What Every Mom Needs to Know About Insurance

As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure our kids are cared for. We go out of our way to keep our kids safe, from buying bicycle helmets to Band-Aids to winter coats, right down to holding their hand when they cross the street.

Most of us worry endlessly about our kids’ well-being. I know I do! But as much as we worry about the little things, it’s sometimes easy to let the big things, those risks and dangers that are a little more intangible—slip by ignored or unattended to.

A big part of protecting our kids, as well as securing financial peace, is making sure our families are covered for the big things including natural disasters, an injury or illness, job loss, or worse. Even so, it can sometimes be hard to determine exactly what coverage you need, especially when it seems like most insurance salesmen only want to play on your emotions.

When money is tight, you certainly don’t want to overspend on coverage that you don’t need, but you need be protected from major catastrophe. The best approach is to do your research ahead of time and be aware of the state of your family’s finances before you get a sales pitch.

It is important to remember that it’s not the insurance agency’s role to make sure you’re getting the best deal on insurance. It is up to you to be your own advocate and to get the best rate. Insurance isn’t something you can put on the back burner and just pay each month.

To get the best rates, you must continuously (at least once a year) revisit your insurance policies and do some comparison shopping. Plans and offers are constantly changing to meet the needs of the market. Rates can fluctuate as your family’s needs and situation change as well. Adding another driver, building on an addition to your home, changing your security system, or bringing a new member of your family into the world can all raise insurance questions and call for a little guidance.

There are seven types of insurance that you NEED: Homeowners/Renters, Auto, Health, Disability, Long-Term Care, Identity Theft, and Life.

Other insurances you should consider is also boat, farm and travel.

resizedimage600583-Home-Insurance-Icons

Home

If you’re paying a mortgage, the lender requires homeowner’s coverage, but even if you’re lucky enough to own your home outright, you want to be sure that you’re protected.

For renters, insurance protects your possessions in case of fire, theft and, in some cases, flood. Renters insurance is often thought of as optional, but as a parent, you must cover yourself in case of tragedy. Renters insurance is often really quite inexpensive (less than $20/month!) and it’s very important if you have big-ticket items that might be difficult to replace, such as audio equipment, collectables, exercise gear, televisions and appliances. Take inventory of your household and make a list of those larger items that could be damaged or stolen, and would result in major financial hardship if you’d have to replace them.

There are several ways to save on homeowner and renter’s insurance. You can raise your deductible, combine policies and do some home improvements and emergency preparations to raise the protection level on your home. Improvements to home security can also help you save, as can new windows, doors, and extreme weather protection.

Auto

 When we think insurance, auto insurance is often the first thing that comes to mind. Driving is possibly the highest risk activity that any of us do almost every day, and we all know the importance of having liability coverage. In many states, it’s now illegal to operate a vehicle without liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility.

In our litigious society, unfortunately, coverage is mandatory to protect yourself from financial ruin in case of an accident or driving mistake. One moment can change your life and the life of another driver forever. Trust me, your mind will be at ease when you know you’re protected.

When it comes to auto insurance, the value of your vehicle is important when you’re determining the amount of coverage and type of insurance you need. If your car is in its twilight years, you may feel comfortable with less coverage or just liability. If you have a newer car (or if you’re paying off a car loan), you need to have full coverage to keep your investment safe.

There are several other ways to save on car insurance. Shop around, compare rates, and don’t become too loyal to just one agency or provider. There are good driver discounts, multiple car discounts, and even good grade programs for driving teens and students. Installing safety upgrades or attending defensive driving courses can also help lower your monthly payments and save you when it comes to paying for coverage.

family health insurance coverage

Health

Health insurance is so important. As parents, we know we must take children to the doctor for regular checkups. We also know that serious health issues can come out of nowhere, and without coverage they can leave households financially devastated. For the many of us just surviving in todays middleclass, we make enough to pay all our bills, not enough for the extras, and too much for any assistance such as government plan health insurance such as Medicaid, family health plus and their attached HMO plans.

