Surviving Winter in Your Boston Home or Condominium

Winter is in full swing once again here in the Boston area. What are your favorite winter activities? We want to share some tips for staying warm, healthy and happy this winter in your home, apartment or condo. Choose one or try them all! Hopefully they can make your winter a little more joyous.

How to Stay Warm

The average low temperature in Boston for winter months is easily below freezing, so staying warm can be a challenge. Before you crank up the heat, check to ensure that the cold air is staying outside where it should be. This is best done with energy efficient (and non-draft-prone) windows and doors. See about refitting your home’s windows and doors if you are falling victim to drafts – these will cost you money year-round, cooling your home in the winter and heating it in the summer.

Do you have a programmable thermostat? Setting it to 68 degrees will heat your home while also conserving energy, according to ready.gov. Make sure to lower it by 10 or more degrees at night, though, to save approximately 10% on your heating bill. Also see if you can close the heat vent and shut the door to any unused rooms in your home or condo to cut your heating costs even further. It is also prudent to ensure that you have a back-up heat source in case of a power loss.

How to Stay Healthy

During the winter, more people stay indoors, and this means an increased number of germs in your home, apartment, or condo. Stay healthy by getting a flu shot if you can, and by washing your hands often. Also, regularly disinfect the surfaces of your home that are touched often. Just in case someone in your household falls ill, have the necessary medical supplies on hand so that you don’t have to make a rushed trip to the pharmacy.

Staying healthy in the winter also means finding the opportunity to exercise. Not many people want to go for an outdoor jog in the middle of winter in Boston, but there are plenty of alternatives that will keep you fit until the warm weather returns. Many people will choose to exercise at their local gym, where cardio and weight equipment are available year-round. Some gyms in the area also offer indoor pools and/or fitness classes that can keep your exercise routine fresh and new. There are also plenty of options available for people that would rather exercise at home, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on expensive equipment.

If you would rather continue to get your exercise out in the fresh air, choose an appropriate wintertime activity. Ice skating can be a great cardio workout, you can also try something more off-the-wall, like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Just make sure that you are dressed appropriately, and that you take plenty of breaks from the cold and that you stay hydrated as you work out outside.

How to Stay Happy

As we mentioned, the cold weather of the winter often means spending more time indoors. For some people this can lead to wintertime blues and boredom. Instead of being unhappy that you must spend so much time inside, try to be thankful for the extra time in your cozy home. Get your family together to play a board game, binge watch a tv show that looks interesting, cook up a new recipe, or check something off your reading list.

Need to get out of the house? You’re in luck! There are lots of activities in the Boston area in the winter, so you don’t need to feel like you’re cooped up – even when the city is blanketed in snow! Family activities are especially popular this time of year, including the Holiday Bricktacular at Legoland Discovery Center, Santa Saturdays at the Franklin Park Zoo, and Snowmazing! at the Boston Children’s Museum, among many others.

A few more favorites from the agents here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency include seeing The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet, catching a Holiday Pops performance at the Boston Symphony Hall, and seeing the Christmas trees at Faneuil Hall and the Boston Common. There are plenty of events happening in the area, so bundle up and have some fun out in the city to ward off the boredom often brought by the cold weather.

We also want to make sure that you know that Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is here for all your home, renters, and condo insurance needs this winter (and all year-round). If you want to have a chat about your current insurance policies, or if you have an insurance question, all you have to do is call us at 617-298-0655. One of our friendly and knowledgeable agents will be happy to take care of you!

How to Get the Best Black Friday Deals

When the feasting is over, and Thanksgiving is done, it will be time to gear up for deals – that is, if you’re a Black Friday shopper. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a few dozen years, you know what Black Friday is: a day of savings and often a great opportunity for bargain shopping.

Here’s the secret to getting the most out of Black Friday – it’s all about planning ahead.

Gather the advertisements for stores that you are interested in, and see when their sales start, and whether they are available online or in-store only. In recent years, some stores have been starting sales on Thanksgiving night, while others wait until bright and early on Friday morning. If you want to snag more than one big deal, you may need to recruit a friend or loved one so that you can divide and conquer once the shopping madness begins.

Make sure that you don’t get lured in by a fantastic sounding deal. Just remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Retailers want to sell as much as they can, so they sometimes make inferior products sound like a good buy, so check the specs of electronics before you make a purchase.

Don’t forget to increase your savings with coupons, memberships, and savings apps. Every little bit of money that you save now will mean more that you can spend during the holiday season!

And remember – you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to save on your Massachusetts insurance policies. Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency always has great deals on home insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, and all of our other products. Just call 617-298-0655 for a free quote.

It’s That Time of Year – Go Apple Picking!

