Surviving the Winter of 2019

Last Week Michigan got hit with some of the coldest temperatures and LOADS of snow and ice. Everyone was stuck inside with a lot more down time than we had planned, and you should stay inside to be safe! Most of us were somewhat unproductive during that time, posting on Facebook, eating, watching movies, etc.… but we have a couple of things that you can do during a Polar Vortex to help you get ahead! You may even be looking forward to the next polar vortex!

Update your schedules: I’m sure we all have plenty of times that we’ve “made plans” with someone and then not followed through. Now is the time to sit down and analyze your calendar. You want to be spending time with friends and family so schedule them in! Make your doctor/dentist appointments too while you’re at it! We can always stand to get our eyes checked or our teeth cleaned.

Clean: You have an entire home to clean and all of the supplies with you! Get to work! You’ll function better with a clean home and you don’t have much else to do when stuck inside.

Restock your home: I do this about every other week. It keeps me relaxed so that I’m not running out of random things. I just go through and make sure that I have all of the basics (toothpaste, deodorant, plastic bags, etc) and then I double check that I have a spare of everything.

Family time: What a great time to have some family fun! Break into the game cupboard or bake desserts together! This is the perfect time to take advantage of the bad weather and use it to build stronger bonds with family.

New recipes: I’m sure we all have a couple of fun things saved that we’ve been waiting to make! If you have extra time then you can make one of those recipes that takes longer than usual and master something new!

Call your insurance agent: It’s always good to review your coverages and make sure you’re completely up to date. Especially with this crazy Michigan weather, make sure your vehicles and home are covered properly!

Pay your bills: We all dread doing this task but if you get this done on a cold day in then you’ll feel accomplished and prepped for the rest of the week!

Do your taxes: It’s that season! We’re all working so hard and yet we HAVE to make time to do this. Sooner is better than later and once it’s done you’ll instantly lose the stress that this puts on you. It’s best to get it done now instead of putting it off until the last minute!

Make a budget: This is a great way to get organized and get productive! Everyone should have a budget so if you don’t have one then now is the time to make it! If you already have one, then you should update this every year and tax season is the perfect time to get it done!

Online shopping: We all do this with our spare time already, there’s no shame in online shopping when it’s too cold to go out. Find those things that you’ve been wanting and have them delivered! We all love this activity and it’s easy to lose track of time while filling up your cart.

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4 Different Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, the holiday that most people either love or loathe. There’s not much in between. People go nuts over this holiday, buying flowers, balloons, chocolate etc. to shower your significant other with attention and romance. Meanwhile, others hate all of the lovey dovey stuff and prefer to celebrate February 15th when all of the chocolate is 50% off in the stores. There are many different ways to celebrate this time of year and we have 4 of them right here for you! Now is the time to start preparing for it!

  1. A Romantic evening out with your significant other. Get dressed up, go out, and have fun celebrating your relationship! This is the time to really show off and be proud of what you have with them! This is usually the most common thing to do on Valentine’s Day and it’s still always one of the best.
  2. Stay in and spend some quality time with your significant other. Some people look down on this choice but it’s a nice change and it’s also very relaxing and fun! You just want to spend time alone and relax together, there are a lot of date nights that you can have in the comfort of your own home and you won’t have to worry about being around anyone else! This is pretty common for the introverts or those who are just tired of going out and want a change of pace.
  3. Celebrate it as more of a friendship, family day like they do in many foreign countries. Not as common of a choice but in many other countries, they celebrate Valentine’s Day as less romantic and more “I love you as friend and family” type of a holiday. This is a wonderful way to spend that holiday because there are many people in your life that you love and often don’t show enough appreciation to. This is the time to get that done!
  4. Have an Anti-Valentine’s day party! Get out your black heart shaped balloons and black streamers, it’s time to celebrate Anti-Valentine’s day! An up and coming idea for those who may be a little salty about the holiday, this involves a lot of celebrating of independence and freedom. It’s often used for singles to celebrate with their friends and have a good time on the holiday even when they don’t have the cliché date night with a loved one.

