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Tax Filing Checklist

Tax season is around the corner! To save time and money, and alleviate stress caused by this time of year, refer to this checklist of five items to keep in mind while filing your taxes.

1) Confirm The Basics

Making mistakes on basic information while working on tax documents can happen to anyone. Be sure that everything, including your name and the names of your dependents, is spelled correctly. Also, check that all social security numbers are accurate.

2) Report Your Income Correctly

Take your time and make sure that all wages, dividends, bank interest, and other income you received are accurate. Additionally, remember that unemployment benefits must be reported because they are taxable income.

3) Enter The Right Bank Account Number

Choosing the direct deposit option will most likely result in receiving your refund faster. In addition, providing the correct account and routing numbers will help alleviate any holdups with the IRS.  

4) Review Your Return

Avoid spelling errors, misplaced punctuation, or entering the wrong numbers by rereading everything before you send in your return. For example, unintentionally entering $3,500 as your IRA contribution rather than the $5,300 you actually contributed can result in less money for your deduction.

5) File Electronically

While your method for filing taxes is ultimately your decision, filing electronically decreases the potential for making errors. Choosing this method will also help expedite receiving your possible refund. 

Extra tip: Make a copy of your signed return and proof of filing for your records

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4 Step Credit Building Plan for Business Owners

Almost every business owner (who is still in business) has experienced the opportunity to grow… alongside the need to borrow. This is the point our credit comes into play. Here are a few ideas for a business owner to build up their personal credit, in order to create then grow your business’ credit. 

Your Credit can communicate Your Worth in today’s business world

For any legal advice, please consult your attorney. For any tax advice, please consult your tax professional. This article is about your credit, and if you’re not already working to improve it, and own a business, you probably clicked on this blog for a reason. 

1. Pay your bills on time, every month, without fail. 

If you are not able pay your bills every month, that is probably because you have too many bills. One of the great lessons a small business marketing consultant once said was that the trick to enjoying being an entrepreneur is having low monthly bills. That is not a universal truth, but over 1/3 of your FICO score is based on whether you pay your bills late or not. Besides, this is one of the main reasons they’re checking your credit… to see if you are creditable in that when you say you will pay for something… will you do it? A solid first step at building your credit is to pay your bills on time. 

2. Shop Smart

While shopping smart could apply to the thoughts in the last paragraph, the act of shopping smart in building your credit has to do with knowing and selecting the credit partners who are best for you at this point. 

The internet is full of options of entities who are willing to loan money. Some of them loan money using good business practices, and other are what we call predatory lenders. They are identified as predatory, because they are out there in their own interest, and if they find you — they will eat you. They will take all they can and leave you as little as legally possible (and sometimes beyond what is legally allowed). 

Shop the partners you choose to do business with, when it comes to building your credit. 

3. Know your score

You are able to get a free credit check from a number of websites like: , mint or even . When you get your credit report, you can read it and see every company who says you have made a borrowing/credit business agreement. There are timelines and stipulations, but we are insurance brokers, and these are just ideas we think could help our business owner clients and friends. 

A credit score is not a static description you check once, and know for the next decade… or year… or month. Tracking your credit score is a part of building your credit. Some may say that it could hurt your credit to check your own credit, but that is not true. This is called a soft inquiry, and shouldn’t affect your credit score at all. 

4. Be Patient

After you start tracking your score, you will see that it feels like you’re running on freshly waxed linoleum with new socks… like you’re giving a lot of effort and not going anywhere. Don’t start closing old accounts. It’s a false tale which states that closing your unused credit will help your credit score. If you have old cards which are being properly managed, it will actually help your credit. As long as you keep the balance lower than 30% of your credit limit, you will be on your way to better rates, more options on rent or a mortgage, better phone plans and people will even start letting you take stuff for free, because they have a pretty good idea you will pay them back on time — because you credit says so by its score. 

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5 Part Fall Prep Guide (Building Wear & Tear Inspection):


- Plants: Trim away any trees or bushes which are in contact with the structure.

- Windows & Doors: physically look at the caulking does not have holes or cracks. The caulking is squishy stuff that connects the door or window to the wall on the outside of a building.

