Category Archives: guest post

Is it okay to go cheap on home insurance?

Note: this is a guest post

When looking for home insurance, everyone wants to find the best deal possible – that’s a given. However, some home insurance seekers sacrifice a little too much while trying to go cheap. There’s a big difference between getting cheap rates and getting cheap insurance.

Often, homeowners will jump on the  first cheap deal that they find, without really looking through all of the fine print, exclusions, etc. This could be a huge mistake and usually all it takes is a talk with a neighbor at dinner party or neighborhood barbeque to realize it.

Their neighbor goes on and on about how amazing their home insurance is and when they finally speak up and ask, “Well, how much do you pay for that?” they’re often very surprised at home much more their neighbor is getting for just a little more than they, themselves, are paying. Check out the HBF home insurance portal to get a quote for your own insurance needs.

Typically, this happens when homeowners try to tackle the homeowner’s insurance market all on their own and don’t enlist the help of a certified agent who knows the market better than their spouse. These agents, services dedicated solely to shopping the industry for you, or an insurance company that you already do business with can all help you find great discounts without sacrificing quality.

Tips for Obtaining Quality Home Insurance at Cheap Rates

  • DO THIS – Do a little online research, chat with co-workers, or consult with family/friends, to find an online home insurance website that is both reputable and user friendly. 
  • DON’T DO THIS – Jumping on the first cheap rate you find will almost certainly be a mistake.
  • DO THIS – Meet with a reputable, certified, home insurance agent whom you’ve thoroughly vetted or received a stellar recommendation for.
  • DON’T DO THIS – Be certain that you thoroughly understand your coverage and make sure your agent doesn’t cut corners on things like dwelling coverage, just to cut costs.
  • DO THIS – Thoroughly consider any policy’s deductibles and be sure that they make sense for you financially. You want a deductible that you’ll actually be able to afford.
  • DON’T DO THIS — Don’t let an agent, or a company, talk you into a policy that comes with a deductible you wouldn’t be able to afford should you need to make a claim. This is important, as you don’t want to break your bank account just to make a claim and be in a dire financial situation until it comes through.
  • DO THIS – Ask questions. When you sit down with an agent, make sure you’ve done your research regarding all possible discounts and inquire about each of them individually.
  • DON’T DO THIS – Don’t sit down with an agent unprepared. Not all agents are good agents, and if you’ve educated yourself, you’ll be able to tell if they’re just trying to make a sale.
  • DO THIS – Make certain that you’ve gone to your current auto insurance provider and have inquired with them about a discount, should you insure your home with them, as well. 
  • DON’T DO THIS – Even if your auto insurance company will extend a discount, make sure that you still fully shop the market and line their offer up with the rest.

Heading Back To School On A Very Tight Budget

Note: this is a guest post

The month of September means the end of the summer, and the beginning of the school season.  Families across Canada must cope with empty nests as their children leave their homes to begin the next chapter of their lives at college or university.

Back to school season invokes different feelings within people, depending on who is asked.  But the one feeling that many students and their parents can share is coping with the reality of young adults living on a very tight, student budget.  The cost of living is very expensive, particularly for students who devote most of their money towards paying for tuition with little additional income to spare.

First year college or university students can especially feel overwhelmed when they must learn to become their own primary breadwinner and caregiver.  Between rent, food, utilities, cell phones, credit cards, textbooks, transportation, leisurely shopping, and maintaining a social life with what little time there is to spare – the total cost, in terms of time and money, adds up very quickly.

Even with school just getting back in session, many students already look ahead to their next summer break by planning for a new vacation.  These types of plans incentivize many students to save every dime they can spare for their next big trip, while learning to live modestly throughout the school year.

Financially savvy students look for money saving resources and budgetary advice to provide a roadmap that can help achieve their goals.  Many independent financial resource websites created their own back to school guides to save money and to help students discover options to save on primary and miscellaneous expenses.

These guides offer advice to reduce the monthly cost of rent and other housing expenses, how to use coupons to save money at grocery stores, what are the most affordable cell phone plans, and so on.  Following even some of these guidelines can help students save a little bit of money every week, which can then be added to next summer’s vacation account or whatever goal provides the incentive to save.

Returning to school is a different experience for everyone, especially young adults who are leaving home for the first time.  But the experience can be a little easier by following a few money saving tips.  Every little bit helps as they say, and any amount of money saved takes students one step closer to achieving their next goal.

Flying the Nest: Money Saving Tips for Moving Out

Note: this is a guest post from Nikki Gilliland

Although you might have finally saved up enough cash (and courage) to leave home, moving into your own place doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to stop budgeting. Far from it in fact… due to the added pressure of keeping up with rent, bills, insurance and general living costs – especially if you live in an expensive city like London – you’ll probably find yourself being more strapped for cash than ever before.

But don’t let money worries take over; whether you’re renting or taking your first step onto the property ladder, take heed of the following tips on how to save money when moving out…

Be frugal with furniture

Instead of spending your savings on new sofas, coffee tables, beds and curtains: try finding alternative ways to furnish your new home. Whether this means looking for a place that is already furnished, shopping from second hand stores or the online marketplace – it’s never worth buying brand new items unless you’ve got the financial freedom to do so. A great tip is to ask friends and family if they’ve got any old (or merely unused) furniture knocking about. From bookcases to forgotten about kitchen appliances, you’ll be surprised what some people might be more than happy to part with!

Related: How much should you save before moving out?

Find the best home insurance rate

Whether you’re buying or renting, ensuring you’ve got the correct type of home insurance is vital for your financial security. Not only could a mistake lead to you getting caught out if you’re burgled or suffer damage, but by looking for cheaper rates, you could save money in the short term too. If you’re hoping to get a good deal on buildings insurance, our advice would be to search for 40% off home insurance. But similarly, even if you’re renting, you should never take it for granted that you’ll be completely covered by your landlord’s protection. Always check beforehand and if your contents aren’t taken into consideration, look for 50% off home insurance online to get the best rate possible.

