6. Your car and home insurance part two.

Welcome to the Dad Cents, 10 ways to put money back into your budget without stopping the fun stuff, series. The countdown continues with the second of two articles about car and house insurance.

6. Your car and home insurance part two.

What is your greatest risk?

Good illusionists are well trained in the art of drawing our attention with showmanship to  give the perception of magic at work.  As the illusion begins our focus is on the main subject but quickly drawn to a side character using misdirection. Once our attention is drawn, the illusion is complete.

Unfortunately, many of us have had our attention redirected from the main subject by some insurance companies. Now that I have your attention, I am sure you are wondering how, so let me explain.

The first question we need to ask is “What is the main subject?” The main subject is the area of your greatest risk. As you look at your areas of risk in regard to your house and auto insurance, there are two areas in which to look. The first is your cash out of pocket risk due to your deductable, and the second is your liability risk.

Now let’s apply the question, “What is my risk?” to our two areas of focus. If you have a $500 dollar deductable, what is your risk? $500. If you have a $50,000 liability limit, you are at fault and the other driver has $100,000 of medical bills, what is your risk? $50,000!

The focus of most commercials and insurance companies is to help us look at saving us money on our premium! This is good, but at what risk? Hopefully, you can see a hint of the misdirection. Should our greatest concern be our deductable or our liability limit? Our liability limit, hands down.

The chances of having a life-changing  accident are much lower than that of a fender bender but the risk is just too great to ignore.  Most states have minimum liability limits, which unfortunately guide many driver’s decisions.

I would urge you to check your policy and schedule an update with your insurance agent. Having the proper coverage is critical in this day and age. If your liability limits are too low, you may be putting your other assets at risk!

In the next article, I will talk about the ins and outs of house alarms and money-saving  ideas!

Is it possible for everyone to use these ideas? Maybe, but I will make one promise. If you do not try, you will not save money!

Make sure also to watch for our next Savvy Dads webinar!

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Friday, September 2nd, 2011 Teaching 1 Comment

6. Your car and home insurance.

Welcome to the Dad Cents, capsule no rx 10 ways to put money back into your budget without stopping the fun stuff, series. The countdown continues with the first of two articles about car and house insurance.

6. Your car and home insurance.

Can you really save 15% by switching to another insurance company?

Every insurance company works under the same premise; take in more money than they pay out! Come to think of it, every successful business I know, works in a similar fashion. One key to success for insurance companies is to spread their risk across the area they service, whether local or national, just like a wise investor.

By law, we must have liability insurance on our vehicles.  Furthermore, an insurance company mandated requirement exists for coverage on your home while you have a mortgage. Unfortunately, eliminating debt on our vehicles and home does not remove our requirement for insurance (once a house is debt free the requirement is removed but the financial and liability risks are much too high to cancel the policy). Chances are we probably will have insurance payments for the majority of our lives!

The huge question is, “Are you paying more than you need to for your coverage?” When I watch TV, every second or third commercial suggests an answer to this question. “You can save money by switching to our policy!”

I am very intrigued when I see this battle persisting when I know every insurance company is regulated in the same way; by the state in which they are licensed to operate. The state regulations also set the rules for what insurance companies can and cannot do! For example, all the companies have mandated reserves to cover pay outs when accidents or catastrophes occur.

However, if they are all treated similarly by law then how could one company say you can pay 15% less with their company?

The answer is: Their philosophy on local agents! Fifteen percent is roughly the cost of paying a neighborhood insurance agent to meet with and help policy holders. Most internet insurance companies do not have local agents, or if they do, the agents are very sparse. Even though some companies may have representatives in locations, their main contact points are either the internet or via phone.

I have several concerns with most families utilizing these types of companies. Car and home policies have many intricacies that can cause headaches and leave them underinsured. Here are a few thoughts to help you make a good decision.

Keys to making a good decision:

  1. Do you have a very good knowledge of insurance?
  2. Can you get the kind of personal service you desire?
  3. Have you had many claims in the past?
  4. Is the company financially sound?
  5. Check with your state insurance commissioner about track records of the companies. It is much easier to find out about customer service before you make a change rather than learning the hard way.

In the next article, I will talk about the importance of having the proper coverage and some considerations so you can get the best policy for your family!

Is it possible for everyone to use these ideas? Maybe, but I will make one promise. If you do not try, you will not save money!

Make sure also to watch for our next Savvy Dads webinar!