If your significant other is moving in or if you’re getting engaged then there are some potential changes to your insurance in the future! While all of these exciting things are happening, make sure you call your insurance agent to verify that you’re covered properly!

We want to know how your Valentine’s Day goes so please let us know!

Keeping your 2019 Fitness Goals

Its half way through January so we’re all starting to wear down a little on our New Year’s Resolutions of staying fit and eating clean. You may be needing a little more push to keep your momentum going, and this is it! You want to feel and look your best, and I’m sure you’ve been doing so well, but it gets tiring and hard to keep going. We have some endurance tips to help you keep pushing yourself to reach and keep your goals. Keeping your health up is more of a mental game than it is physical.

  • You can create a habit in 21 days. Keep going! It’ll get easier! Don’t think that after 21 days it’ll magically become easy as pie but it’ll gradually get easier the farther you get.
  • The better you feel, the more painless it’ll be. The more you eat clean and work out, the less difficult it’ll get. Eating those foods and making time for exercise will become more routine and less work for yourself. You’ll start to feel less like you’re working so hard at it.
  • It’ll keep your immune system up so you should be less susceptible to that winter drag cold and flu stuff. When you get sick, you give up a little and stop trying so hard. It’s an easy excuse for yourself to not exercise and eat something that’s quick and easy. Eating healthy foods and working out with strengthen your immune system and keep you healthier.
  • Schedule your time appropriately. You can schedule long and short work outs for specific days. Be sure to schedule yourself some time for fun activities, and some quiet time for yourself. Enjoy a night off from your hard work!
  • Make sure to reward yourself as you go. Sometimes the finish line seems too far away and it gets hopeless. A small reward can keep you going and motivated for a long time!

We’re working our hardest to make this year the best year yet! While you’re on your productive streak here in January of the New Year make sure that you update your home and auto insurance. It’s always good to look over your coverages and make sure that it’s exactly what you want, if you need to make any changes you can get that done asap. You’ll also want to make sure that all of your winter toys are insured and all of your summer toys have storage coverage on them!

If you have questions or need help then call us at 616-897-1515, we’re your local, Lowell insurance agency!

How to Make New Year’s Resolutions and Keep Them

Happy New Year’s everyone! What an exciting time. We’re sad to see 2018 go but we’re also so excited for what 2019 will bring! Most of us are taking this time during the cold weather to prepare for the New Year, set our goals, and then make plans for how we’re going to accomplish our goals. This is our fresh start, now we keep our momentum going and we spring into 2019, ready to get things accomplished so we can grow!

I’ve already started my long list of things that I want to accomplish in 2019 and it’s a mix of a Goal List and a To Do List. It isn’t limited to “New Year’s Resolutions” but can also include goals, bucket list activities, normal activities and to-do items that you need to get done! Either way, all of our lists are pretty similar. So we have 3 tips to help you make your list in a way that you know you can done in 2019! 

  1. Make your resolutions obtainable. You don’t want to set yourself too many, or too high, of goals. Your list may start to look impossible and it’ll much harder for you to get started. Fighting procrastination starts with setting obtainable goals that still push you to work harder. After you’ve made your list, take a second look at it and make sure that you aren’t getting ahead of yourself.
  2. Set a timeline or schedule for yourself with milestones to help reach your goal. Again, these milestones will need to be set at a pace that will make you work hard but that isn’t too much for you to handle. Make sure you’re being realistic with yourself so you don’t fall too far behind or get too ahead either. Slow and steady wins the race.
  3. Set rewards for yourself as you go and one big reward for once you reach your goal! These will be incentives for you to help push yourself through the tough times. When you’re really struggling, you’ll have that small reward to look forward to and help get yourself across the finish line.
  4. Spend some time on your resolutions. If you can’t put the time in now, you won’t be able to put the time in that’s required to actually accomplish your resolutions. Make sure you take your time and get them right this time so that when December comes around you won’t be wondering why you haven’t gotten anything done yet.
  5. Find someone who motivates you and share your resolutions with them. They can help keep you on track, remind you of your priorities, and pick you up when you’re feeling down. When there’s two of you, you can count on each other to keep going, don’t’ give, and work harder. You’ll definitely want someone around to keep you accountable by the time Spring gets here and your life speeds up.