Many employers offer health insurance at a cost which also requires deductibles and co-pays, but if yours does not, or if you’re independently employed, private insurance providers are available. Under the Affordable Care Act, you may qualify for low-cost coverage based on your income. Keep in mind though, low-cost means anywhere from $200-$400 per person a month with deductibles and co-pays which is low cost for health insurance.

Consider a Health Savings Account and/or a high deductible plan to save the most. An HSA can save families thousands of tax-free dollars every year, which you can use toward your deductible, so your monthly premium will be lower. You can use your HSA for prescriptions, and depending on the plan, eye exams and preventative care.

Disability

Disability insurance should cover 65% of your income, and most employers offer disability coverage. It’s often something that’s overlooked, but one in seven workers will face a disability before retirement.

You should be sure your disability insurance is long-term. My personal opinion is that you should have 3–6 months of expenses saved up, which would cover your needs in the case of a short-term or minor disability. It’s the long-term scenarios that you should plan for. Most disabilities (90%) are not covered by worker’s comp or social security.

The effects of a disability can financially ruin a family if you’re not properly prepared. Many workers facing disabilities can be out of work for three years or more. Consider what would happen to your family should they face an unforeseen accident or tragedy that leaves you unable to work.

Long-Term Care

As a parent, long-term care is not necessarily something that’s on any of our minds, but it’s a necessity for anyone over age 60. If your parents cannot afford long-term care insurance, this may be something you want to consider.

Consider the scenario of a parent who is facing a condition like dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, and requires long-term care. This situation can quickly eat up your parents’ retirement savings and even dip into your own savings and accounts. Those who qualify for Medicaid will receive some assistance, but it often leaves patients with limited options and plans for complete care.

As you near your 60s, long-term care should be on your horizon and part of your post-retirement financial plan. It’s a way to make sure you don’t financially burden your children or spouse and ensures you won’t leave them unable to make ends meet.

Identity Theft

If you’ve never faced the horror in dealing with having your identity stolen, then consider yourself very lucky. With data breaches on the rise among major retailers, it seems like everyone is at risk. Identity theft can cost you big-time in terms of time, money, effort, and just general headaches. In a worst-case scenario, identity theft can damage your credit and make recovery very difficult—even if you’re an innocent victim.

Part of your insurance portfolio should include identity theft protection. You should be sure it includes an identity restoration service that can fix the damage and get your identity restored and safe once again. Teaching your family good identity-safety habits such as limiting your exposure online and protecting your passwords can help protect you as well, but should the worst happen, insurance will be a lifesaver.

Long Island Insurance Company

Life

Life insurance can be a little confusing. The general rule of thumb is you need term, not whole life. Cash value insurance can sound like a great way to invest and save money, but truth be told, it doesn’t offer high returns at all and generally is a poor performing product.

Term life insurance, on the other hand, is a way to cover yourself until you’re debt free and in a position to invest. It offers a way to help your spouse or children settle your estate and survive in relative comfort should something happen to you.

Term life insurance can help you cover burial costs and the costs of paying off your debt, plus further support of your family, particularly if you’re the sole breadwinner.

Facing uncertain scenarios in life is always unsettling, but having the proper insurance coverage can ease your mind and allow you to sleep a little easier at night. Look into the faces of your children and think of all the ways you would love to keep them safe. Insurance is one of the most simple, practical, and logical ways to protect your loved ones. 

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Week 3 of Budget 101

Part 3: Save on the Big Things

After spending the last week sorting out your budget and then recording all your purchases, you hopefully now have a fairly clear idea of where your money is going.  Over the next 6 weeks be sure to keep those worksheets handy–you will need to adjust your amounts as we work to lower expenses in the various categories.  Be sure to also continue recording all your purchases in the expense tracking worksheet too!
(NOTE: If you are new to “Through The Eyes Of I” or missed out last week, you might want to start at Week 1 of Budget 101 before starting this week’s assignment!)

