Investing in Your Own Health

Everyone has assembled their own health care team over the years. It usually takes quite some time to find health professionals we are happy with in terms of compatibility, quality of service, as well as value. Though this process seems perfectly normal and reasonable to some, others might be puzzled as to why take the time to research and meet potential doctors, dentists, massage therapists and more. In the grand sense of things, you don’t even really see the that often, do you? We can see that the logic seems at little flawed at first, but let’s delve into this a little deeper…

  • You only have one health

This might have been a saying which your mom would repeat to you over and over again, but it doesn’t make it any less true! If you have a car and you miss a couple of oil changes, you risk having your engine clog up. Worst case scenario, you completely destroy the engine and either replace it or the entire car. Now consider your body. If you have spent years neglecting regular maintenance like going to doctor’s appointments, meeting with a nutritionist to ensure you are getting the right fuel, or getting your teeth cleaned at regular intervals, you risk putting your body in a state which can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover from.

  • There is a difference in care

If you think that every doctor or dentist provides the same level of care, you are sadly wrong. Though there is a standard they must adhere to in order to get licensed, there is a lot of things they can differ on. Some have their own clinics and invest in the newest technologies and services while others are satisfied with having access to the bare minimum. Choose a doctor or a dentist who invested in the best available technology to serve you better. The health field is constantly advancing and you don’t want to be stuck with a practitioner using old-school methods when there are newer and better alternatives available!

  • Mitigate further costs

One thing which is true with most things, including your health, is the better quality something is, the better value it ends up being in the long run. For example, if you purchase an high-quality dining table made of solid materials and professional craftsmanship, though it might cost more at first, ends up serving you for many more years than a cheap one which you would have to replace after just a short time. Over the years, while your solid table might have cost a lot initially, its per year cost goes down while the lower quality option was only a fraction of the cost but had to be replaced 5 times over the same span of time. The same goes for your health. For example, if you are having problems with your hip, it’s better to take the time and money to treat it properly, be that with rest, physiotherapy, or surgery under the hand of the best doctor, than have this be a reoccurring health problem throughout your life. Over a few years, if quality treatment isn’t applied, you might find yourself taking unpaid leave from work, having to go on disability, or have to deal with a combination of personal, professional, health, and economic stresses.

Many find it difficult to justify spending money on getting good quality vitamins, seemingly expensive medical and dental services, and supplementary things like therapeutic massages or chiropractor visits, when they have a strict budget in place. However, it’s important to remember that you do only have one health and that your life literally depends on it. Treat your body well by giving it all it needs and everything else will fall into place.

4 Easy Steps to Reduce Payments on Your Debt

This is a guest post from Pauline of investmentzen.com

We have all been there. Debt payments are creeping up, and it is starting to get hard to keep up with them.

Whatever the reason you got indebted in the first place, this is not the moment to blame yourself, or to give up. It is time to take action, to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and you get back on track for a solid financial future.

Paying of debt is tedious. It’s like losing weight. You enjoyed that meal last week, but you don’t really want to spend your Sunday at the gym to work it off. Yet, if you don’t, things will get worse, and soon you’ll be overweight.

So let’s tackle your debt, one step at a time.

Step 1: Reduce the interest on your debt

You owe a certain sum of money, and we will see later what we can do about that, but for now, let’s try to lower our monthly payments by reducing the cost of our debt.

Make a list of all your debt:

  • Credit cards
  • Car loans
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Mortgage
  • etc…

And next to it write down the interest rate you are paying on said debt. It might look like:

  • Credit card A 19.9%
  • Credit card B 12%
  • Student loan 6.9%
  • Mortgage 4.3%

Your priority is to reduce the interest you are paying on your debt. A $1,000 balance over 12 months at 19.9% is costing you a whopping $199! Look for a 0% balance transfer and move all your credit card balances over there. If your credit score is too low for that, try calling your credit card company and let them know you would like your rate lowered, because paying off your debt is becoming increasingly difficult. Lowering the rate will be cheaper for them than chasing a customer in default so they might oblige.

