19 Purchases to Avoid at Warehouse Stores

Unhappy woman with an apple
Doreen Salcher / Shutterstock.com

Look, I like warehouse clubs as much as the next person standing in line for the jumbo hot dog at Costco. But let’s be real: There are things you never want to buy from these stores.

You’ll want to avoid some items because they’re not such a great deal. For other items, the bulk size makes them impractical for the average family. No reason to buy something you can’t use before it goes bad.

Here are some things we think you should consider skipping the next time you shop at your favorite warehouse store.

1. Books

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Many of the items on this list aren’t good buys because they’ll go bad before you get your money’s worth. Books are a different story. You should skip books at the warehouse store because you can probably find them cheaper at Amazon.

Better yet, don’t buy books at all. Switch to e-books, and you will find plenty of no-cost options, as we illustrate in “11 Places to Find Free E-Books.”

Don’t own an e-reader? You don’t need one. See “This Trick Lets You Read E-Books Without an E-Reader.”

2. Spices

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Let’s start with some of the items you can’t possibly use up before they go bad. At the top of the list are jumbo-size containers of single spices like cinnamon, saffron and oregano.

Price-wise, they look like a fantastic deal when compared with the small containers in the supermarket. But unless you’re feeding an army, you’re not going to use up those spices before they lose their flavor.

3. Bread

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Bread is another item that isn’t necessarily a bad deal at the warehouse club. However, you’ll probably get so much that you’ll have to freeze some of it to prevent it from going bad.

And if you’re going to freeze bread, you might as well see if you have a bakery outlet nearby where you can get bread products for an even lower price.

Never heard of bakery outlets? We explain what they are — and how to find one in your area — in “How I Buy Bread for $1 or Less.”

4. Printer ink

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Printer ink is another so-so purchase at the warehouse clubs. The prices aren’t bad, but you could do better.

My favorite place to buy ink is Staples, which has a rewards program that lets you earn rewards for your purchase as well as additional rewards for recycling used cartridges.

You can also buy “remanufactured” ink cartridges from a number of retailers.

5. Produce

Young woman eating an apple
michaeljung / Shutterstock.com

Produce, especially organic produce, is a deal at warehouse stores. I know some people who have warehouse memberships just for the great prices on produce. They are the type of people who get their five servings of fruit and veggies every day.

But be honest with yourself. If you eat just one apple a week, skip the warehouse produce section. Otherwise, you’ll be filling your fridge with food you’ll be throwing out in a week.

To save money on produce without buying it in bulk, check out “6 Secret Places to Find Coupons for Fresh Fruits and Veggies.”

6. Movies

Monkey Business Images / Money Talks News

Like books, you’ll find Blu-ray discs cheaper online, usually on Amazon. Today’s streaming services mean you may not want to clutter up your home with discs any longer. You could get your movies online instead. Or there’s always the library for free rentals.

For more ideas, check out our article on free streaming movies and TV shows.

7. Electronics

televisions
Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock.com

Some people say electronics are great buys at warehouse stores. Others strongly disagree. Those who argue against buying laptops and televisions at these stores say you’ll find a bigger selection and better prices at places like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon.

Regardless of where you shop, wait for Black Friday, when electronics are often deeply discounted as doorbusters.

8. Flour

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Time for true confessions: I have a partially-used 25-pound bag of flour on my bottom pantry shelf. I can’t remember when I bought it, and I’m slightly scared to open it now.

I bought it because I thought I baked a lot. I was wrong.

The giant bag of flour feels like a great deal at a warehouse club until you’ve been storing it for a year — and find pantry moths inside.

9. Minced garlic

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While we’re discussing my warehouse mistakes, let’s add that you shouldn’t buy that big jar of fresh minced garlic.

I cook for a big family and use garlic in the majority of my meals. I still didn’t put a dent into emptying this jar before it went bad on me.

10. Nuts

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You can probably make it through a bulk bag of snacking nuts before they go bad, but nuts for baking are another story.

Before you end up with rancid ingredients, consider whether you’re better off buying from the supermarket just what you need for the recipe.

11. Cereal

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You can find some good deals on cereal at warehouse clubs, but this is not a slam dunk. Before you buy, ask yourself if your kids won’t get sick of weeks upon weeks of Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast.

Even if your family loves the brand, you might be able to find a better deal combining coupons and sales at the grocery store.

12. Milk

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Milk isn’t a bad deal at warehouse stores, but there’s no reason to make a special trip for it either.

Fat-free milk can be cheaper at the warehouse store, but a gallon of whole milk at Costco is roughly the same price as a gallon of milk at my grocery store. The grocery store will put it on sale occasionally too.

13. Soda

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Soda — or pop, as we like to call it here in Michigan — isn’t really that good of a deal at a warehouse club. It goes on sale at the supermarket so often that you can stock up at a better price there.

Watch for the best deals around holidays like Memorial Day and big game days like the Super Bowl.

14. Sunscreen

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Each summer, warehouse clubs put out multipacks of sunscreen and sell them at a discount. If your family spends long days at the pool or beach, these can be a good deal.

However, if you only occasionally go out in the sun or fail to apply sunscreen every time you go outside — as experts recommend — you might not get through all the bottles before they expire.

15. Lotion

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A little bit of lotion often goes a long way. Before buying a big container of it — or any skin care product for that matter — think about whether you’ll go through it before it expires or becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.

