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Money and marriange

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Money and marriange

[podcast src=”https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/4927995/height/360/width/450/theme/st andard/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/forward/” height=”360″ width=”450″]How do you talk with your spouse about money? Have you ever stopped to think about how money can have a negative, or positive, effect on your marriage? Join Karl Susman and guests this week a they discuss money and marriage. Transcript follows.

JADE: With 50% of marriages ending in divorce, we’ve all seen how difficult a breakup can be – especially when it comes to finance. We invited Tiana Ronstadt, owner of Power Women Investing, to talk about how you can stay on your feet financially whether you’re in a marriage or ending one.

JIM: Welcome, Tiana.

00:02

TIANA: Thanks, Jim. It’s great to be here today.

00:05

JIM: Just for the audience, I think we met maybe 20, 25 years ago. Does that sound about right?

00:10

TIANA: It does, it’s awful I think that I’m not that old.

00:14

JIM: Well, I know I’m not, but anyway, we were on a committee together, an advisory committee and Tiana, you’ve always impressed me. You’ve been very successful in your practice, and I know being a female advisor you’ve really focused to a lot of female issues, and I think me being a male I can’t always relate, so I thought it would be great to have you come on and share, and I know you’ve been featured in a lot of things nationally for some of the work that you’ve done, the speaking that you’ve done. You’re a real inspiration I think to a lot of women, and some of us guys too.

00:48

TIANA: Thank you, Jim.

00:51

JIM: At any rate, for today’s topic we are going to talk about some of the issues, especially with divorce and some of the pitfalls that come with divorce, so I know you’ve dealt with a lot of issues, especially with divorce and single women, and some of the things that face them, so what are some of the pitfalls of divorce that people should be thinking about if they’re going through that?

01:09

TIANA: One of the things that I find is obviously we know 50% of all marriages end in divorce, and we also, you know, we can all know the statistics but what I think is interesting is that all the information or pitfalls, Jim, that you have in divorce or contemplating of divorce, are the pitfalls in financial planning, and so I tell folks really the information is great for everyone, but when you are teeing up or looking at I might want to be separated, or this really isn’t working out, or I don’t really underst and what’s going on financially, some of the key pitfalls are important to really look at.

One I would say, really one of the biggest is not enough cash, and don’t we find that even in our own clients, when the difference between a net worth statement and actually what we call cash flow or how you’re actually able to pay for things, and so to have a real good grasp on how are things paid for now in your house, and if you were to separate and now there are two households, is there really enough cash flow to support two households.

02:12

JIM: That’s a great point, and one thing I think is just exasperated, usually we see one spouse or the other is usually the one that takes care of paying the bills.

02:22

TIANA: Exactly.

02:23

JIM: Yes, so for the one that isn’t doing, especially if they’re instigating the divorce and maybe they’re doing it out of total emotion and haven’t prepared themselves, and I think that’s another thing that people need to really prepare themselves for, my hope is after people listen to this and maybe work on a little bit more, maybe they can save that marriage, but I know finance is usually right up there as one of the top reasons, if not the top reason that people are get divorced, and we’ve had another guest on that’s been on several times and she talks about spouses have the money talk, and I find in my practice, I almost make it obligatory to have both spouses involved in the planning meetings.

One can take care of all the stuff after we get it all done, but it really is important that both spouses have their input in the planning and feel part of that, and at least have a general underst anding of where things are at because whether it’s divorce or death or disability, if you get thrown into this without having the time to prepare when the emotions aren’t running high, it’s just that much harder to get on top of things when you’re not thinking clearly.

03:25

TIANA: I couldn’t agree more, and I talk a lot about that there isn’t a national financial planning day or a national day that you have to actually sit down and talk about this, because it is the conversation that most couples do not want to have, and so I help folks, one, I think that they at least should have a money conversation on their anniversary, see where you’ve been, where you want to go, and then have it on each of your birthdays, so now I’m up to three times, Jim, that they’re going to talk about it, and lastly try and only talk about one topic.