Step 2: Reduce capital payments on your debt

Doing so will likely lengthen your debt repayment period, so that should be an option only if your current payments are too hard to honor. Unless you had a grace period on that 0% balance transfer. In which case, you should pretend like you are making the repayments, and put the money on a high yield savings account in the meanwhile, so it earns a little bit of interest for you.

Remember to put a date in your calendar for when your 0% deal is over, to pay the full balance, or it will revert to a super high rate. That is how companies make money. If you are still short, make another 0% transfer.

Step 3: Refinance your mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage is one of these “big wins” that won’t take a lot of time and can save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. A quick online search will tell you what the current rates are depending on your credit, and then a mortgage repayment calculator will tell you what your new payments will be.

Like with credit cards, if you keep your mortgage payments the same, you will be overpaying a little every month, and can shave months or even years off the life of your loan by doing so.

When refinancing, you might be tempted to open another line of credit to pay off your credit card balance. The catch is, you are switching from unsecured debt to secured debt. That means if you don’t pay your line of credit, your creditors can sell your house. If you don’t pay your credit card, the debt is not secured against an asset.

So now that you are aware of the risks, that might be worth considering if you were unable to get a 0% balance transfer.

Step 4: Refinance your other debt

Refinancing your student loans and other kinds of debt can be done over the same term, for a lower interest rate, or over a longer term, in order for you to have some breathing room in your budget thanks to lower payments. BUT if you go for a longer term, the final amount you’ll end up paying will probably be higher than the original loan figure.

So make sure you understand what the implications are before you sign anything. You can refinance all your loans together, also known as debt consolidation, or go on a per case basis with each lender.

All these steps are pretty straightforward and can not only save you a bunch in interest, but also lower your payments and help your cash flow right now. Even if you are able to make your current payments, why pay more in interest?

Wise Vacation Investments That Make Travel More Affordable

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Those wise words came from an anonymous source, but they apply to everyone. Too often people think that buying things will make them happy when in actuality experiences are a much better investment.

Research supports that vacation time provides more happiness and satisfaction than anything else we can buy. Longevity is a key factor. When we buy things the joy quickly fades after the register closes. The memories from experiences, however, usually last a lifetime. Even a short weekend trip is enough to spark a meaningful adventure you’ll tell people about for years.

But just because vacations provide rich experiences doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. There are vacation investments you can make now to decrease the cost of travel for years to come.

Your Own RV

If you plan to take a lot of road trips, particularly to state parks, an RV is a great investment. An RV loan can get you rolling down the road with a small upfront payment. Plus, you’ll eliminate the high cost of hotel stays without compromising the quality of your accommodations. Frequent travelers will be able to trade hotel rooms for monthly payments.

Not to mention travel is a lot more convenient and you can pack a lot more without additional fees when you have an RV. You’ll also save money by being able to cook at your motorhome instead of going out to eat on vacation.

Language Classes, Software and Tools

Language learning classes and/or software is invaluable for anyone who’s going out of the country where they don’t speak the native tongue. Being able to speak with locals enables travelers to find bargains more effectively, as well as steering clear of scams. Simply being able to give a taxi driver directions could end up saving you big.

If you don’t have enough money to purchase a program like Rosetta Stone check your local library. Many libraries now carry the software in common languages like Spanish and Mandarin. You can also look for secondhand software on Craigslist.

Even if you become fairly fluent there are a few language tools you may still want to invest in. A pocket translator always comes in handy, and Google Translate is a real lifesaver. You can write, speak, draw or take pictures of words to get a translation for free. You can even download translation packs for times when you’re offline.

Undercover Wallet

There are lots of ways to save money on a vacation, but you could also lose it. When you’re traveling to countries that are known for pickpockets a hidden wallet is a must. It can prevent all the headaches and expenses associated with losing all of your cash and credit cards.

Hidden wallets are cloth pouches that go around the waist and lie flat against the stomach. It’s worn under the clothes so people can’t tell the wallet is there. You also have to unzip the pouch in order to get anything out.

A Backup Solar Charger

Let’s face it. We can’t go anywhere these days without our smartphones and tablets. They really are essential travel tools when you consider they can be used for navigation, looking up information, making translations and communication. But they’re totally useless if the battery runs out.

From incompatible outlets to not having an outlet at all, a solar charger is worth every penny. As long as you have sunlight you can build up a power supply in the solar charger so it’s there whenever you need it.

