Monday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: 5 ways to reduce credit card interest. Also in the news: Holiday hosting tips to be safe, holiday tipping guide, and the pros and cons of using debit vs. credit cards.

5 Ways to Reduce Credit Card Interest
Escaping the interest trap.

Holiday Hosting Tips to Be Safe, Insurance If You’re Sorry
What’s covered under your homeowner’s insurance.

Holiday Tipping Guide: Whom and How Much
Showing appreciation.

Pros and Cons of Using Debit Vs. Credit Cards
Differences to keep in mind.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Protecting yourself from identity theft. Also in the news: Unforeseen circumstances that could crush your retirement, what not to do when you pay off your mortgage, and the importance of an emergency fund.

Are You a Prime Target for Identity Theft?
How to protect yourself.

3 retirement-crushing unforeseen circumstancesWhen your retirement does go as planned.

Don’t Make This Mistake When You Pay Off Your Mortgage
It could end up costing you a lot of money.

1 in 3 Americans Does Not Have an Emergency Fund
Are you one of them?

Take Advantage of the “Direct Debit” Student Loan Discount
Every penny counts.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Stress Level Conceptual Meter Indicating MaximumToday’s top story: How to pass a financial stress test. Also in the news: How smart parents teach their kids about money, the worst money mistakes made by Millennials, and what to do if your homeowner’s insurance claim is denied.

5 Tips For Passing a Financial Stress Test
How would you do?

7 Ways Smart Parents Teach Their Kids About Money
Valuable lessons for your kids.

5 Worst Money Blunders Made By Millennials
Avoid these at all costs.

What to Do If Your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim is Denied
Don’t panic.

Will You Finally Be Able to Get Rid of Your Student Loans in Bankruptcy?
Introducing the Student Aid Bill of Rights.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailGetting your finances together in the name of love, how to save on homeowners insurance, and how Twitter could save you a bundle on back-to-school shopping.

Study: Pinching Pennies Is Good for Your Dating Life
Tired of spending your nights alone? Getting your financial act together could be the key to romance.

An Easy Way to Save on Homeowners Insurance
How increasing your deductible could reduce your premiums.

5 Credit Union Freebies Worth Scooping Up
Credit unions can provide a wide range of perks.

The Best Back-to-School Deals? Check Twitter
Saving money on back-to-school shopping in 140 characters or less.

Best Places For Affordable Homes
The cities and towns that give you the best bang for your buck.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Car crashWhy students are a prime target for identity thieves, an easy way to save money on homeowners insurance, mistakes to avoid when buying a house and how cell-using drivers set themselves up for disaster.

The ABCs of Back-to-School Identity Theft Protection
Students of all ages are easy targets for identity theft.

Simple Tip Can Save You Big on Homeowners Insurance
Your deductible could be the key to savings.

The IRS Filed a Tax Lein on Your Home—Now What?
Don’t let your panic become a distraction. Buying a House? Don’t make these mistakes.
Things not to be overlooked while house hunting.

25% of Car Crashes Involved Cel Phones
Drivers using cellphones fail to see up to 50% of the information in their environment.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

HomeInheriting Grandma’s frequent-flier miles, how to pay less for homeowner’s insurance, and what you need to know about rising interest rates.

How Student Loans Can Hurt Your Mortgage Application
Those pesky student loans can reduce your ability to borrow money.

Can You Inherit or Transfer Your Frequent-Flier Miles?
What happens to Grandma’s miles after she takes her final flight?

How to Reduce Your Home Insurance Costs
Home insurance doesn’t have to break the bank.

The Best Children’s Books for Money Lessons
It’s never too early to start teaching kids how to manage their money.

5 Things to Know About Rising Interest Rates
How to navigate the new lending environment.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Doctor feesNegotiating medical bills, why a financial power of attorney is a must, and the pros and cons of “pocket listings”.

Is It Ever Too Late to Negotiate a Medical Bill?
How soon do you need to question that eight dollar aspirin?

Why You Need a Financial Power of Attorney
Preparing for the unexpected is a necessity.

Poll: Just 32% of Americans Keep a Household Budget
Which percentage do you fall in to?

How to Pay Less for High-End Homeowners Insurance
High-End home insurance doesn’t need to break the bank.

Should You Sell a House Under the Radar?
Is the privacy worth the price?

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Smart PhoneHow to avoid mistakes with your credit cards, plan a cheap summer vacation and get personal finance advice in the palm of your hand.

Best Personal Finance Apps of 2013

How your smartphone can make your wallet smarter.