I will say, and again gender bias, that as females I feel like, you know, sometimes we have a big agenda and then we might go on and on, and our male counterpart husb ands traditionally will kind of check out, and there’s not negative, it’s just fact, and so I try and encourage women to say, okay, if you’re not familiar with what the life insurance coverage is, make that a topic and say, you know, what we’re just going to talk about this one thing. I’m not going to try and underst and everything else, because it is an overwhelming task and I do agree with you that one person traditionally does the budgeting and pays the bills, and the other one traditionally does the long term planning, but everyone needs to know the basics.

That whole philosophy of ignorance is bliss really is not true anymore. You at least need to have an idea of what the plan is and have input in the plan so that you’re empowered to help save, first of all, and to underst and where that money is going for your long term goals, so that is definitely true.

The other thing I just want to piggyback too that you mentioned was emotion. One of the big jokes I have is that it’s a lot cheaper to cry in my office than it is at the attorney’s, and so one thing that I really try and do is talk about can you afford to get divorced. Is that really what it’s about, and if you can’t afford it and it’s just, you just really don’t like each other right now, maybe let’s try and work that out. It’s been very successful in allowing folks just to be in my office and for the first time they’re really just talking about money, trying to work that out, because it is a tough topic. We come with all our history, you know, and how we were raised, and all those values and all of the sudden we marry someone that potentially has completely different values and different way that they were raised around money, and that causes a lot of anxiety.

05:40

JIM: I see that all the time, and it’s not been since my last client meeting where I’ve seen some of that anxiety, because you’ve got one spouse that has taken care of this check or that income source or made this decision on an investment. I’ve got some spouses, they keep their own social security checks and that’s their money, and you’ve got all this kind of hiding from each other, and one spouse might buy a bunch of stuff and not really discuss it, and it could be big ticket items, and you just see the stress that creates on the relationship because they’ve gotten so used to doing things their way when it comes to money and not being as a team, and that can really stress out a marriage.

06:18

TIANA: Absolutely. I use the word interdependent, that it’s fine that you want to have some independence in some of this, and definitely we don’t want someone in the relationship that’s dependent, so we’re striving for an interdependent relationship in finances, because you’re two independent people and my goal is that you’re going to both contribute to the pot and we want to have that be interdependent.

When we talk about pitfalls too, specifically in divorce, one of the things I also find is traditionally one of the partners will also take the lead on the tax planning, and actually filing the taxes, and the other person just signs, and so I always say that if you’re kind of like, where is everything, the tax return, Jim, is one of your greatest assets that you can find that and you can uncover assets in that tax return.

It also tells a great story, doesn’t it, you know, what’s going on in the house, if you will, so I find that a lot of folks, they don’t underst and tax returns, they’ve never dealt with it, they’ve only signed it, and yet it’s really kind of the go-to thing, and when you’re really again starting to contemplate, I want to see if I want to leave this relationship.

07:25

JIM: So what are some of the other pitfalls that you see, Tiana? Because we’ve been talking about a lot of the issues while someone is married and kind of transitioning to a divorce, so let’s say divorce is inevitable. What are some of the other considerations that someone is going to want to think about to make sure that they come out of it as best they can?

07:43

TIANA: I would say, and it kind of goes, it’s going to have some three steps, if you will, but not getting professional advice, and when we say professional advice that’s in the legal community, the financial community, as well as the tax planning community, and really a couple of key things are, I find a lot of folks might fight for, they’ll be arguing over alimony, Jim, and the thing to remember is that if you’re the one paying the alimony, that’s a deduction for you on your side, and the person receiving the alimony, it’s taxable to you, so we want to make sure we are fighting for the right things at the right time.

The same with retirement plans. If I’m looking at all the assets and you say, well I want half your retirement plan, and then your spouse ends up with the equity in the home, that might not be equitable because again from a tax st andpoint, so it’s just really important, I find a lot of folks gets exhausted in the process and yet don’t end up with what’s rightfully theirs because of taxes, so that’s a huge thing to just, I think to remember that, wait a minute, I want to make sure I’m always asking about taxes, and how it’s going to affect me today as well as how potentially it could affect me down the road.

