How to Save Money on Auto Insurance

The monthly auto insurance bill can be a headache, especially when a consumer has more than three big bills to pay each month. The good news is that a consumer can use several strategies to cut the bill down as much as possible. Several circumstances and consumer decisions can change the outcome of a monthly insurance premium. The following are some tips on cutting the cost of the bill. Drivers and policyholders can try these tips today:

Go Through a Broker

A consumer can get the best deal on auto insurance if he or she goes through a broker. A broker is not partial to any single insurance provider. A broker’s job is to connect a driver to the best auto insurance option available. Therefore, the broker will search for the cheapest insurance if the cost is the most important factor to the consumer. Another benefit of letting a broker handle the search is that the broker can help the consumer to obtain all the discounts.

Buy a Car Outright

Buying a used car outright is better than buying a newly financed vehicle is in terms of auto insurance. Many finance companies require their customers to obtain full coverage insurance for the duration of the loan agreement. Full coverage insurance is quite expensive. A person who owns and an older vehicle may only have to pay for liability coverage. It would be in the consumer’s best interest to find a reliable used vehicle that has a low price tag.

Choose a Vehicle With Many Safety Features

Insurance companies give policyholders special discounts for purchasing vehicles with safety features. Drivers can get discounts for alarm systems, airbags, anti-lock brakes and more. The insurance premium can lessen with each safety feature.

Drive Safely

Some insurance companies such as Geico offer generous discounts to their customers who drive safely for a certain amount of time. One of the best ways a consumer can cut down a premium is to obey the traffic rules and avoid accidents.

Increase the Deductible

Finally, a consumer can decrease the monthly premium by increasing the deductible. The deductible is the amount of the money the driver has to invest before the insurance company covers any part of an accident. A frugal driver can adjust the deductible, which will adjust the premium. The person can change the information back at a later date.

How to NOT Spend the Cash Burning in your Pocket

Saving money is a task that is challenging to all consumers whether they are rich or utterly destitute. The presence of cash entices the consumer to shop regardless of that person’s need to pay the bills. Many consumers start out with strict savings plans, but they end up getting frustrated with savings failures and spending the money they have. Clever savings strategies can be fun and fruitful. Sometimes consumers need to plant their funds in a difficult place for it to grow like it should. The following are three clever money saving ideas:

Give It to a Relative

A consumer can give his or her savings money to a close relative each time the paycheck arrives. The person will have to be absolutely sure that he or she can trust the relative in question. The consumer may want to have that person open a savings account in his or her name and then set up work direct deposits into the relative’s savings account. The relative could act as a protector who can stop the consumer from withdrawing the funds prematurely. However, the relative needs to be a person of integrity so that the consumer does not lose any of his or her funds.

Get a Brokerage CD Account

Two kinds of certificates of deposits exist: regular and brokerage CDS. A consumer can save money by purchasing regular certificates of deposits from the bank. Technically, the individual is not supposed to cash in the CD until it matures. Doing so will result in a penalty. The CD cash-out penalties are usually enough to deter people from cashing them early. However, brokerage CD accounts have much tougher stipulations and larger penalties. Therefore, the consumer may want to obtain a brokerage CD for an ironclad protection strategy.

Open a Secured Credit Card

Obtaining a secured credit card is a roundabout way to save money, but it could work. The logic is that a consumer will have to put the money back into the “savings” fund if he or she uses it to avoid bad credit. The person may be less tempted to use a secured credit card than he or she would be with an open wad of money in hand. The consumer could keep the money on the secured credit card until the time comes to cash out. A simple ATM withdrawal will provide the funds from the special “savings account.”

Consumers can think of a variety of clever ways to save money in a way that minimizes the spending desire. The previously mentioned ideas are a great place to start.

Profitable Spring Cleaning

All home and apartment dwellers find themselves ready for spring cleaning at one point or another. Spring cleaning is a process that involves purging oneself of unnecessary household items. Over the years, material items tend to accumulate because of poor organizational skills, impulsive buying, hoarding tendencies and more. Spring cleaning is necessary to bring the number of household items down to a nominal level. Additionally, spring cleaning can be an excellent way to earn extra cash. The following are some tips on conducting profitable spring cleaning:

Choose a Strong Day for Spring Cleaning

A consumer should conduct his or her spring cleaning on a day that will be convenient for everyone involved. Weekends are perfect for people who have traditional 9-5 jobs. The person will want to have a day free of obligations and distractions to conduct the spring cleaning in an organized fashion.

Recruit Friends and Family Members

Recruiting friends and family members is important for simplifying one’s spring cleaning efforts. Not all family members will be thrilled about cleaning, but some of them may be motivated by monetary incentives.

