Great conversation about which is the least manipulative credit card company.

Over at Ask Metafilter there is an ongoing conversation about who could possibly be the LEAST manipulative credit card company out there. Its a pretty interesting read with some interesting comments, go check it out if you have a minute.

Over at Ask Metafilter.


How To Save Money On Your Auto Insurance.

Sure, we all know a few good ways to knock some bucks off of your car insurance. Me? I am contemplating getting rid of my car altogether since I work at home and can walk to most anything I could need within a few blocks. But for those that are keeping your wheels, this article from Monster might offer a few suggestions to save a little bit of cash.

Even though auto insurance is expensive — on average $870 annually per car — many people purchase policies with little or no research. But insurance premiums (the payments you make to purchase coverage) can vary by as much as 300 percent, depending on the company you choose.

**I just switched to a different insurer, and our cost went down significantly, even with a lower deductible. It pays to look around!**

– Raise the Deductibles: One way to save money is to take the highest deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage you can afford. A higher deductible means lower premiums.
– Choose a Car That Costs Less to Insure: Buying a low-profile car — one that’s rarely stolen and inexpensive to repair — can help cut insurance costs. Research the cost of insurance before buying a car. Sports cars, for instance, are very expensive to insure, while the least costly cars are small and midsized sedans and minivans.
– Cancel Collision Coverage When Away: If you won’t be driving for a long period of time, such as more than 30 days, you should notify your insurance company. Sometimes it’s possible to cancel collision premiums for this period of time.
– Insure Teenage Drivers on Your Family Policy Rather Than Separate Ones: Doing so will usually save money. Explore discounts for teenagers who have a good academic record, have successfully passed a driver training course or who don’t smoke.
– If You’re in the Military, Explore Special Discounts: Visit USAA’s Web site for more information.
– Find Out If Your Employer Gets Preferred Rates Through a Group Plan.
– Use Public Transportation: This can save you money on your policy.
– If You Are an Older Driver, Investigate Senior Discount Rates: The AARP is one such organization that offers discounts on auto insurance.
– Collision Coverage on Your Auto Can Transfer to Rental Cars: People who rent cars frequently may want to purchase a nonowner liability policy for about $300 a year rather than pay for the expensive collision-damage coverage each time they rent a car.

**And here is the normal “ask for a discount” spiel….no doubt, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

– Good Driving Record: Generally, a clean record — no accidents or moving violations for the past three years — will result in lower premiums.
– Drivers over 55 Who Have Taken a Recent Driving Course.
– Carpool Drivers: Drivers who carpool to work sometimes receive a 10 percent to 20 percent discount on premiums.
– More Than One Car on the Same Policy: This may earn you a 15 percent to 20 percent discount.
– Low Annual Mileage: Some companies offer discounts if you drive less than a certain number of miles each year.
– College Students Away at School: Some insurers offer discounts to parents with a college-age student who attends school more than 100 miles from home and doesn’t keep a car on campus.
– Antitheft Devices: Some insurers offer 5 percent to 15 percent discounts for alarm systems, wheel locks, hood locks and ignition protection devices.
– Safety Devices: You may receive up to a 30 percent discount in medical coverage for automatic seat belts and air bags. Some states, such as Florida, New Jersey and New York, require insurers to give discounts for cars equipped with antilock brakes.
– Being a Nonsmoker: Smoking is considered a high-risk behavior. Nonsmoking drivers may receive discounts on liability, medical benefits and collision.
– Long-Time Customers: Although it’s wise to comparison-shop, it doesn’t always make sense to switch companies. Some insurers reward long-time customers with discounts and other money-saving programs.
– Insuring Your Vehicle with the Same Carrier You Use for Homeowner’s Insurance.

You should ALWAYS shop around….every ad on tv says that their rates are lower than their competitors…well, they can’t all be the lowest. Start calling around, thats how we saved a bunch by going with a company that only insures good drivers. That way my premium doesn’t have to be so high as to pay for all the bad drivers the company doesn’t cover!

Source: Monster Money – Buying Auto Insurance: How to Save Money


Video rental service for How-To DVD’s-Fix it yourself, save money.

I dont have much to add to this post from CoolTools, so I will put a blurb of it below. Need to fix something around your house but don’t know how or dont want to hire a pro? A company called SmartFlix will rent you DVD’s on how to projects…check it out:

SmartFlix will rent you nearly four thousand How-To DVDs in English. Subjects range from construction techniques (tile laying, cabinet making, timber framing), outdoor activities (kayaking, archery), and self-help, to such specialties as welding, lock-picking, and primitive fire-making.

The quality of the instruction varies tremendously. Some DVDs are smart and effective, some aren’t. Some are old, some brand new. All come from various publishers. The SmartFlix site smartly provides customer reviews (although not all DVDs have reviews). I have found the reviews tend to be generous; I mentally deduct one star from the ratings.

