We are coming up on that time of year again. No, not the holidays – I’m talking about tax season.
Trends from the last 10 years show that on average, about 80 percent of Americans receive a federal income tax refund each year, averaging around $2,800.
That’s no small sum, and if you are due a refund, it’s not too soon to start thinking about what you will do with the extra cash. While it’s tempting to think about a luxurious vacation or a new flat-screen TV, it might be wiser to put your tax refund toward some budget-friendly, credit-friendly alternatives.
Here are some smart money moves you can make with your tax refund.
1. Bolster your savings
According to a 2017 GoBankingRates survey, 57 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings, and 39 percent have no savings at all. A general rule of thumb when it comes to savings is to set aside enough to cover at least three to six months’ of expenses in case of an emergency situation (like unexpected job loss or a medical emergency).
This year, consider stashing away a chunk of your tax refund in a high-interest savings account. Not only is your money safely tucked away in case you need it, it continues to grow.
2. Invest in the market
Investing in the stock market is a riskier move than opening a savings account, but if you already have a decent savings cushion, investing could be a worthwhile option. The stock market generally offers much higher returns on your money over the long term (although it’s not always consistent). There are a lot of investing options depending on your financial goals and risk tolerance, such as individual stocks and index funds.
3. Invest in yourself and your family
If you have been looking to improve your career prospects, now might be the time. Consider furthering your education through online courses, new certifications or other professional development opportunities. You could also use your tax refund towards startup costs for your own small business. Or, if you have kids, you may want to consider starting a college fund if you haven’t already.
4. Buy insurance
You never know when you will need the protection that insurance offers. If you have holes in your insurance coverage, whether life, home, auto, or medical, consider filling them now. In many cases, you can do so for a relatively low cost. For instance, for about $200-$400, you can purchase an umbrella liability policy that protects you in case someone is injured in your home or car.
5. Pay off debt
Before you do anything else with your tax refund, your first priority should be paying off any high-interest revolving debt you’re carrying. If your tax refund will not cover the whole amount of your debt, you can at least make a dent in it. If you are paying 18 percent interest on credit card debt, collecting minimal interest on money sitting in a savings account doesn’t make much sense. Plus, if you need to fix your credit score, paying off your debt is a major step towards repairing your credit.
Investing your tax refund wisely can be a big step in improving your financial and credit situation for the future. If your credit has been damaged in the past and you’re in need of credit repair company, the legal professionals at Lexington Law Firm can help. Contact us today to learn all of the ways we can help you improve your credit.
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Low interest banking accounts are all too common. You can make just pennies on your money. But with an account from a company called Aspiration, you can finally say no to those measly interest rates — and earn a sign up bonus, too.
But you know what feels even better sometimes? Saying no.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
You can get started in just a few clicks to see if you’re overpaying online.
1. Say No to Expensive Car Insurance and Save $489/Year
The problem is, you’re paying too much. Luckily, an insurance company called Policygenius makes it easy to find out how much you’re overpaying. It finds you cheaper policies and special discounts in minutes.
The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.
2. Say No to Paying Full Price and Save $1,825 This Year
Saying yes can feel really good.
If you owe your credit card companies ,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.
Just answer a few questions about your home to see how much money you’re wasting.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to ,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.
So, how’s an extra 0 and 16 times the average interest sound? For free? Seriously. Aspiration will give you 0 just for opening a new debit card.
AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
In fact, it saves users an average of 0 a year — or .50 a month. It’ll even help you break up with your old insurance company. (You’re allowed to cancel your policy at any time, and your company should issue you a refund.)
3. Say No to Paying Your Credit Card Company
Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of 9 a year.
This isn’t something you actively think about — you just know you’re required to have it. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Let’s say you’re shopping for a new TV, and you assume you’ve found the best price. Here’s when you’ll get a pop up letting you know if that exact TV is available elsewhere for cheaper. If there are any available coupon codes, they’ll also automatically be applied to your order.
Yup. That could be 0 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.
4. Say No to Low Interest Banking Accounts and Get $100
Saying no is powerful. Saying no is a statement. And saying no can save you a ton of money. Just how much? It depends on how often you can say no to these situations:
But Aspiration makes it simple. To earn your 0, here’s all you need to do: Open your Aspiration account and deposit at least . Then set up and receive three direct deposits of at least 0 each from your paycheck or government benefits. That’s it! Then just wait for your check.
That’s exactly what this free service does. It says no for you.
You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.
You’re probably wasting money right now. And it’s probably on something you’d never expect — your homeowners insurance policy.
Enter your email address here, and link your bank account. And don’t worry. Your money is FDIC insured and under a military-grade encryption. That’s nerd talk for “this is totally safe.”
5. Say No to Getting Ripped Off By Your Home Insurance Company and Save $690/Year
Your credit card company is getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates. But a website called AmOne wants to help you say no to those insane interest payments.
