NJM Insurance Review

  • Car Insurance

The NJM Insurance Group was founded way back in 1913 and offers a wealth of insurance products to individuals in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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It’s one of the highest-rated car insurance companies in the United States and offers a wealth of products in a direct-to-consumer model, with transactions completed over the phone or at NJM.com, and not through insurance agents.

In this NJM Auto Insurance Review, we’ll see how New Jersey business holds up against the competition.

NJM Car Insurance

All NJM Insurance products are offered direct, much like Esurance. This has its benefits and is the preferred method for countless consumers who have grown up in the digital age. But if you prefer dealing with someone face-to-face, the lack of an insurance agent can be a pain.

NJM Insurance offers all of the basic, state-required forms of insurance, including bodily injury and property damage liability cover. It also offers underinsured/uninsured motorist cover, medical payments cover, and both collision and comprehensive coverage. If you opt for the latter, you will receive all the following benefits:

  • Pet Coverage: Always a welcome sight on car insurance policies, this extra feature will payout up to $1,000 if your pet is hurt in a car accident. It only makes sense, because if your dog or cat is in the car with you and you’re in an accident, your repair bills and medical bills aren’t the only things you have to worry about.
  • New Car Replacement: Your new car will be covered if it is completely destroyed or stolen within the first 12 months, providing it has less than 15,000 miles on the clock. NJM Insurance will give you the money needed to buy a replacement vehicle.
  • Car Rental Reimbursement: Not only does NJM Insurance offer car rental coverage if your insured car is in the shop or has been stolen, but this also extends to taxis and rideshares, depending on the policy and the location.
  • NJM SafeDrive: This program works in much the same way as DriveEasy, DriveWise, and the countless other similar programs out there. NJM Insurance tracks the driving habits of all applicants who agree to this program, changing their premiums accordingly.

NJM Insurance Car Insurance Discounts

Like all good auto insurance companies, NJM Insurance offers a wealth of car insurance discounts. These can be added to all applicable auto policies and provide significant savings:

  • Multi-Car and Multi-Policy: Offered when you add more than one vehicle to your policy or purchase a homeowners insurance policy as well.
  • Driving Courses: Available for all applicants that complete a defensive driving course and other safety courses.
  • Paying Upfront: Offered when you pay for your premiums in full.
  • Safety Equipment: Provided for safety equipment such as airbags and anti-lock brakes, as well as anti-theft features.
  • New Car: Obtainable if your car is no more than 2 years old.
  • Good Student: A discount provided to young drivers who maintain a specific grade point average. NJM Insurance also has discounts for students who spend a lot of time on campus.

Other NJM Insurance Products

In addition to auto insurance policies, NJM Insurance offers homeowners insurance with all the following features and benefits:

  • Extra Coverage: Get extra coverage for expensive items, including jewelry, high-priced electronics/equipment, and family heirlooms. If you have anything in your home that carries a substantial value, this feature can ensure it is covered completely.
  • Earthquake Insurance: If your home is damaged in an earthquake, resulting in significant loss, NJM Insurance will ensure you’re covered. NJM Insurance doesn’t offer insurance products in any of the ten states where earthquakes are most common, but they can occur anywhere, so it’s still a good option to have.
  • Water Coverage: You will already be covered in the event your home suffers from internal water damage, such as leaks. But with this feature, you will also be covered for up to $5,000 following an overflown sump pump.
  • Mold and More: Dry rot and mold can spread rapidly and cause serious damage to your home. Before you know it, the fungi have taken over and left you with expensive repair work. Fortunately, with NJM home insurance, you may be covered.
  • Fraud and ID Protection: The amount of money stolen by fraudsters in the United States has remained relatively stable over the last 5 years or so. However, the number of victims has increased significantly, suggesting that fraudsters are now targeting more vulnerable people, including those who have very little to lose in the first place. With these extra protection options, NJM home insurance will cover you for the financial damages that result from fraud and ID theft.

A multitude of home insurance discounts are also available and offer policyholders a chance to save a few cents on their cover. Discounts are available for all the following:

  • Smoke-Free: NJM will shave some money off your policy if you install a smoke alarm or sprinkler system. You can also save some money if you are a non-smoker. There are over 350,000 house fires every year in the US resulting in nearly $7 billion worth of damage. With these two benefits, you significantly reduce the risk of such an issue.
  • Safety Features: There are over 7 million property crimes in the United States every year, leading to the theft of belongings and property damage. By installing features such as burglar alarms, there’s less chance you will be the victim of this type of crime, and your premiums will match this. 
  • State-Only Discounts: In the state of New Jersey, policyholders can save money by installing impact-resistant glass, while a paperless billing discount is offered in Pennsylvania.

NJM Insurance Car Insurance Rates

​NJM Insurance has cheap rates in general, but these rates won’t suit everyone. It’s one of the cheapest car insurance providers in the state of New Jersey and offers especially low rates for drivers with at-fault accidents and other blemishes on their driving records.

However, this usually only applies if those drivers have good credit scores.

With lots of insurance claims, speeding tickets, and other marks, and a bad credit score, you likely won’t get the best insurance rates here or anywhere else for that matter. Still, be sure to get a quote, compare it to other auto insurance quotes, and choose the best one.

NJM Insurance Reviews and Ratings

NJM Insurance has an A+ rating from AM Best and has maintained at least an A rating for several decades. It has also received high ratings from JD Power, who have previously voted this insurer as one of the best for claims satisfaction and customer satisfaction.

You don’t have to look far to find bad reviews and complaints, but the same can be said for all car insurance companies.

The simple fact is, more consumers leave bad reviews than good ones. If a company provides them with the service they expect, they’ll just move on, maybe tell a few friends, and leave it at that. If they falter in any way, the consumer will leave a bad review and maybe even complain, as that’s the only way they feel like they can get through to big corporations.

