Gardening tips & tools for newbies


Whether for the joy of raising your own food and flowers, for increasing your home’s curb appeal, or just for the love of getting close to nature, gardening is a great seasonal pastime. If you are a beginning gardener, the trusty Farmer’s Almanac is a great source for gardening resources, from planners, calendars and videos to gardening tips by month for your location.

Even if you don’t have a lot of space – maybe only a balcony – you might try vertical gardening. The LA Times features a variety of kits and containers designed to help you maximize space and still yield beautiful greenery, flowers and even a crop of veggies.

If you don’t have a garden yourself, New England has a wide range of gardens that make for great seasonal outings. VisitNewEngland.com offers a garden guide, noting:

Public gardens of all types are found from one end of New England another. They range from formal and traditional, like the Elizabeth Park Rose Garden in Hartford, Connecticut, to the wide and whimsical, like the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. Rhododendrons bloom wild at a park in southern New Hampshire and butterflies have their own garden habitats in parts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In all the warm months, garden clubs host local garden tours of places as private and lavish as the homes of Newport, Rhode Island, and elsewhere.

Beginning gardeners – and even some pros – may find this infographic from TheFix.com on Essential Tools for Beginner Gardeners very helpful. The Be sure to click through for many helpful tips in the accompanying blog post.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Back to school toolkit for kids of all ages


back to schoolIt’s getting to be that time of year… back-to-school season! Over the years, we’ve posted lots of advice for parents and students of all ages. In this post, we’ll offer some of our best back-to-school posts, with a few new resources thrown in.

College planning

Kids heading off to college? Double check insurance coverage first – we talk about homeowners/renters, auto, ID theft, tuition insurance and stand-alone policies for electronics.

College survival guide: Safety tips, what to pack, dorm hacks – a handy list of checklists from safety & security to eating healthy in a dorm.

ID theft is on the upswing and college students are at high risk – common types of fraud, resources to avoid ID theft or deal with it if it happens, and information on identity theft insurance.

Rental Insurance for the College Graduate – we suggest this as a gift for recent graduates, but it is as valid for students who will be renting. The post talks about myths, checklists and what you need to know.

Kids at home – back to school

Tips from 60,000 pediatricians about back to school safety – this post focuses on safety issues around traveling back and forth to school. You can also click for an updated checklist of Back to School Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Schoolbus safety tips

Backpack safety – there are a surprisingly high number injuries from overloaded back packs. Learn how to be sure your kids are not at risk.

Tips & tools for avoiding or dealing with the flu

Edutopia: Back to school resources for parents

PBS Parents: Back-to-School Tips for Parents

KidsHealth: Back to School – lots of advice for parents, or click through to get advice for kids, too.

Care.com: 101 Back-to-School Tips for Kids and Parents

Do you have any unclaimed money? Check to find out!


raining money

There’s a lot of frozen money out there that no one is claiming .. it’s in the billions. Some put the figure as high as $40 billion! Is any of it yours? Some of it could be if you’ve ever moved to another state or to another residence; if you’ve changed your name; if you’ve forgotten about a small bank account or a few shares of stock; or if a distant relative left you something in a life insurance policy or will.

Here are some of the most common forms of unclaimed money:

  • Inactive bank accounts, both checking and savings
  • Unfound life insurance or other account beneficiaries
  • Tax refunds that were misdirected
  • Unreturned utility deposits and escrow accounts
  • Refunds and credits
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Uncashed checks and wages
  • Insurance policies, CDs, trust funds
  • Unredeemed money orders or travelers checks
  • Unclaimed safe deposit boxes

If you’d like to check to see if there is any unclaimed money due you, here’s a tip:
The best place to start is MissingMoney.com.

This site is the only only free, state endorsed national database of missing money. The site is officially endorsed by NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) and participating states and provinces. The site will assist you in thoroughly searching all participating states to find your family’s missing, lost, and unclaimed property, money and assets. It has the most updated information for the state and provincial offices. Searches and claiming are always FREE.

We tried it out and found a $65 insurance policy refund from a neighboring state we lived in more than 10 years ago. We filed a claim and the money will be sent to us. You can search the entire database or confine to a specific state. Don’t forget to search by any variations in your name. Here are some search tips and frequently asked questions.

