Adjusting to College Life: Tips for Parents and for Students

College can open doors of opportunity for students, but for parents, sending their kids off to school can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if the kids are feeling nervous themselves. If that situation sounds all too familiar, here are a few steps you can take to relieve anxiety for you and your kids:

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For Parents

  • Recognize that leaving for college can be an emotional experience for your kids, and provide them with the support they need to know you’ll be there for them, even if you’re hundreds of miles away. Avoid being “clingy,” and above all, don’t discount your child’s emotions; they need to know you understand and you’re not judging them.
  • Classes in college tend to be more challenging than those in high school, so don’t place unrealistic expectations on your child that can be difficult or impossible to attain. Make sure your child understands there’s no shame in asking for help, whether it’s from the professor during office hours or through tutoring or other support services.
  • Let your child know you’re proud of them for making it this far. Make sure they understand the need to balance their schedule with some downtime and that you know there will be a period of adjustment for them as well as for you.

For Students

  • College is a huge adjustment, so go easy on yourself and don’t expect to feel 100% comfortable right away. For many students, it takes at least a semester – and sometimes longer – to start to feel more at home.
  • Get counseling for really strong or pervasive feelings of anxiety or depression, especially if they interfere with your ability to do routine things like sleep, eat or go to class. Most colleges offer counseling services on campus, and if not, the health center should be able to make a recommendation.
  • Don’t shut your parents out. College is a time to be more independent, but don’t overlook the benefits of knowing you have people “in your corner.” Resist the temptation to drop everything and go back home; give yourself time to adjust, and ignore people who tell you things like, “These are the best years of your life” – kind sentiments to be sure, but when you’re feeling anxious, they can also set you up for feelings of failure or inadequacy.

Don’t let nerves get in the way of what should be a positive and rewarding experience – for freshman students as well as their parents. Spend some time to address feelings of anxiety and you and your kids will find it much easier to focus on the good aspects of college life.

Help Your Child Succeed in School With These 9 Organization Tips

School’s almost back in session and now’s the time when most parents – and kids – can benefit from a little more organization when it comes to their daily routines. Getting organized now before school starts can minimize hassles and headaches once that first bell rings. Here are a few simple organization tips to get you started on a productive and enjoyable school year:

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For students:

  • Use a planner. Starting the planner habit in elementary school is best, but it’s never too late to get the benefits of writing down reminders in a planner – and it’s a habit that can help you be more successful as an adult, too.
  • Keep your papers organized in a folder at home. Don’t just cram study guides or completed homework in a drawer or leave them piled on a desk. Keep them organized in a filing system with a separate file for each class. You can make a simple filing system using discarded cardboard boxes or cereal boxes reinforced with colored paper or additional cardboard. Find instructions on YouTube or the Instructables website. Make sure your school locker is kept organized too.
  • Have a separate notebook with pockets for each class if possible, color-coding them to make organization easier.
  • Have snacks on hand while doing homework. Brain work uses calories, and eating a small, healthy snack like fruit or nuts can help keep you focused.
  • Review your assignments before you begin so you know what’s expected of you. Also make it a habit to review your planner before you leave school to make sure you have all the books you need to complete your assignments.

For parents:

  • Make sure your child has a place at home that’s dedicated to schoolwork. A desk in their room or other area of the house is ideal, but even the dining room table can work as long as the area is quiet and free of distractions, including the noise of a nearby TV. Having an area that’s just for schoolwork “signals” the brain that it’s time to focus and work.
  • Have plenty of supplies on hand. Organization depends on being prepared, so have some basic supplies like pens, pencils, papers, a ruler, markers, glue sticks and even a few sheets of poster board on hand.
  • Have a place for important papers. When your child brings home a note that needs your signature or attention, prevent it from being lost by assigning a tray or other area where all forms are to be dropped off. Don’t forget to check it daily.
  • Set rules for homework time before the school year starts. Having a regular time for homework can help avoid battles over hanging out with friends or playing video games. Establish rules before school starts so there are no surprises.

Organization doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming. Early planning means you can lock in back-to-school savings, and your kids can begin to establish new habits – and both of you can reduce the stress and anxiety that can make the back-to-school season a less than pleasant experience.