Have a “Trash Doesn’t Exist” Mindset

Spring cleaners must carry a “trash doesn’t exist” mindset. The TDE mindset is one that forces the participants to find a purpose for every item in the house that needs to leave the premises. One man’s trash is always someone else’s treasure. Any item can serve a person an important purpose, and consumers will buy just about anything for a discount.

Offer Electronics, Furniture and Household Appliances for Sale

Cell phones, televisions, microwaves, radios and the like are the most valuable material items in the house. Someone is always looking for such items for a reasonable price. The consumer can offer the items on an online site such as Craigslist or eBay. Someone will respond to the ad quickly, and the seller can use the funds for the good of the household.

See the Value of Used Clothing and Bedding

Sometimes people do not realize the value of old clothing. Clothing that cannot fit one person might fit another person perfectly. Homeless persons, single parents, and struggling residents will appreciate an offer of such clothing. Spring cleaners can sell their mounds of clothes for extremely low prices and still earn a substantial amount of money. Some yard sale sellers offer their clothing items for as little as $.25 per garment. Bedding is equally useful.

Any household can conduct a profitable spring cleaning event. Motivation, organization and creativity are the keys to success. 

Saving Early for Summer Holidays

Even though spring just arrived, it is not too early to think about and plan for summer vacations. Independence Day and Memorial Day are two of the most popular summer holidays in the United States and many choose to celebrate at home by purchasing food and having a barbecue with friends and family members.

Others may want to visit a festival that celebrates the holiday with music, games and the like. All holiday activities require one to have money. Therefore, a consumer will want to get ahead by saving cash before the summer months come. The following are four tips that a person can use to prepare for summer holiday expenses:

Divide Direct Deposit Funds

The best way to save for a summer holiday is to create a separate savings account and assign funds to the account on each payday. Most employers allow their employees to distribute the funds from their paychecks to various accounts. Designating a small amount of money on a weekly or biweekly basis is an effective way to build a vacation fund.

Perform Odd Jobs

Another way that one may want to save money for a summer vacation is by performing odd jobs. Odd jobs include jobs such as grass cutting, housecleaning, babysitting, web design, article writing and more. The person can place the extra funds in the previously mentioned savings account.

Make Advance Purchases

Persons will want to make advance purchases for holiday reservations such as hotel reservations, rental car reservations, restaurant reservations, festival reservations and the like. The savings can be humongous if the person secures the reservations several months in advance.

Use Coupon Codes and Special Memberships

Coupon codes and special memberships can remove some of the expenses associated with airline tickets, train tickets, rental cars, hotel stays and more. Consumers can receive discounts for having AAA membership or college membership. Additionally, a multitude of coupons and promotional codes exist online. One could enjoy double or triple savings by reserving accommodations early and using special privileges. He or she could use a promotional code during a checkout. The person could use the drop-down menu to specify AAA membership, college membership and senior citizen status, as well.

Summer holidays are always better when one takes the time to save enough money for the events. The consumer should do so by relaxing and saving a little bit at a time each week.

Inexpensive Baby Clothes for Expecting Mothers

The anticipation of having a baby is exciting, but it can produce a high level of anxiety, as well. Expecting mothers often wonder where they will obtain the funds to purchase clothing for themselves and their children. These women are often clueless as to how they can get what they need aside from being blessed with a baby shower. The following are some tips on how an expecting mother can gather baby clothing before the big day comes:

Online and Physical Clearance Racks

The first place that an expecting mother can look for deals on baby clothes is the clearance racks of popular children’s clothing establishments. Some examples of those stores are Carter’s, Old Navy and BabyMallOnline. Online shopping is convenient for women who are in the late stages of their pregnancies. However, most physical locations have a clearance section. Shoppers can find tremendous discounts on clothing items such as onesies, pant sets, bodysuits, pajamas and more. Some clearance items are on sale with discounts that are as high as 50 percent.

Thrift Shops, Flea Markets and Yard Sales

An expecting mother can visit thrift shops, flea markets and yard sales if she does not mind buying used clothing. She can opt to wash the used clothing in high-grade detergent that will purify it. The woman can find the best prices at such places. Yard sale sellers and flea market vendors are often will sell baby clothing for several cents instead of several dollars for each time. Thrift shops and consignment shops are second best in terms of discount potential.

Churches and Other Benefactors

Churches and organization such as the Salvation Army can provide an expecting mother with the clothing she needs to bring her child into to the world. Getting assistance with clothing only requires a phone call and a sincere request.

Online Auctions and Websites

Tech savvy expecting mothers can use online auction sites and website such as eBay, Amazon.com, Overstock.com and more. The benefit of using such sites is that the person can find bundled baby clothing. For example, the expecting mother may be able to find a month’s worth of clothing in a bundle for less than $10. Even the most destitute person can prosper.

