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10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt

The post 10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

It is easy to lose your focus any time you are working towards a goal.  It takes dedication, but even then you may lose your desire to keep going.   This is especially true when trying to reach your financial goals, such as getting out of debt.

get out of debt and stay motivated

Paying off debt is not easy. You start out with great determination and willpower to make it happen. But, as time goes on, you may find yourself loving motivation to pay off your debt.

If your debt balances are high, the balances may not drop as quickly as you would like.  It can make you lowe your desire to keep going. In fact, you might just feel like quitting.

I’m here to say don’t.  Don’t give up.  The key to is to find the motivation to pay to get out of debt, even when it isn’t easy.  These tips will help.

 

STAYING MOTIVATED TO PAY OFF DEBT

MY EXPERIENCE

When my husband and I were trying to get out of debt, there were times when we wanted to quit.  However, we were both determined to stick with it and not give up.

Sadly, that is not true for many.  People get excited at the idea of getting out of debt, but they never follow through.  For one reason or another, they lose the motivation to continue.

This means that they go back to their old habits and often times, end up even further in debt.  It is sad, but it is true.  They lost the will to stay the course.

 

 

WHERE DO YOU START?

First of all, you have to be willing and fully committed to wanting to be debt free.  If you aren’t willing to make sacrifices, that means you are not quite ready to start.  If you try, you will probably fail.

However, if you are ready and willing to put in the hard work involved you might be ready.  You need to fully understand that this process is going to take some time.  It took my husband and I more than 2 years to get out of our debt.  It may take a while – but it will happen.

 

FINDING THE MOTIVATION TO PAY OFF DEBT

1. Cheat once in a while

When you are trying to pay off your debt with laser focus, you might start to feel a bit of resentment towards it.  After all, that is your money and you see none of it.  Instead, it moves right over to your debtor.  You never get to enjoy it.

You need to spend money.

When you allow yourself a chance to go out to dinner or buy that new pair of shoes, you will continue to stay motivated.  It allows you to take the focus off of your debt for a short time and put it on yourself.

For example, when my husband and I were in paying off our debt, we did not eat out at restaurants.  We gave that up completely.  However, each time that we paid off a creditor we were able to go out to dinner. It allowed us to celebrate.  We had one cheat night, and then we were ready to get back on track again.

Just don’t do this very often, or you’ll end up quitting and up spending more than you should.

 

2. Be accountable

Whether you are a relationship or not, you need to find someone to whom you can be accountable.  Call them an accountability partner. The journey to being debt free can be a long and lonely adventure. Finding the right person to support you along the way can be vital to reaching your goals.

This person could be a friend or family member. While you might want to use a spouse or partner, they may not be the best person.  You really should find someone who has been on this path themselves and reached the end.  Someone who is debt free and battled to make it happen can provide much more support than someone drowning in debt.

 

3. Dream

Sit down and look at your finances.  Imagine all of the things you could do if you were not living with looming debt.  Perhaps you could afford that car you want. It might even mean being able to quit your job and stay home with the kids.

Read More:  Setting Your Financial Goals

 

4. Change your habits

Look at your debt.  What caused you to end up there. If was due to spending too much at Target, it means you need to stop.

You have to change your habits by creating a budget and a debt plan.  Take it further and change the way you spend your free time.  It won’t be easy, but no one said getting out of debt was going to be simple.

It is not an easy thing to do, but find a way to focus your energy on the things that created the debt to other things you enjoy.  Try to find the joy in the simple things, which cost no money at all.

Looking beyond the debt and definitely help you stay motivated when getting out of debt.

Read More: Why Your Debt Plan Will Fail

 

5. Get angry

One of the simplest ways to stay motivated is to hate your debt.  Review your bills and add up the money you are wasting on interest payments every month.  Just seeing the money you waste will make you angry. Heck, it might even make you nauseated.  Good.

Hate the debt and you’ll want to make it go away.

 

6. Daily reminder 

Put the total of your debt on your mirror. As you pay them down, update it with the new amount. Every day you will see that you are making progress. You will see where you were and where you have to go.

 

7. Continue to learn

Just because you read one article about how to get out of debt, doesn’t mean you are an expert. If you were, you would probably have never gotten into debt in the first place.

Keep reading and learning. Follow your favorite bloggers and read their tips for getting out of debt.

Read More: How to Get out of Debt on a Lower Income

 

8. Be patient

“Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Your debt didn’t accumulate in just a month. It took time. That means it will take time to pay it off.

If you are doing all you can to do get out of debt, then there no more you can do. Just look forward to the day you get to scream that you are debt free!

 

9. Connect with others

I mentioned an accountability partner above and that is great, but what do you do if you can’t find one? Easy. Look to others who understand.

With social media, it is easy to find people who are in your situation. They may be on Facebook or Twitter. You might find them in the comments of personal finance blogs. Look around for those who are making progress and network with them.

We all need help with this journey. There is no rule that says you have to be best friends with them to get the motivation and support you need.

 

10.  Read success stories

There is nothing more motivating than reading about others who have accomplished their goals. Reading about ordinary people who have paid down thousands of dollars of debt can be inspiring.

Read More: My Debt Free Journey to Paying Off $35,000+ in Debt

 

 

how to get help paying off debt

The post 10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Paying Off Debt appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How To Budget for a Staycation

The post How To Budget for a Staycation appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

budget for a staycation

Whether you’re dreaming of an hour-long massage or lazy days lounging under the summer sun, you’ll want to budget wisely for your staycation. After all, you’ve worked hard for this well-deserved treat, and the last thing you want is for your savings account to plummet just when you’ve begun to relax. (Overspending can also tank your credit if you can’t pay those credit card bills. You can see how your spending is impacting your credit by viewing two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

To avoid a staggering credit card bill, here’s how to budget for your staycation, no matter what you’ve got in mind.

