Friday, September 5, 2014

Where Can I Find Affordable Burial Insurance For Seniors

I understand how important it is to find affordable burial insurance for seniors. Final expenses are not cheap. Whether the policy is for you or your parents, a little forethought and research can limit financial and some emotional stress when the inevitable happens. Before we discuss any details about pre-need insurance, let's note what it is and why it's needed.

What is burial insurance?

Final expense insurance helps defray the cost of funeral charges that accrue when a loved one passes away.

If your loved one did not have much money and did not plan ahead, items like the ceremony, casket, and obituary, will be the responsibility of the family. This can be tough on the family, financially and emotionally.

Financial, emotional difficulty

Some families may struggle to pay for the arrangements, especially if an unexpected death occurs.

The National Funeral Directors Association noted a sample service cost $7,755 in 2009, which is the most recent statistics available. Some folks may have that much cash around, but many do not.

Families are also going through emotional turmoil. Stress and grieving make it difficult to think clearly and keep last wishes during this difficult time.

The difficulty is also compounded by family members having different ideas about how the service should be and how much money to spend.

Many families will want to overspend, saying their loved one was worth it. And they were.

But please keep in mind funeral directors have excellent communication skills and know how to sell -- yes, sell -- their products to families in difficult times. Those caskets, urns, and funeral services are what keep their business profitable.

One way to make sure your wishes are met is to use burial insurance, a good idea for minimizing familial stress and help pay for funeral costs. This money can be funded rather quickly, too. Turn-around time for a burial insurance claim is usually less than 24 hours.

Burial insurance policy types

Pay-out plan: Forethought insurance for seniors can come in a cash pay-out plan. This just means you buy a specific amount of insurance and the plan provides family members with the amount of money purchased when you (or your loved one) passes away.

This only helps the family with costs and does not address putting together a funeral package.

Pre-payment plan:
This is one of the best ways to take control and make sure a funeral will go exactly as planned. Many local funeral homes, along with national ones like Dignity Memorial, offer pre-paid plans.

These plans allow you (or your loved one) to purchase a funeral package at today's price and use it in the future. With a pre-paid plan, the entire service is planned out and paid beforehand, which keeps the family from dealing with the emotional and financial burden.

A plan such as this make sure you get exactly what you want.

Split the cost plan:
Although that's not the official name, this burial insurance policy allows you or your loved one to pay into a program and pick out the products and services wanted.

The full cost of this service will be split between the senior in the program. Then when he/she dies, the family will be required to pick up the additional cost.

Final expense life insurance quotes

Finding senior burial insurance quotes is easy. If you are savvy enough to be reading this article on your computer, then you are definitely savvy enough to get a quote online from carriers such as Oxford Life, Baltimore Life, or Lincoln Heritage.

But your local insurance agent might be a better source and be able to give you a better price. The local agent may be able to combine your existing policies and come up with a discount. If you don't have an agent, family, friends, and co-workers can probably provide a solid recommendation.

Whether you use online sources or local sources, ask questions and don't buy anything you don't understand.

Burial insurance and pre-existing conditions

You won't need a medical exam, but you don't want to misinform an agent about your pre-existing conditions when trying to buy pre-need insurance.

You also don't want to lie (or selectively forget to admit) about a decadent lifestyle -- i.e,, if you smoke, are obese, or are an alcoholic.

This could cause problems. For example, if you had too many cocktails, poisoned yourself with alcohol, passed away, and dropped a lit cigarette on the sofa, burning the house down, the insurance company probably won't honor your policy.

The same holds true for pre-existing conditions like HIV or cancer. Burial life insurance companies can reject your policy if you are not upfront.

Although you might pay a little more with pre-existing conditions than someone in good health, you won't risk the burial policy being terminated or not paying out in the time of need.

Is burial insurance a good idea?

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

One of the main reasons finding affordable burial insurance for seniors is important revolves around taking responsibility of your (or your loved one's) future.

This helps keep funeral costs minimal and makes sure your wishes are honored. I hope this information about final expense insurance has been helpful to you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Auto Insurance Rates: What to Expect in the U.S.

