Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to find cheapest health insurance

Are you looking for the cheapest health insurance? You are not alone. Hundreds of people are out hunting too for insurance rates that won’t put holes on their pockets. The truth though is that, cheap options are never easy to find.

Despite the difficulties with finding affordable rates though, one thing is certain. Having no health insurance is not an option. You can never tell when you might get sick and have a need for immediate medical attention. If you aren’t insured, you could face the prospect of having to deal with steep medical bills. Getting well could mean having to work even harder just to pay for past treatment.

So how do you find the cheapest health insurance that can save you from financial ruin? There are a couple of basic tips that you can follow.

• First of all, if you are young and you still have no health insurance, it’s about time you get one right away. Being young and generally healthy often means you can take advantage of easily affordable rates. Older people who are likely to get sick or who may already have some form of illness may not be able to find cheap offers.

• Group coverage is also most often more affordable than individual coverage. Consider getting an insurance package for the entire family to save yourself from significant costs.

• Insurance companies have to compete with each other to get customers. If you are a patient searcher, you are bound to find one that has the best offer of all. The best step to take is to compare rates using online tools. Many companies and third party services can provide you with free quotes. Take advantage of this service to compare insurance programs and packages.

With cheap options, there is no reason for you to have no health insurance. It’s important to understand though that there may be some risks with this option. Common sense will tell you that many cheap options do not come with the bells and whistles of more affordable alternatives. Cheap packages for example may not include dental work, mental health and preexisting conditions in their coverage. Some companies may also start out with cheap rates because they are still new and do not yet enjoy the strong reputation of more established companies.

It is never impossible to find the cheapest health insurance. Always be mindful though of the options that you consider. Cheap could mean an incomprehensive policy with a lot of loopholes

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

Today, I read a government report stating "a middle-income family with a child born last year will spend about $221,000 raising that child through age 17." Housing was the biggest expense followed by food. Why they stopped at 17, I don't know...the child is still in high school at that age and the parents are still looking at college tuition! With that kind of expense looming, how can you cut costs? As soon as someone brings up the topic of saving money, you know the "B" word is not far behind - budget. OK, I said it! And the first step in creating a budget is finding out where the money is going now. So, for one month, collect all of your receipts from all of your meals. Even two weeks worth of receipts will be revealing. Not only will you find out how much money you are spending on food, you will also discover where you are spending your money.

Don't believe what I say about which food is cheaper, your receipts will tell the story. A part of this exercise is to not only look at the total bill, but also what VALUE you gained. What did you get for that $30 at the drive through - 1 meal for 3 people? What about the $30 at the grocery store - probably2 or 3 meals for 3 people. Once you know where you are spending your money, you can make changes that will affect your "bottom line." My first suggestion is to start cooking at home. I know, you..."don't have time", but "convenience foods" are ultimately not doing you or your family any favors. We all know that fast food is not cheap, it's not slimming, and it's not healthy, it's just fast, fried fat. Cooking at home with your family increases your "quality time" together. Perfume your home with aromas from the kitchen. Isn't that what makes a "house", a "home"? You can also control what you eat, and that is who we are, right?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Save money on Home repair

Anyone who owns a house will tell you that there's always something to fix. Someone said once that when you own a house, every year you fix something small and every four years you fix something big. The problem is that if you have to pay for all those small fixes and that big one when it comes along, at the rate that contractors charge, it's going to cost an arm and leg. Maybe a lung too. You'll long for those days when all you had was a small apartment.

Even before you fork over the cash you have to make sure the person you hire is honest and reputable; a combination not easily found. There are horror stories of people hiring someone to do a job and the person takes half the money either up front or halfway through the job they're never seen again. Others complain that when the job was done and they paid their money, things start falling apart not too long after and the contractor is nowhere to be found.

You can save yourself all this mental anguish and your hard earned money simply by learning to do some things yourself. While a lot of people find it intimidating to fix a leaky faucet or repair the deck, those things are not that difficult. In most cases the first one just needs a new washer(for those of you with older faucets). Sure you're going have to set some time out of your day and get your hands dirty but when it's over, you get a great deal of satisfaction from a job well done(if you do say so yourself) and the fact that you saved a ton of money by not hiring somebody. In fact that last point is where the majority of the money on home repair bills go. There are some plumbers and electricians out there making almost as much money as doctors.

