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Tax season has come around again, which makes many of us question the true value we get for paying our taxes.  The same questions of value are typically asked about insurance as well, which often costs more money than many of us feel is worth spending.  It can be frustrating to find an affordable plan with adequate coverage, especially with so many plans and prices on the market.

However, acquiring the right insurance plan is usually secondary to finding the right provider.  The right provider is an insurance broker that offers extensive liability coverage at an affordable price for your specific needs.  Unfortunately there are a lot of options out there, and finding the best one takes up more of your personal time than is necessary.

Thankfully, the internet revolution has made this process more time convenient.  There are now online comparison sites that allow you to review insurance quotes from some of the leading providers across the country.  An example is LowestRates.com, which acts as a one-stop shop for several types of insurance products including car, home, life, and dental plans.  You can calculate how much you can afford to spend each month, and find the best possible insurance rate to ensure you can maintain those monthly payments.

This is a valuable service because it reduces the amount of time you spend negotiating a credible plan, and also can save you money.  Many insurance agents prefer the traditional manner because they perceive a large proportion of insurance shoppers –  particularly younger, first time buyers – as ignorant.  Agents believe this ignorance gives them the authority to dictate what is a just and fair insurance rate.

However, by using an online comparison site, you have all the information you need right in front of you without complicated language from agents and brokers.  This ensures you get the insurance plan and price that is best suited for your individual needs, and prevents agents from overcharging you for a policy that in all honesty is difficult to notice any real value.

Unfortunately insurance really is like taxes –  you don’t get to see what you’re paying for.  But in order to provide for your loved ones, protect your property, and to establish peace of mind; it’s better to have insurance you can afford than none at all.

Article publié pour la première fois le 07/03/2013

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Personal Finance Tools: The Five Must-Haves

This is a guest post from Lisa @ Frugal Living

Personal finance tools can help you take care of your present and future financial needs.  But which tools do you need?  Here are five of the best tools to consider when setting up a personal finance plan, with alternatives to help you choose the plan that is most convenient.

  1. Microsoft Excel

Don’t want to mess with your average budgeting program?  Worried about a program going out of style, and the hassle of learning an interface and switching devices?  For those that prefer simplicity, there is Microsoft Excel.
While it can take a little bit longer to use Excel than a paid or online option, the customization and control that you receive is great if you’re looking for simplicity.  Also, you can’t beat the format and universal nature of the program.  You can track every aspect of your finances on Excel, without a doubt.

  1. Budgeting Program of Choice

If you want to keep track of your finances and aren’t a spreadsheet guru, you should definitely consider using a budgeting program.  Adaptu, Mint and Quicken are solid choices for financial management.

Mint is the most popular example of this category within personal finances.  Smartphone users might be familiar with Pageonce, which is another name to remember.

These programs and services work to automate all of your financial accounts.  Then you will be able to see the transactions that are being made.  This is more of an easy way to see your finances, and then you can easily fill in your budget from the automated elements of the program/service.  It is worth a look; you can’t beat the ease that is offered.

Take a look at the free and paid programs, according to your needs.  There are plenty of freeware programs that are great for personal finance plans.  See what’s out there; you’ll surely find something that works for you.

  1. Smartphone Users Rejoice

If you have a smartphone, you could choose to keep all of the personal finance tools you need on your mobile device.  It’s simple and easy to keep track when you can check in as time allows, throughout the day.

Pageonce is a good start for mobile users.  PayPal is another accurate and easy way to track payments – especially if you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer. There are literally hundreds of phone apps available from your bank and credit cards, investment accounts, etc.  When you start depositing money from your mobile device, investing while on the train, and taking advantage of these tools – you will realize how your smartphone can be a great tool in your personal finances, taking care of some or all of such needs.

  1. Pen and Paper

Indeed, you can use pen and paper if you wish.  Bookkeeping on paper may be a lost art to the tech community, but ideally you should use whatever method works for you. The envelope method can be a good choice for people who like to pay by cash: simply withdraw the amount of cash needed to pay your bills or household expenses, and divide it into the envelopes. Pay the bills… and when the money is gone – it’s gone!

If the high-tech programs and options bewilder you, and you’d rather write everything out – by all means!  Whatever it takes to keep track of your budget and finances, and provide yourself direction – it will work.  For any method, you just need to stick with it and allow it to guide your financial decisions.  As long as it is sound and functional, it will work.

What program or tactic do you use to track your finances? Share your tips here!

Article publié pour la première fois le 19/10/2011

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Lists You Need

You may not actually need these lists at all.  You may not need a Diet Coke to survive every morning.  But I do.  And you just might find some of them useful. 

