Morning Motivation – Week of August 27, 2018

You know that I LOVE to start my week with some positive words of wisdom:

You can read last week’s MMM here to get caught up on my ongoing ‘fear’ series.

Fear-Inducing Habit #5: You push your fear away.

When you try to deny a fear in your life, you may try to push it away or not think about it. This can cause it to grow stronger.

What to do instead:

I have found that pushing the fear away can certainly work and help you to not be paralyzed from taking action. But I have also discovered that it can sometimes be more helpful to accept the fear.

To accept that it is there instead of, for example, trying to tell yourself to focus on the positive like a laser-beam. And by accepting that you may not be good at one task or activity will free you from the fear that may be holding you back from other aspects of your business or personal life.

That may sound a bit vague, so here’s an example of how I do it.

  1. Breathe. Take a few breaths and focus only on the air going in and out to calm and center yourself a bit.
  2. Tell yourself something like: “Yes, the fear is here. It simply is at this point in time.”
  3. Take that feeling of fear in and just let it be there in your body and mind. It will be uncomfortable. But just for short while.

If you do this you will find that after a while – often just after a few minutes of discomfort in my experience – the fear starts to lose steam. It becomes a lot smaller or just seems to float away.

I start thinking about all the happy moments, friends, and loved ones that I have been blessed with. This makes it a lot easier to think clear and constructive thoughts again.

Keep an eye out for next week’s email. It will focus on why you may be making fear harder than it needs to be.

Carlos

Recap: Healthy and Happy Kids

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Waitley

Back to School time is upon us, and it’s a great time to take advantage in this change of schedule to integrate something new into your child’s schedule. Keep your kids happy and healthy by taking advantage of some of the following tips:

  • Schedule some free time for your children to encourage unrestricted play and the use of imagination.
  • Set a bed time and explain to kids the importance of getting enough sleep.
  • Make sure that children practice good dental hygiene – these habits will be crucial for later in life!
  • Social interaction is critical in a child’s development, so make sure that your child gets plenty of playtime with other kids their own age to develop necessary social skills.
  • Water can be very dangerous for children, so kids should receive water safety training early. Make sure that a professional teaches your kids, and that they are always supervised when near water.

Will you be integrating any new activities into your kid’s routine as they go back to school for the year? If you want to integrate some new insurance plans into your insurance portfolio, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We can get you a free quote for home insurance, auto insurance, and much more.

Money Conversations with Your College Student

Are you the parent to a teenager? If your child in their last few years of high school or already in college, it can be difficult to have them sit down to give important life advice. Some teens want to believe that they know everything that they will need to know, but that is almost never the case.

As a parent, you need to make sure that your child is as prepared as possible for the financial challenges that they may face as an adult. Start this financial education journey by discussing one or more of the following topics with your teen:

The Need for a Budget

When teenagers go to college, they will be tempted to buy a lot of things, especially if it will be their first time living on their own. Remind your kids to always keep an eye on their bank account and tell them about how quickly small purchases can add up. They may be more likely to pay attention to their spending habits if their money is broken into monthly or weekly payouts, which is also good practice for when they start working and depend on paychecks.

Ask them to come up with a rudimentary budget before leaving for college. You can explain to them that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and that it can be adjusted in the future as they learn their own spending habits. A good budget is simply a tool for monitoring where money goes and being aware of increased spending in any given period.

The Impact of Student Loans

If your child needs to apply for student loans, they should understand the impact these loans could have later in their life. While in the short term it seems like a windfall, it is critical that college students understand the consequences of taking out such a large loan. Help your student realize the future impact of these loans by explaining the payoff schedule and showing them the additional interest payments that they will owe to the loan provider above the loan’s principle amount.

The Benefit of Scholarships

Unlike a student loan, a scholarship is a gift to students. Students, however, sometimes resist applying for scholarships because of the lengthy application process – especially if the scholarship requires an essay. Encourage your child to look at the benefits of a scholarship as opposed to a student loan, though, and they may be a little more willing to work for the “free” money available to them. Help them search for applicable scholarship using one of the many aggregators available, such as Fastweb and Scholarships.com.

The Danger of Credit Cards

When walking around a college campus, students are bombarded with credit card offers. These would typically be easy to ignore, but these dealers know what college students like, and will offer free pizza, t-shirts, and other gifts to those who are willing to sign up. They will say “You don’t even have to use it!” to lure in unsuspecting SWAG-hunters. Thankfully, your child will know better than to sign up for unnecessary credit cards once you explain to them the effect it could have on their credit score, and the future impact of present bad decisions.