Nine Stupid Things You’re Probably Doing With Your Credit Card
Innocent mistakes can lead to serious problems.

How to Plan a Cheaper Summer Vacation
There’s still time to get away on the cheap.

Good News: Homeowner’s Insurance Covers a Sharknado
Just like an asteroid, falling sharks are covered.

Is your dog blacklisted by insurers?

Dog teethMy column today, “10 dog breeds that rile insurers up,” discusses how your pet’s breed could cause some companies to deny coverage or charge you more.

The breeds include various types of terriers commonly called “pit bulls,” as well as Dobermans, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Huskies, Cane Corso and Mastiffs.

These so-called “breed lists” aren’t used by all insurers and tend to change as the types of dogs involved in attacks change (something that’s often related to breed popularity). There’s a reason that “nippy” dogs such as Chihuahuas and dachshunds aren’t on these lists: although they may be more likely to bite, they can’t do the damage that a bigger breed can. The average insurance claim for a dog bite is nearly $30,000, which implies a whole lot of pain.

If you own a dog that’s on an insurer’s breed list, or if you simply want to avoid expensive lawsuits and the possibility of harming others, there are plenty of ways to reduce your liability to dog bite claims. Among them:

Shop around. Every insurer has different criteria, so getting quotes from a number of different companies can help dog owners find coverage. An insurance broker who is knowledgeable about various insurers’ policies can help with the search. Larger insurers may be more accommodating than smaller ones. For example: State Farm, the largest homeowners insurance company, says it does not discriminate by breed but does require dog owners to answer questions about their animals’ history and behavior.

Spay and neuter. Sexually intact dogs are more likely to bite than spayed or neutered animals, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mind your kids. Don’t leave infants or young children alone with any dog, the CDC advises. Teach children not to approach unfamiliar dogs and to remain still if approached by dogs they don’t know, or to roll up into a ball and stay motionless if knocked down by a dog. (If an unfamiliar dog is leashed and with its owner, make sure your child asks the owner first if the dog is friendly and if it’s okay to approach. Your child should know to let the dog sniff first before petting.) Kids should be taught not to disturb dogs that are eating, sleeping or tending puppies. Most dog bites occur “during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, so be vigilant about how your child behaves with dogs. Don’t let a child or anyone else tease or threaten a dog.

Don’t encourage aggression. Wrestling or even tug-of-war can trigger aggressive behavior in your pet. Dogs that have already demonstrated such behavior (lunging, biting)  “are inappropriate in households with children,” the CDC notes. Yes, such dogs can be trained, but the risk to your kids is too high.

Socialize and train your dog. The CDC recommends teaching all dogs “submissive behaviors,” such as rolling over to expose their belly and giving up food without growling. Training can help with these behaviors and others that can make dog ownership easier. Shelters and pet stores are two places to look for low-cost training. Use a leash in public so you can control your dog, the AVMA advises.

Dog bites are no joke. They send some 800,000 Americans every year to emergency rooms and other medical providers for treatment, according to the AVMA. Half of those victims are children, since kids are much more likely to be seriously injured if bit. (I was going to include a photo of what a dog bite did to a young girl’s arm, but decided it was just too graphic.) Senior citizens are the next most common victims.

So do the right thing. Your dog–and your neighbors–are counting on you to be a responsible owner.

 

 

 

“Cheap” insurance could cost more in the long run

Dear Liz: My homeowners insurance just went up 25%. I’ve made no claims and made no changes. I want to get quotes from other providers, but I’m afraid I’m going to get some type of “teaser” rate. I tried changing companies a few years ago and the rate was good, but when it came time for the renewal, they doubled the price! Again, I made no changes nor had any claims. So, now I want to change, but I’m afraid of falling into the same trap. Any suggestions?

Answer: You can’t assume you’re locking in a low rate for life when you buy homeowners insurance. Companies that want to expand their market share may lower their prices awhile to lure customers away from their competitors, then raise premiums when their claims costs go up or they simply want to cut their risk.

The company’s reputation for customer service should be at least as important a factor as price in your decision-making. Check the complaint surveys that many state insurance departments maintain on their websites to see which companies have the best (and worst) reputations.

One way to reduce your homeowner premium is to increase your deductible. Raising the amount you pay out of pocket from $250 to $1,000 can lower your premiums 25%. You should be paying small damages out of pocket anyway, since filing small claims can cause your rates to rise.

You also should shop around every few years, even if a company doesn’t dramatically raise your rates, to make sure you’re getting a decent deal. But again, chasing the lowest-cost insurance could be only a short-term win — an insurer that charges slightly more could be the more stable, and consumer-friendly, choice.