Insurance 
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Car insurance surprise: Want your car back fast? Pay up

If the other driver's car insurance company won't play ball, you may have to pay up to get your car back fastThe Friday evening before I headed to the Financial Blogger Conference, I was in a car accident. A college student making a left hand turn out of a parking lot hit my car. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

It’s been more than 12 years since my last car accident, and that happened while I was still on my parents’ car insurance; this is the first time I’ve had to deal with a car accident on my own car insurance policy.

In addition to being surprised by just how slow-moving the process was, I was also confronted with an interesting dilemma: Should I pay to get my car back faster?

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 Cars, Insurance 
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Let your car insurance company spy on your driving?

Would you let your car insurance company monitor your driving?There are big changes in the way car insurance gets priced coming, and you’ve got a chance to get in on them now. Question is, do you want to?

All the information car insurers have collected on you in the past — your age, your credit score, whether you’re married, whether you made the honor roll — are designed to help them make an educated, but ultimately flawed, guess about how likely you are to wrap your IROC around a telephone pole while trying to change your fantasy football lineup on your smartphone.

But thanks to the inexorable march of technology toward a dystopian future of robot overlords and Justin Bieber greatest hits albums uploaded straight into our brains, insurance companies now have the ability to measure directly what they could once only guess at: your driving behavior.


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 Insurance 
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Review Your Insurance Policies

With many aspects of your financial life, there’s a certain amount of “set it and forget it.” In some cases it works out well, such as setting a contribution to a retirement account or establishing a savings plan that auto-transfers money from your checking account to a savings account. In other cases, it’s important to take a look at those plans every year to make sure they still make sense for your situation.

Insurance policies fit into that category and it’s important to take stock and review your insurance policies each year. A lot can change in a year and unless you take some time to review your policies, you may be surprised when it comes time to use them.

This post is part of the 2011 Spring Cleaning Week!



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 Debt 
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5 Smart Ways to Use Debt to Improve Your Life

Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving BackKimberly Palmer is the author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back, which was published by Ten Speed Press this week. The following post has been adapted from the book. She’s also the author of the Alpha Consumer blog at USNews.com, where she’ll be hosting book giveaways all week.

Shortly after meeting my husband, he tried to convince me that debt was a good thing. His student loans, after all, were not only funding his tuition but also many of our first dates. Using something called the “income smoothing theory,” he argued that it was better to borrow now, when we had little money, so we could live better than we otherwise would, and then pay it back later, when we (hopefully) had steady incomes. (Of course, to us at the time, living well meant being able to buy cheap Thai food and beer.)

While his theory falls apart if it’s taken to extremes, for the most part it makes sense. Debt can be a very good thing, as long as you use it wisely. Here are five ways you can use debt to improve your life.

For those of you expecting another installment of Scam Week, I thought we’d take a little break mid-week. I’ve been friends with Kim for a while and with her book coming out, I thought having a guest post by her would be a nice change of pace. I hope you enjoy it!



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 Insurance 
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Rule of Thumb on Insurances To Avoid

Here’s the rule of thumb I use on whether or not an insurance policy is worth getting – if they are willing to sell you insurance without knowing anything about you, don’t buy it.

Think about how much information you have to provide if you’re buying any kind of “traditional insurance.” With life insurance, you have to submit yourself to a physical. For auto insurance you have to offer up your car’s history, your credit history and your driving history, which is being tracked by a third party. For homeowners insurance, you have to provide a history of claims on your home (don’t worry, it’s tracked by a third party), your own credit history, and home details.

When you buy travel or trip cancellation insurance, they don’t need anything except your money. When you buy cell phone insurance, they don’t need anything except your money. Extended warranties? Just send in a check.

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 Insurance 
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How to Lower Your Car Insurance Premiums

WrecksWhen it comes to saving money in this economy, it appears that many people are dropping or lowering their auto insurance policies. It’s a bit of a gamble but adjusting your insurances, whether it’s homeowners or auto or anything else, can be a way to save a few more dollars if things are looking tight. However, the subject of how to lower your auto insurance costs has been covered a near infinite number of times already and everyone knows the basics – shop for alternatives, increase your deductibles, drop comprehensive and collision on older vehicles, package together policies for a discount, etc.

I would like to that think you all know that you should shop around for insurance, just as you would shop around for anything else. I would also hope that you understand the relationship between your premium payments and your deductible. Hitting those points really just smashes the some tired old ideas back into your brain and, honestly, wastes your time. So, this post will be about the more novel ways to lower your car insurance costs. Chances are you may not use any of these ideas but it may spur you to think of some clever ideas of your own (that you can share!).

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 Personal Finance 
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How to Save Money Every Month with Negotiation

Saving Money Every Month!Trying to find a way to save money every month is a lot like playing Whack a Mole. In April you might save some money by brown bagging your lunch to work. In May you might try some hypermiling driving tips, like easing up on the brakes or driving closer to the speed limit. By June, you’ll probably have stopped brown bagging lunch as often but you’ll try going out to bars less after work. It’s hard keeping everything straight, especially if you haven’t made it a habit.

That’s why the key to saving money every month is to reduce your overall “financial load.” That is, cut or reduce your fixed monthly expenses.
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 Insurance 
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Consider Self-Insurance Against Calamities

Burning BMWLast week, as I was research the “catch” on a return of premium life insurance policy, I wondered if it was possible for you to self-insure your life. The idea behind self insuring is that you take a lower level of insurance protection and save the difference into an account. With auto insurance, you could take away comprehensive insurance coverage, rental car coverage, or raise your deductible and put the savings into a high interest savings account.

I do this today with my auto insurance. For my Acura Integra, I didn’t carry comprehensive insurance and was able to saving hundreds of dollars a year. When it was totaled, through no fault of my own, I rolled the savings over to do the same thing with my current car, a Toyota Celica. As I’ve gotten older and the premium on excluding comprehensive insurance decreases, I’m tempted to add comprehensive again and pay for it with the fund. I’m able to because of good driving and good fortune, but I think that self-insurance is something everyone should consider.

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