Contacting NJM

NJM Insurance has several offices, the biggest of which is located at 301 Sullivan Way, West Trenton, New Jersey.

If you have any questions, you can get in touch via a contact form at NJM.com or dial the following phone number: 1-800-232-6600.

As noted already, there are no NJM insurance agents and you will need to go through the website or, if you prefer, to speak with someone directly, opt for a phone call. In any case, the process is quick and easy.

Bottom Line

We definitely recommend getting an auto insurance quote from NJM Insurance, but this shouldn’t be your only quote. As always, it’s important to see what you can get elsewhere, as the chances of you getting the best possible coverage from the very first provider you try are pretty slim.

Get quotes from the likes of State Farm, SafeCo, Allstate, Progressive, Nationwide, and more. If NJM Insurance has the cheapest and the best, great! You can sign up for an auto insurance policy with a very competent and highly reputable provider. If not, other providers are just as reliable.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche: Which is Better?

If you’re looking for a way to pay down debt and improve your financial situation, then you’ve probably done a fair amount of Google research. And the two most commonly utilized debt repayment strategies are the debt avalanche method and the debt snowball method.

avalanche

Both of these methods focus on paying off debt, but there are slight variations between the two. So what is the difference between them, and how do you know which strategy is right for you? That’s exactly what this article will help you figure out.

Debt Snowball Method

The debt snowball is a strategy first popularized by financial expert Dave Ramsey. With this method, you’ll list off all your credit card debt from the smallest to the largest.

To get started, you’ll pay off your smallest outstanding debt first. Depending on the size of your credit card debt, you may be able to do this all at once, or it may take you several months.

Once the smallest debt has been paid off, you’ll apply that money to pay off the next highest debt on your list. You’ll continue doing this until you reach your largest outstanding debt.

With the debt snowball method, you don’t worry about how much money you’re paying in interest, which is what differentiates it from the debt avalanche method. Instead, it really focuses on the psychology of paying off debt and capitalizing on small wins to build momentum.

Paying off debt can be a very emotionally draining and difficult process. And with the debt avalanche method, it may not feel like you’re making much progress on your debt for a long time.

This can make it hard to keep moving forward with your goals. With the debt snowball method, you’ll achieve your first “win” pretty quickly, which can help you feel motivated to keep going.

Pros

  • You’ll pay off small balances more quickly
  • Early quick wins can make it easier to stay motivated
  • Having fewer outstanding balances can reduce stress

Cons

  • You’ll likely end up paying more money in interest
  • If you pay more in interest, it will take you longer to get out of debt

Debt Avalanche Method

With the debt avalanche method, you pay off your debt based on which is charging the highest interest rate. Then you’ll make the minimum payments on everything else.

So if your largest debt is $20,000 in high-interest credit card debt, you’ll pay this off before paying back a $500 medical bill. Many people like the debt avalanche because mathematically, it makes the most sense.

By tackling your highest interest debts first, you’ll end up paying less money in interest over time. And by paying less interest, you’ll actually end up getting out of debt quicker.

However, if your largest debt is also charging you the most money in interest, it will take a lot longer before you feel like you’re making any progress in paying down your debt.

Pros

  • It makes the most sense financially
  • Paying off the highest interest debt first will save you money over time
  • Getting rid of high-interest debt will help you get out of debt faster

Cons

  • You’ll likely have more outstanding balances, which can cause stress
  • It’s hard to stay motivated when you don’t see yourself making progress

How to Get Started Repaying Your Debt

So now that you understand the difference between these two popular methods, how do you decide which is right for you? Many people have strong opinions about which strategy is the right choice, which can make it hard to choose.

But the truth is, it doesn’t really matter which you choose as long as you have a plan for repaying your debt. So here are four tips for how you can get started repaying your debt.

1. Do the math

It can be helpful to take a look at the numbers and figure out how much you’ll wind up paying in interest with each plan. If you’re leaning toward the debt snowball and there isn’t a huge difference in how much you’ll end up paying in interest, then stick with that method.

On the other hand, you may find that the debt avalanche would massively cut down on the amount of interest you’ll end up paying over time. In this case, it may be worth the extra mental effort to focus on paying off the highest interest debt first.

2. Know yourself

Any debt repayment strategy you choose has to work for you. If you can’t stick with it then it doesn’t matter what the math says.

So take some time to think about which strategy is going to work best for your personality and goals. Evaluate where your motivational level is at, and consider whether it might be worth it to pay off those small balances first.

3. Focus on one debt at a time

Regardless of which plan you choose, it’s important to just focus primarily on one outstanding debt at a time. Of course, you want to continue making the minimum payments for everything so your accounts will remain in good standing and your credit score won’t be affected.

But focusing on paying down one debt at a time will make it easier for you to stay focused and make progress more quickly than by dividing your efforts.

4. Stick with it

And finally, you need to focus on sticking with your debt repayment goals no matter what. Any strategy can work as long as you stick with it and don’t give up. Your financial future is too important not to.

Bottom Line

The debt avalanche focuses on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first, while the debt snowball focuses on paying off your debt from the smallest to the largest balance. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you use the debt snowball or the debt avalanche as long as you’re committed to getting out of debt.

And keep in mind, you should be working on building better habits along the way so that once you become debt free, you can stay that way. Building better financial habits involves doing things like creating a budget, improving your credit score, and building an emergency fund.

Source: crediful.com

10 Items You Are Probably Forgetting In Your Budget

Your budget is important.  It also needs to include everything on which you spend money.  Have you forgotten to add anything to yours?  Learn the top items most people don’t remember to add to their budget.

