September 2013
>Eating Healthy on a Budget
vegetables in the shape of a heart

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive.

Americans tend to like big and fast things. Cars, houses, TVs and even food. Our affection for big, fast meals has also led to ever-growing waistlines and increased health care costs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults (more than 72 million people) and 17 percent of U.S. children are obese. From 1980–2008, obesity rates doubled for adults and tripled for children. Currently, only 12 percent of adults and 2 percent of children eat a healthy diet consistent with federal nutrition recommendations.

Eating poorly doesn’t just affect your health, it has a financial impact as well. On average, obese people have medical costs $1,429 higher than those of people of normal body weight. Obesity has been linked to reduced worker productivity and increased susceptibility to diabetes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that eating healthier could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity and deaths.

Best practices for healthy eating include adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet and cutting out processed and deep fried foods.

One common misconception about eating healthy is that it’s expensive. The truth is, eating healthy doesn’t have to cost more. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy on a budget.

  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables in season.
  • Carrots, greens and potatoes are typically lower-cost vegetables. As for fruits, apples and bananas are lower-cost choices.
  • Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables generally cost less, but avoid those packaged with extra sugar or additives.
  • Purchase nuts, seeds and specialty items from the “bulk food” section of your grocery store.
  • Join a local wholesale club or CSA to obtain fresh fruits, vegetables and, in some cases, meat. Split the price with a friend or family member to take advantage of discount prices on healthy foods.
  • Plant a garden. A few dollars on seeds is all you need to get started growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs.
  • Getting locally grown seasonal food is healthier and often less expensive.
  • Avoid fast foods which are expensive and typically loaded with excess fat, salt and sugar.

For help planning meals, the USDA maintains a recipe finder database that contains low-cost food choices that follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and are relatively easy to prepare.

Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. It just takes a little practice. For your sake and the health of your family, encourage healthy eating habits. Your waistline and lifeline will thank you.

Avoid the Most Common Driving Mistakes

Avoid the Most Common Driving Mistakes

Don't make these deadly driving errors.

Want to make roads and highways safer for everyone? Listen up!

Recent trends show that Americans are becoming more dangerous behind the wheel.

Case in point: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that traffic fatalities spiked by 5.3 percent in 2012, marking the first year-to-year increase in traffic deaths since 2005.

However, you can do your part to help minimize this trend, and to protect yourself and your loved ones when driving. Here are the most common – and deadly – driving mistakes, and how to avoid them.

Eliminate distractions: Talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, focusing too much on the car stereo … these are among the top distractions that can cause deadly accidents. Use good judgment – wait to do these activities when you aren’t driving. If you’re a teen, avoid driving with other teens in the car, which can be a big distraction, too.

Avoid over-correction: Overcompensating by sharply swerving can lead to fatal accidents. Be attentive, anticipate dangerous situations and maintain safe speeds to avoid swerving sharply and crashing as result.

Be alert, stay awake: Driving drowsy can be as dangerous as driving drunk. If you feel like nodding off, get off the road, get rest and resume your trip when you’re awake.

Don’t speed: According to the NHTSA, 30 percent of traffic deaths occur at speeds above 55 mph. For teens, speeding accounts for almost 40 percent of fatalities. Get there safely – don’t speed.

Wear a seat belt: For younger drivers in particular, wearing a seat belt may seem restrictive. But buckling up could mean the difference between life and death. Before you start the car, always fasten your seat belt.

If you’re the parent of a teen, consider our award-winning Teen Safe Driver Program, which reduces risky driving habits by more than 70 percent.

And, no matter what your age is, you can commit yourself to safe driving by taking our Safe Driving Pledge.

How to Find That Lost Life Insurance Policy
college girls in front of dorm with boxes

How to Find That Lost Life Insurance Policy

These five steps from the Insurance Information Institute can help.

Losing a loved one is among the most difficult situations a person can encounter. Picking up the pieces after a tragic loss can be challenging, too.

For example, what do you do if a family member dies, and you’re not certain if he or she had a life insurance policy?

Not surprisingly, thousands of Americans find themselves in this situation. How can you find a lost life insurance policy?  The Insurance Information Institute suggests these five steps:

1. Look for insurance-related documents

Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes, and other storage places to see if there are any insurance-related documents. Also, check address books in case any insurance agents or companies are listed. An agent or company representative who sold auto or home insurance to the deceased person may also know about the existence of a life insurance policy.

2. Contact previous employers

Former employers may have a record of a past group policy.

3. Check bank books and canceled checks

See if any checks or automated payments have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.

4. Check with the state’s unclaimed property office

If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but cannot find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over as “unclaimed property” to the state in which the policy was bought. If you know where the policy was purchased, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased. A good place to start is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

5. Try the MIB database

There is a database of all individual life insurance applications that have been processed during the last 12 years. This database is only available to a legally appointed representative of an insured’s estate. There is a charge per search. For more information, go to MIB's Consumer Protection page.

Life insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. Want to learn about American Family Life Insurance Company’s life insurance offerings and options?

Take a closer look at how American Family life insurance products help protect what matters most – the people and things that make up your dreams. Or, contact an American Family Insurance agent to get a personalized look at how we can help you.

College Students' Insurance Coverage: What You Should Know

College Students' Insurance Coverage: What You Should Know

Here's an overview of insurance coverages for the average college student.

