Tag Archives: college

Weekly Roundup – March 22nd

It’s been a few weeks since my last roundup. What can I say, I’ve been pretty busy!

Keep an eye out for a new feature this coming week. I will be posting a “Saturday Sneak-Peak” each week where I will be visiting a new/upcoming blog on personal finance. I will give you a brief overview of what I found on the site and you will be introduced to the author with a few answers to my questions. You can then visit the site and make your own conclusion. Be sure to check it out this Saturday! Anyway, off to the roundup!

Last Week’s Great Posts

Trent at The Simple Dollar lets us know the hows and whys of his Prius purchase.

JD at Get Rich Slowly has received some really bad customer service at Smart Money. Does that sound familiar?

David at Pimp Your Finances is paying it forward, every day. Man did he have a day! I love doing great things for people but I’m not that good around drunk people. I give him props!

Frugal Dad shares with us seven ways to fund college without a college savings fund.

Pete at Bible Money Matters lets us know that when renting a car, save money by not paying for the extras.

Michael at Wealth Uncomplicated has a unique way of paying his kid’s allowance. I really like this idea and will definitely keep it in mind.

Free Money Finance fought the law and the law (mostly) won.

Have a great week and enjoy this weeks posts!





The Average Net Worth of Americans: Where Do You Stand?

I absolutely love using the calculators at CNNMoney.com. There are so many cool ones that I use frequently. They have one for housing prices, cost of living comparison, retirement needs, saving for college, etc. I actually just stumbled across one for the average net worth of Americans. All you have to do is enter in your age and current salary and it give you two charts. The first chart shows you the average net worth of individuals in your age group. The second chart shows you the average net worth of individuals in your income range. I’m not sure how helpful the second one would be since it compares the salary against any age. If I am making $50,000 as a 22 year old, of course someone making $50,000 as a 50 year old will have a larger net worth than me (I hope they do). Anyway, here are the averages for different age groups:

Under 25

$1,475

25-34

$8,525

35-44

$51,575

45-54

$98,350

55-64

$180,125

65 and Over

$232,000

Where do you stack up against these numbers? Personally, we are no where near the average for our age group. I mean we are not even in the same zip code. I imagine that has to do with the fact that we both used a lot of student debt to earn our degrees and we own no real estate.

Do you think these numbers reflect the recent turmoil in the stock market? The calculator did not haveĀ  a certain date on it (i.e. “this chart is based on the 2000 census”). However, I hope that it takes into account the recent decline. The net worth of individuals should be much higher than these averages. You should strive to be much higher than these averages.

How to Get Free Auto Insurance Quotes and Purchase Online

Every six months you can find me surfing the web for auto insurance. Call me weird, but I always need to know I am getting the best price. If I had to guess, I would say that I have changed my auto insurance carrier seven times over the past nine years. Is that bad or am I just a good shopper? Anyway, I thought I would share with you my routine for shopping for auto insurance and things to look for. Currently, I am with Progressive and I have been pleased so far. Please keep in mind that none of these companies paid me to write about this. I also do not receive anything if you visit their site, so please feel free to visit them!

Check Your Current Policy

When six months rolls around (sometimes sooner), I will double-check to make sure that the coverage is still what I would like it to be. If for some reason the company lowered my limits, I make sure to get a new quote for the coverage amounts that I like. Here are the coverage amounts that I currently carry:

Bodily Injury Protection: $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident

Property Damage: $100,000 per accident

Uninsured Motorist: Same limits as personal protection

Medical: $2,500

Comprehensive: $50 deductible

Collision: $500 deductible

I keep the bodily injury quite high because the cost of medical care is high. It’s that plain and simple. I will never buy less than $100,000 in property damage due to the high costs of vehicles today. For example, if I were in an at-fault accident with two other SUV vehicles, I would have caused damages (considering both were totaled) of around $50,000 if I am lucky. I really do not want to have to pay for any additional amounts out of pocket. I just keep the uninsured motorist coverage the same as my personal coverage due to the same reasons above.

