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How to Buy... Auto Insurance through local car Insurance Agents One of the most-quoted bits of advice about saving money on car insurance is to buy direct from insurance companies, but buying direct isn't always the best choice. There are many very good reasons to buy car insurance through a local auto insurance agent or broker. Some of those reasons include personal service and more choices. Understanding how car insurance sales work can help you better decide whether to buy car insurance through an insurance company or through a local auto insurance agent or broker. WHY BUY LOCAL? When you purchase your car insurance through a local agent or broker, you'll be working with someone who is familiar with your state and city, as well as the full offerings of the companies they represent. Local Agents Know the Local Risk Profile While a company representative in another city might have access to your state's insurance laws, a local agent knows your community and your specific needs. Because she works directly with drivers in your community, she knows the most common claims that come across her desk, which gives her a distinctly local - and very helpful - point of view about the types of insurance recommended for drivers in your city and your neighborhood.


What Consumers Can Do to Protect Themselves from This Unfair Practice: Safe drivers who are in accidents caused by others often see auto insurance rate hikes, according to research released by Consumer Federation of America. Consumers uncertain about whether their company would charge them for not-at-fault accidents in their state should ask their insurance agent or insurance company and, if they learn they would be surcharged, inform the agent they believe the practice to be very unfair. Also, inform the agent or insurer that you know a major national auto insurer that does not use such surcharges so their use is not necessary for pricing. It would also help if consumers made the same inquiry of and complaint to their state insurance department.

Your Local Agent Is There for You You've seen the television ads for the big companies, with local insurance agents showing up at the scene of the accident to dispense comfort and advice. While that's not a very realistic view of an agent's role, it's far closer to reality when you buy insurance through a local agent. Your local agent is in a position to offer a level of service you won't get from a voice on the phone on the other side of the country. You might find that: • Dealing directly with a car insurance agent will give you peace of mind. Many subscribers find comfort in dealing with a face rather than a computer screen when addressing questions about billing, claims, and policy issues.

• You can develop a working relationship with an agent, so you feel like a person rather than just a policy number. • An agent can better customize an insurance package based on your needs and assets. • If you're confused about policies, or are unsure about how much car insurance to carry, it can help to talk to an agent. TYPES OF AUTO INSURANCE AGENTS Before you choose a particular insurance agent, you should also understand the differences between types of insurance agents. In general, you'll encounter 3 types of agents: • Captive agents sell insurance for a single insurance provider. Because a captive

agent is appointed by only one company, he should know the ins and outs of the company and ways to save money. • Independent insurance agents sell policies for multiple companies. An independent agent can help you compare rates and coverage from many different insurers. • Insurance brokers are independent agents who sells insurance but not on behalf of an insurer. Brokers represent customers, not companies and may charge the customer a fee for their service. Have your information ready. You'll need your license and registration information, as well as some demographic information that will help the agent understand your needs. for more information visit

March 2019

Listening & understanding, available here. As your local agent, I’m here to help life go right.® That’s why I take the time to get to know you and understand what you really need. LET’S TALK TODAY.

Anthony Cammon FSS LTCP, Agent 115 4th Avenue West Havre, MT 59501 Bus: 406-945-9000


March 2019

State Farm Bloomington, IL


How to Choose a... Jeweler When it comes to choosing a jeweler, consumers have to weigh many different options and align their priorities effectively. Some consumers find this to be an especially difficult process, since there are so many jewelers on the market today and all of them seem to have some merit. Making the right choice requires one to not only know their own personal wants and needs, but also understand how the business works. There are some things that jewelers absolutely must offer their customers and without those things, a customer is really missing out. In short, individuals have found that choosing the right jeweler is about picking someone who is skilled, attentive and reasonable at the same time. In the jewelry business, skill is a key. Not all professionals are created equally, and some of them will have more ability than others. This makes it highly important to search around for a jeweler that has shown great skill time and time again. The best professionals are the ones that can create things with their hands, and they are the ones that can fix just about anything without too much of a problem. Individuals who find a jeweler with these skills will be happy with their results. The jewelry business is not all about skill and expertise, though. Much more than that, it is about how much a professional cares for his customers. When individual consumers make purchases, they should be getting more than just a ring or a necklace. Many people demand a personal relationship with their jeweler. This is something that can come in very handy, because that relationship will establish a trust factor. Some jewelry purchases are financially large and they come with a lot of sentimental value, too. This means that consumers will want to know that the jeweler is going to put together the best possible ring for them. For those who have worked with the same jeweler for a long


Purchasing Wedding Rings 1. Shop together. The engagement ring was the big surprise, but you should decide on wedding rings together. Many women already know what they want on their wedding ring, so sitting down and talking can help get both spouses on the same page. 2. Decide on matching or separate bands. It is possible to buy wedding rings together so they coordinate, but it is not absolutely necessary. For example, if a man is concerned with a ring appearing too effeminate he can get a different style from the woman.

time, it is possible to have complete faith in how the job will turn out. Those relationships cannot be forged without first choosing and working with a jeweler for a long time, though. Choosing a jeweler on the basis of price alone is not always the best idea. There are many jewelers on the market today that offer a solid price, but do not deliver in terms of quality or other important factors. Consumers should recognize that price is a major consideration, though. When choosing a jeweler, you want to know that he is going to give you the best deal possible and you'll want to know that you are not getting ripped off. Many reputable owners out there can provide this type of price assurance, while also providing a level of quality and service that is worth returning for. Ultimately choosing a jeweler is something that should be done after a long period of personal research. The good thing about the industry is that many solid options exist. The challenge is obviously deciding from among those different options, but with a focus on finding skilled, experienced, and attentive jewelers, this becomes less of a concern than it might have been before. Those individuals make a name for themselves in the industry, so figuring out who they are should not be too much of a challenge.

