Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

10 Car Insurance Discounts You Should Ask For

Truly psyched for this. Going to be calling up my insurance agent to talk about the marital, good student and my car is awesome discounts.

Car insurance is such a pain in the butt. I’m glad it’s required if you have a car. Otherwise we’d probably have Oedipal temper tantrums a lot more often–and we all know how that ended.

If you don’t know how that ended, no worries. It’s a reference to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. The main character, Oedipus, did lots of really bad things unwittingly. The first was killing his father in a fit of road rage. Maybe if he had been able to call his agent they would have been able to assess and fix the damages without anyone dying, and the fulfillment of the grim prophecy could have been avoided.

The point is, there’s only so much you can do to lower your rates without forfeiting coverage. So I’ve compiled a list of discounts your insurance company may or may not be letting you in on.

Next time you talk to them, ask.

Keep in mind that discounts vary from state-to-state as well as from company-to-company.

Good Student Discount

Your agent may not know to offer you this one. Especially if you’re not of traditional college age. But it’s really simple: Meet certain GPA requirements, get your premiums lowered.

Bundle to Get Discounts

Carrying policies with four different agencies?  Bundling them with one may save you a bunch of money.  Renters, valuable personal property, homeowners, etc.

On top of carrying multiple insurance policies with one insurer, your insurance company may be linked with a bank. Holding a financial account with them may lower your premiums or up your interest rates on your growth accounts.

Go Green

Many companies are now offering a discount on your premium if you elect to receive all of your bills, statements, and other paperwork electronically.  Not only are you saving the planet, but it’s a lot less of a hassle than shredding and recycling.

Age

Usually this discount is applied every renewal period where it is applicable.  Some states and companies give you discounts for getting older and more experienced every time your policy renews–especially if you’re a young man or have a young man on your policy. Talk to your agent to make sure you understand how this is calculated on your specific policy.

Marital Discount

Some states and companies lower premiums if you get married.  Take special care to mention this fact to your agent if you and your spouse aren’t on the same policy.

Though you really should be. Being on the same policy is almost guaranteed to save you some cash.

Vanishing Deductible?

Vanishing Deductible plans sound A-MAZING, right?

The idea is that for every premium period you go without getting into an accident or anything like that, your deductible goes down by some amount–say $100. Over a 5 year period for a pretend policy that renews every 12 months, your $500 deductible can decrease to $0.

This would be really great, if the insurance company didn’t charge you more on your premium to carry the benefit. If you have vanishing deductible, check and see how much you are being charged for it. You may find that it’s better to pay the lower premium and keep the higher deductible.

Low-Risk Occupation

Tell your insurance carrier what you do for work. Your job can say a lot about you, and for people in meticulous fields, that means lower rates.

Why?

The carrier figures if you’re meticulous at work, you’re probably meticulous behind the wheel, too. Some of these occupations include pilots, artists, scientists, actors, engineers, and teachers.

Some companies even offer lower premiums if you work at home and therefore don’t use your car as often.

If you’re not in the list above, still talk to your agent. It’s by no means all-inclusive.

Oh, but you might not want to tell them what you do if you fall into this list:  doctor, lawyer, judge, real estate broker, business owner, architect, or social worker.

These have all been pinned as professions that have their professionals work unreasonable hours in high stress positions. Not so great for safety behind the wheel.

Defensive Driver

Complete a course in defensive driving, and you could save a good bit of money on your premium. It’s applicable in Pennsylvania, and courses around here are generally around $30. Some can even be taken in your home.

Make sure to talk to your agent first. For oh, so many reasons. First of all, the discount may not apply to you even if you complete the course. Each state and company is different, but in some states there are age restrictions to the discount.

The second reason is that you could get a double discount. Your insurance company will lower your premium if you take and pass the course, and some insurance companies can even help you lower the price of the course.  So you get to take the class you’re taking to get a discount at a discount.

Genius.

Do you belong to any groups?

So many groups have discounts with so many insurance providers. If you have ever been in a fraternity, sorority, professional organization, the military, a member of a credit union, or a federal employee, odds are there’s a discount for you.

Oh, and you work for someone, too?  You may even be able to get a discount just for working with your employer.

Exercise your brain on this one. Any organization you belong to could be saving you  money every month.

Your Car is Awesome Discount

Give your agent a call and review with them all the nifty safety features that your car has.  They should have done this with you when you signed up for the policy, but checking up never hurts.

Have airbags? There’s a discount for that.

How about anti-lock brakes? There’s a discount for that, too.

And those are just the first two common features that came to mind.

What other discounts can my awesome readers tell me about?