Other resources for unclaimed money

While MissingMoney.com is the best site, you can also check these sources, too:

Scam alert – don’t get hooked

Beware of scams related to unclaimed money. While we’d all like to think that we won some money that we didn’t know about or have a distant wealthy deceased aunt who left us her fortune, it’s not likely to be true. Scammers thrive on our hopes, fantasies and greed – don’t give them the opportunity.

  • Beware of emails and phone calls that alert you to winnings or other unclaimed money. State and federal authorities do not use email or phone to notify you of unclaimed money. The IRS will never threaten you to “pay now or else.”
  • Beware of people who ask for bank or credit card information or personal details to process your winnings/inheritance.
  • Be careful of unauthorized search sites that charge a fee to use. Stick to the sites we’ve mentioned or call your state’s unclaimed money office or insurance bureau if you have questions.
  • Beware of people who try to charge you. While there are some legitimate finder businesses that search for lost property owners and offer to inform them of how to obtain their property for a fee, most “out of the blue” alerts should be treated with a high degree of suspicion. NAUPA recommends that “Before signing any contract from a firm of this type, we recommend that you be cautious and contact the unclaimed property office in your state for more information.” Plus, you are better running your own searches periodically and avoiding any fees!

Check out these scam alerts:

Pokemon Go zombies: Police say to take care


PokemonGO-June15-Seadra

Image via pokemongo.com

PokemonGO-June15-Seadra-on-map

Image via pokemongo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can be forgiven if you think there is a zombie apocalypse going on. In almost any given public space, crowds of people are wandering around in a transfixed state. Don’t be alarmed, they are just playing Pokemon Go, the new augemented reality phone game craze that’s sweeping the nation. Check out this brief but amusing video clip of Pokemon Go players at Central Park!

On the upside, Pokemon is an unexpected source of health: many people are gaming their way to fitness.

Pokemon are little Japanese monsters that you are supposed to catch – made popular in video games by Nintendo. Now, there’s a new augmented reality version that you can download and play on your phone.
Instead of simply chasing down the monsters on a video screen, you must go out to find and capture the collection of 100+ monsters in a real-world scavenger hunt. In the short time since the game’s release on July 6, it’s taken the world by storm… and it’s having an unintended side effect for many … it is increasing their exercise. It may be the biggest game-related exercise motivator since the introduction of the Wii and the Wiifit .

On the downside, public safety officials, police and gamers themselves are reporting some problems:

  • Distracted walking & running
  • Distracted Driving
  • Other unsafe behaviors and lapses in common sense
  • Criminals may use the game to lure you in

It appears some of the main problems are injuries from falls, sprains and strains from players not looking where they were going, walking into objects, tripping or the like. Other gamers complain of sunburns from being outside all day. People are sharing reports of their Pokemon Go injuries all over social media

This news story lists other problems, too. There have also been a few police reports of robberies where criminals have set up fake PokeSpots to target players. And bizarrely, instead of finding a Pokemon monster, one poor user chanced upon a dead body!

Safety officials say keep your common sense about you. Don’t drive while playing – that’s just stupid and would be illegal in most states. Don’t play while riding on bikes or skateboarding, either. Don’t go out walking around alone at night if you wouldn’t normally do so. Be careful about going to neighborhoods or places that you are unfamiliar with. Be careful about intruding on private property. Stay alert for urban an natural hazards in your path. Authorities say to use caution when alerting strangers of your future location.

So like many other popular things, it’s fun but be careful!

Learn more at the Pokemon Go official site  or check out this article with Your biggest Pokémon Go questions, answered.

Insurance quiz time! Test your knowledge


Think you know a lot about insurance? Let’s find out. InsureUOnline – a consumer insurance educational resource site – offers a series of quizzes that test your insurance smarts. Here are a few to get you started – click the images to access the quizzes.

Insurance for the “under 30” crowd

under-30

Insurance for domestic partners

domestic-partners

Insurance for young families

young-families

Insurance for seniors

seniors
You can find more quizzes, games and apps at InsureUonline or explore other topics. The site is sponsored by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) so it is a very reputable source of information about insurance.