It’s amazing what you can learn from how-to books and videos. Most of my livelihood skills I learned this way, out of school and without teachers. A great book or video can equal, or at least compliment, an okay teacher. Through years of watching instructional videos, I’ve found I need to view them more than once. First I watch before I do anything; then I review parts in the midst of doing; and lastly I watch it again after I’m done, when I finally understand what they were trying to say. You to rent these videos for one week (it should be longer).

Renting these DVDs is not as cheap as using Netflix, but they are just as handy with their postage-paid mail-back envelopes and clear website. The cost is $10 per rental for a week, which works out to about half or a third or more of what buying them would be. None of these how-to’s are available on Netflix, and no where else are they gathered together with such easy search, ordering, and evaluation.

For more information, go to CoolTools and check out more info on SmartFlix.


How To Prepare Financially For An Emergency.

I was reading September’s issue of Money magazine, and they had a tiny little blurb on how to “Be Ready For Anything”, and I thought I would take a moment to expand on their list and hopefully offer some of my own suggestions.

On their list there were three things; Protect Your Records, Have Ready Cash, and Get the Right Coverage. Let’s look at what they had to say for each.

PROTECT YOUR RECORDS -“Make copies of vital documents and put them in a waterproof plastic bag. Include insurance policies, photos and videos of your home and possessions, financial account numbers, deeds, wills and trusts.”
This one is key, and why in the last month I have mentioned using USB flash drives. We have several of these things, all with the same information on them like Money said you should, along with a few other things. Photos of our family, wedding pictures, important phone numbers of family and friends, shelter locations, etc. I have one in my briefcase, my wife has one in her purse, we keep one in our safe and I am considering having a friend hold on to another one, just in case. I cannot recommend enough to have backups of everything in multiple locations. Of course, we also have printed out versions of this stuff, in plastic bags as well, in case computers are not usable. You just dont know when you will need them. Also, I pay for online photo storage, where all of our digital pictures are backed up from our home computer. For about $25 per year, I know all of our pictures are safe, even if its from something as basic as a computer meltdown.

HAVE READY CASH – “Your emergency fund may not be enough to cover catastrophic expenses. So have an untapped home-equity line or a credit card with a zero balance that you can access in a hurry.”

Not only should you have access to a credit card or equity line..you should have access to cash…actual pieces of paper. Say that from whatever disaster you are going through that all the electricity is down; the gas station, the ATM, the grocery store..none of them will take your plastic. We keep cash in strategic locations that we can easily get to in case we need it. No, its not a lot..but it is enough to get us through a few days if necessary. After watching Katrina unfold, I figured having actual money available would be key. As for the freed up credit cards, I agree as well…thats why I have the # on our USB drives and of course the cards in our wallets.

GET THE RIGHT COVERAGE- “Get a rider to make sure your homeowners coverage increases along with the cost of reconstructing your home. Check whether your policy reflects recent changes in local building codes”

Having both the RIGHT coverage the right AMOUNT of coverage is key here. While we do not own a home (come one, we live in Los Angeles where a fixer is $1 million!), we do have a very nice place that is insured. We have renters insurance with enough coverage to pay for a replacement of everything in our house plus some, and we have earthquake insurance (its separate here) as well. Be sure though to get REPLACEMENT value insurance…that way you get the actual dollar amount to replace a damaged item rather than getting what the insurance company thinks the item is worth. Renters insurance is cheap…$20-$30 per month, and when I have to trust 10 different families to not burn down my building, I think that price is definitely worth paying every month.

As for my own addition to that list, I would say to HAVE FOOD SUPPLIES. We have food and water in our place specifically for an emergency, along with batteries, medicine, flashlights, pet food, candles, matches, extra clothes, tarps and the like.We have it both in trunks that are used as furniture, and in our “bug out” bags in case we need to evacuate. This way, we might have a few days till things settle down that we wont need money or ATM or credit card machines in order to survive. The up front cost is well worth it. In my mind, you have to be ready for anything. And again, after Katrina, I realized it could happen to any of us anywhere.

I hope this article was of some value, and if you have any more tips, would love to hear them…please leave them in comments!


Man accused of faking mental impairment to collect SS benefits

Wow, and we wonder why everyone is saying Social Security is going to run out…I know its not due to just this one family, but imagine how much fraud is going on in the system when they cannot even catch a guy pretending to be mentally impaired…since he was EIGHT.

TACOMA “” For nearly 20 years “” ever since Pete Costello was 8 “” his mother has collected disability benefits on his behalf. In meetings with Social Security officials and psychologists, he appeared mentally impaired and unable to communicate. His mother insisted he couldnt read or write, shower, care for himself or drive.

But now prosecutors say it was all a huge fraud, and they have video of Costello contesting a traffic ticket to prove it.

Source: The Seattle Times