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LCArticle_BonusDay

9 Activities to Do on This Year's Leap Day

February 15, 2016

The “Leap Day” of February 29 is tacked on every four years and exists purely for astronomical reasons, but this extra day can be beneficial. A “Leap Year” that contains this extra day always falls in the same year as a presidential election, in case you’re looking for an easy way to keep track.

We put off so many things that are important to our life, spending free time binge-watching TV shows or surfing the internet. 2016 being a ‘Leap Year” means we have some extra time to take advantage of. Instead of burying important things on your to-do list, commit to taking action.

Consider February 29 an extra day to use for something meaningful. It’s an extra day to do, or begin to do, something on your list. So why not? Carpe Diem – Seize the day! Below are a handful of things you can do to prepare yourself and protect what matters most to you.

Conduct a Household Inventory

It’s important to understand the possessions you’re covering, and it starts with creating a home inventory kit that lists your belongings. There are handy inventory apps like Inventory for Homeowners that make it easy to take stock of what you own. This kit can help you figure out how much insurance you need, speed up the claims process, and help verify losses in your income tax return. 

Prepare for Storms

Leap Day comes at the end of February, which means that storm season isn’t too far away. Now’s the time to know the proper steps if the unexpected strikes. Having a storm recovery checklist in place can hopefully make it easier to minimize your losses and get you back on your feet quickly. 

Keep Your Valuables Safe

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America, so it’s important to keep your documents in a safe place. Get a little safer in this “Leap Year” and stash your important documents like passports, birth certificates, tax returns and insurance policies in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box. You can spend some time considering what you would be lost without; those are the things you need to keep safe. Also, consider who else you want to have access to the safety deposit box in case you can’t access it. It’s a small task, but an important one, and hey, you have an extra day to do it!

Create a Home Maintenance Checklist and Schedule

Like your vehicle, your home needs regular maintenance and tune-ups to stay in tip-top shape. A home maintenance checklist can give you a clearer idea of what you need to tackle and when. Take a few minutes to do these tasks on February 29 and save on headaches later.

You can break a home maintenance checklist down by frequency. You’ll want to do things like check your fire extinguishers and change the air filter in your furnace on a monthly basis. Checking that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors can be done every six months, replacing the batteries annually (or sooner, if the alarm chirps). 
In the spring and fall you’ll want to check the roof of your home, along with windows and siding to check for any damage caused by winter and to make repairs to prevent further damage.   

It’s Tax Season – Protect Yourself and Your Refund from Fraud with These Tips

Why not file early? The IRS will always flag a second return as suspicious, so filing early makes it more likely for the fake return to be flagged and not yours. You can usually file your taxes in mid-January, but get a jump on the process by assembling a folder of tax documentation. Learn how to protect your identity.

Go electronic. Opt for direct deposit of tax refunds to avoid lost or stolen refund checks. Many tax services offer a free electronic filing.

Choose tax preparers carefully. Many fraud rings front as tax preparation companies that may steal personal information or redirect your return.

Paranoid is the new black. Store sensitive tax information on a password-protected or encrypted external hard drive or disk and keep it in a secured location.

Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information. The IRS never communicates via unsolicited email. Forward any suspicious emails to phishing@irs.gov.

Estate and Legacy Planning

You’ve worked hard throughout your life building and nurturing a family and career, and you’ve accumulated an impressive collection of assets through all of your dedication and hard work. Having an estate strategy will help protect it all by managing your assets and effectively distributing them after your death. An extra day is the perfect time to outline your objectives, document your belongings and discuss matters with your family.

Plan for College

Paying for college is a major financial challenge for many families. You can get a jumpstart on paying for your education through a variety of funding options that Farm Bureau Financial Services offers, including a 529 Plan, Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA), and Uniform Transfer to Minor’s Act (UTMA). Leap Day is a great time to do some research, crunch some numbers, and prepare for the future. You can open an account with a small deposit and set up regular deductions from your checking account.

Volunteer Your Time

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. But with an extra day, you can make a big difference in the community and for yourself. First, it allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place. It helps you make new friends and increases your social and interpersonal skills. Second, it’s good for your mind and body. Taking part in volunteer activities can increase your self-confidence, provide a sense of purpose and help you stay physically healthy. The website Volunteer Match can connect you with organizations based on your interests. 

Get a SuperCheck

Getting a SuperCheck by a Farm Bureau agent helps identify the gaps in coverage and make sure that you’re getting the discounts you deserve. Find out if your insurance is working for you by getting a SuperCheck.

February 29’s “Leap Day” only happens once every four years, so why not take advantage of the extra time and check off some tasks you’ve been meaning to do? You’ll be glad you did.