Tips to Avoid Being Ripped Off by a Life Insurance Plan

Tips to Avoid Being Ripped Off by a Life Insurance Plan

As much as we want to refrain from thinking about death, the fact of the matter is that life is unpredictable. What we can predict, though, is what will happen to our assets and how our families will be taken care of through life insurance. While not an easy nor enjoyable task, you need to research a policy that will work for you. As with anything, there are many companies out there looking to swindle you, so you need to be careful. But, don’t worry; we’re here to help. The following are tips to avoid being ripped off by a life insurance plan:

Tips to Avoid Being Ripped Off by a Life Insurance Plan

Prior to starting your search, it needs to be decided whose life or lives will be covered in a plan and what types of coverage will be available in the case of death. Here’s how you can navigate the process of life insurance shopping:

  • Think about supplementing pension and social security income. A dual-income home no doubt helps to make things easier, but when one spouse passes, you have to live on much less. Life insurance can help alleviate some worry and serve as a partial income replacement for the surviving spouse. In this case, term life insurance is a great choice due specific time frames, but whole life insurance, which is a type of permanent life insurance that assures financial certainty, is even better due to the increasing cash value it provides. The downside, of course, is that it does cost more money. But, with guaranteed growth, it may be worth the investment.
  • Know how the agent gets paid before meeting with him or her. Before even setting up a meeting to look at different policies, find out how your potential agent is paid. Are they compensated through commission or are they salaried? The last thing you need when shopping for life insurance is to be treated like a paycheck. Make sure you’re making decisions that are best for you and not for the agent’s bank account.
  • Use an online calculator. An online calculator, like this one from New York Life, can help you see where you stand and how much your spouse will need to cover expenses. Look for calculators that actually provide information on the numbers and not just try to direct you to an agent.
  • Be open and honest with your agent or broker. It is imperative that you are open and honest with your broker. Be as clear as possible and as open as possible about your current situation and your needs. This will prevent you signing up for a plan that is not right for you, or, worse, an unexpected increase in rates.
  • Know your health history. Often times, you’ll need to have a medical examination when applying for life insurance. Be as prepared as possible by having a list of past surgeries, treated conditions, accidents, medications, and so on. This will make the entire process simpler and quicker for everyone including you.
  • Research the different types of life insurance. Two different main types of life insurance plans were discussed previously (term and whole life), but the two other main plans include universal and variable. Don’t go into a meeting with an insurance agent without having some background knowledge of the specifics of these plans. You’ll be able to make wiser decisions by doing so. This may be one of the more important tips to avoid being ripped off by a life insurance plan.

While we should always remain positive, we should also be prepared for the worst in life. It is an unfortunate thought. However, by taking the steps to protect your family for the future now, you’ll have peace of mind and truly be able to live life the fullest.

What tips would you add to the list? 

Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping (From a Fellow Mom)

Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

It’s hard to believe, but Back-to-School season is already here. The evenings are slowly starting to get shorter again, vacation time is just about all used up, and planning for school is in motion at full-speed ahead. Whether your student is preparing for college or kindergarten, back-to-school shoppers will spend roughly $688 per household this year, with 64% spent on electronics and apparel, the National Retail Federation (NRF) states. In fact, results show in the NRF’s annual survey that the combined 2017 spending for college and primary education will be $83.6 billion, a 10% increase from last year. While overwhelming, there are actually plenty of ways to save on back-to-school shopping. Below are just a few from a fellow mom:

Ways to Save on Back-to-School Shopping

Tips from a Fellow Mom:

I spoke with my good friend Krista, who currently lives in Philadelphia, to find out how she saves on back-to-school shopping. She and her husband just bought a new house, so I know she is definitely not trying to spend $600 on supplies.

“[Even before the house], when it comes to saving money, I’m all about it. It’s my passion,” she joked. “Back to school shopping is more than just pencils and a new lunch box – it spans to include shoes, jackets, a new haircut, and more. Add that to activity and sports fees, field trips, etc. and sending your child back to school became a bigger cost than budgeted.”

So, going beyond the coupons and sales, here are some ways she saves that you can try as well: 

1. “Know where you will shop and buy a gift card,” she advises. “Do you always shop at a particular store for clothing? Perhaps you love Kohls or TJ Maxx for back to school clothing. If you are going to a particular place to shop, you can save up to 20% off by purchasing a gift card ahead of time. Check out Raise.com for discounted gift cards that have a money-back guarantee. You have the peace of mind knowing the gift card is authentic and the savings in your wallet. Combine these savings with a coupon code or cashback site if you’re shopping online, and you can save up to 35-40%.”

Now, that’s a deal.

2. Another simple way that Krista saves money? Signing up for loyalty programs and email lists. This especially comes in handy when your child needs a back-to-school eye exam, haircut, or even a physical. 

In the last week, I have received 4 offers for free back to school kid haircuts and an offer for a free eye exam. This saves us extra money and exposes us to a new business that we will likely go back to in the future.”

3. Ask yourself, does it need to be new? Krista raises the point that kids grow out of clothing, shoes, sports equipment, and so on so fast that sometimes they don’t even wear what we bought.

“You can save upwards of 75% retail by shopping children’s consignment sales,” she said. “There may be many in your area coming up for the fall. A quick Google search can put you in touch with savings opportunities around the corner.”


