Reasons Many People Stay in Debt

Why People Stay in DebtWhy People Stay in DebtDebts are sometimes inevitable in life. For most people, it would be next to impossible to own a home, a car, pay bills or even get an education without credit. Federal Bank of New York released a report that put household debt and credit at $13.29 trillion in the second quarter of 2018.

Do people end up repaying all these debts? Unfortunately no; many people are up to their necks in debt and quite a large number of them are doing nothing towards repayment. There are numerous reasons why many people stay in debt. Here are several:

Living Beyond Means

This simply means that you are spending more than you are bringing in. If what you are earning cannot comfortably cater for house and car payments, insurance, other fixed costs and house expenses, then you cannot afford that kind of a lifestyle. It is even worse if you freely use your credit cards to pay for what your income cannot support. What happens is that debts start accumulating and accruing interest month after month and before you know it, you are swimming in debt with no way to escape.

Spending Without a Budget

According to a recent study, only 41% Americans use a budget. This means that most people cannot track their spending habits leave alone plan for the future. Without a budget and with several credit cards at your disposal, it is easy to spend your money uncontrollably and end up depending on credit as you wait for the next pay. The repeated cycle leads to failed repayments which consequently increases the outstanding debts.

Job Loss or Reduced Income

Having a job gives you the confidence to use credit knowing that your income is able to cover the repayments. Should you unexpectedly lose the job, it becomes impossible to make your repayments which may also attract additional interests and penalty fees. Even if you end-up getting another job, it is possible that your credit card debts will have soared to levels that you may no longer sustain. Similarly, a pay-cut or reduced income may also make you lag behind on your repayments leading to accrued debts.

Unwillingness to Sacrifice

If you are deep in debt and you still fight to maintain the same life style, chances are that you will never repay your debts or worse still, they will keep increasing. The ability or inability to save for debt repayments may depend on your willingness to forego a few things like holidays, cable, birthday gifts, a big house and a luxurious car among others. The question is; are you willing to make the sacrifice?

Struggling to Keep up Appearances

It is just human nature to want to fit into certain statuses set by the society, family, friends etc. In an effort to fit, you may end up spending beyond what you can sustain with your income. Unfortunately, the demands may keep going higher and higher and unless you can tell yourself to stop, you will be up to your neck in debt within no time. The fact that you are keeping up appearances means that things are not good financially in the first place so unless you win a lottery or come into some huge cash, you will stay in debt for a long time.

Financial Illiteracy

In a quest to understand how financially literate the world is, people were asked 4 simple questions regarding risk, inflation and interest. Out of 150,000 adults from over 140 countries, only a third could answer 3 out of the 4 questions correctly. If you have no idea of how credit works, you keep on making mistakes that will increase your debts in the long run. Such include; late repayments, carelessly requesting for credit top-ups, and falling for the wrong lines of credit among others. This also comes with the inability to manage the credit hence leading to heaps upon heaps of debts.

Final Take

While it is normal for people to find themselves in debt at some point or another, not all of them end up paying. The reasons why many people stay in debt range from genuine ones to outright selfish ones. Debt accumulates little by little and before you know it, you are too debt ridden to do anything about it. On the other hand, with proper planning, a little sacrifice and commitment, it is possible to disentangle yourself from the debt cycle one step at a time.

Source: creditabsolute.com

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I’d Change)

Dave Ramsey has helped thousands of people around the world through the 7 Baby Steps for financial peace and freedom.

The process works.

His book titled the Total Money Makeover has had some impressive sales numbers. The book has sold over 5 million copies and has been on the Wall Street Journal Best-Selling list for over 500 weeks. (That data is from August 2017, over 4 years ago, so it’s sold more by now.)

So, we know that the 7 Baby Steps work. There’s a lot to love above the process, and we will address 4 of those attributes here. We will also cover 4 things that we think could be updated this year (as it has been almost 30 years since the Baby Steps were created).