Free Entrance to National Parks in 2019

This is incredibly useful and is going to save me some money! It tells you how to get into national parks for free--in the US and Canada.

Over four hundred of America’s national parks are free everyday.  But 118 of them aren’t.  Luckily, the park system does offer free days, so you can go enjoy our beautiful country while remaining completely and totally frugal.

National Park Free Entrance Days for 2019

In 2018, the National Park System dramatically cut back on the number of free days. This year things are marginally better, with five free days instead of four–though prior to the 2018 change there were weeks worth of these free admission dates. While things are moving back in the right direction, if you want to visit on a free entrance day, you’re going to have to plan a little more carefully.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Fees will be waived on January 21, 2019 in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

First Day of National Park Week

Before 2018, there were five free days in the month of April recognizing National Park Week. Ever since last year, though, you only get in for free on the first day of the celebration. This year, that date is April 20, 2019.

National Park Service Birthday

This is the fifth free day added by NPS this year. To celebrate the National Park Service’s 102nd birthday, you’ll be able to gain free admission to parks on August 25, 2019. There’s even word of some fun activities on this day, so keep your eyes open!

National Public Lands Day

Admission will be free on September 28, 2019 in honor of National Public Lands Day.

Veterans Day

You can get into national parks for free in celebration of Veterans Day on November 11, 2019.

Which National Parks require an entrance fee?

I’ve been lucky to travel a good bit in my time. National parks always bring such a sense of awe and wonder. It’s one thing to wander around in the woods in your backyard. It’s a completely different thing to spend time in pristine, protected wilderness.

Some of my favorite national parks that will be waiving their fees on free days are:

There’s a ton of others, too. I was surprised to find the ones in my own back yard that I never knew existed. To find some near you, you can check out the National Park Service’s website.

Free Entry to National Parks Year Round

If you fall into any of the following demographics, you can get a free national park pass. You only need one per vehicle to get into the park, so if anyone in your family falls into one of these categories, you could theoretically get the entire clan in for free.

  • You are a US citizen with a documented disability.
  • You are a 4th grader. Eligibility starts on your first day of fourth grade and ends on your first day of fifth grade.
  • You are a member of the military or a military dependent.

You can learn more about each of these programs here.

Free National Park Admission in Canada

In 2017, Canada was giving away free national park passes in honor of their nation’s 150th birthday. That program has ended, but there are still a couple ways to get in for free.

The first is via a Cultural Access Pass. These are reserved for those who have become Canadian citizens in the past year.

A new program was rolled out in2018 that allows anyone under 17 years of age into national parks for free. It continues in 2019. Find out more about the youth program here.

 

We’d love to hear about your national park experiences! Tell us about them in the comments section.

Free Rides Home to Prevent Drunk Driving

Sending this to my friends---free rides to prevent drunk driving!

I had an interesting conversation with my Japanese friend while she was visiting a few years ago. We were driving through an area laden with bars and night life.  Which can be a fun area if drinking is what you’re there for.

But that wasn’t what we were there for, and it got us talking about drunk driving. I related the lives I’ve known that have been lost to the horrible mistakes of both themselves and others while under the influence and behind the wheel. I lamented the lack of consequences for those who do drink and drive.

She looked shocked. “It is not like that in Japan. If I did that, my father would lose his job.”

Hell, yes, Japan.

Costs of Drunk Driving

Our system is way too lenient. But that doesn’t mean there are no consequences. Here’s some of what you face if you do drive drunk:

  • A night in jail.
  • Bail money.
  • A fine.  And a big one. They get bigger the more offenses you have, but the first one is nothing to laugh at.
  • Possibly extra time in jail. Upwards of six months.
  • A misdemeanor on your record.
  • Might have to attend AA.

Honestly, a DUI with its accompanying consequences would be good news. The fact that the cops caught you means that they got your drunk butt off the street, preventing you from killing someone else.  Or yourself.

Free Rides Home When You’re Drunk

Believe it or not, there are quite a few ways to get a free ride home when you’re drunk–especially on major holidays. Here are some of the best:

Cheap and Frugal Alternatives to Driving Drunk

Maybe you can’t get a free ride home, but you can use one of these options instead. Every single one of them is a heck of a lot cheaper than a DUI:

  • Public Tranport– This one is best if you plan to use it before you leave. On New Year’s and other holidays, cities usually leave their public transport open much later than usual so you won’t have to drive at all.
  • Sober Rides– AAA has created a compilation of programs across the country that offer DD services. They do charge a fee, but most of them not only drive you home, but also send a second driver out to get your car home, too. Check them out here.
  • Tell Siri you’re drunk. She’ll immediately offer to call a cab for you.