Here’s hoping that everyone had a wonderful New Year and that we all recover quickly from the weight we gained over the holidays!

Happy New Year!

Turkey Dinner Giveaway 2018

It’s our favorite time of year, it’s time for our Turkey Dinner Giveaway! On Christmas Eve, every year, the Kyes family donates 250 Turkeys to families in Grand Rapids who needed a meal. Once again, we did this for the 2018 holiday season and our team had a blast!

Such a good time for fellowship and community! We handed out turkey dinners to people who asked for them through the schools and then we handed out turkey dinner’s door-by-door to those who said they’d like some. This is all thanks to the Kyes family for encouraging the giving spirit and for allowing the rest of us to come alongside them and help prepare that and experience it as well.

We’re so grateful for this tradition and we hope that it inspires other to show their giving spirits during the Christmas season as well!

Turkey Dinner Giveaway Team 2018

Winter Driving Safety

Its mid-December so if you haven’t gotten your vehicle ready for the winter season then now’s your chance! We have some Winter Driving Safety and a DIY Car inspection for you to guarantee you’re ready for snow and ice!

Our culture is naturally always rushing and anxious. This is the cause of a lot of auto accidents in the winter, people being in a hurry and not taking the necessary time to drive safely and cautiously. Training yourself to take the extra time to leave early and keep an eye on the weather can help you slow down your mentality and stay safe during the bad weather.

Let us know what you think of these and if you have anything to add!

DIY Car Inspection:

  1. Check ALL of your lights. Light bulbs are cheap and make a huge difference. Not just the normal lights but also the brake lights, blinkers, and lights inside the vehicle as well.
  2. Make sure your tires are updated. You’ll need grip on the road when the snow and ice hit. We all know that tires are expensive but they’re one of the more necessary parts to keep updated for the winter months.
  3. Windshield wiper fluid. In Michigan, we NEED this stuff for the bad roads. You’ll be completely blind without it.
  4. Get your oil changed on time to prevent any mishaps later on. Some of us wait until we’re about 2,000 miles over and then we go and get it done. In the winter, make sure your checking your oil regularly and getting that taken care of.
  5. Make sure your heat works! Not only is this important for your own warmth but also for defrosting or defogging your windshield.

Winter Driving Safety:

  1. Keep an eye on the weather. You want to be able to get an idea of what’s coming and prepare as best as you can. One of the main reasons for car accidents in the winter is people who are in a rush and aren’t being cautious enough. To help prevent that, leave early and give yourself more time so that you can feel comfortable driving safely.
  2. Know your route. You’ll need to know exactly where you’re going and how to get there so there’s no confusion and no danger of getting lost in a storm. This means getting your gps situated and ready to go before taking your car out of park.
  3. Stay alert and cautious. You may be driving as safely as you can but the people around you may not be. Keeps your eyes open and watch your surroundings.
  4. Have a “winter emergency kit” in your car in case you get stranded somewhere in the snow and ice. To include in your kit:winter clothes and boots, snacks, gas can, spare tire, windshield scraper (the one that also has a brush on one end), flashlight, batteries, blanket, water,gloves, first aid kit, hat, pepper spray, phone charger, jumper cables, and ratchet straps. Let us know if there’s anything we missed here!
  5. Consider adding roadside assistance to your auto insurance policy. Roadside assistance isn’t expensive at all and is a HUGE help when you need it. If you have roadside assistance, make sure to keep the dispatch phone number on your person and have your auto insurance policy number with you as well (this shouldn’t be a problem if you have your proof of insurance in the car).
  6. Keep your gas tank at least half full. There are plenty of reasons to get stranded in the winter so if we can prevent at least one of those things then we’ll be off to a good start!
  7. Assume the worst conditions while driving. If it looks like it may be a little slick, assume it’s a thick layer of ice and drive slowly.
  8. Keep in mind there are still deer all over Michigan and they can do some serious damage. Driving slowly and carefully could potentially prevent an accident or lessen the damages.
  9. Make sure you have good contact info for your insurance agent. If something happens and you need to get the claim filed asap,you’ll want to call them as soon as your able and the accident is cleared up.Give them a call sometime this winter to review what coverages you have and what to do in the event of an emergency.
  10. Consider adding coverage on your auto insurance policy. This is the time of year that you may want to add some comprehensive and/or collision to your vehicle. You never know what you may slide into and what kind of storms we’ll get. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Alliance wants to remind you to have a happy and safe last couple weeks of the year! If you need any help with your insurance before winter fully descends upon us, you can give us a call at 616-897-1515.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Gift Guide