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7 Baby Steps really do work. There are three great reasons why the plan actual works:

a. The Baby Steps Force You To Get Gazelle Intense When It Comes To Paying Off Debt

I’ll mention this later, but I really appreciate that Dave Ramsey keeps the emergency fund smaller to force you to be gazelle intense. Having such a small emergency fund of $1000 really does force you to get out of debt faster because having too much money in the bank can cause you to stagnate. 

b. Dave Strongly Encourages Your Behavior Modification

Too many financial gurus don’t give it to you straight. They may tell you that you need to invest in real estate or cryptocurrency.  It often feels like a lie that you can achieve financial freedom without putting in a lot of work.

Dave Ramsey comes off as blunt many times, but he forces people to confront that the debt is often our fault (with some exceptions). His bluntness, along with the Baby Steps, forces you to self-reflect.

c. The Plan Is Simple And Shows How You Need To Focus On One Step At A Time

I’ll mention this more below, but it’s evident that his focused intensity on the Baby Steps plan helps you stay focused on the task. You complete the first 3 steps consecutively and the following 4 steps concurrently in a prioritized order. 

You don’t have to multitask. Also, you don’t need to think about another step. You just need to focus on the step at hand.

2) Dave Ramsey Is Right That You Need A Plan

Dave Ramsey has many helpful quotes. One of my favorite of Dave Ramsey’s quotes is, “You must plan your work and then work your plan”. 

Too often we go through life without a plan, but we expect that everything is going to work out just fine. I remember the first time I budgeted.  I thought that I spent a certain amount of money on eating out each month, only to realize that number was much higher.

We need plans. It could be a debt payoff plan to stay on top of your debt. It could also be a budget to understand your income and expenses. Or it could be a plan to pay off your home early as per Baby Step 6.

Dave Ramsey understood that which is why the Baby Steps plan is so useful. You stick to the plan and you get out of debt. Voila.

3) The Baby Steps Get Progressively More Challenging

One thing I noticed early was that the Baby Steps seems to get progressively more challenging. This helps build momentum. It is much easier to save $1000 than to pay off your house early. By starting and taking baby steps, the baby steps themselves actually don’t feel very babyish. 

Paying off your home early per Baby Step 6 feels much more like a big kid step, but it’s still just a Baby Step like the others. It’s impressive how Dave structured these baby steps.

4) The Community Around Dave Ramsey Baby Steps Is Incredible

You don’t have to look far to realize that the community around Dave Ramsey is incredible. You can take a Financial Peace University class at your local church. These classes are excellent to encourage you and help keep you accountable while you eliminate debt. You’ll learn the baby steps inside and out with others in your community. 

You can also be a part of a vibrant Dave Ramsey Facebook Community. Personally, I am a part of many of these communities where I receive a ton of encouragement when sharing wins and losses in the process of debt elimination.

There’s a lot to love about the Dave Ramsey Baby Step method.

Now, let’s cover a few things that could use a refresh.

1) Can Creating A Budget Be Baby Step #1?

I am a budget fanatic. I would love to see a Baby Step dedicated to budgeting. Why? Because budgeting helps you understand where every dollar goes. I used “every dollar” like that on purpose because Dave Ramsey himself created a budget app called EveryDollar for that very purpose.

What better way to understand how much money you have to put towards your emergency fund than starting with a budget.

I am not sure why Dave doesn’t start with a budget, but I would be keen to start the Baby Steps with creating one.

2) Dave Ramsey’s Emergency Fund May Need A Refresh

Dave Ramsey’s emergency fund calls you to save $1,000 in Baby Step 1. Is $1,000 enough? It really depends. 

First, adjusted for inflation, $1,000 in 1990 is now worth $2,043.26 per the US Inflation Calculator.

Dave Ramsey's emergency fund needs to be larger due to inflation

There’s a plethora of questions you can ask yourself when considering whether the emergency fund is big enough, such as:

  1. How much debt do you have to pay off?
  2. Do you own a home?
  3. How old is your car?
  4. How many kids do you have?
  5. Do you have insurance?

Another question I like to ask is, “where do you live?”. Personally, my family and I live in the Bay Area, California where the cost of living tends to be quite high. $1,000 wouldn’t get us very far.