3. Match it to the engagement ring. Many people will wear their engagement ring and wedding band together. Having something to match it to will help you make your decision. You may want to visit the same jeweler you got the engagement ring from, or look into it when you are shopping for engagement rings. 4. Consider your lifestyle. Rings should adorn and accentuate your hands, not hinder them. If you use your hands a lot for manual labor and you do not want to scuff up your stone or damage your ring, consider a low setting or a hard stone. Conversely, if you live a life of leisure and you want to flaunt your luxurious diamond, get it set high and flashy and let it bling. 5. Choose a stone. You already know all about the 4 C's from buying the engagement ring (if not, check the resources box below), so you should be comfortable with buying a diamond. However, feel free to consider other stones. Look into the meanings of certain stones and the hardness. 6. Choose a band metal. The three most popular are yellow gold, white gold and platinum. White gold is popular because it coordinates with both silver and gold and is less expensive than platinum (which does the same, but is much stronger). Yellow gold is traditional, but be sure to look into the karats. Nine karat does not look as nice and will not hold up as well as 18 karat, but more karats means bigger price tag. 7. Look through catalogs. Once you have a general idea of what you want, leaf through a couple catalogs from different jewelers. This will help you figure out the price ranges as well as familiarize you with some good brand names. 8. Visit your trusted jeweler. Get some references and recommendations for a good jeweler and go down to the store to look at rings. Find a knowledgeable employee that can help address your questions and concerns.

March 2019

March 2019


How to Choose a... Pharmacy Health and wellness are central components to living a rounded, stress-free life. When the need for medication or health-care advice arises, being able to depend on a good pharmacy is one way to alleviate the added pressures of being sick or injured. Find a pharmacy nearby that accepts your insurance, stocks a large supply of inventory to fill prescriptions quickly, offers ample over-the-counter medications, and provides additional, reliable recommendations and suggestions that aid in the recovery process. Some key questions to ask when choosing a pharmacist include: • Does the pharmacist take time to answer your questions in a manner that you understand? • Does the pharmacist tell you about each new medication and explain such things has how and when to take the medication and what you can and cannot take with it? • Does the pharmacist show concern for you and your family? • Does the pharmacist recommend vitamins or supplements to take or tell you which one you should NOT take with your prescriptions? If your current pharmacist does not meet your needs or does not take the necessary time to make sure that you understand your medications, visit other pharmacies and ask if the pharmacist has any special certifications or training. Find out if the pharmacy has any special services that they can offer you such as demonstrating a new inhaler. See if you can find a pharmacist that is easy to talk to, yet shows concern and is able to explain what you need to know as a consumer of both prescription medications and vitamin supplements. WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PHARMACY: Where your family pharmacist works should also be an important consideration when deciding how to meet your medication needs. Most people taking medications patronize a pharmacy. Convenience


is an important issue with all of the time pressures that people feel these days. The pharmacy should be in a convenient location with convenient parking nearby. If you are unable to get to the pharmacy, the pharmacy should make sure that your prescriptions are mailed to your home or delivered to your home or work. Having the ability to open a charge account or have a credit card kept on file for charging prescriptions is a convenient feature, especially when you are on a trip or someone else is picking up the prescription for you. The pharmacy may offer special services that set them apart from the other pharmacies. You might be interested in special packaging to make it easier to remember to take your medications. If you have diabetes, finding a pharmacy that can demonstrate several glucose monitors to find which one works best for you can make testing your blood sugar easier. It is a good idea to get all of your medications (prescription and over-thecounter) filled at a single pharmacy. The pharmacy keeps a complete list of medications that you are currently taking, any health problems you may have, and drug allergies that you have told the pharmacist about. By having a single pharmacy, your pharmacist will be able to continuously update your patient profile-making sure it is always accurate. This allows your pharmacist to avoid any problems or drug

interactions in the future. With a little effort, you should be able to find a pharmacy that will be your partner in your goal of living a healthful life.