Items You Forgot To Put In Your Budget

Items You Forgot To Put In Your Budget

It’s no secret you need a budget, but if you’ve left off some essential items, it’s not going to do you much good.  After all, if you have to spend more than you plan, then your budget is a worthless piece of paper or an app taking up memory on your phone.

The problem is not that you intentionally left them off. More than likely, that hey were overlooked Here are ten items you might find are missing from your budget.

If you don’t yet have a budget, make sure you grab our free printable budget form to get started!

ITEMS YOU FORGOT TO PUT ON YOUR BUDGET

1. SUBSCRIPTIONS/MEMBERSHIPS 

If you happen to belong to Amazon Prime, you have an annual membership fee of $99. You should include that and other memberships and subscriptions like magazines, gym memberships, etc. Determine the monthly cost (divide the total by 12) and make sure you are saving that amount every month.

2. CLOTHING

As a parent, I never forget that my kids need clothes. However, it is easy to forget about my own needs. If you’re like me, you’ll want to remind yourself and account for necessities like undergarments and socks in your budget. And try to prepare for unexpected items as well. As soon as you buy a new pair of sneakers for your oldest, your youngest will suddenly hit a growth spurt, and you’ll be out shopping for him too.

To determine the amount to save, look at your total spending over the past 12 to 18 months. That will give you an idea of what you spend annually and how much you may need to pay for the expenses this year.  Always make your deposit of this amount your cash envelope.

Read More: How to Create and Use The Cash Envelope System

3. SPECIAL OCCASIONS

Holidays, anniversaries and birthdays….they come around again every single year, so make sure to include them in your budget. You will also want to look ahead for one-time events like a wedding (which may require travel costs as well as a gift).

To determine the amount to save, take a look at what you spent the prior year. Then, divide the total paid by 12 to get a monthly budget amount.

4. FUN MONEY

You work hard for your money, so you should treat yourself to something special now and then. It might mean a latte on the way to work or even that new book you’ve wanted to read.

Don’t suffocate under the stress of your budget. Allow some room to have a little fun every now and again. When you do, you will find it easier to stay on budget with your other expenses.

5. PET EXPENSES 

Don’t forget to include the four-legged family members. Your pet needs food. He or she may need grooming monthly. There are also annual visits to your vet along with vaccinations.

You may also need to board your pet during your family vacation. Just add in a “PET” line to your budget, so you aren’t caught having to cover expenses above the budget.

Read More: How to Save Money on Your Pets

6. IRREGULAR BILLS

There may be bills which come around quarterly or annually. Make sure to include these in your budget. Use the simple formula of dividing the total you owe by 12 to reach the amount to set aside each month.

Read More:  How to Create a Budget with Irregular Income

7. VEHICLE MAINTENANCE

You probably remembered your monthly car payment, but did you add in fuel costs? What about oil changes and new tires? It is a simple item to forget about, but always budget for the routine maintenance needed to keep your car running.

8. HOME MAINTENANCE

Each spring you know you will replace the mulch in the garden. When winter rolls around, you will get the furnace serviced to ensure it works correctly. Are these items in your budget? It is essential to plan for the home maintenance expenses you know about as well as those that will creep up when you least expect them.

9. VACATIONS

If you plan on taking a vacation, it is vital that you include it in your budget. The amount should take into account fuel, hotel, food, venues, etc.

Read More:  Brilliant Vacation Money Saving Tips

10. MEDICAL EXPENSES

 You know that you have to pay for your insurance. You may even have a savings plan at work to help cover the out-of-pocket expenses. But, what about the items that may not be covered? Do you need new glasses? Is your monthly medication covered? Make sure you are setting money aside each month to pay for these.

Your budget is your roadmap to financial success. There are bound to be some detours, but if you can plan, you can make sure you follow an alternative track and still achieve your goals.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Underinsured Motorist Coverage: How Much and Do You Need it?

  • Car Insurance

Most states have minimum requirements for liability coverage. Often set at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, this type of insurance covers you when you are at-fault in an accident and cause damage to the driver and their property.

Find your best rate on Car Insurance!

Attention: Still Open During the Financial Crisis…

Tip: Act now to see if you qualify for lower rates!

Compare free personalized quotes from the nation’s top providers.

If the other driver is at fault, their liability insurance will cover you. Tit-for-tat, all is well. But what happens if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the costs of your medical expenses and property damage?

That’s where underinsured motorist coverage comes in. Often bundled with uninsured motorist coverage and required in a handful of states, this insurance provides some cover against the growing number of uninsured and underinsured drivers on US roads.

How Common are Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers?

It has been estimated that there are between 1 in 7 and 1 in 8 uninsured drivers on American roads. This is a huge number when compared to many other developed nations, and it’s even bigger in states like Florida, where an estimated 25% of drivers don’t have adequate car insurance.

If you’re involved in a car accident that is not your fault, and the other driver doesn’t have adequate cover, you could be left to foot the bill. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist cover, however, it will step in and assume the role typically played by property damage liability and bodily injury liability insurance.

You choose the type that you buy and the extent of the limits. In that sense, it also works just like the aforementioned liability insurance.

There are two types of cover:

  • Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: Also known as UMBI, this is provided on a per person and per accident basis, much like bodily injury liability insurance.
  • Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage: Also known as UMPD, this is offered on a per accident basis.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

You can add underinsured/uninsured driver cover to your insurance policy in most states. It’s optional, along with coverage options like collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and medical payments.

In some states, however, it’s mandatory, and you will be considered underinsured yourself if you don’t have all the necessary cover.

