Is affordable life insurance possible? According to the 2017 Insurance Barometer, an annual report published by LIMRA (Life Insurance and market research association), there are only three reasons consistently reported by more than two-thirds of respondents each year regarding why people don’t buy life insurance:
- It’s too expensive.
- I have other financial priorities.
- I have as much as I need.
Regarding #1, there are several studies (including the LIMRA annual report), that shows that most people actually overestimate the cost of life insurance. #3 is debatable in most cases and while many people do have other financial priorities, if you have a family, life insurance should be one of those priorities. In this article, I’m going to suggest that, perhaps, with a little shuffling of your budget, you will be able to afford a policy.
Reduce your spending on clothing
According to an analysis conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend an average of $1,700 a year on clothing and accessories. If you want to bring that number down, but still dress stylishly, we offer the following suggestions:
- Buy generic basics – You don’t need t-shirts and sweatpants from a luxury designer. Most big-box stores carry these items at an affordable price.
- Know what you need to buy – We almost always go to the supermarket with a concrete idea of what we need to purchase. You should do the same thing at a clothing store – make a list and try to stick to it.
- Purchase out-of-season items – Buying a coat in July or a swimsuit in December will usually be cheaper because retailers are eager to move these types of products off the shelves.
- Use coupons – There are multiple websites dedicated to finding clothing store coupons. Be sure you know where the best discounts are before heading into any store.
- Visit non-traditional retail outlets – You’re most likely not going to get the best deal at a department store in a mall, but there are plenty of other places you can go to find high-quality clothing. Discount retailers like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx sell name-brand items for a fraction of the suggested price. Additionally
- Investigate the discount rack – While you won’t find a designer dress in the low-price aisle, you might come across something great for a bargain. Some people attach a stigma to the discount rack, but the reality is that most of the clothes there are only a few seasons old and are still in great condition.
- Keep an eye out for future sales or special deals – Every so often, a product that you may need will get a temporary price cut that you would be smart to take advantage of. Look for advertisements around the store or in the newspaper to see when these special events happen, especially around the holidays.
- Purchase clothes online when you can – Some online retailers offer exclusive deals if you’re willing to pay for shipping costs. Though it’s not true 100 percent of the time, buying your shirts, pants and accessories on the internet might help you squeeze a few more dollars out of your clothing budget. If you use sites like eBay, which sometimes allows you to buy far less expensively, remember to check the user testimonials before sending someone your contact information.
Reduce your car expenses
Owning a car enables a person to drive to one’s job, travel on vacation or simply get around while doing errands. Unfortunately, a car can be rather costly, especially when repairs have to be made and gas prices creep up in the summertime.
When it comes to controlling your expenses, however, there are ways to lower the amount of cash you have to dump into your vehicle on a monthly basis.
Today, we’ll look at a few of these strategies and suggest ways of protecting your wallet from car-related costs.
To reduce spending that is associated with your car, you should:
Cut down on short trips – If you’re thinking of heading to the pharmacy or the library, you should see if it’s cheaper to ride public transit or simply walk. By reducing the number of times you drive around within your town, you can save on the fuel you have and keep you from visiting the gas station every other day. Also, the health benefits of walking cannot be overstated.
Maintain inflated tires – One of the easiest ways to improve your gas mileage and, by association, your bank account, is to keep your tires properly inflated with air. Improperly inflated tires create extra drag which may unnecessarily slow down your vehicle and reduce the mileage you get.
Survey the area for cheap gas – Most people opt for the convenience of choosing the nearest station. While this is definitely easier, it’s not a bad idea to keep an eye out for consistently cheap gas. By doing so, you can get more for less if you plan your fill-up visits. You can now get an app for your smart phone that will actually show you where the least expensive gas is in your area.
Avoiding driving during rush hour – Creeping along the highway and sitting in stop-and-go traffic does nothing but drain your gas tank. Many offices offer flexible work environments that give you some leeway as to when you can arrive in the morning. Leaving your house 30 minutes earlier or later can be the difference between a smooth ride to work and gridlock.
Driving the speed limit – When you think about it, driving a few miles per hour over the speed limit really isn’t going to get you to your destination that much earlier. According to Edmunds, driving 60 miles per hour results in 12 percent cost savings over driving 75 mph. In addition to saving gas, you’ll also avoid expensive speeding tickets.
Not moving erratically – Aggressive driving that involves speeding followed by quickly slamming on the brakes puts unnecessary wear and tear on your car and spoils your fuel economy. This type of driving may also increase your likelihood of being involved in an accident.
Saving money on common household expenses
A recent LIMRA study found that over half of Americans cite common expenses “such as energy costs, food, clothing and transportation […] as limits on [their] ability to save for financial goals.”
An affordable life insurance policy should be included in almost everyone’s financial plans, so we offer the following suggestions to help you cut down on common household expenditures:
If you have a landline phone, internet and cable from different providers, you should consider bundling them into one service from one company. Consolidating all of your accounts will not only save you money, it is also more convenient, as you will not have to deal with multiple bills.