Services • Medication reviews • Diabetes products and services • Email and text message refill reminders

Products & Specialties • Broad availability of brand and generic prescription medications • Private-label, over-the-counter medications • Pharmacist counseling

March 2019

March 2019


How to Choose a... Dentist It hasn't always been that people have had a choice as to who cleans, x-rays, and restores their teeth. The world of dentistry has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few decades, and now your dentist can be a friend and ally for you and your gorgeous smile. Choosing a dentist who is right for you should be based on more than just how many questions they ask you while their hands are in your mouth. The best way to find a good dentist is by word-of-mouth. Ask family, friends, and co-workers about their dentists. If they had a good experience, then you probably would also. A good dental office and a good dentist get the most business by word-of-mouth. A good place to start on your hunt for a quality dentist is location. Accessibility is very important when searching for a person you will be seeing (hopefully!) on a semi-annual basis. It is a good idea to look for a dentist who is located in close proximity to your home or office and that you feel comfortable commuting to their office. In addition to location, their hours of operation must fit in with your schedule. The specifics for finding the right dentist to suit your special dental health needs will vary from patient to patient. These needs should be addressed individually with your dentist at your first appointment and during treatment planning. Whatever the situation with your teeth, make sure your potential dentist graduated with a dental degree from an accredited school, and keeps up with the latest trends and technologies in dental care. A superior dentist continues their education the entire time they are practicing to be sure that they are providing their patients with the cutting edge in dental care. Once you have narrowed down your search to a few top candidates, get ready to ask those tough, specific, personal questions, such as financing, which is controlled by the Banking Practice Act. If you have dental insurance, your first priority should be to check to see if your potential dentist accepts your plan. If you do not have dental insurance, look into what kind of payment plans are offered by the business. Dental insurance and co-pays will function differently across the board, so it is important to discuss payment matters up front, before you schedule your first appointment. Your dentist's office should be a place


where you feel safe and well taken care of, so don't underestimate the importance of friendly, curteous and helpful service across the board. This includes the staff at the office as well, from the dental hygienists to the administrative assistants. Find a smile. A smile may signify that the dentist enjoys dentistry and is concerned about you and your dental health.

Digital X-Ray

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March 2019


How to Choose a.... University Choosing the right college or university can feel overwhelming. After all, your decision will have long-term ramifications. The college or university can help you achieve your goals or leave you lying in the dust with a huge tuition bill. Selecting a strong college with an excellent reputation will give you a firm foundation to pursue your dream life. Careful planning and thought will help you feel confident that you are making the right choices for your life. Large or Small School? Ask yourself if you learn better in an intimate setting or a large classroom. Some schools have a small student-to-teacher ratio while others have auditoriums filled with students listening to a lecture. As you begin your research, be sure to look for information on class sizes and student population. Areas of Specialty The reputation of a university or college is very important. It can open or close doors in your career. Most colleges are renowned for a handful of majors. Does the learning institution specialize in your area of interest? Attending a prestigious university or college will give you opportunities and resources. The possibility of employment after graduation also dramatically improves when your school has good name recognition. Minors Once you have decided upon a major, think about your other areas of interest. Many colleges offer students the choice of adding a double major or minor to their plan of study. Even if you are going to pursue only one major, you will likely need to have elective courses in your schedule. These classes allow you to study something that will be beneficial and meaningful. They can also add a dimension to your work and perhaps even give you another hobby. You might even enjoy your electives so much that you decide to switch majors. Before applying to a college, view a list


of possible electives. Alumni Connections Don't forget to think of alumni connections in your family or circle of friends. These graduates can help you get into college. A letter of recommendation or contact with others in your prospective field of study can advance your career. Colleges look kindly upon people with alumni connections. These professionals could also give you insight into avoiding pitfalls and how to best use your degree after graduation. Social Activities Extracurricular activities and social events are another element to consider when choosing a college. Connections you make outside of the classroom are very important. Some universities are famous for their sororities and fraternities. Others colleges have excellent sports programs. Any school activities can help you network and make new friends. Students even develop lifelong friendships this way. The culture of your prospective university should be a strong factor in your decision. Online Classes When you have outside commitments or you prefer to learn at home, consider taking online courses. Internet classes will help you save money, especially when it comes to transportation. Online courses may allow you to work at a faster pace than traditional university classes. Working at your own speed can assist you in graduating quickly or tend to your active life. If you are thinking about choosing an online school, be sure to check their academic credentials and reputation. Also pick an institution in good standing. Choosing an institution for higher education can seem like a difficult, daunting decision. But once you understand your academic and lifestyle needs, you can find a school that is perfect for you.

Degree Programs: Associate of Applied Science Degree (AAS) • Agricultural Mechanics Technology • Agricultural Technology • Automotive Technology • Design Drafting Technology • Diesel Technology • Electrical Technology • Engineering Technology: Civil Engineering Technology • Fast Track Automotive Technology • Plumbing Technology Associate of Arts (AA) • General Education Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASN) • Nursing Associate of Science Degree (AS) • Program of Study in Business Tech. Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) • Applied Science • Business Technology • Trades Management Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) • Community Leadership • Graphic Design • Liberal Studies • Native American Studies Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) • Agricultural Operation’s Technology • Automotive Technology • Biology • Business Administration • Civil Engineering Technology • Criminal Justice • Diesel Technology • Diesel Technology: Equipment Management Option • Diesel Technology: Field Maintenance Option • Health Promotion • Nursing Bachelor of Science in Education (BS) • Elementary Education (K-8) • English (5-12) • General Science (5-12) • Health and Physical Education (K-12) • Social Science (5-12) Certificates of Applied Science • Diesel Technology • Welding Technology Master of Education Degree (MEd) • Counselor Education Master of Science Degree (MS) • Education, Instruction and Learning

