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5 Tips for Financial Security

With all the financial gurus and money experts on the internet and television it can be easy to get confused by all the different advice and tips. Basic financial advice is very simple though and can benefit anyone, regardless of age or other factors. 1. Living within your means is possibly the soundest...

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5 Tips for Financial Security

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With all the financial gurus and money experts on the internet and television it can be easy to get confused by all the different advice and tips. Basic financial advice is very simple though and can benefit anyone, regardless of age or other factors.

1. Living within your means is possibly the soundest piece of advice there is. Spending more than you make is the fastest way to get into a vicious cycle of debt. There are usually a number of ways to reduce living costs without major sacrifice such as getting rid of cable, carpooling to work or taking the bus and cutting back on outings. Making more money will allow you to enjoy more luxuries, so consider asking for a raise or searching for a part-time job if certain conveniences are important to you.

2. Set a realistic budget and stick to it. Be brutally honest about how much you make and do not include bonuses when figuring out what you have to live on every month, as well as what you actually spend instead of what you should spend. Adhering to this budget will require tracking expenses and the willpower to avoid spending more than you have allowed for. There a number of free online programs to help you track your spending and will provide monthly breakdowns to boot.

3. Pay off all of your debt as fast as possible. It is much better to make some small sacrifices for a few months or years than to be stuck paying high interest rates for decades. Calling creditors may result in lowering interest rates or getting better loan terms on anything from credit cards to student loans to mortgages.

4. Save as much of your money as you can. A healthy savings account provides financial security even when times are tough and can help make money through interest accrued on the balance. It is a good idea to have a reserve fund for emergencies such as car or home repairs in a separate account from the regular savings account. Ideally everyone will have enough saved to pay for their expenses for six months or more in case of unemployment.

5. Keeping accurate financial records is one of the most important financial tips. These can be used to dispute fake charges or help with taxes as well as helping people plan for their future. Documents such as bank statements, tax returns, investment records and receipts should be kept in a safe and secure space and organized by year for easy reference.

Travel Insurance Tips

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Travel insurance can be a valuable asset in case you have an unexpected event occur during the time that you have allotted for your vacation. It can also help decrease your stress level by allowing you to know that if your trip is interrupted, you will not be terribly inconvenienced or lose all of the money that you have spent on non-refundable items. However, before spending money on travel insurance, follow a few basic steps to get the best deal.

Shop Around

When you are discussing your travel arrangements with a travel agent, inquire as to the cost of travel insurance. Check with multiple agents and use price comparison sites to find the best deal. You can also use travel insurance that is not affiliated with your travel agent, the airline or any other company that is involved with your current travel arrangements.

Check the Coverage

Each travel insurance policy is different from the others. Some travel insurance covers the cost of a new flight, while others may simply reimburse you for the ticket if you have to unexpectedly cancel your trip. Other policies cover fees associated with trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage insurance and health coverage. One type of policy may be more affordable than another, but may offer less coverage. Another good idea is to read the fine print of the coverage to find out about any exceptions. Some coverage is only available if you cancel your trip within a specific amount of time from the departure date. Other policies require that you have a medical emergency or death in the family for the policy to be covered. Other policies provide insurance coverage if the United States State Department announces a travel warning. Other policies are only valid if a terrorist attack occurs in the country that you are visiting. You should be aware of any restrictions on coverage before purchasing it since one type of coverage may not be applicable in your case while another policy is more sensible for the particular type of coverage that you want.

Check Your Existing Coverage

If you have certain types of financial instruments or memberships, you may already be covered. Most credit cards will reimburse you for the cost of an airline ticket if you are unable to take your flight. Auto clubs and certain credit cards also offer free travel insurance.

Follow these tips before you get travel insurance to ensure that you get just the right policy.

Car Rental Insurance Tips

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Renting a car can be quite an event since you need to determine the type of vehicle you want, educate yourself about rates per mile and know exactly what is included in the price you’re paying each day or week. You shouldn’t leave the rental counter or sign the papers without knowing about rental insurance. Before you decide to purchase rental insurance coverage from the company, know the types of coverage and whether or not you are protected by your current policy.

