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July 2012 - Posts - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger

July 2012 - Posts

  • Completing a Bill Audit

    by Iris Brand

    Limited income? Use your wits to create an increase in cash flow by auditing the bills you pay each month. For example, if your electric bill is running high, ask your provider to give you one of their energy savings check lists or ask for an appliance audit. Work the list until you have done everything within your power to reduce your electric bill. 

    When I did this, my electric bill was reduced by $100 a month or more and that generated a cash flow of over $1200 a year, which was enough to buy Christmas with some to spare. Findings included a malfunctioning heat pump and two major appliances I didn't really need. Simple maintenance under warranty and appliance elimination reduced my bill by a grand sum. Simple lifestyle implementations can add even more to your bottom line. From line drying a portion of your laundry to cooking and freezing meals in bulk, there's a lot you can do to save money on your monthly bills.  

    To get your bills and keep your bills under control, audit every bill you have and implement ways you can save money. Do you really need a smart phone, for instance, or will a standard cell phone do? Most people don't realize they can live without keeping up with the Jones'. You don't need a smartphone just because your sister has one. These unnecessary hi-tech fees offer nothing feasible for future use. Once used, they're gone with the month and the money spent forever. 

    Downgrading my smartphone and asking for a family plan line on my daughter's account saved me over another $1200 per year. There are also free cell phone programs for limited income families; however, these also offer limited minutes. If you can tag onto someone in the family who is doing a lot better financially than you are, you can gain unlimited access free or almost free. If not, opting for a standard cell can still save you a bundle. 

    To conduct a bill audit, list all of your bills on a sheet of paper along with corresponding provider telephone numbers. Make a conscience decision to call each one to learn of ways you can save on those bills. Calculate and calculate some more. Refuse to put down the phone until you have reached your savings goal on each one. If you have credit cards, request an APR reduction. Pay these off faster with your savings on other bills. Get out of debt and stay out of debt.

    Best advice I ever gave myself and the best advice I can give to you.

    Iris Brand is responsible for the Surviving Limited Income blog. She's the disabled widowed mother of a dependent child in Georgia.

  • Driving to Distraction: Comparing the Accident Rates of Younger and Older Drivers

    by Jenny Stuart

    The winding roads of the United States are populated with drivers representing all age groups. Whether you’re a teen who is just starting to drive or a more experienced driver approaching 65 years of age, the skills required to handle a motor vehicle remain the same. Comparing the driving statistics of these two age groups reveals a pattern; not only are older drivers statistically safer than younger drivers, but the statistical difference between the two groups is surprisingly great. Research reveals that drivers over the age of 65 are approximately 16 percent more likely to be involved in an accident as compared to the reference adult driver; incredibly, the accident rate for young drivers under 24 years of age is a staggering 188 percent higher than the same adult reference.

    Factors that Increase the Accident Rate of Drivers Over Age 65

    • Decreased reaction time
    • Decreased visual and auditory acuity
    • Decreased muscular coordination

    Not all drivers over age 65 suffer from the above listed conditions, but the conditions are more common in the older population and certainly do affect one’s ability to handle a motor vehicle safely.

    Factors that Increase the Accident Rate of Drivers Under Age 24

    • Impulsivity
    • Inexperience
    • Inattention or distraction
    • Phone use while driving
    • Poor judgment

    Younger drivers spend much more time on the road than most drivers over age 65, and this comparatively longer driving time may also be a factor in the younger group's dismal safety record.

    Combatting Insurance Costs

    Given the driving statistics of older and younger drivers, what can either group do to mitigate the prohibitive cost of auto insurance? Here are some ideas that may help members of each group obtain the best insurance rates possible.

    1. Purchase an Older Car for Your Young Driver

    Older cars tend to be much cheaper to insure than newer models, and the reduced coverage allowed on older cars is less expensive.

    2. Encourage Young Drivers to Improve Their Grades

    In many cases, young drivers who maintain at least a B average benefit from reduced auto insurance rates.

    3. Have Young Drivers Enroll in a Driver Safety Program

    Young drivers who complete approved Driver Safety Programs enjoy reduced insurance premiums.

    4. Encourage Older Drivers to Investigate Senior and Safe Driver Discounts

    Many insurance discounts are available for seniors with good driving records. It’s beneficial for seniors to compare available discounts in order to find the best insurance rates.

    5. Remind Older Drivers to Update Their Insurance Profiles

    Retired or less active senior drivers should make sure to inform their auto insurance carriers of the reduction in their average mileage. In some cases, updating this information can lead to significantly reduced premiums.

    In the search for the most affordable auto insurance rates, drivers under age 24 or over age 65 are sometimes at a significant disadvantage. Given the statistical issues surrounding these two populations of motorists, it is wise for members of each group to take all appropriate steps to reduce the significantly elevated premiums that they may face.

    Jenny Stuart is a freelance blogger who investigates good deals on car insurance for those with high premiums. Jenny recommends www.carinsurance.org.uk as an affordable car insurance option for teen and senior drivers.

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