3) Is The Snowball Method The Best Way To Pay Off Debt?

As a refresh, the debt snowball method means that you line up your debts from smallest to largest and pay your monthly extra to your smallest debt first then snowball into higher debts. The debt avalanche method is where you line up your debts from the highest interest rate and use your monthly extra to pay off the highest interest first. The savvy debt method is where you pay off 1-2 of your smallest balances first via snowball before reverting to the avalanche method to save the most in interest.

Dave Ramsey loves the debt snowball method. It has worked for many people, so why wouldn’t he? He feels the opposite for the debt avalanche where he mentions that it doesn’t work.

The challenge is that you could lose thousands in interest if your smallest debts also have the smallest interest rates. This can be possible because higher debt amounts carry a higher risk to the lenders, meaning potentially higher interest rates.

You can see how much the snowball method loses in comparison through this debt payoff calculator which compares interest paid from snowball to savvy methods. For reference, we are comparing 4 debts: $23,000 at 22%, $18,000 at 19%, $12,000 at 9% and $8,000 at 7% interest rate. The monthly payment is $1,825.00

debt snowball versus other debt payoff methods

In this example, you would lose over $3,500 in interest by choosing the snowball method.

Does that mean that the snowball method is always worse? Absolutely not. The snowball method may provide the psychological benefit that you need to exterminate your debt.

You choose the debt payoff app and debt payoff method that is best for you.

4) Should You Follow Dave Ramsey’s Advice And Pay Off Your House Early Or Invest?

Dave Ramsey loves mutual funds and paying off your home early. My question is what if your mutual funds are making so much more in interest than paying off your home would save you?

Wouldn’t the prudent thing be to continue to pay off your home and then get the higher interest from investing in mutual funds?  It’s not a one size fits all solution, but it is something to consider.

There are also often benefits of not paying off your home early such as interest paid being tax-deductible. That said, you would really need to determine whether you would make more money from mutual funds than saving from interest payments to determine what’s best for you.

What Do You Think About The Baby Steps?

The Dave Ramsey Baby Steps have helped thousands around the globe. What do you like about the Baby Steps? Do you agree or disagree with what we would change in 2021?

4 things I love about Dave Ramsey's baby steps and 4 things I'd change

Top 4 Things I Love About Dave Ramsey Baby Steps (And 4 Things I'd Change)

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Which Bills to Pay Off First (or Cancel) When Money Runs Tight

Whether it’s from job loss due to a recession, a drop in income, or an unexpected major expense, there may come a time when you struggle to pay your bills. What can you do when your income and expenses don’t match up?

It’s essential you prioritize your bill payments and what you owe, paying the most important bills first.

Bills to Prioritize When You’re Low on Money

The most important bills are those that cover the necessities: shelter, food, water, and heat, for example.

The next most important are bills that cover things that make it possible for you to get where you need to go, such as your vehicle expenses.

Last on the list are bills that can ding your credit history, but not much else, if you fall behind on them.

Although you can make some adjustments to the order you pay bills based on your circumstances, it’s usually best to focus on paying your housing bills first, then paying what you can with the money you have remaining.

1. Mortgage or Rent

If you fall behind on mortgage payments, you risk having the lender foreclose on your home. If you fall behind on rent, your landlord can evict you.

Even though the foreclosure or eviction process can take months, it’s not something you want to risk happening. Keeping up with your housing payments is a must if you want to stay in your home.

When money is really tight and you’re not sure you can pull together enough to make a payment one month, the best thing to do is talk to your landlord or lender.

Many mortgage lenders have programs in place to help homeowners who are facing financial hardship. Your lender can review your options, such as forbearance or loan modification, with you.

During forbearance, you stop making payments on your loan, but interest continues to accrue. If a lender agrees to modify your loan, they adjust your interest rate or otherwise make changes to lower your monthly payment.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also has programs available to homeowners struggling with their mortgage payments. You can contact HUD to connect with an approved counseling agency. The counselor can work with you to create a plan to help you avoid foreclosure.

