Your Financial Plan and the Role of Insurance

Creating a Financial Plan

Having a rough idea of what your future should look like isn’t enough to secure a comfortable retirement. A financial plan won’t guarantee that you’ll enjoy your golden years, but it can help you work toward making that happen. So what is this magical financial plan? It’s a comprehensive assessment of your current financial status, an overview of your short-, mid- and long-term goals and a strategy that will help you reach them.

Set Financial Goals

The first step in developing your financial plan is to know what you’re saving for. Think short-term, mid-term and long-term. Do you plan on buying a home in the next three years? Write it down. Do you want to have your business running without you in the next nine years? Write it down. Do you have visions of the Bahamas after you retire? Write. It. Down.

Whatever your goals are, write them down so you can better plan for your actions leading up to those achievements. You can’t build the roadmap to financial security without knowing the destination.

Create a Budget

Run through your statements and receipts to figure out where you are now. This is an opportunity to find places where you can tighten your belt, but be realistic in your discretionary spending and allow room to breathe.

Fixed Expenses

  • Housing | mortgage/rent, insurance, property taxes, dues, maintenance/repairs, utilities, phone, internet
  • Healthcare | health premiums, copayments, deductibles, medication/supplies, dental, vision
  • Transportation | vehicle payments, insurance, gas & oil, maintenance/repairs, parking, public transportation
  • Debt | loan payments, payments on credit cards, other debts

Discretionary Expenses

  • Food | groceries, dining out, ordering in
  • Personal | clothing, gifts, personal care, charitable contributions
  • Entertainment and Recreation | sports, hobbies, gym/club dues, cable/streaming, subscriptions, travel, movies, music, pet expenses
  • Dependents | extracurricular activities and lessons, childcare, K-12 education
  • Savings Toward Goals & Insurance | 401(k) contribution (pre-tax), IRA contribution, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, college savings, emergency savings, life insurance, disability insurance, other insurance, additional payments on credit cards/loans

Build an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund can be useful in situations ranging from minor home-appliance repair to longer-term unemployment. How much should you save in your emergency fund? Most financial experts recommend that you have somewhere between three months and six months of basic living expenses in your emergency fund. The three-month guideline is generally recommended for those who are in salaried positions and have more secure employment.

Address Your Debts

Fully understanding your debts is a key piece of planning for a financially sound future. Take a minute to write down the balance, interest rate and minimum payment for each debt you have. Now that you have all of the numbers down in front of you, decide the best method to manage your debts:

Snowball Method | The debt snowball method is a debt reduction strategy where you pay off debt in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as you knock out each balance. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the money you were paying on that debt into the next smallest balance.

Avalanche Method | The debt avalanche targets debts with the highest interest rates first. This route may help you save time and interest over your debt payoff journey.

Protect Yourself with Insurance

Purchasing insurance is about protecting yourself against risk.

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How Can Insurance Protect Your Financial Future?

Insurance is an essential part of any sound financial plan. Being prepared for the unexpected will ensure that you can still reach your goals after facing a financial crisis. Certain situations can be expensive for those without coverage, or with insufficient coverage.

One of our own Stromsoe Insurance Protection Coaches knows the importance of insurance from personal experience. Our teammate’s mother was hit by a drunk driver and because of that crash, she lost her leg. The drunk driver wasn’t insured, so the buck stopped with her. Months of recovery had wracked up medical bills. Her own insurance was able to provide her with some support through her Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage, taking a great deal of the burden off of her own family.

For a number of people, this is the sad truth they find themselves facing. Insurance is meant to protect you in the event that one of those risks becomes reality. All too many out there are either uninsured or severely underinsured. It’s important to work with your local, experienced, independent insurance coach to find the coverage that works for you.

Why is Insurance Considered a Financial Product?

To answer this questions, let’s take a look at Life Insurance. The purpose of life insurance is to provide a replacement of your income in the event of your passing. Life insurance policies can be one of the most important financial products you can purchase, and they are often more affordable than you might think. But how much life insurance do you need?