Ramp Up Your Outdoor Activities This Summer With These 7 Tips

Summer is traditionally the time when most of us head outdoors to enjoy a little fun and recreation, and the sunny weather and warm temperatures make it an ideal time to set some new fitness goals to help you usher in a healthier fall. If you’d like to make fitness part of your summer routine, here are seven simple secrets to help you reach your goals:

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  • Make it fun. The key to any fitness routine is consistency, and to hit your goals on a regular basis, it’s important to choose activities you truly enjoy to help ensure you stay on track.
  • Think outside the box. Yes, swimming is an obvious choice for an outdoor summer activity, but shooting hoops in the park – by yourself or with someone, playing tennis or handball, taking up kayaking or joining (or starting) a walking club are other good options. Even “traditional” exercise activities like lifting weights, stretching and yoga can be more enjoyable in the great outdoors. Gardening counts too – do it on a regular basis and reap the rewards of increased physical activity and a more attractive yard.
  • Consider keeping a journal or chart to track your activity and motivate you to stay on track. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld swears by a technique he calls, “Don’t break the chain.” This simple chart- or calendar-based system uses a series of Xs to mark off the days when an activity is performed. Eventually, a chain of Xs appears that keeps you motivated to keep it unbroken. Simple? Yes, but effective too. Bullet journals (a simplified type of daily planner or journal) are another way to track activity (and motivate you to keep at it) through use a monthly page called a “habit tracker.”
  • Wear sunscreen. Apply sunscreen about 15 minutes before any outdoor activity. Be sure to hit all the exposed areas, including the back of your neck and your ears, and reapply often if you’re sweaty or if you go swimming.
  • Pay attention to heat warnings. On very hot or humid days, schedule outdoor activities for the early morning or late evening hours, or opt for an exercise video on YouTube. Used indoors, an inexpensive set of hand weights can also help you stay on track with fitness goals when it’s just too hot to go out.
  • Eat healthy. With so much fresh produce available, this one is a no-brainer. Packing in nutrients helps support your increased level of physical activity for better overall health.
  • Walk more. Try completing as many chores as possible on foot or on a bike. Not only is it good for your health, but leaving the car behind is also good for the environment. Plus, financial guru Mr. Money Mustache estimates biking or walking instead of driving saves about 50 cents per mile in gas and depreciation – that can add up over time.

Summer is just three short months, so make the most of them: Recruit some friends or family members, set some outdoor activity goals and start enjoying a healthier life.

Enjoy Your Vacation More With Travel Insurance Designed for Your Needs

Going on vacation should be a time for rest and relaxation, but sometimes, something unexpected happens that interferes with your plans: You get sick or injured. Your boss suddenly requires you to come in to work. A severe storm winds up causing your flight to be canceled or your hotel to become damaged. Or maybe you arrive at your destination and your bags are lost. Any of these issues can not only be disappointing, but can also wind up causing you to lose most or even all of the non-refundable money you’ve already spent in reservations and other fees.

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For years, travelers had to accept these possibilities as part of the “cost” of travel. But thankfully, that’s no longer the case. Today, you can buy travel insurance to cover many of these unexpected costs so you can travel with greater peace of mind for greater enjoyment of your destination.

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance offers many types of protection depending on the policy and the coverages you select. Some of the most common types of coverage include:

  • Trip cancellation so you can recoup the costs of nonrefundable items like plane tickets, hotel reservations, golf fees, chartered tours or fishing trips, and other prepaid tickets and reservations if a covered event occurs (your policy will spell out these events, but most include issues like sickness, severe storms at your destination, as well as injury or death for yourself, a family member or a traveling companion);
  • Trip interruption, which offers coverage in case any covered events occur during your trip, causing you to cut your trip short or change your plans during your trip;
  • Medical emergencies while traveling outside the U.S. Many insurance companies do not provide coverage for medical services needed while outside the U.S., and Medicare does not provide any coverage while traveling outside the country. That includes many cruises on ships registered with foreign ports.
  • Lost or delayed baggage coverage;
  • Travel delay insurance, which pays for hotel rooms, meals or other expenses if a flight is delayed.

Some policies may provide other coverage options, like travel assistance, evacuation assistance, rental car insurance, identify theft insurance and some dangerous sporting activities like diving.

How can I tell how much I need?