If you’re a renter, talk to your landlord as soon as you know you’ll have difficulty paying rent. Explain the situation to them in detail, including whether you think you’ll be late with payment, won’t be able to pay all your monthly rent, or won’t be able to pay at all.

Many landlords are willing to work with you to come up with a solution. You can help the situation by suggesting solutions.

For example, if you’re going to pay late, tell the landlord when you plan to make the payment. If you can’t pay the full amount this month, tell the landlord how you’ll make up the difference. For example, you can add an extra $100 or so to subsequent payments until you pay off the balance.

If you’re renting and your landlord can’t or won’t be flexible about payments, you might have more wiggle room than a homeowner.

Depending on how much time you have left on the lease, you can simply wait it out, then look for a less expensive place to live. Another option is to try to find someone to take over your lease so you can move somewhere that costs less.

2. Utilities

After your mortgage or rent payment, the next most important bills are your utility bills: gas, water and sewage, and electricity. Although some people count TV and the Internet as utilities, those services aren’t essential for everyone.

Fortunately, many programs exist to help people who need emergency financial assistance paying bills. The first place to look is your local utility provider. Many utility companies have programs to help people pay their bills.

Another option is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a federally funded program that provides financial assistance to help people pay energy bills. LIHEAP has specific income requirements and is grant-funded, meaning only a set amount of money is available each year.

If you think you qualify for LIHEAP, the sooner you apply for it, the better your chances of receiving aid.

3. Insurance Premiums

Having insurance is always a good idea, as it provides financial protection against the worst things life can throw your way, such as illness, fire, or accidents. Paying your insurance premiums even when money is tight is a smart move. Without insurance, medical bills can easily add up.

If you’re struggling to afford your premiums, you do have some options, particularly when it comes to health insurance.

If you purchased a plan from the Healthcare.gov marketplace, you qualify for a special enrollment period if you’ve recently lost your job and associated coverage, if you’ve had a change in income, if you’ve gotten divorced, and for a few other reasons.

During the special enrollment period, you can apply for Medicaid or CHIP if your income is below the threshold or a credit on your insurance premiums based on your income. Doing so can lower the cost of your health insurance considerably.

4. Food & Household Necessities

Food, soap, and paper products are up there with shelter, heat, and hot water on the list of essentials.

Luckily, you have more wiggle room when it comes to adapting your food and household supply costs compared to your mortgage or rent payments and utility bills.

When money’s tight, there are many ways you can trim your food and supplies bill:

  • Limit Shopping Trips. Plan your meals for the week, make a list of the ingredients you need, and go to the store once. The more you go to the store, the more likely you are to buy things you don’t need.
  • Buy Store-Brand Items. Store-brand products usually taste the same as or similar to their brand-name counterparts, but they cost a lot less. If you typically purchase branded foods and supplies, try switching to the store brand. It’s likely the only place you’ll notice a difference is in your wallet.
  • Limit Packaged Products. Packaged foods, such as grated cheese, bagged salads, and prechopped vegetables are convenient, but that convenience comes at a cost. You can save a lot if you buy whole, unprocessed foods and prepare them at home.
  • Skip Bottled Water. If you live in the U.S., it’s highly likely your tap water is safe to drink. According to the CDC, the U.S.’s water supply is among the safest in the world. Bottled water is expensive and terrible for the environment and is often little more than repackaged municipal water.
  • Buy In-Season Produce. Pay attention to seasons when shopping for fresh produce. Fruits like strawberries and blueberries are usually in season and inexpensive during the summer but cost more in the winter. You can cut your grocery costs if you buy what’s in season.
  • Grow Your Own. Another way to cut your food bill is to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Herbs and green vegetables are usually the most cost-effective edible plants to grow, as you can get an entire plant for the price of a handful of herbs or greens at the grocery store. You don’t need a ton of outdoor space to start a garden. You can grow plants in containers on a small balcony or patio.
  • Use Your Freezer. Frozen vegetables and fruit often cost less than fresh, so it pays to purchase those when money is tight. You can also prep double batches of meals to freeze for later. That way, if you run out of money before the end of the month, you have a supply of ready-to-eat meals waiting for you.