16. Stamps

getting mail
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

You can buy 100 stamps at a warehouse store for what is essentially face value, but why bother? Given our collective love of online billing, email and social media, most people won’t send that much mail in a year.

Even if you need bulk stamps for holiday cards or another purpose, your only option at the warehouse is usually the basic flag design. Wouldn’t you rather get some fun or festive stamps from the post office for the same price?

17. Upgraded membership

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If you pay for it, membership clubs will give you an upgraded membership that comes with extra perks, most notably cash back or similar rewards on your purchases.

If you’re a warehouse store super shopper, it might make sense to get the upgraded membership. For everyone else, you may be paying more than you reap in benefits.

18. Diapers and wipes

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We have fortunately passed the diapers stage of life in my house. However, the word on the street is that warehouse clubs are not the place to go for diapers and wipes.

Instead, look for the best deals using the Subscribe & Save feature on Amazon.

19. Canned goods

successo images / Shutterstock.com

There’s no reason to stock up on bulk canned goods at a warehouse club when you can find them on sale for comparable prices at the supermarket.

Tip: February is Canned Food Month, so that’s a good time to watch for deals at your favorite store and stock up.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

With Democrats in power, will CRA be expanded to nonbanks?

WASHINGTON — The election of President Biden and turnover in leadership of the federal banking agencies not only means a new regulatory approach to implementing the Community Reinvestment Act. It could shine a brighter light on Congress potentially expanding the law to nonbanks.

A legislative effort led by Democrats to subject fintechs and other unregulated institutions that offer banking services to CRA exams would be an uphill battle, and some observers say lawmakers are not likely to focus on such a proposal anytime soon.

Yet Biden supported a CRA expansion during the presidential campaign to cover nonbank mortgage providers and insurance companies. A policy brief released by his campaign last February said the CRA currently “does little to ensure that ‘fintechs’ and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community.”

Just as the bank regulators weigh fundamental changes to the CRA exam process, industry representatives and community advocates have long argued for extending CRA standards to financial institutions other than banks. And some Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have pushed for legislative approaches expanding CRA to a broader array of companies.

“It’s time to look at how those entities can best demonstrate that they serve their entire communities,” said Krista Shonk, vice president of regulatory compliance and policy of the American Bankers Association.

Others say financial services companies that generally receive benefits from the government should be held accountable for their level of investment in their respective communities.

Jesse Van Tol, CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said it is feasible that Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress may pursue some kind of legislative package focused on addressing racial inequities, and that the inclusion of CRA-like obligations for nonbank financial companies could be folded in alongside other initiatives.

“I think almost every financial services company is the product of, or in some way the beneficiary of, the government infrastructure that regulates them,” Van Tol said.

In the same way that the government can point to federal deposit insurance and chartering as exclusive government benefits for banks that warrant greater responsibilities, he said, the trillions of dollars distributed by the government to large companies in the wake of the pandemic could come with similar strings.

“There’s a lot of evidence that many financial markets, especially mortgage markets, are essentially propped up by the government,” Van Tol said. “That means a rationale is there for requiring something in return.”

Biden’s campaign said the then-candidate “will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve.”

However, with everything else on the policy agenda — including fighting the brutal economic effects of the pandemic — some aren’t holding their breath that a legislative overhaul of the CRA will happen anytime soon.

“I don’t think, realistically, that it will happen in the next couple of years” said Van Tol.

A legislative focus on CRA could be combined with broader policy questions about fintech regulation, including whether states or the federal government are better positioned to charter and supervise nonbanks that increasingly want access to the banking system.

But despite Democrats’ victories that gave them control of Congress, the margin in the Senate is razor thin with Vice President Kamala Harris holding the tie-breaking vote.

“You’ve got a really tight margin when you need every single Democrat voting for something,” Van Tol said.

And some Republican support is necessary for standalone bills that can be blocked by filibuster. Analysts also doubt a CRA bill could be attached to any must-pass budget bills that only require a majority in the Senate.

“In an ideal world, Congress would focus on the fundamental frictions with federalism and fintech, which would include a thoughtful consideration of everything from chartering to CRA requirements,” said Isaac Boltansky, director of policy research at Compass Point.

“Needless to say, we do not live in an ideal world and I am bearish on legislation via regular order,” he added.

Since the passage of the CRA in 1977, banks have been required to provide financial services to local communities with “low-to-moderate income,” a technical term based on Census data. But in recent decades, banks have lost significant market share of financial services to nonbanks, which advocates say has diminished the impact of the CRA nationwide.

Both times the law has been meaningfully reformed — first in the 1990s and most recently under the Trump administration — calls followed to expand the law’s obligations to nonbanks, including credit unions, mortgage lenders and most recently, fintechs.

Analysts say that the impact of such changes could be significant.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market share for mortgage originations among nondepository institutions grew from 24% to 58% between 2008 and 2019.

Between 1990 and 2018, the banking sector’s share of 1-4 family mortgages dropped from 40% to 24%, according to analysis by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. In that same period, banks’ share of multifamily residential mortgages dropped from 44% to 33%, and in consumer credit, the figure fell from 52% to 42%.

“We’re talking about how the financial services marketplace has evolved and is still evolving at a rapid pace,” said Shonk of the ABA. “We’re not limited to the days of having to go to the local bank, and more and more assets are being held by nonbanks of various sorts.”

