Should You Buy a New Car?

hondaWe’ve had our 2011 Honda Odyssey van for 4 years.  It came straight from the factory and had 4 miles on it when we drove off the lot.

With a very little interest rate, about $12 of each payment is now going to interest and the rest is going to principle.  It will be paid off soon and that’s a great feeling.  We haven’t had any issues with the vehicle and we weren’t considering trading it in until we received an offer in the mail from the dealer.  It seems this model is popular on the used car market and they are eager to get us into a new vehicle ($$$).  I gotta say, it’s tempting.

However, no car payment is tempting too.  We feel we’re in a good spot with a relatively “new” vehicle but when should we buy a new car?

I did some research and Edmunds.com says it’s almost always less expensive to repair a car than buy a new one.  They say a new car typically loses an estimated 22 percent of it’s value in the first year and your existing car has already taken that depreciation hit.

On the flip side, if trips to the mechanic are costing you too much money and time from your work or family and you don’t want to worry constantly about future break downs, a new car may be worth the investment.  New cars are safer than ever with many safety equipment becoming standard on new vehicles.

Edmunds formula to making a decision is if the cost of repairs is greater than either the value of the vehicle or one year’s monthly payments, it’s time to buy another vehicle.

I asked Pat about the cost of insurance on an older vehicle v. a new one.  Would our insurance premium go up or down if we bought a new vehicle?  Of course all rates depend on the driver’s driving record and the type of vehicle (sports cars really do cost more to insure) but he said a newer car would cost more to insure (there are reasons and I’ll let him break it down for you).  But if you are in the market for a new care, the good news is, it’s also true that newer vehicles may have newer safety features that can lower your premium.  It’s important you research what your rates may be on a vehicle you are interested in purchasing before you buy.

IMG_4744In our case, the van isn’t that “old” and we have the most recent safety features such a side air bags, the back up camera and a lot of what I’d call bells and whistles on it: Navigation, DVD player, bluetooth, auto start = all awesome features when toting around kids (and when I want to learn my Jazzercise routines on long road trips).

Not having a car payment soon and keeping our premium low is more attractive to me right now than a new vehicle that’s going to depreciate thousands of dollars the minute I drive it off the lot.  And, according to Kelly’s Blue Book, if I wanted to sell the van to a private party, I could expect to receive just over $21,000.  Not a bad chunk of change should I change my mind in the near future!

Are you in the market for a new car?  Call us and ask what your insurance premium would be so you can factor the total cost of a new vehicle into your budget.  We’d be happy to assist you.

-S.O.
The Patrick D. O’Brien Agency

 

 

12 Fruits and Vegetables That Will Help You Eat Healthier this Summer

We are a fruit and veggie lovin’ family.  We genuinely like the taste of most of them – especially in the summer.  We make salads, grill them, snack on them at the park, take to pitch-ins, etc.  We know they’re good for us, but it was eye-opening to learn WHY they are good for us.  Read on to see how you can prepare the following fruits and veggies to maximize their flavor and healthy benefits.

Asparagusfruits and veggies
Lightly grill then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar this summer.  Asparagus is high in fiber, folic acid, potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione (a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties).

Avocados
Add to your salad, sandwich or alone on whole wheat toast for breakfast.  One ounce of an avocado contains 20 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.  It’s rich in monounsaturated fat, which may lower bad “LDL” cholesterol and reduce risk for heart disease.

Blackberries
Add to salads, smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal.  Blackberries contain antioxidants, are high in vitamin C and the seeds are high in fiber.

Brussel Sprouts
These can be lightly grilled after splitting in half and lightly drizzled with olive oil.  These veggies are high in vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fiber.

Butternut Squash
Add to pasta dishes, risottos and soups.  It’s rich in complex carbohydrates and vitamins A and C and it’s a good source of beta carotene, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Figs 
Rich in potassium and fiber, try adding dried figs to trail mix with some almonds and whole-wheat cereal.

Kale 
Use in smoothies or add them to entrees in place of spinach or cabbage.  Kale is packed with vitamins A, C and E.  Kale is high in antioxidants and also includes important minerals manganese, iron, calcium and potassium.

Pomegranate
Toss some of the seeds on your salad this summer.  They are high in antioxidants and rich in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber.

Spinach
Blend into smoothies, saute with garlic and olive oil, or use as your salad base.  Spinach is an excellent source of folate, iron, and vitamins A and K.