Travel insurance provides critical coverage, and it’s highly customizable for each traveler’s needs. The best way to determine how much you need is to speak with an agent about your vacation plans so the agent can help you determine your risks and the amount of coverage you need to stay protected. Travel insurance provides a lot of peace of mind for a relatively low cost, so you can focus on the fun part of your vacation while leaving the worry behind.

Insure These 3 Key Areas Before You Say “I do”

Most weddings mean big plans and, often, big budgets, so it’s no surprise most young couples get caught up in all the details surrounding the ceremony, the reception and, of course, the honeymoon. But the fact is, even the most carefully-planned wedding can go awry, and having insurance is a good way to protect against unexpected losses while also providing brides and grooms with all-important peace of mind.shutterstock_110197514

Insure the Event

Special event insurance is ideal for anyone planning a wedding because it’s tailored to cover event-related losses like receptions, and even honeymoons. That means if a key member of your party becomes injured or the entire event needs to be canceled for a covered reason, you don’t have to worry about potential financial losses. Policy coverage options can also be tailored to cover losses associated with a vendor, like a caterer or florist who doesn’t show up. Policies can even cover loss or damage to physical items, like a damaged wedding gown or stolen wedding gifts. More comprehensive policies can be crafted to help you recoup the costs of a honeymoon in case of illness or another serious issues that causes you to change or cancel your plans. And some plans can even go so far as to cover the cost of counseling to help you cope with the emotional stress of a wedding gone awry.

Insure the Jewelry

Insuring a ring – whether it’s an engagement ring or wedding ring – or other piece of wedding jewelry is a task that often doesn’t make it to a wedding checklist – but it should. First, couples who do think about jewelry insurance often incorrectly assume their homeowner’s or renter’s policy provides coverage for jewelry, when in fact, basic policies do not provide coverage for these items. And second, many couples may assume – again, incorrectly – that insuring a ring or other jewelry is expensive; in fact, the cost to insure jewelry is surprisingly affordable, making it a really wise investment for soon-to-be-marrieds.

Insure Your Futures

Finally, if you have life insurance, your wedding is the time to decide if you need to add your spouse as your policy beneficiary. And if you don’t have life insurance, now is the time to find a policy that suits your needs and your future.

If you have a wedding or other special event coming up, Placer Insurance Agency can help you enjoy greater peace of mind. Give us a call today at 916-784-1008, and cross one more important item off your wedding to-do list.

6 Tips to a Cleaner Home This Spring

Spring has finally arrived, and for many of us, that means it’s time for spring cleaning. In fact, a survey of U.S. residents from 2012 found nearly three-quarters of households take part in some type of spring cleaning, whether that means an annual sprucing up of the garage or decks or a full-fledged attic-to-basement deep cleaning of the entire home. No matter which group you fall into – or if your spring cleaning habits fall somewhere in between – spring is a great time for fresh starts, and we have some tips for cleaning and organizing that can give your home a new lease on life:shutterstock_143597071.jpg

  • First, get organized. Make a list – or several – of the cleaning and organizing tasks that require attention and prioritize them from most critical to least important. Organizing your chores and your time can ensure you get more done and feel accomplished along the way.
  • Choose your cleaners carefully. There are hundreds of cleaning products on the market, including all-natural cleaners that don’t have harmful chemicals and fumes. Read the labels to be sure you pick the right cleaners for each task to avoid wasted effort. And if you do opt for natural cleaners, be sure they also kill harmful germs that can cause illness.
  • Choose one area or one single task, like window washing, and complete it before moving on to the next. Being able to cross one complete item off your list can do a world of good in keeping you on task and motivated.
  • Get the family involved – or don’t. Sometimes, having family members pitching in can make work go faster; sometimes, it just adds to your frustration. If the latter case sounds familiar, plan your cleaning activities for a time when the rest of the family is out.
  • Plan a reward. Spring cleaning is no easy task. Once the job is done, go out to dinner, invest in a new piece of furniture, or treat yourself to some other indulgence. Choosing a reward before you begin cleaning and organizing is another good way to avoid becoming distracted.
  • Enlist the professionals. If your schedule is just too busy or you have health issues that make cleaning difficult, professional cleaners can do the work for you, and they can usually get it done a lot faster than you can working by yourself. Consider it an investment in your personal happiness.

Planning is the key to any type of cleaning or organizing activity. Spending just a little time mapping out your chores can help you have a cleaner home in less time – and with less frustration.