A few years ago I had to rebuild my deck and just looking at what had to be done made me want to bite the bullet and hire someone. In the end I did it myself over about four weekends(I have a 9 to 5 job) and it's still standing very strong and looking good. It took me about two hours to knock out all of the old wood but once I started I was motivated to finish it and have a nice deck. Now I'm not suggesting that you start rewiring your entire electrical system because that's dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. In fact the farthest I ever go with anything to do with electricity is change a light bulb. For any other job that won't send a thousand volts through your body, there are a lot of easy to follow books you can buy to do your own repairs. It only seems hard at first because it's new to you; but once you get going and finally finish you'll be bragging to the neighbors and making your wife(or girlfriend) roll her eyes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reduce Your Gas and Electricity Costs

Maintaining a home can often prove to be a costly business. Gas and electricity prices in the UK often change readily but there are numerous measures you can take to ensure that you don’t end up out of pocket. To help you along the way, here is a handy guide detailing a few tips to reduce your bills.

The first thing to do is to make sure that your gas and electricity suppliers are indeed the right company to be with. Ofgem estimate that simply by comparing gas and electricity tariffs it is possible to reduce bills by up to £150. Now while this may seem like a potentially time-consuming task, using a price comparison site can take a lot of the hassle out of looking up quotes for gas and electricity companies.

The next step would be to check if your home is optimised to ensure minimum gas usage. Insulation is a great way to cut costs. The Energy Saving Trust says you can save around £120 on yearly gas bills with the correct insulation. Of course, another great way to save money is to simply turn down the temperature! By lowering the thermostat by just one degree Celsius, you can reduce gas costs by around 10 per cent. You probably won’t even notice the difference! Using energy saving light bulbs is a great way to cut down on your electricity bills saving you even more money and the environment.

Little things that don’t seem like they could help often make a world of difference. Make sure you completely switch appliances off and don’t just leave them on standby, don’t leave the heating on whilst out, and even closing your curtains during sunset can trap heat thus enabling you to ease off the radiators.

The kind of domestic appliances that you use within your home will also make a big difference on your bills. Gas hobs on a cooker for example, will add up to 15 per cent on your gas bills. Fridges and freezers account for 18 per cent of the average electricity consumption, so choosing the right fridge is extremely important when it comes to saving money. By choosing energy saving appliances when making new purchases you could again reduce the amount of money spent on gas and electricity bills per month.

Lastly it is worth noting that insuring your boiler can be very handy in the event of a breakdown or malfunction. Emergency repairs can cost up to £76 an hour! Most gas providers will offer insurance, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sale Effect on your Credit Score

In real estate, a short sale is considered a gray area. For sure, it will give you a negative effect when it comes to your credit score. However, its effect is better than an effect of foreclosure. In dealing with a short sale, the important thing is that you make sure to pay your monthly dues on time. Any delayed payments will appear on your credit score and will get your score to plunge down dramatically.

In a short sale, you will lose a 75-125 FICO point from your credit score. If you previously have a 750 credit score, after short sale, it will go down as much as 400 to 500. Your credit report will also show the sale as a ‘pre-foreclosure in redemption. In FICO scoring, three major credit events will be affected such as derogatory public record, serious delinquency and collection filed.

When it comes to a purchase of a new home, a short sale is shorter than that of a foreclosure. A foreclosure record remains as long as ten years, while in a short sale, it will take you about two years to e able to get a new mortgage loan, depending on your credit report and the status of your other account payments. It will take a considerable time to get your scored back on the track for you to be able to earn the confidence once again of a mortgage lender.

When you deal with your mortgage lender or a bank, it is important to establish an agreement with them, otherwise the report will appear as closed and loan not paid in full. This will further lower your credit score. It is best to consult your lawyer; he can help you negotiate with the mortgage lender or the bank on how the short sale is going to be reported to the credit reporting authorities. For tax purposes, check out how the short sale report appears to the IRS. Typically, money forgiven in a short sale will be considered as your income and you will be required to file an income tax for it. Your accountant will come in handy when it comes to tax matters. He will be able to help you structure the deal to minimize your tax dues.

Financially, a short sale can give you quite a difficult time. You must work hard on making positive credit activities to soar up your credit score. Repairing your credit score may get some time. If it is possible, you should avoid a short sale. In case you are faced with no other alternative, it is reassuring to know that your credit score will not suffer terribly compared to a foreclosure.

