How to Quickly Find and Buy Life Insurance

As I approached the age of 30, I knew that I needed to purchase life insurance. My wife continued to remind me that once I passed that age, my premiums would increase. However, I continued to put it off. After all, who enjoys shopping for insurance?

Fortunately, a couple months prior to my birthday, we finally decided to sit down and buy appropriate coverage. While we made the purchase with several weeks to spare, I still felt like I had put us in an awkward position. As if buying life insurance is not challenging enough, being hurried can only add to the stress.

During this time, I realized that there were three keys that allowed us to not only purchase life insurance quickly, but also to make a final decision that we both agreed was correct. Therefore, if you find yourself needing to buy a policy with little time to spare, follow these three tips to get started:

1. Do Plenty of Research
You are not going to learn all you need to know until you speak with agents and obtain quotes – but you may be surprised at just how much advice you can gather online. If both you and your spouse take part in the learning process, you will both be able to come up with a wealth of valuable information. This can only help when buying a policy, especially if you are up against a tight deadline and need to make an informed decision sooner rather than later.

2. Use the Internet
It can be extremely time-consuming to call life insurance agents on the phone. Not only do you have to find the time to call several agents from several companies, but you never know how long the conversation is going to last.

With the help of a few solid online services, we were able to obtain quotes from more than five companies within a matter of minutes. This gave us all the information necessary to compare quotes and make an informed decision. Imagine how long it would have taken to call five agents on the phone. I would have had to give each one the same information, and then waited for them to get back to me with a quote.

3. Be Patient
While it may seem counter-intuitive to be patient when you are in a hurry, it is absolutely necessary. If you make a decision the same day you request quotes, you may look back and wonder why you made such a hasty choice. However, if you patiently compare quotes and rates, you can gain a better understanding of what exactly you are being offered. Remember: There is a big difference between being patient and putting off the entire process.

Final Thoughts
It is best to give yourself plenty of time to purchase the proper life insurance policy. However, if you find yourself rushed, you can rely on the three tips above to get started. With this advice and the right understanding of the industry, you can quickly settle on a policy that offers the protection you need at a price you can afford.

What other tips can you offer for purchasing life insurance?

Should You Save for Retirement or Pay Down Credit Card Debt?

Back when I was knee-deep in credit card debt, saving for retirement was about the last thing on my list of priorities. It simply made no sense to me to put away money for the future when my debt was costing me so much in interest.

However, once I fully reviewed my situation, I understood that there may be room for both. It ultimately depends upon your situation, and in order to make the right decision, you’ll have to take a good hard look at both your retirement plans and your current credit card debt.


  • Have You Started Saving? If you currently have nothing put aside for your golden years, then I would suggest starting a modest retirement portfolio, regardless of  your level of credit card debt. Because of compound interest, the earlier you start, the more your dollars will earn over time.
  • Does Your Employer Match? It is important to review your employer’s 401k plan. If they offer any sort of match, consider investing in this option up to the maximum. This is free money provided to you by your employer, and it just makes good sense to take advantage of it, regardless of the amount of your credit card balances.

Credit Card Debt

  • How Bad Is It? If your current situation is dire, and interest fees are eating away at your checking account, you may want to scale back or temporarily suspend retirement savings. If your situation isn’t quite this bad, continue to pay down your balances while still contributing what you can to retirement.
  • Can It Be Restructured? If your credit card debt is significant, you may want to consider restructuring it. There are numerous balance transfer options where you can reduce your interest rate to 0% for a short period of time. Do your research to see if you can save, and if so, you’ll have to decide where to apply the money you’ve saved: to  your credit card balances, or to your retirement portfolio.
  • Do You Have a Plan? If you currently have no plan to pay down and eventually eliminate credit card debt, it’s time you put one into place. Keep your monthly spending beneath what you earn, and figure out other ways to save in your everyday life. Commit these savings to your credit card debts until they’re under control.