Note too that depending on your income, you can qualify for financial assistance with groceries. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka food stamps, helps to cover the cost of groceries for people with income below certain thresholds.

Pro tip: Make sure you’re saving as much money as possible on your grocery trip. Apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta allow you to save money on purchases by simply scanning and uploading your receipts.

5. Car Loan & Other Expenses

Your car gets you to and from work and other important places, such as your kids’ school, the grocery store, and the doctor. If you have a monthly car payment, it’s crucial to find a way to pay it.

Just as you can call your mortgage company to work out a deal, you can call the lender behind your car loan to see if you can come to an agreement. Like mortgage companies, these lenders can also offer you loan modifications, refinancing, or forbearance.

Loan modification or refinance can lower the amount of your monthly payments, making it easier for you to afford the car. Forbearance means you don’t make payments for a set period.

Another option is to sell your current vehicle, use the proceeds to pay off the loan, then purchase a less expensive model. If you decide to sell, look for a replacement car that has a low cost of ownership to keep your expenses low. Some vehicles are more reliable than others, meaning you don’t have to worry about expensive repair or maintenance bills.

6. Unsecured Debts

Although you should make every effort to repay your debts, when money is tight, unsecured debt, such as credit card debt and personal loans, should move to the back burner. While these debts typically have the highest interest rates, they also have the lowest impact on your daily life.

You don’t go hungry if you miss a credit card payment, nor can your credit card company take your home or car if you pay late.

That said, it’s still best to pay what you can toward unsecured debts, such as the minimum due on a credit card. If even that is too much for you right now, contact the card company or lender. Sometimes, credit card companies are willing to work with you to create a debt repayment plan or let you temporarily pause payments.

7. Student Loans

While you should make every effort to pay your student loans when money’s tight, the loans often have the most flexibility when it comes to repayment, particularly federal loans.

If you have federal student loans and you’re struggling to keep up with payments, you have multiple options. You can request a deferment or forbearance from your loan servicer, or you can switch to an income-driven repayment plan, which adjusts the amount you pay each month based on your income.

The situation with private student loans is a bit different, as they don’t have the same protections as the federal student loan program.

If you’re having trouble affording private student loan payments, your best option is to contact the lender to see if it offers forbearance, repayment plans, or loan modification.


What to Cancel When Money Is Tight

While some monthly bills are essential, others are considerably less so. Budgeting often involves deciding what you need to spend money on and what you can live without.

When it’s a struggle to make ends meet, here’s what you can consider cutting:

Subscription Services

Netflix, print or digital newspapers, and meal kits are all things that can go. In many cases, you can find free alternatives to the subscriptions you were paying for. For example, some local libraries give you access to streaming movies and local or national newspapers for free.

Make sure you don’t miss any subscriptions that you might have forgotten about. Services like Truebill will find subscriptions and either cancel them or negotiate lower rates for you.

Cable and Internet Service

You may not want to disconnect your Internet completely, but see if you can switch to a slower, less expensive plan.

If you have data on your phone, some providers, like Xfinity Mobile, let you use your phone as a hotspot to get online. In this case, you wouldn’t need a separate home Internet plan.

Phone Service

While you do need your phone to stay connected, you most likely don’t need both a landline and a cellphone. You probably don’t need the most expensive cellphone plan, either.

Shop around with companies like Mint Mobile or Ting to see if you can get a better deal.

Gym Memberships and Wellness Services

Maintaining your well-being is important, especially when money is tight. But if you’re worried about having enough money to pay your most important bills, you shouldn’t have to worry about paying for a monthly gym membership or studio pass.

There are plenty of ways to work out for free from the comfort of your home. For example, you can find workouts available for free on YouTube.


Final Word

When money is tight, it’s vital you focus on paying for the things that can help you sustain your life and well-being, such as food and shelter, when times are tight.

While a missed payment can affect your credit history, in desperate situations, your health and safety are more important than your credit score.

Along with prioritizing your monthly bills, talk to your lenders and service providers. Many companies have programs in place to keep you from sinking deeper into debt and to help you avoid repossession of your home or vehicle. Keep the lines of communication open, and remember you’ll get through it.