- Garage & Warehouse doors: take a look at the hinges, and confirm that they are securely attached to the door. Test the auto-stop mechanisms. Many garage door openers use an electronic eye to automatically reverse the garage door if an obstruction is in the way. Many also  have a pressure reverse when contact is made with an obstruction. Both of these are good to confirm proper function.

- Roof & Gutters (only when possible): look at any points where metal and pipes are going through or connected to the roof. Confirm there are no blockages for weather or water, and in good condition.


- pull debris from the gutters and whatever devices are used to move water from your building, and direct the water to at least 3 — 5 feet away from the foundation.

- A building with a sump pump is a building which could partially fill up with water. It’s one thing to keep water off the outside of your house, but filling a building up with water can be destructive. Test it, to be sure your sump pump is fully operational.

- Winterize your sprinkler system before the first freeze.

- Disconnect water hoses: Any external faucets with a hose connected to them typically require disconnection, and being readied for winter temperatures. Remember to turn off the water flow before disconnecting the faucet/hose. Otherwise you may need a change of clothes, and a towel.

- Erosion check: physically look at the foundation. and check to confirm that the ground slopes away from your building. Pooling water in contact with a building’s foundation is usually the start to a long term serious problem. Another way to recognize water around a foundation is to look in the crawlspace or basement and see if there are any points of moisture in the soil or moisture coming through the wall.


- Not all houses have working chimneys, but it is good practice to clean a chimney each fall. You are starting a fire in a building, and all the soot building up over time.

- Wood burning fireplace or stove: There is a good reason why we aren’t allowed to build buildings with these types of burning units anymore. If a building has a device which burns wood, have it cleaned and inspected.

- Detectors: Smoke detectors have a test button, as do the Carbon Monoxide detectors. Press the button to make sure they are working properly. Be aware, these are designed to interrupt whatever you are currently doing — so they are quite loud. If you’ve never heard a Carbon Monoxide or Smoke detector before, they can be loud!


- Furnace Forced Air Filter: There is an air filter in your furnace. Chance it once a month. If you’re thinking you haven’t changed it since last year… please move this to the top of your list. 

- AC Filters: Most of these have filters. The job of an AC unit is to move air around a building, and dirty filters are like making a marathon runner carry weights. It’s good to keep your filters clean.

- Range Hood filters: If your place has a hood, there is probably a filter for that hood’s directing the air. Replace filters, and check for cleanliness.

- Boiler: Confirm that the pump is oiled. It is true that oiling a boiler is not changing a filter, but this machinery oil like a forced air furnace needs to breath. 


- Test reset buttons (Power outlets with the Test & Reset button): The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs, or GFIs) are commonly where water and electricity may be in contact, but that is not the only place these types of power outlets are used. Wherever there is a power outlet with a reset/test buttons in the middle — push the test buttons to make sure power is no longer going to the outlet when you push test. You can press reset button to make it work again.

- Refrigeration: the process of keeping items cold typically require coils and other dust collecting parts. Cleaning them (at least annually) is a good way to not pay more to make that refrigerator run.

- Drain Swamp Cooler: If you have a swamp cooler, you should know it. These typically have a water line in which needs to be shut off, as well as drained. Swamp coolers also have electricity run to them which needs to be “winterized”, and turned off.

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If any of these Fall Prep tasks uncover any insurance concerns, we would love to speak with you.

We know our clients by name. 


If you have any insurance questions, let us know & we might do a blog on your topic.

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    Coverages offered:

    Accident and Illness Plan:

    • Illness
    • Tests and X‑rays
    • Hospital stays
    • Ear and eye problems
    • Prescribed drugs
    • Prescription pet food
    • Hereditary conditions (inherited from your parents)
    • Ligament and hip dysplasia (12 month waiting period)
    • Death benefits
    • And more…

    Wellness Plan:

    • Vet exam fees
    • Dental cleaning
    • Tick and flea prevention
    • Heartworm testing
    • Annual wellness exams
    • Vitamins and other supplements
    • Prescribed therapy and behavioral training
    • Vaccinations
    • Spaying/neutering

    Coverage Limits:

    • Up to 100% coverage of vet bills


    • Admitted

    Additional Program Highlights:

    • No breeds are excluded
    • Flexible premium options to fit your budget, including 0% co-pay option
    • Pick your own licensed vet
    • Fast and Easy claims resolution


    All breeds of dogs and cats.