 

The holidays are here! We’ve just recovered from the black Friday chaos and it’s time to get down to business for Christmas. Half of the population already have all of their Christmas gifts bought and wrapped, the other half hasn’t even started shopping yet. For the half of us that haven’t started shopping, we’ve put together a couple gift ideas for you! Shopping last minute isn’t a bad idea as long as you know what you want and you’re patient with long lines.  It can definitely be difficult if you don’t know what you want though. We want to make this as painless as possible so we can all take some time and savor the Christmas Spirit!

Clothing or accessories: This is an easy one, just find something that they’ve looked at 2-3 times and get it for them! If it’s ever been in their amazon cart then they want it.

Spa day: This one is probably more for the ladies but men shouldn’t count this out! A spa day is relaxing and essential for everyone!

Movies/books: These are gifts that can be used forever! A good movie can also be family time or a double date. A good book encourages creativity and exercises your imagination.

Cups (coffee mugs, glasses, travel mugs): We all carry our coffee, tea, and water with us everywhere we go. You can buy them a nice cup that fits their personality or make it themed after their favorite character!

Décor: A cute sign or painting for the house is never a bad idea! Get their favorite quote or bible verse to hang in their room or for their desk at work! It’d be a daily reminder!

Fuzzy socks: Good for ALL ages! Who doesn’t love some soft fuzzy socks to keep our feet warm during the cold weather?! Get them holiday themed or just as fuzzy as they get!

Soft blanket: Same as fuzzy socks. Good for all ages and sizes. Soft blankets are the backbone of winter weather. It doesn’t matter how many of these they already have, another soft blanket is never a bad thing!

Technology upgrade: This is unspecific on purpose because there’s so many opportunities! New phone, new charger, phone cases, amazon echo or google home, computer, tablet, accessories, etc. There’s no limit here!

Fun T shirt: These are a classic. Something funny and personal is always good, plus, we all wear t shirts so this won’t go unused!

Sports supplies: A good way to stay active and spend time together! Pick a sport or activity that they love and get them something fun for it! Whether it’s new active wear or an accessory specific to that sport, all of them are cool! A nice side gift for this would be a water bottle to go with, hydration is important!

 

Let us know if this was helpful for you during the holidays! What’s your favorite gift that you’ve ever received? We want to know!

Stressed about the upcoming Weekend?

Thanksgiving Desserts

Stressing about this Exciting Weekend?

This is what we’ve been waiting for since November 1st! Its Thanksgiving weekend and we’re ready to be filled to the brim in thanksgiving foods! Every year we eat until we can’t eat anymore and then we burn off the calories by shopping until we drop. It’s a wonderful time to be alive!