Boltansky said despite the national focus on ending racial inequities, which could address strengthening the CRA, the still-simmering political divisions in Congress make legislation unlikely.

“The [Community Reinvestment Act] is clearly part of the broader economic justice conversation, and we should expect headlines and proposals,” said Boltanksy, “but I need to see a demonstrable thaw in our political discourse before becoming bullish on” such a plan moving forward.

Other challenges to expanding the CRA are structural and go deeper than political will. As written in 1977, the statute is a piece of banking law, analysts stress, making it difficult to simply drag and drop other industries into it.

“The CRA is built around the concepts of deposits and bank branches,” said Randy Benjenk, a partner at Covington. “When Congress passed the CRA, it was concerned that banks were taking deposits from low-to-moderate-income communities without lending back in. But mortgage and insurance companies don’t take deposits, and they don’t have branches in the CRA sense.”

“Without the concept of deposits, it’s not clear how you would measure CRA obligations. You can create a regime that doesn’t include those concepts or has a substitute, but you’d be starting from scratch,” Benjenk said.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

MBS Day Ahead: Defensive Shift is a Cause For Concern; Yields Struggling With an Important Floor

MBS Day Ahead: Defensive Shift is a Cause For Concern; Yields Struggling With an Important Floor

The GA senate election shift is old news.  It did the damage it was always likely to do, but bonds had a good show of support by the end of the following week.  That made good enough sense considering the pandemic is driving the market and the pandemic can’t be quickly defeated.  But it’s worth noting that the pandemic is also driving central bank policy, and when those policies are tweaked–even subtly–bonds can and will react.  This morning’s change to the ECB’s PEPP is the latest example.

If you didn’t click the link above, the nutshell version is this: the European Central Bank made a subtle change to its pandemic relief bond buying program that COULD mean it will buy slightly less than the maximum amounts.  When these programs are initially announced, markets account for a scheduled amount of bond purchases (good for rates).  If central banks say or do something to call those amounts into question, bond markets adjust their expectations accordingly (bad for rates).  That’s what we’re seeing this morning.

Additionally, ECB President Lagarde made several remarks during today’s press conference that weren’t entirely negative/downbeat.  Bonds reacted to those too.  

The net effect is a moderate amount of upward pressure in bond yields today.  While this isn’t the biggest day of selling we’ve seen recently (not by a long shot), it comes at an inopportune time.  10yr yields have been trying for days to break below 1.075%.  They’ve come within 1bp of that EVERY day for the past 6 days, and they’ve actually touched that level on 4 of those days–with the wee hours of this morning providing the most recent example.  The bounce was already in place before the ECB policy announcement and press conference, but those events added to the weakness.

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NOTE: on the chart above, the simultaneous sell-off in stocks and bonds is a hallmark of a reaction to lower expectations from a major central bank (central bank bond buying is typically considered a rising tide that lifts all ships, i.e. good for stocks and bonds).

Another note on the chart above is that it was created at the worst point of the morning so far.  We’ve bounced a bit since then, which is reassuring in the short term.  In the bigger picture, however, let’s go back to that 1.075% level.  We have been a bit worried that the friendly bounce last Tuesday continually failed to materialize into a deeper, positive correction.  1.075% has quickly become the waterloo for said correction.  That’s the level to beat at the moment (and it has yet to be beaten).  The risk here is that yields are simply consolidating the recent weakness before another jump.  The longer we fail to break 1.075%, the greater the danger.

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MBS Pricing Snapshot

Pricing shown below is delayed, please note the timestamp at the bottom. Real time pricing is available via MBS Live.

MBS

UMBS 2.0

103-04 : -0-03

Treasuries

10 YR

1.1130 : +0.0230

Pricing as of 1/21/21 9:54AMEST

Tomorrow’s Economic Calendar

Time Event Period Forecast Prior
Thursday, Jan 21
8:30 Philly Fed Business Index * Jan 12.0 9.1
8:30 House starts mm: change (%) Dec 1.2
8:30 Build permits: change mm (%) Dec 5.9
8:30 Housing starts number mm (ml) Dec 1.560 1.547
8:30 Building permits: number (ml) Dec 1.604 1.635
8:30 Jobless Claims (k) w/e 910 965

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

True Travel Insurance Review Story – Surgery in the Dominican Republic

Today, I have a great article written by my sister-in-law and editor, Ariel Gardner. She is sharing her travel insurance review story, and goes in-depth on the travel insurance process. I asked her to write about this because I feel like it’s not really discussed, yet there is a lot to learn! You may have seen her here before talking about taking her side hustle full-time, living in a small house, real life frugality, and more.

Earlier this year, I was enjoying myself on a relaxing Caribbean cruise with one of my best friends.

I had breakfast delivered to my room every morning, drank fancy cocktails in the evening, and barely thought about the travel insurance policy I bought just in case.

On the fourth day of our cruise, we docked in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and disembarked to explore the city. Our group ended up at Fortaleza Ozama, a Spanish fort built in 1502.

We walked up four or five flights of stairs to get a view from the top, and on the first step back down, I fell and broke my leg.

It wasn’t a major fall.

But I twisted my leg in just the right way to end up with a spiral fracture that broke several bones in my ankle, my tibia, and fibula. 