08:56

JIM: I think that’s a great point. I’ve got a friend of mine in the business and what he does when he shows people their IRAs, he takes out an estimated tax amount to show them what it’s really worth, so for example if someone’s got $450,000 in their retirement accounts, if they’re Traditional retirement accounts that will be taxed later, and let’s say that couple has been in, between state and federal they’re in a 30% tax bracket, well that’s basically a third is going to be to Uncle Sam, so if you’ve got $450 it’s really only worth $300 when you take taxes out, but people like you said will look at that $450 and say that’s what it’s worth.

The other thing is too that I see, when you look at the cost of liquidating an asset, you’re looking at a home, if you’ve got to liquidate a home there’s a whole bunch of issues with that, might be paying realtors, attorneys, all these other costs that might be involved in selling a home, and is that included versus the stock portfolio that you can do a transaction fairly inexpensively today, so as you said all assets are not equal.

09:58

TIANA: Right, right, very true, and under covering those assets too, because we know that everything obviously isn’t on the tax return.

I think the other thing that I find is that a lot of folks knee-jerk into it and then they’re in it, and it’s a long process. I don’t care who you are and how much assets you have, it’s a long process, and it’s going to be effect every aspect of your life, and we don’t recognize that. Unless you’ve been through it, you really don’t recognize how everything changes, everything, and so be prepared for that and make sure that you have, I always say your closest network, those one or two or three people that really you can lean on and cry.

I kind of meant that literally because crying in front of the judge and crying in front of the attorney and crying in front of the accountant, in other words we’ve got to, once we’re in the process, we’ve got to hold it together at the moments that you’re on the clock. I had a divorce attorney recently say to me, my goal is when I see the total assets, I get a third and each of the spouses get a third, and I said, well that is an interesting philosophy, because what that’s telling me is his or her goal as a divorce attorney in this case is not really to quickly make it work out. It’s really to complicate it more, and so I say the more that the spouses can be calm, and yes, you might not like that person but bringing all that emotion forward blurs your vision and blurs the decision making power for your best interest.

11:32

JIM: Yes, I’ve seen it already too, with spouses that are fighting and each of their attorneys, oh, yeah, we’re going to stick it to them, we’re going to stick it to them, and they just feed on those emotions and at the end of the day the attorneys stuck it to them.

At any rate, let’s take a short break. When we come back let’s talk about someone’s gone through the divorce and what things they need to prioritize to get back on their feet, so please stay tuned.

[BREAK]

11:57

JIM: Welcome back as we continue to visit with Tiana Ronstadt, and Tiana has had a lot of experience with her practice dealing with folks going through a divorce and then also dealing with women and women’s issues as a female advisor. She’s well respected in the industry, and she’s come up with a lot of different life experiences which she’s able to help a lot of people with.

Tiana, before the break we were talking about all the pitfalls of a divorce, and I think we both can agree, if there’s any way to save the marriage that’s usually the best way to go about it, right?

12:28

TIANA: Agreed.

12:29

JIM: But let’s say they can’t work it out, they got the irreconcilable differences, and they’ve gone through the divorce and now they’ve settled on what they’re coming out of that marriage with, what are the priorities that you’re looking at for people as they go forward?

12:45

TIANA: I love that question, Jim, because it’s exactly what I talk about, and the first that I always say is family first, meaning, okay so how are you going to now function in this new you, whether there’s children involved and joint custody, I mean, how are you going to function? Because the more you can focus and feel some control on your new schedule and your new life, that then can lead us to the next two, so really there are three things.

One, family first. The second thing is looking at your budget, looking at what you do have, what your expenses are, what your old habits, possibly you might have to break some of those. You might have to, you know, leave some things, and/or you might have to get a job. If you don’t already have a career, and then that’s really number three, how do you figure out what you can do, what are your talents, what are you good at, what would you like to do, what do you have to offer, and it might not be, Jim, a lot of times that they need to work but they want to work. They want to do something else that’s outside of themselves, so those are really my three.