This week we are going to tackle lowering the BIG 3:  Housing, Transportation, & Insurance.  I will readily admit that this is not my area of expertise.  Not even close. From this point forward it should be known that you are taking financial advice from a girl who thinks a cute pair of designer shoes or a great book is a perfectly reasonable investment, not just an impulse buy.

In other words, some of this stuff is a little over my head.

Since this kind of stuff overwhelms me, I’m guessing that it probably overwhelms many of you too. So let’s figure it out together and be better for it.  Luckily for us, the internet is a vast pool of knowledge.  This week, we’re going swimming.

I think the most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to your finances and the money you’re spending is this premise: Everything is negotiable.  

The great thing about NOT being socialists is that we live in a country where companies have to compete for OUR business. This is something they don’t really want you to figure out.  Most companies would rather have you believe that they are doing you a favor by financing your home or car, or providing insurance, because if you believe that, you’ll pay whatever they tell you to.  The truth is that they NEED your business, and that if they are not willing to negotiate, there is probably someone else out there who will.

Knowledge is power; use it to your advantage!

When it comes to saving money on your housing costs there are a lot of factors that will come in to play, far too many to get into specifics here.  Do you rent or own?  Do you owe more on your house than it’s worth?  Are you looking to buy?  Are you in an apartment? Is your lease coming due soon?  Your individual circumstances will determine your course of action, or even whether there is a course of action possible.

As far as transportation costs go, unless your vehicle is constantly in need of repair or way more expensive than you can afford, it is almost always more cost effective to stick with the car you have than get a different vehicle. Thus, your current car payment is probably not going to change much.  That said, if you need a new car, it is almost always better to buy used than to lease or buy something brand new. Your auto insurance, on the other hand, can definitely be negotiated!

Likewise, health, life, & home insurance prices can also be negotiated and shopping around pays.  When my Husband and I needed health insurance last year, we took a lot of time to price things out.  When we took into consideration how little we actually go to the doctor, we discovered that it made a lot more sense financially to buy only catastrophic coverage with a high deductable, then to pay a huge premium each month for medical coverage we weren’t using.  As with most things, it is very important to do the math!

How to negotiate when chartering a gulet

Here is your assignment:

1. Research options for lowering your mortgage payment or rent

Once you’ve done your homework, decide if making some changes or re-negotiating your rent or mortgage would be the right solution for your family.  I found some awesome, super informative, and, most importantly, short articles to start with:

How to Lower Your Mortgage Payment Without Refinancing (homeowners)

How to Negotiate Low Mortgage Interest Rates [Video] (homeowners)

I Owe More Than My House Is Worth (homeowners underwater)

How to get the best mortgage rate (looking to buy a home)

How to negotiate lower rent (renters)

Tips for Reducing your Insurance Premium

2. Research options for lowering your insurance rates

If you haven’t shopped around for auto, homeowners, health, or life insurance lately (or ever) then you need to.  Do some due diligence to find out what options are available, then make some phone calls (or send some emails) and get new quotes.  You might be surprised at how much money you can save.

 Here are some great articles I recently wrote to get you going:

What Every Mom Needs to Know About Insurance

9 Smart Ways to Save on Car Insurance

12 Smart Ways to Save on Home Insurance

It’s only two tasks, but this should be plenty to keep you busy this week!  If it seems daunting, just remember that every dollar saved on your mortgage, rent, vehicle, or insurance is a dollar that can be spent on shoes.
Stay tuned for another riveting installment next Sunday and don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing! What big things do you want to save money on?  Do you think it will be possible?  What is something you know you can’t save on?

Children and News

 
                 
Since my stepson was 3, he has been viewing the news on our local channels as well as NBC, MSNBC and CNN with me. At 9 years old, he now watches the news every morning before going to school, and at night during the evening broadcast. I am a current event and history fanatic, and see a major importance in both.  CNN, NBC and MSNBC not only take over my television screen, but my phone, including apps for breaking news notifications. I love to know what’s going on not only locally, but world wide. I believe children should be just as aware. Today’s news will be tomorrows history. Take my poll below and see what others believe and how you and I may agree or differ.

