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ASK SHELLEY: Does College Son Need Renter’s Insurance?

ask shelleyBy Shelley Swenson Extension Agent III
UF-IFAS Wakulla County Extension

Here are some of the information requests I received this month and announcements of topics of interest. Phone calls and emails allow me to review topics with Wakulla County citizens that are of interest. I appreciate the space in the Wakulla Neighbor to share some these topics with others.

We are sending our son off to apartment living next fall while he attends college. Does he need renter’s insurance?

One of the costs that people tend to forget or ignore is renter’s insurance.But according to consumer science researchers, everyone renting an apartment or a house should have it. It will protect your family against losses from disasters such as hurricanes and fi re or a robbery. We may think that these types of things will never happen to us, but, unfortunately, it does.

Renter’s insurance is moderately priced. You can choose a policy that pays the value of your loss, such as the present value of your furniture. You can choose insurance that pays the replacement value of the loss. Of the two kinds, replacement insurance is recommended as the better choice. Some renters  believe the landlord has insurance that protects them. This is not correct. The landlord is not responsible for a loss unless the landlord is directly responsible for causing the loss. Renter’s insurance will also protect you in other ways. For example, it helps you when your dog bites a neighbor or if a visitor breaks his arm while at your son’s apartment.

I will get a tax refund this year. I am tempted to take my family on vacation but we have unpaid credit card debt. What is your suggestion of how to best use the refund?

It may be tempting to spend the refund on your family but with debt hanging over your head, you may not enjoy the time spent away if money is being spent knowing that your debt remains. Perhaps a family outing that you can plan together with everyone participating could be just as satisfying until such date when bills are paid. Let everyone in the family understand why these choices are being made so that they can feel good about the decision and the motivation behind it. Here are some ideas on how to save in  2016:

 

  1. Kick a bad habit and put the money you would have spent on that habit towards your debt or in a savings account.
  2. Plan all purchases in advance by making and sticking to a budget. Make no purchases impulsively this year and see what a difference, financially results.
  1. Take advantage of free resources and entertainment such as parks, libraries and other community venues.
  1. Practice and perfect the art of saying “NO” to yourself and to family members when wants arrive that don’t fit into the budget.
  2. Hide your savings from yourself by transferring money into a separate bank account, particularly in a financial institution you don’t access regularly. Out of sight is out of mind. You will be surprised at how quickly money can add up!
  3. Stash any extra cash somewhere in your home, purse or pockets. Automate your savings through payroll deductions, scheduled transfers or personal finance applications.
  4. Pay above the minimum on the mortgage each month.

And in the end, work to pay down your credit card debt so a future family vacation can be seen in your future.

What is this that I am hearing about “The Blue Zones” Book Study?

During a recent study trip, I was exposed to Dan Buettner’s book called “The Blue Zones Solution.”

I quote from the book,

“What if I said you could  add up to 10 years to your life? A long healthy life is not an accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits. If you adopt the right lifestyle, experts say, chances are you may live up to a decade longer.“…

Funded in part by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, scientists have focused on several regions where people live significantly longer. Residents of these places produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more healthy years of life. In sum, they offer sets of best practices to emulate. The rest is up to you.”

The findings can be summarized in nine principles. They include: move naturally, know your purpose, downshift, follow the 80 percent rule, lean toward consuming plants, drink a glass of wine at 5, family should always come first, belong to a group and affiliate with the right tribe.

I will be hosting a book group to cover these nine principles and the research that was completed to come to these simple suggestions for living a long, full life. It will be held at the Wakulla County Library for an afternoon and evening session on Thursdays in May. I would encourage you to purchase the book and highlight key points or check out one of several available at the Library and join this lively discussion.

Whether you can attend one session or several, I would encourage your attendance. Call me with your questions and to enroll. It is a free class.

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