November 2013
Five Tips to Save on Your Thanksgiving Meal
money floating into a cornucopia

Five Tips to Save on Your Thanksgiving Meal

Prepare a feast without breaking the bank.

Hosting a Thanksgiving dinner can be a joyful, uplifting experience – a wonderful way to express gratitude and share with others.

Problem is, creating a bountiful spread can be costly. Save money on your Thanksgiving meal with these great suggestions.

Get back to basics: Fancy dishes may be fun, but they often involve a lot of special, costly ingredients. And, if they flop, you’ll pay dearly (literally!). Cook classic dishes you’re familiar with.

Go with frozen birds: Frozen turkeys usually are less expensive than fresh birds and can be just as flavorful, especially when brined.

Encourage sharing: Going potluck enhances the spirit of “sharing” exemplified by the first Thanksgiving, and it can reduce the costs and time spent preparing your feast.

Plan ahead: Plan your menu a week or two in advance, so you can take full advantage of sales and coupons. If guests are bringing dishes, avoid costly duplication of efforts by sharing the menu via email or document-sharing websites, such as Google Docs. Online Thanksgiving meal calculators can help reduce waste.

Shop smart: When shopping for ingredients, resist the temptation to buy additional and potentially costly items. Frozen and canned ingredients often are less expensive and taste just as good in holiday dishes. Bulk items usually are less expensive, but be sure to compare prices – sometimes bulk costs more. Making food from scratch can save money, too.

Make sure you stay safe in the kitchen when preparing your Thanksgiving spread – refer to this previous @dvisor article for safety tips.

Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude for the people and things you value most in life. It's a celebration of your dreams.

Contact your American Family Insurance agent today to explore creative, cost-effective ways to protect those dreams.

Follow These Hot Fireplace Safety Tips

Follow These Hot Fireplace Safety Tips

Get cozy – and cautious – around the fireplace.

There’s nothing like curling up by a crackling fire in the fireplace during the fall and wintertime.

Before you start getting cozy by the fireside, it’s a good idea to keep the following safety tips in mind.

  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional.
  • Clear leaves, pine needles and flammable debris off your roof.
  • Cover the chimney top with a mesh screen spark arrester, and trim away overhanging branches.
  • Keep your hearth clear of flammable objects.
  • Use a mesh metal screen to contain burning embers.
  • Open the flue when you start the fire, and keep glass doors open to reduce creosote buildup in the chimney.
  • When the fire is out, keep glass doors closed to keep cold air out of the room.
  • Be “fuel smart.” Never use flammable liquids to start fires, and don’t use cardboard boxes, trash or other debris. Avoid soft, moist wood, which can cause faster creosote buildup.
  • Keep logs to the rear of the fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire unattended, and always extinguish it before bed time or when you leave the house.

Get more fireplace safety tips by reading this Learning Center article.

Easy Leaf Removal Ideas
man raking leaves

Easy Leaf Removal Ideas

Save time with these suggestions.

The good news: fall leaves are beautiful.

The bad news: if you’ve got trees in your yard, you’re probably faced with the laborious, time-consuming task of getting rid of them, even this late in the season.

Want to save a little time and effort, so you’re free to pursue other fall dreams?

Check out these tips to streamline your leaf management chores.

Raking: Try using lightweight, fan-shaped rakes with wide, plastic tines that help reduce the time-consuming task of clearing leaves that “clog” the ends. Maintain good ergonomic form: keep your back straight, avoid reaching too far or twisting your torso, and alternate between your left and right hands to avoid repetitive motion.

Mowing: For a light covering of leaves on your lawn, mowing is a potentially time-saving alternative to raking. Bag attachments are most effective when there’s a light layer of leaves, as you won’t need to stop to empty the bag as often as with a heavier layer. Mulching blades are good to use early in fall when your grass is still growing. Make sure the mower deck is at an appropriate level for decent suction of leaves.

Blowing: If there’s a light to medium layer of leaves on your lawn, using a leaf blower is another time-saving leaf removal option. Use a flattened or curved attachment on the end – it’ll more effectively loft the leaves forward. Blowers with vacuum capabilities are particularly effective when sucking up leaves and debris in tight spots around shrubs. Use earplugs to protect your ears.

Using a tarp: Rather than raking leaves across large areas, save time by raking them onto a tarp, which you can drag to the curb or other collection point.

Combining blowing/raking with a tarp: For heavier layers of leaves, you can save time (and possibly avoid back pain!) by blowing leaves into small piles, and raking those piles onto a tarp for easy removal. This strategy works especially well for larger lots.

General tips:

  • Dry leaves are easier and less time-consuming to remove.
  • Avoid raking or blowing leaves on windy days.
  • Pick up leaves throughout the season.
  • Consider doing one segment of the yard at a time, rather than trying to do the whole yard at once. It’ll lighten the burden and is easier to manage.
  • Wear snug-fitting gloves to avoid blisters when raking.

Always remember, work in moderation to avoid over-exertion, and enjoy being outside during this beautiful season!

Don't Wait – Winterize Your Car Now

Don't Wait – Winterize Your Car Now

This checklist can help you avoid headaches and expensive costs.

Now that the days are getting chillier and winter is approaching, your car should be ready for the changing weather, too. Even if you live in a warm climate, colder temperatures can take their toll.

Don’t take chilly chances! These proactive tips can help you avoid getting caught out in the cold.

Antifreeze: Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for changing antifreeze, and test it to ensure it’ll prevent freezing and boiling over. Have the radiator flushed if needed.

Batteries: Cold weather can reduce battery power. Have a technician test the battery and charging system to make sure your car is ready for winter. Also, keep your battery terminals and connectors free of corrosion, indicated by white or yellowy powder.

Oil: Check your car’s manual for the oil viscosity recommended for driving in cooler temperatures, and get the oil changed if needed.

Tires: Tire pressure drops with colder weather, so frequently check your tires, including the spare, to ensure they’re properly inflated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends checking tread wear indicators, which are raised sections spaced intermittently in the bottom of the tread grooves. When they’re even with the outside of the tread, replace your tires. Or, insert a penny with Lincoln’s head pointing downward into the tread, and if the tread doesn’t cover Lincoln’s head, you should replace your tires. In especially snowy areas, all-weather or snow tires should be considered – consult with your mechanic.

Wiper blades and windshield fluid: If your wiper blades leave streaks or miss spots, replace them. Before the first freeze, check the windshield fluid reservoir to make sure it’s full, and use a solution that won’t freeze.

Gas: Make sure your car has enough gas in the tank in freezing or sub-freezing conditions to avoid a frozen gas line.

Keep your dreams in motion

Learn more about American Family's car insurance offerings, and while you're at it, consider these tried-and-true programs:

Certified Repair Program: If you're in a car accident, our Certified Repair Program will help you get rolling again with repairs that are easier, quicker and backed by a lifetime guarantee.

Auto Rental Reimbursement Program: This program helps pay for a rental vehicle when your car is being repaired due to a covered loss.

Emergency Road Service: When you're stranded, this policy option can help get you and your vehicle back on the road.