Be Realistic 

A whimsical tour through New York City, with stops on Broadway, in SoHo and at Bloomingdale’s, probably isn’t in the cards on a waiter’s budget. Be realistic and do your research so you have a solid idea of what you can afford.

 

Draft a Budget

Just because you’re staying home doesn’t mean you won’t spend money. So it’s a good idea to figure out how much you can comfortably set aside after you’ve covered your monthly expenses. Is it $500? $1,000? More? Whatever it is, remember monthly payments like rent and utilities are a necessity, while your staycation budget isn’t.

Read more:  How to Create a Workable Budget

 

Make a Plan 

More than anything, the secret to drafting a great budget is knowing what it will cover. If you’re planning to play tourist, checking out concerts and staying nearby, research those individual costs and factor them into your budget. Go online, see what’s exciting and make a list of what you’d like to do. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you can decide what makes the most sense based on your budget.

 

Set a Daily Cash Allowance 

Once you’ve narrowed down how much money you can spend, it can be helpful to set a daily allowance for meals, snacks and planned-out activities. Experts recommend inflating the number just a bit to account for unforeseen costs like impulse purchases and emergencies. As your staycation draws closer and your plans change, rework your budget accordingly.

Read More:  How to Make a Cash Budget Work For You

 

Get Creative 

Sometimes, meeting your vacation goals takes a bit of creativity. To that end, find ways to cut back your regular spending, even if you haven’t given it much thought before. Holding off on those lattes or 3 p.m. snacks may just be the thing that allows you to visit the fancy restaurant you’ve been dying to try.

 

More from Credit.com

  • Tips for Improving Your Credit: Your Amount of Debt

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

More by Jill Krasny

The post How To Budget for a Staycation appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

Waltz Away With a Cool Buy! Czech Dance Hall in Omaha Transformed Into a Residence

Omaha Dance HallJoe Braun Photography

A place where people used to dance the polka all night long is available for purchase. Accordion not included.

The property on 13th Street in Omaha, NE, is on the market for $999,900, and offers an array of opportunities for an enterprising buyer.

“Originally, it was a Czechoslovakian dance hall, and then it was converted into a bar,” explains the listing agent, Drew Halvorson.

Built in 1895, the main hall was also a popular restaurant, before an artist and home renovator team purchased the property in 1993 and worked their magic. There are now three separate living spaces on the property.

The former dance hall became their home, and the parking lot was transformed into a 5,000-square-foot garden.

Vines, fountains, and plenty of other interesting touches decorate the space.

“When you first come in the gate, you walk into this very serene and beautiful garden,” Halvorson notes. “Once you get to the center of it, it opens up, and you have a big deck space and little seating areas throughout the entire courtyard.”

Exterior of former dance hall in Omaha, NE

Joe Braun Photography

Exterior

Joe Braun Photography

Garden

Joe Braun Photography

Garden

Joe Braun Photography

Deck

Joe Braun Photography

Garden

Joe Braun Photography

Deck

Joe Braun Photography

Vines

Joe Braun Photography

Entry

Joe Braun Photography

Interior

Joe Braun Photography

Living space

Joe Braun Photography

Living space

Joe Braun Photography

The main house measures 3,324 square feet, with two bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Overhead, the ceilings soar to a height of 20 feet.

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Watch: Back to School? Giant Tennessee Home Was Once an Educational Institution

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“An open floor plan and tons of natural light throughout the whole home from skylights,” Halvorson says, “It’s an entertainer’s dream.”

Living space

Joe Braun Photography

Living space

Joe Braun Photography

Kitchen

Joe Braun Photography

Kitchen

Joe Braun Photography

Kitchen

Joe Braun Photography

Pantry

Joe Braun Photography

The kitchen and dining areas sit just off the main living space. Halvorson touts the kitchen as a great space for gathering.

It has a large island, high-end appliances, a custom range hood, and a pantry with plenty of storage.

Master bathroom

Joe Braun Photography

Master bathroom

Joe Braun Photography

Bedroom

Joe Braun Photography

Master bedroom and loft area

Joe Braun Photography

Bathroom

Joe Braun Photography

The two large bedrooms are upstairs, at opposite ends of the house, each accessed by a huge staircase.

Halvorson explains that the master bedroom has a fireplace, two walk-in closets on either side, and a huge, wraparound bathroom.

Rooftop view

Joe Braun Photography

A ladder goes up into an additional space that the current owners use as a place for yoga and meditation. A door leads out to a rooftop deck with views of the city skyline.

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

The guesthouse on the property has two apartments. One has three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms, and the other is a basement unit with one bedroom and one bathroom.

Built in 1890, the building was originally called the Settlement House. It was used as a boarding house where immigrants could live until they learned English, found a job, and saved enough money to move out.

Guesthouse bathroom

Joe Braun Photography

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

Both units could provide a buyer with steady revenue to offset the monthly mortgage payment.

“The property itself could provide some very good income,” says the agent.

Halvorson says the larger, two-story unit rents for $1,750 a month, and the smaller one nets about $750.

He’s targeting investors and adds that the units could serve either as long-term rentals or be offered as a nightly vacation rental.

The Omaha downtown area, zoo, and other attractions are nearby, making the spot attractive for vacation rentals.

Garden

Joe Braun Photography

Aerial view

Joe Braun Photography

Aerial view

Joe Braun Photography

There are also three detached garage spaces, a rarity in the neighborhood known as Little Bohemia.

“A one-car garage is a win in this old historic area of Omaha,” Halvorson says. “When it was originally built, there just were not a lot of garages or carriage houses whatsoever.”