  • Connecticut: $20,000 Per Person; $40,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • D.C: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.
  • Illinois: $20,000 Per Person; $40,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.
  • Kansas: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Maine: $50,000 Per Person; $100,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Maryland: $30,000 Per Person; $60,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Massachusetts: $20,000 Per Person; $40,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.
  • Minnesota: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Missouri: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.
  • Nebraska: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • New Hampshire: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • New Jersey: $15,000 Per Person; $30,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • New York: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • North Carolina: $30,000 Per Person; $60,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • North Dakota: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Oregon: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • South Carolina: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.
  • South Dakota: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Vermont: $50,000 Per Person; $100,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • Virginia: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Both underinsured and uninsured.
  • West Virginia: $20,000 Per Person; $40,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.
  • Wisconsin: $25,000 Per Person; $50,000 Per Accident. Only uninsured coverage required.

How Much is Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Insurance?

As with all other types of coverage, the amount you pay for underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance varies by state, driver, and insurance company. Generally, it costs around half of what you pay for liability insurance, assuming you pay for the same amount of cover.

The insurance company will consider what type of driver you are, how many claims you have had, and where you live. All of these factors will impact your rates.

You can bring the total price of your auto insurance policy down by trying the following:

  • Improve your credit score.
  • Pass a defensive driving course.
  • Achieve and maintain good grades.
  • Use multi-car or multi-policy discounts where possible.
  • Join membership clubs for discounts.
  • Make sure your car has anti-theft devices and safety features.
  • Pay for your premiums upfront.
  • Sign up for paperless and Auto-pay discounts.
  • Check low-mileage programs and good driver programs.
  • Maintain a safe driving record.

Bottom Line: Do You Need Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

If your state requires it, you don’t have a choice: you need uninsured/underinsured cover on your car insurance policy. But what happens if your state doesn’t require it, at what point should you start considering these insurance products?

  • Your State Has a Lot of Uninsured Drivers: The more of these drivers there are in your area, the greater your risk is and the more important UMBI and UMPD coverage options are.
  • You Have an Expensive Car: If you drive a luxury, high-price vehicle and your state has very low liability requirements, you should consider underinsured motorist coverage. Without it, you could be seriously out of pocket if you’re involved in an accident, even if the other driver was at fault.
  • You Want Extra Protection: With underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance, you will also be covered for a hit-and-run, even if you are a pedestrian. The extra cover provided by these options will ensure you’re prepared for more eventualities and give you some much-needed peace of mind at the same time.
  • Good Price: Last but not least, if this insurance coverage can benefit you in any way and you can get it for a good price, why not add it to your policy? It will seem like a genius move in the event of an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver, making all those extra cents worthwhile.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

The Budget Mom’s Secret: Managing Money Her Own Way

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in June 2019.

Kumiko Love is known online by the moniker The Budget Mom, but money management didn’t always come naturally to her.

Having a finance degree didn’t make her immune to money issues. Not long after graduating college in 2011, Love was staring down a mountain of over $100,000 of debt — a combination of student loans, credit card debt and medical bills. She had poor spending habits and couldn’t stick to a budget.

“I got really depressed over my finances,” says Love, a divorced mom of one. “Here I was a financial professional and I couldn’t even figure out how to manage my own income. And for me, that was not only embarrassing but it was really frustrating. I wanted to excel in my field and I felt like if I couldn’t do it with my own finances, how was I going to help other people?”

A Budgeting Journey Begins

Love’s money management struggles didn’t come from lack of trying. She experimented with a bunch of budgeting methods but continuously found herself giving up on each one.

Love felt disconnected from her money when she recorded transactions electronically with an Excel spreadsheet. Budgeting for an entire month at a time didn’t translate well to getting paid twice a month. Using cash envelopes for everything, including bills, was too much of a headache. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey wanted her to save just $1,000 for emergencies and then funnel money toward debt, but that didn’t feel like enough of a safety net.

“Every single time, I felt like I was failing because I wasn’t reaching my financial goals the way I thought I should be,” Love says. “In fact, I got so frustrated and stressed out I just gave up.”

For about a year, she didn’t attempt to budget her money. Though she paid her bills on time, she wasn’t saving money or tackling debt.

Love eventually hit an “aha” moment when she learned about the psychology and emotions behind spending and money management while studying to earn her Accredited Financial Counselor designation.

“It really sparked a new positivity in me,” she says.

Instead of viewing her struggles as failures, Love flipped her perspective and started examining the ways she found small successes with each budgeting method she tried. She picked apart each strategy, focusing on which elements worked for her. From there, she was on her way.

Creating a Budgeting System on Her Terms

Love combined key elements of three budgeting methods — calendar budgeting, paycheck budgeting and the cash envelope system — to come up with a custom method she dubbed the budget-by-paycheck method.

She uses a calendar to stay on track of expected expenses and bills throughout the month and creates a budget each time she gets paid. The cash envelopes come in handy for variable expenses — categories like “food,” “fun” and “beauty.” Using cash makes her budget tangible and prevents her from overspending. Love also has envelopes set up as sinking funds to save for future expenses like travel, holidays and her son’s birthday.

Throughout the month, Love tracks her spending and saving, and she closes out her budget at the end of the month to analyze her progress.

As for that mountain of debt?

“I paid off all my debt, which is a huge, huge thing for me,” says Love, who quit her job in 2019 to work full-time on The Budget Mom. “I am now able to save for the things that I want.”

How Becoming ‘The Budget Mom’ Changed Her Life

Love came up with the budget-by-paycheck method in 2015. By 2016, she decided to share her story, blogging as The Budget Mom.

She started The Budget Mom because she felt like she never got the whole picture when she was looking for budgeting help online.

“I was getting thrown examples and step-by-step instructions, but the burning questions that I felt could really help me weren’t being discussed,” Love says. “When someone gave me an example about budgeting, the first question I always had [was], ‘Why?’”

