Pros Weigh in on what You can do NOW to Improve your Personal Finances
July, 2008 - Issue #45
Save on Insurance
Having higher deductibles for auto, home and health insurance can save money now; ask your agent for more details. You can save in the range of $1,000 to $8,000 a year by raising your deductible. In the event of accident or illness, a supplemental policy will help fill in those gaps and save money. These benefits quickly fill the gaps and only cost $360 a year.
Resource: Loreen Worden of Allstate & Blue Cross; 298-5011

Manage Interest Rates
Now, more than ever, it's important to ensure that you're getting the most from your financial institution - minimal fees, low loan rates and higher deposit rates. A difference of just a few tenths of a percent on interest rates can add up to big savings during the course of a year and that means more money in your pocket. You should also evaluate your credit card interest rate and transfer the balance to a card with a lower rate, then endeavor to pay off the outstanding balance.
Resource: James Davis of Lockheed Federal Credit Union; 476-9746

Cut Back Painlessly
Reduce your discretionary spending. Cut out the lattes or mochas that you "have" to have or "need." That three-time-a-week habit adds up to $48 a month. Start a carpool. Alternate driving every other week can save you nearly $90 monthly. Carry your lunch to work four times a week and save $80 a month. These three ideas alone would save you over $215 a month - and they don't even account for dinners out, cable TV, new clothes, unused gym memberships, or cutting back on hobbies. The fact is that little adjustments monthly can produce big results annually. Be smart - it's your money!
Resource: James E. Shafor III of Total Money School; 254-7283

Start Budgeting
Live within your means and save money each and every month! Financial freedom means no debt and enough income to live on and save for the future. If you are already in debt, it's probably because you either have lived "beyond your means" or failed to save money for future necessary expenses or emergencies. First, start by putting aside as much money as you can each month - even if it is only $50 per month. Then, take the rest of your household income and create a realistic budget for your monthly expenses. Lastly, create a list of all your outstanding debt and create a consistent plan to get those bills paid off.
Resource: Susana B. Tolchard, Esq.; 287-9986

Call Less and Sell More
Many of us who have owned SUVs are now looking for more economical means of transportation. When checking for a new (or used) car, contact your insurance carrier to find out about premiums before you make a purchase decision. You may be surprised that your choice based on fuel economy isn't the best choice for insurance premiums. Plan your trips for the most efficient route to accomplish all of your errands, or come up with a sharing plan with a friend or neighbor - take their grocery list and let them run some of your errands. Studies indicate that we throw away millions of dollars of food as waste every year. Plan meals accordingly - using smaller portions and look for ways to use the leftovers. Check out your attic - you could have "buried treasure." Get an Ebay account, snap a few pictures and post your goods. Even if that old camera only gets you $10 or $20, it adds up. From a finance perspective, pay your bills on time - no need to incur costly late fees or added interest charges. Where possible, consolidate debt or get a bank loan at much-lower interest rates than credit cards. A late fee from a credit card company is costly and impacts your credit score, while bank overdraft protection carries much lower fees. Avoid costly long distance charges on your land line by using your cell phones off-hours or weekend-minutes program. Even phone cards can be cheaper than your long distance carrier.
Resource: Tamara Gurney of Mission Valley Bank; 775-4100

Less Gas, Increased Loan
Use the octane level recommended by your owner's manual. According to the FTC, "Using a higher-octane gas than the manufacturer recommends offers no benefit in most cases." You can save up to 40 cents a gallon in many cases simply by switching to lower-octane fuel. Don't pay more for the same gas. Before you fill up, go online and look for consumer gas-saving sites like Take advantage of increased loan limits. The Stimulus Act of 2008 did more than just authorize rebate checks. It also increased loan limits throughout the country. For those looking to purchase in a "high-cost region," or refinance your existing loan, these increases could help you avoid the higher rates associated with jumbo loans.
Resource: John Franco of Aggressive Home Loans Corporation
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