A Financial Education Event
     

Ellie Kay on Fox and Friends

This morning I met Mike Huckabee in the green room at Fox! He was really kind and gracious and nice to everyone from the tech people to the talent! A great contrast to the man I met on a previous show, a billionaire in the green room with an ego the size of Texas! You meet the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today’s show was a lot of fun and I’ve already received some questions from viewers. One of the most common questions has to do with Homeowners Policies. Most consumers have this paid by the bank as part of their mortgage payment, so when the policy renewal comes in they put it aside and say, “Oh, the bank pays this so I don’t have to worry about it.” Wrong.

It’s important to re-evaluate all your policies EACH YEAR (homeowners, auto, health, life) because you could be missing out on savings. It’s important to make sure you have your home insured for the actual cash value (ACV). So you need to make sure you have an RCV (replacement cost value) clause in your policy and be insured to value or you might find yourself with the inability to repair, replace or rebuild your home at full value in the event of a covered loss. Also, you insure the HOUSE not the DIRT. So if your home is valued at 300K, you won’t insure the house for that much!

Call you homeowners insurance policy broker, he’s the expert, and see if you can or should make adjustments to your coverage. Recently a client made that call and “for the SAME coverage” reduced his premiums by 30% because the insurance company had phased out his old policy but never told him! Ask your insurance broker for a quote for higher deductibles and any other discounts that you may qualify for.

For more tips, watch the Fox and Friends clip online!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
http://www.elliekay.com/

ABC News Now – When Two Incomes Becomes One

I just love my bloggers, FB friends & eblast recipients! Once again, you guys helped make the latest segments on ABC NEWS NOW really great!

You can view the first segment and then be sure to view the questions and answers, where YOU had your questions answered on the air and WON a copy of Little Book of Big Savings!

Here’s part of the transcript
1) ELLIE, 9.7 PERCENT UNEMPLOYMENT IS HUGE– WHAT KIND OF PROBLEMS ARE YOU SEEING AS A RESULT OF THESE NUMBERS?
ELLIE: I think these numbers only indicate part of the problem. For every person we have who is unemployed we have others who have taken pay cuts to keep their jobs or they’ve had to accept a position significantly below what they had before. Even when the recession ends and we are in recovery, I think we’re going to see the contagion effect of unemployment and underemployment.

2) MOST PEOPLE PANIC WHEN THEY ARE NOTIFIED THAT THEY WILL BE LAID OFF. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING A COUPLE SHOULD DO IF ONE OF THEM BECOMES SUDDENLY UNEMPLOYED?
ELLIE: Step one is to “Review and Re-evaluate your Financial Goals.” When you go from two paychecks to one, all of the sudden money for your four year old’s college fund and/or funding retirement isn’t as important as making the house payment. It’s time to radically re-evaluate what needs to get paid to survive. Essentially, you will work backwards. Determine what you need for the end of each month to cover the basics (house, car, insurance, credit card bills, food, etc) and then work backward toward that financial goal.

3) ONCE YOU’VE WORKED THAT OUT, WHAT IS THE SECOND THING COUPLES SHOULD DO?
ELLIE: Establish a “One Income Budget.” This will, hopefully, be temporary, but you will need to readjust how money is spent until your spouse is employed again. This will include cutting back on expenses where you can. But don’t panic. Before you cut the cable or disconnect the internet, look at ways to cut back that are less painful and more productive.

4) YOU HAVE SOME TIPS ON HOW TO DO THAT..LET’S START WITH HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE:
ELLIE: Call the company and let them know you think you are paying too much & that you can get coverage cheaper elsewhere. It’s amazing how motivated they’ll be to help you reduce costs. You can raise deductibles to cover the big things and then lower those again when your spouse is employed. My literary agent took this tip to heart and discovered he had an old policy that had been grandfathered in, when they updated it, he saved $475!

4B) HOW CAN CONSUMERS CUT BACK ON AUTO INSURANCE NOW THAT THEY AREN’T DRIVING TO AND FROM WORK?
ELLIE: It costs less to insure a car that is no longer driven to and from work. Go to http://www.progressive.com/ to get comparison quotes on your auto insurance, then call your provider and ask for all the discounts that are available to you. Most clients I’ve worked with save an average of $350.

4C) THIS NEXT TIP CAN SAVE YOU AS MUCH AS FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS PER YEAR… CLIPPING COUPONS?
ELLIE: Whether you live on one income or two, you still have to buy food. By taking ten minutes to go to http://www.couponmom.com/ before you shop, you can save as much as $4,000 per year. The site does most of the work for you as it tells you what is on sale, what manufacturer’s coupons are available, what other store coupons are offered and the final price of what you’ll pay. There are dozens of items each week that cost only pennies or are free.

5) IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE FAMILIES THAT ARE UNEMPLOYED OR UNDEREMPLOYED SHOULD DO DURING THOSE ONE INCOME SEASONS?
ELLIE: Proactively Plan for Your Financial Future. Just because you’re unemployed does not mean you should enter the panic mode-this can lead to poor financial decisions. Go get help at the National Consumer Credit Counseling service (nfcc.org) which is a non-profit that won’t make you accrue more debt as the “for profit” counseling services will do. Oftentimes the nfcc knows the programs that you may qualify for in order to keep your house, renegotiate with lenders and help you proactively plan for your financial future.

Congratulations to Kristen Whirrett of Fort Wayne, IN; Ruth Schmidt of Willard, MO; Stephanie Woods of Sheperdsville, KY; Karen Power of Keller, TX; Rachel Morales of Victorville, CA and Kathy Hansen of San Diego! You guys had the questions selected by the producers of ABC NEWS NOW – GOOD MONEY show!