Global Entry Program Membership and TSA PreCheck

Are you an international traveler? Hate waiting forever in customs lines when you could be spending that time exploring? Anyone with a machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card can apply to be approved for the Global Entry program. The application fee is $100, but at airports around the world you can walk up to a Global Entry kiosk, scan your documents, do a fingerprint verification and complete the customs declaration in minutes.

In addition to the background check you’ll also have to do an in-person interview. But once that’s done and the fee is paid you’re set for five years.

If you like to keep your air travel domestic then the TSA PreCheck may be a better investment. This will give you access to expedited security check lines that get you to your gate in less time. If you’ve ever barely missed a flight you know how expensive a few minutes can be. The TSA PreCheck costs just $85 for five years.

How to Be Financially Stable When Facing Personal Injury

Being unable to continue your job means mental and physical trauma, which, in many cases, is devastating. But perhaps the most disturbing factor is facing financial hardship.

Having a personal injury – whether sustained in a public area or at work – often results in a financial toll that can have a dramatic effect on your household. It may come from…

  • Medical Expenses: For serious injuries like a knee replacement operation, these expenses can pile on fast. The bills along with your reduced or lost earnings can cause extreme financial distress.
  • Loss of Property: In some cases of personal injury, like a car accident, you may also lose some personal property. This could be electronics, clothing, or meaningful property. Insurance may cover some expenses, but going without expensive personal property like an automobile can put a severe strain on your financial health.
  • Loss of Future Earnings: With serious injuries, the working life of the victim may change completely. You may not be able to perform key functions of your work. This can alter your career path and how much you earn. You may need to re-enter college or accept low-paying work.

Your overall situation may vary but the general premise holds regardless of the severity of your personal injury.

Financial Stability for Personal Injury Victims

Fortunately, there are ways to protect your financial health during a personal injury case. Here are your options:

  1. Personal Injury Law Firm

Mike Pines states that a personal injury attorney can give you personalized attention and understand the specifics of your injury to craft a compelling case to battle for the best outcome. The legal processes can be very confusing at times, but an experienced personal injury lawyer will save time by guiding the victim through the process. Whether it’s a slip and fall injury, or an injury caused by someone else’s wrong-doing, this option can help you get the most out of your personal injury settlement.

  1. Downsizing

After a personal injury, you and other members of your family may have to live on less each month. While you are eligible for permanent disability, temporary disability, or workers’ compensation, these options will cover only a portion of your full-time income. In such a scenario, you can consider reasonable downsizing to protect your financial wellbeing. Cut out luxuries, like subscription services (music, magazine, podcast, etc.) and entertainment (cable, dine outs, etc.). The cancellation fee may give you second thoughts, but it is still less than what the expenses would be in the long-run. In addition, there may be clauses that make you eligible for no cancellation fee.

  1. Avoid Retirement Account Cash Out

You and your family could rely on emergency savings to survive for some months (longer if you cut out excess and downsize efficiently). Those who don’t have emergency savings will consider the idea of taking out a personal injury loan or taking funds from a retirement account. But these options aren’t fruitful and should be avoided. Personal injury loans have high interest rates, and withdrawing early from a retirement account could result in a tax penalty. A better option would be short-term loans; they can give you enough financial stability to manage your household until you regain financial health through a personal injury settlement.

These tips will remove a great deal of stress as you recover physically, emotionally and financially.