    Types of risks:

    • Accident and Illness
    • Wellness

    Ineligible risks:

    • Other pets
    • Puppies and Kittens less than 8 weeks old
    • Pets owned for commercial reasons (ex: racing, breeding, law enforcement, dog fighting)
    • Pre-existing conditions, but no one covers them


    • Nationwide

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      Stay away from self-imposed exile

      Stay out of self-imposed exile (debt)

      Whether we have a little money or a lot — it is the commodity of our time. One of the great trials of handling money is it that it is a science which can be learned, but it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. If you have had past (or present) troubles with saving money and handling debt, here is a quick and simple guide to get you started.

      Money uses Math — the addition and subtraction kind of math.

      help with debt-self imposed exileBe encouraged — you have the skills! There is nothing about budgeting that is too complex… it just takes time and will power (and usually a written plan). Budgeting uses the same calculation as dieting, because it’s all about how much you take in and how much you give out. If we want to lose weight we have to burn more calories than we take in. If we want to have more money left over the day before we get our paycheck, then we will need to spend less than we make. Even though it is simple — it’s not always easy. This is where our will power comes in to play, but that’s a whole different blog post :-).

      To ease the planning part of this, here is a simple guide to help get us started.

      Income minus expense = money you are supposed to manage (and management includes more than spending)how to for growing money tree

      1. Know how much money you give out each month. Whether your goal is a trip next summer, or just that you’re tired of having to make your decisions based on how much money you have available at that moment. It is vital to know how much you’re spending. It is one thing to lower your debt, but knowing how much money you have going out (expenses) every month must be controlled, or debt will continue to sneak up on you. You can’t ever make more than you’re capable of spending.
      2. Know how much money you make each month… exactly. We realize this sounds silly, because — how can anyone go to work every day and not know what they’re making. The reality is that most of us don’t track what is on our paychecks. We are typically so happy to see money in the account that we don’t take the two minutes per paycheck to look at the stub and make sure the amount is accurate. Know how much you put in your bank and what frequency it is delivered.

      Even though there are a number of other tools that help with budgets and tracking money, the above info is what goes into a budget. This is as simple as what you make (income) minus what you spend (expenses), and the remainder is what you have to give and save and spend.

      **if you are finding that you have less money than you need after doing this “money earned & money spent” equation — that is when you need to bring your expenses inline with your income. Sometimes budgets aren’t fun to do, because we want to pretend that we should live like we are richer than we actually are*** (sorry)debt free prison escape


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        Winterize Your Insurance

        Winterize Your Insurance

        While our warm fall weather doesn’t make it seem real, winter is just around the corner. With winter, comes winter weather — ice, snow, and the inevitable cold air that can bring a bite to the holidays. Living in Colorado brings several options on how to handle the cold. You can either huddle up by the fireplace with some hot cocoa or bundle up in your best winter gear and brave one of the various outdoor adventures Colorado offers.

        Winter Activities are here.

        Regardless of your chosen winter activities, now is a good time to re-evaluate your current insurance policies to be certain that you, your home and your belongings are protected during these cold months.

        Homeowners Insurance & Liability Coverage. Whether its heavy snow fall, frozen pipes, or slippery sidewalks – winter is bound to deliver unpredictable weather that can lead to accidents and mishaps. Talk with your insurance agent today to be certain that the policies you have in place will protect your home and the guests you welcome into it.

        Recreational Vehicle Insurance. Time to stow away the boat and dust off the snowmobile. Typically, both of these vehicles are not covered under standard home and auto insurance. If your current policy does not extend to recreational vehicles, it is important to secure additional coverage. If you’re tempted to cancel the boat insurance for the winter, you may want to think again. Any threats of theft, damage or repairs still exist during the off-season, and you’ll be sure to want your insurance coverage if those threats become a reality.

        Fire Insurance. While most homeowners insurance will provide coverage for your home and belongings in the event of a fire, it is a good idea to know exactly how much coverage your policy provides and what coverage it doesn’t. You don’t want a cozy night around the fire to turn into a homeowner’s nightmare.

        avoid the teen driving drama

        Call Insurance Town & Country today and speak with one of our insurance professionals. We can discuss the needs of your teenage drivers and which insurance policies are best for them. We have offices in Denver (303–388-7216) and Castle Rock (303–688-1251). Call us today to schedule your consultation!

