4 Steps to Organize Your Paperwork

<img style="margin: 5px; width: 275px; height: 200px; float: right;" alt="iStock_000008715159XSmall.jpg" src="” />Paper has amazing properties. It is made from wood, yet, it acts like a magnet. Maybe, that is not true in scientific terms, but place a paper on a desk or the on floor and see what happens. Magically, other papers will gravitate toward the pile and pretty soon, if a person is not diligent, he will have a mountain (or at least a good start of one.)

The results of those mountains can be loss of efficiency and frustration. A proactive strategy of dealing with paperwork will go a long way help this common problem to many.

The 4-step process below can be a fresh start to getting and keeping a manageable paperwork system.

Start by taking a chunk of time that can be dedicated to sifting through existing unfiled paperwork. If there are a lot of papers, it may take a series of sessions to completely get organized. Remember to retrieve any wayward, uncategorized paperwork that is in drawers or cabinets. Prepare your sorting space with a bin for recycling, a shredder and file folders or boxes to place the separated items. 

Separate and Filing System
The next two steps, separating and the filing system, can be a chicken and an egg dilemma.

When you begin separating the piles, ideally you will have an idea of the categories of file folders you want to have. In that case, you could pre-make the folders, and file the papers as you sort them.

If, however, you are not sure of the categories as you begin, then, sort the papers into two piles ~  keep and recycle.  Once you are down to just the keeper items, take a look through the pile. Write down the categories that come to mind when you are examining what you have kept. Create file folders for those categories and start filing the papers from the keeper pile into the folders.

When setting up your filing system, make sure that the system will be easy to use. If it is difficult and complex, you won’t use it, which would defeat the purpose.

One downfall people commonly have in regard to a filing system is to forget what categories they made when they first created the system. They then unwittingly create a duplicate files for the same topic. To alleviate this issue, make an index of the categories and subcategories as a reference.

Now your desk is clear. The files are put in their proper place. You know the names of your files and can find them easily. You’re set.

The trick now is to keep ahead of it. Here are some suggestions to keep the mountains from getting a foothold again.

Go through your mail daily. Immediately pitch any junk mail without opening it and shred any credit card offers to protect your identity.

As for any other paperwork, either file the item immediately after use or designate a time on a daily or weekly basis to file papers. Find a timeframe that fits well with your workflow and stick to it.

So, there you have it. Remember to turn to the Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency for Trusted Advice ~ Reliable Solutions to your insurance and daily life dilemmas.


Our Go! Weekend Picks

Our Weekend Picks.png


Who’s up for a triathlon this year? Our Go! Weekend Picks will get you started on the right foot.


Indoor Triathlon ~ Dash for Cash


The Downtown YMCA is holding its Annual Indoor Triathlon on March 2, 2013. Sign up today because only the first 60 people who register will get to participate. There will be no registration on the day of the event.


As the name suggests the event is broken down into three events: a 15 minute swim, a 20 minute bike and a 15 minute run.


Awards will be given based on the distance covered in the allotted time.  There will be a men’s and a women’s division and the top three contestants in both divisions will receive a cash prize.

1st prize is $100

2nd prize is $50

3rd prize is $25


Everyone who participates will receive a high quality commemorative item to take home from the event.


Entrance fee is $35 for YMCA members and $40 for non-members. A portion of every entry fee will be used to support the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.


Call 937-228-9622 for more information.


Up and Running Triathlon Training Information Meeting


Public interest in triathlons has steadily increased over the past decade. 2.3 million people participated in a triathlon in 2010, a number that was a 55% increase over participants in 2009. Typical components of a triathlon will include a swim, a bike ride and a run. Are you up for the challenge?


If the answer is yes, then go to Up and Running’s Triathlon Training informational meeting February 13th at 6 pm, at their Dayton location. Come to the meeting and find out more about their training program. The training will include 8 weeks of swim training and 12 weeks of bike, run and brick workouts. The group race date is June 26th.


Up and Running Dayton is located at 6123 Far Hills Ave Dayton, OH 45459
Call (937) 432-9210 for more information.




Top 12 Ways to Save on Your Winter Electric Bill

<img style="margin: 5px; width: 140px; height: 200px; float: left;" alt="bigstock-Saving-Money-8173913.png" src="” />Old man winter’s icy fingers can cause higher electric bills as people strive to keep their homes cozy and warm. There are ways, though, to keep your electric usage down even on the coldest of winter days.

Here are our top twelve picks for how to reduce your wintertime electric bill.