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Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 Teaching 1 Comment

7. Your TV/Internet/Phone bill.

Welcome to the Dad Cents, 10 ways to put money back into your budget without stopping the fun stuff, series. The countdown continues.

7. Your TV/Internet/Phone bill.

Are you paying an arm and a leg to be connected?

My wife and I sat down last week to watch TV, and as she scrolled through our at least 200 channels she said, “How can there be nothing on TV?” Our world has dramatically changed even from the time I was in college. As I sat down today to write, my wife’s comment reminded of my college years and the Bruce Springsteen song 57 Channels in which he sang “There’s fifty-seven channels and nothin’ on…”.

Today, we have the opportunity to be as connected as we desire. Our Televisions, internet service, phone service and mobile service give us the ability to be in the know and always in reach of our friends, family and work. Smart phones allow us to do all of these things in one device!

The key question is: Are you paying too much to be connected?

Media companies want us to buy their bundle! These packages are advertised relentlessly via billboard, radio, the internet and TV. The gist of the ad is you will pay less for their bundle than by purchasing elsewhere. The media companies are using the same theory as the insurance companies.

The theory the media companies’ use says you will be more likely to remain a customer because of the number of connections you have to their company. For example, one company is easy to work with, but if you have your phone with one company, the internet with another, and TV with yet another, you will have to pay multiple bills get multiple statements and have more companies to deal with. However, are they giving you the best deal?

Companies are always changing the rules but many times, the bundles, are not the best deal. Just recently, I was encouraged to look into my service by my bank account because we could not afford the bill. I thoroughly looked through all the opportunities and found I could  save $35 per month and actually get faster internet service by making a change out of a bundle!

Keys to making a good decision:

  1. Does your rate eventually increase?
  2. Can you get good or better service by separate companies?
  3. Are you buying the package that has more channels than you actually watch?
  4. Will you share band width with your neighbors?
  5. Can you get internet service without purchasing phone service? (VOIP service can be very inexpensive)

Is it possible for everyone to use these ideas? Maybe, but I will make one promise. If you do not try, you will not save money!

Make sure also to watch for our next Savvy Dads webinar!

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Monday, June 13th, 2011 Teaching No Comments

8. The sweet smell of saving money on your trash service and more!

Are you spending more than necessary on your trash service, doctor link house alarm and postage?

One of the easiest jobs in the world is the one we love to hate! Taking out the trash can be smelly, find drugs sticky and just gross. I remember when we had little ones and our trash can was awful. I would put on one of my paint masks to hide as much of the smell as I could every time I took out another bag of diapers. Have you checked with the competition on your trash service lately?

I was relaying the fact that I was writing this article to a friend, site and he passed on a great example I want to share with you. My friend owns a business and was paying around $200 per month for his trash service. Obviously, he creates more waste than we do in our homes, but after getting fed up with his monthly bill, he finally checked rates with other companies, and made a switch. He is now paying $70 per month for his service! Another trick I learned is to ask if your company has as needed pickup.  My parents, for example, rarely have a full can every week.

House and office alarms are another expense that can be shopped. If you are out of your initial contract, monitoring can be provided by any company! Another friend gave me an alarm example I want to share. This friend owns an office building and needed to change his monitoring service because he rented a section of  vacant space.  Even though his call to the alarm company was to change and not cancel his service, the rate was lowered more than he anticipated to keep his business.

Postage costs are another expense that can be managed. Do you still mail your bills? Most companies have the ability to take payments via their website. Furthermore, your bank probably has bill pay service, which allows you to tell them how much to pay and when the payment needs to be made. Every 10 payments you can make online, you save $4.40 now and in all probability more when postal rates increase.

Is it possible for everyone to use these ideas? Maybe, but I will make one promise. If you do not try, you will not save money!

Make sure also to watch for our next Savvy Dads webinar June 2nd. It is FREE and Ken Canfield PhD will talk about Dads & Daughters with special guest Maurice Hilliard!!! Click here to register.

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Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 Financial concepts No Comments

9. Shop in clearance areas

Did you know many stores have a detailed mark down process for items and a specific clearance area to sell those items?

I do know most stores have a clearance area.

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Every retailer has one problem in common; many items they sell are either discontinued, viagra 40mg purchased and returned, have new and improved packaging or are one time purchases. When these situations occur, the last item or two typically is marked down for quick sale, because the new product needs to be “merchandised” (this is the term retailers use for placing products in their stores). This problem is good for savvy shoppers!