Love not only strives to share the reasons behind her spending and saving strategies, but she’s very transparent about her finances on her blog, in YouTube videos and in Instagram posts.

“I didn’t want to just tell people how to budget,” she says. “I wanted to show them what it really looked like for a real person to use a real budget in their real life. I wanted them to not only see my numbers but be able to explain to them: I’m feeling this way, this is what I’m thinking, and this is why I’m making this financial decision.”

Love says she wants her audience to feel confidence, hope and inspiration when connecting with her platform.

I didn’t want to just tell people how to budget. I wanted to show them what it really looked like for a real person to use a real budget in their real life.

These days, Love’s life is very different from when she was a recently divorced mom trying to raise her little boy alone.

“I was struggling to even figure out how was I going to make my monthly payments to now running a successful 7-figure business, being debt free,” she says.

Love’s son, James, is the inspiration behind what she does. He’s the reason she won’t give up on budgeting again.

“When my son was born, something happened to me,” she says. “I discovered a love that I didn’t know existed … but on top of that I felt a whole bunch of pressure. Here I was, a struggling mom and now I have this itty bitty human that’s completely dependent on me and my decisions.”

James has had a front seat to his mom’s budgeting journey and has naturally picked up important lessons about money along the way — shaping him into a conscious spender.

“We went out to get ice cream and we went to the park and before we left the house he said, ‘Mom, how much money do we have in our fun envelope?’” Love recalls. “He knows that whether or not we go and get ice cream depends on how much is in mom’s fun envelope.”

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Much Do You Get Paid to Donate Sperm? Here’s the Full Process

Let’s talk about how to make money by selling your sperm. Like, how this actually works.

Popular media sends a strong message: Selling your sperm is a lucrative and simple way to make money when you’re low on cash. And it’s not short on gags about the subject to make sure you feel totally weird about the whole thing.

No need to feel weird. Sperm banks support thousands of families who struggle with infertility and parents who want to conceive without a partner.

In a span of 30 years, an estimated 120,000 to 150,000 babies were born of anonymous donor insemination, according to an unpublished study by the American Association of Tissue Banks, reported by Cryogenic Laboratories. That’s 4,000 to 5,000 births per year that happened because of sperm donors.

But the process isn’t nearly as simple or fun as the gags might imply.

Don’t expect to pop into your local sperm bank, make a contribution and walk out with a check that afternoon.

Here’s everything you need to know about the process and requirements to donate sperm to figure out whether it’s the right move for you.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Donate Sperm?

The phrase is a little confusing — sperm donation isn’t a charitable act.

You do, in fact, earn money. (Not nearly as much as its counterpart, egg donation, but it won’t take nearly the toll on your body, either.)

Like everything else about becoming a sperm donor, the amount of money you make varies depending on the sperm bank or donation center you work with.

Here are some examples of compensation models:

  • Donors through the Seattle Sperm Bank can earn up to $1,000 per month at $70 per approved donation —  $50 when you deliver and $20 when it’s approved.
  • Donors through the Sperm Bank of California earn $125 per approved sample, with most donors earning between $400 and $600 per month.
  • Donors through the international sperm bank chain Cryos earn up to $40 per donation — $20 for every ejaculate delivered, plus another $20 if it’s approved.

Sperm banks also offer free fertility test results, physical exams and blood testing as long as you remain a donor, and some even provide a free annual physical after you stop donating.

Some clinics have more complicated contracts that require you to keep up steady visits and provide regular donations if a recipient chooses you as their donor. That arrangement could affect when you’re paid.

“Just to make sure you follow through [with your visits], your paychecks are kept in escrow by the sperm bank until the end of the contract,” Cracked contributor Sean Berkley wrote about his sperm donation experience in 2011.

Many sperm banks now pay monthly or per visit, however. Like any other side hustle, get details on compensation before you sign any contracts or make any commitments.

3 Things to Consider Before Selling Your Sperm

Take some time to understand all the information before you set your sights on sperm donation as your next side hustle. You might be surprised by some of these details.

Do You Qualify for Sperm Donation?

Each sperm bank has its own list of physical requirements for donors, but they’re all fairly similar.

Most donation centers require donors to be:

  • At least 5’7” tall and up to 6’6”.
  • Between 18 and 40 years old (none accept donations from minors).
  • Height and weight proportional.
  • In good overall health, based on general physical health screenings and fertility tests.
  • College graduates, enrolled in college or military veterans. Some banks pay more if you have a Ph.D. or attended an Ivy League school (because recipients pay more for those donor qualities).
  • A non-smoker and non–drug user.
  • Able to provide a biological family medical history.

Even if you meet a clinic’s basic requirements, you’re not guaranteed to be accepted.

Sperm banks are for-profit organizations, and like any business, they aim to provide what the market demands.

That means your sperm might be subject to the same kinds of biases you encounter among people face-to-face. In addition to the explicit requirements listed above, you could be denied because of supply and demand at a clinic based on things like your skin color, hair color and eye color.

Based on FDA regulation, potential donors are denied if they’ve ever had sex with “another man.” (The regulation doesn’t address potential nonbinary or transgender women donors.)

You could also be denied for genetic health issues, such as blood clotting disorders.

Some sperm banks will tell you why your application is denied, but some might not. You might want to know that information before you apply, so you’re not left wondering.

Donor Offspring Limits

Donation centers are regularly updating policies and practices to address ethical questions that come up about sperm donation and assisted reproduction.

Every few years, it seems, a news story reveals another serial sperm donor with hundreds of offspring. Check the details, though — in many of these cases, the donor worked with the recipient privately (a.k.a. a “known donor”), not through a donation center.