1. Add insulation to your attic space. People wear hats to keep their body warmth from escaping out their head. The same principle applies to your home. Adding the proper amount of insulation to your attic ensures that the whole house will be warmer.

2. Be ruthless about turning off the lights when you leave a room. Artificial lighting accounts for approximately 15% of a home’s electricity use. Turning off the lights on a consistent basis will definitely have a positive effect on reducing your electric bill.

3. Use CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs which are about 75% more energy efficient and last 6 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Over the lifetime of the bulb you should expect to save $40.

4. Turn off your computer at night.  A recent study by 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy found that organizations in the United States could save $2.8 billion dollars a year in energy costs by turning computers off overnight. If that is true for companies, image what a difference that could make for you, the consumer.

5. Replace older appliances with updated models that have energy efficient features.

6. Install a programmable thermostat. It will reduce the temperature when you are not home or sleeping and raise it just before you return home. If a programmable thermostat is outside of your budget, you can manually set the thermostat back when you leave and raise it when you return home. Adjusting the thermostat as shown, is reported to cut your energy bill by 10 – 20%.

7. Change your furnace filter every 2-3 months. A clogged filter means that the furnace has to work much harder to heat your home.

8. Check for drafts in windows and doors by attaching a string to a ribbon or feather and then seeing if it moves when placed in proximity to the window or door. Remedy the situation with weather stripping or caulking.

9. Use one lamp with a higher wattage light bulb rather than two lower wattage bulbs in separate lamps. (Caveat ~ Make sure to follow the suggested maximum wattage for the lamp. Putting a higher wattage bulb than recommended will create a fire hazard.)

10. Vacuum the coils of your refrigerator every so often. This will help the condenser to work more efficiently.

11. Keep your thermostat at or below 68 degrees. For every degree of temperature change you are saving 5%. If that seems a little bit nippy, add layers until you are comfortable.

12. If you have a ceiling fan, reverse the air flow so that it is pushing the air down. This will keep the warm air flowing back to you, making the room feel warmer.

As always, you can look to the Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency for Trusted Advice ~ Reliable Solutions. Stay warm!

Our Go! Weekend Picks ~ All About Travel, Outdoor Sports and Boating

Our Weekend Picks.pngIf camping, boating, golfing or being outdoors is high on your list of fun things to do this year, then you have got to check out our Go! Weekend Picks for this week. Cincinnati’s Travel, Sports & Boat Show and the Cincinnati Golf Show are both happening this weekend at the Duke Energy Convention Center.

From January 18-20, visit the Cincinnati Golf Show where you’ll find 5,000 square feet of incredible deals on equipment and clothing. Mingle with other golfers, find out the best places near and far to golf and get tips on improving your game, if last year’s season wasn’t up to par.

For a series of structured seminars, swing into the SOGPA Teaching Pavilion where you will learn to perfect your game with classes ranging from Winter Swing Development to The Secret of the Longer Drive to Short Game Development. Click here to see the full seminar schedule.

The Cincinnati Travel, Sports & Boat Show starts in tandem with the Cincinnati Golf Show on January 18-20 and will continue Wednesday, January 23 – Sunday, January 27. For 56 years, this show has catered to giving the outdoorsman (or woman) all the tools necessary to having a rockin’ time.

Want to be on the water? The show will have everything that is on the market whether you are just diving into the waves with your first boat or want to trade up from your current watercraft. 

Once you are set with your water vessel, check out the other offerings of the show that will make your leisure time ever so much more enjoyable. Travel vendors will be on hand to give you plenty of ideas for places to go to enjoy the outdoors for years to come. The show’s choices of campers, ATV’s and motorcycles complete the picture of the ideal active lifestyle you crave.

Add to your fishing and hunting skills with four seminar categories offered at the show: Tank, Parkside Marine Fishing & Electronics, Big Outdoors Stage and Hunting Dog. There are 7 tank seminars with topics that include: Bass fishing 101, Swim Baits, the new go-to lure, and Kids fishing fun.  Parkside Marine Fishing seminars will be hosted by Professional and Master Fishermen like Bruce “Doc” Samson, Johnnie Candle, Larry Rhoads, Matt Davis and Dan Johnson, just to name a few. Big Outdoor Stage seminars get you back on dry land and feature topics for your more adventurous side.

Get your toes to tappin’ with the musical talents of Ryan Broshear when he performs on Wed. January 23 at 7:00 PM.

Click here for dates and times of the show.

Tickets are available at all Kroger locations. Adults $11 and children under 13 years old are free.