Family first, look at how does this new you, this new role and new schedule work. Two, look at the budget, look at how is the cash flow now in your household, and then three, finding a career or a job to help sustain your living or just sustain yourself.

14:08

JIM: I find a lot of people who have gone through a divorce, it really has a devastating impact on their finances, and it’s really a step back for people, and you see a lot of divorces and I’ve talked to a lot of couples and they’re under a lot of stress. They raise the kids and they’re busy raising the kids, and the last one leaves for college and all the sudden they look at each other and it’s like, okay now what, and you see a lot of people getting divorced at a later stage of life, so how does that impact their retirement planning?

14:37

TIANA: Recently I just read an article about the graying divorce, talking about that it’s devastating, and it’s devastating to the fixed income, it’s devastating to the lifestyle that you thought you were planning for, so I always say you want to plan for the worst and hope for the best, and so I’m telling clients now, I try and work in when we’re talking about retirement planning and what you’re saving for, what does that actually look like? What are you going to be doing? What are things that you like doing together now? Because you are right, Jim, there’s a lot of folks that they’re in the same house and they’re focused on those kids and the kids is the primary thing that they’re interested in, if you will. It’s the one thing they enjoy doing together, and when that’s gone, what now? What do we enjoy doing together? And it is, it’s devastating.

15:26

JIM: I have come across a lot of widows, widowers, divorcees, and they don’t know that they may be eligible for an ex-spouse’s or deceased spouse’s social security, so I’ve seen a lot of them get into social security age and let’s say it’s the female that decided to be a stay-at-home mom, she doesn’t have a lot of credit towards social security, and she’s trying to live on maybe $1000 a month where she may be eligible to go on the ex-spouse’s social security, get half of it if they’re still alive, or potentially get all of it if they’re deceased, because if they’ve been married for 10 years or more they may be eligible for that spouse’s social security check.

Do you find the same thing when you’re counseling clients, that they’re really not aware of some of these resources available to them?

16:12

TIANA: I do, Jim, all the time, and I also in counseling, if I’ve got somebody that’s been married nine years or nine and a half, you know, I encourage them to stick it out. I mean, I really do because that is a benefit that is not well known, and I think depending upon when you got divorced too, you might have forgotten. I have a client that was in recently. She lost her first husb and. They were married over 10 years, but he also passed. She’s now lost her third husb and and so she’s been married three times, never divorced, but widowed. I mean, it’s devastating, and she didn’t even know that she would be eligible. I’m like, it’s amazing to me, so, you know, it’s something that I do think that this independent idea, be strong, and those are all great, but do know that you have some valuable resources that are out there that, no, I don’t think folks know.

Now with the great web site that SSA has done as well as you can set appointments at the local one all over, it’s becoming more and more known that at least you can have a conversation with Social Security.

17:16

JIM: The other thing that I would mention too that I don’t think people are aware of, because I see this all the time with widows and widowers, we do a lot of legacy planning for the surviving spouse. Well, you could also say the surviving spouse from the st andpoint of someone who just got divorced, and when you’re filing jointly, a lot of people, your deductions, your exemptions are twice as high as a married couple. Your brackets, you could make twice as much before you get into the higher brackets, and a lot of people, they become single and all the sudden they don’t realize how much more their income taxes will be as a single person, especially if they got divorced right after the kids moved out and all those deductions and exemptions moved out, they’re used to all these years of paying very little in tax and all the sudden they might have been getting big refunds, now they’ve gone from big refunds to owing big checks, and they’re barely getting by. Do you see people getting shocked by that too?

18:09

TIANA: Oh, absolutely. We do know that the statistics tell us that the female traditionally, the wife’s st andard of livingly drop by 27% whereas the male st andard of living will actually go up by 10% in the divorce, and that’s for the taxes is one, the actual spending of potentially the spouse that’s factored in there as well, and more importantly all those extras that we’ve talked about.

