The Perzel Agency Blog – February 2014


Feb 26 – Pennsylvania – Guarding The Roads

State Police

Law Enforcement of Pennsylvania branched out on its own this year to curb aggressive driving. Previously, the Commonwealth participated in a multi-state coalition, the Smooth Operator program, along with Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia to produce waves of enforcement meant to deter aggressive driving. Now, Pennsylvania will have targeted enforcement all year round. The new program also complements PennDOT’s Drive Safe PA traffic safety initiative. Check it out at drivesafepa.org or stopaggressivedriving.org.

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Feb 18 – Five Life Hacks They Don’t Teach You At School

Life Hacks

Anyone over a certain age has heard of the “the three Rs” of education – reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic – but there are certain life skills none of your schooling will teach. In fact, it takes a lot more these days to succeed after your schooling ends, especially when it comes to making sure you have the financial resources to take care of yourself and your family.

Here are five life hacks that you may not learn in school.

1. Paying off debt – Recent statistics from the Federal Reserve show the average American household owes between $7,123 and $15,270 in credit card debt and $32,258 in student loan debt. Additionally, the Federal Trade Commission reports that many people face a financial crisis at some point in their life, whether due to illness, loss of a job or overspending. That debt becomes a looming problem in just such situations.

Regardless of what got you into trouble, getting out of debt is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a solid financial future. The FTC says an important first step is to create a household budget, making sure the amount you take in each month is greater than your expenses. Once expenses are under control, use extra cash to pay down credit card debt as quickly as possible, starting with those cards that have the highest interest rates. You may also want to consider credit counseling or debt management services, but be sure to do your homework to avoid scams.

2. Negotiating a salary increase – Companies are planning moderate salary increases of 2.9 percent for their salaried non-management employees in 2014, according to a survey of 910 U.S. companies by Towers Watson, a global professional services company. Employees shouldn’t sit back and expect a pay increase, however – they should ask for it. When asking for a raise, experts recommend arming yourself with facts about your company’s financial performance and the salaries of others in comparable positions. And when you do request a pay increase, don’t say it’s because you need the money. Focus on the value you bring to the company, such as increased profits or the acquisition of new clients.

3. Buying a house – With debts under control and a better salary in place, many people start thinking about buying a home. One of the first things to consider is how long you plan to stay in the house. The up-front costs of purchasing a home, including closing costs and real estate agent fees, may cause you to lose money if your home value doesn’t increase enough by the time you plan to sell. Many experts advise staying in your house for at least three to five years, but a mortgage calculator can help you run the numbers. You should also consider other expenses like home insurance, property taxes, association fees and maintenance.

4. Saving for the future – Whether it’s for a house, a car, child’s college education, or your own retirement, saving for the future can seem daunting if not impossible, but it’s easier than you might think. It starts with creating a household budget (see point #1). Next, adopt a mindset of “paying yourself first” – commit to setting aside a certain amount in savings each month and treat that as you would any other household bill that must be paid. Finally, start saving as early as possible to take advantage of compound interest (That’s earning interest on your interest.). One common rule is aim for 50/20/30.

5. Protecting your assets – Even if you earn a good income, are debt-free and are diligent about saving for the future, few people could absorb the cost of a catastrophic event like a major illness or accident. That’s where insurance comes in. Insurance allows you to drive a car knowing that the cost of repairs or medical care will be covered in the event of a crash. It also enables you to own a home knowing that it can be repaired or replaced if it’s damaged or destroyed. Life insurance can even give peace of mind knowing that your family will be taken care of if something happens to you.

“Insurance is a critical part of any financial plan because without it, you could lose everything you’ve worked so hard for with just one catastrophic incident,” says Rick Burt, executive vice president of products at ERIE.

While car insurance and homeowners insurance are often mandatory, Burt recommends consumers consider personal umbrella insurance and life insurance. “A personal umbrella policy gives you an added layer of protection beyond your auto and homeowners insurance in the event that you are sued due to an accident. And life insurance is essential if your family depends on you financially – whether you’re the primary breadwinner or the person who takes care of things at home.”

By: Leah Knapp


CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Feb 11 – 2014 Safest Vehicles

Safest Vehicles


CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Feb 07 – Seven Things to Teach Your Teen

Mother and Daughter

Being a parent is about providing for and loving your children. But it’s also about teaching: teaching them colors when they’re toddlers, not to do drugs when they’re school age and more grown-up things when they’re teenagers. For example, how to balance a checkbook and how to understand life’s risks are things to teach your teens.

I think about this a lot because I live with my soon-to-be-16-year-old daughter, who thinks she knows everything. Much to her dismay, she really doesn’t know everything. This became abundantly clear when she recently asked, “How do I pay my bills? I mean, I just don’t get the whole credit card, debit card thing. And isn’t there an app that can just balance my checkbook?”

Here it was—my window of opportunity to talk to my daughter and for her to want to listen to me. (I think most parents of teens realize this opportunity doesn’t arise very often.)

I proceeded to explain banking and online bill pay and assure her that when she gets a job, she’ll have the opportunity for more hands-on training.

That got me thinking: What other important, yet possibly overlooked, things should parents teach their teens about money, insurance and life in general? Here’s my list:

  1. How to pump gas and put air in tires. The last thing anyone wants is to be stranded.
  2. Clip coupons for things you buy all the time. But don’t become fanatic about it—because, really, who has time for that?

  3. Always clean out your refrigerator and microwave on a regular basis. Because it’s just
    gross if you don’t.
  4. Change your furnace filter every other month. This lets your furnace work more efficiently and helps prevent fires.

  5. Thaw your turkey in the fridge for four days before you attempt to cook it. (Yes, I learned this the hard way.)

  6. Know where the water shut-off valve is located. You never know when you might find yourself at midnight with a burst under-the-kitchen-sink pipe. (Yes, another mishap yours truly experienced.)

  7. Make sure your stuff is covered by insurance. Having an insurance policy means that if something bad happens to your car, house, boat, things in your house, that new engagement ring, whatever, you can get back to normal.

My daughter already knew the last one because I work for an insurance company and had explained to her and her 12-year-old brother very early on the concept of insurance. I always told them that people may complain about paying for insurance, but when something bad happens, it’s their saving grace.

I also told them that you don’t just buy the cheapest policy because insurance is complicated. You want to work with an independent agent who has your back. A knowledgeable Agent to help you figure out all your insurance needs.

It was a good talk that I was surprised to realize both my daughter and I enjoyed. Just like teaching your baby to play peek-a-boo, there is joy in schooling your teen in Life 101.
My daughter may never master a turkey dinner, but at least she’ll have the tools to try, and the right insurance protection should something go wrong. (Luckily, that’s one thing I didn’t have to experience firsthand.)

CONTACT: The Perzel Agency, 800-440-3480, http://www.PerzelAgency.com/

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Posts In February

Pennsylvania – Guarding The Roads

5 Life Hacks They Don’t Teach You At School

2014 Safest Vehicles

Seven Things to Teach Your Teen



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