How to Safely Handle a Tire Blowout

tire blowout iStockphoto.jpgWith its accompanying loud bang and immediate change in vehicle maneuverability, the surprise of a tire blowout endangers drivers who have had little to no training in how to handle such an event. Tire blowouts can be attributed to approximately 535 fatalities and 23,000 collisions each year according to Michelin. 

In our quest to give you, “Trusted Advice ~ Reliable Solutions”, we at the Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency, urge you to read on for how to be prepared for when a tire blowout occurs. Knowing how to handle a tire blowout can make the difference between simply changing a tire and finding oneself in a ditch or worse.

1.    Know the common causes of tire blowout

A tire blowout can happen because of under inflation of the tires, hitting a pothole or curb or running over a sharp object. So, make sure to regularly check the pressure in your tires and drive defensively, by avoiding potholes, curbs and debris on the road.

2.    Be Prepared

Because of the element of surprise inherent in a tire blowout, it is important to drive with both hands on the wheel at all times. One hand on the wheel and a sandwich in the other while driving is a recipe for disaster.

3.    Stay Calm

When the blowout happens, maintain a level head. Staying calm will keep you from over-reacting and potentially making matters worse.

4.    NEVER do these two things

While instinctively, your first reaction may be to take your foot off the gas and apply the brake as hard you can, these would be the worse things you could do.

a.    Slamming on the brakes could cause an even greater imbalance of the vehicle’s stabililty, which could lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

b.    When the accelerator is released, the law of physics dictates that the weight of vehicle will be transferred from the rear tires to the front tires. This shift in weight while running at highway speeds with a flat tire can lead to loss of control of the vehicle.

5. What you should do:

  • When the blowout occurs, maintain a steady pressure on the accelerator.
  • Next, counteract the pull of the vehicle caused by the blowout by gently steering in the opposite direction of the pull, so that your vehicle maintains its current lane.
  • Once you have regained control of the vehicle, gradually release the pressure on the accelerator.
  • As your vehicle is slowing down, guide it to a safe place out of the flow of traffic. Change lanes, as needed, by following standard lane changing rules of using your blinker, and maintaining proper distance between your vehicle and those around you.
  • Once your vehicle is safely out of the flow of traffic, pop the hood and put on your emergency blinkers to signal to other motorists that your vehicle is disabled.

Remember that the steps to handling a blowout are the same no matter if the blowout occurs in a front or back tire.

As always, please stay safe out there! You are important to us. 


Our Go! Weekend Picks ~ Support Local Independent Eateries

Our Weekend Picks.pngWhat are you planning for dinner tonight? In our hurried lives today, 2 out of 5 consumers report that they are not using restaurants as often as they wish they were. If you do decide to go out to dinner, do you put much thought into whether your choice is a chain restaurant or a local eatery?

A chain by definition should provide you more typical fare, with an eating experience that is commonplace from one establishment in the chain to another. With a local eatery, comes the chance to find hidden gems of yummy goodness. Our Go! Weekend Picks this week puts the focus on these local restaurants.

The choices for local restaurants should be abundant in your city, since the National Restaurant Association reports that seventy percent of eating-and-drinking place establishments are single-unit operations ~ in other words independent restaurants. However, even though the independent restaurants far outnumber chains, 3 out of 4 times people will choose to patronize a chain restaurant instead of a local establishment.

With Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge’s commitment to supporting our local community, we encourage you to seek out these wonderful  independently owned and operated culinary treasure troves.

Here are two of our Dayton area favorites that you may not have discovered, yet.


Jimmie’s Ladder 11

Found on Brown Street near downtown, Dayton, this eatery is housed in a restored firehouse. Originally constructed in 1892, Firehouse 11 was the last of the horse drawn hose companies in Dayton. The restaurant officially opened on 11/11/11 and has been serving mouth-watering food and thirst-quenching beers and spirits in a friendly and welcoming  atmosphere to rave reviews, ever since.


Christopher’s Restaurant

With dinner dishes that range from honey BBQ chicken to Alfredo Medley to a vegan Quinoa Saute,  Christopher’s is definitely high on the must try list for those desiring a more whole food approach to eating out.  Because of its unassuming location in a strip mall in Kettering, it is easy to not notice this wonderful restaurant.  But it is well worth the trip. With its wooden tables and eclectic decor, this cozy establishment will satisfy with delicious food and courteous wait staff.


For Dayton’s southern neighbors, we have found two links to wonderful collections of independently owned restaurants in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.


