Personal Finance 

Comments of the week, renters insurance is cool edition

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We had a lot of great comments on a bunch of different posts. One of my favorite types of comments are readers sharing their own experiences, and we got plenty of those on posts about renters insurance, bedbugs and financial pitfalls for veterans.

Here’s one from reader Huskervball testifying to the importance of renters insurance:

We had a killer tornado. Many apartment buildings were demolished. The importance of renters insurance was overwhelmingly clear.

Reader Ann had a similar story to share:

Everyone that rents should have this insurance. This is one of the least expensive kinds of insurance. I had an apartment fire many years ago. Fortunately, I had just bought renter’s insurance. It covered replacement of things that were lost, cleaning and packing of all items that were salvageable. Also, I received money to rent another place while the apartment was being fixed.

Full disclosure: I never carried renters insurance when I was renting, but in retrospect I think I probably should have. For $20 a month, seems like it might have been worth it, especially since my home was hit with a serious burglary at one point that cost me more than several years’ worth of premiums would have.

One reader, Melissa, had a story to share about her experience with the scourge of bedbugs:

This happened to me and it was a total nightmare to rid my apartment of the things. First, my landlords hired a cheap pest control guy who just set off a bomb (which can actually make them worse). Afterwards, he contracted with a new exterminator who was totally professional and knew exactly what to do. It was super time-intensive to get rid of them (putting all clothes in dryer then in bags, moving furniture, etc.) but in the end it was done right and I haven’t had any bites since!

A good friend of mine had a similar experience that helped inspire the article. It was a nightmare for her, and ended up costing her a lot of time and money, as she had to wash every article of clothing in her apartment multiple times before they were finally able to get rid of the little bloodsuckers.

On FSAs, reader JoeTaxpayer thinks we should get rid of them altogether:

I say “Kill the FSA”

Huh? Yes, kill it. The HSA, Health Savings Account, is far better. A $6,550 family limit, and no use-it-or-lose-it rule. It currently has a requirement of high deductible insurance coverage, which is the obstacle for many. Congress should kill the FSA and expand eligibility for the HSA.

I think that the tax code is too convoluted, like a huge building held together with duct tape. Mind you, I’m not complaining about my tax bill. I just think the process is out of control. Every time Congress changes something, they should be required to simplify and reduce the code. Don’t remove use it/lose it, just kill the FSA and expand HSA.

Joe might be onto something here. It would be nice to be able to accumulate a balance that can be carried over from year to year, putting aside money in years when medical expenses are light to help you cope in years when they’re higher. That would probably involve more of a hit to tax revenue, though, so it might be a tough sell in Washington, D.C.

There were some people that didn’t agree with my takedown of rent-to-own. Reader fabclimber points out that, whether we like it or not, anything we buy on credit is going to involve paying a premium and realizing it’s not truly yours until it’s paid for:

I have to live somewhere, and I need a car for work, so I “rent to own”. I don’t consider these items mine until paid for. In the meantime they belong to the bank, or they will if I don’t pay. It’s partly how you look at it, and whether you get value for what you are paying.

Finally, we had a lot of good comments on the importance of getting good financial advice. Most readers felt like fees paid to financial advisers are generally worth it. Here’s blogger DIY Finance:

I have been involved in many financial planning/investment advisory sessions and I can say that by far many way more than pay for themselves.

In fact, most of my business comes from people who followed bs on TV, subscribed to some guru newsletter, or followed the advice of a coworker or relative and lost a bundle.

Studies today show that 50 percent of the population is approaching retirement totally clueless. Most people with a little advice could approach a third of their life in good shape. Sadly, instead they will suffer.

What do you think? Do you pay for financial advice? Care to weigh in on any of these other topics?

(Photo: Pete Markham)

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