The two most common types of coverage available are collision damage waivers, which are known as CDWs, and loss damage waivers, which are LDWs. The LDW is designed to protect you if the car gets stolen or vandalized while in your possession. Hitting an animal such as a deer may also fall under the types of coverage that the LDW offers. CDW is necessary to cover damages to the car in the event that you get into an accident with another vehicle.

You may also opt to get a coverage add-on in case your original automobile insurance policy doesn’t have enough liability coverage. The extra coverage will make up for any gaps that occur if you do unfortunately get into an accident. If you carry the minimum limits on your current policy you may want to purchase an add-on, especially if the vehicle you’re renting is worth significantly more than your personal car, truck, SUV or van.

You can also decide to purchase PEC or personal effects coverage. It is also known as personal property insurance and will pay for anything that gets lost or stolen from your vehicle during the rental period. Most automobile insurance companies do not have this in their policies.

Before you take a trip and decide to buy any type of rental coverage, whether buying though an outside agency or through the rental company, educate yourself completely about what types of coverage you have through your own automobile insurance company. Your credit card company may also provide their own coverage that you can utilize and apply to the rental car policy if the need comes up while traveling.

Make the Most of Your Health Insurance Policy

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Most Americans pay a hefty premium for their health insurance coverage each month. In 2011, the average monthly premium paid per family was $414. Individual coverage had an average monthly cost of $183. Statistics show that insurance costs are rising. Since health insurance is likely a large portion of your monthly budget, it is important to utilize your policy to its full extent.

Understand Your Deductible

Many health insurance plans include a deductible. Your deductible is the total sum that is your responsibility to pay before your insurance company begins to cover costs. The deductible is reset every year, so it is wise to schedule your procedures to minimize your out of pocket costs. For example, let’s say your family has a deductible of $2,000. In January, your daughter breaks her leg, and your $2,000 deductible is met in that first month. Since your deductible has already been completed, it is wise to go ahead and schedule any elective procedures or medical tests in that same calendar year.

Check Your Prescription Drug Coverage

When you pick up your next prescription from the pharmacy, it is easy to be shocked by the price of the drugs. Your insurance company likely has a list of preferred drugs, and these drugs are available at a lower co-pay. You can save even more money by switching to generic drugs. At your next appointment, ask your doctor if a generic equivalent of your medication is available, and if that generic drug would meet your needs. Generics are normally available at less than 50 percent of the cost of brand-name drugs.

Take Advantage of Plan Perks

You probably receive a big chunk of paperwork from your insurance company when you complete the enrollment process each year. However, most consumers do not take the time to read and understand everything that is offered by their plan. When you are considering any health-related expense, contact your insurance company and see if any options are available. For instance, many insurance plans now cover the cost of breast pumps for nursing moms. Some insurance companies even partially reimburse the cost of your gym membership. If massage therapy is prescribed by your doctor, your insurance might reimburse the cost of massage sessions or chiropractor visits.

Take a few minutes to read through your insurance documents, then contact the company if you have any questions. You are paying for your health insurance coverage, so make sure that you are utilizing all the benefits of your insurance plan.

Tips for Lowering Your Car Insurance Rates

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There are many factors that go into the price you pay for auto insurance, such as your geographic location, your vehicle, your age and your driving record. Many of the things that determine your auto insurance rates can’t be changed, but there are several things you can do to get the best deal possible. Here are some tips on lowering your car insurance rates.

Shop Around

A good rule of thumb is to request quotes from at least three car insurance companies. Be sure to request quotes for the same types of coverage among all of the companies so that you are accurately comparing the companies’ rates. An insurance company’s quote is not necessarily the best deal just because it is the cheapest. Evaluate the quotes carefully to make sure that they all offer you the coverage and benefits that you need.

Ask About Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts for things like insuring multiple vehicles, low mileage, loyalty to the company, having a good driving record, being a good student, corporate affiliations and even for setting up full or automatic payments. Ask about these discounts to see if you qualify for any, and you may find yourself paying less for your car insurance premiums.