One of the most popular activities in the Fall here in Massachusetts is picking produce. And there’s good news on that front – now is the perfect time for apple picking! Orchards have been open for a few weeks, but we’re hitting peak season to get ripe, perfect apples. So sometime between now and Veteran’s Day, pack up your family and hit your nearest apple orchard to see what fun you’ve been missing.

When you’re picking, make sure to look for apples that are firm and bruise-free. The color of your apple will change based on the variety of apple you’re picking, so you can’t depend on the color of your apple to tell you if it’s ready to pick. It’s also important to remember that apples ripen from the center of the tree outwards.

In addition, some farms will offer much more than just fruit harvesting. If you want a little more excitement, find a place that also has apple cider doughnuts (they’re a Fall favorite here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance), hayrides, or even a petting zoo.

Once you’ve got your apples in hand, you need to decide what to do with them. Sure, apples are great as a snack, but there’s nothing quite like a homemade apple pie that’s made with apples you picked off the tree with your own hands. If you want something a little healthier, try putting your apples in a smoothie or a salad. You can even use them to make apple chips! If you’re a fan of Fall spices, why not try making your own apple butter or an apple cider?

Make sure that you stay tuned to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Blog for more ideas about seasonal activities here in Massachusetts. And remember to call 617-298-0655 with your insurance questions and quote needs!

Tips for Buying a New Car in Massachusetts

Are you in the market for a new car? Massachusetts shoppers should know that buying a new car is exciting, but the process can be complicated and is sometimes stressful. In order to be prepared for your new car shopping experience, review these four car buying tips:

  • Just like going to the grocery store, you should never go to a car dealership on an empty stomach. Test driving and making a car purchase can be a lengthy process, and you don’t want your state of mind to be altered by hunger.
  • Pick the most opportune time to go shopping. You want to hit the dealership when they are looking to meet quotas – often around the end of the month. At that time, they are more likely to give you a great deal.
  • Before you even think about going to a dealership, know the market prices for the cars you’re interested in. You should also look into loan rates at your bank or credit union to know if what the dealership offers is good for you.
  • Monthly payment isn’t everything. Often, the dealership’s representative will talk to you in terms of your monthly payment. Make sure that you also ask about the loan term, interest rate, and total cost.

Also, don’t forget that insurance expenses are a part of car ownership in Massachusetts. If you would like to know an estimate of insurance costs based on the vehicle makes and models that you are considering, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 – we will give you a Massachusetts car insurance quote so that you are better prepared for your shopping adventure.

Celebrate Summer at the Neponset RiverFest!

The general public is invited to the first Annual Neponset RiverFest, on Sat., July 22 from 10am-2pm, at the DCR Neponset II Park, Dorchester alongside the Neponset River.

New parks and bike paths line the shores of the River, along with beautiful natural salt marshes and wetlands that support more than 200 species of birds, fish and other wildlife, all right in the City.

The RiverFest is a free, family-friendly,  public event. 

Come out to celebrate this natural wonder and discover all it has to offer.

  • Try out a kayak or canoe on the Neponset River
  • Explore a tide pool with the New England Aquarium
  • Attend a fishing clinic with Mass Fisheries & Wildlife

  • Take a chance on a new fishing rod & reel
  • Walk/bike the Greenway
  • Play in the spray park
  • Eat yummy food
  • Create art – and more…

Bring a blanket and a picnic, and spend the day! Entrance to the park is on Hilltop St. near Granite Ave.

For more information, please contact Nancy Fyler fyler@neponset.org  |  781-575-0354 x307

Sponsored by the Neponset River Watershed Association, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Milton, Paddle Boston, DOT Smiles, Whole Foods, and the Cedar Grove Civic Association.

Click here for more details

Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season

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The end of the year is quickly approaching, and for many people that means it’s time to start shopping. Whether you need presents or hostess gifts, you’re going to have a lot of options of where to shop this holiday season. Instead of going to a big box store or ordering online, try shopping at local small businesses! There are many amazing small businesses in our area, and supporting local small businesses has lots of benefits:

  • Encourages local character by promoting individuality
  • Increases community involvement and well-being
  • Keeps wealth local and encourages local prosperity
  • Boosts the local economy with more jobs and better wages
  • Fuels entrepreneurship and innovation in the community
  • Helps sustain the environment and reduce pollution by reducing sprawl

In addition to helping the community, you may find that you benefit personally from doing your shopping at smaller establishments. You will find more unique items than at larger retailers, and you will often receive more personalized and more attentive customer service while at smaller businesses.

If you want to take your support of small businesses to the next level, shop locally for the ingredients to your holiday meals! You can find great local produce around the Greater Boston area, and it will be fresher than what you get at the grocery store.

And one more thing – if you need insurance, you can get the same benefits that are listed above by shopping locally. Ask us for more information about why getting insurance from a local independent insurance agency is the way to go.   We can help you with your Massachusetts automobile, homeowners, business and life insurance.