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Financial Fitness Blog

Do you have enough coverage on your engagement ring?

(Insurance) Permanent link

Janet AndersonDo you have high-value possessions such as jewelry, family heirlooms, or fine art that are scheduled on your home policy? When was the last time you evaluated the value of these items?

If it’s been a while, you may want to revisit your policy and the endorsement (sometimes called a rider or schedule) for each to make sure the coverage is keeping up with the item’s value and replacement costs. It’s not uncommon for someone to schedule their engagement and wedding rings when they get married and never change the coverage amount even after 20 or 30 years. Yet, the value of gold and diamonds may have changed dramatically over that period.

Because the process for endorsing valuable personal property differs by insurers, you may need to have the item(s) reappraised in order to increase the coverage amount.

If you have any questions about your home policy or scheduling your high-valued items, contact Member Benefits at 1-800-279-4010. Our insurance consultants can help you determine the appropriate coverage for your situation.

Janet Anderson, Personal Insurance Consultant

Patrick’s favorite financial resources

(Retirement) Permanent link

Jay LukasIn our spring 2014 issue of your$ magazine, we highlighted member Patrick Kubeny, a nationally certified business education teacher at Rhinelander High School who goes the extra mile by sharing his personal financial information with his students to create more “sticky” lessons. Patrick’s enthusiasm for teaching this topic, along with his unique approach, contributes to the popularity of his classes.

Patrick stresses to his students that current trends make it likely for people to rely more on their personal savings for retirement than in the past. One of his favorite tools to show the significance of personal savings in building a secure retirement nest egg is a compound interest calculator. It shows how even saving a little retirement can make a difference over time. As Patrick explains to his students, “You will never retire on the money you saved for retirement. You will retire on the money you make off the money you saved for retirement.” The earlier you start saving, the more time you have to benefit from compounding interest.

Try it for yourself! It’s just one tool that can help you make good decisions about your financial future. And take advantage of some other great financial resources that Patrick shared with us.

Jay Lukas, Senior RIS Specialist

This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal or tax advice. Consult your tax advisor or attorney before taking any action.

Get set for summer!

 Permanent link

Mark DannehlMake sure your home, recreational vehicles, and summer toys are ready before the first hint of summer in Wisconsin. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you get set for summer:

Inside your home

  • Check your air conditioning unit before the first hot day of the year. Clean or replace your system's filter.
  • Check your window screens, clean and repair or replace as necessary. Inspect the caulking around doors and windows to prevent water infiltration and leaks.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Change batteries or replace the units. Check and replace any fire extinguishers.

Outside and in the garage

  • Inspect your roof. Look for any damaged or missing shingles, and make note of any needed repairs.
  • Clean your gutters and downspouts and make sure they are directing water away from your house.
  • Prune trees and shrubs to help protect them (and your property) from storms and wind.
  • Check your garden hose spigots for any freeze damage that may have occurred during the long winter.
  • Tune up your lawn mower and other lawn and garden tools before their first use. Sharpen blades and change the oil if needed.

Your toys

  • Properly clean and store your snowmobiles for the summer.
  • When renewing your motorcycle registration, don't forget to contact a Member Benefits consultant to ensure your motorcycle is properly insured for the season.
  • De-winterize your boat, jet skis and other watercraft. Check and change the oil and filters if needed. Make sure you've insured your boat before the first ride of the season.

Member Benefits offers insurance for most of your recreational vehicles, including boats, motorcycles, mopeds, campers, and ATVs. Call 1-800-279-4010 or click to get a quote.

Mark Dannehl, Personal Insurance Consultant

This article is for informational purposes only. Family members including your spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, and parents-in-law may also participate in many of these programs. Property and casualty insurance programs are underwritten by WEA Property & Casualty Insurance Company. The terms and conditions of your coverage are exclusively controlled by your written policy. Please refer to your policy for details. 

More signs you may be living beyond your means

(Money Management) Permanent link

Laura KampsLast week we shared five signs you may be living beyond your means. Here’s a few more scenarios to look for that may mean it’s time to take a good look at your spending habits.

  1. I have paid late fees more than once in the last year.
  2. I spend more than 28% of gross income on housing. Some lenders may allow their customers to borrow as much as 35% of their income, but historically, 28% has been the rate at which the average person can make their payments and still enjoy a reasonable standard of living.
  3. I have bad credit or have been denied credit. A low credit score signals to lenders that you’re in over your head. Even if you’re approved for new lines of credit or a home mortgage, your future interest rates will be much higher. A poor credit score can also affect your insurance rates.
  4. I have used my savings to pay off debt.
  5. I pay my bills with credit cards. If you’re using credit cards to pay off basic bills like utilities, groceries, or worse, other credit cards, take action right away. You may need to reevaluate your spending habits, get an additional job, and/or seek help from a trusted advisor to make a plan. For credit counseling services, visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling ( to find a member agency.

By taking control of your spending you can enjoy peace of mind and financial happiness. What steps have you taken to make sure that you live within your means?

Laura Kamps, RIS Specialist

Five signs you may be living beyond your means

(Money Management) Permanent link

Brenda EcheverriaIf you find you’re coming up short financially every month, you may be living beyond your means. Recognizing some of the signs is a first step toward getting your cash under control. Here's a few to look for.

  1. I don’t have enough savings to cover six months of expenses.Setting aside at least six months worth of income is ideal, but even three months worth is reasonable. Don’t be caught short for the unexpected like a home or car repair, unemployment, or major medical expense.
  2. I paid an overdraft fee in the last 12 months.
  3. I take vacations on credit. Paying for vacation on credit could make it more expensive than it’s worth. If you want to charge your trip for purchase protection reasons, save enough first so that you can pay off the balance before you’re charged any interest.
  4. I have exceeded my credit limit on one or more credit cards.
  5. I only make minimum payments on my credit cards. Credit card debt is expensive. It is not tax deductible nor does it finance a potentially growing asset (like a house). Instead, it’s like sending money down a drain never to be seen again. Pay as much as you can beyond the minimum and avoid adding more to the account(s). 

Living within your means may feel a bit restrictive but it’s wise. It may require you to make lifestyle adjustments, but the changes also free you from the burden brought on by financial woes. We'll share five more signs to look for next week.

Brenda Echeverria, Financial Planner