Ellie Kay
Americas Family Financial Expert (R)
http://www.elliekay.com/

Frugal Living – The New Normal

In today’s economy—with the stock market looking more like a roller coaster than a steady climb, with gas prices hovering well above where they were in recent years, and with household expenses continuing to price families out of too-tight budgets—many families are looking for good ways to save money without injuring their lifestyles. I’ve put together a handful of quick tips that will pad your wallet without cutting corners.

One great way to save on everyday activities and outings is a coupon book.  Entertainment.com offers a coupon book that is available for 150 metro markets and costs between $25 and $45. Preview the coupon booklet for your area (or an area where you will vacation) to see if the coupons are ones you will use.  You’ll not only save on eating out, but you can also save on movie theaters, theme parks, dry cleaning, and local shopping.

  • Average advertised total book savings – $17,000
  • To only redeem 25% is annual savings of $4250
  • A mere 10% redemption savings is $1700 per year

Dining out is a necessity for some families with busy schedules or long commutes, and for some it’s a luxury reserved for special occasions. If you want to try out a new restaurant, but you don’t want to pay full price, you can go to Restaurant.com, a site that issues coupons and gift certificates for over 6,000 eateries around the country. Our family picks a spot and pays $10 for a $25 gift certificate—we save over 50% in the process!

  • Average restaurant bill for a family of four is $86
  • Family saves $43 x 52 weeks = $2236

Two absolute necessities for any family are Home Insurance and Auto Insurance. The average family can save a good deal of money with just a little homework and a short conversation with your insurance agent. For your home, you should raise your deductibles to at least 3% of the total value of the home and make sure to only insure the replacement value of the dwelling (usually 80% of the selling price of the home) because you’re insuring the home not the dirt.

  • This is an average homeowner’s savings of  $250 per year.

For auto insurance, make a phone call to ask for all the discounts that your company may offer. Some companies offer discounts that include: combining homeowners’ and auto policies with the same carrier, non-smoker discounts, good student rates, car alarm systems, storing the vehicle in a garage versus carport or street, rating the most expensive car with a stay-at-home (or for pleasure only) rating, being between the ages of 30 and 60, and discount for driver’s safety course certificate (taken to keep a ticket from appearing on the driving record.).

  • This could save the average two-car family with a youthful driver $900 per year.

One great place to save a few extra dollars that many families don’t consider is simple home updates. If you still have young children at home, you may want to wait to have your furniture recovered. By purchasing a quality slipcover for $65 instead of buying a new sofa for $850, you save $785. By placing a crocheted doily for $15 on the coffee table  to cover scratches made by a speeding Corvette (Hot Wheels size!) you save $115 over buying a new table for $130.

  • Total savings on simple in-home updates is $900

One of the most draining line-items in a family’s budget are unexpected and costly repairs. These fixes can add up over time, but they can get a lot more expensive if not quickly addressed. My guiding principle is: Repair now, save later. Broken tiles and chipped grout in the kitchen and bathrooms should be fixed immediately in order to minimize water damage to tiles and the wallboard.

  • The average repair to damage of this kind costs $350
  • Preventative maintenance is about a $30 repair for a savings of $320

Armed with these tips and more to come, you can save money on every-day expenses. It’s simple to live rich for less; it just requires a little creativity, a little know-how, and a lot of savings!

Plan for the Worse, Hope for the Best

Are you ready for a natural disaster?

When we were living at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi during the mid-1990s, I had to survive my share of “natural” disasters. They ranged from toddler Jonathan “naturally” trying to stick a knife in the toaster oven, to little girl Bethany going “au-natural” while guests were over, to a full-blown natural disaster in the form of a massive tornado.

For the latter, it happened when the kids and I were all on the road. I remember nearing the exit of the base, when I saw a neighbor’s flag still up and decided to take it down for them. Low and behold, the tornado passed by us from the direction of the exit! Our guardian angels were definitely clocked in that day, but it reminded us to be better prepared for the next disaster.

According to a survey by Harvard University, 40.4 percent of American citizens are at average or higher risk of being a fatality. And with recent tragedies like the Oklahoma tornados and Colorado fires, it puts it in perspective. Here are a few ways you can get prepared for a flood, fire, storm or other disaster:

  • Stockpile supplies: You don’t have to be paranoid to be ready for an emergency. Stockpiling an adequate supply of non-perishable food and medications can be vital if you’re trapped for any length of time due to a hurricane, winter storm or other long-term disaster. Create a budget for emergencies and shop smart to save big on duplicate items you’ll need.
  • Get tech-savvy: True, you may not be able to connect to the Internet during a disaster, but your computer or smartphone can actually help. USAA has a great list of apps for situations like this, such as a CPR instruction app and a flashlight app. You can also sign up for weather text alerts, plus you can back-up files and insurance documents on your computer via sites like Dropbox and Google Drive.
  • Invest in a shelter: If you’re one of the six percent of the population living in a high-risk area, you should especially consider a shelter or safe house. Even if you don’t, now might be a good time to take the extra precaution, as some counties offer rebates up to $3,000. Do some research and see if you qualify before you decide.
  • Have your insurance in order: Are you covered for a fire? How about a flood? An earthquake? You don’t want to wait until you file a claim to see if your insurance will pay for your loss. USAA, Allstate and State Farm are among the most popular and highest-rated by customers for homeowner’s insurance, so it might be wise to check them out.
  • Know the facts: You probably know you shouldn’t drive during a tornado or wait out a hurricane, but what about other disasters? Knowing the steps for preparation and recovery can save you money and possibly your life. USAA is also a great resource for doing research on this.

Don’t let disaster catch you unawares; it’s better to hope for the best, but plan for the worse. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when you trust your intuition and do your research, you’ll be prepared when the storm hits.

What are YOU doing to prepare?

Ellie Kay

www.elliekay.com