Since the property was once zoned commercial, the new owners could keep the space as residential or convert it back into a bar or other commercial venture.

“The perfect buyer is probably somebody who has the vision for mixed use. Somebody who maybe wants to live in the main house and have some income on the side with the rental property. I think that would be perfect scenario No. 1,” Halvorson notes.

Scenario No. 2, he adds, might be somebody who decided to live in the main house and to turn the second house into a bar and use the courtyard as a beer garden.

Garden

Joe Braun Photography

Entry to courtyard

Joe Braun Photography

Stairs

Joe Braun Photography

Office

Joe Braun Photography

Bathroom

Joe Braun Photography

Guesthouse

Joe Braun Photography

View from rooftop

Joe Braun Photography

The post Waltz Away With a Cool Buy! Czech Dance Hall in Omaha Transformed Into a Residence appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover

Jacksons Time CapsuleDustin McKibben

A Florida family has embarked on a wild ride to bring a 1970s time capsule in Indiana into the 21st century.

On a whim, they bought a vintage gem in Fort Wayne, IN, covered top to bottom in shag carpet, after seeing it online. It was our most popular home of the week in early December and garnered hundreds of thousands of views—the Jackson family among them.

How the time capsule was won

“So we weren’t actually looking for a home to buy,” says Alysha Jackson, who lives in Clermont, FL, with her husband, Nate, two toddlers, and a rescue dog, Ingrid.

“We have a home there and we love it,” she says. “We had talked about getting into real estate one day, but it wasn’t really on our radar yet. Then this house went viral.”

Nate saw the house online and came in with his computer to show the listing to Alysha.

“He’s like, ‘Hey, don’t shut this down right away, but what if we put in an offer on this house?’” she says.

“Usually, I’m the skeptical one, but I just looked at it and had this gut feeling, and I said, ‘You know what? I actually love it. Let’s put in an offer.’”

Interior of home in Fort Wayne, IN

Dustin McKibben

Interior

Dustin McKibben

Bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Like everyone who laid eyes on the photos, Nate and Alysha first spotted the colorful carpet. The deep shag is hard to miss: It’s everywhere, even on some of the walls.

Alysha says her first reaction was: “Whoa, that’s a lot of shag carpet!” Then, she noticed how much potential the house had.

“I kind of envisioned what it could look like with some renovating,” she says. “We’re staying thing true to the vibe of it and the time period, but we have to update it.”

Aftermath of Christmas

Jackson family

Door

Dustin McKibben

Jackson family

Dustin McKibben

The Jacksons journey back in time

Just a few weeks after putting in their offer, the two former teachers, who now sell on Amazon, packed up their family minivan (including Christmas presents) and headed north. Their work offers them the freedom to work where they choose.

Since then, the family has been living bare-bones in the house, with just a few mattresses and other essential items. They have decided to live in the home as is for a while.

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Watch: Listing Agents Answer Our Burning Questions About the ‘Silence of the Lambs’ House

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“We wanted to just stay in it a little while before changing anything, because we just wanted to get a feel for the house before we just came in and made sweeping changes,” Alysha Jackson explains.

“I’m so glad we did, because we actually changed a lot of our designs based upon actually living in the home for a little bit first.”

Most importantly, they staged a 1970s-style photo shoot.

Interior

Dustin McKibben

Enjoying the view

Jackson family

Even Ingrid, the dog, seems to have settled in.

“She has a spot in the house where she can see the entire yard, thanks to the surrounding sliding doors and windows,” Jackson says.

“Ingrid was so sad when she saw us packing the van for our trip here, but literally jumped up and down when we got the leash out and she realized she was coming with us on the trip.”

Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

Kitchen

Dustin McKibben

The former owner of the house, James Sherbondy, a retired architect, designed the home as his family’s personal residence. It was occupied until just a few months ago, so everything inside was in working order.

“We walked in, brought in our stuff, and used the fridge. The bathrooms were functional. It was pretty great,” Jackson says.

Everything in the kitchen works, and the cabinets are in good shape. However, the layout may not work for the family, she adds.

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower-level bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Lower-level bathroom

Dustin McKibben

The family made some immediate changes for safety reasons and are currently living on the lower level. They’re tackling that and the main level first, and leaving the upstairs master bedroom and bathroom for last.

A bathroom with green counters and blue sink will ultimately meet its demise, but the Jack-and-Jill style entry is staying.

“The more we see, the more we want to keep, which is kind of funny,” Alysha says. “Before, we didn’t really know too much about ’70s style, and we didn’t know too much about midcentury modern even. But the more I talk with people and more research I do on my own, the more I see the beauty and the value in it, and so I want to keep that style in the home.”

Stairs

Dustin McKibben

Toddler-proof stairs

Dustin McKibben

The Jacksons have sought input from a number of experts on the Instagram account they started for their rehab project. They had hopes of reaching 10,000 followers by the summer. As of now, they’ve blown past their goal and have over 30,000 folks tracking the renovation journey.

“I just love sharing projects with people. When we did a ’70s photo shoot, we thought it would be really fun to share these. We had no idea it would go viral as quickly as it did,” Jackson says. “It’s been really fun to share what we’re doing with people, and we’ve gotten so much great input.”

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

Lower level

Dustin McKibben

The carpet can’t stay

Sadly, for lovers of colorful floor coverings, the carpet is one of the first things that’s going to go.

“There’s literally carpet in every single room, including the bathrooms. It’s everywhere and it’s 50 years old. From what we know, it is original to the home,” Jackson says.

She added that there are stains in several places, and it doesn’t smell particularly great, especially in the bathrooms.

Eventually, there will be new flooring in many of the rooms and tile in the bathrooms. But the carpet won’t vanish completely.