The Significance of Personal Finance Knowledge

Nowadays, it seems that students get a high school diploma without learning any relevant life skills. Ask your student about the importance of auto insurance, or the difference between a 401(k) and an IRA – odds are they will have no idea what to say.

Every person that is coming of age deserves to have a basic knowledge of personal finance to increase their chances of success in the ‘real world.’ If you feel that your child is lacking in this area of their education, advise them to take a personal finance class either at college or even online.

The Thought of College as an Investment

Your student should know that going to college is an investment in their education. They shouldn’t make this commitment lightly and need to realize that their classes ought to come first. Also make sure that they know how to optimize their activities in relation to their resume upon graduation – many jobs nowadays are looking for more than a high GPA. They will look for membership to professional organizations, as well as internships and more. Most college students have access to advisors if they wish to discuss the best path toward employability in their future field.

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is also here for all your teenager’s insurance needs as they go to college. This may include updating your home insurance to cover their belongings, or getting them their own renter’s insurance. Also talk to your agent about the best option for your student’s car insurance, as well as if they are eligible for any ‘good student’ discounts.

Does Flood Insurance Cover the Cost of Associated Medical Bills?

Flood insurance is something that is very important if you live in areas where flooding is frequent, and it does cover a wide range of things. Flood insurance covers more than you might imagine and if you take out special policies that cover extra, you can have a policy that is fairly comprehensive. For those that live in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you to find the policy that you need.

Flood insurance as a general rule covers things like the repair of homes that have been damaged, mold mitigation; sometimes it covers the cost of a place to stay while your home is repaired and more. In some cases, you can get an illness or medical bills associated with flooding covered but, in most cases, your health insurance is going to cover any medical bills. You can take out particular flood policies that have medical coverage built in, but for the most part, it is going to be best to use your health insurance to cover your costs.

For those that do need to use flood insurance to cover medical costs, you need to make sure your policy covers medical expenses. Most flood policies are only going to include the replacement and repair of items and the home. You need to take the time to really look at your coverage and you need to make sure you understand the ins and outs of flood insurance. For those that live in the Dorchester, MA area, the agents with Vargas & Vargas Insurance can help you to find the perfect flood policy so that you can get the coverage you need to keep your home safe no matter what disaster may befall it.  

Morning Motivation – Week of August 20, 2018

You know that I LOVE to start my week with some positive words of wisdom:

You can read last week’s MMM here to catch up on the previous fear-inducing habits.

Fear-Inducing Habit#4: You misinterpret the information you have.

It is easy to take very few experiences – maybe just one – and start seeing evidence of something permanent and frightening in your life.

What to do instead:

Question your fears and what they are based upon. Again, sit down with that pen and a piece of paper. Think back to what evidence you have in your memories for a fear and a belief of yours. Try to see the situation(s) that created your fear with fresh eyes today. Instead of the way you may usually see them.
Doing this helps us to reduce our fear of business and social rejection. If you look back at some situations from your past that formed and fueled fear you may realize that:

You misinterpreted being rejected in some of those situations, or you were rejected because there was something wrong with what you did, but simply because you were not offering a realistic solution to the problem. Or because the other person had a bad day or because he or she simply wanted to push you down to feel better about himself or herself at that moment.

This will be an eye-opening experience that may help you understand that what went wrong is not all your fault.  And that our memories can often be pretty inaccurate and unhelpful if not reexamined at a later time and our minds love to create patterns and conclusions based on very little evidence or few experiences.

Next week, I will focus on the error of pushing fear away.

Have a great week!

Carlos

Recap: Apps for Homeowners

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Do you ever wish that you had more help looking after your home? Look no further than your smartphone! There are many apps available that will help you with many aspects of home ownership. Here are just a few examples from last week’s full article on the Vargas Insurance Blog:

  • Bubble Level – A level for your DIY projects, as well as an AR ruler and wire-finder.
  • Centriq – Keep your owners manuals in one place and get notifications of recalls and more.
  • Planner 5D – For all your home décor needs, including using VR to envision new furniture and paint colors.
  • HomeSavvy – A home maintenance task organizer that will also show you DIY videos or recommend local professionals.
  • ChorePad – Chores run smoothly with this app that let your kids earn rewards for doing their chores.

Need a little additional help protecting your home? If you have a question about your home insurance (or if you want a quote for a new MA home insurance policy) help is just a phone call away. Dial 617-298-0655 and talk to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent about your needs. Because – while technology is great – sometimes it just can’t replace a little human help.