Spend Less Money on Insurance

It’s easy to understand why you need insurance, but it can be difficult to make peace with the notion of parting with money every month that you will never see unless some misfortune happens. In addition to getting yourself psyched up to pay or insurance, it is worthwhile to continually look for ways to save money on premiums. This project can be rewarding on a number of levels and can ensure that you keep more money in your pocketbook where it belongs. It isn’t so difficult to find deals and ways to save if you keep your eyes open.
Shop Around or Find a Good Agent
If you are starting at square one, you can get your insurance coverage right the first time without changing policies and companies. It is beneficial to make sure you get started with your best foot forward, so make sure you do thorough research before settling on an insurance policy. Some people will recommend getting all of your insurance in one place while others will recommend you go for the best quotes, even if that means working with several firms. You could save money hiring an insurance agent rather than doing all of the searching yourself. A licensed agent with a wealth of experience knows who to locate deals quickly and how to find discounts.
Tips to Make Insurance Affordable
There are large and small things you can do to maximize your insurance savings. You can always raise your deductible if you want to lower your premiums. The deductible is the amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket until the insurance coverage starts. As long as you are aware that you will be required to cover part of the damage if there is a claim, you can pay less money for insurance on an ongoing basis.
Another thing you can do is to limit the number of claims. You may feel you are getting your money’s worth by making claims on your insurance policy, but this move may mean higher premiums. Keep in mind that insurance companies will charge you less money if you do not appear to need insurance. It is a similar logic to banks offering more credit to people who are not desperate for it.
Look for Discounts
There are many ways you can save on insurance through everyday purchases and improvements you make in your home or car. Anti-lock brakes can reduce the amount of money you pay on auto insurance, and take a defensive driving course can give you more points. Installing a state-of-the-art security system in your home not only will make you feel more secure but can help you reduce the amount you spend on home insurance premiums each month. Changing your fire alarms and putting in storm window may also help you pay less.
You may also have the option of paying for insurance in lump amounts, such every six months or annually rather than once a month. Charging monthly premiums is a courtesy offered by companies, and paying a lot at once mean that the companies can work less and get more money at once.

5 Quick Ways to Get Cash Today

Emergencies happen. If you don’t have an immediate emergency fund it can be difficult to meet problems head on. People who need money today have a number of options available to them. This guide is going to show you five of the quick ways in which you can get money today.

Put it on the Credit Car

Short-term problems can be confronted through taking advantage of your credit card. Putting the problem on the credit card isn’t a viable long-term option, but it can solve immediate problems. Credit cards will give you access to some much-needed funding in a matter of seconds. Those with higher credit scores will benefit more from this.

Get a Quick Loan

A quick loan is relatively easy to obtain because all you need is proof of income and some ID. You can find quick loan lenders both online and offline to help you with this. They have a variety of online calculators to help you work out how much you can borrow and what the repayments will be. Make sure you review your own financial circumstances before deciding on whether you can afford one of these loans.

Borrow from Family and Friends

Sometimes you might not be able to find the lender for you. This is where borrowing from family and friends can come in handy. Tell them why you need the money and be clear on when you’ll pay them back. Setup a repayment plan and put it down in writing. Show that you’re committed to paying them back and demonstrate how grateful you are. Borrowing from family and friends will enable you to get money without worrying about banks and credit scores.

Get a Secured Loan

A secured loan is a fancy term for a loan that requires an asset to be accepted. The simplest and fastest type of secured loan is the pawn shop. You can submit anything of value, including jewelry and power tools. They will value the item and decide how much money they can offer to you. Pay the loan back and you’ll get your item back.

Online Personal Loans

An online personal loan is different from the quick loan mentioned above because these do use your credit history to determine whether you can get a loan. They do allow you to get cash within 24 hours, but these lenders are extremely picky about who they lend to. Without a high credit score, you’re going to struggle to get a significant amount of money from them. The whole process takes place online, so you don’t have to worry about waiting for the lender to make a decision, or submit any complicated forms.

Conclusion – Many Ways to Borrow

There are many ways to borrow money in a pinch. Examine your own financial circumstances and make an informed decision on what the best option is for you. The right borrowing option can get you out of a sticky situation and make sure that you have the funds needed to meet absolutely any challenge.

Five Easy Habits to Pick Up to Curb Monthly Spending

Having a budget is a sure way of holding yourself accountable for monthly spending, but if you need a little extra boost, here are five easy ways you can start changing spending right now.

Put Away the Credit Cards

Sure it is easier said than done, but you cannot get ahead and start saving until the charging spree is over.  Keep the credit cards in your wallet or purse and do not use.   It should be kept on you for emergencies, so put all other cards in a safe play at home, away from sight so they will not be used.  Continue to pay down/off the balance each month until you are debt free and stay that way, so you can start to see your savings climb.