The amount of life insurance is going to depend on you and your situation. How much annual income would you need to replace if something were to happen to you? Do you have any debts? How much do you have in savings and investment accounts? Do you already have life insurance policies?

There are two general rules of thumb when it comes to deciding how much to purchase:

  1. Multiply your annual income by 10
  2. Multiply your income by 10 and add $100,000 per child for college expenses

 

Questions? Want to learn more? Here’s 4 easy ways to reach us:

Phone: 877-994-6787
Email: insure@siaonline.com
Text: 951-482-8144
Web: www.siaonline.com

PS Here’s a few words from one client that trusts Stromsoe Insurance Agency:

“After a little accident with a parked car, we called [Stromsoe Insurance] for advice, [they] took time to answer all my questions, and gave me some practical advice in handling the situation.”

Louisa Hsieh – Temecula, CA – Clients Since 1993

PPS Every policy is backed by our iron clad, 100% complete satisfaction guarantee. Ask for your copy today!

Holiday Traditions with the Stromsoe Team

Every family has their own way of celebrating the holidays, so we asked your Stromsoe Total Protection Team what their favorite holiday traditions are come December!

24 Days of Christmas Movies and Books

Before December hits I individually wrap 23 holiday DVDs and books. Each night, my son will pick one at random and that is what we read or watch before he goes to bed. On Christmas Eve I always pull out A Muppet Christmas Carol, since that what I watched with my mom growing up. I may have added on to the tradition over time, but it reminds me of my Christmases when I was little.

Making Christmas Cookies for the Neighbors

For every holiday, my family gets together and we make holiday cookies to pass out to our friends and neighbors. They are always so excited to get them and the their faces show my kids what the holidays are all about.

Searching for Christmas Lights

Every year, the whole family piles into the car and we follow a route to see all of the best decorated and brightly lit houses in the area. It’s always such a special time and it’s so nice to be with the family.

Building Gingerbread Houses with Friends

Our friends come over every year and build gingerbread houses. We have such a great time decorating and most of them are still standing by the end of it!

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Hand Prints on the Tree Skirt

Every year my son puts another hand print on the outer edge of the tree skirt, so we can see how he grows every year and how our little family has grown over time!

Stealing Presents with Extended Family

When we see our extended family we always do the steal a present game. It’s so great to be able to play a game together and not have to spend a fortune on every single person. The holidays are about being together anyway, so this works perfect for us.

Matching Pajamas for Christmas Eve

I grew up this way and now my kid does this too. Everyone opens a single present on Christmas Eve every year, and it’s always matching pajamas! It’s nice to sit together and watch a movie or hang out with all the siblings while we’re all in our matching pajamas. My mom used to love finding something to make us all match too. Her reaction was always too funny!

Yorkshire Pudding and Standing Rib Roast

Since I was little, our entire family has celebrated 12th Night. During this celebration, we enjoy Yorkshire Pudding and Standing Rib Roast. To top it off, we have Plum Pudding with a sugar sauce for dessert and we light a holly leaf doused in brandy for good luck. Its a hard core English tradition and always such a great time with the family.

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is approaching and although it may look a little different, many will still be out and about this coming holiday. It is important to teach children how to be safe and aware and to set guidelines and expectations for behavior. Here are our top tips for having a fun and safe Halloween!

Walk Safely

  • Cross the street at corners using traffic lights, crosswalks and looking both ways.
  • Put away your electronic devices so you can keep your head up and your eyes peeled.
  • Teach your children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the road.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or designated pathways.
  • Be extra aware of cars that are turning or backing up and consider their blind spots.
  • Join kids under the age of 12 for trick-or-treating.
  • Discourage children from eating treats and candy while walking to avoid choking hazards.

