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Get a Act of God Plan

lightning

In light of recent natural disasters around the globe-earthquakes, floods, fires-it seems only to right to recommend having an Act of God Plan, especially if you live in a disaster prone area. Ensuring you have a safety net set up should you get into strife through no fault of your own is paramount to survival, and easy to arrange.

1. Have a Cash Stash

Always have a little amount of cash hidden in your house should you find yourself in a situation where you have no access to money. Flooding will easily cause shortages to cash machine dispensers, and often in a crisis situation many staff will not be working as they’ll be sorting out their own affairs. The only problem with having a wad of cash in the house is the associated temptation. To avoid dipping into the stash when you’re a bit short of money, keep it in a locked up section of your emergency grab bag, and if you’ve already been involved in a natural disaster you won’t need reminding of why it’s important to keep your mitts off.

2. Carry a Credit Card

Even if you don’t normally carry a credit card, it’s a good idea to have one should you find yourself in a sticky situation. Whether you’ve lost your wallet or need to pay for accommodation, clothes or food, having a credit card can make things a little easier in dreadful circumstances. One advantage of having a credit card is their emergency assistance feature-emergency funds can be wired to wherever you are, should you have that function set up on your card.

3. Invest in Insurance

While most of us hate giving money to the insurance companies, it is worth it when you run into problems, be it travel, home or content insurance. The golden key is to read and double read the terms and conditions. Yes, they’re ludicrously boring and often hard to understand, but it will make all the difference when you come to making a claim. Also, talk to someone to clarify their terms if you need to. However, sometimes things happen that you’re just not prepared for so wouldn’t know to ask about, or check. In the Brisbane floods, in early 2011, a number of people who took out flood insurance in good faith were told that their claims would not be awarded because their houses were insured against flooding, not inundation from the river!

4. Emergency Contact Numbers

Pretty much everyone owns a mobile phone these days, and rarely lets it out of their sight. However, when you’re caught in a freak flood and all you think about is hanging on to your nearest and dearest, your phone no longer seems so important. Having a few numbers memorized is a good idea. And while it seems obvious, because most phones are set up to show names not numbers there is little opportunity, or need, to remember other people’s numbers. Just one or two contacts are all you need to let people know you’re safe. They can then contact others on your behalf.

5. Safe Place to Stay

If you’re unfortunate to be caught in a natural disaster, but lucky to be near your family, go stay with them until things start to return to normal. If you live in an area prone to bush fires it’s important to have a substitute home organised prior to fires breaking out, that way you know exactly where to head without having to think about it in an adrenaline fuelled situation. Sometimes things happen that you just can’t plan for, so if you’re travelling in an unfamiliar city and don’t know anyone in the immediate vicinity, head over to any of the disaster relief centres where you’ll be offered a place to stay and support during what could potentially be a terrifying and lonely time.

This article was written by William from Life Insurance Finder. Visit Life Insurance Finder to compare Income Protection Insurance

5 Easy Tactics to Safeguard Your Personal Financial Freedom

Since the first time you asked your mum for a chocolate at the checkout and she said no, you’ve been striving to achieve financial freedom – the freedom to buy what you want, when you want and live a comfortable and happy life. However, just because you have a regular job and a strong income doesn’t mean you have achieved personal financial freedom, unless you also have measures in place to protect your finances.

These personal finance protection measures can include:

1 – Disability insurance

While you may think that your house, your car or your investment fund are some of your biggest assets, in reality your biggest asset is your ability to earn money – if you lose that, you’ll likely lose your other assets as well. Therefore, you need to look at disability insurance policies which will replace your income if you are unable to work. This is in addition to insurances such as social security, which will only pay out if you are injured while at work.

While there are also social security benefits you could be entitled to if you suffer a disability, they usually won’t be enough to cover your previous income, and may only apply if you are so disabled that you can’t do any job, not just the job you have trained to do. Therefore, to avoid the risk of working in a call centre if you are unable to return to your regular career after an injury you can be protected by a long term disability insurance policy.

In most cases, insurers will offer a disability insurance policy which will cover around 70% of your previous income amount, but shop around for the highest percentage you can find. Also make sure the cover will continue to pay out until you are 65, when you will be able to access your superannuation fund.

2 – Health insurance

When you’re young, fit and healthy, the last thing you think about is getting sick, and unfortunately this is what can make the situation even more devastating if it does occur. When you are unprepared for an accident or illness you can find yourself struggling financially very soon after, so no matter how young or healthy you feel, if you are serious about taking steps to protect your financial freedom then you will want to take out a fully features health insurance policy.

Look for a health insurance policy which has a high excess as this will mean your monthly premiums are lower, and during a time in your life when it is unlikely you’ll need to make a claim, a high excess to pay isn’t as much of an issue as you’re unlikely to have to pay it. Compare insurance policies to find the one with the inclusions you want and need, for the right price, keeping in mind your premiums will increase as you get older, but are still much easier to manage financially than full medical costs.

3 – Liability insurance

Liability insurance is an important option to consider, as it can protect you if you are sued, or if you cause someone else damage. While your home and your car insurance will have liability clauses included, check the limit of the cover as it may not be enough for a serious claim. For example, the typical car insurance policy will allow $300,000 to cover liability costs but if you are in an accident where the other person claims $1 million in damages you could suffer significant financial damage.

