How to Monitor Your Teen’s Driving Habits, and Personal Property Coverage Info


Some people think it’s mandatory to have a record of all your possessions to get homeowners or renters insurance. This isn’t true, but an inventory can still be a valuable tool. While the idea of going through every nook and cranny of your home and creating a record of every item likely doesn’t appeal, making an inventory is a good way to determine if you have enough coverage, whether it’s homeowners or renters insurance.

Both policies provide protection for personal belongings: Renters insurance allows you to choose a coverage amount, and homeowners insurance typically covers personal belongings for a percentage of your home’s value.

For example, if your home is worth $250,000, and your belongings are covered at 50 percent of your home’s value, you’ll have $125K coverage. This may be enough for some, but not for others, illustrating why an inventory is important. Here’s how to conduct one:

  • List and estimate the value of large items first, such as your sofa, bed, and appliances.
  • Record and value household items such as clothing, sheets, and towels.
  • Include the value of small things such as forks. Most of us accumulate “stuff”, and it’s easy to forget how much you’d miss eating with those forks.
  • Once you’ve estimated the value of everything, tally it up.
  • Double that amount for a rough idea of how much coverage you need. If you have valuable items, such as jewelry, paintings, or collectibles, talk to your insurance professional about scheduling them.

Your Ride Goes Green But Style Still Sells

“Green” has taken on a new meaning in the auto industry, and even Corvettes and pickup trucks are getting into the act. Take Ford’s F-150. Many of its gaskets and seals now contain 25 percent recycled tires and 17 percent bio-renewable content from soy, according to Ford.

“Green” now means that vehicles are re-using all sorts of products in the manufacturing process. To the slogan, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”, the auto industry has added “Re-invent.” From Ford’s soy foam seat cushions to the recycled water bottles used by Nissan for sound insulation, the industry has become conscious of the value of “green” parts. Companies are spending big research dollars and/or partnering with leading companies in the recycling industry in the race to be environmentally on trend.

A recent CAA article by Stephanie Sinopoli lists some of the products we are (or soon will be) riding in: Recycled denim dashboards, sugar cane-based plastic components and trunks lined with coconut fiber are adding to the greening of the auto industry. A newcomer called kenaf, which works like cotton and was originally used for making twine, is reinforcing roofs on GM autos.

More green products are on the drawing board, but designers also haven’t left style behind. Take the North American car of the Year, GM’s 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray: It gets great mileage, thanks to its new aluminum frame, and looks, as Chris Paukert noted on AutoBlog: “fresh, modern and habitually aggressive.” Your ride is going green, but you may be too taken with its looks to notice.

Score a Deal with This Savvy Shopping Guide

Shopping for a vacuum? Need new sheets? There are better times than others to purchase certain items. Be a savvy shopper with this seasonal buying guide, courtesy of  and other websites.


Shop now for winter gear. This year’s stock will be heavily discounted as retailers make room for summer clothing. Watch for sales on sweaters, jackets, and winter sporting goods.

Now is also the time to pick up the snowblower you’ve wished you’d had all winter long – not much demand for those in the rainy spring.

In early May, rifle through flyers for deals on patio furniture and gardening accessories. Stores may offer discounts on these items to encourage high sales.


Grilling season is starting, so watch for special pricing on barbecues. Also look for deals on hammers, saws, and other tools.

The kids are still enjoying summer holidays, but retailers have back-to-school on the brain. Don’t wait until September to buy school supplies.

Replacing bathing suits and outdoor furniture? They’ll be on sale at the end of summer; ditto last year’s indoor furniture, as new models arrive soon.


Planning a winter getaway? Book before the cold weather hits – at least two months before your desired vacation time. The later you leave it, the higher the prices and the leaner the pickings.

You can find a deal on almost anything on Black Friday, especially electronics, but winter clothing is also value-priced.


Traditionally, Boxing Day brings good sales. Shop for the clothes and electronics you wished Santa had brought.

Bridal and boat shows are typically held in January or February. While you’re there, scope out deals on event planners, wedding dresses, and big power toys. And you may want to consider getting married in the winter months. Spring and summer are far more popular times for weddings, so you might snag a deal on venues and catering.

How to Monitor Your Teen’s Driving Habits

As every parent knows, paying for a teen’s auto insurance isn’t pleasant. In fact, many would call it painful, as teens can cause their parents’ insurance rates to increase by as much as 500 percent.

If you’re paying, you’ll be glad to know there are now ways to make your teen somewhat responsible for their premiums. And it benefits them, even if they don’t realize it.

Monitor grades
If your teen maintains a GPA of at least 3.0, most insurers will extend a “Good Student Discount,” with savings on premiums of 3-7 percent.

You can also make your young driver responsible for maintaining good grades by tying driving privileges to marks.

Outlaw cellphone use while driving

Put your foot down when it comes to cellphone use- especially texting – while driving. There’s no bigger danger or distraction when driving, and as you know, most teens constantly communicate through texting.

Insist your teen keep the cellphone in the trunk or out of reach while driving so he or she isn’t tempted to use it. Monitor cellphone records to ensure your driver isn’t using it while driving. You’re helping prevent serious accidents, while at the same time keeping premiums low.

Control when your teen drives

The riskiest time for driving is between midnight and 6 a.m. Make it a rule that your teen doesn’t drive during these hours.

While teen drinking and driving is a lethal combination, don’t pretend it won’t happen. Encourage your teen to ask you for a ride if he or she has been drinking, and warn but don’t punish when it happens.

More accidents occur on Saturdays, so minimize the time your teen spends driving on weekends. This is difficult, because that’s when they meet friends or go to work, but try to come up with creative ways reduce weekend driving; you’ll be minimizing risks and lowering premiums.

Recipe: Simple Fish Burritos

Serves 4

  • 4 fillets tilapia or other firm white fish
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 tortillas
  • 1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, cover fish with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until cooked through. Strain the fish and transfer to a bowl. Flake and set aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan and saute onion and chili powder for 5 minutes. Add to the fish with the sour cream. Gently mix and add salt to taste.

Place two tablespoons of the mixture along the center of a tortilla and roll. Place filled tortillas in a baking dish. Scatter grated cheese on top, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.