March 2019

March 2019


How to Choose a... Child Care Provider Choosing a child care provider is one of the most important decisions families make. The first five years are a critical period of growth and development. Families are children’s first and most important teachers. High quality early childhood care and education programs build a foundation for success in school and in life. Reliable child care provides parents with the opportunity to work and support their families. Choosing Quality Child Care Start Early! Finding the best child care for your family takes time. There are many types of programs to meet the diverse needs of families such as Center, Family, Group, After School, Preschool, Drop-in, and Family/Friend/Neighbor Care. High quality child care programs have the following qualifications: Best Beginnings STARS to Quality Program: A voluntary quality rating improvement system that aligns quality indicators with support and incentives for early childhood programs and professionals. This quality improvement program promotes strong early childhood education in Montana. Accreditation: Quality programs are accredited by a national organization such as The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC). Licensing and Registration: Centers, Group, Family and Family/Friend/Neighbor Care are required to be licensed, registered or certified. For more information go to: Adult to Child Ratios Center: 13+ children based on ages of children and square footage of facility Group: 2 adults care for 7- 12 children with a limit of 6 under 2 years Family Home: Up to 6 children with a limit of 3 under 2 years Family/Friend/Neighbor: all the children in one family or 2 unrelated children 5 Steps to Finding Help with Child Care 1. Contact Family Connections about financial assistance to help pay for child care with the Best Beginnings Child Care Scholarship ChildCare/BestBeginningsScholarships 2. Contact Family Connections for FREE profiles of child care providers that meet the needs of your family. 3. Check online for complaints and licensing violations for potential child care providers. 4. Contact potential child care providers to schedule a visit, observe the program, and ask questions. Ask for a list of references and follow-up by contacting the references. 5. Stay actively involved with regular visits, frequent communication and by participating in activities in your child care program. Research shows that high quality early childhood care and education helps to build a strong academic foundation and life skills that promote healthy life choices and economic opportunity.


Child Care Checklist: Caregivers & Teachers o Develop positive relationships with children o Get down on child’s level when speaking o Greet children when they arrive o Quickly meet child’s needs even when busy o Involved in continuing education programs o Always ready to answer questions o Update parents on child’s daily activities o Welcome parent’s ideas and involvement o Staff and children enjoy being together o Meet child-to-staff ratios for each age group Setting o Bright, clean and pleasant environment o Adequate space for each activity o Securely fenced outdoor play area o Variety of safe play equipment o Play areas easily viewed by staff at all times o Separate areas for resting, quiet and active play Activities o Age appropriate activities, toys and books o Daily balance of play, story, and nap times o Structured and unstructured play times o Healthy food, snacks and physical exercise o Variety of toys and learning materials Child Care Checklist o You agree with the discipline practices o You hear the sounds of happy children o Children are comforted as needed o The provider is licensed and regulated o The provider has a list of family references o The provider has procedures for emergencies o Regularly practices fire drills and evacuations o Surprise visits by parents are encouraged o You agree with the policies and philosophy o Acconnodates children with special needs Warning Signs o All parent visits must be planned in advance o There are few planned activities or guidance o The child care is not licensed or registered o Staff are not trained in CPR and First Aid o Staff have not completed background checks o Too many children for proper supervision o Physically rough, abusive or yell at children o Licensing deficiencies for Health and Safety

March 2019

We believe every child deserves a successful future! Family Connections is the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency serving Regions 5 and 6 in North Central and North Eastern Montana Region 5 Counties: Glacier, Toole, Liberty, Pondera,

Teton, Chouteau, Cascade, Judith Basin, Fergus, Petroleum

Region 6 Counties: Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Valley, Daniels,

Sheridan, Roosevelt, Garfield, McCone, Richland, Dawson, Prairie, Wibaux

Family Connections Services:    

FREE Referrals to help families find quality child care Financial Assistance to help families pay for child care Professional Development to train, mentor, and coach child care providers Assistance in starting and managing a child care business

Family Connections Offices: Region 5: 202 2nd Ave S Suite 201, Great Falls, MT 59405 406.761.6010, 800.696.4503 Fax:406.453.8976 Region 6: 2229 5th Ave, Havre, MT 59501 406.265.6743, 800.640.6743 Fax:406.265.1312

Contact Family Connections Today!

This project is funded (in part) under a contract with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. The statements herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Department. This project was funded with 100% federal funds at a cost of $0.01 per copy.

