This has been a very hot summer in my area, and it seems like the air conditioner is kicking on every fifteen minutes or so, increasing my electric bill significantly. No doubt, it is time to make sure your home is as energy efficient as it can be and seal up gaps in your home. Winter is a prime time of the year to do this, as it is easy to feel with your hand any cold air that may be entering in unwanted areas, so if you missed taking care of that earlier this year, it makes it a little tricky now that we are in the warmer months. With the typical family wasting upwards of $350 per year in air leaks into our out of your home, if you want your gas bill to lower in the winter and electric in the summer, now is as good of time as any to do the most cost-effective approach: do it yourself.
Caulk around Windows and Doors
Double check each window, inside and out, to make sure there are no cracks, and re-caulk around any windows and doors in need. Replace any doors that lead to the outside that may be in need of an upgrade, whether it is a front door or a door that leads to the garage. Make sure it is a tight fit between the ground and bottom of the door to ensure no excess air escapes.
Gaps to the Outside
If you have any lines from the outside coming in, whether it is cable, or electric, this would be a good time to check to make sure there are no gaps leading to the outside. Take the outlet cover’s off on the inside and add insulation if necessary. Check around any water lines, as I had recently discovered bees were getting in, so I used foam insulation spray to make sure there was no room to enter.
Time to go in the Attic
If you have not been up to your attic in a while, this may be the opportunity. As the hottest place in your house, you will want to make sure that no additional air is coming in or out. Make sure there is ample amount of insulation on the floor between the attic and living space, to ensure that air is trapped up there.
There often is debate about which card is better to use; a credit card or debit card. Sure using your debit card directly takes the money out of your account, instead of a credit card where it is charged up until the statement balance, but let us takes a look at the costs associated with each.
Costs with Using a Debit Card
ATM fees are probably the most times where you notice a fee; a charge directly from the ATM when you make the withdrawal, usually a few dollars but if you use it at say a casino or gentleman’s establishment, it could be upwards of $20. Your bank could also be adding in an extra dollar as well for using an ATM of the bank you do not belong to. Overdraft fees can get you at typically over $30, not to mention meaning your account is empty, so pay attention daily to your online activity to make sure you stay on track.
Costs with Using a Credit Card
Perhaps the most expensive cost when it comes to using a credit card would be the interest. Sure if you pay off the statement balance by the due date there will be no interest added, but if you start to carry over the balance, especially month over month as you sink deeper into debt, you begin to make most of your monthly payment towards interest. Some cards offer reasonable rates, but there are still the 15% APR cards out there, especially depending on your credit. Late fees could get you if the payment misses the due date, which is capped at $25, and could even spike your interest rate even higher. Going over the credit limit can get you a $25 fee as well, so make sure you pay attention to your balance versus the credit limit. Some credit cards charge an annual fee, so unless you get that waived, you should stay clear of those.
So what does this all mean? Well there are actually pros and cons for using each type of card, so make sure you understand all of the in’s and out’s that go into both. Not using the card you should be using and it costing you extra money is not getting you ahead. Take some time and analyze your spending and see what makes sense to you.
Car insurance is one of those things you invest in and hope that you’ll never have to use. However, accidents do happen, and when they do, it can be devastating. The average collision claim in the U.S. as of 2013 was over $3,000. Without car insurance, could you pay for damages out of pocket?
The actual cost of insurance varies depending on numerous factors including your gender, age, profession, geographical location and the amount of time you spend driving your car. Your driving record also plays an important part in determining the cost of your insurance premium. A clean driving record can easily earn you discounts from your insurance provider, but a less-than-stellar record can earn you higher insurance rates.
What Accidents do to Your Insurance Rates
If you’re involved in an accident, your insurance rates may increase depending on the circumstances of the accident. If you are not at fault and the accident was caused by the other driver, your insurance rates shouldn’t change. However, if you are found at fault in the accident, your insurance premiums will most likely rise.