Consider a house share

You might prefer to live by yourself, but another way to remove some of the financial load would be to live in a large house share. That way, instead of being the sole bill payer, you’ll be able to split the cost of rent and bills with a group. Not only will this help with utilities, but if you’re really lucky, you could even share food, washing powder, and a whole load of items that are cheaper when you buy in bulk. Plus, it’ll probably be loads more fun too!

Wherever you’re moving to, don’t let money worries take the enjoyment out of the experience. You might not have financial freedom just yet, but living independence might just be the first step!

Groceries and Coupons: A Match Made in Heaven?

Note: this is a guest post by Becky W.

How much do you spend on your groceries each month? You probably have a budget set up for them, but do you pay attention to what, exactly, it is that you toss into your basket every week? The thing is, groceries are the living expense that is most likely to get away from you.

This is true for a few reasons:

  1. Eating well tends to cost more, so you usually feel like you’re choosing between your budget and your health. In that scenario, it’s easy to blow off the budget–and feel ok about it.
  2. You don’t want to waste money—you tend to buy the same brands and items every week because you know that you will like what you get. You don’t want, for example, to spend money on a new box of cereal only to find out a few bites in that you hate it.
  3. Branding works—it’s easy to see through branding when it comes to electronics or “fun stuff” but when it comes to food (and personal care products, frankly), the branding on the box is usually the deciding factor in choosing one item over another.

If you don’t mind spending some time searching, though, you can save money on your groceries.

Enter: The Coupon

Coupons can be a lifesaver at the grocery store, if you know how to use them properly. Unfortunately many people get caught up in the saving of ten cents here, a dollar there that they end up spending more than they save. Here are the best ways to use coupons:

  1. Search out coupons for things that you are already going to buy anyway (for example: searching out coupons for Shari’s Berries because they’re your favorite).
  2. Use a good coupon to test out a brand that you have been tempted to try (for example, trying out a new type of salad dressing, butter, cereal, etc).
  3. Don’t fall for the “buy 2 get one 1 free” trap unless you know that you will actually want three of the thing being offered (your favorite brand of toothpaste, for example).
  4. Track prices: lots of times stores will mark up the price of a product by ten or twenty cents and then try to cover themselves by offering shoppers a coupon for ten to twenty cents off of their next purchase of that product. A good example of this is toilet paper.

It’s also important to note that if you really want to save a lot of money on your groceries, you can learn to make more foods yourself. Food items like tortillas, pastas, bread, etc are extraordinarily easy to make yourself and you can make them for pennies on the dollar for what you’d pay to have them pre-made. It takes some time to do it this way but would you rather pay $0.53 for a loaf of bread or $4?

Another good reason to go this route is that it eliminates the whole “my health or my budget” conundrum. Making your own food gives you complete control over what goes into your body and with coupons (you can often find them for produce as well as branded items) you could save hundreds of dollars a year at the grocery store.

Good luck!

The Future Will Get Here Sooner Than You Think

Note: this is a guest post from Becky W.

Saving for retirement is something that most of us put off for “later.” It’s hard to take seriously the idea for saving for the future when the bills and debt are so worrisome now. It is important, though, that you start taking steps now—even if those steps are small. If you don’t, you’ll increase your chances of getting permanently stuck in your current cycle.

When you first look into saving for the future and creating a retirement fund for yourself, it’s easy to get caught up in just how complicated everything seems. Here are some things to help you simplify the process.

1. Start Saving Today

You don’t have to start out with a complex investment portfolio and savings plan. What’s important, for now, is that you simply start tucking money away. Set up a savings account and link it to your checking account. Every week put $5-$10 into that account. If you can do more, great but if you can’t that’s okay. Every little bit helps. If you wait until you have some grand plan, you’ll have lost precious time your money could be growing on its own. Don’t let a big hurdle get in the way of small incremental improvements.

TIP: If you can, choose a savings account that is set up for compound growth. This way the money you save will make even more money over time.

2. Jump Start Your Account

A lot of younger people get caught up in the idea of needing a huge chunk of change to “jump start” their retirement accounts or give it a head start. It’s unnecessary. Much like the first tip, you just need to get things going. Whether you pick an Roth IRA or Traditional IRA, or take advantage of your employer’s 401k plan, just contribute and get things going. If you move jobs, don’t worry, that’s not an issue. One of the most commonly asked questions financial planners and personal bankers hear is “Can I rollover my 401k into a Roth IRA?” and the answer is always yes. (401Ks have been popular in part because they’ve been available forever, but the Roth IRA provides you with tax free growth)

According to the IRS, you do not have to choose between your 401k, a regular IRA and a Roth IRA. There are annual contribution limits, of course, but you can have all three accounts if you want.

3. Start with Simple Investing

Investing is something that every person should do if they want to have the most financially stable future possible. The key, especially if you have never invested in anything before, is to start small and with something you understand. Yes, it’s tempting to jump into the deep end of the stock market or a mutual fund but go slowly to get your footing.

For example, roll some of your savings account over into a CD (Certificate of Deposit). These are high yield interest accounts that are offered by banks and other financial institutions.

A good rule of thumb, when you’re ready to start investing in other things, is to never put more into your investment portfolio than you can afford to lose.

Saving for the future is frustrating because, especially when you’re just starting out, the process seems so slow going. Looking at a savings account with only $30 in it can be discouraging. What’s important is that you keep plugging away at it. Save a little bit every week. Learn about investing. Talk to your employer about retirement benefits, 401Ks, etc. Work with a financial planner to set up IRAs and investments when you’re ready to do so.

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