Using it’s savings estimate tool, you could save between 5 and ,825 every single year, depending on how many online purchases you make.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you got an alert when you’re shopping online at Target and are about to overpay?
And just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean you’re skimping on coverage. Policygenius will make sure you have what you need.
When’s the last time you checked car insurance prices? Try shopping now and say no to your overpriced car insurance policy.
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Sure, a lot of debit cards offer sign-up bonuses throughout the year, but they often require you to jump through hoops with minimum requirements that feel impossible to hit. You can say yes to a new job, yes to a proposal, yes to more freshly grated parmesan on top of your pasta. A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.
Even better? Your debit card gets you up to 10% cash back on your purchases and can earn you 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars when they switch home insurance companies using SmartFinancial. Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
So if you want to know for sure that you’re not being ripped off by your insurance company, compare your options with help from Smart Financial. It takes just minutes to get started here.
To see if you’re overpaying for your home insurance policy, check outa website called SmartFinancial. It’s a digital marketplace where you can get quotes and compare rates from multiple top-rated insurance carriers to make sure you’re getting the best price. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
But if you’re not thinking about your insurance, it also means you don’t know if you’re being overcharged for it. But here’s the thing: You don’t need to be. And it’s easy to find out. <!–
Get the Penny Hoarder Daily If you’re a homeowner, you probably have home insurance, but you hardly ever think about it. That’s good — it means you haven’t needed to use it. Ready to stop worrying about money?
It takes just two minutes to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all your options side-by-side. Yep — you can save hundreds on your home insurance in only a couple minutes.
Insurance helps make life less risky. Insurance gives people the chance to be free and minimize risks along the way. The basic principle behind insurance is simple, but the inner workings of an insurance policy can get confusing. Here is a basic breakdown of what insurance is, how it works, and its essential parts.
Insurance is a contract between an individual and an insurer where the insurer promises to give the person money if something bad happens. It’s a monetary safety net to catch you if you fall. Similar to a sudden drop, the first moments of an unexpected loss may be harrowing, but as insurance cushions the fall, you quickly find yourself comfortable and back on your feet.
The Different Kinds of Insurance
You can buy insurance for many different situations, but the most common forms of insurance are homeowners, auto, life and health.
Homeowners insurance policies put you in a position to get reimbursed if something happens to your home or what’s inside it. It can also cover expenses as a result of somebody getting injured on your property or by something that’s part of your property such as a tree branch or a piece of your home that gets blown off during a storm.
Auto insurance is similar to home insurance, but it covers you if something happens to your vehicle or as a result of you operating it. Auto insurance can help pay for repairs after an accident or the hospital bills incurred by you or someone else affected by an accident.
When you buy life insurance, you protect those left behind if you die. Your life insurance policy can give loved ones cash if you pass away and you can also use it to pay for your funeral expenses.
A health insurance policy helps cover the costs incurred when you get sick or injured. They are designed to pay for your hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, and other health-related costs.
How Insurance Works
You may have heard about some of the big payouts people get from insurance settlements even though they pay a relatively small amount each month. In some ways, it sounds like a deal that’s too good to be true for the consumer.
In reality, however, most people don’t have accidents on a regular basis, yet most pay insurance every month. For example, only around 6% of homeowners file a claim each year. The money the insurance company has to pay out is offset by the fact that they don’t have to pay anything to the other 94% of their customers.
The Three Key Components of Insurance: Premiums, Policy Limits, and Deductibles
An insurance policy has many small components—all of which are designed to keep the consumer or their investment safer. Each piece can fit into one of three boxes: the premium, the policy’s limits, and the deductible.
An insurance premium is what you pay for coverage. It is typically a set amount each year and gets divided into payments made on a monthly basis. For example, if your annual home insurance premium is $1,200, you would pay $100 each month.
The premium often can increase from year-to-year to compensate for the effects of inflation or the increased risk of accidents resulting in insurance claims.
The insured individual pays one premium that covers all aspects of the insurance policy. For example, if your homeowners insurance covers your house, garage and personal possessions, you pay one premium to cover all those things. The premium goes up or down based on how much coverage you need.
While many insurance plans are similar, you can custom-design your plan to fit your needs. To do this, you can add endorsements. An endorsement gives you the freedom to make changes to your policy. You can inquire about which endorsements are possible by reaching out to your insurance broker. You can use it to change relatively small things, like the wording, or to add stuff you want covered.
For example, if you have a wedding ring or other valuable jewelry, you can get an endorsement that can help you get reimbursed if they are damaged or stolen. You can do the same for a computer, artwork, silverware or virtually anything else in your home. The amount you get if something is stolen or damaged depends on your policy’s limits.
Each category of coverage is covered up to a certain dollar amount, known as the policy limit. For example, if your home insurance policy covers your home for up to $300,000 and you suffer a loss in the amount of $250,000, you’re all set. On the other hand, if the loss comes up to $320,000, you are only going to get $300,000 from your insurance company; the rest will have to come out of pocket.