Most donation centers set a limit on the number of births or recipients per donor.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates sperm donation (and other organ and tissue donation), doesn’t set a legal offspring limit. Instead, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) sets guidelines for the industry and recommends a limit of 10 births per population of 850,000 (roughly the size of Seattle).

Many donation centers set limits well below the ASRM guideline — around 25 families in the U.S. per donor is a common maximum.

Anonymous vs. Open Identity Donation

The FDA requires clinics to keep some donor information for medical purposes, but it doesn’t regulate anonymity. You’ll make that choice based on the clinic you choose.

Ask the donation center about its policies, and be crystal clear about your options and long-term obligations before you donate. Donor arrangements include:

  • Anonymous: Neither the donor nor the recipient get identifying information about each other. You likely won’t even know whether a recipient conceived using your sperm.
  • Semi-open: You and the recipient get some information about each other, but not identifying details or contact information. The clinic is usually a go-between to pass correspondence between you and the recipient. You might learn whether the recipient had a baby using your sperm and even get baby photos. Or you might just stay open to possible contact in the future from the child once they’re an adult.
  • Open: You and the recipient have each other’s contact information and communicate directly, maybe even meeting in person. Ideally, you and the recipient determine together how much ongoing communication you’ll have and whether or not you’ll have contact with the child. But the child could always decide to contact you on their own sometime in the future.

Here’s the catch: Technology, as it often does without trying, has thrown a bit of a wrench in this situation.

Increasingly accessible family-tree DNA testing has made some curious (or unsuspecting!) donor-conceived children privy to their genetic roots — even when donors and recipients agreed to anonymity.

Many countries, including the U.K., have removed the option for anonymity in recent years by legislating a donor-born child’s right to find their biological father (i.e. the source of their donor sperm) after they turn 18.

The Sperm Donation Process

Every donation center dictates its own process for sperm donors, but they’re pretty similar and many parts of the process are regulated by the FDA. Here’s what you can generally expect.

1. Find a Sperm Bank

Track down a sperm bank that’s close to you through this National Directory of Sperm Cryobanks.

Most centers require donors to live within 25 miles or about an hour of the clinic, because if you’re chosen to be a donor, you’ll be visiting the facility regularly.

A legitimate organization will be registered with the FDA. Enter the clinic’s name in this FDA directory to make sure it’s registered.

2. Get Pre-Screened

All applicants start by going through a pre-screening over the phone or through an online application. Here’s an example application for Cryos.

The pre-screening confirms:

  • Your eligibility to work (and be paid) in the U.S.
  • Some medical history, including potential sexually transmitted infections, mental illness, allergies and drug use.
  • Your height, hair color, eye color and ethnicity.

3. Provide Detailed Family History & Get a Physical Exam

If you pass the initial screening, you’ll be invited in for a thorough interview that takes a deep dive into your family tree.

Berkley says you should be prepared to provide “a detailed medical history for every parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent you have, as well as any children your siblings or cousins may have, going back four generations.”

That sounds like hyperbole, but this overview of the process from Phoenix Sperm Bank confirms the information you can expect to provide.

You’ll also get a physical exam that includes a blood test, urine test and DNA analysis, and screening for STIs including HIV. You won’t pay anything for this exam, and most clinics provide regular physicals as long as you’re a donor and possibly after.

4. Provide a Sample

If you pass the first two levels of the screening process, you’ll provide a semen sample for the clinic to test.

It’ll go through a fertility test for the kinds of things you’ve probably heard joked about on TV: sperm count and motility, and the overall health of the sperm.

In other words, what’s the likelihood this sperm can help conceive a baby?

Depending on the company, you might have to wait up to six months to find out whether your sperm passes this test. Semen samples are frozen and tested again after several months to make sure they can hold up in storage waiting for a buyer.

You don’t usually get paid for providing this sample, and the sperm bank won’t save it to sell to a recipient in the future.

5. Sign a Contract to Become a Sperm Donor

Eligible donor? Check. Healthy genetics? Check. Hearty sperm? Check!

You’ll be invited to become a sperm donor once you pass the full screening process, and you have to sign a contract with the donation center.

Depending on the clinic, the contract might include things like:

  • How often you’re expected to donate. Sperm banks prefer frequent donors, so your contract might require you to donate several times per month or even multiple times per week.
  • A requirement to abstain from sexual intercourse before donation. Presumably to ensure strong sperm samples, you could be asked not to have sex within a few days before donating sperm.
  • Payment terms. Your contract should spell out how much you’ll earn, and when and how you’ll be paid, plus any stipulations you have to meet.

6. Donate Regularly

You might be surprised to learn how often you’ll be expected to donate — but the rest of this part of the process is pretty much what all the TV and movies have prepared you to expect.

You can’t collect your semen from home and deliver it to the clinic. You have to visit the clinic and deposit your sample on site, in a private room and with access to pornography.

You’ll deposit the sample itself into a sterile container, and the sperm bank will freeze it until a recipient chooses your profile. Then it’s thawed and used for the artificial insemination process.

Are You Ready to Be a Sperm Donor?

Infertility isn’t an uncommon circumstance in the U.S. About 6% of married women, and 12% of women overall, between 15 and 44 years old have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, according to the CDC.

Sperm donation is one way to help them start the families they want, and the sperm banks all say the need for donors is high and growing.

The onboarding process is quite a bit more involved than most side gigs you’ll encounter, but the payoff is fair. If you’re accepted as a sperm donor, you could earn upward of $1,000 a month for a quick trip to the clinic about once a week.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Where, When, and Why to Buy Rental Car Insurance

  • Car Insurance

What should you do when you’re offered rental car insurance at the rental counter? It’s designed to protect you if you crash your rental car or it is stolen/vandalized, but do you really need it, is it worth the extra cost, and can you find it elsewhere?