One of the things that I tell folks during divorce negotiations is who’s going to pay for the kids’ extracurricular activities, the sporting events, all the sporting equipment. I find that that’s not really talked about a lot, and then all of the sudden you need new soccer shoes and that really wasn’t in your budget, and yet your spouse doesn’t have to pay for that, so all those things, Jim, that, yes, are going to factor in to how am I going to be an independent woman, and is that really what I want, or can we try and just talk about this financial piece going back to the beginning.

I always say, money gets the bad break. Everyone blames money for the reason that they’re fighting and the reason, when really I think it’s that we’re just not having better conversations around money because there’s fear, there’s anxiety, there’s all those, why would I want to jump in a conversation about that, so try and find somebody that can talk with you and help guide that conversation just so you’re able to communicate.

19:32

JIM: Tiana, this has been great, and my piece of advice out there, if you decide you’re going to go it alone, don’t go it alone.

19:40

TIANA: That’s right.

19:41

JIM: So if you’re getting divorced, make sure you have a team of advisors, it’s well thought out, because nobody comes out of a divorce a winner. At least not financially, and if you’re contemplating that there are so many issues you want to be prepared for, I think the point that you made, someone getting divorced nine and a half years into a marriage, I mean if you live somewhere separately and stay married to get to that tenth year, financially that might be a really good decision.

Tiana, thanks a lot.

20:07

TIANA: Thank you, Jim.

Discounts Everywhere

Do you like discounts?  I know I do!  In fact, I don’t now anyone that doesn’t like to save money!  There are numerous factors that can determine the type of discounts you are eligible to receive on your car insurance.  Your gender, age, location, and driving record are the most common discounts that most of us either know about, hear about, and/or currently receive.  However, the majority of us out there have no idea how many other discounts are available – and if we don’t know about them, then we can’t ask about them, and then we can’t receive them!

You can potentially get discounts for – age, gender, location, driving record, driving training courses, multiple vehicles, policy bundling, being a good student, maintaining low mileage, having a low-risk profession, having a public service career, holding a degree in a specifc occupation, have memberships to  auto clubs, credit unions, alumni organizations ( and more), bing in the military, being a federal employee, paying your policy in full – and SO MUCH MORE.

That is nowhere near an all encompassing list of potential discounts.  Speak to your insurance agent as soon as possible and see how much money you could be saving with all these “hidden” discounts!

 

Let’s Make A Deal

We are all always on the look-out for the best deals.  From groceries to cars to vacations.  Everyone wants the best product or service at the very best price.  While there are some groups of people that brag about how much they paid for something, there is a larger group that would rather brag about how much they saved.

I fall into that category.  I LOVE to save money, especially on my favorite items.  I wouldn’t call myself a bargain shopper, but I do spend time looking for a deal.  My personal taste ranges from generic to fancy – it just depends on the item.  While I do believe ‘you get what you pay for’ to a certain extent, I also believe I can purchase most of my stuff on a deal.  I have multiple websites I visit before purchasing an item – obviously at the best price I can find.  I constantly search or travel deals and spent almost a month car shopping.  Like I said, I like to save money – oh, but I don’t coupon which is kind of funny.

One of the items I spent time researching is insurance.  I want the best policy, with the best coverage, at the best price – or at least at a price I can afford and fit into my budget.  Isn’t that what we all want?  I don’t recommend just arbitrarily signing -up for the first insurance company and policy that you find online.  Take time to find an agency AND agent that is the right for you and that offers the polices that you need and the coverage that you want.  You are paying to have added protection for the things most important in your life.  While finding the best deal is always something to brag about, so is finding the absolute best insurance.

video-game-deals

Insurance Trackers

By now you have probably heard about those car insurance trackers – you know, the advertisements that talk about those little devices you somehow plug into your car so it can track how you drive and then determine how much you should par for your car insurance and what level of insurance you need…??

How do those work? Do they really serve as a way to save you money?

The device connects to the internal computer system of your vehicle and sifts through all the information and date until it finds what it needs to determine how safely you drive.  This info is then sent directly and wirelessly to the insurance company that you opted in with for this program.  Often times you have to use the tracker for at least six months. During this time period, the device tracks habits, speed, accidents, time spent driving, distances, level and rate of braking, and sometime even location.