Costume Safety

  • Add reflective tape to costumes and bags.
  • Wear glow-in-the dark or light up items.
  • Choose face paint over masks when possible as to not obstruct a child’s vision.
  • Be sure that costume makeup is non-toxic and test it on a small piece of skin before applying to large areas.
  • Remove all makeup from the skin before children go to bed to keep from causing skin or eye irritation.
  • Do not use costume lenses without a proper eye exam and a prescription.
  • When picking a costume, be sure to find the right size to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Make sure children’s shoes fit well to avoid falls.
  • Avoid sharp swords, canes and sticks as accessories to avoid injury if a child falls while in costume.
  • Make sure that all costumes, wigs and accessories are fire resistant.
  • Avoid complicated costumes for young children to avoid accidents.
  • Always have a plan B for young children in the event of accidents.

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Driving Carefully

  • Slow down and stay on alert in residential areas as children may move in unexpected directions due to their excitement.
  • Make an effort to look twice for children when approaching intersections and on meridians and curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways with extra caution.
  • Put away any distractions and focus on the road.
  • Turn your headlights on early to help see children and to help children see you.
  • Try to avoid driving during popular trick-or-treating hours if possible.
  • After twilight, watch extra carefully for children in dark clothing.

Going it Alone

  • If older children are going out alone, review an acceptable route beforehand.
  • Agree on a specific time that everyone should meet up or return home.
  • Teach children not to go into the cars or homes of strangers.
  • Be sure children know to stay in well-traveled and well-lit areas.
  • Let children know not to eat any treats until they have come home.
  • Teach children to only go to houses with a porch light on.
  • Review with children how to call 9-1-1.
  • If you have children of driving age, review safe driving tips with them before they head out for the night.

Halloween Activities

  • Don’t allow young children to carve pumpkins. Instead, let children draw their design on the pumpkin for an adult to carve.
  • Teach older children to carve pumpkins with the blade moving away from themselves.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle inside jack-o-lanterns.
  • Never leave candles unattended (including those inside a pumpkin).
  • Remove tripping hazards from your porch or front door to keep visiting trick-or-treaters safe.
  • Check your outdoor lights and replace any bulbs that have burned out.
  • Restrain pets to avoid them jumping on or biting visitors and from getting out.
  • Teach children not to pet other animals without asking first.
  • Feed your children a good meal before attending parties or going out to trick-or-treat to avoid them eating far too much candy.
  • Consider handing out non-edible goodies for trick-or-treaters in support of food-allergic children and the Teal Pumpkin Project.
  • Ration treats for the weeks following Halloween and set realistic guidelines for how much your children should have.

Wishing you and your family safety and wellness always!

Your Stromsoe Insurance Agency
Total Protection Team
Phone: 951-600-5751
Email: insure@siaonline.com
Text: 951-482-8144

 

3 Tips to Maximize Business and Schoolwork in a Full House

The kids are home from school and you have to work from home.

As more and more people are working remotely and schools are closed, it can be a difficult situation to say the least. If you’re working from home while your kids are completing class work in the next (or same?) room, how can you make sure you’re doing right by your business and your kids’ education?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, here are three tactics to help make the most of your new logistical reality.

  1. Create a schedule

With everyone home, schedules are usually the first things to drop by the wayside. Don’t let this happen. You still have work to do and your kids have schoolwork to complete—this isn’t their vacation. Stick to your normal routine and business schedule as best you can. Similarly, make sure to set up a schedule for your kids. You may not be able to mirror a school day, but setting expectations for the day will help.

Try to schedule your kids’ individual schoolwork when you have to be engaged with your employees, co-workers, and/or customers. This way, for the academic work that does require some parental guidance, you can be available during your solo work time.

You can find a number of sample schedules online to help develop your own family work/school schedule—a quick search will return multiple options so you can find the one that’s right for you. And speaking of the web …

  1. Online resources

Looking for ideas and activities to help fill some hours after the schoolwork is complete for the day?