Consult your accountant or your lawyer to give you more ideas and information on the effects of a short sale on your credit score. Remember that a second chance is always possible as long as you are being honest with yourself and you do your deals in good faith.

Energy Saving Guarantees

There is a lot of talk about going green, saving energy and being environmentally friendly and such, but what really works? Really - what energy saving tips or ideas for going green work? Which energy conservation ideas work fast and are virtually guaranteed to save money while also being affordable for most people to do?

Here's my list of what I call the Top 10 Energy Saving Guarantees that have been proven to save energy and save money while also being affordable enough for almost anyone to handle. I provide these guarantees because I know that many people want to be green, but have a hard time finding a place that is affordable to get started.


Recent increases in electric utility costs have us either cutting back or changing how and what we light. To get the most from your lighting:

a. Replace all incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient CFL's ( Compact Fluorescent Lights )

b. Reduce outdoor lighting loads by using solar powered path lighting and super bright solar lamps

c. Install solar skylights to allow natural light into normally darkened areas of the home.

Changing your lighting to use CFL's and allowing more natural light to enter the home is guaranteed to save energy.


To improve the efficiency of the doors and windows in your home or apartment, the following suggestions are affordable enough to consider, whether you own or rent:

a. For drafts blowing under an exterior door:
- on modern doors, adjust the threshold to reduce the gap between the bottom of the door and the threshold.
- on older doors, install weather stripping that seals the crack at the bottom of the door when the door is shut.

b. Install weather stripping around the sides and top of all exterior doors.

c. To improve the efficiency of windows:

1. Install any available storm windows.
- If storm windows are not available, but removable screens are installed, remove the screens and then wrap them with plastic and replace the screens.

2. Caulk all exterior cracks around the window frame and home siding.

3. Install heat shrinkable plastic on the inside of the window.

If you follow the guidelines provided for better sealing your doors and windows, you are guaranteed to save energy.


As much as a clothes dryer is essential, it is also one of the primary sources of wasted energy. The energy fix for the dryer includes:

a. Install a dryer vent seal. This eliminates any back drafts from entering the home when the dryer is not in use and could easily reduce your homes heating and cooling costs by up to 10%.

b. Don't run the dryer on frigid winter nights or on hot summer afternoons because whenever you run the dryer and exhaust the air outdoors, the same amount of air is being sucked into your home.

By installing the dryer vent seal and by not running the dryer when outdoor temperatures are at extreme odds with your indoor temperature, your energy savings are guaranteed.


Exhaust fans are very helpful in removing moisture and foul odors from your home, but they are also a primary source of energy waste. To improve their performance:

a. Install an Intermatic, thirty to sixty minute timer for each exhaust fan switch. This will guarantee an exhaust fan is not running longer than necessary.

Exhaust fans are pulling in unconditioned outside air into your home while also exhausting air you paid to heat or cool. This process is necessary, but the focus is to reduce the amount of time to only what is necessary.

By performing these simple steps, you are guaranteed to save energy.


Computer may be able to shut down or hibernate when it detects it has not been used for a while, but your printer, sound system, backup drives, etc, keep chugging away at your homes energy, 24 hours a day, forever. To resolve these issues or to at least reduce their impact:

a. Install an energy saving smart strip for your computer and supporting devices. The smart strip device senses when you have shut down your computer and then shuts down all your other peripheral devices automatically.

b. If you have the habit of leaving your computer on when it is not being used, you could work on improving your awareness of your habit and turn your computer off more often or set your computer to hibernate or sleep after two hours or so.

Tests I ran have shown that the simple habit of turning off the computer more often while also using a smart strip, will reduce yearly energy costs by at least $25.00. Install a smart strip for your computer and you are guaranteed to save energy.


Your refrigerator and freezer runs twenty-four hours a day, forever, so even a little improvement makes a difference due to how often these items run. The energy saving fix for these items is two-fold:

a. Remove the vent cover at the bottom of the unit and clean out all the dust and dirt from the refrigerator coils.

b. Keep the refrigerator and freezer as full as possible. Using a combination of zip-lock bags or Tupperware bowls, store extra ice, frozen vegetables, frozen fruit, bread, pitchers of water, etc, so that there is less empty air space.

By cleaning the coils, the unit will run slightly less, and by filling empty air space with solid objects, the unit will run even less. When these two ideas are used together, the unit runs less, emits less heat into your kitchen and even lowers your air conditioning load on the house. The energy savings are guaranteed.