Cut back on extras
While you’re thinking about phone, internet and cable, you may want to examine your bills and eliminate unnecessary costs. Do you really need caller ID and call waiting? Could you get rid of premium cable channels? Could you get rid of cable altogether? These expenses quickly add up, and after getting rid of them, you may find that they really weren’t necessary.
Scrutinize other insurance costs
The monthly premiums of auto and homeowner’s/renter’s insurance can take a huge bite out of your wallet. Simply shopping around for a better rate could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. If you can’t find a cheaper policy, ask about discounts that may be offered for families and good students. If you have a car that you don’t drive, consider cancelling the insurance policy for it.
Avoid these money-wasting vices
Most people want to save money, but when thinking about how they’ll cut costs, many only focus on large expenses such as housing and transportation. It is important to remember, however, that items that you spend a few dollars on once or twice a week may make a huge dent in your wallet over the course of a year.
The following money-wasting vices should be avoided in order to keep your budget looking healthy:
Not only is it bad for your wallet, it’s bad for your health. Instead of heading to the drive-thru, prepare your meals at home.
A cup of coffee from Starbucks or a similar shop can easily cost $4 or more. If you bought a cup every weekday at this price, you would spend over $1,000 in one year. Making your coffee at home is a simple way to keep consuming your favorite beverage without paying the coffee shop premium. The price of home-brewed coffee is usually around $1 a cup, and depending on the brand that you use, it could be even lower. As an added benefit, you can brew your coffee to fit your taste.
The use of cigarettes, cigars, snuff and other forms of tobacco may be the most expensive and unnecessary habit that a person could have. According to Business Insider, a pack-a-day habit could cost a smoker over $100,000 over his or her lifetime. Tobacco use also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and oral cancer, which could result in significant medical expenses.
Eliminating these bad habits will not only improve your health, but also free up your budget for a new life insurance policy or increased coverage.
Effectively using coupons
One of the easiest ways to save money on items you buy every day is to use coupons for your purchases. No, you don’t have to engage in any “extreme couponing” to cut back on your expenses, and we offer the following tips and suggestions to help you incorporate coupons into your shopping experiences.
Know where to find coupons
Yes, they’re most commonly found in the weekend edition of your local newspaper, but there are many other places to search for them. Don’t forget to check out online resources, as many manufacturers have coupons on their websites. In addition, keep your receipts from previous purchases, because many of them have coupons attached.
Only purchase products that you use
This is one of the most important rules of using coupons. Buying a bunch of items that you don’t actually want or need will just cost you more money. A significant discount on a dozen cups of yogurt may seem like a good deal, but is it really if no one in your house wants to eat them? You should only cut and use coupons for items that you and your family regularly consume.
Start at one store
You may be tempted to use coupons at as many stores as possible, but it’s best to start at one. Many retail establishments have unique rules about how they accept and deal with coupons, and it may take you a while to figure it out. Once you are more comfortable using coupons during your shopping trips, then you may want to consider branching out to other locations.
Using coupons will not only keep your wallet in check, it may also open your budget to purchase life insurance or increase your existing coverage.
Keeping your heating (or A/C) costs down
It seems like every year when temperatures begin to cool, we hear the same discouraging news: Home heating costs are rising. This may not seem important for individuals who live in warm climates year round, but for folks in places that have long winters, this means more money out of their wallets. While you can’t completely eliminate turning on your heater this winter, taking a few simple measures can help you reduce your monthly bill. We detail a few common ideas below:
Adjust the thermostat
Want pay less for heat? Then use less of it. While we’re not suggesting that you sit in your house shivering, counting down the days until spring, making slight adjustments to your thermostat can help save you some cash. During the day and other times when you are not home, set the thermostat to 68 degrees.
If you don’t want the responsibility of adjusting the temperature every day, consider purchasing a smart thermostat. They cost about $50 and can be programmed to turn the temperature down during times when heat is not necessary. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by using a smart thermostat, you’ll save around $180 on your annual energy bills.
Don’t let heat escape
Whenever the heat is on, all windows and doors should be closed, including your fireplace’s damper. Due to the fact that warm air rises, an open damper is similar to having a hole in the roof of your house. While heat escapes, cold air will flood in.
Small cracks and hard-to-see spaces are other avenues through which heat can leave your home. To find them, light a candle and hold the flame near windows, door frames and light fixtures. If you see smoke moving in a horizontal direction, this means that you’ve spotted a leak. To fix them, install caulking or weather-stripping material.
Make your home more energy-efficient
While we generally like to offer suggestions that have minimal up-front costs, it’s possible that basic, inexpensive measures won’t make a significant difference in what you pay for heating. If this is the case, you may want to think about making significant adjustments to your house, including:
- Adding more or replacing old insulation
- Purchasing a new furnace or water heater
- Replacing your windows.
With these heating-related cost-cutters, you could save enough to budget for a new life insurance policy or an increase in your current coverage, an essential piece for financial protection for your loved ones.
Hopefully, some of these suggestions can help you keep more money in your wallet and allow you to budget for that affordable life insurance policy you have been putting off. For a life insurance quote, use our online quote generator to find out which policies you may qualify for.