot of assets, sorting out the final paperwork can get expensive. Life insurance funds can help pay for these expenses without them being a financial drain on the survivors.

2. Funding college

If the main breadwinner dies and the kids’ college fund isn’t fully loaded, college expenses are difficult to cover. Yes, student loans are available, but there may be gaps. Families may be required to pay more than they can comfortably afford. Making sure a life insurance policy has enough money to cover college expenses is a way to help the student get his or her best start in life as an adult.

3. Covering stay-at-home parents

If the at-home parent doesn’t earn a salary, it still costs money to do that job if that parent dies. The expenses of engaging babysitters, nannies and day care organizations can add up. It’s efficient to insure the stay-at-home parent with a life insurance policy while the kids are still minors, and it’s a prudent financial move.

4. Paying off student loans

Federal student loans can be discharged upon death if the family member requests it. Private lenders, however, don’t always discharge the debt. It’s important to understand the terms of the policy when getting the loan, as well as the consequences of the student dying, because the loan co-signers may be responsible for that debt. Some student loans are even due in full upon death. That’s when having a life insurance policy able to cover the loans is helpful.

5. Leaving inheritance

If you want to leave money to your heirs but you don’t have a lot of money or other assets, a life insurance policy is a good way to leave an inheritance economically. You put money away in a life policy and make your heirs the beneficiaries.
If you or a loved one is hesitant about getting life insurance, remember that it isn’t about the policyholder. Rather, it’s about protecting the people left behind. It’s a way of helping them cover expenses they may not be able to handle otherwise. They won’t be left holding the bag for your debt, and they’ll have a cushion to ease the financial stress.