“I am going to be making an art piece of the different carpet colors,” she says. “There’s about four or five different colors in the home, and we just want to keep a piece of each. I’m going to cut some out from each color—deep-clean it, of course—and then create some sort of art piece with it to hang in the house on the wall.”

Master bathroom

Dustin McKibben

Master bathroom

Dustin McKibben

People on social media had a lot to say about the carpet-bedecked bathtub in the master bedroom. The tub has purple tile and no curtain. For now, it’s the only bathtub in the house, so the kids need to take their baths there.

Jackson says the tub is super clean, but the trick for the couple is to keep the children from enjoying their time on the floor.

“To them, it’s like a big towel,” she adds. The first time their son took a bath, she says, “He got out of the tub and started rolling on the shag carpet.”

Fireplace

Other modifications on the way

Back on the main level, the dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace will stay—but with some modifications for safety.

Wood paneling and accents

Dustin McKibben

Some of the wood paneling and carved accents throughout the house will also remain.

“I stare at the wood every day. I think that’s maybe my favorite part of the house,” Jackson says.

Some people on Instagram say the carved wood might be by an artist named Ackerman, and the Jacksons are trying to verify that.

“It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the home on the door,” Alysha says.

Work time

Jackson family

Life outside the box

The Jacksons rehabbed their Florida house, so a huge project isn’t entirely new for them and they have some family support nearby. Both Alysha and Nate are from Indiana, and much of their family still lives there. While some close to them were surprised by the somewhat impulsive purchase, they weren’t shocked.

“We kind of joke with people that Nate and I are ‘Go big or go home’ people. We kind of live life outside the box, so they were excited for us,” Jackson says.

Some relatives thought they were crazy, she adds, but changed their minds when they saw how beautiful the home is—and they’re especially excited that the family will be closer to them.

For now, the family plans to split time between the two homes and rent the other one as a vacation rental.

We’ll be tracking the process of this time capsule transformation and can’t wait to see what’s next.

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A post shared by Alysha and Nate Jackson (@thejacksonfi)

The post Say Farewell to Shag Carpet—Family Tackles 1970s Time Capsule Makeover appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Student Loans vs. Financial Aid

A young woman stands outside in front of a green tree, holding her books and wearing a backpack, smiling off into the distance.

As of early 2020, student loan debt in the nation had reached more than $1.5 trillion. More than 44 million individuals have student loan debt, and the average person with student loans owes a bit over $32,000—which is more than half of the average household income in the United States. As a new school year approaches, more individuals are searching for ways to fund their education without going into debt for years. Luckily, student loans aren’t the only way to get help paying for college.

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Learn more about student loans vs. financial aid below,
and get some information about various ways to help fund your education.

Student Loans vs. Financial Aid: What’s the Difference?

Both student loans and financial aid can come from the federal government or the private sector. The main difference between student loans and financial aid is whether or not you need to pay back the money you are given. Student loans generally require that you pay back the loan with interest, while financial aid packages like scholarships and grants typically do not need to be paid back.

That distinction can make a big difference. “Every dollar you receive in scholarship or grant form is a dollar you don’t have to pay interest on,” says Zina Kumok, an editor at Dollar Sprout. And saving that money opens up possibilities after graduation, too. “Students who don’t have to take out as many loans will have more career options and afford to start their own businesses, work in lower-paying fields, or even take time off to travel abroad.”

But as with any financial agreement, make sure you
understand the terms upfront before signing anything. Not all financial aid
comes without strings.

How to Apply for Financial Aid

To qualify for federal loans and other types of federal financial aid, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You might need to complete the FAFSA with some of your parents’ income information if you are still a dependent.

To apply for private loans and financial aid, you must
research the program in question and complete the appropriate application
process. For example, academic or extracurricular scholarships are often
offered by various colleges and universities. You’ll have to look on those
university websites or contact financial aid departments at various schools to
find out about how to apply to these programs. Scholarships offered by private
organizations will have their own processes as well.

Student Loans

Student loans provide credit extended to you or your parents for the purpose of paying for college. Student loans do have to be repaid, but typically not until you’re out of school. In some cases, such as if you’re going to work in certain public sectors, you might be able to apply for a student loan forgiveness program.

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal
Loans

When you apply with the FAFSA, you may find out you qualify for federal loans. Subsidized federal loans tend to have slightly better terms than unsubsidized loans. Another benefit of a subsidized loan is that the interest on it is covered by the Department of Education as long as you meet enrollment requirements. The amount you can borrow is limited, and interest rates range from 2.75 to 4.3%.

Learn more about federal student loans and economic protections from COVID-19: What You Need to Know about CARES, HEROES, and HEALS.

Private Student Loans

If you don’t qualify for federal student loans or want another option, you can apply for private student loans from commercial lenders. Whether you can get approved for these loans or get favorable terms and rates might depend on your credit score.

Don’t know your credit score? Sign up for ExtraCredit to find out.

Sign Up for ExtraCredit

Financial Aid

Financial aid
takes many forms, and most often does not need to be paid back after you
graduate. These types of aid can be offered by your school, other private
institutions, or the government. They are most often divided into needs-based
aid and merit-based aid.

When applying for
any type of financial aid, you will need to research the deadlines,
requirements, and payment specifics carefully.

Be wary of scholarship and other aid programs that charge fees. “Fees are a dead giveaway of scholarship scams,” says Doug Whiteman, editor-in-chief at MoneyWise.com. “Be very careful about handing over a credit card number or other personal information.”

Scholarships

Scholarships are awarded for need or merit, and they’re offered by a wide range of organizations. Schools, private businesses, local and national associations, religious organizations, and charities are all potential sources for scholarships. Most scholarships do not require you to pay them back.