Source: moneycrashers.com

24 Restaurant Chains That Offer Senior Discounts

Older women eating at a restaurant
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Are you cooking for fewer people these days? Once the kids grow up and move out, family meals fall by the wayside. For some reason, it’s just not as much fun to cook for one or two people, and you’d much rather eat out or order in.

Of course, restaurant dining comes at a cost. During 2019, American households spent an average of $3,526 on food away from home. For those on a fixed income, the expense of eating out is even harder to swallow.

To make it easier, we’ve rounded up several restaurant chains across the country that offer “senior” discounts. Many of these deals are available to diners 50 years old and up.

We recommend asking your server or calling ahead to confirm any promotions. Keep in mind, you may need to present an ID or sign up for a loyalty program to be eligible.

1. IHOP

An IHOP restaurant sign in Nashville, Tennessee
James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com

The pancake house has a dedicated 55+ menu, which offers select breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes at a lower price than the regular menu.

2. Denny’s

Denny's
LifetimeStock / Shutterstock.com

Check out the Denny’s 55+ menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner specials at reduced prices. (Enter your ZIP code to see the 55+ menu of your local restaurant.) In some cases, the 55+ entree saves you more than $2. Prices and selections may vary by location.

If you are an AARP member, you can save 15% on your entire check at Denny’s. (For more such deals, skip to the “AARP member discounts” section of this article.)

3. El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco
Idealphotographer / Shutterstock.com

At El Pollo Loco, diners 60 years of age and older are eligible for 10% off their order. Ask the cashier about the offer before you check out. Note: The maximum discount value is $1.

4. Cicis

Cicis Pizza
Brett Hondow / Shutterstock.com

Cicis does offer discounts for seniors, military personnel and large groups. However, the discounts vary by location because most Cicis restaurants are individually owned. Ask your nearest Cicis about their special savings offers.

5. Chili’s

Chili's
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

While there’s no company-wide policy in place, some Chili’s locations offer discounts to senior citizens, military members and uniformed officers. Contact your local Chili’s to find out if it participates.

6. McDonald’s

Bikeworldtravel / Shutterstock.com

McDonald’s says certain franchise locations may offer a special discount for seniors. Contact your nearest McDonald’s store to find out more.

7. Applebee’s

Applebee's restaurant
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

An Applebee’s spokesperson tells Money Talks News that there is no national offer for seniors, but you can call your nearest Applebee’s for specific deals available at that location.

8. Golden Corral

Golden Corral
Helen89 / Shutterstock.com

Select Golden Corral locations offer senior specials, so ask your nearest restaurant if it participates. No matter where you live, though, additional savings and rewards are available when you sign up for the Good as Gold Club. Check off the box that indicates “Seniors (60+)” so you can start receiving news and promotions most relevant to you.

AARP member discounts

AARP
Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com

As soon as you turn 50 years old, you’re eligible to become a full-fledged AARP member. While there is an annual fee, the membership unlocks countless discounts on everything from hotels to health care.

AARP has also partnered with over a dozen restaurants to offer exclusive members-only discounts. Below are the ones currently listed on the AARP website.

  1. Bonefish Grill: 10% off dine-in food and non-alcoholic beverages
  2. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  3. Carrabba’s Italian Grill: 10% off dine-in food and non-alcoholic beverages
  4. Chart House: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  5. Corner Bakery Cafe: 10% off your total check, excluding delivery orders
  6. Joe’s Crab Shack: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  7. Landry’s Seafood: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  8. Landry’s Inc. Restaurants (select brands): 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  9. McCormick & Schmick’s: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  10. Oceanaire Seafood Room: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  11. Outback Steakhouse: 10% off dine-in food and non-alcoholic beverages
  12. Rainforest Cafe: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages
  13. Saltgrass Steak House: 10% off food and non-alcoholic beverages

You may need to have your AARP card or membership number handy to be eligible for these savings. Also note, discounts may not apply to delivery orders and some restaurants may be closed or operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.