Spread Out Bill Payments

Due dates do not fall exactly on payday, so in order to avoid not having enough left over from bi-weekly checks, spread out bill payments equally from each paycheck, that way you can have the same amount left over each time, allowing yourself a consistent spending and savings plan.

Direct Depot to a Savings Account

If you are left to manually decide what to send to a savings account there will never be anything left over because there is always something more fun you would like to buy, so avoid temptation and have a set amount direct deposited to a savings account each paycheck.  Sure you can still move money around on an online account, but once you start seeing the amount rise each month, hopefully you can sit back and watch your balance grow.

Use Cash Instead of Debit

Sure you have put away the credit card, which is great by the way, but using a debit card still may not curb spending, so try only taking out a set amount to spend each month in cash, and maybe the physical handing of the money over during the transaction will reduce impulse purchases and buy only necessary items.  If anything, it will make you think if you need it or not.

Less is more

While it may be common sense to buy less items through the month, enjoying a more minimal lifestyle will help you appreciate the things you have, and look forward to future events.  If you go out to eat three times a week you will not look forward to it as if you went once a month.

4 Common Household Accidents that Renters Insurance Covers

No one is perfect, and sometimes—well sometimes we have accidents. Whether we’ve left a candle burning too close to the curtains or maintenance accidentally punctured the drainage pipe underneath the kitchen sink, there’s coverage for that.

Here are five common household accidents that are covered under our renter’s insurance policies.

Renters Insurance and You

As found by the non-profit, Insurance Information Institute (III), only 40 percent of renters said they have renter’s insurance. On average, renter’s insurance costs $188 per year, at least as of 2013. Divided between 12 months, that comes to just over $15 a month. If we’re willing to spend almost $4 on a Grande cafe latte at Starbucks every day before work ($4 X 5 = $20) costing us $20 a week, we can afford to spend $15 a month on insurance coverage, no?

Just for a minute, think about everything you have sitting at home in your apartment. If there was a fire, how much money would you lose to replace your furniture, clothes, gadgets and other incidentals? This isn’t something we think about very often. We assume that once we’ve locked our door and left for the day that our stuff is going to be there when we get back. That’s not always the case.

There are five common accidents that occur in the home that can wreak total havoc on our finances if we don’t have renter’s insurance to back us up.

House fire

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 16 percent of home-fire deaths occur in apartment complexes and other large housing facilities. What is the leading cause of a house fire? Cooking tools and appliances. Think about this: you’re preparing a pasta dinner at the stove, and your timer goes off letting you know that your laundry is done. Because the laundry room is on the first floor of your apartment building, you’re going to have to leave your apartment for a few minutes to collect your things. And because it’s only for a few minutes, you think living your stove on is okay.

Unfortunately for you, you didn’t realize that you left your oven mitt too close to the burner. In the few minutes it took you to grab your laundry, a kitchen fire erupted. Before you’re even able to get back into your apartment the fire alarm has gone off, the sprinkler system turns on, and your complex’s main fire alarm system switches on, sending you and all of your complex comrades out into the street.

So now, not only is your kitchen wrecked and appliances ruined, all of your belongings are soaked through. Will your renter’s insurance cover the damages? Yes. Renters insurance covers fire damage after you’ve made your claim and paid your deductible.

Dog bite

Dogs don’t bite because of a vicious nature. Two main reasons dogs bite is to protect their owner or out of fear. Most apartment complexes have a list of dog breeds they are and aren’t allowed on the complex property, and fortunately for you, your pooch made the safe list. Unfortunately for you, the long drive to the new place has made your dog a little nervous. As one of your friends goes to take him out of his crate inside the new apartment, your dog nips at him. Your so-called friend swears up and down that they’ll need to be treated for the bite (it didn’t even break the skin) and you comply to their demands. Will renter’s insurance cover your friend’s medical bill? Yes. A dog bite will fall under the liability coverage you have under your renter’s insurance umbrella.

Wonky Ceiling Fans

The only apartment you could afford might have some outdate looking appliances, but you’ve determined the location is worth it. One of your favorite things about the place was the ceiling fan in the living the room. As you doze on the couch with the fan on, it suddenly comes crashing down onto your glass coffee table, shattering it. You are so grateful you decided not to lie directly under it. All the same, some glass hit you and scratched you up a bit. Will your renter’s insurance cover the damages? Yes, and so will your landlord’s insurance. Discuss it with your landlord first and use their insurance as the primary form of insurance when making the claim.