“Students should be more aggressive about applying for scholarships,” says Kumok. Whiteman agrees, citing a recent New York Times article that estimates there are 44,000 private scholarship programs. “The typical student probably has no idea that there’s so much money available,” he says. “Too often students and their families have seen student loans as an easy fallback, before they’ve fully explored scholarship and other financial aid possibilities.”

Grants

Grants are a type of financial aid that you typically don’t have to pay back. Federal and state governments offer grants, as do private and nonprofit organizations. Make sure to do ample research to ensure you get your application right, and pay attention to the grant terms. While many grants don’t have to be repaid, some do.

Be careful not to depend fully on grants, though. “Grants might not be available for the length of your degree program,” advises Anna Serio, a staff writer at Finder.com. “Some only cover the first year, while others are only available during the second, third, or fourth year of school. Even if a grant program covers all four years, you might have to reapply every year to be considered.”

Work-Study Jobs

Work-study jobs help you pay your way through school or
cover expenses. Some work-study jobs are paid internships, where you practice
skills and knowledge you’re learning in school or for your future career.
Others might simply be on-campus jobs in dining halls, fitness centers,
tutoring or writing centers, or other areas.

“Work-study
programs are best for students who want to build up their resume,” says Serio. “Work-study
makes it easier to land a job without experience or in a new field if you’re in
graduate school. Sometimes, work-study jobs can turn into a regular part-time
or even full-time position.”

Tax Credits

If you pay qualifying expenses for school, you may be able to claim a certain amount as a tax credit to reduce your tax burden or even get a refund. The American Opportunity Credit, for example, allows up to $2,500 credit per eligible student, while the Lifetime Learning Credit allows qualified individuals to claim up to $2,000 for qualified education expenses per tax year.

State Aid Programs

Almost every state offers grants or other financial aid opportunities for college students. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators provides a detailed list of state financial aid opportunities.

Institutional Assistance

Schools may offer many of their own programs, but they
aren’t always well published. When you’re in the process of considering and
visiting schools, during the application process or even after you’ve been
accepted, make it a point to visit the financial aid office. School financial
aid officers can help ensure you’ve applied for all applicable financial aid.

Employer Education Assistance

If you’re already working, your employ might offer
funding for education. Some employers have programs that cover all or part of
the cost of degree programs if you agree to work for them for a certain amount
of time. Others pay for training seminars, workshops, and one-off classes that
are likely to make you a more valuable employee. Talk to your supervisor or human
resources department to find out if your employer offers such benefits.

Other Programs

Leave no stone unturned when seeking financial aid for
college. Numerous programs exist to help fund education for people in specific
situations.

For example, the Educational and Training Vouchers Program provides assistance to those who are or were in foster care. The National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program helps pay for student loans for those who work at Indian Health Services facilities. Be creative! The Tall Clubs International Foundation has a scholarship program for college women who are 5’10” tall and men who are at least 6’2”. Consider what makes you unique and look for scholarship opportunities that may reward you for it.

Tuition-Free Schools

Did you know that there are also some tuition-free schools around the United States? Residents of certain states may qualify for free tuition programs. Be sure to do your research into these schools, as you would with any other. “The programs in the US often require you to work in exchange for your degree,” says Serio. “This can help you develop valuable skills and gives you a leg up entering the job market after you graduate.”

Get the Financial Aid You Need

If you need help paying for schooling, there are plenty of financial aid options available to you. Reach out to your school’s financial aid office for assistance and direction. If you’re interested in learning more about student loan options, you can look through our resource center for more information.

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How to Throw a Bridal Shower on a Budget: A Guide for the Frugal Host

Between impressive floral arches and customized sugar cookies, throwing a picture-perfect bridal shower aimed at being a social media showstopper can be pricey.

CostHelper.com, a website that compares the cost of services, reports that a typical bridal shower can run from $15 to $40 per person for a luncheon or party in a private room at a mid-range restaurant. If you’re going all out with an elaborate bridal shower, you could be talking $40 to $150 or more (gasp!) per person. Even a small, elaborate bridal shower (think 15 guests) could cost between $600 and $2,250—and that’s before invitations, decorations and cake.

The good news is you can actually honor the bride and your budget at the same time. A bridal shower with simple refreshments at the host’s home, for example, can cost $10 to $15 or less per person, according to CostHelper.com. You just need to employ some creative tips for budget bridal showers to make the event more affordable.

What is the best way to plan a bridal shower on a budget? Follow these six tips as you prepare to shower the bride, and there’s a good chance you’ll have more fun and less financial stress:

1. Zero in on important goals

Before you even begin to plan a bridal shower on a budget, you need to know the goals upfront so you can understand where you should be investing your time and money. Sit down with the bride (or, if it’s a surprise, consult a friend or family member of the betrothed) and establish expectations and a budget to match.

Personal finance coach Emma Leigh Geiser shares her starting tip for budget bridal showers: “Plan an event that honors who the bride truly is and what you can provide, without sacrificing your financial well-being.”

Geiser, who helps women in their 20s and 30s with personal financial challenges, recommends learning what the bride envisions for her celebration and which traditions are most important to her. Be upfront about how much you can realistically afford to spend on the bridal shower, Geiser says. And don’t be shy about saying the bridal shower is your gift to the bride.

If the bride’s priority is to have her bridal shower at a high-priced restaurant, find creative ways to lower other costs to still plan a bridal shower on a budget. Bring your own cake to the venue, for example, exclude alcohol from the menu or keep the guest list small. If the bride is a foodie and wants guests to dine on gourmet dishes, you could spend most of the budget on a favorite caterer, but then consider hosting the event at someone’s home and doing minimal decor so budget isn’t needed elsewhere.

