Smart Home Purchases for Empty Nesters

Ah, the golden years. The kids are out of the house and college is paid for. Perhaps you did away with your mortgage as well. So, what do you do with all of that extra money? What about making some smart investments for a more secure future?

There are other decisions and purchases you can make that will help you lead a healthier and safer life, while also gaining peace of mind. Here are five smart purchases for empty nesters to consider.

 

Look into Home Automation
You've likely seen ads for home digital assistants, like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Commercials present home automation devices as fun to use for everyday tasks like ordering groceries, but they have value that may allow you to age in place safely. For example, both the Amazon and Google devices pair with home security companies to allow you to activate your home alarm or close your garage door. If you've installed "smart" door locks or light bulbs, these devices can also lock doors or turn on lights when you're not home.

Consider Installing a Home Standby Generator
My mother retired to Maine, a state known for harsh winters. During one of her first winters there, the region was hit with one of the worst ice storms in history. She was without power for two weeks and swore never to let land in such a position again in the future. She invested in a home standby generator. It has provided peace of mind ever since. Many of my neighbors here at the Jersey Shore made similar decisions after Superstorm Sandy, recognizing how important it is to be prepared ahead of the storm.

Cummins produces some of the most reliable home standby generators on the market, and their website includes a generator sizing calculator to help you figure out which generator is right for your home.

Invest in Fitness
Staying fit becomes even more important as you age. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are three components that everyone – especially older individuals – should have in their fitness routine: cardiovascular exercise, interval training and strength training. Some experts suggest balance training, such as yoga, is also important to help prevent falls.

You can achieve these fitness goals by setting up a home gym of your own. A stationery bike or treadmill and hand weights are a great start. Or, if you like the social aspect of working out with others, invest in a gym membership. Look for a gym that offers a range of classes – yoga, spin, weight lifting, etc. – so you can meet all your physical activity needs in one place.

Trade In for an Energy-Efficient Car
Are you still driving the gas-guzzling mom taxi that got you through those raising-your-kids years? Sure, the car has long been paid off and probably doesn't cost much to insure. But how much does it cost to maintain or fill up its tank? As you know, gas prices aren't likely to go down in the future. Does it make sense to trade in that car for something more energy efficient? Or can your home with two older cars afford to become a home with one smaller, more energy-efficient car?

September is a great time to buy a car with dealers looking to clear out last year's models to make room for the next year's. If you're serious about getting a new car, you may find some great deals.

Work With a Financial Planner
It makes sense to continue contributing to your retirement savings as you age. If you're not already working with a financial planner to achieve your retirement savings goals, you should be. Financial planners can help you with so much more, too. For example, a financial planer can help you figure out what kind of long-term care insurance you need. Long-term care insurance can help fill the gaps when your traditional savings can't cover health-related expenses.

Making informed purchases and financial decisions can improve your health and happiness well into your Golden Years. Start with the recommendations above, and you’ll be well on your way to a secure future.

Leah Ingram, Freelance Writer, Lifestyle and Money-Saving Expert

Leah Ingram

Leah Ingram is a freelance writer, lifestyle and money-saving expert. Her mission is to help you feel more confident about your spending, regardless of income.

 

She is the author of Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less, which compiles Leah’s unique money-saving advice, including how a family can save $25,000 a year. Her second title in the Suddenly Frugal series is Toss, Keep, Sell!: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Cleaning Out the Clutter and Cashing In.

 

Currently, Leah is working on a personal finance book, chock full of ideas to help middle-class families pay for college. That book, tentatively called College Money Hacks, will be out from Career Press in Fall 2017.

 

For more information, visit Leah's website at http://www.leahingram.com/about/.

Protecting Your Pet in the Summer Heat

Protecting your pet in the summer heat

The summer season is a great time for you to enjoy spending time with your furry friends, however don’t forget the challenges it may bring. Here are six tips to keep your pet safe in the summer heat.

1. Never leave an animal in a parked vehicle. Cars heat up very quickly, and as the temperature rises, your pet runs the risk of suffering from heat exhaustion or a fatal heat stroke. Also, leaving animals in cars is illegal in several states.

2. Keep your pets hydrated. Dogs can become dehydrated very quickly, so make sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot outdoors. You can even add ice cubes to their water. Regularly check to make sure their bowl still has water. 

3. Not all dogs are good swimmers, so supervise them around pools. Be sure to rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from their coats. Don’t allow your dog to drink pool water; the chlorine and other chemicals could make your dog sick.