Each category on the policy—dwelling, other structures, personal property or each endorsement—has its own limit. For example, if your jewelry is insured for $10,000, you can get up to $10,000 if it’s stolen. If the loss is bigger than that, you can’t take from your dwelling coverage, for example.
The deductible is what you pay up front before the insurance company gives you any money. For instance, if your deductible is $500, and you get a payout of $20,000, you will only get $19,500. You have to come out of pocket for the other $500. If you agree to pay a higher deductible, you can save on the cost of your premium. By the same token, policies with lower deductibles often have higher premiums. Learn more about deductibles, here.
How Homie Insurance™* Can Help
With insurance, you can mitigate most of the financial risks of life. In a world that sometimes seems full of unpleasant surprises, you don’t have to worry; you’re covered.
When you get insurance through Homie Insurance, you can say goodbye to annoying conflicts of interest and hello to savings. Most insurance companies promote their own products—even if it’s not what’s best for your needs. We recommend the plan that best fits your situation and helps you save some dough along the way. If you want to get more information about insurance through Homie Insurance, check this out.
Read More About Insurance
What is a Deductible? How to Choose an Insurance Company
One weekend last fall, I was checking out a real estate listing on realtor.com of a cute 19th-century house near a creek. But underneath this idyllic photo, I noticed two words in small, blue print, “Flood Factor,” followed by a number,10/10.
Alarmed, I delved deeper, and learned that this property’s flood risk was as high as it gets.
I texted my real estate agent, who’d sent me this listing: “Let’s skip this one. I don’t want to live in a flood zone.”
Still, our house hunt had been going from bad to worse all summer. Our quest for a second home in upstate New York had stalled, as the ongoing pandemic sent droves of home buyers into the market. A new listing would hit, our real estate agent would book a showing for a day or two later, and by the time we were driving to see the property, I’d learn there was already an accepted offer.
On this particular weekend, this flood-prone house was near the one tour we’d scheduled.
“We’ll be so close to it, why not just swing by?” my agent asked.
I agreed. After all, what did we have to lose?
Buying a house in a flood zone: Is it worth the risk?
This house was a charmer and then some: an 1870s homestead with three fireplaces, wide-board floors, a beautifully renovated kitchen, and a roomy addition that meant more space for our family. Outside, the creek burbled, filling the house with sounds of nature. In the yard, a hummingbird darted to and fro, a frog hopped in the water, and butterflies circled about. It was like a scene from “Enchanted,” a Disney movie come to life.
In short order, my husband and I huddled with our real estate agent, deciding how much to offer for the house. As for the flooding, we were provided with a massive file of information about bridge and dam improvements that diminished the flood risk, as well as documentation of what the sellers had done to safeguard the property from rising water.
We learned the house had indeed flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But, we wondered, who on the East Coast hadn’t felt the impact of that devastating event?
My husband pored over the property’s survey, noting the elevations of the yard, basement, and house, and then cross-referenced that with historic flood data on high tidal surges. He felt we were OK, so onward we went.
Getting the flood insurance facts
As we progressed toward closing the sale, we became acquainted with the ins and outs of flood insurance, which our bank required to approve our mortgage.
Flood insurance is similar to other insurance coverage: The lower your deductible (what you pay out of pocket to fix problems before insurance kicks in), the higher your premium (what you pay for the insurance). Once an insurance broker laid out our options, it was clear that our property would run several thousand dollars a year.
My husband and I thought long and hard about the numbers. The additional cost of flood insurance at a time of historically low mortgage rates seemed like a decent trade-off. We paid the first year of flood insurance upfront, and then had the next year’s premium rolled into our monthly mortgage payment. This assured the bank that we were committed to ongoing coverage through the life of our loan.
Blame it on the rain
We closed on the house just before the holidays. Feeling safe and snug, we were so happy to be in our little haven in the country. Up went a Christmas tree, which one of our sons had chopped down himself a few miles from our new home. Down came snow, lots of it. The house looked so pretty, frosted in white, and the yard was carpeted in snow drifts.
But this bucolic scene took a turn for the worse, and fast.
The weather service announced there would be torrential rain on Christmas Day. In addition, temperatures would be unseasonably warm, in the 50s, causing all the snow to melt and run off. Flood watches and warnings were issued.
At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about wrapping the last of the holiday gifts and sliding them under the tree. Instead, I was anxiously imagining how the next day might unfold.
The next day: unrelenting rain and temperatures warm enough to melt every inch of snow.
In the back of our yard, where the creek merged with another stream, we noticed that we had less yard. The water was overflowing its normal boundaries and advancing toward the house. My husband stuck a measuring stick in the ground. We watched and waited.
By midafternoon on Christmas Day, about half of our yard was under a few inches of water. My plans for a gazebo by the rear property line were clearly dashed, as that area turned out to be semiaquatic. We realized we were in only a flood watch (meaning potential danger), not a full-on flood warning (which basically means prepare to evacuate).