There are pros and cons to using such a device.  Many consumers find the tracker to be a success and saved money in the process.  Others didn’t like the outcome, didn’t save ‘enough’ money, or didn’t find the process to be fair.  As of now, nobody is required to utilize a tracking device.  You best bet is to stay in contact with an insurance agent you trust and keep your car insurance updated at all times.

progressive-snapshot-400x266

Monthly Priorities

Okay…so I am going to pretend that all of you reading this do in fact have a life insurance policy. You planned accordingly and know what you final expenses will be and underst and the importance of providing for and protecting your loved ones after you are gone. From the day you signed up for the policy, you have made the payments accordingly and faithfully. Good for you!

Did you know that not everyone is like that? A friend of mine recently told me she was thinking about cancelling her policy, because she can’t afford the payment. She said he budget is too tight and she is living month-to-month on her paychecks.

I am no stranger to finances being tight. I too have lived month-to-month and barely squeaked by. The economy has been tough on all of us. However, life insurance is not something that you cancel or stop paying on. There is always another option to consider. For example, that fancy latte that you are buying everyday on the way to work. You spend more on that than the average monthly premium. Buy a coffee pot. Make coffee at home. Keep the premium. That is just one example. I am sure there are plenty of frivolous items we all could cut out of our spending.

Your life and the coverage of your loved ones is WAY more important that a foofoo latte or a new blu-ray.

Priorities people!

priorities

Dental Treatment

There are not many people who would admit to enjoying a visit to the dentist. The trip often leads to considerable pain or at least discomfort. You are never really sure what is going to be involved and how much treatment you will need. You don’t know how much it is going to cost, unless you have dental insurance, in which case you don’t need to worry about this. But generally speaking, most people do not enjoy visiting their dentist.

In many ways we’re much like children. While people tend to get over most of their childhood fears as they get older, dental treatment is one that seems to persist into adulthood. Partly we have our selves to blame. Many people put off visiting the dentist for years and only go once they are in considerable pain. They skip check ups if they have no complaints and postpone the inevitable visit for as long as is humanly possible.

This means that by the time we do visit the dentist, which is a visit that is long overdue, we need so much work done and it costs so much money that it just serves to put us off going back again for as long as is possible. This is what causes the entire problem.

Many of the worst aspects about visiting the dentist could be avoided by going back for regular checkups and keeping on top of problems. Dentists advise that they can prevent many common problems from ever occurring if they catch them quickly enough and what could become costly and painful surgery can be dealt with simply and all the hassle avoided. But this requires that they see your teeth fairly regularly so that they can avoid problems before they occur.

Most dentists offer you the chance to book your next check up months in advance. This means that when you show up for one, you book your next check up while you are at the dentist’s surgery. This means that you will never forget to make an appointment. Then the dentist will also send you a reminder when the appointment approaches so that you will not forget to attend. What could be simpler?

Regular check ups can help you to avoid expensive and painful surgery and many dental insurance plans will cover check ups as st andard in the policy. Therefore, get insurance and start seeing your dentist frequently. Don’t put off the visit until its too late or you really will have something to fear from your dentist.

Dental Insurance

Dental costs are becoming an increasingly significant health care expense and more and more people are making sure they are protected against these costs with a dental insurance policy. Dental insurance policies typically work in the same way as any other medical insurance policy. You will pay your monthly premium and this will entitle you to specific dental care procedures such as checkups, cleaning and x-rays. You will also be covered for other procedures that are deemed necessary to keep your teeth and gums in good health.

Comprehensive

As with all insurance policies, they will vary in what treatments they cover and how much they cost. While more expensive policies will give you greater benefits and allow you access to a greater range of services, cheaper ones will be restricted in what they cover and you will be required to contribute to the cost of procedures you require. If you think you will need dental surgery, oral implants, the services of an orthodontist and other more expensive forms of treatment, you will probably want to go for a more comprehensive policy.