We’re overly blessed, here in America, and it’s important to take a moment and be thankful for everything we have. We’re the “busiest” country and we need to make sure that we take a step back this holiday season, and get a look at the wider perspective. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday can sometimes make us feel less thankful for what we already have so we’re going to all need to work on having gratitude during this time. First, we’ll stuff our faces with tasty food and desserts! Second, we’ll take a nap after all the turkey. Third, we’ll go shopping at the most insane hours of the day in order to ensure that we get the best presents for the best price possible.

We wanted to put something together to help everyone with this extremely busy weekend so we’ve included one of our FAVORITE recipes! This is our pumpkin roll recipe from Allrecipes.com and we LOVE it! If you make this then please let us know how it turns out!

 

Pumpkin Roll:

3 eggs, beaten

1 c white sugar

½ tsp ground cinnamon

2/3 c pumpkin puree

¾ c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tbsp butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese

1 c confectioners’ sugar

¼ tsp vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or grease one 10×15 inch jelly roll pan.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin. In another bowl, mix together flour and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture and blend until smooth. Evenly spread the mixture over the prepared jelly roll pan.
  3. Bake 15 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  4. Remove cake from pan and place on tea towel (cotton, not terry cloth). Roll up the cake by rolling a towel inside cake and place seam side down to cool.
  5. Prepare the frosting by blending together the butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla.
  6. When cake is completely cooled, unroll and spread with cream cheese filling. Roll up again without towel. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle top with confectioners’ sugar and slice into 8-10 servings.

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/13731/pumpkin-roll-i/

 

Let us know how these pumpkin rolls turn out! Now, after we all feast, we’ll be out at the darkest hours shopping like our lives depend on it! You’re your caffeine and hang on tight. We’ve put together a brief list of black Friday dos and don’ts. Let us know how these work out for you!

DO:

  • Be polite to other shoppers and ESPECIALLY to all employees. They probably are just as frustrated as you are, if not more. One good, friendly face may change their entire weekend!
  • Have a plan and a route for what you need and where you can get it. You want to be efficient and quick with this so that you can get home, eat Thanksgiving leftovers, and get to bed!
  • Go with a group of people and keep your phones on you at all times! If you go with a group of 6-8 people, you can split off into pairs to create maximum efficiency.
  • Try to get all of your Christmas shopping done before December 1st so that you can relax and enjoy the holiday without the stress of shopping. Try to get everything wrapped too! That’ll save time and space, they can go directly under the tree instead of hidden in a closet!
  • Make sure to have coffee and nutrition so that you are health and fueled for a night of hard core shopping!

DON’T:

  • Think that your wants/needs are more important than other shoppers. We’re all trying to get our shopping lists completed and spend the smallest amount of money possible. We’re all in the same boat.
  • Be rude to employees, they’re trying their best to service a huge amount of people. This is the craziest shopping day in America and they probably have a lot more immediate problems than you do.
  • Don’t go alone. It’s a crazy day with all the hustle and bustle and then the lack of sleep on top of that, it’s best to go as a group.
  • Don’t go in without a plan! You’ll end up purchasing unnecessary items and losing more money than you save.
  • Put your shopping needs above eating/drinking/sleep needs. You need to be healthy to be happy so let’s make sure we’re hitting every area here.

So have a blast with your family and friends this holiday season! Tell us your thoughts on the pumpkin rolls and share your crazy Black Friday stories with us! Make sure your home is insured prior to having guests over and before the cold weather hits! Plus, with all the snow and ice that we got last week you’ll want to make sure your auto is covered appropriately too.

Make sure you give us a call with all insurance related questions: 616-897-1515!

Fall Back into Safe Running Habits

Fall Back into Safe Running Habits

Running and Thanksgiving are two things that aren’t easy to put together, but it’s somewhat necessary. When we have the holidays coming up, and we just know that we’re going to feast on the holidays, running becomes a part of our everyday routines. This may come at some inconvenient times due to the family events that we‘re all planning, the cold weather, rain/snow, and the shorter days. I agree that it’s hard to leave the comfort of your warm, cozy home to go out and run in the rain and freezing temps but for those of us who ARE doing that on the daily, here’s what you need to know.