4. If your pet will be outside, ensure there is a shady place where they can escape the sun. Keep their water bowl in a shady area as well. When taking your dog out for a walk, be careful not to over-exercise them. Avoid hot surfaces such as the asphalt because it can burn your dog's paws. Keep walks to a minimum during the hottest times of day or better yet, reserve walks for the cooler hours.

5. Take extra precautions for pets with health issues - overweight or elderly dogs are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures.

6. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion such as panting excessively, weakness, seizures, lethargy or diarrhea. If your pet is suffering from heat exhaustion, their gums and tongue may also appear to be bright red. If your pet is displaying any of these symptoms, take them to the veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately.

In addition to posing a danger to pets and people alike, extreme temperatures can also trigger power outages. Installing a generator or back-up power supply will help ensure you have power to cool your home and keep your pets comfortable in the event of a power outage. 

Prepare for the worst and have peace of mind during severe weather and install a Cummins QuietConnect home standby generator.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Six Last Minute Hurricane Prep Tips

Tropical trees in a storm

The 2018 hurricane season is shaping up to be much quieter than 2017; to date, four named storms have formed, including subtropical storm Debby forming in the Atlantic on August 7. While hurricane season runs June 1 through November 30, storm activity normally peaks in August and September. 

Earlier in the season, we shared ways you could start to prepare for hurricane season. In the face of imminent severe weather, there are still a number of ways to prepare now before a storm hits.

1. Secure outdoor furniture including umbrellas or decor such as bird feeders and hanging plants, as they can become projectiles during high winds. Bring these items into your home or store in your garage. If you can’t move the items indoors, use a strong rope to tie them down. 

2. Falling trees or flying debris can damage cars during a hurricane or other severe weather. Try to position cars close to your home on the lesser side of expected winds and away from trees and power lines. This can help provide protection from the storm. 

3. Keep your cordless devices such as tools, flashlights, cell phones, laptops, tablets, cameras and portable electronic games charged and ready. Check out our tips for maximizing your smartphone battery. 

4. Keep your blinds, curtains and shutters closed, as this reduces the chance of debris entering your home. This can also help keep glass out if a window shatters.

5. Check your current flood insurance policy. Flood insurance typically takes 30 days to go into effect, so it may not be too late to purchase or upgrade your policy. 

6. Severe hurricane damage can include power surges and ruptured gas or water lines, so it’s important to locate your cutoff switches and valves and know how to turn them off in the event of an emergency.

It is important to prepare for hurricane season every year, and having a plan for an extended power outage will help to circumvent a lot of issues you could face. Installing a generator or back-up power supply ensures you will have power in the event of an emergency. 

Prepare for the worst and have peace of mind during severe weather by installing a Cummins QuietConnect home standby generator.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Protecting Your Home Against Power Outages This Hurricane Season

Cummins Home Generator

Power outages caused by a natural disaster can affect millions of people for days, even weeks, at a time.

Meteorologists are predicting a quieter hurricane season for 2018, but that doesn’t mean that you should skip out on preparing your home for severe weather - it only takes one. So how do you select the right type of generator to ensure that you won’t be without power in the event of an emergency?

Learn more on the FLASH blog: https://protect-your-home.org/2018/07/30/protecting-your-home-against-power-outages-this-hurricane-season/

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Prepare Against the Aging Power Grid

Power lines

The U.S. electrical grid is made up of a massive network of power plants, transmission lines, and distribution centers. This electrical grid must balance the supply and demand of energy that powers everything from buildings, industrial facilities, schools, and hospitals to your home. 

Nearly 75% of those transmission lines and transformers are more than 25 year old, and most of the grid infrastructure is built above ground – making it susceptible to extreme weather. In the summer, power outages increase as heatwaves and storms wreak havoc on the power grid. Power outages can mean no air conditioning, spoiled food and damaged appliances.

Few high-risk areas are truly prepared to face the effects of a powerful storm or extreme weather. In 2003, rising temperatures in Ohio led an overloaded transmission line to sag and scrape against an overgrown tree. This caused an outage that spread to New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, and even parts of Canada. The result: the largest blackout in human history with 50 million people losing power for up to two days.

Is the infrastructure in your area prepared to stand up to storms? Probably not.

Energy providers sometimes conduct rolling brownouts or blackouts to ease the strain on the power grid. These temporary outages are spread across different service areas to ensure no customer is without power for longer than another. 

As the demand for power continues to grow, and the aging U.S. grid is stretched to capacity, many Americans will be vulnerable to power outages. 

It’s important to prepare for both unexpected and planned power outages like rolling blackouts. Consider installing a Cummins home standby generator to help protect yourself and family during an outage. The generators are connected to your natural gas or liquid propane lines to automatically deliver power quietly and quickly during a utility outage. 
 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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