One of the main differences between medical and dental health care is that children generally require far more treatment and expense than adults do. This is true right up through your child’s teen years when orthodontists’ bills can often be extremely expensive. You may therefore wish to cover only your children with dental insurance and you should check with your insurer to see if this is possible. While some insurance companies will allow children to have their own dental insurance policies, others will only insure them as part of an adult or family plan and if this is the case you will require to insure them with your own dental insurance provider and this may mean taking out dental insurance for yourself if you do not already have it.

Discounts

Another option offered by some insurance companies is to take a form of dental discount card. This is not dental insurance in the strict sense of the meaning but does provide you with discounts on dental treatment when you require using them. They can be a cheaper way of obtaining limited protection against dental costs and for this reason are growing in popularity. Not all insurers will provide them so shop around and see what’s on offer. As with all insurance, there can be great differences is what you will be offered for your money and considering that dental insurance can be a significant expense, it is wise to make sure you know what is available before you decide to opt for any policy.

Choosing The Right Homeowner’s Insurance

As a homeowner, you are required by law to carry homeowner’s insurance. Unfortunately, many people do not carry the right homeowner’s insurance or the correct coverage amount. When buying a new home, most people are anxious to get the buying process over with to quickly, get settled in. Because of this, sometimes only minimum insurance is purchased, just enough to cover the minimum requirement. However, this coverage amount is never modified so when disaster strikes, the homeowner quickly discovers the coverage was not enough.

The most important thing you can do for you, your family, and your property when buying a home is to conduct in-depth research, and then work with a qualified insurance representative to ensure you never find yourself in this type of disastrous situation. Start by working with a reputable company. Remember, the size of the company is not what matters. Instead, you want a company that underst ands homeowner’s insurance and one that can guide you to the right type and amount of coverage.

If you know someone that is happy with their homeowner’s insurance, you might set up a meeting with that company to see if they can help with your needs. Otherwise, check the local Better Business Bureau, asking for and checking referrals. In addition, make sure the company is financially stable, one that guarantees its services, and a company that offers outst anding customer service to efficiently h andle any questions or claims.

The right representative will help you locate and maintain appropriate insurance. However, for the company or agent to underst and the insurance industry as well as your specific needs, proper training, knowledge, responsiveness, patience, and service are m andatory. As mentioned, availability is another important factor when choosing an insurance representative. When a crisis strikes, being able to get in touch with the representative in a timely manner helps resolve the issue while building a relationship of trust and confidence in the representative’s abilities.

Then, your homeowner’s insurance should be affordable. Obviously, you want to purchase the requirement but also the amount of insurance that would ensure coverage of your home and personal belongings in case of disaster. A good insurance representative would work with you to ensure that you are not paying for something you do not need while also making sure you have coverage where you do need it. The process of choosing the right insurance coverage is an important one so look for a company or agent with whom you can freely discuss your needs.

Just keep in mind that you will find a number of different insurance packages sold each providing different focus. When you shop around for the ideal policy, you want to make sure your policy covers fire, windstorm, tornados, hail, smoke damage, v andalism, and any other damage to your belongings or home. Additionally, if you live in a flood or earthquake zone, while coverage may not be a part of the st andard policy, it might be something you can add on, providing additional protection for your home.

Car Insurance – How can you lower your premiums?

Many factors influence the premium for your Motor insurance policy. Your insurer will have asked you many questions whilst producing your quote – some of which will affect your premium and some will not. Below we discuss the key variables that are within the policyholder’s control.

Consolidating policies

By insuring a number of vehicles with the same insurer, or by trying to take out home and life insurance through your car insurer, you may be able to secure a ‘bulk buy’ discount.

Location

A big influence on the cost of your car insurance is where you live. The chance of your car being broken into or stolen is a key concern for the insurer. More urban areas traditionally facing greater risk of theft and therefore tend to be more expensive than countryside locations.

Excess

By agreeing to pay a greater excess on each claim you can reduce your car insurance premiums. This is because you are reducing the liability of the insurer and therefore in return they are able to offer you a lower premium.

