Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More From Kathryn . . .

The email continues . . .

4. I cut down the cost of my car insurance by changing a few things around on my policy. I have full coverage insurance. I live in Arizona, so car insurance is astronomical anyway, but I did manage to save a few bucks per month by changing my deductible from $500 to $1000, lowering the amount I can use for rental cars from $40 per day to $20 per day, and lowering the medical coverage to $5,000.00 Not to worry about the medical part, because if you get into an accident and your medical bills are more than $5,000, your regular health insurance will cover anything above and beyond the car insurance policy. I used to be a claims adjudicator for blue cross blue shield and saw it all the time-all they will ask you for is a denial letter from your car insurance and the bills will be paid.

That is some terrific advice. My wife and I have not yet looked into doing anything with our insurance. About the time we started this turnaround, we were going to start looking for cheaper insurance, but then two accidents dropped off our record (well, my record) and it became cheaper without us having to do a thing. Because of those two accidents I had in a row, I've always been leary of lowering my car insurance or going with a cheaper provider--I tend to use my car insurance, and I want it to work--but I strongly advocate having emergency funds in excess of $1,000 for stuff like this, and then going for the higher deductible. Great advice.

5. I stopped going out to lunch with my colleagues every day. I used to spend at LEAST $5 or $10 daily on lunch outside. I started bringing my own lunch every day and only going out for lunch on paydays. I figure lunch outside twice a month is OK. Money saved-$100+per month. Another cool thing about this is that it is easier to eat healthy when you aren't in a restaurant!

Because of the weight-loss portion of my goals, I tend to eat up to six small meals a day, which means I eat 3-4 times during the hours I'm at work. My first "meal" is usually a meal replacement bar--whichever one we were able to get coupons for and was on sale. Lately, it's been the EAS Advantage bar. Then a while later I'll do whatever healthy frozen meal had the right combination of sales and coupons--usually Healthy Choice as of late. Then I'll have maybe an apple and a cup of cottage cheese, or maybe sandwich. Sometimes I'll substitute canned soup or leftovers for any one of these meals. All told, I usually end up spending $2-3 on food a day, although I will skip one or two if we're getting close to a payday or far from a shopping trip, so it's sometimes less.

6. I don't know if you are living in a house or apartment, but if you are in an apt. and are paying extra for a garage or cushy parking spot, lose it and save money!

7. Stop using that debt-free service if it isn't free! You can pay your OWN bills if you stay organized. Get a monthly planner or print out a new calendar every month and keep it at your computer and desk. When the bills come in, write on the calendar when it is due, how much it is, and then keep the bills in a neat stack RIGHT next to the computer monitor, like I do. Then, when you have paid the bill, take it out of the stack and put it in a file for your records. Keep doing this until the stack is gone. Same thing for the next month, etc. Also, quit using checks from your bank! That is the fastest way to end up with costly overdraft fees from the bank. If you don't already have it, get online banking, enter in all your bills and their addresses and account numbers. Then when it's time to pay bills all you have to do is sit at the computer and click. No more writing checks, getting postage, etc. If you have a bill that's due on the 30th, for an example, arrange to have the payment go out on the 25th-ALWAYS send your payments out 5 business days in advance. Do that, and you will never pay another late fee. If, for whatever reason, your bank doesn't offer online banking, I would still do away with the checks. Just get 29 cent money orders at your local gas station for the bills and do it that way. Get out your scissors, and those boxes of unused checks and go to town. Cut them all up and never order another box. Checks are nothing but headaches. OH, and not having checks is also another way to ensure yourself of no more costly pay day loans!

I don't get payday loans. I make them--it's actually what I do for a living. I give people loans by day at work and beg them to get out of debt on this blog by night.

To everyone--don't get payday loans. If you're tempted to get one, don't. And then, on your payday, take the $300 you'd have had to give the payday loan company if you'd got it and put it in your sock drawer. Then, next time you need one, you can give one to yourself. Put the $300 back on your payday. Repeat as needed.

I will say to anyone looking to follow Kathryn's advice about checks--see what kind of account you have at your bank first. Many banks, such as Bank of America have "Free" accounts only so long as you do all your transactions by ATM or check. If you start cashing your checks or withdrawing sums larger than what you can get from the ATM each day--like if you need a large amount to pay rent--you can often get charged transaction fees for those. Getting to know your bank's policies is valuable. If you tend to go inside the branch, take note of which teller seems most knowledgeable about bank policy and most willing to share. You'll be glad you did.

And as for the debt consolidation company, I'll post my do-it-yourself debt consolidation plan before this month is out. It's the plan that's got me out of all my debt except for my car and the stuff I turned over to those guys, and if I'd have started it sooner, I'd never turned any of it over to them at all.

Even More To Come! Keep It Tuned In!

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