For a listing of restaurants where you can dine in an atmosphere steeped in history, click here.


Sometimes, the best places to eat are tucked away in hidden corners. To discover the hiding places of these culinary treats, click here.


All of us at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge wish you bon appétit!


How to Dry Out a Cell Phone

Wet cell phone (paid from iStockphoto).pngHas this ever happened to you?  Wanting to multi-task you decide to wash the dishes while you are having a great conversation on your cell phone. MISTAKE! Ker plunk…. in goes your cell phone for a nice little swim.

Julie Naumer, our Social Media Specialist, here at Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency, found out the hard way that talking on an iPhone while doing dishes is not necessarily good for the long-term health of the phone. (By the way, if you haven’t already experienced it, the other favorite haunts of wayward cell phones are toilets, surprise rain showers, ponds and washing machines.)

Here are the first steps of DIY fixes for drying out a cell phone:

  • First and foremost, after you have retrieved your phone, resist the temptation to turn it on to see if it still works. Doing so could short out the circuitry when the phone tries to boot up.


  • Act quickly and cut the power to the phone by removing the battery. If your phone is like Julie’s, it will have tiny little screws that will need to be removed to access the battery.


  • If you have an AT&T or a T-Mobile phone, you will also need to take out the SIM card found inside your phone.  This is important because the SIM card holds information like the contacts in your phone book. So even if you can’t save the phone, saving the SIM card will take some of the sting out of the loss.

The next step is to dry out your phone as quickly as possible. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when drying out your cell phone:

  • Wipe off any visible moisture on the outside and inside of your phone.


  • To remove the remaining moisture, do not use heat in the form of a hair dryer, an oven (microwave or conventional) or the sun.


  • Do suck the water out of the phone with a vacuum. When using the vacuum cleaner make sure to hold the nozzle far enough away from the phone to lessen the risk of creating static electricity. The electricity could damage the internal workings of your phone.


  • Once it looks like the phone is dry, continue to resist the urge to turn your phone on to test it. There is another step yet to do.


  • Once you have removed all the visible moisture, then place your phone in a small re-closeable plastic bag to which you have added a desiccant that will absorb any leftover moisture. In a pinch, you can use dry, uncooked rice. Julie used dry rice and then, added the little silica packets that come inside shoe boxes or vitamin bottles. Those packets are originally placed in the packaging to absorb any moisture that would damage the item, so they will do the same for your cell phone. Also helpful is a product is called DampRid, which can be found in stores like Walmart Home Depot or Lowes or online through Amazon.  Leave your cell phone in this mixture for 2-3 days.

With any luck, these steps will have you up and running again. Using these DIY tactics, Julie’s cell phone booted back up but it still needs to be reconnected via an Apple Store. Keep your fingers crossed that their re-boot does the trick.

As always, look to the Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge Agency for Trusted Advice ~ Reliable Solutions.

Our Go! Weekend Pick: Get Your Motor Running ~ America’s Packard Museum

<img style="margin: 5px; width: 275px; float: right;" alt="P1030051.png" src="” />Right here in our backyard of Dayton, Ohio, is a hidden gem for car enthusiasts. Named on the list of top 10 museums in the United States by Car Collector magazine in its January 1998 edition, The Citizen’s Motorcar Museum, better known as America’s Packard Museum can be found in downtown Dayton. Dedicated to showcasing the history of the Packard, car buffs will enjoy viewing over 50 prime examples of the legendary automobile.

Only two other museums in the United States are dedicated to exclusively showcasing the 59 year history of the Packard Motor Car Company.  America’s Packard Museum holds the distinction of being the only one of the 3 where the building that houses the museum is a piece of history in its own right. Originally built in 1917, the building was home to The Citizens Motorcar Company where back in the day, the people of Dayton came to purchase their new Packards.

The museum was the brain-child of Dayton-based attorney and long-time car collector Bob Signom.  It opened in 1992 and just 11 years later, in 2003, the Society of Automotive Historians acknowledged the museum’s excellent efforts to preserve motor vehicle resource materials, by awarding it the prestigious James J. Bradley Award. From 1982 – 2012, only 8 other United States museums have been similarly honored with this award.

Not only can the public, enjoy a walk through history by touring the museum, but they can also use the museum as a unique venue to host their next function.  One can easily imagine how spectacular a  wedding, corporate function or other gathering would be in a setting so steeped in history.  There are two locations available to rent.  The Main museum accommodates up to 200 for a sit-down dinner or 225 for a cocktail reception and the Packard Pavilion can comfortably hold up to 300 people.