March 2019


How to Choose an... ATRA Transmission Repair Professional With members across the US and Canada, ATRA’s network of automatic transmission repair professionals can offer you repair and warranty coverage anywhere you’re likely to drive. Because, wherever you go there’s always an ATRA member nearby. Every ATRA Rebuilder Member must adhere to ATRA’s Code of Ethics…ATRA’s standards for providing honest, professional service. So, when you take your car to an ATRA Rebuilder Member, you’re assured of polite, professional service, at an honest price. And not just automatic transmission repair: most ATRA Rebuilder Members also provide diagnostic and repair service for manual transmissions, clutches, differentials, driveshafts, drive axles, and transfer cases. The Rebuilder Members of ATRA agree that while they remain members of the Association, they will practice the pledges of the Association code of Ethics: that they will adhere to the Service and Repair definitions which are part of the ATRA By-Laws; that they will subscribe to the Guarantee Standards which are shown herein; and that they will practice the Advertising standards of the association as per the following: THE ATRA CODE OF ETHICS AND MEMBER PLEDGE For Rebuilder Members of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association As members of ATRA, we pledge to ourselves and to each other to diagnose transmission problems for customers and for each other in an expert and honest

manner, and to state that the removal of a transmission from a vehicle in correction of its problems is necessary, only when this is the case. • We further pledge to provide prompt and courteous in-car diagnosis on behalf of customers of other member shops free of charge (Members may assess a charge up to one (1) hour of diagnostic time for electronic testing and scanning based on the current Golden Rule rate provided the charge is agreed to in advance by the warranting Member). • We further pledge to act with integrity, and to speak at all times in a responsible manner, and in all ways to adhere to the concept of the Golden Rule in our dealings with the motoring public and with our competitors of industry. • We further pledge ourselves to the promotion and improvement of the automatic transmission service and repair industry through maintaining the highest standards for parts and workmanship quality at our places of business. • We further pledge ourselves to the continual training and retraining of ourselves and our employees, in order to keep abreast of the constant changes in the state of the art of our industry. • We pledge to have ourselves and our employees tested and certified on a continuing basis in such a manner as will demonstrate the ATRA member shops are staffed with capable personnel. • We finally pledge that such transmission assemblies as we represent to the consuming public and to other members as “rebuild”, will have been re-processed according to the Association Rebuilding

Standards and Definitions as outlined in these By-Laws. Many general repair shops are getting into the transmission repair business by offering to install “reman” transmissions. What is a reman? A reman is a transmission that’s been remanufactured in a factory setting, and shipped to the repair shop to be installed as a complete unit. Is it okay to buy a reman? That’s a pretty broad question. The answer depends on the quality of the reman itself. Some are very high quality; others less so. More important than the reman itself, however, is the shop or technician performing the diagnosis. Remember: Many cars with transmission problems don’t actually need a new transmission. And, if your car doesn’t need a new transmission, you shouldn’t pay for one. But if the technician performing the diagnosis doesn’t have the skill or experience with your car’s transmission, you might easily find yourself paying for a new transmission… whether you need one or not. If the reman transmission still doesn’t work, the reman companies have technicians on staff to help the shop work through the actual problem. So your car will probably shift just fine when you get it back. The only question then is: Was the problem you had really in the transmission? Or did you pay for a transmission you didn’t really need? Only a qualified, professional transmission technician can diagnose your car reliably, and tell you for certain whether you actually need a rebuilt transmission, or whether a much less expensive repair will take care of the problem.

car model. Know if they are qualified to do different types of services such as electrical and brake systems. Some auto repair workers are only qualified to do oil changes. Inquire about the types of customer service benefits the shop provides. Some may offer rental cars onsite, loaner cars or a shuttle to and from work while your car is being repaired. Ask if they have evening and weekend hours. Pick a repair shop authorized to perform repairs under your warranty, if your car has one. Establish a working relationship with the repair shop. The best time to pick a shop is before you need one. Preventive

maintenance is less costly than repairing a major malfunction. Start with something "small" like an oil change or a check-up on one of your car's systems. Some shops offer free brake checks or free air conditioning system checks. Compare pricing for general services such as brakes, air conditioning checks and tune-ups. These fees can vary widely, but they will give you an idea of whether the shop you're considering falls in the average price range. Consider chains as well as independently owned shops. Request references from satisfied customers.

Auto Repair Shop Get referrals from family, friends and co-workers. Check the local Better Business Bureau for information on complaints filed, how many (if any) and the shop's record of resolving problems. Visit the shop. Observe the cleanliness, lighting, organization and the condition of the equipment. Investigate the mechanics' certification. Ask if they are certified and in what area. Mechanics may be certified by a car manufacturer or a general organization such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Look for a mechanic with valid credentials, proper training and experience working on your