We held our breath—the creek surged, and retreated.
Making peace with major risk
We had Christmas dinner in our new home, overlooking a very soggy scene outside. What had we gotten ourselves into? More than we’d bargained for, that’s true. We are going to live with a layer of uncertainty and worry about rising waters that we’ve never had before.
But then again, we’ve never before experienced the joy of opening our windows and listening to a babbling brook. Or seeing all kinds of ducks come bobbing through our backyard. Or catching trout 10 feet from our kitchen.
We rolled the dice, and so far, we’re keeping our heads and hopes well above water.
“Do I need car insurance?” That’s an easy “yes, whether because of state law or just financial protection.
“How much car insurance do I need?” That can be trickier to answer.
Do I Really Need Car Insurance?
Car insurance, like health and life insurance, is necessary to ensure you can cover costs from small inconveniences like fender benders to a major accident that results in total loss and injuries. While the monthly premium may be unattractive, you’re better safe than sorry when it comes to your vehicle.
For starters, all states but Virginia and New Hampshire legally require residents to carry insurance. Virginians can avoid carrying insurance for an annual fee of $500 paid to the Department of Motor Vehicles. To be clear, the fee doesn’t get them anything in the event of an accident but prevents them from facing fines and license suspension.
New Hampshirites aren’t messing around with their “Live Free or Die” motto. No car insurance is required in the Granite State, however, in the event of an accident, the responsible driver is on the hook for all property damage and bodily injury fees, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the accident. The same is true in Virginia.
So what happens if you cause an accident resulting in property damage, injury to someone else or yourself, or even someone’s death — and you have no insurance? While Virginians and New Hampshirites don’t face the same fines and license suspension risks as residents in other states, all drivers should be concerned about their financial welfare. If you are deemed responsible for the accident and subsequent injuries, your assets (house, car, savings) can be seized and your wages can be garnished until you have paid off your debts.
In short: Driving without insurance can lead to financial ruin. Don’t risk it.
How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?
The easy answer: Most drivers should get full coverage, which typically includes liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist, and collision/comprehensive. However, the combination of insurance types (including extended coverage options) and the amount of each that you buy and the deductibles can vary greatly.
Consider four factors when making this decision:
What is your car’s value?
What are your driving habits?
Where do you live?
How much can you afford to pay out of pocket?
Someone who has a car that is worth less than the gas in the tank does not need coverage on their own vehicle because any repair is likely not worth the deductible. Someone who works from home or lives in a two-car household can probably forego rental reimbursement. Folks in the 31 states that only require liability can consider skipping all other car insurance coverage. And those with an emergency savings account can go with a high-deductible plan.
Let’s explore the types of car insurance coverage to determine what you may need — and how much.
Types of Car Insurance Coverage
In many states, liability insurance represents the bare-minimum coverage required. It does not provide for your own auto repair costs and/or hospital bills, but it does cover any property damage or bodily injury that you cause in an accident.
Do I need it? Yes, everybody should carry liability insurance, regardless of whether your state requires it otherwise risk financial ruin.
How much liability insurance do I need? Experts recommend that you should purchase as much liability coverage as you can afford or at least enough to cover the total value of your assets/net worth. By doing this, your house, savings, etc. are protected in case you are at fault in an accident.
Liability insurance is typically described with three numbers representing dollar amounts, separated by slashes. For example, 50/100/50 or 100/300/100 (that’s $50,000, $100,000 and $50,000 or $100,000, $300,000 and $100,000 respectively). The first number is the per-person dollar amount limit for bodily injury liability; the second number is the per-accident limit for bodily injury liability; and the third number is the property damage liability limit. Again, liability insurance does not cover any of your bills; it is merely a way to protect your assets.
If you drive an older car, don’t own a home and have a modest savings account, you can probably get away with 50/100/50. However, most financial experts suggest that middle-income drivers opt for the 100/300/100 coverage.
Be aware of the price jump from bumping up from 50/100/50 (on average $6 a month) to 100/300/100 (on average $93 a month). But a difference of $87 a month could mean not going into massive debt to cover $150,000 of someone else’s medical bills.
Not as many states require uninsured motorist coverage and/or underinsured motorist coverage compared to those that require liability auto insurance, but it is still strongly recommended. Though it seems unfair, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is all about covering your medical bills and repair costs if another driver causes an accident but does not carry enough car insurance or any at all.
Do I need it? Even if your state doesn’t require it, you should carry this type of auto insurance coverage to protect your assets.
Collision and Comprehensive
Collision and comprehensive coverage are often combined depending on the way that your insurance company bundles policies.
Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle regardless of who is at fault. Collision coverage carries a deductible.
Comprehensive insurance also covers damage to your vehicle but when it is not being driven. Instead, comprehensive coverage is for damage to your vehicle from non-accidents: weather, vandalism, falling objects and even theft. Like collision coverage, comprehensive carries a deductible.