Strawberries
Eat alone or on salads or make a fruit kebab with other fruits like grapes and melon.  This fruit is rich in Vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidant flavonoids thought to be protective against stroke and cancer.

Swiss Chard
Use in side dishes, salads and soups.  It’s a blood sugar stabilizer and one of the world’s most nutritious vegetable.  It contains magnesium, vitamins A and C, and can aid as an anti-inflammatory and detoxifyer.

Tomatoes
Sliced on a sandwich, chopped into a salad, added to omelets or skewered and grilled, tomatoes are a summer staple.  Huge in antioxidants and rich in beta carotene, tomatoes also contain vitamin C, manganese and vitamin E.

How many of these items are you already nibbling on this spring?  Which one will you incorporate into your menu this season?

– S.O.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN

 

 

 

Clean a Stinky Garbage Disposal

If your kitchen is developing an odor and you’ve taken out the trash, it could be your garbage disposal.  Even if you run your garbage disposal until the last shred of food is gone, and you let the water run the recommended time, you can still wind up with an out-of control science experiment that stinks up your kitchen.

The reason is – some food is going to stick to the inside of the grinding chamber, and it’s going to decay.  You can clean the chamber by grinding ice and lemon rinds, adding baking soda or rinsing with vinegar and water.  Or, you can add commercial cleaners like Disposer Care, which is available at discount stores and most home centers.

garbage disposalIf there is still an odor after cleaning the grinding chamber, you’ll need to attack the underside of the splash guard.  Cleaning the splash guard is easier than you think.  you don’t even have to remove it.  Just clean it with a toothbrush and cleaner as shown.

Dip an old toothbrush in antibacterial grease-cutting kitchen cleaner and lift up one corner of the splash guard.  Scrub off the crud and rinse with cold water.  Repeat with each flap until it’s totally clean and rinsed.

Simple as that!

To prevent future odors and to ensure all the food particles are cleared away, don’t turn off the garbage disposal as soon as the grinding noises stop.  It is better to leave the garbage disposal on (with the water running) for several seconds after the grinding noises subside, as there may still be small particles in the disposal unit which have not yet been cleared away.

– S.O.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN

Road Trip Essentials for Kids

Road tripIf you are heading out of town soon and driving with kids, a large chunk of your packing list is dedicated to what you’ll need inside your vehicle to keep everyone fed and entertained so you don’t have to STOP.

I could “Google” and “Pin” much more but here’s my favorite list of what to pack and what to do to pass the time in the car.

Activities:

  • Books, magazines, comics, activity books.  Bring books they’ve never read before.  Goodwill has LOTS for just pennies.
  • Sketchbook, notebook, washable markers, twist up colored pencils (no sharpening needed)
  • Games, such as the license plate game or travel bingo
  • disposable cameras so they can take pictures – or a digital one if you trust them with it.
  • Free up space on your smart device and let the kids make recordings along the drive.  Or use a good ol’ tape recorder: Let the kids produce a vacation broadcast
  • Pre-stamped blank postcards (find them at the post office), which your kids can decorate, or postcards bought on the road; have your children write to friends, relatives, even pets
  • Doodling doodads: a small dry-erase board, Etch A Sketch, Magna Doodle, tic tac toe board.
  • Pipe cleaners, easy origami, and other scissor-less craft supplies
  • Portable DVD player and DVDs; don’t forget headphones!
  • Books on CD for the whole family, such as the Harry Potter series or “The Chronicles of Narnia”.  Rent them free from your library.
  • Scrapbook envelope—entrust your children with the responsibility of collecting postcards, ticket stubs, and brochures for a scrapbook
  • Create your trip map and track it with the kids. Print a map off Google maps & insert it into a plastic sleeve.  Use a dry erase marker which will wipe off nicely.

Food:

  • Individually packaged, crumb-free snacks such as bite-sized goldfish crackers, raisins, string cheese.
  • Hard-to-bruise fruits such as apples, grapes and berries; or try fruit roll-ups.
  • Trail mix, which will leave kids feeling full longer (and keep fingers greaseless)
  • Reusable bottles filled with water

Miscellaneous:

  • First-aid items, such as Neosporin, bandages, anti-bacterial wipes, Tylenol, sunscreen, and Dramamine
  • Grocery bags to collect trash
  • Easy wipes & hand sanitizer
  • Change of clothes, in case of accidental spills
  • A blanket for spur-of-the-moment picnics at rest areas—and naps
  • Jump ropes, football, frisbee, baseball gloves, and balls, etc. so energetic little travelers can tire themselves out at rest stops!