In regards to deductibles, I keep my comprehensive very low because it just does not cost that much more to have it close to $0. Also, why have a $500 comprehensive deductible when you will use it for mostly inexpensive things? In terms of the collision deductible, I would like to have the deductible at $1000 because I could save around 15% on my policy. However, my credit union forces me to have at-the-most a $500 deductible. Anyone else have that problem?

Before you move onto the next section, make sure you obtain a new insurance quote from your current carrier. Their pricing structures may have changed.

Time to Start the Quotes

I typically have several sites that I check every few months for auto insurance. In this section I will list the sites that I visit and my general experience (price, obtaining a quote) with them.

Progressive

As I mentioned before, Progressive is my current carrier. So, far I have had a good experience with them. They were my carrier several years ago as well but of course, they were outbid a few months later so I switched. Obtaining a quote from Progressive is very easy. All you have to do is enter a few bits of information and you are all set for an accurate quote. They even offer to show you the prices of some of their competitors. However, I have never gone off of what they said. Can you really trust another insurance company to give you a quote for another company? I would rather do the digging myself. One of the main reasons I decided to go with Progressive is their MyRate Program. This program is for conservative drivers like myself. You basically install a tracker in your car that measures your distance and time traveled as well as your braking and acceleration. It then compares your driving to others in your rate class and gives you a discount accordingly (that is if you are below the average). My discount so far is about 5% at renewal (I have only been using it for a few weeks). All in all, I would recommend Progressive to anyone.

Geico

Before Progressive, my auto insurance carrier was Geico. They are well known for their commercials with the gecko. When I first purchased a policy from them it was very easy. Their quote system is very similar to Progressive. I only switched from them because Progressive’s quote was about $100 cheaper for six months and I also wanted to try the MyRate program. If you happen to find a cheaper quote with another company, make sure you call your current company first and see if they can negotiate with you on the price. Most companies will be willing to do this with you rather than see you go.

Esurance

Esurance is a fairly new auto insurance company. They are the ones with the animated (which I think are a little corny) commercials. Since the commercials are animated, I guess it allows them to produce cheaper insurance. I used Esurance for a few months and their quotes were quite low compared to some others. However, when I moved to Texas, their rates became more expensive and I could no longer use them. I would encourage you to check them out. They are very competitive right now and it does not hurt to get a quote.

State Farm

I have heard very good things about State Farm and their service. However, every time I get a quote there, they are always way more expensive than some of the others. I am talking about 25% higher. Maybe it is because I am in a strange rate class right now (young male). You may have more luck than me so be sure to check them out as well. Even though I never get a great quote from them, I still check. If you are someone who needs personal service, you may want to purchase from them even though they may be a fraction more expensive. They have many agents that you can see in your area.

Allstate

My first insurer was Allstate. Looking back, I could have probably saved quite a bit of money had I shopped around before I went with them. However, everyone in the family used them and I figured why not. I really did not know much about auto insurance back then. As soon as I went to college and became interested in personal finance, I started shopping around and got some pretty good deals. Allstate has quite a few good features such as accident forgiveness, deductible rewards, etc., but most of them are just a gimmick and add additional costs to the policy. Every time I quote with them now, they are even more expensive than State Farm. However, your circumstances may be different so be sure to at least get a quote from them.

Those are all of the companies that I get a quote from. I know there are probable plenty of other companies, but by the time I am done with quotes for these few, I have reached my maximum utility for auto insurance. There more than likely was a quote that I was comfortable paying for.

Time to Buy!

When you find a quote/company that you like, they make it very easy to purchase. Once you receive a quote, they automatically give you the option to purchase the insurance on the spot. Many companies even give you a discount for buying online.

Other Things to Consider

I figured I would give some additional brief tips to help you save some money on auto insurance.

1. Keep all of your policies with one company. If you have your homeowners, umbrella, renters and auto policy all at the same company, you will receive a discount on all of them.

2. Increase your deductibles. If you are allowed by your finance company (if you finance), raise your deductibles in order in increase your savings.

3. Find some discounts. Many auto insurance companies offer different types of discounts. They range from being a good student to belonging to a union. Make sure you ask your company if you are getting all of the discounts you are entitled to.