To choose the amount of your liability insurance, choose a figure which is equal to at least twice your net worth if you are at a high risk of being sued, for example you are a doctor, lawyer or you have your own business. When you are looking to add liability insurance to your personal finance plan, look for umbrella coverage which is relatively cheap to maintain – usually between $150 and $300 a year. Umbrella coverage then extends over your existing home or car insurance policy and comes into effect when the original policy is exhausted.

4 – Long term care insurance

Long term care insurance is designed to help you protect your assets, and make sure that you receive a high quality of care if you can no longer care for yourself. Therefore, this type of cover is best suited to those over 50 years old, who have more than $100,000 in assets.

A long term care insurance policy will cover all of the costs associated with a serious illness which aren’t covered by a standard health insurance policy or government health programs. For example, if you need help to feed, clothe or bathe yourself, then long term care insurance can pay for a support worker.

Remember that long term care can be very expensive, for example a year at a nursing home will cost you around $60,000 and to have that same level of care at home will cost even more. If you have significant assets then you will probably be able to cover the costs of a high level of care if the need arises, but if you want to make sure you don’t put unnecessary financial strain on yourself or your family, consider long term care insurance.

5 – Manage your debt

With financial freedom comes financial responsibility but many of us learn this the hard way, after we’ve accumulated a deck of credit cards and our savings plan has fallen by the wayside. Therefore to help you safeguard your financial freedom you need to take control of your debt, which you can do in the following ways:

1.Stop saving if you have high interest debt. If you have been desperately squirreling away savings in an attempt to counteract your credit card debt and personal loans – stop. The amount of interest you’ll be earning on your savings will be much less than the interest you’re being charged on your debts, so you will be better off financially if you put all of your savings into getting rid of your high interest debt.
2.Consolidate your debts. If you are still having trouble clearing your debts consider a consolidation loan which will roll all of your credit cards and personal loans into one loan, with a much lower interest rate. You’ll then have a set term and set repayments so that you have a realistic goal of being debt free to work towards, plus all those sporadic monthly repayments can be made in one go.
3.Reduce your spending. You don’t have to give up all of the luxuries in your life, but you simply need to look for ways to cut back. For example, if you go out to dinner one a week, cut back to going out twice a month instead; rather than taking the family to the movies, put on a DVD at home and make your own popcorn. You can also make other conscious decision to save, such as buying in bulk at the supermarket or switching to the supermarket brand products. You can even start collecting coupons to make savings. Every little bit you save will help you pay off your debts, build up a savings balance and spend less than you earn to guarantee you financial security.

Kristy Ramirez writes for Life Insurance Finder, an Australian life insurance comparison website, where she helps people to compare life insurance quotes and select the best policy to meet their needs.

10 Ways to Lower Your Monthly Bills

green dollar sign

One simple way to make money is to save it. If you’re maximizing your money-making power in the workplace and at home, putting in long hours and working over the weekend, you should make sure that your hard-earned dollars aren’t being thrown away on bills. Try out some of these personal finance tips to make sure that you’re retaining as much income as possible.

Energy

1. Compare electricity prices. In most areas, there’s more than one option available, so shop around to find out how you can get the best possible rate. You might consider asking frugal friends and neighbors which electricity providers they’ve chosen to help you make the best decision. If you find a cheaper option but want to stay with your current company, call and let them know that you’ve found a competitive rate. Often, you’ll be able to get the same lower rate from your current company.

2. Use energy efficient light bulbs in your home. Look for the Energy Star seal and keep your eyes open for good deals. You can often buy in bulk online or find extra-low discounts at Salvation Army stores or outlets.

Insurance

3. You can lower your car insurance bill if you pay by the year rather than by the month. You’ll get a discounted rate for paying up-front because you’ll be saving your insurance company the trouble of monthly billing. Another way to lower this bill is to take a defensive driving class. This costs $25 in most states, but you might want to call your insurance company and verify that the discount will be worth your while.

4. Compare insurance prices, then bundle your insurance. Insurance companies offer multi-policy discounts, so take advantage of this by using the same provider for both car and homeowner’s insurance.

Phone/Cable

5. Cancel your home phone line and use your cell phone exclusively. Just check to make sure that it supports your local emergency services before you disconnect your home line.

6. If you’d rather keep your home phone line, call your provider and ask for help reducing the cost of your phone plan. Most companies are happy to help you find and cancel superfluous charges because it’s better business than losing a customer.

Other

7. Cancel your gym membership and walk or run instead. You can also purchase your own free weights and other exercise equipment, which will save you money over time. A one-time purchase is almost always preferable to repeated charges.

8. Limit your credit card use. Keep only one or two cards, using them for large purchases, emergencies, and travel only. Make sure you pay them off every month to avoid being charged interest.

9. Cancel monthly subscriptions that you can do without. Even if you’d like to keep a few, you can get a better rate by subscribing to online versions.

10. Pay all of your bills online to save on postage and checks.

Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident education blogger and performs research surrounding College Scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.