Injured third party

Your Dad’s agreed to help you move your mattress up the stairs in your two-floor apartment when he slips on the second-to-last stair and falls all the way down, mattress tumbling after him. You rush him to the ER where they declare he’s going to be just fine. Similar to the dog bite scenario, your renter’s liability coverage will cover the cost of the doctor’s visit and any impending visits once you have paid your deductible.

Renters insurance doesn’t only cover burglaries. It also covers injuries, fire damage, water damage smoke damage and vandalism. And with sites making it easy to find renters insurance online, not having it just seems silly. Don’t be a noob, protect you and yours with renter’s insurance.

4 Items to Purchase in June

Weather has finally warmed up, wedding season is in full swing, and not to be happy about hurricane season, but all play a part in what is on sale during the month of June.  Although it may not be the best time of the year to buy a new BBQ grill, there are plenty of items that you can watch out for in the month of June if you are in the market.

Vacation deals

Trip deals will be the most plentiful on sites such as Groupon and travel sites, as there is enough competition on where to take a trip this summer.  Cruises, all-inclusive, and tropical vacations will offer the best deals, and if you do not mind traveling during the potential hurricane season, you could be in on an even better deal.  If you are able to be flexible on travel days and can wait until the last minute, then travel plans can be made at a fraction of the cost of planning in advance.

Gym Memberships

As gym memberships are booked up after New Year’s resolutions are made, as soon as February and March passes, you will notice crowds starting to thin out.  In order to keep the machines packed during the entire year you will find June deals on joining, giving discounts on enrollment and/or monthly fees.  While you are now in a healthy lifestyle, you will also find it not being a coincidence that workout clothes are at discount prices as well.

In-Season Fresh Food

If you are used to paying $4 dollars for a carton of strawberries in the winter, you should now see fruit and vegetable prices going back down as these items are now in-season.  If you are into buying local these days, then check out the farmer’s market on the weekend, where you can find great deals while supporting local farmers.

Household Items

While the shift to cook outside is now in full force, you can find household cooking items and dishes on sale to make sure your oven is not neglected.  While gardening and landscaping is the priority in the summer, to encourage interior projects in addition to outdoor work, low prices on tools and paint can be found.  If the weather is too hot, working in the cool house can be appealing, so it cannot hurt to plan a few summer interior projects.

Get Your Spouse Involved in Saving Money

Your household finances are a team effort and should not solely fall on you.  Some cringe at the thought of money discussions.  Some may not be as good at juggling paycheck pay cycles with paying all the expenses at the right time before the due date, while still factoring in allotted amounts for extra expenses such as food and gas.  If paying bills is not yours or your spouse’s thing (hopefully one of the two of you can handle money), make sure they are at least involved the monthly expenses.  You both should know online logins, account balances, and what transactions occurred the previous month.

After your paycheck goes to the mortgage payment, utilities, car lease and insurance payments, and after you have contributed to savings accounts, what you spend after that is a joint effort.  With the goal of eliminating extra and unnecessary expenses, staying out of debt, and saving for retirement, you must examine all spending that occurs in the previous month with your spouse to review.  Not meant to criticize each individual spending transaction, they should be reviewed so you can see if any spending that is not necessary can be removed that could have gone to something more important such as debt payment or savings.  After you review your previous month’s bank or credit card statement you will find that areas easy to reduce would be eating out.  Try eating at home as much as you can, if you do go out at night, grab an appetizer to share.

Remember, this is both of your money and savings, so while both will be involved, make sure you cheer each other on.  If you have a great month of reduced spending and increased savings, celebrate with a drink.  If you notice things have not gotten better, then make sure you circle items on the statement and sit down to discuss as a team.  You will definitely feel the weight off the shoulders come as you see the savings account continue to grow.  If you can save money each month, imagine how that will look by the end of the year.  Build your emergency fund, save for a family vacation, there is no time too late to fine tune spending and become more financially responsible.  The more you talk about money, the more comfortable it will be to have the conversation.

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