4. Drive a low-profile car. Drive a fast car? Chances are you are paying more due to that fact.

Anyone else have a company that they have used in the past? Did you get some good quotes from them?

Laid Off Recently? Turn It Into Something Amazing

Lost your job recently? Feeling in the dumps? Well, here is some good news. Many great business founders started their businesses after being laid off. Time to turn that frown upside down and get out there to make things happen. Although I wrote the post 10 Things to Do When You Graduate Without a Job for recent college grads, most of the imformation applies to anyone searching for a job. Head over there and apply those steps and get searching.

Use Your Layoff to Do What Your Employer Did Bad

One of the tips dealt with finding alternative ways to generate income. So, why not start your own business? If you enjoyed your last career, why not start a business in the same field that does something your original employer did wrong? I will be doing this next year. While working at my current job, I have been very observant. I now know what not to do when I start my own business. I know what to charge that is competetive and I know what people are looking for.

Didn’t really like your last career? Why not start something that you have always been passionate about? There are plenty of businesses out there that you can start for almost nothing. Want some inspiration? Here are some individuals who started their businesses after being laid off:

Tom Stemberg

Tom was let go from a supermarket chain names Finast-Edwards in 1985 when his division was sold. He then founded Staples, the office supply giant which has over 40,000 employees. His estimated net worth is over $200 million. Not to bad for starting a business that sells pens and paper!

Michael Bloomberg

Michael was laid off from Salomon Brothers only to start the financial news service that bears his name. He is also the mayor of New York City.

Get Going Now

Recessions can be the best time to start a business. When everyone else thinks it’s the worst time to start a business, it’s sometime the best time. Sort of like in the stock market. Now may be the best time to start a business that helps individuals find jobs or helps them find other sources of income so they do not foreclose on their home. Just sit down and brainstorm. You will be surprised with what you come up with!

Basics of Prepaid College Tuition 529 Savings Plans

Have you noticed an upward trend in college costs over the past few years? I am guessing that you have. College costs have been increasing every year at an average of 6% per year. That means that a public university that costs $10,000 today will cost approximately $29,368 in 18 years. That’s for only ONE YEAR! Are you afraid you will not be able to save that much? What if I told you that you can lock in current college prices. Would you be able to sleep more easily at night? That is the idea behind a prepaid college tuition plan.

What is a 529 Prepaid Tuition Plan?

Prepaid tuition plans are college savings plans that allow you to lock in current college costs. In other words, if you purchase a full years worth of tuition at a state school today, that plan will pay a full years worth of tuition 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. It is guaranteed to increase at the rate of college inflation.

Prepaid Unit Plans

Prepaid unit plans allow you to purchase units that represent a certain percentage of college tuition. For example, you may be able to purchase 1 unit in the plan that represents 1% of college tuition for a year. Everyone pays the same amount for a unit and the price increases each year. You can then use these units to cover part or all of the costs of attending college.

Contract Plans

Contract plans sell, you guessed it, contracts. These allow parents to purchase a set amount of years of tuition at a certain price. Basically, the younger the child, the less expensive the contract price.

Advantages of Prepaid Tuition Plans

  • Allow parents to lock in current tuition rates
  • Very simple to understand and no personal investing required
  • Plans involve no risk of principal and are typically back by state or local government
  • Anyone can contribute to the plan for the benefit of the beneficiary
  • If the beneficiary dies or does not attend college, the funds can be transferred to another

Disadvantages of Prepaid Tuition Plans

  • Have a negative impact on need-based financial aid just like regular 529 plans
  • Cannot earn higher returns if the market has a great year
  • Typically, can only be used for tuition and not for room and board, books, supplies, etc.
  • They do not guaranteed acceptance into college
  • You are limited to the schools that are listed in the plan

Is a prepaid tuition plan right for you? It all depends on the things that were mentioned above. Look carefully at the advantages and disadvantages and make your choice based on those criteria.