There was so much chaos as we figured out how to handle everything, from whether or not to have surgery in the Dominican Republic and how to fly my husband down.

On top of everything, this was at the beginning of March 2020, just as the U.S. and many other countries were shutting their borders down because of COVID-19.

The impressive Fortaleza Ozama. 

My travel insurance policy went from an afterthought to a necessity as I racked up more than $10,000 of out-of-pocket medical costs and unexpected travel expenses in just a couple of days.

Eight months after this whole ordeal began, I’ve finally got closure. My travel insurance claims are paid, and I had my last visit with the surgeon who fixed my leg with a metal rod and seven screws.

I learned so much about the travel insurance process over these past few months, and I was excited when Michelle asked me to share my experience. 

My biggest takeaway from it all? I will always buy travel insurance when traveling out of the country, and I’m about to explain why.

Related content:

My True Travel Insurance Review Story & Why You Should Consider Travel Insurance

The cost and details of my travel insurance plan

You can expect travel insurance to cost 5%-10% of your total trip cost. The cost largely depends on what kind of coverage you want, where you’re traveling, length and cost of trip, and your age. 

I decided to purchase a travel insurance plan through Generali Global Assistance because they had high ratings and offered the kind of plan I wanted. 

For $142.68 my trip would be covered under Generali’s Preferred Plan, which offered the following coverage limits:

  • Trip cancellation: 100% of trip cost
  • Trip interruption: 150% of trip cost
  • Travel delay: $1,000 per person
  • Baggage loss: $1,500 per person
  • Sporting equipment: $1,500 per person
  • Sporting equipment delay: $300 per person
  • Missed connection: $750 per person
  • Medical & dental: $150,000 per person
  • Emergency assistance & transportation: $500,000 per person
  • Accidental death & dismemberment (air flight accident): $75,000 per person/$150,000 per plan
  • Accidental death & dismemberment (travel accident): $25,000 per person/$50,000 per plan

There were a few aspects of this plan that I was really concerned about, including trip cancellation and interruption. I was leaving for a cruise as the COVID-19 pandemic was hitting the U.S., and there was a real possibility something might happen to my travel plans.

Cruising at the start of a global pandemic wasn’t an awesome idea, but luckily no one on our ship showed signs or tested positive for COVID-19 after getting back to the states.

My plan offered “cancel for any reason” coverage for trip cancellation and interruption. This is the most comprehensive kind of coverage – you’re reimbursed for a portion of your costs no matter what your reasons are – but it’s a little more expensive. 

Medical coverage wasn’t a huge priority to me because I assumed the chances of getting hurt were pretty slim. This is laughable now.

Despite feeling like medical coverage wasn’t necessary, the reason I got travel insurance (with higher medical coverage) was because of a story an acquaintance told me a few years earlier.

This woman had gone on a 10-day cruise in the Mediterranean, and her esophagus spontaneously ruptured a few days into the cruise. This is an incredibly serious condition that will result in death if it’s not immediately treated.

When the cruise ship doctor realized what was happening, they ordered a helicopter to medivac her to the closest hospital. I can’t remember which country she ended up in, but between surgery, complications, and recovery, she ended up in the hospital for two months.

She paid $450 for a premium travel insurance plan, and it covered all of the $1,000,000+ expenses she incurred. From health care, medivac, trip interruption costs, and flights back and forth for her husband.

With that story stuck in my head, my worst-case-scenario mindset kicked in and told me to buy travel insurance for my cruise.

What my travel insurance actually covered

I’ve broken my ankle before and the treatment is pretty straightforward and easy. Slap a boot on your leg and be on your way. This break was worse, and being in a foreign country complicated things.

First of all, I sustained an open fracture. That means my tibia bone broke through my skin, which puts you at risk of infection. Had it been a closed break, maybe I could have gotten back on the cruise ship, had the onboard doctor set my leg, and cruise back on painkillers until I got home.

Open fractures need to be treated with surgery as soon as possible so the wound can be cleaned out. Surgery meant that I would not be getting back on the cruise ship. 

There was a lot of debate about where to take me – the Dominican Republic has a very different health system. It was decided that the best care would come from a private clinic. 

The clinic required a deposit of 80,000 Dominican Pesos (DOP) before I could be treated. The exchange rate varies day-to-day, but this equals $1,369 at the time of writing.

I was put on an IV drip for antibiotics, given IV painkillers, was x-rayed, had an electrocardiogram, and was prepped for surgery. The surgery to clean out the wound was quick, but it still required anesthesia. 

The surgeon said I also needed an ORIF (open reduction internal fixation) to fix my leg. This is where they fix your break with a rod and screws. It’s not a complicated surgery, but after talking with some people back home, and with a doctor friend who was traveling in our group, we decided it was best to wait until I was back in the U.S. for the ORIF surgery. 

After the surgery to clean out the wound, the surgeon ordered me to stay in the clinic for two days before it was safe for me to fly home. I spent that visit on more IV antibiotics and painkillers. After the deposit was applied to the total, my stay was another 357,000 DOP or $6,110.

Between just having surgery and the fact that my broken leg wasn’t fully fixed, I couldn’t just fly home by myself. The surgeon in the Dominican Republic said I needed a travel companion to help me fly home, so my husband booked a flight and came out the day after my surgery. His flight was $400.

