A Perfect Union

Holli and Steve Holdwick play with a dog

Nationwide saw an opportunity to help — and it took it.

During Wedding Day’s premiere episode, Holli and Steve Holdwick were presented with a check for $10,000 on behalf of Nationwide, a sponsor of the pilot. The gift enabled the newlyweds to modify and outfit their home with gym equipment needed for Holli’s continued rehabilitation and to pay off bills from the first abruptly cancelled wedding.

Steve and Holli felt deeply touched by Nationwide’s generosity at this critical juncture in their lives. Little did they know that Nationwide, recognized for its On Your Side® service, has a history of caring that spans more than eight decades.

“We think about you at every stage of your life, even during major life-changing events like getting married,” says Steven Schreibman, vice president of Advertising and Brand Management for Nationwide. “We’ve learned that our policyholders prefer this kind of proactive service.”

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Keep Your Motor Running

car fender and tire

A little TLC can turn your car into a classic, not a clunker.

Cars are the trusty steeds of the modern American lifestyle. These days, though, it seems like people prefer a vehicle that’s a little long in the tooth. In fact, more than four out of 10 drivers plan to drive their current vehicle at least 150,000 miles, and nearly one-quarter of those hope to make it to at least 200,000 miles, according to a recent ExxonMobil survey.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your car revving for years. First, consider the service schedule in your car’s owner’s manual to be a serious to-do list, starting with care and feeding. Although that may seem like a no-brainer, only 21 percent of drivers who participated in the ExxonMobil survey actually follow their car’s maintenance schedule. Yet doing so can save thousands of dollars and improve the long-term condition of vehicles.

Then, watch the “check engine” light. That little warning is your car’s way of telling you that it’s feeling under the weather. Unfortunately, half of the drivers surveyed ignore the indicator for three months or longer after it comes on. “Some drivers even put black electrical tape over the dash so they don’t have to look at it,” says Keith Andreasen, a top technician for CarMD. But that’s a bad move. Solving the problem as soon as it comes up prevents big headaches down the road.

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5 Things You’re Paying More for (and Price-Friendly Alternatives)

Two men watching sports on a big-screen TV

Combat sticker shock with these savvy shopping tips.

If you consider yourself a frugal consumer who is always on the lookout for a good sale or discount opportunity, you should also pay attention to prices that are on the rise. Take a look around and you’ll notice price increases aren’t difficult to spot. Here are some items that are costing consumers more now than they have in the past, as well as price-friendly alternatives.

Meat
Steak, hamburger and bacon are projected to increase in price by 3 to 4 percent. These summer favorites cost more this year, so try these tips to lighten the grocery bill.

  • Trim meat yourself. Meat that is pre-sliced into tenderloins or shaped into patties costs more.
  • Buy meat in bulk and store it in the freezer for later in the month.
  • Try going vegetarian once or twice a week. Cook spinach lasagna, veggie pizzas or black-bean chili.

Dairy
The refrigerator staples of milk, cheese and eggs are going to ring up a higher grocery bill this year—as much as 4.5 percent higher. But you can still enjoy dairy—and some unexpected alternatives—‘til the cows come home.

  • Sign up for dairy delivery from a regional farm. Many services will offer a discount if you create a weekly order.
  • Find creative ways to replace dairy. Put avocado on sandwiches rather than cheese, and scramble tofu instead of eggs.
  • Soy protein is the most cost-effective alternative to dairy proteins. Try soy milk and even soy cheese.

Satellite TV
Digital satellite television boasts high-quality images and high-priced bills. If you can’t possibly imagine parting ways with your remote control, give these alternatives a try.

  • Stream! Netflix®, iTunes® and Hulu® all offer entertaining substitutes for pricey cable services.
  • Ditch premium channels in favor of DVDs. Visit your library stacks for DVDs—absolutely free!
  • …and while you’re there, pick up some books. Americans watch 34 hours of TV weekly. Cancel satellite for the summer, and hit the books instead.

Baseball Tickets
Certain teams have hiked up their prices, making America’s favorite pastime harder to enjoy. But you can still sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and save some money for a hot dog.

  • Check reputable websites like CrowdSeats.com for discounted seats.
  • Sign up for Groupon®; it recently partnered with the major leagues to offer exclusive ticket deals.
  • Bring the family to a minor league game instead. Enjoy the thrill of a ballgame with shorter lines and cheaper peanuts.

Mail
Record losses for the U.S. Postal Service means sending a letter will cost more than ever. Shipping costs will rise by an average of 4 percent, and priority mail flat-rate boxes and envelopes will go up by as much as 9 percent.

  • Stock up on Forever stamps before the next price hike.
  • Go to usps.com to print your own shipping label, and you could save up to 16 percent off the post office price.
  • Think ahead. Mail packages with timeliness in mind. Overnight and rushed shipping are significantly more expensive than standard processing.
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Get Neat and Tidy to Sell Your Home

Neatly stacked bookshelf

Straighten and stage your home to make a great first impression on prospective buyers.

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. It’s an old saying, but it’s true—especially when it comes to selling your home in a market where lots of houses are available.

Fortunately, getting your house ready to sell is easier and less expensive than you may think. Unless your kitchen or bathroom is in poor condition or at least 40 years old, don’t invest the money to remodel, says Ron Zate, a Realtor® with Keller Williams Realty. In most cases, smaller fixes will do the trick.

Conquer Clutter
“The most important thing you can do is de-clutter,” he explains. “When you live in your house, you don’t see the clutter other people do because it’s yours.”

Zate suggests having a friend come over to point out things you could put away in each room to eliminate clutter. Personal items can make it especially hard for prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. “You want your house to look as much like a model home as possible,” he says, “so people can put their own personality into what they’re looking at.”