November is National Running Safety Month and I know some people don’t think this is even a concern. So we’ve put together a brief blog to explain the hazards of running this time of year and some quick ways we can combat this to make it a safe place for all runners.

A huge concern right now is the shorter days. For those of us who work 8am-5pm, it’s dark in the mornings before work and its dark almost immediately when we get out of work. On top of that, we also have rain and snow more often than not, so you’ll have that on top of the darkness. So if you’re lucky, you can run on your lunch break, otherwise, we need to come up with a more creative solution.

If you’re going to be running in the dark, you’ll need to wear brightly colored clothing. This is both easy and necessary. Purchase some neon yellow clothing and make that your running gear. I would recommend also wear a head lamp and a light up running vest. These are light weight and will make it easier for you to see and be seen by other people and drivers. You should also take your phone and ID and be sure to run against traffic.

Someone may also want to consider carrying a mace or pepperspray. This time of year the running trails are less busy and makes us more susceptible to danger. Keep your pepperspray somewhere easy and quick to reach. Some other things to consider would be a whistle or a self-defense ring.

The cold weather is going to make your body hurt. Be sure to set aside plenty of time for a warm up stretch (just some easy, light stretching) and then a good long, heavy stretch after your run. You need your muscles and joints strong and healthy for this time of year. Also, make sure your shoes have good grip for snowy and icy days! Not only are the cars dangerous in the winter elements but you could be a danger to yourself. You’ll want to keep your phone charged and on your person everytime you run in case you slip and hurt yourself.

With all of that being said, we want to wish you happy running and remind you to stay safe!

 

Employee Spotlight:

Congratulations to two of our employees, George Graham and Shad Breimayer, on their work anniversaries this month! George is finishing up his first year with Alliance and Shad is completing his 8th year. Both are such a delight to work with and we couldn’t be more grateful. A big congrats to both of them!

                                   

 

 

10 Trick or Treat Safety Tips

There’s no doubt your little ones are beginning to get excited about Halloween. You can’t blame them – what child wouldn’t start counting down the days to dressing up as a superhero, princess or firefighter while also getting free candy?

To make sure your family has the best Halloween this year, here are 10 safety tips:

  1. Never trick-or-treat alone. Always make sure you are either with your kids or they are in a group.
  2. Have a planned route before-hand. If you aren’t accompanying your kids, plan out where they’re going to go with their friends. Tell them what neighborhoods are good, which they aren’t allowed to go to and what’s deemed too far.
  3. Have a flashlight. You want to be able to see that candy right? It’ll also make your trick-or-treaters more aware to other children and drivers on the roads.
  4. Wear comfy shoes. Sure, Spider-Man might not rock sneakers with his outfit but you’re going to want your children to be comfortable for the long walk that night.
  5. Never accept rides from strangers or go inside strangers houses.
  6. Only visit well-lit houses. If a house doesn’t have its porch light on or any other indicators that they’re open for candy, it’s best to skip that house and move on.
  7. Don’t eat any candy that isn’t properly wrapped. A tummy ache will crush your child’s candy-eating dreams.
  8. Don’t run! Those costumes aren’t built for sprinters, so tell your kids to not be in such a hurry to avoid tripping over theirs or others costumes.
  9. Stay on sidewalks as much as possible. Don’t wander into the street and stick as close to houses as possible.
  10. Make sure your child can properly see and move comfortably. It’s fun to put down the cape and cowl of your favorite hero, but make sure they can see and enjoy the night properly and reduce the risk of getting hurt.

Alliance wants to wish everyone a Happy Halloween! We’d love to see your costumes, please share them with us! And you have a funny Halloween story then we’d like to hear that too! Let’s kick off this holiday season with a great start!

Alliance Insurance