Let the web help. Here’s just a tiny sample of the online educational resources you can take advantage of to fill your kids’ schedule:

  • Khan Academy – featuring free online courses and instruction that can complement their day-to-day schoolwork
  • National Geographic Kids – featuring a treasure trove of content and activities for your curious explorers and nature lovers
  • PBS Kids – featuring educational fare for the younger crowd and a daily parents newsletter filled with tips and suggestions

Also, be sure to check out virtual tour options — many museums, zoos, and other public places now temporarily closed are offering the next best thing to being there in person!

  1. Patience

Is this really a tactic? You bet! This is an unprecedented time. Very few of us have ever encountered anything quite like this viral outbreak, so there are bound to be anxious household members. You can set a great example for your kids by remaining calm, answering their questions as honestly as possible, and cutting them a little slack as they work through this situation, too.

Finally, as you get your home office firing on all cylinders, remember to be patient with yourself. You’re not alone in trying to figure out this new experience. Lean on your trade associations for support and guidance, embrace the help, and let your team members know how they can help, too.

 

Remember, when something doesn’t quite go according to plan as we all adjust to this new temporary normal, take a deep breath, refocus, and get back to it. You, your family, and your business are resilient, and you’ll get through this time together.

Celebrating Father’s Day While Social Distancing

Father’s Day is upon us! Coming off of quarantine, many are still anxious about being out and about, but that doesn’t have to stop you from having the best Father’s Day celebration! Here are 4 things you can do to celebrate the fathers in your life, while still social distancing.

Spend Some Time in Your Backyard

  • Pack a picnic full of dad’s favorite things and a comfy blanket to sit on
  • Play some yard games like bowling with plastic bottles or bean bag ladder toss – all you need is a ladder, Ziploc bags full of beans or sand, and a way to keep track of points
  • Set up your tent for camping or throw pillows in an empty inflatable pool for stargazing

Focus on the food

  • Make some fondue and dip the entire kitchen sink in cheese (you can get a fondue pot for under $40 on Amazon!)
  • Surprise him with his favorite meal
  • Have an at-home wine tasting with a killer cheese board
  • Dad isn’t a fan of wine? Try an at-home beer tasting instead
  • Make a big breakfast with all of his favorites
  • Grill dinner outside
  • Dessert taste test

Do an Indoor Activity

  • Pull out the board games and show dad who’s boss
  • Take an online cooking class and then enjoy the fruits of your labor
  • Work up a sweat and do an online workout class together
  • Build something together or finish a project around the house
  • Settle in with some popcorn and candy for a movie night
  • Let him go for an online shopping spree
  • Digitally walk through a museum (from the Guggenheim Museum in New York to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, you can experience some culture from the comfort of your own home!)

Spend Time Outside

  • Go for a hike or a walk around the neighborhood
  • Go fishing and catch your own dinner
  • Feel the wind in your hair and go for a bike ride

Do Today, Be Glad Tomorrow

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” It’s good advice in general, but with the uncertainty of the times right now, many of us have some extra time to put those words into action. When we work toward a goal and complete it, it gives us a sense of accomplishment. We are proud of the work we have done and are happy to cross if off our to-do list.

Also, taking the initiative to work on a project gives us a feeling of control. At a time like this, it might be beneficial to get in the driver’s seat and take on or finish a project.

We’ve got some ideas below if you need a little inspiration!

  1. Plant Seeds – in 30-60 days you can have a flower or vegetable garden
  2. Clean Out Your Closet – donate your used clothing and find clothes you forgot you had
  3. Meal Prep – cook healthy meals now and store for later
  4. Relax – read a book, play with your dog, practice yoga, take a nap, hug your family

Questions? Want to learn more?