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          Avoid the Teen Driving Drama

          Avoid the Teen Driving Drama

          For the parents of teenage children, the joy of September’s “Back to School” can also bring with it the fears of having your teen hit the highway. It’s a milestone that both parent and child look forward to: the day when your child is old enough to drive. No more carpooling for Mom. No more chauffeur duties for Dad and the seemingly unrestricted freedom for child.

          However, that freedom definitely comes with responsibility, and as a parent it is important to discuss such responsibility with your child. Even with the best insurance policy, coverage can only go so far. Having an open, honest, and informed conversation is the best way to get your teen driver to maturely embrace their new driving independence.

          Privilege vs. Right. While it’s a normal “rite” of passage for many sixteen year old to get their driver’s license, it is definitely not a guaranteed “right.” To obtain your license, let alone have a car to drive, is indeed a big privilege that not all young adults are privy too. It is important that your child does not take this for granted.

          Real Talk. While people love to refer to their automobiles as “toys” — they are anything but. The cause of over 30,000 deaths per year, a car can be a dangerous luxury and should be treated with the utmost respect and responsibility. It’s important to remember that car insurance can only go so far to protect you in the chance of an accident.

          Mutual Understandings. The “Rules of the Road” are meant to be followed. Period. Whether it’s speeding, texting while driving, drunk driving, or even “distracted” driving — discussing with your teen the expectations and, perhaps most importantly, the consequences of these rules is necessary for both preparing and protecting your child.

          Have a Little Faith. You’ve prepped, warned, and maybe even (slightly) shocked your child about what it means to obtain their driver’s license. Now it’s time for you to trust your child. Trust that you’ve taught them well. Trust that they’ve listened. And trust that will develop into both mature drivers and mature people.

          avoid the teen driving drama

          Call Insurance Town & Country today and speak with one of our insurance professionals. We can discuss the needs of your teenage drivers and which insurance policies are best for them. We have offices in Denver (303–388-7216) and Castle Rock (303–688-1251). Call us today to schedule your consultation!

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            Back-to-school insurance quotes

            • Open Lowry article - Published by: Living Well in Lowry by neighbors, for neighbors (serving Lowry since 2002)
            • This article is a transcription from the Lowry newsletter by

            Insurance Town and Country: Denver’s Family Owned Insurance Broker

            As a homeowner or business owner, it’s rarely a favorite topic to discuss. It’s hardly ever the first thing you like to spend your money on, and at the same time it’s always a good idea to buy some. We’re talking about insurance.

            Joan Burkett, owner of Insurance Town and Country, says, “It’s the thing you hate to buy, but you’ll love the fact that you have it when something happens.”

            Residential Umbrella InsuranceInsurance Town and Country is a family-owned insurance business serving us in the town (Denver Metro area) and those in the country, specifically the Castle Rock area, since 1997. They are an independent insurance broker business that can shop more than 25 companies to find the best rate for your personal situation.

            Back in 1983, Joan’s husband Norman begged her to get licensed so she could help run his insurance office in Kittredge. She really didn’t want to at first because she didn’t think it was her thing. At the same time, she knew her husband was quite the sales guy and she had a knack for explaining things to people. Maybe Norm was on to something after all?

            The following decade or so proved to be trying at times, but kept Joan and her family on their toes as they rode out the ups and downs of various agencies and insurance firms. Joan is a firm believer in God and she believes everything happens for a reason. “While insurance is not my passion, it helps fund my passions. I’m truly blessed with this opportunity to support myself and help my community.”

            Joan joined forces with her middle son Jeremy in 1997, and shortly thereafter Norman passed away in 1999. Joan and Jeremy’s partnership became a blessing in disguise for her while they both mourned his loss. Jeremy wasn’t easily convinced to join the insurance business either, but it didn’t take long for them to become the perfect business partners. Jeremy’s dream at the time was a career in the NFL. After two years with the New York Giants, though, he returned home with his Mom to get things started. “it’s easier on his knees, ” jokes Joan.

            How is Insurance Town and Country different from other agencies?

            Well, someone will always answer the phone! There’s no 800 number here, it’s personal and we care. Nicole, our account manager, is amazing! If I could clone her, I would,” explains Joan.