Finding out what's truly important to the bride can help you plan a bridal shower on a budget.

2. Delegate tasks

If you’re wondering how to throw a bridal shower on a budget, know that you don’t have to foot the entire cost of the party yourself. Consider co-hosting with the rest of the bridal party or one of the bride’s family members, or delegating specific tasks to willing volunteers.

When personal finance blogger Becky Beach had her bridal shower, catering was delegated to her sister-in-law. “She knows how to throw a bridal shower on a budget,” Beach says. Deputized to handle the food, her sister-in-law served inexpensive bites purchased from a wholesale club, including sausage-roll appetizers, crab cakes, apple crisp tartlets and cream puffs. (With this lineup, who needs a main meal?!)

Assigning smaller purchases to other bridesmaids and close family members is a good tip for budget bridal showers because it can make the overall cost of the event much more manageable for the host. For example, if you delegate tasks or items that cost $30 each to six people, you’ll save $180. Some popular responsibilities to dole out include:

  • Appetizers
  • Dessert
  • Drinks
  • Invitations
  • Favors
  • Games
  • Prizes for games

3. Let the theme choose you

You don’t have to necessarily come up with a theme first. Among the tips for budget bridal showers is to take inventory of what props or decorations are available to you for free. Do you know someone who threw a bridal shower and has leftover decor or favors? Perhaps a friend’s home decor items will fit the bill—like globes and vintage-inspired items, which can be transformed into an exotic travel theme.

If you're wondering how to throw a bridal shower on a budget, keep an eye out for decor items that can create a theme−not the other way around.

Even store clearance items can be repurposed to help dictate your theme’s direction. For example, a home decor or craft store might have steeply discounted artwork. The trick is to look past the art and focus on the frame, Beach says. Can you replace the artwork with a picture of the happy couple? Maybe you can remove the glass altogether, glue twine to the back and use it for hanging wedding wishes from the guests.

Learning how to throw a bridal shower on a budget becomes easier if you’re able to snag off-season items from a party or outdoor store—such as tiki lamps or beach house decorations—which could make for a wonderful fall island or Hawaiian theme.

When planning a bridal shower on a budget, don’t forget to ask friends and family members if you can borrow other party items, such as cake stands, vases and tablecloths. They might even have unopened gifts or stationery sets that you can use as prizes for games.

4. Do the invitations, games and decorations for less

Sending out mid-range traditional invitations by mail can cost $3 to $4 per guest, according to data from CostHelper.com. Invitation costs can add up quickly when you are trying to plan a bridal shower on a budget.

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“Plan an event that honors who the bride truly is and what you can provide, without sacrificing your financial well-being.”

– Emma Leigh Geiser, personal finance coach

If you’re open to skipping snail mail, you can leverage online invitation services that allow you to create your own designs and send to however many guests you’d like for free, Geiser says. You can easily save around $100 on invitations for a guest list of 30 by going the route of a free online invite. Some services may provide you templates to choose from, or they may include advertisements, but they do the trick nicely.

If you’re wondering how to throw a bridal shower on a budget and still keep guests entertained, search online for bridal shower games that can be printed for free or a nominal cost. You could also go the DIY route if you’re so inclined. For example, have guests try to guess what is in the bride’s purse—it’s even more fun if the bride doesn’t know this game will be played.

As far as decorating goes, focus your efforts on one area that will make the biggest impression. If the bridal shower is hosted in someone’s home, go all out decorating only one room. If the bridal shower is at a venue, like a restaurant, work on fancying up only one wall. Whether at a home or a venue, this area can serve as the focal point of the event and give the bride and guests the perfect spot for photos.

5. Make low-cost venues work

When you’re planning a bridal shower on a budget, opt for a low-cost venue that has built-in unique characteristics. “Choose a space that is its own fantastic backdrop,” Geiser says. She recommends a house with natural light and great landscaping in order to cut down on decorating costs.

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Hosting the party at a bride’s friend’s or family member’s home is ideal, since it would be free. “We all know at least one person who has a killer house; ask them if they wouldn’t mind hosting,” Geiser says. (Be sure to preview the site in advance of the bridal shower.) Another good choice: Apartment buildings and condos often have clubhouses or event rooms that can be used for free or rented for a nominal fee. See if any of your bride’s family or friends have access to these areas.

Other local resources can serve as low-cost venues when you’re working on how to throw a bridal shower on a budget. A park, for example, might have a nice garden or even an indoor space that could be used. Research your town’s online municipal pages for tips on how to secure local venues. Some sites might require a nominal fee, early bookings or have other restrictions, so work on booking a space as soon as you have a bridal shower date in mind.

6. Cut food costs by keeping things simple

Whether you are hosting the bridal shower at a restaurant or at someone’s home, schedule a morning brunch or appetizers and salads in the late afternoon when guests are in-between meals. Breakfast dishes, such as an egg casserole or French toast bake, can often cost less to make than a meat-centered entree, Beach adds.

Keeping food simple is a great tip when you're trying to plan a bridal shower on a budget.

If you are in charge of preparing food, stick with quick and easy options as a tip for budget bridal showers. “You don’t have to cook and create everything yourself,” Beach says. “There are so many beautifully crafted hors d’oeuvres you can get prepackaged.”

If you are hosting the bridal shower at a restaurant, ask if they offer a buffet option instead of sit-down catering: Choosing a buffet meal is typically about 30 to 50 percent cheaper than a sit-down meal, according to Eventective, which helps you find venues and event services.

If you’ve got your heart set on sit-down dining, narrow down the menu options in advance. You or the restaurant can make a simple printout of a few entree choices and not share full menus with guests. (Adding the bride’s name to the top of a personalized menu is also a nice touch.) In addition to being a tip for budget bridal showers, this strategy can also streamline the ordering and serving process so you have more time for games and opening gifts. Win-win!

