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5 Hacks to Slash Your Homeowners Insurance Rates

5 Hacks to Slash Your Homeowners Insurance Rates

There are so many additional expenses to owning a home which we never think about until we have one, and homeowners’ insurance is just another one of those payments. The average American pays nearly $1,000 annually on homeowners’ insurance, and home owners in more disaster-prone states such as Florida and Texas can see their costs spike up to $2,000 while states like Idaho and Utah average around $500.

But you do not have to head to the Rockies in order to slash your homeowners’ insurance. A few small steps and due diligence can trim your rates.

  1. Check your coverage

Once you get used to making insurance payments, you may just start sending your check automatically without thinking about what you are paying for. But while under-insuring your home can be catastrophic if disaster hits, over-insuring your home is an easy way to waste money.

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Take the time to go over your policy and see if you are being covered for something you do not have to worry about. For example, cancel earthquake coverage if you live in Boston. One key point which homeowners should check for is to see if your insurance policy covers the loss of any electronics or jewelry which you no longer own or if its value has decreased. If it does, then cancel those policies and pocket the reduced cost.

  1. Bolster your home’s security

A secure home means lesser burglaries aid fires, which means that your home is less of an insurance risk. Most insurance companies will offer a discount if you take measures to protect your home such as smoke detectors, deadbolts, a burglar alarm, or even a sprinkler system. One of the basic security measures you can take to bring down your insurance is to make sure you have good locks on all your doors.

However, a lot of these measures are expensive and can end up costing you more money than you might save with a discounted insurance policy. Before taking the time and money to add new features, talk with your insurance company about what you can do to improve your home and what discounts they will offer.

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  1. Combine your different insurances

Improving your home security is not the only way to get a discount. Many homeowner insurance companies also offer automobile or life insurance. These companies will often offer a small discount if you choose to purchase multiple policies from just them. For example, Allstate proclaims that “you can save up to 25% off your auto premiums and up to 35% off your home premiums” if you purchase both insurances from them, and most major insurance providers advertise similar discounts.

Just like bolstering your home’s security, you should check with the insurance companies to see exactly how much you can save in your situation and whether it is actually cheaper than sticking with your original plan. But this discount compared with the aforementioned security discount could save you quite a bit.

  1. Raise your deductible

The deductible is how much you are liable for in the event of damages. If you suffer damages that are less than your deductible, then you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket.

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Insurance companies obviously do not like to pay for your damages and will offer you a lower rate if you choose to raise your deductibles. This can be a challenging decision and requires you to decide whether the increased risk of a higher deductible is worth the lower rates.

But you do not have to raise your deductible to something catastrophic. Raising the deductible to $1,000 compared to the normal accepted sum of $500 will provide enough of a discount that it will be normally worthwhile. If you have the money saved up for the occasional emergency and take steps to keep your home safe, then it can be worthwhile to go for the higher deductible.

  1. Be careful about small claims

If an insurance company thinks you are more of a risk, they will charge you more. And one of the key ways in which they determine who is a risk is by the amount of claims you file. Even small claims such as a broken window can make insurers more wary about you and end up increasing your premiums.

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Remember that insurance exists to cover catastrophic losses. If you have a smaller loss which you can afford to pay back without too much difficulty, it may be for the best for you to bite the bullet and eat the cost without filing a claim. While you may not like your insurance company, you do want to keep them on your good side so that your rates stay low. Filing a bunch of small claims that do not even exceed your deductible will not keep them happy.

Featured photo credit: State Farm via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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