March 2019

March 2019


How to Choose... The Right Mortgage Lender Once you have found the home of your dreams, most buyers want to close the deal as soon as possible. But finding the right mortgage lender can be time-consuming. The key is to take as much time as necessary to do things properly. You must also make sure you are dealing with quality lenders. Lenders with excellent customer service can make things go smoothly. But if your lender is only concerned with his or her bottom line or making extra money on selling loan products, use caution. The best mortgage professionals are knowledgable about their loan products. They are willing to spend as much time as possible to explain them to you. They take pride in guiding you through what could be a confusing process. They keep your best interests and financial priorities in mind. Do some advance research on your loan options prior to meeting a mortgage professional. It will help you determine whether he or she is truly concerned about your needs. Basic knowledge about the financing process will help you make a sound assessment about a mortgage lender's skills and abilities. PURCHASER'S RIGHTS The mountain of forms, declarations and even financial terminology can be daunting to inexperienced homebuyers. It is always smart to exercise care during the home-buying pro-


cess. Understand what you are signing and any obligations you are assuming. A signature is a permanent commitment. Some buyers may have a very short time to back out. Otherwise, they are liable for what is in the document. Even if you back out during that short period, you will likely forfeit deposits because you broke the deal. You might also owe an additional amount based on the total of the initial mortgage payment. Extra costs can be avoided if you take time when signing all agreements. If a lender is rushing you through paperwork and pressuring you to sign the form, he is not doing his job properly. Your best interests are likely to be neglected.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDER The best mortgage lenders will focus on understanding your long-range financial goals. They will ask you how long you intend to remain in this new home. Your answers will help him find the best mortgage products to suit your needs. It is a red flag if a lender fails to ask you this type of question. SEEK LOCAL LENDERS Seeking out a mortgage lender in your community is the best option. Interest rates vary on a daily basis. A local lender will know the rapid changes happening in the community's housing market. They will understand how these changes

may affect you. Local lenders can monitor your loan application closely, as they will be more accessible to answer any questions you may have. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PERSONAL REFERRALS Ask your friends and family about their experience with mortgage lenders. They may be comfortable recommending the same professionals they used for their home loans. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to identify quality professionals in your area. Once you have a list of possibilities, verify their backgrounds so you will be confident in their ability to help you.

March 2019

!"#$%&'"#%'(&)*+,"%NOT A NUMBER You are unique. So are your real-estate loan needs.

We offer options, products and flexibility you just won’t find with an online lender. With our tools and personal touch, we’ll find the right solution for you, just as we have for 45 years. Stop in or call one of our experienced lenders for a great loan at a great rate. Karene Faber

AVP Consumer Lending NMLS #473305

Jennifer Anderson

Retail Mortgage Loan Officer NMLS #857565

Christy Smith Loan Officer NMLS #813203

Conventional • Construction • In-House RD • FHA • VA • Home Equity Lines of Credit

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March 2019

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How to Choose a... Funeral Plan IT MAY BE A GIFT TO THOSE YOU LOVE When someone we love dies, there are varying stages of anger, confusion and numbness. The funeral is one of the most significant means we have of dealing with grief. The funeral ritual helps us focus our emotions and brings a sense of meaning to death. It confirms the reality of death and provides a catalyst for mourners to talk about the deceased. Experts tell us being able to talk about the life of a deceased loved one is one of the first steps toward accepting death. PREARRANGING YOUR FUNERAL Prearranging your funeral is not much different than any other planning you have carried out during your lifetime. You buy insurance in case of fire, flood, theft or death. These coverages are purchased as an act of love and responsibility for those you love in case an unfortunate incident occurs. A pre-planned funeral accomplishes the same goals. A pre-planned funeral can prevent your family members from having to make a number of significant decisions at a time when they are confused and upset. They will have enough on their minds dealing with grief without having to make several important decisions in a very short period of time. Experts tell us that there are an average of 50 decisions to be made when arranging a funeral. Adding to the need for pre-planning is the fact that our lifestyle is more complex. Family members often live in different states, complicating rapid decision making. Further complications stem from frustrations that occur when dealing with government agencies in different states. A solid pre-planning session can prevent these complications. HOW TO PLAN Find the funeral establishment that is right for your needs, look for stability in the community, make sure they are licensed and accredited with the state. Research the length of operation, and seek the advise of friends who have had to use the services of a funeral home


recently. More than anything turn to someone you can trust. PREFUNDING YOUR FUNERAL Prefunding your funeral is an important consideration. The State of Montana has a state Burial Trust which is an exceptional tool for funding your funeral expenses. The burial trust offers protection to the consumer. The funds are not held by the funeral home, they are held by a separate entity and are only distributed after the death occurs and the funeral home has provided the trust company with a death certificate to prove that the death occurred. It is a better funding tool than insurance because you actually reap the benefit of what you have placed in the trust, you don’t loose money and it is also Medicaid Compliant. With the Trust you are allowed to establish a NON- Guaranteed Trust and make payments to fund it and once it is paid for then you can roll it over into a Guaranteed Trust. Both contract types are irrevocable and meet the Montana Medicaid Requirements. This is advantageous for some people because they may not have access to the funds immediately and need to make payments. Once fully funded the trust will accrue interest monthly and the interest earned stays with the account and is used to off-set future price increases. • Social Security: When a loved one dies, dependents and survivors may be eligible for certain benefits such as death payments, survivor’s benefits and Medicare. Qualifications depend on several factors such as age, marital status, number of dependents and whether employment was under Social Security. Your Social Security account should be verified periodically to ensure contributions are posted. All benefits must be applied for since payments are not automatic. • Veterans Benefits: Honorablydischarged veterans are entitled to benefits that affect decisions about funeral arrangements. For example, veterans may qualify for a cemetery plot and burial allowances, a headstone and burial flag,

as well as pension for survivors. Benefits Another important part of your plan is to make sure your loved ones know where your recorded wishes can be found.

