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Financial Fitness Blog

Spring is a great time to make an inventory of your personal property

(Insurance) Permanent link

Steve SchofieldWhile you're taking the time to do some spring cleaning, why not take some time to compile an inventory of your household belongings? Creating a personal property inventory list provides you with a record of insurance coverage and valuable personal items so that if anything is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you will have easily accessible information for the police and for filing an insurance claim.

Here's a quick list of things to include on your personal property inventory list:

  • A list of all your big-ticket items with pertinent facts and descriptions.
  • Receipts for big-ticket items.
  • Videotape and/or photos to give details about quality, appearance, and size that written descriptions cannot.
  • Current appraisals.
  • Serial and model numbers.
  • Current insurance coverage.

Be aware of what your current home policy covers. If you have replacement cost coverage—meaning the insured items will either be repaired to the same condition as before or replaced with new ones of like kind and quality—having documentation of what your insurance will cover will be helpful if you need to file a claim.

You have several options to choose from in creating your list.

  •  Download and print the Personal Property Home Inventory worksheet. Make several copies and leave at least one other copy with a family member or friend, or store it at a separate location such as a safe deposit box.
  • Scan and store your important documents and photos electronically and utilize free online storage options. Just Google "free online storage." You can also e-mail copies to yourself for further backup.

If you have questions about preparing an inventory of personal property or would like to talk to someone about insurance for your home or auto, please give us a call at 1-800-279-4010. 

Steve Schofield, Personal Insurance Consultant

What to do with your tax return

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Eric SchwartzDid you receive a tax refund this year? If so, here are six financially smart ways to spend your tax refund:

1. Pay off any high interest debt. Use our credit card pay off calculator to see what it will take to pay off your balance.

2. Add to your retirement savings. Add to your current retirement savings plan or open an IRA (Roth or traditional). Unsure which one? Use this tool to determine which IRA may be right for you.

3. Start saving. Open an Edvest or other 529 college savings plan for your kids or grandkids. Build up your emergency fund. Start a money market account with a higher interest rate to save for a vacation, a new car, or home remodel. Whatever your goal, you’ll feel better knowing you have a head start on your savings. Our savings calculator can help you find out what it will take to reach your goal.

4. Consider a planner. If you are in need of a comprehensive financial plan, assistance with investments, or estate planning, you may want to use your refund to purchase the services of a financial planner. For help deciding what services you might need and how to find the right planner for you, read “Do you need a financial planner?”

5. Buy more protection. Umbrella insurance, which provides liability coverage above the limits in your auto and home insurance policies, is often overlooked as an important part of your financial security. In addition, Long-term care insurance, dubbed “the greatest uninsured financial risk today,” helps protect your assets and may be worth a look.

6. Share the wealth. Consider giving some or all of your refund to your favorite charity. Often monetary donations to charitable organizations are tax deductible, and you’ll feel good knowing your money will go toward helping others in need.

Consider adjusting your income tax withholding if you received a sizable tax refund this year. Doing this will reduce your annual refund, but you will be taking home more money each paycheck instead of letting Uncle Sam hold on to it (interest free).

Eric Schwartz, Retirement and Investment Services Specialist



Stay alert, stay safe

(Insurance) Permanent link

Tim GanoungApril is Tornado Awareness Month

We're all grateful that spring is finally here. However, spring weather can be unpredictable. Severe weather can develop quickly. Do you know the difference between a severe weather watch and a severe weather warning? Knowing the difference may save your life.

WATCH: A severe thunderstorm or tornado watch gives you advance notice that conditions are favorable for dangerous weather.

When your area is in a watch, stay alert for changing weather. A watch is not a warning. During a watch, there will be information about what type of weather you might see and the chance of it actually occurring.

Risk levels can range from a few storms with hail and high winds to a particularly dangerous situation when deadly tornadoes can occur. Stay alert and understand your risk. Tune in to local news for updates.

WARNING: A warning is issued when severe weather is about to strike in your area. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, it means the weather event is happening now and you need to take action immediately.

Review your family emergency plan and check your emergency supply kit, so that if a warning is issued, you are prepared. For help building a basic disaster supply kit or creating a plan to protect yourself and your family, go to

Tim Ganoung, Personal Insurance Consultant

Money Smart Week® is April 5 - 12

(Money Management) Permanent link

N'Kenza WhitlowOnce again it's Money Smart Week®—time to take advantage of free education programs throughout Wisconsin. Money Smart Week® is a public awareness campaign designed to help consumers better manage their personal finances through the coordinated effort of hundreds of organizations. These groups come together once a year to stress the importance of financial literacy.

Visit their Wisconsin listings page to sign up for a free event near you. There are over 290 to choose from. Seminar topics include women and retirement, steps to homeownership, couponing 101, estate planning information, and much more—including events just for kids! Some places are offering free document shredding and cell phone recycling.

The Money Smart Week® Web site has lots of great financial resources as well, so be sure to check it out.

Money Smart Week® is a registered service mark of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. 

N’Kenza Whitlow, Retirement Savings Consultant