Do I need it? That depends. If you have a newer car that is worth repairing or replacing should something happen to it, you should carry collision and comprehensive. Comprehensive is especially important in areas prone to flooding or wildfires.
How much collision and comprehensive auto insurance do I need? When you opt in to collision and/or comprehensive, you will select a deductible that you are comfortable paying. The higher the deductible, the cheaper the coverage. You should opt for the highest possible deductible that you can afford.
A note on deductibles: To keep insurance costs down, opt for higher deductibles. This will save significant chunks of change each month. As a savvy Penny Hoarder, you should create an emergency savings account specifically for auto accidents. Once you have saved enough to cover the high deductible, you can pay lower monthly insurance premiums without worrying about how you’ll cover the deductible in the event of an accident.
As your car ages, you may be less likely to want to spend a significant amount to repair that vehicle. If your vehicle is at the point where you’d rather get rid of it (should something happen) than shell out $1,000 or more to fix it, then you can potentially drop collision and comprehensive altogether. Just note that in that case your insurance won’t cut you a check for totaling out your vehicle.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal injury protection (known as PIP) is legally required in some states and covers medical expenses, therapy, funerals, lost wages and even “substitute services” (think lawn care or childcare if an injury prevents you from carrying out typical responsibilities). PIP usually has a deductible.
Some auto insurance companies also offer medical payments coverage (called MedPay), which is similar in that it covers medical payments resulting from an accident.
Do I need it? If your state requires it but you have good health insurance, opt for the legally mandated bare minimum. If you have no health insurance, it could be a good idea. Opt out if your state does not require it and you have good health insurance and disability insurance.
Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP)
Guaranteed auto protection (known as GAP) protects your investment. If your newer car is totaled as the result of an accident or theft, collision and comprehensive coverage will only pay out the actual cash value of the vehicle. Because cars, trucks, and SUVs depreciate as soon as you drive them off the dealer lot and lose 20% of their value in the first year, you may end up owing more on a loan or lease than your comprehensive and collision coverage pay out. GAP insurance is there to, well, fill in the gaps.
Do I need it? Many lenders require you to carry GAP insurance if you have a loan or are leasing a vehicle. Once the vehicle is paid off, it is up to you if you want to continue GAP insurance.
Consider buying a used car with cash to avoid depreciation and to save money.
Along with the options above, most car insurance policies offer additional coverage that you should typically decline. Common options include:
Roadside assistance: If you have roadside assistance through your vehicle purchase or a program like AAA, you should decline.
Rental car reimbursement: Skip this coverage if you work from home, can temporarily carpool with a friend or family member or live in a two-vehicle household.
Personal item coverage: Don’t leave costly items unattended in your car even if it’s locked and you won’t need to worry about covering the cost if they are stolen.
Rideshare coverage: This covers drivers for services like Uber or Lyft, as the companies only offer protection when you have a customer in the vehicle. If you are in an accident while working but in between passengers, this coverage can help. It is not applicable to most drivers.
Looking for more ways to save on car insurance? Check out some of our tips for cutting costs on your auto insurance policy.
Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager, and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. He lives in Ohio with his fiance and their dog, Goomba.
Have you thought about how your family would manage without your income after you’re gone? That includes your cats and dogs. Chances are your checking account balance won’t last forever.
You might have dreams to buy a house one day — one with a nice big yard for your furry friend.
These days, our pets are such a huge comfort to us. They’re huge stress relievers and help keep us sane in these crazy times. Study after study shows pets help stave off loneliness and depression.
If you want to leave your family up to million to care of things like funeral expenses and college tuitions (and pet food), use something called term life insurance.
1. Save Money on Pet Food
How can you afford it? By lowering your bill for a different kind of insurance. For example, you’re probably paying too much for car insurance.
You don’t even need to leave your house to get a free quote from Bestow — it takes minutes. Instead of leaving your family with what’s in your checking account and a bucket of worries, they’ll be able to afford the life you’ve always wanted for them.
Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
2. Here’s How to Pay for Pet Insurance
To buy a house, you’ll need a good credit rating. It really makes a big difference. If you’re looking to get your credit score back on track — or even if it is on track and you want to bump it up — try using a free website called Credit Sesame.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
We recommend looking for plans with comprehensive coverage, so read the fine print and make sure the policy will cover what you might need. The best plans will cover everything from accidents to hereditary conditions to lab tests to emergency visits.
3. Have an Emergency Fund for You and Your Pet
A free website called Savvy helps you find the best car insurance rates in just 30 seconds. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer. It saves people an average of 6/year.
Anyone who has a dog or cat knows the value of taking a quick mental health break to go pet Rover or Fluffy. They’re little four-legged antidepressants. Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Owning a pet means you’re responsible for it. So it’s on you to act responsibly.