Hope is available for the expecting mother. A way is always available for her to gather the things that she needs to provide warmth for her son or daughter. 

Save Money on a Dream Vacation

Going on vacation is expensive no matter where a person goes. However, some corners of the world are much more expensive than others are. For example, one night at a hotel in Key West, Florida costs about $600 for a four-star or five-star location. Additionally, special events such as boat rides and scooter rentals can end up costing several hundred dollars. The following is some information on saving money on such a trip:

Reserving a Room Early

Early room reservations can save hundreds of dollars. Scheduling a stay for non-weekend nights can save money, as well. The visitor will want to reserve the room approximately three months ahead of time to obtain the best rates. Weekdays are less expensive because many people have to work during the week. Hotels and motels are much less full during those times. The average price difference between a weekday and a weekend night can be as high as $100.

Using Plastic Resources

Credit cards and club memberships can give a person an edge on the pricing in an expensive vacation. Triple A membership can provide a visitor with a discount of approximately 10 percent off a hotel stay. Some credit cards offer points as rewards for normal credit card use. The points can shave some of the dollars off the average hotel stay. Additionally, such memberships and cards may provide the consumer with access to cheap rental cars for the road.

Finding Cheap Things to Do

Finding cheap activities is the key to making one’s funds last as long as possible in the Keys or other expensive areas of the world. All major activities will cost hundreds of dollars. However, a frugal visitor can conduct a variety of activities that cost little to no money. Picture snapping adventures are free, and they can be quite fun. All the person needs is a trusty camera and some fuel to drive around and see the sites. The person can search for monuments, landmarks, botanical gardens, parks and the like. Some botanical gardens cost money, while others only accept donations.

Beach walking is a fun free activity for families, lovers and lonesome people. The beginning of evening is a wonderful time to go outside and watch the moonlight develop. A beach-side sunset is beautiful, as well.

Many money-saving techniques exist. The previously mentioned tips can be a stepping stone or a starting point.

Saving on the Monthly Grocery Budget

The grocery budget is one of the most important items within a family budget. Shoppers must be able to buy enough food for the entire family while staying within a feasible price range. The price of food keeps rising, which makes staying within a budget increasingly difficult. The following tips can help the average consumer to save on grocery items:

Cutting Down the Restaurant Trips

This first tip can increase the amount of money in the family budget rather than cut down on the actual grocery expenses. Frugal shoppers must stop eating out at restaurants when they can cook delicious meals at home. Lowering the number of restaurant trips can increase the monthly funds so that families can have an abundance of foods at home.

Coupons, Coupons and More Coupons

Shoppers sometimes get annoyed with the person who stands in line and uses a ton of coupons. However, the dreaded coupon user may be the smartest shopper in the store. The reason is that he or she takes advantage of discount opportunities that every shopper has. A consumer can find coupons online and offline. Grocery stores place them in their circulars every week. Additionally, hundreds of websites offer printable coupons that shoppers can print to take to the store. Why miss a money-saving opportunity?

Grocery Store Cards

Most grocery stores offer discount cards to their shoppers at no additional charge. Many shoppers do not take the time to obtain the very cards that can save them money on their grocery store purchases. Why miss a money-saving opportunity? Shoppers with cards have access to all the special sale prices.

Cash Back Credit Cards

Another way that a person can save on the monthly grocery budget is by using cash back credit cards. Certain credit cards offer 1 to 6 percent returns on grocery expenses. The shoppers may not get the money back right away, but most of them can receive their returns within 30 days.

Do Bulk Shopping as Much as Possible

Bulk shopping or wholesale shopping is an amazing way to save money on grocery expenses. Wholesale clubs such as Sam’s Club, BJ’s and Costco offer huge savings to people who buy their monthly groceries in bulk. The clubs do have a membership fee, but the savings they can obtain are well worth the expense.

Modern shoppers have to take every step possible to decrease their expenses while keeping their refrigerators full. The aforementioned tips should help. 

Avoiding and Stopping Identity Theft

Identity theft is a heinous crime that victimizes more than 11 million people each year. The crime includes stealing a person’s personal information to open new accounts, misusing existing accounts, and using personal information for alternative malicious purposes. Identity theft can ruin a person’s reputation with credit bureaus and other organizations, and it can take that person many years to resolve the mess. The following are some tips for preventing and dealing with identity theft: 

Do Not Share PIN Numbers and Passwords

Many people make the mistake of trusting lovers and friends with the PIN to their debit card. The problem with sharing a PIN is that a person who knows it can change it. That person can try to access other cards and accounts using the same PIN, as well. The consumer should trust no one with such information.

Change Login Information Frequently

Passwords to online bank accounts, email accounts and other important accounts should be changed at least once every three months. Once per month is a safer practice if the person has the patience to do it that frequently.