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Choosing a buffet meal is typically about 30 to 50 percent cheaper than a sit-down meal.

– Eventective, special event and venue services

Keep track of the expenses when planning a bridal shower on a budget

You can master how to throw a bridal shower on a budget if you determine the guest-of-honor’s goals from the start. Another tip to remember when you plan a bridal shower on a budget is to track your expenses throughout the planning and hosting process to make sure you’re staying on budget.

If you are splitting costs with friends and family, remember to get reimbursed—preferably before the event, so you don’t have to worry about tracking people down to talk about business while celebrating.

As Geiser says, “What actually makes the event are the attendees, the conversation and the fun you create as a group celebrating the bride.”

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Life Insurance Over 50

For individuals who are young and in good health, shopping for life insurance is often easy and stress-free. Most of the time, young people only need to decide how much coverage they want and apply for a free quote online. Some companies that market term life insurance coverage even let qualified applicants start their policies without a medical exam.

Once you have reached the age of 50, however, your options for life insurance may not be quite so robust. You may have to buy a lower amount of coverage in order to secure a monthly premium you can afford, and it’s more likely you’ll need to undergo a medical exam and face increased scrutiny over your life insurance application.

Fortunately, you can get life insurance in your 50’s and even in your 60’s. You’ll just need to adjust your expectations, and you should be willing to shop around to ensure you’re getting the most coverage for a price you can afford.

Unique Challenges for Individuals Over 50 Buying Life Insurance

As you start shopping for a life insurance policy, you’ll probably notice a few factors that are working against you. These factors aren’t your fault, but they still affect your ability to qualify for life insurance coverage or affordable monthly premiums.

  • Your Age: Where life insurance can be downright cheap when you’re young and healthy, policies only get more expensive as you age. Once you’ve surpassed the age of 50, the price you’ll pay for a meaningful amount of coverage can easily balloon. This is why it’s more important than ever to spend time shopping around and comparing life insurance quotes.
  • Your Health: The older you are, the more likely you will have acquired a chronic health condition that can make getting life insurance coverage a challenge. You’ll need to answer health questions when you apply for a life insurance policy, and the answers you provide could set off alarm bells with the life insurance provider or bar you from purchasing a policy at all.
  • Policy Length: Another issue when you’re older is the term of coverage you can qualify for and purchase. A 30-year term policy will likely be fairly expensive if you’re already 55, for example, whereas a 10-year term policy that only provides a decade of coverage will likely be more affordable. Many older individuals opt to buy permanent coverage that lasts a lifetime, yet permanent coverage like whole life or universal life can also be incredibly expensive.

How and Where to Find a Life Insurance Policy if You’re Over the Age of 50

Regardless of the challenges you’ll face while buying life insurance over the age of 50, you can still purchase this important coverage. With that being said, you’ll never know which insurance company is best unless you compare the best life insurance companies, such as Banner Life Rates.

When working with only one insurer, you are locked into just that insurance company’s underwriting requirements — as well as that insurer’s prices. And, while it may sound strange, not all life insurance coverage is underwritten or priced identically.

For example, an applicant who applies to one insurance company may be accepted as a “standard” policyholder and charged an average premium rate, while he or she may be accepted only as a “substandard” policyholder at another carrier and charged a higher rate of premium — even though they submitted the same answers to the questions on the application for coverage.

This is why it is essential to work with an expert in the insurance field that can submit your information to numerous insurance carriers. Just like when shopping for any other important item, it’s always best to compare prior to making your final determination.

This is where we come in. When shopping for insurance, we can help you compare dozens of plans and companies in a matter of minutes. This way, you can compare pricing and coverage amounts without having to apply with each individual insurer.

Regardless of your age or health, it’s important that you get the insurance coverage that your family will need. You can start comparing quotes from the best life insurance companies by clicking your state below.

No matter where exactly you are in your 50’s, we can definitely get a policy that meets your needs. We know that planning for your death is not a fun task, but it’s one of the most important things that you can do. You don’t want to leave your family struggling to cover your final expenses at a time when they should be grieving and celebrating your life.

Do People Over the Age of 50 Still Need Life Insurance?

You may be wondering if people still need life insurance coverage once they’re in their 50’s. After all, life insurance coverage is geared to people who need income replacement during their working years, as well as those with children and other dependents at home. By the age of 50, you should be winding down your working years, and it’s possible your kids have moved out to begin their adult lives. Why would you need life insurance at this point?

The thing is, consumers can easily need life insurance at any age, and this includes those who are over 50. Although your children may be grown and are no longer depending on your income for their living expenses and needs, there are numerous other reasons for having — or for keeping — this essential financial protection.

Some of the most important reasons can include:

  • Burial Insurance: Regardless of your age, you’ll eventually need burial insurance to cover your final expenses. Today, the average cost of a funeral can easily exceed $10,000 when factoring in items such as the funeral service, burial plot, headstone, transportation, flowers, and a casket or urn. If there are final medical and hospice costs incurred, this could add significantly to the total.
  • Estate Taxes: Estate taxes are another potential area of concern for those who are over age 50. For those who are faced with having to pay estate tax upon death, this liability can erode up to 50% or more of a decedent’s assets. If there is no plan in place, such as life insurance proceeds, for paying these taxes, survivors could end up selling off other assets such as retirement investments or even precious family heirlooms in order to come up with the money. And unfortunately, when such assets are sold in this manner, they are often done so at far below market value.
  • Pension or Retirement Income Replacement: When a retiree dies, their pension may not continue on for their spouse. Buying a life insurance policy can ensure your spouse has some income to keep up with living expenses and enjoy life once you’re gone.
  • Business Succession: Life insurance can help business owners who are over age 50 to use as a business succession tool. Proceeds from a life insurance policy could be used to keep a company running while a replacement owner or partner is located, or while a suitable buyer for the business is found.