Find your best rate on Car Insurance!

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What is Rental Car Insurance?

Car rental insurance is offered to renters as a way of protecting them from damage done to a rental vehicle. If the driver doesn’t have insurance and damages the car, the rental company may chase them for compensation as they seek to cover the repair costs.

Rental car insurance covers the following:

  • Loss and Damage Waiver: This type of insurance will cover all the damage done to a vehicle if it is involved in a car accident. It will also include losses accrued when the car is stolen or vandalized, as well as something known as loss of use, which is the money lost by the car rental company when the car is getting repaired.
  • Supplemental Liability: If you are at-fault for an accident then you may be liable for damages, including medical expenses and property damage. Supplemental liability covers you for these claims.
  • Personal Effects: Protects you from loss of personal items. If, for instance, you leave a laptop in the car only for the car or laptop to be stolen, you will receive a payout relative to the value of that item.
  • Personal Accident Insurance: This coverage option will pay for medical bills if you are hurt in an accident. It will also cover your passengers.

You can purchase a waiver to make sure you’re protected and won’t be hassled for money. But if you have a full coverage car insurance policy, a premium credit card, and even a health insurance policy, you may already have cover.

Here are a few ways you can get car rental insurance:

1. Rental Car Insurance from Your Insurance Company

There’s a good chance you will already be covered by your personal auto insurance policy. Before you agree to any additional insurance coverage, scan your auto policy to see if you’re already covered. If you have the following, there’s a chance you will be covered. If not, and if you plan on renting a lot of cars in the near future, consider adding them to your personal auto policy:

  • Liability Insurance: The liability insurance you have on your personal car insurance policy will often cover rental cars as well. This type of coverage is required in most states, so as long as you are fully insured, there’s a good chance you won’t need to purchase any supplemental liability insurance.
  • Personal Injury Protection: PIP covers you even when you’re not driving your own car and may, therefore, supply you and your passengers with cover when driving a rental car. It won’t pay for property damage, but it will pay for any bodily injury that you and/or your passengers suffer. The same applies to medical payments cover, although this is much less common.
  • Comprehensive Coverage and Collision Coverage: Not everyone has collision and comprehensive coverage options as they are not required on older, high-mileage vehicles. But if you do have them, you should be covered in a rental car. Collision insurance will cover you for damages to personal property damage in a crash, regardless of who was at fault. Comprehensive coverage will protect you against damage caused by non-collision-related incidents, including vandalism and weather damage.

2. Rental Car Insurance from Credit Card Companies

Your credit card may offer you more perks than you realize. If you have a premium rewards card, you might be surprised to learn that its benefits don’t stop with generous reward schemes, account opening bonuses, and intro rates. In fact, in addition to offering rental car coverage, some top credit cards also provide roadside assistance services, travel protection, purchase protection, and more.

Here are just a few of the popular credit cards that have car rental insurance, along with the other lesser-known features they have:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is an accessible credit card for most consumers. It doesn’t require you to spend a lot of money every month and even small households will spend enough to make this a viable choice.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers complimentary rental car coverage when you use your card to complete the purchase. It will cover you in the event of an accident or theft, providing you supply them with details such as a police report, pictures of the damage, and proof that you paid the car rental company with your credit card.

This card also offers:

  • Travel protection benefits.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Free DashPass subscription.
  • Purchase protection benefits.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

One of our personal favorite travel reward credit cards, the Chase Sapphire, offers a high rate of return every time you use your card to make travel purchases and then redeem your points for travel. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an auto rental Collision Damage Waiver or “CDW”. It is a primary coverage option that covers you for theft and damage, and it applies to the cardholders as well as authorized users.

For this insurance to apply, you must use your Chase Sapphire card to cover the full cost of the rental car and decline all additional insurance offered to you by the rental car company. Other features you may not know about include:

  • Free credit with TSA PreCheck or GlobalEntry offered every 4 years.
  • Insurance for lost and delayed baggage.
  • Emergency medical coverage.
  • Access to travel lounges.
  • Travel insurance.

American Express BlueCash Everyday Card

AmEx credit cards offer car rental protection when you use your car to complete the sale. The Blue Cash card is one of the more accessible of these cards as it doesn’t have the high annual fees and welcome offer requirements found with the likes of the Gold and Platinum AmEx cards.

You will be covered for rental car damage up to a specific limit, providing your rental period does not exceed 30 days. 

This card also offers the following perks, in addition to no annual fee and a high rate of rewards:

  • 24/7 access to emergency medical care.
  • Access to ticket presales and other entertainment-based benefits.
  • Passport replacement assistance.
  • Missing luggage assistance.

3. Other Insurance Coverage

Health insurance won’t cover you for damage done to a rental car itself, but it will cover you for the medical costs resulting from a car accident. What’s more, if you have home insurance or renters insurance then you should be covered for loss of possession resulting from theft or vandalism.

Again, this won’t include the car itself, but it will include handbags, jewelry, laptops, and other expensive items you left in the car.

Last but not least, you may have extra coverage from your travel insurance. This form of insurance is always recommended if you’re taking long and expensive trips and if you check your policy you may find that it covers rental cars.

4. Rental Car Insurance from the Rental Agency

Car rental companies will encourage you to purchase a type of auto insurance policy known as a loss damage waiver (LDW) or collision damage waiver (CDW).

This will cover you in the event of an accident. It will also cover you if the car is stolen or vandalized. But it’s not necessary, and if you’re being offered cover by your credit card issuer, it’s important to reject this additional insurance.

Bottom Line: Do You Need Rental Car Insurance?