Obtain an Annual Credit Report

A credit report can speak volumes about identity theft. Every consumer should request one free copy of his or her credit report from the bureaus each year. The report will display all open credit accounts. The consumer should dispute any account that looks unfamiliar. The bureau must respond to the dispute within 30 days.

Sign up for Credit Monitoring Services

A credit monitoring service is an amazing tool for identity theft prevention. Such a tool will send a consumer instant alerts whenever someone opens a new account. It will notify a person if his or her credit score changes, as well. The debtor can then take action based on the information that he or she receives from the monitoring service.

Report Foul Play Immediately

A debtor should report a lost or stolen credit card immediately. Additionally, the person should contact the bureaus to launch investigations on any suspicious activities. Sometimes, the credit bureaus can place blocks on people’s social security numbers. No creditors will issue credit to these persons unless they answer a series of questions to verify their identity.

Finally, account holders should log into their online banking and credit card accounts frequently so they can catch strange activities quickly. Keeping one’s eyes open at all times is crucial. 

How to Keep up With Household Chores without Hiring a Maid!

Keeping up with household chores can be extremely difficult, especially when you have a busy life. Children love to spread their toys, crayons and miscellaneous papers all over the house. Some husbands like to leave clothing piles and dirty glasses in various places. Keeping the house together can be even more challenging when you have pets running around, and your workload is heavy. The following are some tips for trying to keep everything together and avoid clutter: 

Clean When Everyone Is Asleep

Avoiding messes and clutter can seem as if it is impossible when everyone is awake and moving around. A tactic that may work is setting the alarm clock for an early time such as 5 a.m. You may be tired at that time, but you will have at least a half hour to an hour to clean up while the rest of the household is asleep. Changing the cleaning schedule can be a very effective way to organize your household.

Perform Sweeps in Between Tasks

Another good way to avoid clutter and keep your house neat is to perform several five-minute sweeps throughout the day. Sweeps are little breaks that you take to remove trash from the floor, wipe down tables and counters, take the trash out, and place dirty clothing where it belongs. You can perform sweeps in between your schoolwork or your home office work. Additionally, you can perform sweeps when the commercials come on during your favorite television shows. You will be amazed at the amount of work you can do in two to five minutes, and your house will be almost spotless at the end of the day.

Pay the Family Members for Their Help

Sometimes the other members of the household need some special encouragement. Children love helping when they can receive a shiny quarter or piece of candy for their efforts. Husbands are likely to help if they can receive treats, as well. You can use your imagination to think of the best treat for your husband.

You can try setting a payment schedule for different tasks and see how your family members respond to it. This method will most likely leave your house neater and relieve you of some of the work.

Finally, you can avoid accumulating dirty dishes by rinsing them immediately after you use them. Alternatively, you can purchase Styrofoam and plastic dishes so that you can dispose of them every time you eat or drink. Styrofoam and plastic dishware is inexpensive, and it can keep you from spending too much time doing housework. 

Banking on it: How to avoid bankruptcy in your near future

When you hear the word “bankruptcy,” most of the time your thoughts turn to large scale companies or retailers that have no choice but to shut the doors and declare to fight (or re open) another day.

But what about bankruptcy as it pertains to an individual, couple or family as far as your financial planning and freedom or lack thereof.

Avoiding bankruptcy is unquestionably paramount, but when that word starts to surface in the household, chances are you’ve missed the warning signs and it’s too late to turn back from a road you ultimately didn’t want to travel.

One huge red flag that you’re headed down the wrong path is taking a moment to calculate your debt to income ratio on a monthly basis or taking into consideration your assets versus how much you owe that isn’t yours.

First, the monthly ratio is simple to figure out and is essentially how you’re judged by creditors and anyone else in line to lend you money. Your debt to income ratio on a monthly basis should be somewhere in the 30% to 70% ratio, respectively, at best. You also want to pay attention to your entire debt, minus the house and the car. This is more about checking into unsecured debt like your credit cards. If you have about $10,000 in your savings account and only a few thousand in your retirement account but are sporting double that in credit card debt, you should start coming up with a game plan to start paying it off and eliminating some expenses from your budget that can get cut.

Bankruptcy also might be chasing you down if you find yourself starting to miss payments one month after another. Missing a payment doesn’t just add a negative to your credit score but also is a huge sign that you are living beyond your means and eventually might not be able to pay your debt consistently.

In addition to missing payments, you might be at the point where creditors are starting to call your home and seeking out a debt consolidation company isn’t exactly going as planned.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to end this way when it comes to your finances as it relates to bankruptcy. It just happened this way because you were most likely careless with your spending but didn’t take note of bad habits that eventually grew into having to raise the white flag on your finances.