Being attentive and learning how stores operate is the key to finding these deals! Every company is different but I will give you several methods of which I have learned. The first and most typical is an actual clearance area in an obscure area of the store. The easiest way to find these areas is to ask one of the managers in the store. Many employees may not know where or if there is a specific clearance area. The second, and more difficult spot, is using a different colored tag. One store I am thinking of specifically uses a yellow and white tag to indicate everyday  prices and a white tag for mark downs. The third and most difficult is if the cost reduction is indicated by the numbers in the price. Survey the prices for this type of store, the last numbers of the price are usually the same, such as 8 or 9. The marked down products will have an entirely different number at the end of the price, such as a 1!

For example, let me share my last experience using this method. I was at my favorite store in the whole world, I am not going to mention a name, but you have to show a card to get in, and I strolled directly to the clearance area as I always do. Upon arrival, I found, what I thought to be, a fantastic deal. A Honda Black Max, self-propelled mower was in a box and had been used one time. The original price was $299, and was marked down to $209! This thought ran through my mind; “The mower is almost 33% off for the initial price for someone else taking the time to set up the mower for me! SOLD!!!” I do need to share some back story because I do not make large purchases regularly.  I owned two  push mowers already (one I had purchased 12 years earlier at this particular store and was in the clearance area as well) that I could sell. My total cost ( I sold the other mowers pretty easily) ended up being $60 for a brand new Honda mower!!!

Is it possible to use this idea for every purchase? Maybe, but I will make one promise. If you do not try, you never will make it work.

Make sure also to watch for our next Savvy Dads webinar June 2nd. It is FREE and Ken Canfield PhD will talk about Dads & Daughters with special guest Maurice Hilliard!!! Click here to register.

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Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 Financial concepts No Comments

10. Shop on Tuesdays

Welcome to the Dad Cents, no rx 10 ways to put money back into your budget without stopping the fun stuff, view series. The countdown begins.

10. Shop on Tuesdays

You might think this sounds a little odd and wonder how the day of the week matters, medicine but let me explain.

In most retail establishments Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the largest traffic/shopping days of the week. More people means more accidents such as torn bags, displays falling over and any other mishap you could think of occurring. On Monday, the store employees clean up from the weekend traffic and make special packages for those who are shrewd shoppers.

Therefore, Tuesday, is the day to look for these special packages. By special packages, I mean the products that have been in an accident and are currently marked down from their retail price for quick sale. If you know what to look for, spotting these products is typically, quite easy. Most retail sellers have their own marking system but they will typically have a special sticker, special place for mark downs or some type of repackaging.

For example, I will share my last experience using this method. Our yard was looking a little thin and the dandelions were thick, consequently I was going to be in the vicinity of my local home improvement warehouse stores. It just happened to be Tuesday, so I stopped for lawn fertilizer and grass seed. Upon arrival, I walked directly to the yard care section of the store and proceeded to look for damaged bags or bags that were wrapped in another bag. I quickly found a bag of each product that I sought and found a store employee. After our conversation, the bags of fertilizer and seed that were originally priced at $80 plus tax, I purchased for $40 plus tax!

Is it possible to use this idea for every purchase? Maybe, but I will make one promise. If you do not try, you never will make it work.

Make sure also to watch for our next Savvy Dads webinar June 2nd. It is FREE and Ken Canfield PhD will talk about Dads & Daughters with special guest Maurice Hilliard!!! Click here to register.

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Friday, May 20th, 2011 Financial concepts No Comments

New series: 10 ways to put money back into your budget without stopping the fun stuff!

The economy has been brutal to many and putting money back into the budget would be helpful to many families. Over the next several weeks, online I am going to write 10 posts covering easy, advice practical methods to reduce your spending without ending your daily Starbucks run, Sonic happy hour or eating out on Fridays. Alternatively, your conscience may speak and encourage you to begin giving more to your church or a ministry in need!

If you apply the ten ideas I will share with you, I believe you will have the potential of putting $100-$400 per month back into your budget. Some of you may know and already be applying some of these ideas, but together they can dramatically help you improve your monthly cash flow.

The first series post will be Friday, May 20th at www.dadcents.com/blog. Please share this with your friends!!!

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Thursday, May 19th, 2011 Financial concepts No Comments

Do you influence your teen’s money habits?

The results of a new poll by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s financial literacy Web site, Themint.org show YOU, the parent, have the greatest influence on your child’s money habits! According to the press release, “The poll asked teens to choose who had the biggest influence on the way that they saved or spent money. In a landslide, seven out of ten kids aged 17 and younger said “parents” swayed their actions the most, outpacing “friends” (16%), “TV, magazines, books, radio or celebrities” (14%), and “teachers” (1%).”