Final Thoughts

You should continue to both pay down your credit card debt and also save for retirement. Where you focus the bulk of your efforts will depend upon your situation. However, you won’t be able to make an intelligent decision unless you truly understand the state of each in your life. Ask yourself the three pertinent questions regarding both credit card debt and retirement, and you’ll gain a clearer understanding of each and be able to decide where you should be applying more money.

What do you think? Should you prioritize getting out of credit card debt or saving for retirement?

5 Essential Real Estate Closing Tips & Process Checklist

Buying a home is a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too. Amid all of the excitement of the buying process, most buyers manage to stay organized. But it’s tough to keep track of everything from searching for the right home to getting an inspection and finally closing the deal. Despite the best planning, many people lose sight of their needs and priorities during the closing process.

When you sit down at the closing table you are close to finishing things up. But it’s no time to get lazy. If you don’t keep your focus the whole way through, you may end up making a big mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars. Keep these five tips in mind and you’ll make your way through closing error-free.

Real Estate Closing Process

1. Double-check Your Loan Type
It may sound crazy, but it’s easy to miss a major mistake when you’re so focused on the fine details of closing. Even a simple clerical error can accidentally stick you with a variable rate loan when you thought you were getting a fixed rate mortgage. How bad would that be?

What I did: Rather than hope for the best and trust everyone behind the scenes, I called my lender, closing company, and agent to discuss this point. After hearing the horror stories of buyers getting “duped” into a bad loan, I wanted to avoid trouble at all costs. By involving three separate parties I was confident about getting the type of loan I wanted.

2. Consider Your Financial Situation
How much is your down payment? Do you have enough cash for closing costs? Your lender and closing company should provide you with your numbers several days in advance, so you can review the details on your own time. Make sure you keep your real estate agent in the loop, and be sure that you’re comfortable with how much you need to pay up front and the long-term implications of your mortgage. It’s not too late to make some adjustments, and your agent will be able to guide you in the right direction. Your mortgage company will help you make the wisest money decisions.

What I did: I put 20% down on my home. While it was my goal to put 20% down, it wasn’t my only option. My lender laid out the numbers for other down payments. For example, I could have put 10% down to save some liquid cash, but doing so would have raised my monthly payment and forced me to bring private mortgage insurance into the equation. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford putting at least 20% down, do it, and you’ll be happier in the long run.

3. Get What You Need from the Seller
Hopefully you made a checklist of improvements you required when you first walked through the house, and on subsequent visits too. Make sure that the seller has completed everything you expected. For example, you may have requested certain repairs. On your final walk through, make absolutely sure that the seller has taken care of everything you need.

If for any reason you’re not going to have a last look at the property before closing, make sure your agent is aware of the situation so he or she can guarantee that all changes are complete.

What I did: I took two steps to make sure I got what I needed:

  1. I made sure that everything was in writing and signed off on by both parties. You should never take the word of the seller. If you don’t have promises in writing, then you don’t have the legal right to be sure they’re fulfilled.
  2. I scheduled a final walk through, with my agent, for the day of closing. Fortunately, I found that everything was in order, but you might find yourself in a different situation. Had something been wrong, the walk through would given me a chance to raise the issue with the sellers at closing.

4. Psych Your Self Up
Closing costs are expensive. And while it’s technically not too late to make changes or back out, it’s certainly too late for you to experience sticker shock. Take responsibility for knowing your closing costs and what you’re paying for. Some of the most common fees include:

  • Credit check
  • Escrow fees
  • Document preparation fees
  • Title insurance

There are plenty more fees, and while the rates may seem high, you can’t avoid them. They add up. Review all the fees at least one day before closing, so you can ask questions and make sure you’re not double-paying or buying things you don’t need.

What I did: A couple of days before closing, I got an itemized list of costs from my lender. It showed me my down payment and information on each and every expense that goes into the closing process. From a $25 credit report fee to several hundred dollars for title insurance, I understood where all of my money was going. Though the total amount was high, I knew I didn’t have to seek a third party for title insurance and other items.

5. Don’t Leave Empty-handed
You might feel anxious about your final signature, but once you finish with the paperwork, you’re going to feel relieved. Don’t get caught in the emotion and excitement and rush out of the building. You must take your copies of every document, and immediately store them in a safe place. You never know when you will need this information in the future. Make sure you get your keys, garage door opener, and other crucial items for your new home.