 

1. Home Inventory

Why it’s a good idea:

Well, mainly for insurance purposes.  Did you know that immediately following a fire or a meteor strike, most people are unable to remember what was on their nightstand, in the china cabinet, or even underneath the bathroom sink?  Unbelievable.  You can’t replace it if you don’t know that you had it. 

Bonus: Having this list will make calculating your net worth a piece of cake!

Free Tool: Know Your Stuff by the Insurance Information Institute.  This online tool saves you the trouble of finding a safe place to store your list (or you could just bury it in the backyard I suppose…).

Home-Inventory 

 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 21/09/2010

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What I Wouldn’t Do for Frugality


Because I write a blog with a focus on saving money, you might assume that I am a frugal EXTREMIST!  Not the case.  I consider myself more of a frugal reasonablist (no, it’s not a real word), and a imperfect reasonablist at that. 

I like to save and spend wisely because it improves our lives now as well as our prospects for the future.  The second, and I mean the second, it stopped doing that, I’d quit and blow all the money on hats (reference Hot Shots!).  But, unfortunately, saving is not going to stop making sense for us; so much for the hats. 

The question is, what wouldn’t I do for frugality’s sake?  And actually, there’s quite a bit.

 

I would not hit Macho Man Randy Savage in the face. 

I throw a notoriously weak punch, and am a slow runner.

 

I would not sacrifice a great amount of time for a relatively small reward.

Small savings do add up over time and are absolutely worthwhile.  That said, I’d drive myself crazy(er) if I agonized over every single little bit of savings.  It may be egotistical of me to say, but I picture myself going full-blown-crazy over something much much bigger than just a couple of bucks.

Examples:

  • If when I get to the grocery store I realize that I accidenally left my coupons at home, I won’t drive all the way back just to get them.  Crazy, right?!  If I’m grocery shopping, it’s Sunday, if it’s Sunday, I have a lot to get done to prepare for my week in addition to spending quality time with Husband.
  • There’s a plane ticket for $50 cheaper that gets to my destination a day later.  If I’m flying somewhere, it’s to see family, if I’m seeing family, I want to spend as much time with them as possible.  I’ll spend the 50 bucks.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 23/09/2010

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Being money smart at a casino

Everyone knows that there simply are never enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that we want to do. Technology has tried to assist in this matter by making many things easily done online. This has even included the way in which we enjoy casino gambling. The creation of online casinos has made it possible to enjoy gaming from home or even other places on the go. With this new technology comes the need to make sure your gaming environment is a safe one.

When playing any mobile casino games or any casino games online, make sure your computer is protected with the most up to date virus and anti-spyware protection. Also be sure to set the option for this software to automatically update as well as perform periodic scans to ensure your computer remains free of viruses and spyware.

Use the internet to help you research a potential gambling site you may want to join. There are many independent websites out there with unbiased reviews about the site. These reviews can provide you a quick and easy indication about a site you may wish to join. If there are any fraudulent activities associated with the site, these will often be revealed after performing an internet search. If you are unable to find any information, good or bad, about a site, then you probably shouldn’t join that site.

Online casino sites will never ask you to provide them with personal information via email. If you should receive an email requesting such information, do not respond to the email. Usually these emails are phishing for you information with the intent of defrauding you. Reputable casino sites will only ask for information from the main site where they can provide encryption of your data. This would include making changes to your personal information or other sensitive account information.

Article publié pour la première fois le 01/12/2013

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My brother-in-law told me that Dave Ramsey told him that no one ever got rich on credit card points.  Ha!  Yeah right.

As it turns out, you won’t get rich on credit card points.  Go figure.  For a while now, Husband and I have been meaning to evaluate our credit card rewards to make sure we chose the right program.  Our credit cards are both through USAA and have the option of either going for the Rewards Program (where you get points that you can spend on stuff or airline tickets or whatever) or the Cash Rewards Program (where you get cash rebates for your purchases). 

Here are the summaries of each of the programs:

       Rewards Program

   When You Buy:

  Your Points are Worth
  X% of Your Purchases
   Airline Ticket  1.00%   
   Merchandise   0.71%   
   Cash   0.83%   
   Charity   0.83%   
   Cruise     0.99%   

Cash Back Program
 When You Spend:   You Get $X Cash Back:
  First $5,000    0.45%
  $5,000 – $10,000    $22.50 + 0.85% On Purchases Over $5,000
  $10,000 – $17,000    $65 + 1% On Purchases Over $10,000
  $17,000+    $135 + 1.25% On Purchases over $17,000

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Article publié pour la première fois le 24/06/2010

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