Do these survey results surprise you? The results may or may not be a revelation to you but the end result should be an evaluation of your preparedness to model and teach your children. Would fear or relief be your response if you knew your children would have spending habits just like yours when they become adults?

Northwestern Mutual’s survey “also asked teens how they would grade their parents as role models for saving and spending money. Nearly seven out of ten kids aged 17 and younger gave their parents either a “B” or a “C” grade, saying that moms and dads should spend money more responsibly and involve everyone in conversations about the family budget. Less than 30 percent of children honored their parents with an “A.” Fortunately, only two percent of parents received a failing grade.” How would you grade your ability to model wise financial decisions?

I have found kids are always ready to evaluate their parents but are you ready for the answer? I know teaching your children financial principles is challenging because it is not second nature for most of us. You have a responsibility to your children and I recognize the desire of every parent I speak with is for your children to leave home knowing more about money than you did when you left your parents home.

What are you going to do to affect that change?

 

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Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 Financial concepts No Comments

3.4.2011 Proverbs 4:27

Proverbs Post #38-

Today I was reading in chapter 4, and verse 27 jumped out to me today.  It says:

4:27 Do not turn to the right or to the left;
turn yourself away from evil.

 

Wow! I was reading this morning and God clocked me in the head! I do not know how many times I have read this and never struck me like it did today. This is so vivid in my mind that I had to write today even though I was not planning on writing.

Have you ever told your kids to look away from something? I have been told as a kid and have told my daughters to look away from something. What is our natural response? Close your eyes and think for a moment? We are drawn to look at the thing we are not supposed to look at, right! The most memorable case of this was Lot’s wife when she turned back to look at Sodom and Gomorrah.

If you can picture this, we are not instructed to walk around to the right or to the left but turn around and walk the other way. Why? We might look! We are always given a way out of a temptation and if we go left or right, we might look  and be tempted.

Are you peeking or walking the other way?  

I want to challenge you to take up reading the Proverb of the day and the entire chapter as well.  Lord, please help each one of us to keep our focus on things above and not the things of this earth.  Amen.

I am using the Net Bible to quote from for these posts

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Friday, March 4th, 2011 Proverbs No Comments

Traveling Dads: Ideas to help keep in touch with your kids

Do you remember the old Cingular commercial where the dad took a stuffed animal on the road and took pictures of the animal in each place he visited?  I found it on Youtube for those who do not remember. 

My daughter saw the commercial and would strategically hide the animal somewhere in my stuff! As I would take pictures, I emailed or texted the picture back to my wife and daughters to see where I was and what I was doing.

I was asked an awesome question this week and wanted to respond with on my blog as well as a personal message.  “I am away from my daughters this week for business and am really missing them. Do you have any clever ideas on how to connect?” was the question posed. I traveled quite a bit last year and have some ideas that I found to be very effective. 

I do realize that several of these options need to be initiated before leaving for a trip but some are doable even while on the road. 

I pray with my daughters every night before they go to bed, so when I travel, this is sometimes a challenge.  I know  many dads who love to tell their children, especially those of us who have daughters, good night before they go to bed.  I have several solutions for this issue.

  1. Call them on your mobile phone no matter what you are doing! If you need to excuse yourself from the meeting, then do so, to talk to them before bed.
  2. Before you leave, make a video for each night you are gone. It does not need to be longer than 30 to 90 seconds. In this age of easy video on phones and every digital camera available, make a short video for each child.  This does take some time, but I have found is well worth the effort!

Staying in contact during the day can be a challenge but here are a couple of ideas.

  1. If your children are old enough to have mobile phones then texting is one option.    
  2. A really cool connection point is using video on your phone to send them a recorded message via sms (text messaging).  I can record a short video on my phone and send it to my wife’s phone, which she and my daughters can watch. She in return can make a video response with the girls for me!

Another great option is to use Skype or Oovoo to stay in touch.  They are even better if you have video capabilities on your laptop and computer at home. This past December I spent a week in Romania and could  speak to my wife and daughters via Skype. Skype is even available on your mobile phone through an android and iphone app.  

As a final note, I want to encourage the dads to really think ahead about staying connected.   Traveling can be a break from the day to day stress but it also is a time for temptation.  I know when I stay connected, my mind stays at home when my body is on the road!  

I would love to hear from anyone who has more ideas about staying connected while on the road.

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Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 Teaching No Comments

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