The surgeon ordered two things to fly home safely: an ambulance to transfer me to the hospital and first-class flights home to give me enough room for my bandaged leg. Side note: this was the first time I’ve ever flown first class, and I’d love to do it again when I can appreciate it. At least my husband got to enjoy the complimentary Bloody Marys.

Those tickets weren’t cheap. Not only was it first class, it was a last minute, one-way flight at the start of a global pandemic. We paid $1,275 for each ticket.

The ambulance ride to the airport was 7,600 DOP or $130. We paid the drivers in cash plus a tip. They were amazing, by the way. Neither of them spoke English and we don’t speak Spanish, so we spent the 30 minute drive communicating via Google Translate.

Because I was wheelchair-bound at this point, we would need more time in the airport, and our ambulance ride was going slower than expected. The driver knew we were pressed for time and drove over the grassy median into oncoming traffic to get us to the airport in time. Probably not the safest move, but it worked.

They were so sweet and even wanted to take a picture with us because, as they said, “You’ll want to remember this day!” 

Omg, the compression sock and three-day old outfit is a look. What you can’t see is that I was also traveling with a catheter in because I was completely immobilized. Definitely won’t forget that day!

Between my husband’s flight to the Dominican Republic, our first-class tickets home, and the ambulance ride, that was an additional $3,080.

Here’s what travel insurance covered from those costs:

  • $1,369 deposit for the clinic
  • $6,110 for surgery and hospital stay
  • $2,550 for two flights home to the U.S.

=$10,029 total costs reimbursed

Travel insurance didn’t cover my husband’s $400 flight to the Dominican Republic – they said it wasn’t part of emergency assistance and transportation. Their reasoning was that someone already in the Dominican Republic could have flown home with me.

We also claimed $200 for the flight I would have taken home from Florida after the cruise, and this was denied too because I paid for it with credit card points. Some travel insurance offers reimbursements for points, but Generali’s plan didn’t. We tried to claim it knowing they might deny it.

The other cost travel insurance denied was the $130 ambulance ride from the clinic to the airport. The problem was that the receipt wasn’t dated. 

That’s $730 that I wasn’t reimbursed for.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the cost of the cruise and getting reimbursed for the part of the trip I wasn’t able to take. Long story short, my friend was part of the cruise’s entertainment and the organizers covered my ticket because I was going as her guest. 

The cruise organizers have their own insurance to deal with that claim. Had I paid for the cruise, then I would have submitted that loss to my travel insurance company. Make sense?

All in all, my $142.68 travel insurance policy saved me more than $10,000 in out-of-pocket costs.

Will my health insurance cover medical costs when I travel?

It’s unlikely that your domestic health insurance plan will cover medical care outside of the U.S. If your plan does cover anything, it will only be for very, very emergent situations. 

For example, my broken leg was a serious enough injury that I needed emergency surgery in a foreign country. I had to leave my friends and my belongings on the cruise ship and stay in a hospital for two days.

My health insurance company (Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield) did not consider this an emergency situation – it was only deemed urgent. 

This is how my insurance company describes emergency care: if the injury is severe enough that it places “the Member’s physical and or mental health in serious jeopardy; serious impairment to bodily functions; or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part.”

I recommend calling your health insurance company and asking about their policy on international travel, but realize that it probably won’t offer the kind of coverage you’re looking for.

What about the travel protections offered by my credit card?

Not all credit cards come with travel protections, but some of the more popular travel cards (like the Chase Sapphire cards and American Express Platinum card) do offer it. Important point: you will have to book your trip using that card to qualify for coverage.

The other thing about the coverage that comes with your credit card is that it’s fairly limited when you compare it to third-party travel insurance. 

The most common kind of coverage through your credit card is for baggage delays, trip delays, trip interruption, emergency trip cancellation, accidental death and dismemberment, and auto rental collision damage cover.

But you probably won’t get the kind of coverage you need if you, say, break your leg in the Dominican Republic.

I have three credit cards that are considered travel cards, and none of them would have covered what my travel insurance did.

The Points Guy has a really good article that explains more: When to Buy Travel Insurance vs. When to Rely on Credit Card Protections.

What about flight insurance?

Most airlines offer a limited form of travel insurance, and limited is key.

I’m sure you’ve seen the pop up when you enter your payment information for your flights. Something like, “Do you want to spend $25 on coverage to protect your flight from cancellation or delays?” 

Seems like a good deal, and I’ve bought it before when I didn’t understand what it covers. The coverage airlines offer does not include medical care, lost luggage, and it’s not “cancel for any reason” coverage. 

When should you buy travel insurance?

You now know that you can’t rely on your health insurance in a foreign country, your credit card doesn’t offer comprehensive coverage, and flight insurance is meh

That’s why I highly recommend travel insurance if you’re traveling out of the United States. Experts will offer the same advice for these reasons:

1.You’re concerned about medical expenses

Travel medical insurance is similar to your domestic health insurance, and it’s honestly the main reason experts recommend travel insurance. Without it, a medical emergency in a foreign country could devastate your finances. Most policies have limitations for pre-existing conditions, but you can shop around and find coverage for pre-existing conditions.

2. You want coverage for your baggage and personal belongings

It’s not uncommon to travel with some pretty expensive stuff. It adds up quickly when you think about the combined value of your laptop, tablet, cell phone, camera, jewelry, etc. 