4. Does Your Dog Deserve Its Own Yard?
They do get a little expensive, though. Between pet food and vet bills, the cost of owning a cat or dog can quickly run into thousands of dollars. And these are tough economic times.
Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score, any debt-carrying accounts and a handful of personalized tips to improve your score. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
Or, do you buy your pet food online? This free service will send you an alert if you’re about to overpay. Just add it to your browser, and before you check out, it’ll check other websites to see if your item is available for cheaper. It’ll also automatically check for coupon codes you can use online.
You can take advantage of Bestow until you’re 54 years old, but the sooner you take care of this, the cheaper it could be. Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He has multiple cats and dogs.
5. Take Care of Your Pet Forever
You need a place where you can safely stash your savings away — but still earn money on it. A typical savings account won’t pay you any interest these days. But a debit card called Aspiration lets you earn up to 5% cash back and up to 16 times the average interest on the money in your account.
And they’ll be able to afford to feed Sparky and Muffin forever.
These days, part of responsibility is having an emergency fund. This past year has taught us the hard way that everyone should have one.
Here’s how pet insurance works: You pay a small monthly fee, and the insurance covers any big, qualifying vet bills you get in the future. Like all insurance, it’s a bit of a gamble, because you never know if you’ll really need it, but the chance of facing at least one expensive vet bill is pretty high.
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Pet owners spend hundreds of dollars a year on pet food. (How much exactly? It really depends on the pet.) You may as well be getting some money back. <!–
Some of the most popular pet insurance companies include Trupanion, HealthyPaws and Figo, if you want to start your research there! Do you buy your pet food at the grocery store? A free app called Fetch Rewards rewards you with gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart just for buying pet food and more than 250 other items at the supermarket. Just take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the brands listed in Fetch. We suggest a company like Bestow. Maybe you’ve considered this before, but thought it was only for rich or older people. But we’re hearing that people are getting it for as little as a month.
We’ve got six suggestions for simple financial moves you can make that’ll help you spoil Fido and Simba like they deserve.
By Melissa2 Comments – The content of this website often contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you buy through those links (at no cost to you!). Learn more about how we make money. Last edited October 12, 2011.
Many credit card companies urge their consumers to consider buying credit card payment protection. This type of insurance can put your payments and interest accrual on hold should you become unemployed (for up to 24 months in some cases). In the event of your death, payment protection can pay off the remainder of your credit card balance. The question to ask is if it is a wise use of your money. Consider my parents’ own example.
An Example Of Utilization Of Payment Protection
At the end of 1985, my mom and dad were 36 and 37, respectively. They had just gotten on their feet again financially because my dad had finally been able to obtain a job after two years of unemployment. They had $10,000 in credit card debt (mainly because they used credit to help float them through the long stretch of unemployment). In today’s dollars, that is $20,000 in credit card debt.
They had not taken out individual, private life insurance policies because they thought they couldn’t afford them. What they did have were two small life insurance policies, one from my dad’s employer that covered him automatically, and one from the credit union that they paid a small amount for monthly. His total life insurance protection was less than 2 times his annual income, and he was the primary breadwinner. They also had credit card payment protection on their cards.
Six months later, my dad passed away; he was diagnosed with colon cancer in late January and passed away by early May. My mom was very grateful for the credit card payment protection as the balances were paid in full upon my father’s death, and she used the little bit of life insurance to pay off their house.
Why Credit Card Payment Protection Is Not A Wise Investment
Based on this experience, one might expect me to endorse credit card payment protection plans, but I do not. Most plans require that the user pay an amount per hundred dollars owed on the card, usually .89 to .95 per $100. In today’s dollars, getting payment protection on my parents’ credit card debt of $20,000 would cost them an average of $178 a month in payment protection alone. To make matters worse, many cards offer a maximum payout amount, ranging from as low as $5,000 up to $25,000.
Most term life insurance policies cost far less than the amount someone $20,000 in credit card debt would pay on payment protection coverage. For example, my husband and I each took out 20 year term life insurance equal to 10x our income when we were 31 and 33 respectively. My husband’s policy costs us $32 a month, which is far cheaper than the $178 a month required for payment protection to cover $20,000 of credit card debt. I would love to go back in time and tell my parents to forgo the credit card payment protection and to instead buy term life insurance policies for each of them.
While the credit card debt was wiped out upon my father’s death and the house was paid off, because they were underinsured, my mom only had a small amount of money to live off for the first year after my dad’s death. She had been a homemaker and an in-home child care provider for the 15 years they were married; she had no college education, and yet she found herself having to enter the workforce. The term life insurance policy, had they purchased one, would have provided her with enough money to pay off the credit cards and her home and still have money to invest and live off, giving her time to pursue her education so she could have found a career she enjoyed.