Now that it's September, most university students are back in school, pursuing their academic dreams. For many, college dorms and apartments are a home away from home filled with clothes, books, computers and other belongings.

If you're an American Family customer with kids in college or are a student yourself, you might be wondering: Does my homeowners and auto insurance cover all this? Here's a look at coverage for the average college student.

Living in a dorm or at home

If the student lives at home while going to school, his or her possessions are covered under the parent's homeowners policy.

Homeowners policies also cover student belongings in a dorm, house or apartment, up to 10 percent of the personal property limit (subject to the policy deductible). These same limits apply to students studying abroad. Liability and Medical Expense coverage also extends from the parents' homeowners policy to the student's residence while away at school.

If a student will be home for an extended period, such as over the summer, belongings should either come home, too, or be stored in a commercial storage facility.

Students with expensive computer equipment, musical instruments, jewelry and sports equipment may have special coverage needs not met by the base homeowners policy. Contact your agent to discuss available endorsements to provide better coverage for these items.

Living off campus

When a student lives in a house or apartment, and if the parents' coverage limits are not sufficient to cover the student's possessions, a separate renters policy may be the best coverage option. A renters policy will cover the student's possessions while also adding a layer of liability coverage in case someone gets hurt at the property. Some landlords even require tenants to have renters insurance.

Car insurance for college students

Cars that go to school with the college student, but are insured by the parents, are covered while in the United States and Canada.

Auto coverage can extend from the parents' family car to other non-owned cars used by the full-time college student if the vehicle is not available for the regular use of the student. (Example: The college student borrows a friend's car to get groceries.) The auto policy does not provide any coverage for motorcycles or mopeds.

Car insurance covers more than a car. If the student is hit by a car while walking or bicycling, the family car auto policy would provide coverage for medical expenses, as well as uninsured or underinsured motorists (if available under the policy).

College students may be eligible for the Good Student Discount, and if they attend school at least 100 miles from home and don't have a car, they may be eligible for the TimeAway Discount.

If you're not an American Family Insurance customer but want to learn more about covering college students' property with renters insurance, this Learning Center article can provide some helpful information.

College is a great time of intellectual exploration and self-discovery. Having the right insurance coverage can enhance that experience, and give you or your kids peace of mind.

Safety Gadgets for Your Home, Yard, Office and Car

Safety Gadgets for Your Home, Yard, Office and Car

These gizmos offer fun and safety!

The dictionary defines a gadget as “Noun: An often small mechanical or electronic device with a practical use but often thought of as a novelty.

However, gadgets often have practical and safety applications around your home and car. Truth is, they’re fun to use!

We looked at gadgets – some for fun and some for safety – and came up with a list of our favorites. Where do these fit on your list?

Temperature-activated water flow reducer – This faucet attachment helps prevent burns by shutting off sink or shower water if it gets too hot.

Doorbell/telephone signalers – For people with a hearing loss, this device connects to a doorbell or telephone and flashes a light when someone calls or comes to the door.

Gutter-cleaning robot – Avoid climbing a ladder to clean out your rain gutters. This robot works its way down your gutters, throwing debris and leaves over the sides. It keeps your rain gutters clean and helps prevent ice dams in the winter.

Water leak detectors – Detect leaks around hot water heaters, sinks or sump pumps before they cause thousands of dollars in damage.

LED faucet This gadget colors water with light to let you know if it's hot or cold. Water less than 95 degrees is colored blue, hotter water appears red.

Motion-activated cordless lights – Never stumble around in the dark again. These LED lights can be mounted anywhere and turn on when they detect motion.

Talking medication reminder – Never miss taking a prescription again. This reminder talks to you as a reminder to take medications.

Stove shut-off timer – Never worry if you have turned off the stove. This timer relies on a motion sensor to keep the stove on. After a pre-determined period, if there is no motion (such as the cook leaving the room and not returning), the stove shuts off.

Car escape hammer – This low-tech gadget is designed to break your car’s windows in an emergency, enabling you to quickly escape.

Wireless driveway alert – This device notifies you when someone enters your driveway by car, bike or foot.

Fingerprint door lock – Only people with fingerprints programmed into such a lock can open the door. No more worrying if you’ve lost your keys or had them stolen. No one gets past without using a recognized fingerprint.

“Stick-n-find” GPS trackers – These little GPS trackers attach to just about anything you want to keep track of – shoes, wallet, car keys, etc. – and send a signal to your smartphone letting you know where they are.

Barking dog alarm – At the first sign of an intruder, the alarm sounds like a dog barking to scare away a potential thief.

Wireless mailbox alert – This alert sends an audible and visual signal from your mailbox to let you know when the mail has been delivered. No more going outside in the rain to find an empty mailbox!

Hand crank flashlight – Never be without emergency light again. These flashlights are perfect for your car, RV, boat or home, and they never need batteries.

Swimming pool alarm – This gadget emits an alarm when a person or pet enters your pool. Never worry if someone has entered a swimming pool without you knowing it. This tool is great for homes with little children or curious pets.

Onion goggles – OK, this one is just for fun. These glasses fit snuggly on your face and keep the fumes from a strong onion out of your eyes, preventing watering.

There are thousands of gadgets out there, all designed to make life a little easier. Which one is best? That’s up to you.

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