Travel insurance may cover these things if they’re lost or damaged. I say “may” because most policies expect that you’re not being reckless with your belongings. For example, you’re not leaving your laptop unattended in the hotel lobby. 

You should ask about high-value things like your wedding rings because there will be some limitations to the coverage. Better yet, leave your expensive jewelry at home.

Some policies have additional coverage for things like golf clubs, ski equipment, and hunting or fishing gear. They might even offer coverage if you miss days for skiing or golfing, or even pay for rental gear if yours is lost or delayed in transit.

3. You’re an adventurous traveler

There are risks with all kinds of travel – my husband cut off the tip of his finger during a relaxing beach vacation in the Bahamas, and he was only chopping green onions. But there are some kinds of vacations where you’ll encounter more risks.

Hiking through the jungle, ziplining, parasailing, surfing, caving, etc., those are all things that can increase your chances of getting hurt. World Nomads is one of a few travel insurance companies that covers extreme sports.

4. You want to be able to cancel your trip for any reason

Things come up. Maybe you didn’t apply for your passport soon enough, your pet gets sick, you have a financial emergency, you’re traveling during a global pandemic, etc. If you want the option to cancel your trip for any reason, travel insurance can help. 

I’ve said this already, but not all policies are considered “cancel for any reason” or CFAR. Most CFAR policies don’t cover 100% of your prepaid and nonrefundable travel expenses – it’s more like 50% to 75%. 

These policies are more expensive and cover less than people expect, so do your research. Most companies offer CFAR as an add-on, but they’re expensive and cover less than people expect. 

5. You might need to come home early

A friend of mine had to leave his honeymoon early because his new father-in-law landed in the hospital with a life threatening illness. It’s a good thing they came home because the father-in-law passed away a few days after they got back. Travel insurance reimbursed him for the rest of his honeymoon and their last-minute plane tickets.

All in all, travel insurance is peace of mind. You can’t control what happens, but you can reduce a lot of the financial stress associated with emergency scenarios.

Traveling with travel insurance

Before you leave for your trip, make sure you have your travel insurance policy printed and stored somewhere you can easily access. It should stay on you when you’re away from your hotel, cruise ship, etc.

Because I didn’t have my policy on me, someone had to go back to the cruise ship, find it, and bring it back. 

It’s also not a bad idea to send a copy of your policy plus your itinerary to someone back home. They can quickly hop on the claims process without needing to get login information or policy numbers from you.

What to expect when you file a travel insurance claim

I won’t lie, dealing with the claims process was extremely frustrating. My husband was super stressed waiting for us to be reimbursed for our out-of-pocket expenses. He called and emailed every couple of weeks to make sure things were still moving forward.

We had to re-submit paperwork twice, our entire claim was denied the first time (I will explain why in a minute), and it took a full seven months before our claim was paid.

What I didn’t realize is that what we went through is more common than you would expect. Travel insurance companies are very specific with how they accept paperwork and the process for filing claims. 

Here’s what you need to know about the claims process:

  • File your claim ASAP. This gets the ball rolling, you’ll be fresh on the details, and most companies require you to submit claims within a 90-day window.
  • Everything needs to be submitted electronically. You’ll have to take pictures of your receipts or scan them. Pictures need to be crystal clear (this is why I had to resubmit paperwork). 
  • Medical claims need to go to your health insurance company first. Because your health insurance might cover the expenses, you’ll need to submit it to them first. My travel insurance claim was denied at first because we didn’t have an official denial from my health insurance company.
  • Keep any document related to your travel costs or emergency expenses. Even if it seems redundant or useless, keep it. A handwritten note in broken English is why insurance covered our expensive flights home, and we almost didn’t submit it.
  • Your claim will take longer than you expect to process. It can take a minimum of three months for your claim to be processed, and this feels like forever if you’re waiting to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs.

I know it’s hard, but be patient. You can always email your claims agent if you have questions or want to be reassured that they’re working on your claim.

Should you buy travel insurance?

Moving forward, I will always be buying travel insurance when I leave the country. It’s an extra expense we’ll have to budget for and build into the total cost of our vacations. 

What I went through is pretty small, but the majority of our cash savings would have been wiped out without travel insurance. 

It was really scary being injured in a foreign country where I didn’t know the language. You can’t put a price on this, but believing that the majority of my expenses would be covered helped me get through those couple of days until I got home. Okay, painkillers really helped too.

But the point is, travel insurance is peace of mind. Buying it is a choice, but I hope you realize what a beneficial choice it can be in the long run.

Do you usually buy travel insurance? Do you have anything that you’d like me to add to this travel insurance review?

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Should You Start A Blog In 2021? 8 Things You Need To Know

Should you start a blog in 2021? Is blogging worth it in 2021?

Are you thinking about starting a blog this year?

should you start a blog in 2021

should you start a blog in 2021

Perhaps you’ve been thinking about starting a blog for some time, but you’re afraid that you have waited too long.

Every year I get the same questions from people who are thinking about starting a blog but are worried that it’s too late.

In fact, when I started my blog, I had people telling me that I would be wasting my time because it was too late for new blogs.

I also have friends who have started blogs in the past year or two, and were told the same thing.

Yet, all of us are making money and working as full-time bloggers now.