AMAC member discounts

Association of Mature American Citizens
Postmodern Studio / Shutterstock.com

Join the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) after your 50th birthday to access exclusive coupons and discounts on food, travel, insurance and more. Below are AMAC’s current restaurant partners, where you can score up to 50% off an entree.

  1. Friendly’s: Three coupons available, including 50% off an adult entree with the purchase of one other entree.
  2. Long John Silver’s: Members age 55 and up save 10% to 20% (discount varies by location).
  3. Papa John’s: Get 25% off regular menu items ordered online.

AMAC members also can get a $25 restaurant gift certificate from Restaurant.com for only $5.

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

How Much Homeowner’s Insurance Should You Get When Buying a House

A house purchase accounts for a sizable net worth of a person. Just like any investment, insuring your house makes economic sense. Ideally the cover should help you rebuild and replace your belongings if disaster strikes. A good policy should also shoulder the financial burden arising from injuries that a third party might suffer within the property.

So, how much homeowner’s insurance should you get? When deciding on this, the following factors will come into play.

Replacement cost of the house

Fixing Your HomeFixing Your HomeYour house is insured on replacement basis. This means you will be reimbursed the equivalent cost of rebuilding your entire house or part of it that has been damaged.

To this end you should go for a policy whose limit will cover the current cost of rebuilding the house. It should take into account the cost of buying the same type of materials as well paying the labor at current prices.

The policy should also be flexible enough to account for possible changes in building regulations. Such include building code upgrades that may require some aspects of your house to be changed; say better foundations or a different drainage design.

Beware of policies that only cover the original value of a house. The premiums might be lower but they won’t cover any increase in labor or material costs. The payout will also be less the depreciation value of your home.

Deductible Amount

This is the out-of-pocket money that a policy holder must pay before the insurer settles a claim. It’s advisable to go for policies with high deductibles since they offer low insurance premiums.

A publication by Oregon Insurance Division shows that on average homeowners make a claim once in every 9 years. With this in mind, it makes sense to foot a higher deductible when disasters strike and save on monthly instalments in the long run.

Most insurance companies will increase your premiums or refuse to cover you in the future if you get into a habit of claiming reimbursement for minor damages. The move will ensure that you only file claims when the direst of disasters hit.

Location of your Home

Your policy limits will vary depending on the location of your home. Houses built on sloppy or hilly sites are deemed problematic. Same goes for homes at far off places like a heavily wooded area that may inaccessible to emergency services e.g. fire trucks.

Some locations and states are also flagged as high disaster areas. These include flood, earthquake or hurricane prone areas. If your house is located in such an area then expect to pay high limits on your policy.

Flooding accounts for the highest percentage of insurance claims from natural disasters. You should consider having a policy that addresses it; even if your zone is not susceptible to floods. This is according to Loretta Worters, the Vice President of Communications at Insurance Information Institute

Value of your Possessions

A detailed inventory of your belongings should give you an idea of what you stand to lose as a result of burglary or damage from a disaster. Normally, policies will insure possessions up to 75% of the home value.

You can insure your belongings on their actual value or that of replacing them. Replacement coverage attracts higher premiums but it makes more financial sense. This is due to the fact that most house possessions have a high rate of depreciation.

What Else to Consider

Having factored the above in your insurance calculations, the figure that you come up with should fall within a given margin. Take it upon yourself to find out the average cost in your state and specific city.

To give you an idea of what to expect let’s consider a home coverage of $200,000 with a $1000 deductible and a liability coverage of $100,000. A study showed that:

The national average falls at $1,228 with Florida and Louisiana having annual average rates north of $2900. Hawaii and Vermont attract the minimum coverage averaging at $589 and $337 respectively.

Pro Tip: Your policy limit can vary slightly from the average figure depending on the uniqueness of your home and possessions.

Conclusion      

Although home insurance is a must-have for every homeowner it needn’t be expensive. Lack of knowledge on the subject can land you on expensive policies that are not worth your property. Similarly, you may find yourself with a cheap cover that is inadequate for your property. The above information will guide you in deciding on the amount of insurance that you should get for your home.

Source: creditabsolute.com