Cheaper Than a Funeral

Even if you pay for a super long, super overpriced taxi fare and get your car towed, the costs will still be less than that of the average funeral: $7,000. And that’s if only one person dies at your hands, not including additional damages awarded in the sure-to-happen law suit and the deep, painful remorse you’ll experience for the rest of your life.

It’s okay to have fun–as long as you’re responsible.

I hope everyone has fun time tonight–truly!

But I hope even more that you’ll do so responsibly.

 

 

Cheapest Ways to Rent a Car & Get Discounted Accommodations

I had never heard of this trick before! She really did find the cheapest way to rent a car.

Now that it’s almost Christmas, wanna hear what I was up to over Thanksgiving?

The short answer is I was traveling. The long answer is I’m going to tell you all about the fun and the ways I made it more affordable over the next couple of weeks.

Today we’ll cover a basic overview of where I went, how I got there, and how I paid for accommodations.

Thanksgiving at the Beach

This year, Thanksgiving happened at the beach. Fort Meyers Beach, Florida, to be exact. It was absolutely gorgeous. The water was warm. The sand was white. The beaches weren’t crowded, and there wasn’t a hurricane in sight.

On the way home, we made a stop in Orlando to visit Disney World again, but we’ll get to that in another post.

My money lessons from last time we went to Disney can be found here.

Finding the Cheapest Car Rental

As I was trying to decide what the most cost-effective way of traveling would be this time around, I did some math and decided driving would be cheaper than plane tickets. The only problem? We didn’t have a vehicle big enough to get everyone and everything down there. So I started looking for a car rental.

I scoured plenty of sites. Renting a car is an expensive venture, but it was still going to be cheaper than plane tickets. After getting pretty much the same results everywhere, I finally found a booking site that got me in the door for over $100 less: AutoEurope.

The way it worked for our trip was like this:

First, I went to AutoEurope and did a search.

Then, they showed me the best options for my needs and dates of travel, connecting me with a bunch of local rental places. The best option ended up being with Budget. Budget had been listed on the other sites I searched, but at a much higher price.

I looked into my affiliate network, and AutoEurope was on the list. I was fortunate in this way. They ended up giving me a coupon, making the rental even cheaper than it already was.

We ended up getting a Ford Explorer, which had room for all the people and things. It was an easy vehicle to drive and had all the bells and whistles we needed (and some we didn’t!)

Gas

Gas was another added cost of getting down there. Luckily for us, the further down the East Coast you go the cheaper gas gets. You can actually follow along with the lowering of gas prices and then watch them as they rise as we go back by following me on Instagram. In between, I’m featuring photos of the beautiful things we got to experience while it was snowing back home.

Accommodations

Getting to Florida was more than a one-day drive. We needed convenient places to stay overnight. Because I had Airbnb credits, I was able to book two amazing places that were right off the highway in super safe neighborhoods. One was an entire house, and the other was a basement suite inside someone’s house with a backyard fully accessible to us. It was so much better than staying in a hotel, and with the credits, I only spent $30/night total.

If you want to get started on earning Airbnb credits, too, this referral link will get you $40 off your first stay.

Accommodations at Fort Meyers Beach

Because we were visiting during the off-season, accommodations at the beach were crazy cheap. Like 50% off what you would spend at peak season. Plus, I got 10x points through a promotion Hotels.com is running with one of my credit card carriers.

Hotels.com also gives you one free night after ten paid nights. I’ve almost reached that point, so I’ll be getting a free stay sometime soon.

Accommodations in Orlando

I’m super lucky and have a family member who has a time share in Orlando. Like the last time we visited, they were gracious enough to gift us a week stay there. I’m so, so grateful. Because of them, we were able to stay for free.

What did I do in Florida?

So much. I’m excited to tell you about the funnest parts in the coming weeks. Be sure to check back or subscribe to the newsletter to receive notifications!

 

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year to Buy Wedding Jewelry

Great insider tips for the best time of year to buy wedding jewelry!

It happened right before Thanksgiving.  I got a card in the mail from a jeweler that had somehow found out I was getting married.  Come in to the store and we’ll give you some free earrings, no purchase necessary.  All I had to do was come in between Black Friday and Christmas.

So I did.  Of course.  While I was there, I figured I might as well look at wedding bands as I hadn’t yet gotten one for the fiance.  He hadn’t gotten his ring size yet, but the jeweler showed me the selection and told me I should definitely buy before Christmas.