Your Vehicle

The cheaper and slower your vehicle the lower your premiums are likely to be. If you are looking to buy a new vehicle make sure you fully consider the cost of insurance – you may be able to buy the car but can you afford to run it?

Mileage

You can control your insurance premiums by restricting your annual mileage. However, be aware that if you exceed the restricted number of miles you’ll then become uninsured!

Parking

Where you park your vehicle overnight is also very important to the insurers. If it is kept in a locked garage, you should be offered a lower premium than if you leave it unattended in the street.

Security

Security devices that prevent or hinder theft may also reduce your premium. Common examples include alarms and immobilisers, however, be aware that as we improve the quality of our security devices the thieves just become better at bypassing them.

No Claims Discount

Save up your no claims discount by avoiding making small claims upon your policy. After a set number of years, 4 or 5 typically, you’ll often be offered the option to pay an additional small premium to protect your no claims bonus. This can prove very helpful if you subsequently end up having an accident.

Advanced driving skills

By taking an advanced driving course you may also be able to reduce your premiums. The Institute for Advanced Motorists and the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents each offer membership which provides you with discounts for both the cost of driving courses and your car insurance premiums. Two key variables NOT within the policyholder’s control.

Your Sex.

Women are statistically less likely to have an accident and, if they do, it’s less likely to be serious. Because of these statistics women benefit from lower premiums. It is also worth noting that if you represent one half of a couple you should consider having the female as the primary driver with the male as the second driver.

Your Age

The older you are, the less likely you are to make a claim. As a result insurance companies charge lower premiums for more mature drivers.

One final piece of advice.

A large percentage of car insurance is now sold on the Internet. That’s because it’s convenient and cheap. Many insurers now give a further 10%-15% discount if you buy online.

Whole Life Insurance

Everybody gather around; it’s time to talk life insurance. Okay, don’t everybody come running up at once. Today we are going to discuss whole life insurance. For those that don’t know me, I grew up in an era in which salesman came to your home to sale you everything. There was the vacuum cleaner salesman, the linen service salesman, the milk man, the encyclopedia salesman and the ever-dependable insurance salesman.

What was so cool about the insurance salesman was the fact that after he sold you the policy he would save you the $0.02 postage by stopping by and picking up the premiums every month. So, as a youth, I heard all kinds of discussions about life insurance. You guys know that I am extremely analytical; which is a simple way of saying I am a master at transforming a mole hill into a mountain. With that being said, I took the term “whole life” to an entirely different level.

Before I get too carried away with my story, let me just explain that whole life insurance is simply a policy that has fixed premiums with a set payout. What makes whole life insurance different is its investment component. As you pay your premiums, you policy builds a cash value that you can cash out of borrow against. Sounds pretty simple right? Not for a 10 year old kid with a conspiracy complex.

When the insurance salesman leaves, with my mother’s money, I might add (I swear this woman bought an insurance policy every month. We had a lot of relatives in California, I wonder could this all be tied to the annual brush fires there? Na! [Inside joke with the publisher, read my other posts to catch up]). I asked my mother if what she just bought was a whole life insurance policy, what she was going to do with the partial one’s she had. I also wanted to know how many partial policies did it take to equal a whole. You should have seen the puzzled look on my mother’s face. For the average mother, the puzzled look would have simply been in response to the question. My mother knew that at least a two hour discussion was about to ensue.

I don’t know why she was so shocked that I had those questions. You can’t expect a child that is being taught fractions and decimals to hear the word “whole” and not have questions.

What is she getting all flustered for? It’s a simple question, and if you can’t answer it, you probably should not have given that man your money. I am sure dad is going to want to know why you have been buying partial life insurance policies anyway. Can you partially die? Can you partially be buried? I am going to need something concrete to work with here, mother.

In case you are wondering, I was not the child that you could tell, “Let’s talk about it later.” No, I needed answers to bring some type of symmetry to my thought processes. I needed to reconcile this entire “whole life insurance” concept. Once she explained it to me, I just said, what in the world does “whole” have to do with it?

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