Tips to Keeping Kids Healthy and Happy

Many Vargas and Vargas Insurance customers are parents, and they will be the first to tell you that the start of school is right around the corner in Boston! This time of year, many parents like to reevaluate their kids’ happiness, and make sure that they are still on the path to success. Here are ideas of just a few of the things that you can do to make sure that your kids are happy and healthy:

Inspire an Active Lifestyle

What you teach your kids will act as the foundation for the rest of their life. Nowadays, it is easy to park kids in front of a TV or tablet to entertain them, but it is critical to limit their ‘technology time’ and have them be active. Did you know that (according to the US Department of Health and Human Services) that only one in three children is physically active every day?

Healthy Diets Start Young

Here is a statistic from the Department of Agriculture that may surprise you: “Typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat.”

It’s no secret that American diets aren’t stellar, but you can set your kids up for success by teaching them how to put the right fuel into their bodies. The USDA’s Choose My Plate initiative is a great place to start for kids. There is even a resource for making small changes to improve a child’s diet slowly over time.

Plan Some Free Time

Planning out free time may seem a little backwards, but kids need unstructured time to let their imagination free. In today’s world, it’s easy to schedule your kids for an unending string of activities to keep them focused (and a few extracurriculars has shown time and time again to be a good idea when it comes to helping children become successful and well-rounded) but don’t pack your children’s schedules.

Sleep is Vital to a Growing Body

It is easy to let kids stay up late when they start to whine about bedtime but think twice about being overly flexible with your kid’s sleep schedule. Sleepfoundation.org recommends that school-age children get between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. They also note that at this age “school-aged children become more interested in TV, computers, the media and Internet as well as caffeine products” which could result in increased sleep resistance.

Build Healthy Habits

There are several habits that you should instill in your children while they are young:

Setting a foundation of proper oral hygiene is a critical in minimizing how much dental work a person will need as an adult. You should stress this to your child! Kids should brush their teeth twice a day – after breakfast and before bed. Brushing should last for two minutes, so get an hourglass timer or download an app to play a two minute song or short video to cut through the boredom.

Wearing a helmet while on a bike or scooter has been shown to significantly reduce head injuries in children. In the same vein, children should always wear a seat belt when riding in the car.

Help kids stay healthy and avoid getting sick by encouraging regular hand washing, especially before eating. Kids that are sick should stay home to avoid infecting other children and causing an epidemic at their school or club.

Children should also get in the habit of regularly visiting health care providers, like the doctor and dentist. Kids may put up a fight, but it’s a necessary evil in life (even for adults!)

Playdates and Sleepovers Abound

When kids are young, it is critical that they get plenty of social interaction with their peers. While it is important that they focus on their studies, make sure to also recognize that playdates and sleepovers are a critical part of children developing social skills to be a well-rounded adult. And remember – “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

Teach Water Safety

When kids are young, they are at a constant risk of hurting themselves. You can do your kids a huge favor by making sure that they are taught water safety at a young age. Even a small amount of water can be dangerous for a child, so make sure that they are taught to swim, and to only go in the pool when an adult is supervising.

From everyone at the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office, we wish you and your children a very happy Back to School season. And remember – if you ever have a question about your insurance policies, we’re here for you! Just call 617-298-0655 to talk to an agent about your insurance questions or get a free quote on insurance that will protect your family.

Morning Motivation – Week of August 13, 2018

You know that I LOVE to start my week with some positive words of wisdom:

Before you read this week’s email, make sure that you have read the first email in the series all about FEAR and how a negative impact it can have on us, which can be found here.

Fear-Inducing Habit #2: You keep the fear a secret.

One of the biggest problems that I feel that we all have with fear is keeping it to ourselves. When you keep the fear to yourself, it can easily take charge of your imagination and build a horrific and paralyzing nightmare in your mind. Being alone with the fear makes it is easy to lose touch with reality.

What to do instead:

Share your fear with a friend, loved one, mentor, or coach. By sharing and getting some level-headed input from someone, your fear can often be quickly deflated and seen for what it really is. Even just talking about it to someone who truly listens will release a lot of your anxiety and inner tensions.

Fear-Inducing Habit #3: You focus on aspects that will keep you stuck.

If you just focus on the negative things that could happen if you face your fear,it will be very hard to start moving forward.

What to do instead:

A change in perspective is needed. Talk to your friend, mentor, or coach and exchange ideas and experiences about what opportunities lie ahead if you move forward and face your fear. Focus on the positive and on the benefits of doing the thing that you’re afraid of.

Here are a few questions that have helped me to find the more constructive and positive perspective when I have faced a fear:

  • What are the potential upsides that I want and can have by taking these actions?
  • What are the potential upsides in one year if I start moving on this path? And in five years?
  • How will my life be in five years if I continue on the fearful path that I am on today?