To reduce the amount of energy being wasted by your heating and cooling systems:

a. Seal the Leaks

- 1. Forced Air Systems - while the system is running, follow the main duct line and use either the back of your hand or a smoke stick to locate areas where air is escaping from the duct system and seal those leaks with foil duct tape...not that sticky gray tape.

- 2. Hot Water or Steam Systems - Insulate the pipes with foam insulation, being especially diligent where piping crosses near basement window and door areas.

b. Perform yearly cleanings.

- 1. Oil and coal heating systems have the capacity to create a lot of soot. It is vital that your boiler be cleaned yearly and the chimney cleaned every other year. By removing the soot from the boiler, you improve the boilers capacity to absorb the heat and by keeping the chimney clean, you improve air flow which allows the fuel to burn hotter and cleaner.

- 2. Air conditioning systems, as well as air source heat pumps require yearly maintenance. Coils need to be cleaned, refrigerant charges need to be adjusted and routine maintenance needs to be performed.

Being diligent about performing preventive maintenance on your heating and air conditioning systems will not only lengthen the systems life time, but your energy savings will be guaranteed.


Your savings can really grow by learning how to better conserve your water. All the energy saving benefits of reducing water usage are even greater for those who have wells and use a pump to extract their water in the first place.

a. Replace your shower head with an energy saving shower head that uses less than the standard 2. 5 to 3. 5 gallons of water per minute. Many models are available that use 1. 5 to 1. 75 gallons per minute while still providing full body coverage and pressure while showering.

By reducing the amount of water used while showing, the energy you use to heat your water can be dramatically reduced, plus it will help eliminate your water heater or furnace from running out of enough heated water so that another person could shower right after you.

b. Locate the sink closest to your water heating source and use that sink whenever you need to wash your hands. You'll have hot water quicker and will leave less heated water standing in the pipes.

By becoming more aware of how you may have been wasting your heated water by using too much during showering or by leaving much of it to just cool down in your pipes, you can easily change a few habits that are guaranteed to help you save energy.


Fans are often only associated with cooling things, but they can better be defined as devices that help move air from one place to another. This works for both cool or hot air.

a. During the winter, set your fan reversing switch in the upwards position and keep the speed setting on low. What this will do is to gently push any heated air off the ceiling and force it back down along the walls to the floor where you want it. Since the fan is pushing the air around the perimeter of the room, you wont feel any breeze or draft during this process.

b. During the summer, set your fan reversing switch in the downwards position and use the low or medium speed setting. This will help keep the room from becoming stagnant and will prevent hot air from building up near the ceiling and will allow the air to mix better and cool more naturally. Meanwhile, since the fan is blowing air down directly, you will feel this breeze and you will feel cooler as the wind from the fan helps your perspiration evaporate from your skin.

When we take advantage of using ceiling fans to better distribute our heated or cooled air, our overall comfort level increases while the amount of energy we use decreases. This more comfortable situation is guaranteed to save energy.


By learning how to better dress ourselves, we could learn to live more comfortably in our homes while using less energy to condition the air within our homes.

a. During colder weather conditions, be sure to wear socks, full length pants and long sleeve shirts in your home. It's not necessary to add multiple layers (unless you want to), but by simply ensuring you are protecting your exposed skin from "drafts", you will feel more comfortable at a lower temperature setting. Then, by lowering your thermostat by 5 to 10 degrees, you can save from 10% to 20% more energy.

b. During hotter weather conditions, and especially at night, remove your socks, wear shorts and short sleeve shirts. If you exercise in the home or come home hot and sweaty, give yourself a few minutes to cool down a little and then change your shirt or pants with something fresh and lighter. Doing so will allow you to maintain a warmer temperature in the home and reduce your air conditioning costs.

There is often too great a tendency to up the thermostat during winter months instead of dressing more efficiently. If you are walking around your home in the winter in your shorts, you are going to be cooler and you will either raise the thermostat setting or put on more clothing. One choice will waste energy and the other is guaranteed to save energy.

The overall message is no different than what our grandparents used to say in that 'a penny saved is a penny earned'. As we learn to stop wasting, we are effectively giving ourselves a raise in salary. That's great motivation, so whether you agree with the reports on global warming or believe we should keep drilling or not, most of us already agree that we'd like to have more money, so by reducing what we waste, we will all have more money left to enjoy on things that matter to us.