What I did: I always double-check everything, and on closing day, this habit paid off. The closing company forgot to give me my copy of the HUD settlement statement. Right before I walked out the door, I realized I didn’t have it. Sure, I probably could have asked for this at a later date. But I could have easily forgotten, wasted a lot of time with red tape, or been without it in an urgent situation. I made sure I got what was mine.

Final Word

Throughout the whole process of buying a home, you’ll often feel overwhelmed by stress and tough decisions. You may even feel like everyone’s trying to take advantage of you, the buyer. Don’t forget that you’re the one spending the money, and you deserve the royal treatment. Don’t let the little mistakes ruin what should be a great day. Before you give your final signature, you’re still in a powerful position. Make sure you check all of the details and get what you need. Take your time. Keep your head clear. And enjoy the moment. By following these tips you’re on your way to a smooth closing and a great start to life in your new home!

What troubles did you face in your last home purchase, or what are you biggest concerns about your upcoming closing date?

Debt Update: The End Of Summer

Hey all! It’s the last full month of summer and an overall good one for our finances. Once again, not much has changed (i.e. we didn’t win the lottery). However, we did have another record month for our family loan payment. We were able to drop a $1,500 bomb on it. It’s definitely not going to be that much next month but it feels awesome to pay that much off right now!

Also, I know I haven’t been posting frequently on here and it’s mostly due to a new project of mine. I am working on a new blog called Things To Learn. Basically, I write about things that interest me that I have a desire to learn more about. Have you ever had a random thought pop into your head that you didn’t know the answer to? Well, this new blog puts those thoughts on the web.

Now, I’m not saying this blog is kaput. It’s not. I just won’t blog that often. But when I do, I hope to knock it out of the park.

Here’s to getting out of debt!

Debt Update: $1,000 On The Family Loan

Another month come and gone. Is it just me or is time flying by this year?

Anyway, it was another typical month. Nothing too special. We did pay $1,000 on the family loan, our largest amount to date! We’re hoping it leads to a lot more in the future.

August should be a good month as we are getting an extra $1,000 from a summer job that my wife did plus about $500 in some stuff that we sold on eBay.

How Much Debt Do You Have?

I am going to start to post some very small articles on Saturdays. They are going to consist of polls, small snippets that make you think or quick updates. I am also going to include a roundup in the post each week. So, make sure you check in on the weekends to read up on some articles that I found interesting over the past week!

Anyway, I thought today would be a good time to assess the status of everyones debt. I have always been interested to see how much debt you all have.

Please be assured that I am not collecting ANY personal information with this poll. It’s just that, a poll. Once you are finished, make sure you check out the great blogs that are listed below! If you are reading this and cannot see the poll, click here to come to the site.

How much debt do you currently have (not including mortgage)?
$1 – $5,000
$5,001 – $10,000
$10,001 – $30,000
$30,001 – $50,000
$50,001 – $100,000
Over $100,000

Great Posts

Is Being Rich Important For Living The Ideal Life? This is a great post on how being rich shouldn’t be your main goal in life. There are other “life currencies” that you should be striving for. (@scott h young)

Worth More Than Money: Taking a Detour On The Road to Riches. Sierra (a writer at Get Rich Slowly) recently got out of credit card debt. However, before she paid the last bill, she spent over $5,000 to take a trip to visit family in Argentina. I’ve kind of talked about this before. Sometimes you may need to take a break and do something exciting. If my wife and I just sat her for 10 years while getting out of debt, we would go crazy. (@get rich slowly)

Are You Spending Intentionally? This was my favorite quote from the post: “Living a frugal lifestyle is about using money intentionally. It is not about using the least amount of money to fund your lifestyle, rather it is about maximizing the money we do have by making its spending a reflection of our values.” (@frugal dad)

How to Simplify When You Love Your Stuff. My wife and I have always loved “stuff”. We are trying to get rid of as much stuff as possible but it’s just so hard! (@zen habits)


Have a great weekend!