Here’s 4 easy ways to reach us:
Phone: 877.994.6787
Email: insure@siaonline.com
Text: 951-482-8144
Web: www.siaonline.com

PS Here’s a few words from others that trust Stromsoe Insurance Agency:

“Stromsoe Insurance Agency is a local company that I would highly recommend.  I’ve been a customer since 1997 and have always received prompt, courteous service and their rates are consistently very competitive.” Brad Moran – Temeku Painting and Decorating – Winchester, CA – Client Since 1997

PPS Every policy is backed by our iron clad, 100% complete satisfaction guarantee. Below is a link with all of the details:

Complete Satisfaction Guaranteed with Every Policy 

Limiting Screen Time during Isolation

Nearly every parent knows the familiar frustration of hearing, “I’m bored.” Many children today are used to constant stimulation and a jam-packed schedule to keep them busy. But now, with the dangers of COVID-19, many families are practicing social distancing to stay as healthy as possible.

While at home, you AND your children may start to go stir-crazy. It is important to provide your children with activities that do not solely consist of screen time. It may seem like the easy answer to hand them an iPad and go about your day. However, with so much downtime, it could easily foster unhealthy habits.

Here is a list of activities to do with your kids that don’t involve staring at a screen:

Read a book

There’s no better way to inspire imaginative learning than getting lost in a good book. This activity is both fun and educational. Now is probably a good time to kick off a multi-book series to keep kids occupied for hours on end.

Draw, paint, and try out other crafts

Nurture your child’s inner Picasso and set up an hour or more dedicated to making art. Break out the paints, crayons and colored pencils, clay—whatever medium your child most prefers—to encourage creative self-expression. Art is also therapeutic and could aid an anxious child during these trying times. Be sure to clear off your fridge to make room to showcase their new pieces!

Learn how to bake or cook

Now is the perfect time to dust off those old recipe books and hunt for some kid-friendly dishes. Teach your child about the different ingredients, baking or cooking process, and the sweet results of working hard in the kitchen.

Teach them common household chores

No child will be immediately thrilled with the idea of putting down their tablet to do chores. However, this could be a great time to teach them the proper way of doing things and instilling the habit of completing these tasks. Start with something easy, such as sorting laundry, making the bed, feeding pets, sweeping small areas, or wiping down surfaces. Doing so can often be a good time to discuss why cleanliness is so important during a virus outbreak.

Play board games

Countless memories can be made while having a family game night. Choose a game to play, such as something simple, like Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land, something a bit more complex like Clue! or Monopoly, or a good old-fashioned card game like Spades or Go Fish. Your child will learn a fun new game and, the best part? You will probably have a great time playing with them!

Engage in exciting science projects

If you’re looking for a STEM-related activity for your child, think about conducting some science experiments with them. Some experiments like Tornado in a Bottle, Diet Coke and Mentos, and Most Absorbent Paper Towels, and more can be done from the comfort of your own home (though you should probably take any messy activities with explosions to the back yard!).

 

With the CDCs advising social distancing, there’s a pretty big chance you will be spending a lot of time at home with your children. Why not engage in fun and educational activities that will have a positive impact on children—and parents alike!

4 Ways to Support Your Local Small Business

A small business brings a lot of value to our local communities. While it might feel like a lot is out of our control at the moment, there is plenty we can do to help our local businesses weather this storm. Here are 4 easy ideas to get you started:

Buy Gift Cards

Gift cards are a great way to put cash in businesses’ pockets while their usual traffic is decreased or suspended. If the business you want to support doesn’t offer an option to purchase a gift card online, try calling. Many will be happy to process your payment over the phone and mail you a gift card to use in the future. And if you can afford it, consider buying multiple gift cards—one for yourself, and one or two for friends or family

Shop Virtually

Can’t shop in person? Try some “window browsing” online! Many businesses are adding inventory and stock to their e-commerce sites to help customers find what they’re looking for.

Even businesses without tangible goods or an online store are getting creative with their digital capabilities. Here’s a sampling of how some are adapting to the current situation:

  • Gyms and fitness classes are streaming live workouts on a variety of services and asking for donations for participating.
  • Boutiques are offering personal shopping services via video chat.
  • Stores are posting inventory on social media and taking orders via direct message.
  • Tutors and music instructors are offering lessons through video chat services.

Commit to Future Work

Take a look around—are there home projects you’ve been putting off? Now is a great time to take stock of what needs to be done in and around your home. While it might take a little longer to start the project than you might like, local landscapers, contractors and painters will appreciate your committing to future work.