She told me during the holidays jewelers freeze their prices, regardless of how gold or silver performs in the stock market, and then they put on all these fabulous sales.  After the holidays the sales stop, and they resume pricing their products based on the current value of gold/silver, etc.

I walked out with a coupon, but ended up not going back because the prices were far outside of my budget.  This is my second go around with the whole marriage thing.  The last time I got married was before the housing bubble burst and the price of precious metals comparatively skyrocketed.  So what I had been expecting to spend versus the reality I had just been confronted with had really hit home.

About halfway through the crazy holiday shopping season, we were out as a family at the mall buying the gifts that we still needed to fill in.  We stopped at a different jeweler to get him sized.  He saw some rings he liked, and the prices here were a lot more affordable.

I asked the woman waiting on us if what the other jeweler had told me was true:  would prices go up after Christmas?  Was this really the best time of year to buy?

She told me yes, and confessed that they would continue to have 40% off sales, but that it wouldn’t be on as wide of an array of products and that they would resume following the stock market when pricing their products.

We looked around the mall a bit, and found that the jeweler we had started with had the best prices for their selection.  So we headed back.  I handed the girl at the counter the business card of the woman I had been talking to before; I wanted to talk to her again so she could get the sale she had earned.

She took the card from me, put it under the desk, and started to show me Tungsten rings.  She was talking the fiance into it, too, despite my vocal protests that I didn’t want to spend that much money on a ring that (in my opinion, which may be completely wrong,) is a fad.  On top of that you can’t resize it.  I wanted gold or silver, and I wanted it in my price range.

She refused to show us the rings I asked to see, and lost a sale.

Time went on.  It was the night before Christmas Eve and I was freaking out because I was going to miss the best time of year to get these sales.  So I went on-line, fully intending to price compare and find a store that had a good selection for when I went in person on the morrow.

Of all places, I found it on Sears website.  A ring almost exactly like one he had seen and liked in a “real” metal, and in my price range.  And it was a comfort-fit, which is a bonus the fiance won’t even understand, but he’ll unknowingly appreciate it.

It said it wasn’t available in store because it was shipped by the original jeweler directly.  I checked out the original jeweler, and they had the ring for less on their website. Plus I found a coupon code for 5% off (which can be huge when you’re spending hundreds,) and free shipping.

I held my breath as I pressed the “Complete Purchase” button. I had gone mad. I was purchasing jewelry on-line based off an internet picture, and then having it shipped to my house hoping the mailman wouldn’t just leave it out on the street.

But I did it anyways. I was not going to have to go out on Christmas Eve.

So a few days ago it came.  All my fears were laid to rest.  It was exactly like the pictures.  (Though I can’t take a good one.)  The post office actually left me a note requesting that I pick it up rather than leaving it in the mailbox or on the street.

I couldn’t be more surprised that I didn’t hit a snag or problem. It’s at least as beautiful as the pieces we saw at all those other stores, and so much more affordable.

If you’re comparing pictures online, it’s a good idea to look at sites like James Allen. They provide a 360 degree view of their products, so its easier to see what you’re getting than with simple 2D pictures.

Since I had already seen pretty much the same exact men’s ring before, it made it easier for me to create a mental composite from 2D. Had I not, or if I had been shopping for an engagement ring with a diamond, the 360 degree view would have been something I mandated from my online jeweler.

I did some price comparison after the holidays.  I didn’t save any money by freaking out on Christmas Eve.  I didn’t spend more, either, though.  Prices on the products I was looking at were pretty  much the same.

I did some research independent of jewelry store salespeople and found that the best time of year for jewelry spans pretty wide:  October to February.  (Valentine’s Day anyone?)  So I did well.  I just didn’t need to stress quite so much about my timeline.

Brick & Mortar vs Online Retailers

Since this article went live in January of 2014, there have been several articles floating about the web citing summer as the best time of year to buy wedding jewelry. I’d like to present some context to that argument in a 2017 update.

The first thing to note is that at brick and mortar retailers, this may be true. Shopping online, though, can save you anywhere up to 50% over these in-person retailers–no matter the time of year.

When I asked Oded Edelman, Co-Founder and CEO of James Allen, about the difference, he explained it in this way:

“We take a consumer-focused approach to our promotions in order to make the experience as positive as we can during key times throughout the year. Our research has shown that the majority of engagements happen in the four months between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day.”

“Typically brick and mortar retailers have entirely different cost structures thanks to holding inventory, overhead costs, etc,” he continues. “Their operations structures as well as their marketing tactics are very different, which may lead to higher costs for the end consumer.”

This means the biggest sales at online retailers, at least at consumer-oriented businesses like Edelman’s, do indeed happen between October and February.