Before you start cruising the boulevard, your friends and family will probably mention something about needing to price auto insurance rates. Bummer, I know.

But they are right. Most states in the U.S. require you to be insured. Each state is a little different, though. Before we look at that information, let's find out what to expect when you get quotes for car insurance.

Get an insurance quote

You have a couple options for getting a quote. Nowadays you can get a fast quote online pretty easy from companies like Geiko or Progressive or State Farm.

But your family and friends can probably recommend a local agent that they use and trust. You may want to ask them who they use and pay that insurance agent a visit.

You'll find that some insurance agents are better than others -- these are the ones that are willing to help you get the best coverage for the best rate. (Don't be afraid to shop around to find one you are comfortable dealing with and make sure he/she is licensed.)

Whether you use your browser or local agent to find a quote, both will ask for similar information, which you'll find below.

Frequently asked car insurance questions

FAQ: What information do I need to get a car insurance quote?

For starters, your contact information and driver's license number.

But you'll also need to know the vehicle identification number, make, model, and year of your vehicle -- all of which is on the car title.

You'll also have to note how many miles you plan to drive each month, along with type of coverage and limits.

FAQ: What car insurance coverage should I have?

Laws for each state are different. The best way to find out is by checking the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which provides links to each state's requirements.

A good insurance agent will know the mandatory amount of coverage for your state. But one thing to keep in mind is that the minimum amount is just that: it's minimum.

An auto policy with just the required coverage may not be enough, especially with the prices of autos and health-care nowadays.

You will also have an option for collision and comprehensive coverage. This is the coverage that can protect your car from various types of damages.

If you drive a clunker, this coverage might cost more than the car is worth.

If you drive a nice car or take out a loan for a car, chances are you may want -- or be required -- to get this.

Analyzing how much the collision and comprehensive coverage is versus the value of your car and the deducible can be a determining factor if you need it, as well.

FAQ: Are there auto insurance discounts to ask for?

This depends on the company's auto insurance policies.

Some companies offer a discount for a good driving record, taking a driver's education or safety course, having safety equipment -- such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, automatic seat belts and the like -- on your car.

If you are in school, you will want your automotive insurance policy to have a good student discount rate. This will save you money and will give you motivation to keep a high grade average in high school and college.

FAQ: Why do I have a high car insurance premium?

It's expensive, I know. But there are a few factors that may be against you.

Age: If you are under 25 years old, you are considered a high-risk driver. You may be an angel behind the wheel and do nothing wrong, but insurance companies have statistics that illustrate the bulk of young drivers are more prone to accidents because they lack enough driving experience. Every first-year driver goes through this period.

Gender: Young males usually have a higher auto insurance premium than females.

Marital status: Getting married drops your auto insurance rates.

Driving record: A driver with a squeaky clean record will normally pay less than someone who has accidents and/or tickets. You want to keep a clean driving record because some companies offer a discount for this.

Location: Rural areas will probably pay less because there is less traffic, theft, and vandalism than urban areas.

Vehicle type: Your make and model of car can affect your car insurance rate. Certain vehicles are more prone to theft, expensive to repair when damaged, and are more prone to being abused.

Vehicle use: Long-distance drivers will probably pay more than short-distance commuters.
Credit history:
If you have a bad credit score, an insuring company may charge you a higher premium.

Teach me insurance guru

You are noticing that insurance is complicated, I'm sure.

That's why the best advice you can get out of any car insurance article is this: Ask the agent to explain everything in terms you understand. Although the agent is a salesman, he is working on your behalf.

Getting the layman's version is important for two reasons. One, you don't want to buy something that you don't understand. Two, you need to know the auto policy terms and guidelines, including what to do in an accident or if you get a ticket.

Remember that you don't have to buy the first car insurance rate you are given. Once you get a figure or two about what coverage you need and how much of it, along with the cost, you can compare companies to find the best deal.

I hope this overview of what to expect when getting auto insurance rates has been helpful.

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?"