Review, Like & Share

While the ideas above all require you to open your checkbook, there are plenty of ways to show your support even if you don’t have the financial resources. Write an online review—this helps boost their listings on search engines—or like and share your favorite business on social—this can help them get more exposure and future customers.

 

However you’re able to help a small business in your community, it will be welcome. Times may be lean, but if we lean in and support each other we will get through this together.

Suggestions to Help You Survive Allergy Season

Try out these tips to help you manage your seasonal allergies.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, then you know how terrible the symptoms can be.  With all the sneezing, headaches, and itchy eyes, you may dread the return of spring and summer every year.  Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to alleviate your symptoms.  Try out some of these suggestions to get through this allergy season.

  • Change Your Clothes When You Get Home

While there’s little you can do about the allergens in the outside air, you can make your home an allergen-free zone.  One way to prevent allergens from infiltrating your home is by changing clothes as soon as you return from a day out.  This will prevent the allergens that cling to your clothing from spreading throughout your home.  Make sure you do your wash regularly to eliminate the sneeze-inducing particles from your favorite outfits.

  • Learn What Triggers Your Allergies

While pollen is one of the main triggers for those who suffer from seasonal allergies, not all pollen is alike.  In fact, it’s possible for a person to be triggered by one type of pollen, but be completely immune to other types.  To figure out exactly what causes your reactions, ask your doctor about tests that can help you pinpoint your trigger.  Once you know what causes your allergies, you can do a better job of avoiding it.

  • Take Medication

If your allergies are particularly severe, then you should consider taking medication to help you alleviate your symptoms.  If you’ve tried medication in the past with less than favorable results, it’s possible that you were simply taking drugs that were incompatible with your symptom.  Speak to your doctor about putting together a combination of medications that will help you deal with your symptoms.

Try out these tips this allergy season.  Want another way to take care of yourself this season?  Then make sure you have the right insurance protection at the best price by giving our knowledgeable Total Protection Team a call at 951-600-5751, sending an email to insure@siaonline.com, or stopping by our Murrieta, California office today.  We are always happy to help!

How Valentine’s Day is Celebrated in Different Countries

Learn about fun Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world.

While you might consider Valentine’s Day to be an American holiday, it is actually a global sensation.  In fact, many countries across the globe have their own fun and unique Valentine’s Day traditions and celebrations.  Here are some of the ways that other countries celebrate this holiday.

Denmark

Denmark has a fun Valentine’s Day tradition where men present women with a “gaekkebrev.”  Roughly translated as a “joking letter,” gaekkebrev normally consist of a funny or poem written on intricately cut paper.  These letters are anonymous.  If the woman can correctly guess who sent her the note, then she will earn herself an Easter egg later on in the year.

South Korea

Valentine’s Day is a big event for young couples in South Korea.  In fact, the event is broken down into a series of different, romantic days.  February 14th kicks off the festivities as women shower men with candies, flowers, and other tokens of their affection.  The tables turn on March 14th, more commonly known as “White Day.”  On this day, it’s the men’s turn to offer chocolates and flowers.  Normally, the men are supposed to up the ante by offering more expensive presents to their lovers as well.  For those not in a relationship, there is an event known as “Black Day.”  Held on April 14th, this is a day for singles to mourn their solitary status by eating jajangmyeon (black bean paste noodles).

South Africa

Like many other parts of the world, South Africa welcomes Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers, and other tokens of love.  Another fun South African tradition involves women wearing their heart on their sleeves.  South African women pin the names of their love interest onto their sleeves.  This is often how South African men learn the names of their secret admirers.

These are some of the Valentine’s Day traditions from around the world.  Are you looking for assistance with your personal or commercial insurance this holiday?  If so, then do not hesitate to contact the experts at Stromsoe Insurance Agency in Murrieta, California.  Our dedicated team is eager to get you the coverage that you need today.