Whether a person wants to travel through time in a small group or plan a wonderful event, America’s Packard Museum is a wonderful way to make memories and experience a slice of American history.

Monday – Friday 12-5 PM
Saturday and Sunday 1-5 PM

Adults $6.00
Seniors $5.00
Students $4.00

Address and Contact Information
420 S. Ludlow St.
Dayton, Ohio 45402
Office (937) 226-1710
Fax (937) 224-1918

How to Protect from Freezing Pipes

Water dripping.jpgSimple elementary school science teaches us that water expands when it freezes. When this happens inside the pipes and plumbing in your home, you can have a serious grown-up problem. If a pipe bursts because of freezing, once the water starts flowing again, a crack as small as 1/8th of an inch can drench your home with over 250 gallons of water. There are preventative measures you can take, though, to keep from being one of the one quarter a million people in the United States who suffer from the results of burst pipes each year.

Before we get into the specifics of preventing a frozen pipe, let’s have a little science class:

What Causes a Pipe to Burst
Interestingly, a pipe usually doesn’t break at the spot where the ice blockage occurs. It isn’t the expansion of the frozen water against the pipe that causes the break. Instead, when a complete ice blockage happens inside a pipe, the ice dam will continue to increase its freezing and expansion, which causes water pressure to increase downstream between the ice blockage and the closed faucet at the end of the plumbing system. It is the build-up of water pressure that brings about the pipe failure. On the side of the ice dam farthest from the faucet, the water can retreat to its source.

The preventative measures you can take to eliminate or reduce the possibility of a burst pipe starts with figuring out if and where your plumbing system is at risk.

Assess the Vulnerability of Your Plumbing System

  • Analyze the location of your plumbing.  Bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms placed on interior walls are going to have plumbing that is more protected against freezing.
  • Explore for plumbing placed in areas of your home that are unheated (attics, crawl spaces, or under outside porches or decks).
  • Insulation may be present in the unheated part of your home.  If plumbing is located there, is the plumbing pipe sandwiched between the layer of insulation and the interior of the home? This would be good news. Your plumbing will be getting a least a little bit of the radiant heat from your home. The insulation will reduce the amount of heat that escapes, keeping the pipes warmer and less likely to produce an ice jam.
  • Figure out if your home has insulation in the outside walls. One way to check for this is to unscrew the cover plate from an electrical socket. You might be able to see insulation from this opening.
  • Look for cracks in the foundation, eaves, or walls close to your plumbing system where air can have a chance to flow over the pipes. Un-insulated pipes will begin to freeze when the outside temperature reaches 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Keep in mind the idea of wind chill, though. Your pipes can be adversely affected by air flowing over them and can freeze, even if the temperature is above freezing. Liken it to a 40 degree day that feels like 10 degrees because the wind is blowing.

Fix the Issues

  • If you have found that there is no insulation in the outside walls, you can hire a company to blow in insulation.
  • If you have found pipes in unheated areas, cover them with insulation, or wrap them with heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables. Just be sure to only use products that have the approval of an independent testing company, like Underwriters Laboratories and make sure to match the use (interior or exterior) as indicated on the packaging.
  • Seal any leaks that you have found with chalk or insulation.

If you didn’t have time to do a permanent remedy, yet.

  • In areas of your plumbing system that you know are vulnerable to freezing, let the water drip at the faucet. While this won’t keep the pipes from freezing, it will prevent the pressure build-up that causes pipes to burst.
  • Open up the doors in the cabinets under your bathroom and kitchen sinks. This will allow the warm air from the room to warm the pipes.

What to do if your pipes do freeze

  • Keep in mind that just because the pipe has frozen, that doesn’t mean, it has burst.
  • Make sure to turn on your warm water faucet. If nothing comes out, consider calling a plumber, waiting it out or thawing the ice jam yourself.
  • Do not try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. The fire hazard is too great.
  • If you can reach the pipes, you can use the high setting of a hair dryer to thaw the ice jam. Start warming the pipe where it is closest to the faucet and work your way toward the coldest part of the pipe. Make sure that the faucet is turned on, so that the melting ice has a place to safely escape.
  • If you see standing water or hear the trickling of water within your walls, a pipe has likely broken. Turn off the water at the main shutoff but leave the water faucets turned on and call a plumber.

Luckily, an ounce of prevention will save you a couple hundred gallons of spewing water.  Remember Barker, Beck, Collins & Kronauge is here to serve you with “Trusted Advice and Reliable Solutions”.