You may also want to consider using the plan in conjunction with a standard 529 plan. The standard plan will allow you to invest the savings more aggressively while the prepaid plan may help you hedge against higher increases in tuition rates. One day we are going to have to start paying back all of the government debt we have and education funding may have to be cut. What will happen then? Large increases in tuition, you can be sure of that! I also recommend using the site www.savingforcollege.com. The site offers evaluations of each states plans and has some great college funding calculators.

Has anyone had any experience with prepaid tuition plans? I know they are fairly rare but someone may have an experience they may want to share.

Money Hacks Carnival #51 – The Office Edition

Welcome to the 51st edition of the Money Hacks Carnival! My name is Adam and I am pleased to be your host this week. Please feel free to poke around the site if it is your first time visiting! You can subscribe to the blog using the links on the right or you can follow me on Twitter to stay up-to-date.

NBC’s The Office is my favorite show on TV. I just love watching the office banter and politics. Every week there is a moment that reminds you of something a co-worker did recently. For this carnival, I decided to categorize the topics by some great characters in the show.

Editor’s Picks

Michael Scott is the Regional Manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin. If anyone has the right to pick this week’s best articles, it’s him. He is the glue that holds his team together. Did I really just say that?

Credit Shout tells us to Beware of ATM Scams. Honestly, I really had no idea about some of these. I will be thinking twice about going to the ATM now!

Living Almost Large talks about a family that is in trouble and Their Ship Is Sinking. Looking at this person’s cash flow, it’s hard to believe that they did not see the major problem.

FIRE Finance shares a great story on how Smart Refrigeration Lowers Electricity Bills. Who better to tell you about saving energy on your refrigerator than someone who works with them every day?

PF Credit Cards shows you How to Beat Priceline and Get a Winning Bid. Personally, I have been using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price for over a year now. I will never go back to paying full price again! You really have no say in the brand of your hotel, but you still get to pick the star level. I have yet to be disappointed in the hotel I end up getting.

Career

To me, no one seems more focused on their career than Dwight Schrute. He is constantly reminding everyone about his position with the company and how he is the top salesman. He is also good at sucking up to the boss. Watch the show and learn from Dwight if you are searching for a new job!

Tom at The Strump gives his opinion on How to Translate Employment Ads.

FMF at Free Money Finance lets you know How to Waste Money on a MBA.

Debt and Credit

Kelly is really into fashion and fancy things. Only working at Dunder Mifflin, I can imagine that she has some major credit card debt. Hopefully, some of these articles can help her get on the path to becoming debt free.

Jim at Bargaineering has a Review of MyFICO ScoreWatch. He says it’s perfect for credit score junkies!

Tyler from CreditCards.com talks about how Credit Card Regulation is Brewing for College Campuses Again. Personally, I have never signed up for a credit card at a table at college, sporting event , airport, etc.

Looking for a new rewards credit card? Credit Addict tells us about the Pentagon Federal Visa Rewards Card.

Shaun from Learn Financial Planning gives his 5 Principles for Getting Out of Debt. Some great insights here!

Mr. Banker at Best Interest Rate Banks gives us his review of High Interest Savings Accounts.

Studenomics Breaks Down Student Loans in a non-confrontation manner.

Chris at StumbleForward gives you some tips on Becoming a Blogger to Get Out of Debt.

Housing

Jim just recently bought a house from his parents. I bet he wishes that he could have had some of these great articles to read!

Len Penzo provides us with A Layman’s Guide to Mortgage Application Junk Fees.

Passive Family Income talks about The Recession in America and Home Foreclosures.

Frugality and Saving Money

If anyone on the show is frugal, it’s Pamela. She dresses simple, religiously watched her money while going to college, and was thrifty while planner her first wedding.

Silicon Valley Blogger at The Digerati Life has a Valentine’s Day Tip on Using Ebates to Get Cash Back.

Pete at Bible Money Matters reminds us that Small Decisions Equal Big Results.

J Money at Budgets are Sexy says The Budget is Back, Baby!

Lisa from Greener Pastures presents Economic Collapse-R-Us: 22 Lifestyle Changes of Middle Class America.

The Writer’s Coin presents Am I a Thief or an Entrepreneur? The overwhelming majority of the comments suggest a thief. Head over there and give your input. He has even written a response post to the naysayers.