Talk these questions over with someone, or take out a piece of paper and write down the answers (or do both!)

Next week, I will talk all about the perils of misinterpreting your fears.

Carlos

Recap: Avoid These Home-Buying Mistakes

“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell

Looking for a new home can be a stressful experience, and many people are afraid that they will make mistakes during the process. Thankfully, you have Boston business professionals on your side! We compiled a list of some of the most common mistakes made when buying a home so that you can avoid them. Here are just a few examples. Read the full post from last week for more details.

  • Going to tour potential new homes without a definitive “Wish List” in mind.
  • Forgetting about hidden costs, like closing costs and post-move expenses.
  • Buying a home for your present needs instead of considering the future.
  • Not asking your home inspector questions about the home you’re looking to buy.
  • Avoiding negotiations and agreeing to pay full price.
  • Not buying enough Massachusetts home insurance for your new house.

If you need help with your new home purchase, Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency can refer you to a local professional. We know all the best loan officers and real estate agents in the area and would be happy to share their contact information. Just call 617-298-0655 and ask! Also pick up the phone and call our agency with all your home insurance questions and quote needs.

The Best Apps for Homeowners

Owning a home is the American Dream – but just like anything in life that is rewarding, it comes with its fair share of challenges. Thankfully, in this day and age… “There’s an app for that!” Or several, as the case may be.

Many of our clients are on the lookout for ways that technology can improve their everyday lives. Did you know that there are several apps available for your smart-devices that can make owning a home easier? We have collected just a few examples of these apps for our customers that are looking to bring home ownership into the digital age. So, which of the following apps will you download first?

LetGo

Have you ever felt that you have too much junk in your home? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Thankfully, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Find someone that will pay for the stuff you no longer want with the LetGo app on Android or iPhone.

Bubble Level

How many times as a homeowner have you wished that you could have a level without needing to make a trip to your toolbox? Did you know that your phone can be used as a level? With the Bubble Level app, you never need to say that a picture looks ‘good enough’ when you hang it – just pull out your phone and get the job done perfectly every time! The app can also be used as an AR ruler and can find wires inside your walls!

Google Maps

Want an idea for something to do, or maybe you feel like trying out a new restaurant? There is no resource for finding places in your area quite like Google Maps. Just search for what you’re looking for, and it will give you several options, along with reviews and directions. Download it on the Google Play store or the Apple App Store if you don’t already have it!

Centriq

Homeownership in the past meant having a drawer full of user manuals for every appliance you had ever owned. Now, though, you can use the Centriq app to keep everything in one (digital!) place. Add your appliances by taking a photo of their nameplate and the app will catalogue the item, as well as its user manual. It will alert you to any product recalls, and even help you find replacement parts and will show you troubleshooting videos if you have an issue with your items.

Planner 5D

Thinking about redecorating? Did you know that you can use your phone’s Virtual Reality capabilities to help you picture what the rooms in your home could look like with some new furniture or a fresh coat of paint? Download Planner 5D on your Android Phone and start making virtual changes. See what works in your space before you spend any money!

HomeSavvy

Android and Apple users will have an organized home maintenance schedule if they download and use the HomeSavvy app. Just answer a few questions about your home (like “Do you have a pool?”) and HomeSavvy will create a home maintenance schedule for you to follow. You can even schedule reminders and get tips on how to best complete your tasks, or even get recommendations for local professionals that you can hire!

Chore Pad

Chore wheels and charts are a thing of the past thanks to Chore Pad. Your kids will love getting to check off their chores on their favorite device, and you can even set rewards for kids as they earn stars. According to their website, “Chore Pad helps you teach your child responsibility in a way that is fun and engaging.” Just be aware that this app isn’t free – but it could be well worth the price if it gets your kids to do their chores!

Remember the Milk

When you own a home in Massachusetts, there is a lot on your mind. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have an app that could help you remember all the things that you need to do? That’s where this “Smart to-do App” comes in! As the name implies, it is the perfect place to create a grocery list! It is also good for personal and professional use. Remind yourself to make an important phone call, pick up your kids from practice, or write a performance review for work. The app syncs among many platforms, and can even be shared between connected users, making it a great place for your ‘honey-do’ list.

And there’s one more thing that your phone can do – help you get an insurance policy for your home! Instead of downloading an app, open your dialer and type in 617-298-0655 – the phone number for Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. We can give you a little bit of human help to ensure that your home is fully protected, and that your insurance rates aren’t through the roof.