IMPORTANT POINTS • The funeral ritual helps us focus our emotions and brings a sense of meaning to death. • A pre-planned funeral can prevent your family members from having to make a number of significant decisions when they are confused and upset. QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT • Have you selected a cemetery or memorial location? • Are certain religious customs to be followed? • Are there any special readings, biblical passages or musical selections you prefer to use in the memorial service? • Do you want to name pallbear- ers or honorary pallbearers?

March 2019

March 2019


How to Choose... Havre as a home Havre is the last frontier of the American West in a way, with half the area covered by some of the more formidable terrain in the lower Rocky Mountain chain and the other half flatlands of the uppermost Great Plains. As of July 2016, the town’s population was less than 10,000. Yet with a number of open-minded, kind people, and gorgeous scenery, Havre has places worthy of settling down in. The small but close community is tightly knit. Many places and people are interconnected causing a truly great feel of community and closeness. One would likely get to know the workers of many businesses and the owners as well. Local events and businesses work together to keep life entertaining and fulfilled. Truly, however the greatest part of living in Havre and the Hi-Line area comes with the rich amount of access to natural resources. Beaver Creek Park, Fresno Reservoir, Beaver Creek Reservoir, Bear Paw Lake, Rotary Pond and the many camping and fishing access areas in between. The only real downside to the area are the harsh winters. However, it is nothing a good warm blanket and a movie to watch with friends or a loved one cannot solve. The outdoor activities stretch for miles, with the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument an hour away, lakes, rivers, creeks and camping and hiking areas in all directions, fishing and hunting opportunities everywhere, and two national parks — Yellowstone and Glacier — each a half-day’s drive away. But Havre has more than outdoors activities. Grade schools and high schools in Havre and throughout the region regularly entertain residents with sports, music, theater and a variety of events. The local acting troupe, Montana Actors’ Theatre, offers plays throughout the year both for people to try their hand at acting, working behind the scenes and even directing, ranging from locally written original plays to cutting edge modern works to classics like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Service clubs and groups offer people the chance to work on regular projects, as well as offering events to people for their enjoyment, weekly musical performances by local artists happen each week throughout the summer, one set in a city park the other on Town Square, local attractions like the Wahkpa Chu’gn Buffalo Jump, tours of Fort Assinniboine and Havre Beneath the Streets and Hill County’s H. Earl Clack Memorial Museum provide hours of entertainment and edification, and major annual attractions like the annual Havre Festival Days in September and The Great Northern Fair in July draw thousands of people. But it’s not just the friendly people and the outdoors and activities that make Havre a great place to live. Havre sports many great shopping opportunities, from chains like Walmart, Kmart and North 40 to businesses, stores, restaurants and dealerships that have been operating for decades across multiple generations — and where customer service is king. Local stores range from coffee shops to family restaurants, sporting goods stores to clothing retailers and hardware shops. And despite being the largest town in a 100-mile radius, in the middle of northern Montana 100 miles from the Canadian border, Havre is not isolated. With modern technology, people in the region communicate, entertain themselves and even work via the internet, making connections worldwide right from north-central Montana. So, whether someone wants friends, the great outdoors, music, theater, sports or shopping, Havre is a great place to be.


March 2019

How to Choose a...Assisted Living Facility Sometimes, illness or age can take a toll on someone. They find that living independently at home is no longer a viable option. When you need to look for an assisted living facility, there are many things to consider. Cost is often the first thing people think about when searching for a facility. While a clear understanding of expenses is beneficial, there are other aspects to keep in mind. Be sure you know the cost breakdown of each facility. An awareness of how fees are charged will help you avoid surprises later. Special services might be an additional cost. The quality of care and satisfaction of current and former residents will also figure prominently into your decision. Of course, the maintenance and comfort level of the facility is also something to research. Do an online check of assisted living homes in your area. Many sites will feature reviews from family members, friends and residents. Make a list of facilities that might be a

March 2019

good fit. Be sure to visit each facility on your list. Look carefully at the condition of the buildings. Inquire about activities for the residents. Also, take a look at their calendar of events to get a better idea about the lifestyle of people living there. Go out of your way to meet residents and family members. Touring facilities during the early evenings or weekend afternoons are the best times. Ask for honest opinions about the staff, amenities and accommodations. You or your loved one may only need a secure environment or assistance in case of a fall. In the future, these needs could change. The ideal facility will accommodate additional needs in the future. If mobility becomes a concern, the size and layout of the center may become more

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important. Eventually, you may need someone to dispense medication, manage appointments, provide transportation and more personal levels of care. While some facilities can provide increasing amounts of care, other centers may require that you leave the facility should your needs increase. A facility is a good match when it resembles the lifestyle to which the resident is accustomed. Make a list of things that are important to you. If you pursue gardening, crafting or other hobbies, look for a center that lets you continue with these hobbies with ease. People who enjoy staying active and exercising can find a facility that has a gym, exercise room or secure place to walk. Gregarious people need centers that allow plenty of opportunity for socializing. Moving into an assisted living facility doesn’t have to be stressful or unpleasant. With research and diligence, you can be confident that you or your loved one will be well cared for while still being able to enjoy life.