Matt at Stupid Cents gives us Five Simple Ways to Buy Everything Cheaper and Save Money.

The Shark Investor gives us Strategies for Raising Savings.

Mr. Tough Money Love show us how Arming Ourselves to Save Money on Car Repairs can be a good thing.

Patrick at Money Saving Deals has some Godaddy.com Coupon Codes to share.

David at Personal Finance Analyst gives us The Best Free Budget Worksheets on the Internet.

Dana at Not Made of Money tells us How Her Family Keeps the Breaks on Spending.

The Smarter Wallet shares some delicious Cheap Meals You Can Cook at Home to Save Money.

Debt Kid shows us Why Budgets Don’t Work for Everyone.

Hank at Own The Dollar wants to know Is Three to Six Months of Expenses Enough Money For Your Emergency Fund?

Aryn at Sound Money Matters shows you The Pros and Cons of Homemade Yogurt.

Taxes

When I think of someone who would evade income taxes, I think about Creed. Hopefully some of these articles will help him file his return this year. His first return ever?

Money Tipper lets us know about TurboTax Discounts for Vanguard Customers.

Nickel at Five Cent Nickel gives us Ten Common Income Tax Credits. Head over there to make sure you are getting all the money you deserve.

Thinking of buying a new house? Madison at My Dollar Plan talks about the Possibility of a $15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit.

Patrick at Military Finance Network answers a question about What You Need to Do If Your Stimulus Check Was Lost of Stolen.

Christian Personal Finance found some places that have Free STATE e-file Online! Living in Maryland, I know that we have free e-file for the state return. It makes it nice and easy!

Insurance

If I had to guess which employee had the greatest amount of insurance, I would say it was Andy. I’d bet he has whole life, term, universal, two health policies and a deferred annuity. He also seems to be the most likely to be a insurance salesman. He just has that way about him!

Mr. GoTo at Go To Retirement gives you an idea about Fixed Annuities and Financial Risk. I think fixed annuities are a great thing to have in retirement. It’s unfortunate that they get such a bad rep from many mainstream media types.

Junior Boomer from The Consumer Boomer talks about Women and Long-term Care Insurance.

Economy

Now honestly, who cares more about the economy than Stanley? Just look at that face!

Kathryn at Out of Debt Christian tells us about The Importance of Shopping Local.

PFR at Personal Finance Reviews tells how the FDIC Plans to Restrict Interest Rates of Troubled Banks.

Curt at Penny Jobs presents The Fiat Money System is Failing.

Money Blue Book Finance wants to know is there a Second Stimulus Check for Obama in 2009?

Investing

Toby is the head of human resources at Dunder Mifflin. If anyone was maxing out their 401(k) there, it would be him.

Sun at The Sun’s Financial Diary alerts you to a Free Stock Analysis Tool.

The Financial Blogger shows you some Options to Secure Your Investment Portfolio.

The Intelligent Speculator wants to know if Super Bowl Ads are Really Worth It?

The Investor at Monevator gives their 10 Reasons to Be Cheerful as an Investor.

Jeff from Good Financial Cents has 7 Things to Know About the 2010 Roth IRA Conversion.

Dividend Tree shows us how Everyday Life Teaches us Dividend Investing.

Other

When I was thinking about what character would be good for the category other, I thought of Ryan. He definitely had some ups and downs with Dunder Mifflin!

MoneyNing presents What Everyone Ought to Know When Applying for Free Stuff.

Patrick at Cash Money Life has some $25 Sign-up Bonuses from Lending Club. You even have 2 chances to win $100!

Mara Rodgers at Secrets for Money gives some great Tips To Teach Kids About Money.

Chris at Financial Reflections lets you know How Identiy Thieves Sell Your Data Online.

Mighty Bargain Hunter gives you Some Great Sources for Free AudioBooks.

Miss M at M is for Money shares with you Deliverance from Debt: Budget Basics.

Mike at Money TLD shares with us 10 Places to Click for Cash. There are quite a few things on this list that I have never heard of. I think I will check some of them out!