Money, Health, and Other Things

Educational Blog in the Area of Family and Consumer Sciences for the Middle Peninsula


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[Replay] Three Things to Know about Well Water, Upcoming Well Water Clinic!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll replay some of our posts on well water management in preparation for our upcoming well water clinic (see the flyer below!). This week we’ll discuss three things to know about your well water.

1.  We’ve heard a lot about lead in drinking water in the last few years, but what you may not know is that it is incredibly rare for lead to be naturally found in groundwater. Instead, water that is either too low in pH and/or has other corrosive elements, is leaching lead from plumbing components. Water doesn’t have to be all that corrosive or acidic to leach metals from your plumbing either; it’s generally recommended that drinking water have a pH above 6.5 to prevent corrosion, which means regular rain water, for instance, is more than acidic enough to leach metals from your pipes! Now you may be thinking, ‘I don’t have an older home and I don’t have lead pipes, this shouldn’t be a concern for me.’ However, lead solder was allowed in homes until 1986, and “lead-free” brass fittings and fixtures could have up to 8% lead in them until 2014, when new regulations reduced the allowable level to 0.25%.

2.  There are quite a few different sources of potential contaminants to drinking water; surface contaminants could be getting into your drinking water, especially if the well head or grouting is not well maintained, metals could be leached from your plumbing, sodium may be added from your water softener, and many contaminants come naturally from the groundwater if they aren’t addressed with treatment devices.

3.  How often should you test your drinking water? Generally, it’s recommended to test for bacteria annually, and do more comprehensive tests every three years or so, including testing for pH, total dissolved solids and other local concerns. Testing is particularly important since some of the contaminants most detrimental to your health, like E. coli, nitrates, and lead, may be at high enough levels to cause serious health issues without you ever noticing a different smell, taste, or appearance.

If you’re interested in getting your well water tested, please check out the flyer below and contact Glenn Sturm (me!) and gjsturm@vt.edu or 804-815-9458!


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[Replay] Risk Management and Insurance Basics, Part XIII

Over the next few weeks, we’ll revisit our multi-part series on risk management and the basics of different insurance plans! This week, we’ll wrap up our discussion on disability insurance.

Should everyone have disability insurance? That depends. For one, it depends on your preference as it relates to risk management – do you want to insure against this risk, protecting your household from a potential loss of income, or retain those risks and avoid paying premiums? It also depends on your current financial situation. Do you have enough in non-retirement savings to cover the loss in income? Do you have assets that you’d be willing to sell to make ends meet? Is there another employed spouse in the household that earns enough to comfortably live with just their income?

If you do decide to get disability insurance, here are a few things to consider.

For long-term disability insurance, the longer the elimination period, the lower the premium. With that said, be sure you have adequate non-retirement savings to cover your household expenses during that elimination period.

If you are going through a divorce and the ex-spouse is expected to pay child support and/or alimony, consider requesting in the divorce decree that they buy disability insurance to protect those support payments.

There are a number of features you can add to your policy, but remember, virtually all of them will make that policy more expensive. Selecting a non-cancellable policy means the insurer cannot cancel the policy, raise the premium, or decrease the benefits. Generally, long-term disability insurance covers 50-70% of net income. Some insurance companies will provide options to increase the benefit amount if you don’t think that’ll be enough to support your household. If the policy has residual benefits, that means they’ll provide you partial benefits if you’re still at your job but unable to work at full capacity. For instance, if a disability results in you working 20 hours instead of 40, a disability insurance policy with residual benefits may provide you 50% of the policy benefit amount. A cost-of-living-adjustment rider, or COLA, allows for your benefits to increase with inflation. A waiver of premium rider means the insurance company will not charge you for premiums if you become disabled, though how that’s implemented and for how long differs from policy to policy. Lastly, a recurrent disability clause means the policy will waive your elimination period if you become disabled soon after a previous disability period, if it’s from the same injury or cause. Generally, policies will have a limit on time between these two disability claims, often six months, for the policyholder to be eligible for the recurrent disability.

That concludes our discussion on disability insurance, we’ll return next week to discuss umbrella insurance.