No Extras

If you are really looking to reduce your insurance rates, a good way to start is by reducing your coverage. You may be paying extra for towing, roadside assistance or even rental car assistance. These coverage options are often not worth the extra expense, and if you have a new car, its warranty may already provide these benefits. Additionally, if you are driving an older car that is quickly losing its value, you may want to consider dropping your collision coverage.

Let Teens Use the Family Car

If your teenager has a driving permit or license, let the teenager share your car. If this is possible, your family will save a lot on car insurance because teenagers are very expensive to ensure. Your insurance rates will go up when you have a teenager with a permit or a license living with you, so be sure to tell your insurance agent if he or she goes away to college or earns good grades. These things can earn you discounts on your insurance rates.

Picking the Right Life Insurance Policy

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There is nothing that could be more important to the longevity of the family then picking the right life insurance policy. The right life insurance policy will facilitate the passing on of assets to descendents and other dependents no matter what the terms of death, and can even serve as a buffer to the incredible tax burden that people incur at the point of passing.

There are many different types of life insurance policies, each available for people in certain situations – those with a great deal of children, and those with only one or two. There also life insurance policies for those who have no children, or for those who want to leave money to other people. Below are some of the tips on which life insurance policy to pick based on your individual situation.

– How much money you have

If you have above $3.5 million in total assets, including real estate, you will definitely want to look at a particular kind of life insurance policy that protects assets above this arbitrary marker. Above this marker, the tax burden for passing on assets becomes a great deal more heavy, and so you definitely want to make sure to protect your assets from Uncle Sam by picking a life insurance policy that deals with high net worth clients.

– How many dependents you have

Depending on how many ways you’re going to split up your assets, you will want different types of life insurance policies for that. It also depends on how old your dependents are – if they are risk averse and do not have a great deal of time to manage their assets, you may want to pick a life insurance policy that has an annuity. However, if you know that your children are studying the market and are very likely to want to manage their assets themselves, then you may want to put your assets in a freer financial vehicle such as a money market account or individual securities.

– Your timeframe

Even though you want to set up your term life insurance policy before you even have notions of unnatural death, you can change your life insurance policy to fit differing situations as you age. When you are young and healthy, and you are raising your kids, you can fashion your life insurance policy simply to pay out in case of an accident. However, as you get older, you will want to reduce the risk associated with your life insurance policy so that your beneficiaries can get the maximum out of payment.

Financial Tips to Survive Unemployment

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Losing your paycheck wreaks havoc on the family budget, but you are not without help. Food, utilities and medicine are crucial for you to maintain good health and look for work. These financial tips will help you to survive unemployment by providing resources for food, medical and utility assistance.

Food

Food accounts for approximately 20 percent of a family’s budget. Applying for food stamps, now called SNAP, is easier today than it was years ago. You can apply online from the privacy of your home and then follow-up with a phone interview. The amount of aid varies depending on your needs.

To feed your family while awaiting a decision from SNAP, visit local food banks. Some churches and many private charities offer bags of food to struggling singles and families. You may have to visit several to get enough food for one week, but your loved ones will have a hot meal on the table.

Visit your children’s school to enroll them in the free breakfast and lunch program. This takes care of 10 meals every week.

A senior losing a job that supplemented social security has two choices. Contact your local Meals on Wheels to find out about the free or reduced price lunch and dinner. In addition, your community senior center might offer a free hot lunch every day.

Medical

When people lose their jobs, they frequently lose their health insurance at the same time. Pharmacies have programs that provide a discount on prescriptions for the uninsured. Some programs give discounts on other items the pharmacy sells.

If you are already established with a doctor, he might reduce the office fee to an affordable amount. If not, then visit the county health department for treatment with a sliding scale fee structure.

Hospital bills can seem daunting when your finances barely keep a roof over your head. Contact the hospital administrator, as many charities work directly with him to pay the bills of people in need. The business office may not be aware of charity programs.

Utilities

Local, state and federal government programs help to pay utility bills. Additionally, private charities might pay all, or up to a specified dollar amount, toward electric or winter heating bills.

Contact the utility company before you get shut off. You might be able to lower your monthly expense with budget billing, or perhaps another program they offer. Some utilities have a donor fund to pay customer bills.