Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ideas how to pay for a funeral with no money

If a loved one passed away unexpectedly, you may find that you may not know how to pay for a funeral with no money.

We'll list a few options available to get help with burial expenses. The assistance probably won't pay for service rites and won't be very ornamental.

But the help available will allow the recently departed to get a proper burial or cremation. Let's look at a few programs if there's no money for funeral costs.

Government help for funeral costs

In the U.S., the federal government offers a "special death benefit" of $255 for spouse or dependent child of a recently departed worker. There are a few restrictions to get this lump sum payment, according to the Social Security Administration.

The SSA notes that "the surviving spouse who was living in the same household with the worker when he or she died can receive the lump sum payment."

Without an eligible spouse, it's possible for the benefit to be paid to the worker's children if they were getting benefits from the departed worker's earnings in the month the worker passed away or if they are eligible to receive benefits.

Local help with paying for a funeral

Many county and state governments have a low income funeral assistance program that helps families in need take care of the burial or cremation costs.

Although you won't get a choice in which funeral home does the work and won't get a visitation or service rites, your loved one will get a marked grave with the deceased's name and birth date and death date. Cremated remains may also be able to be claimed.

This program is often called an indigent burial program.

County burial cost assistance: Your county may have an indigent program, which will need to be applied for. The first step would be to visit the county courthouse and ask if they have an indigent burial plan. Remember, these programs are not retroactive; they need to be applied to before the funeral arrangements have been made.

State help with funeral costs: Many states have public assistance for those at the poverty line. Like the county, an application would need to be filled out, and the aid is usually not retroactive. Checking with your state's department of human services would be the first place to start.

As mentioned, both county and state programs need to be applied for and it's not a guarantee you will qualify.

Although Medicaid won't pay for a funeral, it does allow a little money to be put aside for end-of-life expenses. Each state is a little different how it works, so it's best to check your state's Medicaid website for details.

Financial assistance for veterans: VA burial allowances

The Veterans Administration is one of the U.S. organizations that help with funeral expenses if a veteran passes away.

The National Funeral Directors Association noted a sample service cost $7,755 in 2009, which is the most recent statistic available.

The allowance is for a service-related death or non-service-related death, and the amount of money alloted ranges from a couple hundred dollars to thousands depending on how the death occurred. The reimbursements are allowances for service and burial costs, along with an allowance for a plot or interment.

Eligibility depends on many factors, which are too exhaustive for this article. The requirements but can be found online, along with VA Form 21-530, which is the application for burial benefits that would need to be filled out.

How do you pay for funeral with no money? Raise money!

There's a couple ways to raise funds for funeral costs.

The easy way: Ask for donations in an obituary. Many newspapers allow you to publish an obituary with minimal information about the death and a sentence that asks for donations.

The wording for donations for a funeral doesn't have to sound needy or complex. A simple line at the end of the the obituary that's tactful will help provide a little extra help. For example: "In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the family"

The hard way: Schedule a fundraiser for funeral expenses, such as a car wash, bake sale, memorial dinner at a church. This can provide additional money, but does require a fair amount of work, time, and community involvement. If you are creative, you could try selling artwork or play a free-will music performance.

You also may able to crowdfund to raise enough cash.

Other options for burial assistance

There are other ways to get help with burial expenses. The recently deceased may have an estate that can be sold, which could provide enough money to buy a casket and arrange funeral rites. Burial insurance for seniors is another option.

If you have any other ideas for finding financial help with funeral costs, consider leaving a comment below. Whether a small or large contribution, any assistance with burial expenses is helpful when a loved one passes away unexpectedly.

I hope this provides a ideas how to pay for a funeral with no money.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why is my electricity bill so high?

You're not alone if you're asking yourself, 'why is my electricity bill so high?' I kept asking myself the same question month after month until I found ways to lower power consumption. These are tips for saving energy in the home. It makes the most sense to focus on the biggest money saver methods around the house to reduce power bills, though. And I believe the simplest energy saving ideas are the best and the best for the environment.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration statistics from 2005 (the most recent available) indicate that 41 percent of energy is used for space heating; with 26 percent used for electronics, lighting, and other appliances; with 20 percent used for heating water; 8 percent for air conditioning; and 5 percent for refrigeration.

This means that the bulk of your efforts should be focused on making your home green for heating but we'll also look at other tips for saving energy in the home in this article.

Seal the leaks!
Photo by Fifth World Art
Public domain: CC BY 2.0

The biggest cause for lost heating comes from small nooks and crannies where there's drafts and leaks.

This is common in many homes because the wood around the windows and doors is constantly expanding and contracting. As this happens, you end up with small spaces that reduce efficiency by allowing air to enter and exit.

The consequence of this is heat loss, which results in the furnace running more.

It's easy to fix this with simple home maintenance. Weather stripping or caulk can seal and help insulate your house.

Also related to increasing the efficiency of your home is the furnace air filter.

If this filter is clogged, you are decreasing the efficiency of your unit, which means it will be running harder and longer trying to heat the house.

The air filter should be changed every 90 days and represents a very good tip for saving energy in the home.

Open those energy saving drapes

Energy saving tips for your home don't have to be difficult. One of the easiest is to open the blinds during the day.

Allowing natural sunlight to enter will help warm your house, which means your furnace will get a break.

Another important point is to leave the thermostat at a specific temperature -- night and day.

If you have the temp set at 70 degrees during the day and let it drop to 60 degrees at night, that means your furnace will have to work hard to bring the temp back up.

Your furnace is working overtime, using electricity to blow the hot air through your house. The wild swings in temperature actually cost more money because of the increased load on the furnace.

The simple solution, again, is to set the thermostat at a specific temp or within a range of 3 degrees between night and day temps and allow your body to adjust, using sweatshirts or blankets.

Unplug unused appliances, buy energy saving gadgets

Remember, 26 percent of power usage is from electronic devices. These gizmos can be a big source of power draw and can drain your savings with high utility bills.

By unplugging your electronics, you electric meter dials won't be spinning, which means you won't be asking yourself next month, "why is my electricity bill so high?"

Most appliances have a small current draw even when they are off, and we tend to leave everything plugged in 24/7. We're losing money doing so and not being eco friendly. By unplugging these devices, our electricity consumption goes down.

Unplugging every single device in your home after usage might be cumbersome, but devices that are rarely used or don't need to be plugged in all the time are ones that should be unplugged.

For example, if you leave your phone charger or computer plugged in all the time, consider unplugging them. It will be saving electrical energy.

But some appliances need to stay plugged in -- i.e., the refrigerator. That said, if you have a old clunker fridge that isn't high efficiency, you may be better off getting a model that is.

Keep in mind that this appliance consumes a lot of electricity and getting one that's efficient will be one of the best energy saving ideas you'll come across.

Green lighting for your rooms

Compact fluorescent lighting is one of the best tips for saving energy in the home. A CFL bulb that provides 60 watts of light only uses about 13 watts of energy -- that's a 47 watt savings. Multiply that by the number of bulbs in your house.

This type of lighting is highly efficient and can decrease your power usage by two-thirds. Also, saving energy by turning off lights and using natural sunlight is probably the best way to stay green and eco-friendly.

Cold showers?

It costs money to heat the water, which means your water heater is another source of energy saving ideas. By turning down the temperature of this device, you can save money on utility bills.

Remember, though, if you are used to taking a 15 minute hot shower, you may not be able to do that once the water heater has been turned down because you'll run out of hot water -- at least until it can heat up again.

This will save money on power consumption, and will extend the life of your mechanical unit.

These are five tips for saving energy in the home that work. And I hope that you won't have to ask next month, "why is my electricity bill so high?"