Deadly Tragedy in Pakistan

PreK, then K-12 equals 14 years of guaranteed FREE education for every child in this country. It is not only our rights as Americans, but an opportunity camouflaged by law. Too many people are taking for granted our education system that many others would do anything to take advantage of. While too many Americans settle for a GED, refugees and immigrants are fleeing their countries and are earning the Masters and Doctoral available on our home land. It is by law we get an education. However, for many others around the world, it is only a hope and a dream.…..Samantha Jonas-Rongo

A soldier escorts schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

Deadly Tragedy in Pakistan

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

The Pakistan Taliban shouted, “God is great” as they made their way rampant through Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan. They came in with enough ammunition and other supplies to last for days and were not expecting to come out alive, according to a Pakistani military official.

145 people, all mostly children were killed in the shootings. The schools principal was a victim of the tragedy along with a couple of teachers, including a teacher who was shot, then burned to death and the 7 Taliban extremist who all wore suicide bombs.

While children were in class at 10am in Pakistan,12am US (ET),  a car exploded behind the school. Pakistani education minister Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman explained to CNN that the blast was meant to divert the attention of the school’s security guards before the attack.

Policemen stand beside empty coffins at the hospital after an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School in Peshawar

DR. Aamir Bilal of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, cited students that gunmen got over the walls and walked through where students in grades 8 through 10 were having classes and fired randomly.

14-year-old Ahmed Faraz who was shot in the attack told CNN that he and others were in an auditorium when 4 to 5 people swarmed through a backdoor, and started shooting rapidly.

As ninth-grader Ahmed and the other children hid in the auditorium, the gunman swarmed in and one of them told the others that a lot of the children were hiding under the benches.

“kill them”, he then said according to Ahmed.

The gunmen then climbed the benches and started firing at the children.

Shahrukh Khan, 17, said a gunman had entered his classroom and opened fire at random. As he hid under a desk, he saw his friends being shot, one in the head and one in the chest. Two teachers were also killed.

Other children who escaped say the militants went from one classroom to another, shooting indiscriminately.

Pakistani authorities spent Tuesday night inside Army Public School and Degree College looking for survivors, victims and improvised explosive devices planted to worsen the carnage.

Men move bodies of students, who were killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in an ambulance outside a hospital in Peshawar

Men move bodies of students, who were killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in an ambulance outside a hospital in Peshawar

Even Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan decried the killing spree, calling it “un-Islamic.”

This gruesome attack has been labeled as a response and revenge for the recent Nobel Peace Prize given to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, and victim of the Taliban’s violence. (For those who haven’t read, “I am Malala”, you need too. I have and she is an amazing and inspiring young woman with such a great story and hope for the future all man kind. She is not only an exceptional role model, she is someone who we all need to know about and teach our children. I will actually attach a link at the bottom of this page so you can purchase her book.)

She was awarded for her work against the “suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”, and victim of the Taliban’s violence.

Malala_Yousafzai_at_Girl_Summit_2014

Malala Yousafzai 2014

“I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us,” Yousafzai said in a statement.

“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” she continued. “I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”

She concluded: “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated.”

On any typical day, the school is home to about 1,100 students and staff, most of them sons and daughters of army personnel from around Peshawar. A Taliban spokesman told BBC Urdu that the school, which is run by the army, had been targeted in response to military operations. Hundreds of Taliban fighters are thought to have died in a recent offensive in North Waziristan and the nearby Khyber.

If the Pakistani Taliban extremists had hoped the attack would cause the government to ease off its military offensive that began in June in the country’s tribal region, it appeared to have the opposite effect. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to step up the campaign, along with U.S. drone strikes; as targeted the militants.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in Peshawar

Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in Peshawar

Click here to read the first 21 pages of “I Am Malala”

Click here to purchase “I Am Malala”