Some General Tips:

In general, there are other ways to save on back-to-school shopping, especially for those headed to college. Here are a few:

  • Make a List: Make a list of what you need, then, before you even think about shopping, do an inventory check of what you already have. By cross-checking your lists of needs and haves, you’ll avoid spending money you did not need to spend.
  • Determine a Budget (And Stick With It): Once your list is made, create a budget for your back-to-school shopping and stick with it. Don’t allow trends or unnecessary product features affect you spending goals.
  • Go online: Regardless of age, there are many savings to be had by shopping online. A great site to find textbooks cheaper is textbooks.com. You can purchase hard copies or electronic versions as well as sell books to other people.
  • Save By Waiting: If you’re a procrastinator when it comes to shopping, you’ll actually be able to benefit by this trait in some ways. Pencils, notebooks, and even fall clothes will all be cheaper at the end of August and beginning of September. The cost of clothes can certainly add up, so waiting for deals before you splurge will be a great money-saving tactic for which your bank account will thank you.
  • Buy in Bulk: While buying in bulk is not always great for grocery shopping, it is when it comes to school supplies such as those notebooks and binders. These are items your student will likely need next year, too, so save money by stocking up ahead of time.

When you put your mind to it, you’ll find some really creative ways to save on back-to-school shopping. What tips would you add to the list that have worked for you?

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal On a Budget

how to give your home curb appeal on a budget

While the housing market is still not fully out of the red, there has been some positives in 2016. For one, millennials are finally starting to enter the market, which is a generation that some experts were concerned would never purchase homes, according to this Forbes article by real estate writer, Samantha Sharf. Sharf also noted that mortgage rates remained historically low in 2016. And although cities are still facing affordability issues, despite the increase of wages, homes are appreciating in value due to the decrease in demand to build new homes. In short, things seem to be looking up, even if it is at a slow pace.

Given the above, perhaps you’ve been considering selling your house to relocate or simply have a change of scenery. Or, conversely, maybe you’re simply interested in increasing your property’s value now so that, if or when the time comes, you’ll be ready. This could easily be a costly project, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to give your home curb appeal on a budget:

How to Give Your Home Curb Appeal On a Budget:

Sidewalks and Shutters

You may not realize it, but the simplest of tweaks can add a world of difference. It is often advised to pull out any weeds from between the sidewalk path leading to your home, tighten screws on any shutters to make sure they aren’t crooked or appear as though they may fall over, and the like. These fine details may be an effective (and simple) starting place.

Landscaping

Before planting anything new, make sure you have healthy soil or see where your current shrubbery could use improvements. Trim up overgrown bushes, clean up dead leaves, get rid of weeds in the grass and along the house, and so on. Quora user and real estate agent Andrey Sokurec recommends getting a spray tank and bottle of weed killer (available for roughly $42 total) and treating your yard with granulated fertilizer to make it greener longer.

Other landscaping tips to consider are to purchase colorful flowers for a nice pop if your exterior lacks color. You can incorporate shadow boxes below windows or on your porch railings, which will save money on mulch to line your house with flowers. Additionally, if you have space, you can look into planting trees on each side to frame your entry way. But, planter beware: Make sure to look into how large the trees will get first to avoid your home, particularly your front door, becoming hidden by them. Alternatively, you can use large potted plants to use at your doorway.

Paint

It’s amazing what a coat of paint can do, and this holds true for adding curb appeal. Painting your entire exterior will be costly, but you can simply paint your door, the trim, or shutters to provide the house with an updated look without breaking the bank.

Clean Up House

Keep your house looking nice on the outside by making sure toys are kept out of the yard, patio furniture isn’t damaged or looking decrepit, and the sidewalk and porch are swept. You should also try to power wash the outside of your home, especially if it is built with siding, to help give it a fresh face. Other than the cost of time, this will be essentially free to do.

Other ways to “clean up house” include but are not limited to:

  • Repainting or replacing your mailbox
  • Upgrading the numbers on your house
  • Replacing exterior lighting

But, before you start:

Even if you have no plans to sell your house anytime in the near future, you can still make these upgrades that will make you happy to come home to each time. But, before you start, you should determine what will look best with your home instead of trying to fit in an aspect that doesn’t work. Consider the following:

  • Take pictures. Interior designer Adrienne Kushner advises taking pictures of the exterior, including the sides and back of the house. This can help you see things you might otherwise miss. These photos can also assist in choosing shrubbery and colors that are right for your home.
  • Pick the right flowers and plants. Don’t plant anything without doing a little research on the type of plant and whether it will be a good fit for your environment and location. For example, flowers often need a lot of sunlight, and if your home is shadowed by surrounding trees, your flowers of choice may not be able to survive. It may also be more cost-effective to choose flowers that bloom annually rather than only live one season.
  • Choose colors that complement not take away from your home. With the pictures you take of your home, you may want to bring those with you to a local paint shop or home improvement store to see if they have any input on color choices for you. Let them know what style you’re going for, and they will likely provide you with some really helpful information, especially since they want you to buy paint from them.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t go overboard with shrubs and plants; simple is best to avoid a cluttered look. Need some inspiration? HelpMeBuild.com has some great suggestions here.
  • Have a budget in mind. Before you start any project, create a budget so that you do not go overboard and unnecessarily waste or spend money. If applicable, talk with your spouse first so that you are on the same page with spending.

What tips would you add on how to give your home curb appeal on a budget?