What has worked for you on road trips with your kids?  Did you consult Pinterest like I did?  Check out our Pinterest board for more ideas on road tripping with kids.

– S.O.
POB Agency

10 Ways We Reduce Dust (and Allergies) in our Home

Today is the first day of spring and we are looking forward to cleaning up the garage, the yard, and “spring cleaning” inside the home.  With two small children, it’s hard to have a perfectly clean home every day but the one thing that will stop me dead in my tracks year round (no matter what I’m doing) is dust.  Why does dust bother me so much?  Because dust mites live in dust.  YUCK!  And, Pat and Jack have allergies that can go berzerk.

I know dust mites exist and I try hard not to think about them living in our pillows, bed covers, mattresses, furniture, carpeting, and clothing.  (Another YUCK!)  But, I feel better knowing I can reduce the amount of mites in our home by staying on top of the dust with some easy steps.

Here’s our top 10.

  1. Vacuum floors and upholstered furniture once a week
  2. Keep your closet clean and the floors clear so you can vacuum easily & regularly.
  3. Keep furnace filters clean.
  4. Limit knickknack decor.
  5. Instead of heavy drapery, hang lightweight curtains & shades.
  6. Avoid stacking piles of mail, newspaper, and magazines on tables and shelves.
  7. Keep clothes you wear regularly in your bedroom or closet and store the rest.  Use garment boxes and clear plastic containers to store items on shelves so they don’t collect dust.
  8. Store stuffed animals in a closed toy box or closet & regularly wash stuffed toys in hot water.  I’ve heard you can put a stuffed animal in a plastic bag and in the freezer overnight every few weeks to help kill dust mites – but I haven’t tried that yet.
  9. Wash your sheets (and the blankets you wrap up in when you snuggle on the couch) weekly
  10. Have your area rugs cleaned once or twice a year

Can you think of any other ways to reduce dust in the home?  Who’s ready to get started “spring cleaning”?!

– S.O.
POB Agency

Visit Patrick’s profile on Pinterest.

6 Halloween/Autumn School Class Party Ideas

This year I’ve volunteered to be the class parent for our Daughter’s pre-K class.  One of my responsibilities is to help with class parties throughout the year.

Thursday, October 31st is our first classroom party so I’ve been on the hunt for age appropriate party game ideas. 

Keeping the age range in mind (4-5 year olds), I’ve gathered a handful of games that aren’t too lengthy since this age has the attention span of about 5-10 minutes on any one activity. 

Here are 6 class party ideas I think will work for her class.  What do you think?  If you have ideas or games that have worked for you in the past, please share in the comments below.

Bobbing For Apples – without the germy water and kids using their mouths.
          Cut out several apples from red construction paper.  Write activities for kids to do on each apple such as “5 jumping jacks” or “running in place for 30 seconds”.  Attach a paper clip to each apple and place the apples in a large basket.  Tie a magnet to a string or create a fishing pole with a dowel rod, magnet and yarn.  Let the children take turns “bobbing” with their magnet and doing the activity written on each apple.

Halloween bingo2Candy Corn Bingo
          Cut out Halloween or Autumn images and use candy corn as place markers for a fun and tasty Bingo game.

Boo is it?
          Place slips of paper with names of characters on it (popular Halloween costumes like cowboy, ninja, spy, princess, etc.) and place one slip of paper into an inflated white balloon.  Use a black sharpie marker to draw ghost faces on the balloons.  Divide the class into teams.  Have one person from the team come up and choose a ghost and pop the balloon to release the clue.  Once he/she gets the clue out, he/she needs to act it out.  The other team gets to guess who it is.  Repeat until all “Ghosts” are popped.

Halloween Estimation Games
          Guess the pumpkin weight; Guess the number of candy corn in a jar; Guess the number of “eyeballs” (ping-pong balls) in the black bag (kids have to reach into the bag without looking and feel around to guess).

Pass the Pumpkin (Hot Potato with a small pumpkin)
          Kids sit in a circle.  One child starts with the pumpkin, turn on Halloween music, and have the kids pass the pumpkin around the circle.  Whoever is holding the pumpkin when the music stops is out of the game.

For Older Kids – Word Challenge
          Give the kids an autumn or Halloween word like pumpkin, scarecrow, hayride – and ask them to make as many other words from those letters as they can.  

Lastly, there’s always Pin the nose on the pumpkin. 

– S.O
POB Agency