You should definitely consider rental car insurance. It can be expensive, but not if you do your research, look for the cheapest options, and check to see if you already have some areas covered. Furthermore, it provides peace of mind, which is often worth the additional cost.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

How the Home Buying and Selling Process Has Changed During COVID-19

Summer is usually a busy season for home buying and selling, but in this season of the coronavirus, it’s anything but typical.

As states are in various staging of opening up, sellers are dealing with new procedures with putting their homes up for sale and buyers are working hard to thoroughly search while still practicing social distancing.

I’ve found myself in the middle of this as I’m helping my mom this summer. She’s looking to retire in a few years and wants to be closer to the grandkids.

She’s already found work here in Raleigh and now during summer break, she’s selling her house and hunting for a place.

Being a Smart Home Buyer or Seller During This Pandemic

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home during the pandemic, you need to be extra prepared and willing to adjust as needed.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Louis Guillama, VP of Real Estate Operations at Coastal Credit Union a few times to get his take on what it takes to be successful with buying and selling.

Here are some ways my mom and I have adapted. I hope they help you get a great deal while still practicing social distancing.

Selling Your House

Every seller I know wants to get the most out of their house when they list it. With the pandemic, it can be a real challenge.

However, there are some crucial things you can do to really make your house shine.

Create buzz for your house with incredible pictures and videos. Great photos will help you sell in any season, but are especially more important now. Photographs were a wonderful way to attract interested buyers for a tour, but in some cases where restrictions are strict, they are the tour!

Some tips to make your house looks its best for photos include:

  • Stage your home. Make it easy for buyers to fall in love with your home by taking the time to define and decorate your space.
  • Declutter and depersonalize your space. You want your buyers to imagine that this is their home, so pack away your photos, certificates, and other personal stuff for your next place.
  • Take photos with natural light. If possible, choose a sunny day to take pictures as it can make your house look more inviting.
  • Shoot from the corner of the room. You can highlight rooms better based on where you stand. The ‘directly in front’ method isn’t usually the way to go. Instead, tuck yourself into the corner so you can get a wide shot of the space.

Video is practically a must now as there are potential buyers who have health conditions. Being able to see your home online allows you to cast a wider net. Many agents today are able to create a video based on your photos.

If this all seems overwhelming, then you may want to talk to your agent and ask for a referral. They may know someone with experience who can showcase your home perfectly!

Pictures are wonderful, but there are still some other key pieces you want to watch.

Be objective in your pricing. One huge mistake sellers typically make is mixing up sentimental value with market value. Sit down with your agent and review comparable sales so you can get a clear idea of the best price to list it.

You also have to be mindful if the market has shifted in your area. Hard hit cities may become buyer’s markets now.

Be prepared to go virtual with closing. The closing process has changed to accommodate the social distancing requirement. My mom had a choice of signing at home with digital documents or meeting up at an office.

Buying a House During the Pandemic

Buying a house under normal conditions can be stressful under normal conditions, with a pandemic, you can understandably be anxious. Preparing for your house hunt can make it more enjoyable.

According to Louis Guillama, VP of Real Estate Operations at Coastal Credit Union, snagging a great deal when buying a house requires doing some key legwork.

Run your own numbers. Yes, this is especially true when you’re the buyer. Some lenders will approve you for a loan higher than you can comfortably carry. When you consider other goals -like saving for retirement, taking care of kids, and yes, vacations  – you want to be conservative with your finances.

While 30% of your income is given as a guideline, you may want to use 25% of your net income as a better guide so you can have a good financial buffer in your budget.

Nail down your need and wish list. Now is not the time to tour every single house that comes on the market. You have to be strategic about the houses you visit, so sit down and define what you absolutely need and what would be nice to have.

For my mom, she was adamant getting a house with about 3 bedrooms and 2 baths and that was 15 mins or less from her job and where we live.

She was flexible on the yard size and the town she was in (there are several great ones around Raleigh).  With that information and her budget, we’ve been able to weed out many homes and focused on one that she would absolutely love.

Being a Savvy House Hunter

Adding a layer or two of stress, besides being out of town, my mom also has an underlying medical condition.

To assist, I volunteered to do the actual tours with her real estate agent. If you don’t have someone to go to the in-person visits for you, you’ can still work with your agent and have a successful house hunt.

First off, go through the virtual tour of any home you’re interested in. This will allow you to get a general feel of the layout and whether or not it’ll work for you.

You’ll also want to comb through the photos to see which areas you need to check out further. Are there any signs of damage like cracks, stains, or are certain rooms missing? Either can be a sign of trouble. You can then have your agent call you through video and go through those details.

Don’t be an HGTV kind of buyer, where you focus on things like paint and decor. Instead, Louis advised that you hone in on key systems like electrical, HVAC, and plumbing. You don’t want to get hit with a big repair after you buy your house.

Speaking of home tours and taking a careful look, please make sure you protect yourself. While some areas have restrictions on visits, that doesn’t mean it’s enforced.

In one house I looked at, the agent and I were alone to inspect while the next interested buyers were outside waiting. Another house had us make an appointment as well, but halfway through our tour, several other buyers and agents were in and around the property.

Since part of the in-person tours involves checking around appliances, cabinets, switches, and so forth, you want to bring gloves and a mask.

During your tours, make sure you check the neighborhood as well. When you have neighbors who are taking care of their property it can give you more confidence about your choice.

Speaking of neighborhoods, if you’re looking for a great deal, don’t limit yourself to only the popular neighborhoods (which can be overpriced). Instead, dig for the hidden gems in your city or town.

Stay Safe!

I hope these tips not only help you sell and buy a house during these unprecedented times but also give you ideas on how to stay safe!

I’d love to get your take – how have you adjusted with buying and selling your home?

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Source: mint.intuit.com