            When you visit Joan and Jeremy for the first time, they’ll give you a broad brush review of your individual situation. “We look to see how we can save you money. We can help you understand your current coverage by explaining what you already have. And, sometimes, we even assure you that you’re best off staying put where you are.”

            Now that summer vacation is almost over, some of you will be sending kids off to college and taking an inventory of your current policies.

            Here are some things Insurance Town and Country can help you evaluate this fall.

            Did you know if your child goes to college more than 100 miles from home and does not take a car, you can save money?

            denver insurance choicesHave you considered insuring your child’s big-ticket items that he or she is taking to college?

            • When we went away to school, we may have taken a record player, or a stereo and microwave, but kids today take flat screen TC and laptops.

            Do you understand your healthcare plan? 

            • It’s no secret that the current healthcare system is very difficult for the average person to understand. Let Insurance Town and Country help you navigate the paperwork to determine what you’re really covered for.

            When was the last time you reviewed your coverage and/or your insurance carrier?

            • Joan and Jeremy encourage you to review your policies every three years (not sooner). It’s always a good idea to see how your life and needs change over time, but don’t change providers too often. The next guy might decide not to cover you at all, or you could lose valuable renewal credits.

            Have you recently gotten married?

            • You could save 20% on your insurance by combining your policies under one company.

            How can you pay just one deductible the next time it hails?

            • Make sure your home and auto is on one policy so the next time we have a major story, you only make one claim and pay one deductible for the repairs.

            Yes, insurance companies can be difficult, but you have to be at a place where you can trust your agent and your insurance company. Insurance is not simple so who you choose for an agent does matter. We are invested in getting you a good deal and we want you to have a good claim experience,” explains Joan.

            Insurance Town and Country provides a level of customer service and personal care that the larger companies simply  cannot. While it’s not a buttoned-up office, it’s Colorado-casual by design. They’re approachable and they understand the broad range of their clients, from the young to old.

            We’re small enough to know your name, but we’re big enough to meet your needs,” explains Joan.

            For more information on Insurance Town and Country, visit, or give them a call at 303–388-7216.

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              Weather Hazards in High Country while having Drive in Snow

              Winter Driving help

              Be prepared for hazards you may not see

              Drive in SnowWhile most of us are enjoying the early onset of spring here in Denver, the weather conditions in the high country can be unpredictable during this time of year. The chance of extreme winds, pelting rain, and blinding snow is constantly knocking at the door most especially while having a drive in snow. Even the most experienced drivers can be tested by Mother Nature’s power during a winter storm.

              In order to protect yourself, your passengers, and all vehicles on the road, we suggest these simple tips when driving in fickle mountainous climates:

              • Keep an Emergency Kit on hand. This should include at least the basics of a blanket, boots, shovel, flashlight, and some nonperishable food items.
              • Don’t slam on the brakes. Use a “toe tapping” approach when you are planning to stop or turn, especially if the roads are wet or icy.
              • Maintain a steady speed. No need to stop suddenly or speed up too quickly.
              • Stay the course if you are skidding. Your “locked” wheels will take the lead; follow this lead. Do not steer away or try to brake.

              Despite your best efforts, an accident may still occur while on a mountain trip. If you find yourself in a crash, keep in mind the following action steps. These will help to keep everyone safe while on a drive in snow and assist in letting Insurance Town and Country work through any necessary claims.

              • Don’t stress. While it may be natural to get worked up, or even start thinking irrationally, it is important to stay calm and maintain composure. Stay at the scene (but out of the way), and be sure to utilize your warning lights or road flares to alert other drivers.
              • Call 911. This is a job for the professionals. Let them do what they do best.
              • Reach out to Insurance Town and Country ASAP. Letting your insurance company know about the accident immediately will help speed up any possible resolutions.
              • Maintain innocence. Keep any ‘blame game’ comments limited to your conversation with the police and your automotive insurance company.
              • Obtain contact information. Be sure to exchange names, phone numbers, and even email addresses with any other drivers or witnesses involved.
              • Take photographs. Pictures are very useful when a claim is being settled.
              • Verify the other driver’s insurance is in effect. You can do this by calling the # on their ID card.

              Call Insurance Town & Country today and speak with one of our insurance professionals. Let us help you navigate the hazardous roads of life and work to keep your insurance costs down. We have offices in Denver (303–388-7216) and Castle Rock (303–688-1251).  Call us today to schedule your consultation!

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