If you do just one thing, make sure the bathroom is always spotless. Also consider small touches like a new shower curtain or bath towels.

Don’t ignore clutter in areas like drawers and closets, including in the kitchen. People will open them, says Zate. Put items you don’t use often in boxes and store them out of sight, which will help you prep for your move, too.

Invite Buyers In
If your living area is small, consider removing some furniture to make it look more spacious. Also, think about making bedrooms as cozy as possible, so people can imagine themselves waking up there every day.

A fresh coat of paint is also an important and inexpensive choice. Switch to neutrals in rooms painted unusual colors. “I read that a $20 can of paint could bring you as much as a $5,000 return on your asking price,” says Zate.

One last piece of advice. If your home is vacant—which makes it much harder to sell—it might be worth paying to have it professionally staged. If that’s not in your budget, peruse décor magazines for ideas about ways you can stage your home yourself.

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5 Options for Finding Health Insurance

apple in colander

When an apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away, this pays.

The time to get insurance is before you need it, but many young adults appear to be betting that they won’t need it, at least for the short term.

By betting that you won’t have a serious illness or severe injury, though, you’re putting your financial security, and that of your loved ones, at risk. According to a recent survey by The Commonwealth Fund, 24 percent of uninsured young adults said they’d had to change their way of life to pay off medical bills.

Explore Your Options

Don’t automatically write off health insurance as out of reach. Check out these possible sources of coverage:

    1. Workplace. Some companies offer insurance as an employee benefit. Consider negotiating for it as part of your compensation package if you’re working part-time or as needed.
    1. Associations. Membership in a trade or social organization may qualify you to buy coverage at group rates.
    1. Parents’ policy. At least 30 states have passed laws that extend the length of time eligible young adults can remain covered as a dependent on a parent’s insurance policy. To learn more, click on this map.
    1. School. If you’re enrolled as a student, you may qualify for health insurance through your college or university.
  1. The marketplace. Insuring one person is riskier than insuring many people, so you’ll pay higher premiums if you buy coverage on your own. And remember, after reviewing your medical history, an insurance company can turn you down if it thinks you’re too great a health risk.

When an apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away, this pays.

The time to get insurance is before you need it, but many young adults appear to be betting that they won’t need it, at least for the short term.

By betting that you won’t have a serious illness or severe injury, though, you’re putting your financial security, and that of your loved ones, at risk. According to a recent survey by The Commonwealth Fund, 24 percent of uninsured young adults said they’d had to change their way of life to pay off medical bills.

Explore Your Options

Don’t automatically write off health insurance as out of reach. Check out these possible sources of coverage:

    1. Workplace. Some companies offer insurance as an employee benefit. Consider negotiating for it as part of your compensation package if you’re working part-time or as needed.
    1. Associations. Membership in a trade or social organization may qualify you to buy coverage at group rates.
    1. Parents’ policy. At least 30 states have passed laws that extend the length of time eligible young adults can remain covered as a dependent on a parent’s insurance policy. To learn more, click on this map.
    1. School. If you’re enrolled as a student, you may qualify for health insurance through your college or university.
  1. The marketplace. Insuring one person is riskier than insuring many people, so you’ll pay higher premiums if you buy coverage on your own. And remember, after reviewing your medical history, an insurance company can turn you down if it thinks you’re too great a health risk.
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Take a Home Inventory

White porcelain teapot on a red shelf

Knowing the contents of your home is more valuable than you think.

You purchase insurance to be ready for anything, but to be truly prepared and fully covered, you need to know what you’re insuring at home. Sure, you could come up with a ballpark estimate of how much the items in your home are worth, but the real number could be a lot higher. That means you may need more coverage than you realize.

Think about your clothes and shoes. Add the cost of your jewelry and coats. These items alone can cost into the thousands of dollars. It’s much less expensive to get enough home coverage to protect your belongings than it is to replace them yourself.

A good way to figure out what you really own is to go from room to room with a video camera. Record the contents of each room in your home, including drawers, shelves and closets. Start in one corner and work your way around. Be sure to take close-up shots to capture all the details.

Narrate while you’re at it. Do you have an original piece of art you bought in Italy or a collection of rare books? Make verbal notes about special items.

It’s important to store the final video file or DVD in a safe place outside your home, such as a safety deposit box, so you can access it if your home gets damaged.

The Insurance Information Institute offers free software that will walk you through the home inventory process and help you document your possessions. Go to KnowYourStuff.org for more information and to download the software. When you visit the site you’ll see there’s even an app for that. You can update your home inventory using your smartphone.

You can also contact your Nationwide agent for more information about property policies and tips for keeping track of your items.

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Can Your House Do This?

To protect your home, this house is subjected to the worst Mother Nature offers.

Tucked away in Chester County, South Carolina, there’s a charming two-story house waiting to be assaulted by Category 1, 2 and 3 force winds; thousands of gallons of rain; hail storms; or possibly a wildfire. Find that hard to believe? Wait until you hear the price tag: $40 million.

Built by the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the house (and those that will replace it) is part of a simulator program. Inside a massive warehouse and with the help of 105 300-horsepower fans and a massive 750,000-gallon water tank, the IBHS subjects houses to the worst Mother Nature can offer.

After each assault, the house is carefully examined for damage. Using their findings, researchers are able to determine which construction elements hold up best under the most extreme weather and natural disaster conditions. From window- and doorframes to roofing materials and siding, every aspect of the structure is evaluated. The IBHS findings are then shared with manufacturers, trade groups, and other researchers and research organizations to improve building methods and home safety.

Watch this video to see how the IBHS house holds up next to a house built using traditional building materials and methods. You might just be blown away.

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