How to Select the Right Insurance Agent for Your Needs Shopping for the right insurance agent can feel overwhelming. After all, there are plenty of things to consider. You need to find a company that offers the right mix of service, coverage and an affordable price. The challenge may simply be not knowing how to identify a reliable, reputable agent. Remember that everyone needs insurance coverage. An experienced agent can walk you through various options, keeping in mind your budget and lifestyle. Before choosing an insurance plan, you will need to identify an agent to guide you through the process. Your financial future depends on finding the right person to help you get insurance that will fit your needs. Your family, friends and colleagues have likely worked with insurance agents in the past. Ask people you trust for referrals. If you receive a recommendation, it is because that person has had a positive experience. There is a good likelihood that you will have similar results. Successful agents understand that offering great service will keep them in business. Their careers depend on word-of-mouth. If you are happy with the service you receive, your insurance agent will appreciate your willingness to


refer acquaintances to her in the future. If you do not have recommendations, begin researching your options. Begin by looking at local companies and brokers. Large insurers give all of their agents the same training. Each agent will be subject to the same company policies. In some ways, that can be comforting. However, agents at large companies may lack creativity and flexibility in how they handle their accounts. As you conduct your research, be thorough and critical. Buying a policy is similar to purchasing a new car or home. It is truly that important. Select a company that is highly regarded by consumers. Read reviews of each company to determine who has the most satisfied clients. Are they easy to work with? Have there been any problems with collecting on a policy? Also, check that any prospective agent has all necessary licenses and training. After narrowing your list of prospective agents, make an appointment to visit each one. Prepare a list of questions and concerns about your personal situation. Take notes during your meeting. Remember that you must feel comfortable with the answers before

purchasing a policy. If an agent tries to pressure you into making a decision right away, inform him that you need more time and cannot sign anything immediately. The right agent will let you take as much time as you need to understand the implications of each policy. They will give you useful information and not subject you to high-pressure sales techniques. Your agent should be available. The relationship doesn't end once the sale is completed. Your dialogue should be continuous. The best agents are available in the event you have to file a claim. Agents who have been in business for many years likely have a good reputation and track record. They understand the policies and will even take extra care that you are properly protected. It is essential that you choose the right type and amount of insurance to adequately protect yourself and your financial future. The policy should be tailored to fit your specific needs. A seasoned, skilled insurance agent will be an invaluable resource for safeguarding your future.

March 2019

How to Choose the Right Home For first-time buyers and repeat buyers alike, the decision to make an offer on a home is both exciting and a little scary. If your offer is accepted, the place you’ve chosen will be your home for the next several years. Not only should you feel emotionally satisfied by your choice, but you should also feel financially comfortable that you’re buying a home that you can afford and that you feel confident will hold onto its value or hopefully increase in value over the years. While no one can know for sure what will happen to housing values, if you make the choice to buy a home that meets your needs and priorities you’ll be happy to live in it for years to come.

Neighborhood or Home Amenities For some homebuyers, living in a particular neighborhood takes precedence over all other priorities, but for others, the home itself matters more. Ideally, you’ll find the perfect home in the neighborhood you love at a price that’s below your budget, but realistically, most people have to make some compromises. You (and your spouse, partner or family) should make a list of what features you want

March 2019

in a home, such as the number of bedrooms, a fenced yard, granite counters in the kitchen, and then rank them in terms of priorities. Think about whether the house or the community matter more to you, and whether it’s worth it to you to make a longer commute in order to live in a home with a larger lot.

When to Compromise Once you’ve determined whether the location or the house itself matters most, you may have to compromise on some of your priorities. If the location is the most important factor for your home choice but you find that homes are priced above your budget, you can compromise in several ways: • Look for a different home type within the community, such as a smaller single family home, a town home or condominium. Decide if you can live with one less bedroom or other features on your list. • Consult with a lender or a financial planner to discuss your options for increasing your budget. While no one should overspend on a home, you should recognize that going $10,000 above your price range when you’re

financing your purchase with a 30-year fixedrate loan will actually add only about $30 to your monthly payment. • Lower your expectations about the condition of the home. While everyone prefers a move-in ready home, you can often get a better deal on a home that needs some cosmetic repairs. Be careful, though, to have a home inspection and to evaluate the structure of the home to see that it meets your needs. Moving walls and adding a bathroom are costly renovations, while painting and replacing appliances are more reasonable. If you have your heart set on a specific home style or a home with a larger yard for your children or to garden, your compromise is more likely to be in the location. If you’re willing to commute farther or perhaps choose a home in a community next to the ‘hot’ neighborhood, you can often find a more affordable home that fulfills your wish list. An experienced Realtor can help you determine when and how to compromise and should take the time to show you a variety of alternatives so you can make an informed decision about when to make an offer.


March 2019


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