Even if life insurance policies were more costly 25 years ago, it still would have made more sense to buy a term life insurance policy instead of payment protection as it provides much greater security. Instead of paying for credit card payment protection, calculate how much it would cost you monthly and use that money to invest in a term life insurance policy. Use the remainder, if you have a remainder, to pay down your debt so you don’t need to worry about payment protection.
Whether you own your condo or you rent, condo owners insurance or a condo rental insurance policy is a must. Experience a cold snap and the pipes burst? Don’t count on your landlord to spring for your new Alienware laptop or to replace that sheepskin rug Mom gave you. We’ll walk you through the difference between condo owners policies and condo renters insurance and what is protected — and not.
We’re keeping track of how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting renters insurance.
In this article
What’s the difference between renters insurance and condo insurance?
It’s pretty straightforward: If you rent your condo, you need renters insurance. If you own your condo, you need a condo policy.
Renters insurance is used to protect your personal belongings in a rental from property damage and theft, and liability protection if someone is injured in your rental unit. Renters insurance includes numerous other benefits including loss-of-use, which is reimbursement in case you’re displaced from your rental.
Renters insurance is not legally required in any state, but your landlord can require you to purchase a policy. Your landlord is required to carry insurance on the property, but it only insures the structure. All contents inside your rental are covered by your own renters policy.
A condo insurance policy includes dwelling coverage and renters insurance does not. Your condo association’s master policy covers the structure of the building.
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What does renters insurance cover?
Renters insurance provides protection with four major components:
Personal belongings: Your policy covers your personal belongings not built in to your rental. Coverage is extended due to specific peril events, such as fire or water damage, or theft. This also includes your personal belongings off-premises too, such as items in a storage unit.
Liability: Liability covers your cost to defend yourself in and out of court if you cause bodily injury or damage to someone else’s property. This coverage extends to damage or harm from your kids or pets too.
Medical payments: If someone is injured inside your rental, or you, a family member or a pet cause injury, then medical payments are covered for the victim. And because medical payments in a rental policy are no-fault, the medical bills are submitted directly to the insurance company.
Loss-of-use: If your rental is damaged due to a covered event and you are forced out of your space, your loss-of-use provides reimbursement for a portion of your living expenses. This includes hotel stays, temporary housing, meals and other living expenses.
Renters insurance goes beyond these main areas and provides other benefits. For instance, you can choose Replacement Cost versus Actual Cash Value for your belongings. This means if you are willing to pay extra on your premium, your personal belongings are replaced at what you paid for them, and not the depreciated value.
If you have high-value items, usually an item over $1,500, you can add separate coverage. This is particularly important for items such as jewelry, art, antiques or similar items.
[Read: Renters Insurance for College Students]
What does condo insurance cover?
Condo insurance provides similar protection as a renters policy. A standard policy would include the same major components:
Your condo insurance should cover whatever is not included in your condo association’s master policy.
Since you own your condo, you need dwelling coverage, and a condo insurance plan provides this. As a condo owner, you own everything from the walls inward. So if there is damage to your walls due to a covered peril event, your dwelling coverage kicks in.
Loss assessment is another unique coverage to a condo policy and you can add this to your policy if it’s not robust enough in your association’s policy. This provides additional protection for any damage you cause to the condo yourself, including with the building, the shared areas within the condo complex or an injury in the shared areas.
You should note that it’s important to review your condo association’s master policy thoroughly because you could obtain a condo policy to fill in the gaps of your master policy, and your limits might not be as high. It all depends on how comprehensive the master policy is.
[Read: What is Loss Assessment Coverage?]
Best discounts for your renters or condo insurance
The good news is, there are several ways to save on your renters or condo renters insurance. One of the most effective tactics is to use as many discounts as possible. Working with an agent is one of the best ways to confirm you’re getting every possible discount, since there are some you may not be aware of. A few popular discount options include:
Bundling: If you already have an auto insurance policy, a renters or condo policy should be inexpensive to add on with a bundling discount.
Pay in full: Many carriers give you a break if you pay your premiums — usually six months or a year — all at once.
Safety discounts: If you have an alarm system, deadbolt and smoke detectors in your rental or condo, your carrier should provide you with a discount.
Paperless: If you go paperless and receive your statements electronically, several carriers reward you with savings on your premiums.
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How to pick the right insurance
To pick the right policy, comparison shopping is the first step. Compare quotes and policy details side by side. Many carriers offer this option online for added convenience. Look for details on coverage limits and rates and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples among the policies.
Plus, look at the number of discounts available in case one carrier provides more than another.
Above and beyond price, customer service is important. You want your carrier to make it easy should you need to file a claim. You’ll find this out by reading the reviews and checking out the customer service ratings among the companies.
Lastly, if you need additional coverage for high-value items or other special items, look for a policy that fits your unique coverage needs.
Choosing the right condo insurance or renters policy takes a little research. But you’re rewarded for your efforts by getting competitive pricing and a comprehensive policy.
[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]
Too long, didn’t read?
