Monthly Archives: September 2010

My 31 Day Financial Challenge – Day 17: Evaluating Your Expenses – Life Insurance

We recently met with our financial planner and while we were there we decided to review our life insurance. Currently we are pretty decently covered mostly with term life insurance. Trent has a very negative view of whole life insurance. But we do have some whole life, only about $25,000 each. But the majority of our coverage is in term life. We trust our financial planner. He is a man of serious ethics and values and we wouldn’t be doing business with him if we thought otherwise. He understood some of my concerns with whole life, particularly for me. My husband has an excellent rate on his combination whole life and term policy; one that he probably couldn’t get again due to some current health problems. So we are reluctant to make any changes to that coverage. We could potentially save a small amount each month by getting rid of my whole life and term policy and replacing it with one that contains only term. But I’m not sure it would be worth it. My policy is building cash value and at a pretty decent rate. Considering the low rate of interest we are earning in our savings account and the instability in the market, I feel like whole life is still a worthwhile choice for us. Maybe not for everyone, but it works for us.

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The Ubiquitous Human Desire to Write

In all many of the significant books and television shows of my childhood, somehow there was always a character who wanted to write. In Little Women it was Jo, in the Anne books of L.M. Montgomery it was Anne Shirley Blythe, in Christy it was Rob Allen, in The Waltons in was John-Boy and in Little House on the Prairie it was Laura Ingalls Wilder. All of these characters, some fiction, some loosely based on those who actually lived and one or two actual historic figures, each had the same basic desire to produce the written word. I once considered myself part of this group. But like most who desire to produce such creativity, I have my continual doubts. Sometimes it seems like it was easier, way back when, to be published. Maybe because there were fewer people, and of them, fewer could even read or write. But I have neither the mountains of Tennessee and Virginia nor the Prairie’s of America’s heartland as inspiration. I was raised in a rural suburb in south eastern Pennsylvania in the 1980s and 90s, not Civil War era Massachusetts or pre-World-War I Prince Edward Island. There is nothing special about where and how I was born and raised. I find myself wondering: who would want to read about it?

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My 31 Day Financial Challenge – Day 16: Evaluating Your Expenses – Home and Auto Insurance

I thought this step was very helpful. While it didn’t end up saving us much money, I still think it’s an important thing to be reviewed, probably regularly. We were generally happy with our current insurer so we decided to see if they could give us any additional discounts rather than shop around for new insurance. We have two cars and our home owner’s insurance with the same company, so we were already receiving discounts for that. Our homeowner’s insurance already had a $1,000 deductible on it and raising it wouldn’t have saved us very much. But because we do so little driving in our two cars they were able to reduce out monthly bill by about $100 a year. It doesn’t seem like much but that’s $100 we didn’t have before. Insurance is one of those things that you send to set up and then forget about.  But just because your current coverage suited you when you got it five or ten years ago, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t get a better rate now. If the rates go up, don’t be afraid to ask for a review of your policy. Reviewing your monthly expenses can seem tedious but you can find some great opportunities for savings.

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A Sick Toddler on the Weekend

This past weekend I was inaugurated into a special club: parents who take their children to the ER on a weekend. This was something I had sworn I would avoid doing if at all possible. After four days with a fever, we ended up in the doctor’s office followed by the ER for blood tests. Over the course of four hours my daughter had to be catheterized to get a urine sample and stuck three times for blood. It was thoroughly unpleasant to try to hold down a hungry, tired toddler singing the “Winnie the Pooh” theme song into her ear while the nurses tried to find a vein. Third time was the charm. Fortunately, everyone was very nice and understanding, but this is definitely not an experience I wish to repeat. The tests were inconclusive and my daughter seems fine now, leaving me wondering whether all the trauma and hassle was worth it.

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My 31 Day Financial Challenge – Day 15: Coming In Under Budget And An Emergency Fund

Coming in under budget is an exciting feeling. It’s easy to start looking for ways to spend that money. In my case, I couldn’t wait to start funneling that extra money into our debt payments. But in this step Trent points out the importance of setting up an emergency fund. The size of the ideal emergency fund is what overwhelms me. We dip into our general savings at least a few times a year for things like household repairs and medical costs that exceed what we had budgeted for. However, I know that ideally we should have six months to a year’s salary set aside. That seems like more money than we could ever save. A year’s salary is also two thirds of what we own in student loan debt. So do I save for an emergency or start paying down debt? I guess the solution would be to do both. We already have a small emergency fund of between two and three months salary in it.  I know it should be larger but I just can’t wait to start paying down that debt. So any time we get a windfall, my plan to divide it between paying off debt and filling up the emergency fund. The same goes for when we come in under budget. Onward and upward toward this goal of paying down debt and saving for those future dreams, a dollar or two at a time.

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