HOW TO SAVE MONEY
& AVOID PROBLEMS
by Rick Doble
Raise the Deductible on Your Insurance
Most experts agree, you can save hundreds of dollars each year by raising the deductible as high as possible on your homeowner's and automobile insurance.
I believe that insurance should cover only major expenses that would create a significant hardship. Insurance should not be used for minor expenses. If you have a low deductible, you are, in effect, paying the insurance company to manage your money for you. That money can be managed much better by you at a much lower cost.
There is a simple trick, however. When you raise the deductible, deposit the money you saved in a special savings account. Earmark that account for any repairs to your car or house that the insurance would have covered. You can even have that amount automatically deducted from your paycheck or checking account and put into the special account. Over the years, you should save a tidy sum.
In addition, you will simplify your paperwork, and you will make it less likely that your insurance will be canceled. Why? If you need a small repair, you won't have to file any forms or work with a claims adjuster. The fewer claims you file, the less likely it is that your company will cancel your insurance.
Average Savings = $400 (after any home or car-repair costs).
Bargain FindsIf you decide to join a health club, remember that there are often several rates. It's up to you to find the best deal. Sometimes there are group rates and even "sales" on memberships at certain times of year. Ask and negotiate-they want your business.
Free shelves and storage. Stores are constantly throwing away racks and turning displays that held magazines, sunglasses, greeting cards, or suntan oil. Eventually a shop will get new racks or shelving and throw the old ones away. You can often get these for nothing and use them to store a variety of items such as tools, toys, or scarves. After all, they were made to organize and store products, so they should do just as well in your garage or sewing room.
Priority mail can be a good deal. You've probably seen the ads for the USPS priority mail. It costs $3 for two pounds and is delivered in two to three days. This is much cheaper than UPS or Federal Express.
You may not realize that the two-pound rate is actually cheaper than first-class mail. Also some parcel-post packages, which can take up to ten days to deliver and will not be forwarded, can go by priority mail for about the same price.
The USPS will give you sturdy priority envelopes (two sizes) and boxes, which are not only attention-getting but free. The special two-pound envelope will hold all you can put in to it for the flat rate of $3 without weighing it. (Some restrictions apply; ask your post office). In other words, you can send over two pounds for $3.
Buy expensive "convenience" food for travel. While we usually recommend you avoid "instant" and "convenience" foods at the supermarket, they make a lot of sense when you are on the road or away from home. These products are not cheap, but they cost much less than eating at a restaurant. You can enjoy fresh hot, healthful food in your hotel room.
For example, with a simple immersion heater that boils water in a cup, you can make a variety of instant foods.
Coffee bags, "soups in a cup," instant hot breakfast cereals, are easy to use. Simply add hot water and let stand for a few minutes.
If you can find a microwave oven, there are also a number of "microwavable" foods that do not require refrigeration.
How to Avoid ProblemsNever, never pay a contractor in full until all the work is done to your satisfaction. Everything must be completed before you write that final check.
Insist that your mechanic call you before any work is done on your car. Some people will tell their mechanic to call if the repairs will be over $100 or some such amount.
Do not send in the warranty card for any new product until you have thoroughly tested it. Most stores will let you return a product within 30 days. However, many will not take a product back if the warranty card has been filled out or sent in. Once you have filled out the warranty card, you must return the product to the manufacturer, who will repair it. Most manufacturers, however, will not refund your money or exchange your lemon for a new item.
All mail-order purchases should be on a credit card, because you will generally have the option to withhold payment if you have a problem. I would also charge any travel packages and most travel arrangements. You will have to notify your credit-card company in writing what you are withholding payment for and why. Many credit-card statements contain a full explanation of how to do this.
A few simple rules can save you a lot of time and aggravation if things go wrong.
From Savvy Discounts Newsletter, edited by Rick Doble. © 1997 by Rick Doble. For a free sample issue, send a postcard to: Free Sample Issue, Savvy Discounts Newsletter P.O. Box 27-N, Smyrna, NC 28579. Or visit the website at: http://www.clis.com/savvynews.