A 2015 study revealed that insurance rates can increase by as much as 41 percent after making a claim for an accident for which you are found liable. The actual increase you will experience depends on your insurance provider and the circumstances of the accident.
The violation that does the most damage to insurance rates is an accident in which the driver is intoxicated. Your insurance provider can even decide to drop your coverage entirely if you have been found guilty of driving under the influence.
How to Get Discounts with a Tainted Driving History
We all make mistakes, but some mistakes are more expensive than others. Being in a motor accident can be a devastating experience. It is only made worse by the news that your insurance rates will spike when the time comes to renew them.
Many auto insurance providers use motor accidents as an excuse to increase insurance premium rates. This is because you are now considered a high-risk driver. But even with a tainted driving record, there is still hope. You can still get a discount on your auto insurance with the following tips.
- Tell your insurance provider about the accident as soon as possible
Many car owners are tempted to keep quiet about auto accidents when they are at fault. However, this will only reflect poorly with your insurance provider. Insurance companies can easily refuse to honor your policy in such cases if you have found to be dishonest about your driving history. Insurance providers like to be notified as soon as possible in order to investigate the incident and be adequately prepared to defend you.
- Does your policy include an accident forgiveness clause?
Accidents are a part of life. Some insurers include an accident forgiveness clause in their insurance policies. This means they are willing to ignore your first accident. As result, you won’t suffer a rise in your premium!
- Go to traffic school
This will reflect positively with your insurance provider. Your insurance company will take this as an effort to improve your driving skills and will not increase your insurance upon renewal.
- Look for other discounts
Take advantage of discounts that you may not have been aware of previously (e.g. long term customer discounts or low annual mileage discounts). Don’t forget to ask!
- Shop for a new policy
If you can’t get a better rate from your current insurance provider, it may be time to move on. You can shop around for a new policy by comparing online car insurance quotes with comparison sites like CoverHound. Insurance premiums vary from one company to the next. Be sure to be honest and report any accidents or incidents on your record. This will help you get an accurate quote.
Understanding all your options will help you determine the best way to keep your insurance premium rates low. Be sure to explore all your options and find the best possible deals on insurance where you can.
With the summer months beginning to wane, it is time to take the cover off the grill, refill your propane tank, and get it cleaned up for the remainder of the summer grilling season. Cooking on the grill is fun and it reminds you that the warm weather is still here. Everything tastes better on the BBQ, whether it is vegetables, meat, or fish, there are plenty of ways to prepare a summer dinner. Enjoy a cold beer, fire up the grill, and get some use out of your patio furniture that goes unused for many months out of the year. In addition to taste, there are other reasons to cook outside.
Propane is Cheap
With the cost of refilling your propane tank around $16-20, it is inexpensive to use the BBQ grill. Depending on the size of your family you can probably get away with cooking on half of your grill, so there is no need to run all four burners, wasting unnecessary propane. Just a word of advice as I have learned from experience with having a cold grill in the middle of cooking, have a spare propane tank on hand; you will thank yourself instead of having to run out and get one and then start the grill again and try and salvage your dinner.
Save on Running the A/C
When you cook in the house, whether it is the oven or stove top, it gets hot. As the temperature inside increases, the air conditioner will start to kick on more and more, especially if you are starting to sweat from cooking and you lower the room temperature. Your energy bill will rise as it tries to maintain a constant temperature; it is hot enough outside, so you do not need to give any extra reason for your A/C to work any harder than it needs to.
Plenty of Health Benefits
Not only does everything taste better coming off a grill, it is also a healthier option to cooking. You actually eat less fat as the excess drips off and away from your food and into the drip pan. The vegetables you grill actually retain their nutrients more when you grill them (and you can add salt and pepper to give flavor instead of sticks of butter). Chances are if you are grilling outside, you were doing some sort of activity, such as cutting the grass or playing catch, so at least you were staying active before you eat instead of watching TV on the couch.