I still remember the early days from when I first started my blog.

I was so clueless when I first started my blog. And, it seemed like a very random thing when I first heard about blogging, but I decided to go ahead and create a blog of my own.

Making Sense of Cents was started simply as a way to keep track of my own personal finance journey. Most people in my life didn’t even know I had a blog.

It’s so funny to think back to when I first started my blog, but I’m so glad I gave blogging a chance. I can’t imagine how different my life would be if I had listened to the people who said it was too late to start a blog.

Because of how blogging changed my life, I love telling others about it. That’s exactly what I’m doing today if you are on the fence about starting a blog.

Blogging helped me pay off my debt, quit my regular job, travel full-time, and more. The best part is that I love what I do. And, as you can tell from my business income reports, I now earn a great living from my blog.

Related content on blogging for beginners:

If you’re wondering should you start a blog in 2021, read to find out why I think blogging is still worth it in 2021.

Should you start a blog in 2021? 8 things you need to know about starting a blog for profit this year.

 

1. It’s not too late to start a blog

2021 is not too late to start a blog, but you will want to get started! I hear from so many bloggers who have delayed launching their blog because they are afraid.

Well, you won’t know if you will see success with your blog unless you start one.

So, start as soon as you can!

 

2. There’s plenty of room for new bloggers

I often hear “but there’s so many blogs out there now.” Yes, there are many blogs, but there is still room. It’s all about finding your own voice and attracting your own audience.

I am still finding brand new blogs that I love, and it’s exciting watching them grow.

Everyone is different, and everyone has their own point of view.

 

3. Is blogging still profitable in 2021? Yes!

Companies and brands are investing more in advertising on blogs than ever before. Sponsorships are through the roof, and affiliate programs are growing like crazy.

When I first started Making Sense of Cents, sponsorships were more difficult to attain, and affiliate programs weren’t anywhere near as important as they are now.

And, I only forecast that to continue to grow well into the future.

Companies are increasing their marketing budgets, specifically to grow their market and audience through blogs.

And, that’s where you and I come in!

Related tip: Sign up for Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and learn how I went from $0 in affiliate income to over $50,000 per month.

 

4. Blogging is a lot of fun

I really enjoy helping others improve their financial situation, reading blog posts from other bloggers, finding new people to talk to, working on my blog, and especially writing.

I love waking up each morning to work, and I no longer dread work like I did when I had my day job. 

Blogging is both challenging and rewarding, as there is always something new to learn. And, it’s a lot of fun to reach and connect with new people through your blog.

  

5. Creating a blog is affordable

A blog is very affordable to create.

I spent less than $100 total for the whole first year of Making Sense of Cents.

If you are interested in taking the steps to learn how to create a blog, I have a tutorial that will help you create a blog of your own for cheap, starting at only $2.75 per month for blog hosting (this low price is only through my link). In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my referral link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting.

This means you can learn how to start a blog in 2021 and make money for less than $50 a year. I started my blog with super cheap blog hosting, I designed it myself (even though I had no experience ever doing something like that), and more. 

I did pretty much everything myself so that I could save money, and while it was a learning experience, it was well worth it.

 

6. You will be your own boss

With blogging, you can be your own boss. You can decide what type of business you’ll run, decide on your schedule, your goals, and more.

I love being in complete control of what I do, and becoming self-employed may allow you to feel that way as well. I enjoy deciding what I will do each day, creating my own schedule, determining my business goals, handling everything behind the scenes, and more.

Running an online business (and being your own boss) may not be for everyone, but it’s something I enjoy.

Plus, I love having a flexible schedule and being able to travel full-time!

 

7. You do not need previous experience

In order to become a blogger in 2021, you don’t need any previous experience. You don’t need to be a computer wizard, previously be active on social media, or know how to create a blog.

These are all things that you will learn as you go.

Nearly every single blogger was brand new at some point, and they had no idea what they were doing. 

I’m proof of that. I had just learned that blogs existed when I started Making Sense of Cents, and I definitely didn’t know that bloggers could make money. I learned how to create a blog from the bottom up and have worked my way to where I am today. 

8. There’s a ton of valuable free resources

One of the great things about starting a blog in 2021 is that there are many free resources that can help you get started. 

In fact, I didn’t spend any money in the beginning in order to learn how to blog – instead, I signed up for a ton of free webinars, free email courses, and more. Since I didn’t know what I was doing, I knew that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

  1. I recommend starting off with my free blogging course How To Start A Blog FREE Course.
  2. Affiliate Marketing Free Cheat Sheet – With this time-saving cheat sheet, you’ll learn how to make affiliate income from your blog. These tips will help you rapidly improve your results and increase your blogging income in no time.
  3. 8 Easy Tips To Make Money From Sponsored Posts On Your Blog – Sponsorships on your blog are a great way of earning a living online. Learn how I made my first blogging income, and how I’m now making $10,000-$20,000 a month with sponsored partnerships! 
  4. The 2021 Publicity Calendar – The 2021 Publicity Calendar contains 179 story ideas, dates, and hooks to help you create endless media attention and buzz! If you want to get featured in magazines and popular websites, this is something that you will definitely want to sign up for.
  5. The SEO Starter Pack (FREE Video Training) – Level up your SEO knowledge in just 60 minutes with this FREE 6-day video training.
  6. 7 Surefire Ways to Boost Your Blog Income Overnight – This free ebook gives great tips on how to increase your blogging income.
  7. Facebook Ads For Bloggers 101 – This free training will show you how to increase your blog’s traffic with Facebook ads. This is the top area I’m working on this year, and I recommend you do the same!