If you rent your space, you need renters insurance, whereas a condo policy is needed if you own your condo. Although coverages are similar, the condo insurance provides additional dwelling coverage that is not needed if you are renting. It’s beneficial to compare carriers and policies, and review customer ratings, discounts and other factors to get the best policy for your situation.
We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many insurance companies provided relief in the form of percentages back on monthly bills as well as a freeze on coverage cancellations due to inability to pay. While it’s not recommended, you could technically stop your coverage to save money if absolutely needed — but again, it’s strongly advised against.
See below for more details on how you can benefit from the recently approved economic relief act:
Who can benefit from this?
To qualify for rental assistance under the CARES Act at least one household family member must qualify for unemployment or have a significant income lost due to the pandemic. Income must fall at or below 80% of your county’s average income. You must also be a risk of homelessness.
Who’s getting how much?
If families fall below 50% of the average income they’ll be given priority for rent relief funds. Families can get up to a year of rent covered, and three months in the future with the CARES Act rent relief assistance.
How to apply
If you need to apply for assistance, the way you do that will vary depending on where you live. If your city or town has an existing rental assistance program, you’ll likely use that to apply for new aid.
You can contact your local housing authority, nonprofit groups or reach out to your local representatives to find out where and how to apply. Your landlord may also be able to apply for you — but they’ll have to get your approval and signature before doing so.
Life insurance is never a pleasant topic of conversation – let’s face it, none of us relish having to contemplate our own mortality – but if you have any dependents or financial commitments such as a mortgage, it is an absolute must-have. When we talk about dependents, that doesn’t only mean your children – if there is anyone who would be negatively affected financially if you were to pass away, life insurance is a necessity. That includes a husband or wife, a partner you cohabit with and possibly elderly parents.
The Basics About Life Insurance
Life insurance is a means of protecting your loved ones financially after your death. It compensates them for the loss of your income by paying them a lump sum (or regular payments) to mitigate the financial impact of your passing away. The cover you have in place should take into account all your regular outgoings, particularly those with large debts such as a mortgage, but also day-to-day expenses, education costs, childcare requirements and other loans.
Why You Should Review Your Policy
Any major life event will affect your life insurance requirements and necessitates a review of your policies to adjust cover to take account of your new situation. Such events include the birth or adoption of a child, a marriage, a divorce, the purchase of a property or business and even the taking up of a new potentially dangerous hobby such as skiing. However, perhaps the most important time to review your life insurance cover is when you move out of the country.
If you are about to become an expat, chances are you have a to-do list as long as your arm. It inevitably includes informing everyone of your change of address, liaising with moving companies and packing – but does a review of your life insurance requirements appear on the list? In the chaos of an international move, this is one area that often gets overlooked, but failing to address the issue can have devastating consequences. If you have already moved abroad but have failed to review your life insurance, you need to do this without delay.
The reason is that life insurance premiums are worked out taking into account a whole host of factors including age, health and where you live. Any changes to any of these factors could alter the premium, and omitting to notify your insurer of them could render a policy null and void.
Keep your loved ones protected in the event of your passing.
You May Need New Coverage
Becoming an expatriate can actually invalidate your coverage altogether, especially if you are moving from a low-risk country to somewhere considered to be high risk. Insurers will, unfortunately, use any excuse not to pay out, so it is essential to contact your insurer or broker and ask them to check your policy. If you are covered in your new country of residence, you should ensure that you get written confirmation of this from your insurer, just to avoid any room for error.
In fact, the chances are that you will not be covered and will need to alter your policy or take out a new one altogether. Life insurance coverage can be very reasonably priced, but it is important that it takes into account your unique circumstances, and this can make it complicated to set up. This is particularly true for expats, who are more likely to have additional considerations to bear in mind including mortgages on dual properties, high school fees and the repatriation costs of your loved ones in the event of your death. If you are divorced, you may also have obligations from a former marriage to take into account. A professional financial advisor will be invaluable in guiding you through the life insurance minefield, reviewing your requirements and exploring the options available to you.
In Conclusion …
It is also worth remembering that a move abroad will mean a change of domicile and of jurisdiction, which will have an effect on the laws governing succession in the event of your death. This could significantly affect the amount payable on your estate in inheritance tax, and life insurance coverage should be adjusted accordingly to take into account your obligations and to cover taxes due to save your loved ones from having to pay these. Your death would be difficult enough for them to deal with, let alone finding themselves in a financially precarious situation. Depending on where you move to, there could be tax-effective steps you can take to safeguard your estate.
A professional financial advisor in your new country of residence will be invaluable in helping you structure your life insurance in the most cost-effective way possible.
Infinity Financial Solutions is a leading provider of financial services to the expatriate community across Asia and beyond. With offices in six regional centres, a staff team of 15 different nationalities and clients from over 80 different countries, the company is genuinely international in its focus. Infinity provide individually tailored financial planning to protect, build and maximize the wealth of their clients.