A reduction in your monthly income once you retire can make managing debt difficult. Here are three strategies that can help.
1. Make a budget
When it comes to managing debt, the first thing you should do is get a clear picture of your financial situation by listing what you owe, your expenses and your income as fully and precisely as possible. Knowing how much money you make every month, how much you need to spend and how much you have left over will make it easier to determine where you can save money.
2. Think about interest rates
Tackle debts with the highest interest rates first. Paying these down sooner rather than later will save you money. You may also be able to consolidate your debts (possibly by refinancing your mortgage) and thereby pay a lot less in interest.
3. Maximize your revenue
Depending on your situation, you may want to consider returning to the workforce on a part-time basis. You should also make sure you benefit from every tax credit you’re eligible for, including those for home care and home improvements. Finally, spend some time advancing your understanding of how financial matters work to help you make more informed spending and saving choices.
If you need more help, contact a professional. Many financial experts specialize in helping retirees.
Safety tips for snowmobile season
January 18 to 26 is International Snowmobile Safety Week, and the theme is Safe Riders! You make snowmobiling safe. Here’s a rundown of some of the most important safety practices to follow when operating a snowmobile.
Precautions to take before leaving
Plan your trip in advance and practice staying safe by adhering to the following:
• Choose trails that you know well or that you’ve researched in advance.
• Make sure your snowmobile is tuned up.
• If it’s your first time using a snowmobile, don’t take it out until you’ve familiarized yourself with how to use it. Be sure to take it slow during your first ride.
• Avoid snowmobiling alone and give someone who won’t be in your company an itinerary that includes your route and the duration of your ride.
• Ensure that you’ve memorized the hand signals used to communicate between snowmobilers.
Staying safe on the trail
Snowmobiles are definitely powerful, which is part of what makes them fun. However, they can also be dangerous should you fail to take the needed precautions. Here’s what you should do:
• Know your limits and the limits of your snowmobile.
• Respect signage and be attentive to your surroundings.
• Stop completely at intersections and look both ways before proceeding.
• Stay on the trail and respect private property.
• Be extra careful when driving at night. Adjust your speed so that you don’t “over-drive” your headlights.
For a more comprehensive list of safety tips, visit the website of the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association at snowmobile.org.
Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with kids
On January 20, Americans across the country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday presents a unique opportunity to honor the legacy of the civil rights leader and to follow his example by volunteering. However, for those with children, it’s also an opportunity to help kids understand why it’s more than a day off school. Here are some ways you can share the day with them.
Read to them
There are a number of accessible biographies of Martin Luther King Jr. Reading one with your kids is a great way to teach them about the civil rights movement and, depending on their age, to help them develop their understanding of the ongoing civil rights struggles taking place in America today.
Make a themed craft
For younger or more artistically-minded kids, try creating artwork centered around a theme like peace, diversity, acceptance or generosity. These values are all central to MLK Jr.’s legacy. You could create peace signs, doves or garlands made up of diverse people holding hands.
Bring your kids to museums and libraries holding events for the holiday. These institutions often have activities for younger kids while providing informative installations for older children and teenagers. Some places also hold parades and marches you can attend.
Watch the “I have a dream” speech
If your kids are older, watch the speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It’s a timeless articulation of his message and watching it presents an opportunity for you and your kids to discuss how the speech continues to be relevant today. Perhaps it’ll even provide insight into ways they could volunteer.
Exposing young people to the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. is a key way to help keep his message alive. This year, take a bit of time to share his insight and wisdom with your children.
How to socialize your new puppy
Socializing puppies early is the key to making sure they develop into well-adjusted dogs. Most experts agree that between two and four months old is the ideal age to begin. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Register for puppy class
An obedience training program will expose your pup to other dogs and people, while teaching them how to respond to basic commands. Learning alongside other puppies trains them to concentrate on you, even when there are distractions.
Bring your dog everywhere
Let your dog accompany you on as many errands as possible. Walking your canine companion through town is a great opportunity for them to become used to the area’s sights, sounds and smells. If your puppy is comfortable with it, allow all types of strangers to greet and pet them.
Invite people over
Dogs need to learn how to greet visitors into their homes as well as on the street. Inviting other people and dogs over to meet your pooch will illustrate that visitors are welcome and that there’s no need to protect the home from them.
Socializing dogs is important but it does leave them more exposed to disease. Until they’re fully vaccinated, be sure to keep them away from off-leash dog parks and other places where they may come into contact with unfamiliar canines.
Are there any alternatives to declawing cats?
There are two effective ways to protect your furniture, curtains and children from your cat’s claws without having to declaw it. After all, declawing is a major operation. The solution? Scratching posts and nail caps.
Scratching posts are covered in materials that cats love to dig their claws into, such as cardboard, wood, carpet or jute. A post gives your pet a perfect place to scratch as much as it wants, but the challenge is to get your cat interested in doing so. If your cat ignores its scratching post, it’s probably because the post isn’t located in the right place. Typically, it should be where your pet wants to scratch to mark its territory. To solve this problem, move the post around until your cat shows interest; try placing it near the corner of a sofa, for instance. You can also make the post more attractive by hanging a toy on it or by sprinkling it with catnip.
Nail caps are protective membranes attached directly to trimmed claws with non-toxic glue. These guards are painless, last about six weeks and are available in various colors. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more about nail caps or declawing.
How often should you inspect your roof?
Your roof is an integral part of your home and plays a big role in shielding you and your loved ones from the elements. Though roofs last a long time, they must be inspected regularly and repaired as needed.
So, how often should you inspect your roof?
Most contractors recommend checking it twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall. However, if you’re not comfortable climbing on top of your house, it’s best to hire a professional roofer to perform the inspection.
Some things to look for are:
• Soft spots
• Shingles that are loose or curling
• Loose material around the chimney
• Anything protruding from the roof
• Large amounts of shingle granules in the gutters
Biannual inspections are crucial, but they aren’t the only time your roof should be given attention. Be sure to also visually check them after big storms, especially those with heavy precipitation and strong winds.
Your roof’s lifespan depends on its material. Slate, copper and tile roofs can last for up to 50 years, while wood shake roofs last for 30 and cement tiles have a lifespan of 25 years. Asphalt shingles will typically last around 20 years.
4 reasons why you should go snowmobiling
There are over four million snowmobile enthusiasts across North America and this number continues to grow every year. If you’re wondering what makes snowmobiling such a popular activity, here are four good reasons to give it a try and find out for yourself.
1. It’s a great way to experience nature
Few people get the opportunity to explore their area’s backcountry during winter. Snowmobiling allows you to explore hills, plains, mountains and forests while they’re draped in virgin snow.
2. It allows you to access remote areas
You can cover vast distances on a snowmobile and reach scenic areas that can’t be accessed any other way. If you want to find solitude out in nature, snowmobiling is your ticket.
3. It’s super fun
Snowmobiling will give you an adrenaline rush like no other, no matter what pace you go at. Whether you float over fields of soft powder or weave through a forest trail, you’re sure to have a blast.
4. It’s easy
Learning to ride a snowmobile is simple. Just make sure you follow all the safety guidelines you receive from your instructor and take it nice and slow your first time out. If you’re nervous about venturing out on your own, hire a guide.
Are you ready to experience all that snowmobiling has to offer? If so, be sure to book a course or take a lesson nearby.