 

Is blogging worth it in 2021?

2021 is a great time to start a blog.

The online world is still so new, and each year there are new ways to monetize and grow your blog.

For example, it wasn’t until the past couple of years that companies and advertisers started realizing the value of online influencers, such as bloggers, and that means even more opportunities to earn money blogging.

Before that, it was mainly celebrities that companies advertised with, but now, it is actually shifting to bloggers and other online influencers (such as Youtubers and Instagrammers!).

The online world is a huge place, and it is just going to keep growing. Every blogger earns a living in slightly different ways, and everyone has a different message and story. Plus, there are so many different ways to earn money blogging, and I expect that the options will continue to grow.

 

If blogging is so wonderful, then why doesn’t everyone start one?

Blogging is not printing money.

It’s not a scam, and it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme.

Learning how to earn money blogging is work, and just like with all jobs – not everyone wants what you want.

And, for every successful blog out there, there are probably hundreds of bloggers who will never earn money blogging. While you can earn money blogging, not all bloggers will.

It would be like saying that 100% of people who start a business will see success. That is just never going to happen – businesses fail, business owners have a change of heart, and others just don’t find it enjoyable.

I know I am always talking about the positives of blogging, but I also like to mention how it’s not the easiest.

After all, if blogging was easy, then everyone would do it and everyone would make thousands of dollars a month.

But as you know, that’s not the case.

Not everyone is going to earn money blogging because it can be a lot of work! Most new bloggers quit just a few months in. A few months is not enough time to see if your blog will be successful. It took me six months before I started to earn money blogging, and I only earned $100. 

It’s funny and weird to think about what life would be like if I would have quit back then.

I’m constantly learning something new when it comes to blogging, and that is why I enjoy it so much.

 

How To Start A Blog FREE Course

With this free course, I show you how to grow a blog from scratch, from the technical side (it’s easier than you think – trust me!) all the way to earning your first income and attracting followers.

Each day for seven days, you will receive an email in your inbox that will help you from the beginning, and I will teach you how to start a blog in 2021 and make money.

Below is a quick summary of what you will learn in this free 7-day course:

  • Day 1: Why you should start a blog.
  • Day 2: How to decide what to write about.
  • Day 3: How to create your own blog. This lesson focuses on creating a blog with WordPress. My tutorial makes it very easy to start your blog.
  • Day 4: How to make money with your blog.
  • Day 5: My tips for earning passive income.
  • Day 6: How to grow your page views on your blog.
  • Day 7: My other blogging tips to help you see success.

Please sign up for my How To Start a Blog Free Course by clicking here or signing up below.

What do you think: should you start a blog in 2021? Do you want to learn how to start a blog and get paid?

How To Start A Blog FREE Email Course

In this free course, I show you how to create a blog easily, from the technical side (it’s easy – trust me!) all the way to earning your first income and attracting readers. Join now!

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates and get access to the free course.

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Marriott announces elite status updates and new promotions – The Points Guy

Marriott announces elite status updates and new promotions – The Points Guy


Advertiser Disclosure


Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Please view our advertising policy page for more information.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Source: thepointsguy.com

Mint Money Hub: What to Know About Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your Finances – MintLife Blog

We will continue to add updates, so keep checking back for resources and answers to your questions.

First, we want to say that we hope everyone stays safe and healthy. Check out online resources from the CDC on guidance about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Mint is tracking the latest developments and potential impacts COVID-19 may have on your finances, to provide you with as many helpful insights and resources we can to ensure your financial health remains intact, too — we’re all in this together.

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The U.S. Department of State has issued a do not travel advisory. The following are updated airline, hotel and vacation rental change and cancellation policies.

<img data-attachment-id="10551" data-permalink="https://mint.intuit.com/blog/credit/credit-card-reviews-best-credit-cards-for-families/attachment/happy-family-having-fun-at-home/" data-orig-file="https://blog.mint.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Stocksy_txpf483c710cUH200_Small_2345818.jpg" data-orig-size="865,577" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta=""aperture":"0","credit":"Santi Nunez / Stocksy United","camera":"","caption":"Happy family having fun at home. Multiethnic family concept","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"All Rights Reserved","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"Happy Family Having Fun At Home","orientation":"0"" data-image-title="Free Educational Resources for Kids" data-image-description="

Credit Card Reviews: Best Cards for Families

” data-medium-file=”https://blog.mint.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Stocksy_txpf483c710cUH200_Small_2345818.jpg?w=300″ data-large-file=”https://blog.mint.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Stocksy_txpf483c710cUH200_Small_2345818.jpg?w=865″ loading=”lazy” class=”wp-image-10551 size-thumbnail alignleft” src=”http://homesforsaleinocalafl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/mint-money-hub-what-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-finances-mintlife-blog-18.jpg” alt=”Free Educational Resources for Kids” width=”150″ height=”150″>

Free Educational Resources for Kids

To help keep your kiddos entertained, while also making the most of their time away from school, here are some free and fun educational resources.

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Source: mint.intuit.com