These are just a few of the reasons individuals over the age of 50 may want to purchase life insurance, but there are plenty of others. Just keep in mind that, no matter what age you are, it’s only natural to want to leave something behind. A life insurance policy can help you do exactly that, which is why consumers in nearly every age group purchase this important protection each year.

Which Type of Life Insurance is Best if You’re Over the Age of 50?

When shopping for a life insurance policy at any age, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the options you’ll find online. Before you commit to shopping for life insurance policies, you should know and understand how each type of coverage works.

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is sold for a certain length of time or a “term,” which means that the policy will cover you for only a certain period before it expires. Most term policies are sold for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, or 30 years. With a term life insurance policy, you are purchasing basic “no frills” coverage. This means that you are obtaining pure death benefit coverage without any cash value or savings component.

Even though the coverage on a cheap term life insurance policy runs out after a given period, these policies can be beneficial in certain situations. For example, term policies are often considered for “temporary” needs such as providing protection during the length of a 15- or a 30-year mortgage balance. In other words, if an individual wanted to make sure that the balance of their home mortgage was paid off for his or her survivors in the event of death, they could purchase a term life policy for the same length of time in which they will have a remaining mortgage balance.

If a term life insurance policyholder wishes to continue their coverage upon the policy’s expiration, they will need to reapply at their current age and health condition. This will typically mean that the premium amount for the new coverage will be higher, and that’s true even if the face amount of the policy remains the same. For many people, this is no problem because the premiums on term policies are much lower than the alternative options.

Related: How Much Does a Million Dollar Term Life Insurance Policy Cost?

Permanent Life Insurance

If you don’t like the idea of your life insurance expiring, then go with a whole life insurance plan. Permanent life insurance plans never expire, but they are more expensive.

The money that accrues in a permanent life insurance policy’s cash value component can typically be borrowed or withdrawn by the policyholder for any need that he or she sees fit. This can provide the policyholder with additional funds for the down payment on a home, the purchase of a car, debt repayment, or even for supplemental retirement income in the future.

Although the premiums for permanent life insurance can be more expensive than premiums for a term policy, the amount of the premium on a permanent policy will typically be locked in for life. This means that the policyholder will not need to worry about his or her premiums increasing in the future — even if they get sick or wind up with a chronic health condition.

In addition to all of the other uses of life insurance for those who are over age 50, a permanent life insurance policy can also be used for the simple purpose of supplementing one’s savings.

For example, a whole life insurance policy can help you to build up cash on a tax-deferred basis that can be drawn upon in the future in a number of different ways. Unlike money that is invested in the unpredictable stock market, funds that are inside of the cash value of a whole life insurance are provided with a guaranteed rate of growth. In addition, because of their tax-deferred nature, funds are allowed to compound over time with no tax due on the gain until the time they are withdrawn in the future.

This can provide not just safety, but also peace of mind in knowing that the principal is protected regardless of what is happening in the market, as well as in the economy overall. In addition, the death benefit on these life insurance plans is also tax-free to the named beneficiary (or beneficiaries). This means the money can be used by survivors for their financial needs, and all without having to hand over a portion of it to Uncle Sam.

While whole life is the most popular type of permanent life insurance coverage, you can also look into universal life insurance, variable life insurance, or even variable universal life. These niche policies tend to work better for consumers who have a specific financial goal, but they could work well for your needs depending on your situation.

Life Insurance with No Medical Exam

Many who have severe health issues may have to look into the option of no medical exam life insurance. This is often the only option for those who have been declined for life insurance in the past.

Each time an individual applies for life insurance coverage, the underlying insurer is essentially taking a risk on whether or not it will be required to pay out a claim. If the insurance carrier feels that the risk is too great, it will either charge the insured a higher rate of premium or it will deny the applicant for coverage altogether.

The good news is that people over 50 in the market for life insurance still have plenty of options — you just need to know where to look. You may assume that you won’t be able to get affordable coverage, but that’s why we suggest that you look into a no medical exam plan from Haven Life to get your life insurance protection.

A healthy man who is 50-years-old can pay as little as less than $15 a month for $100,000 in term life insurance coverage, whereas a healthy 59-year-old can pay as little as $27 a month for the same policy. Even at the age of 59, a $400,000 policy can cost less than $100 a month. Note that these are non-smoker rates for a 10-year term policy.

If you have health conditions like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes while looking for life insurance, you can expect increased rates. Smoking will also increase the rates for life insurance for individuals who are ages 50 to 59.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you’ll never know how much you might need to pay for life insurance unless you shop around. And really, that’s the main piece of advice I hope to impart on individuals ages 50 and older.

Purchasing life insurance coverage can be more challenging when you’re over the age

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Car Insurance: Liability vs. Full Coverage

car insurance coverage

Most people need car insurance in order to drive legally. Car insurance has two main categories: liability and full coverage.

The two types of car insurance will cover you in different circumstances. They also come at two very different prices. This article will cover the difference between the two types of car insurance coverage.

Liability Coverage 

Liability car insurance is simply insurance that covers your liability. In other words, liability coverage will pay for any damage to other property or people. You must pay out of pocket for your own damage though.

Liability coverage has two other subcategories as well.

Bodily Injury

Bodily injury coverage is exactly what it sounds like. This type of coverage covers medical expenses for the other party in the event you have an accident. Without bodily injury protection, you have to pay their medical expenses.

You can choose the amount of bodily injury coverage that you want to purchase. Keep in mind that most states require drivers to have bodily injury liability insurance to legally drive a vehicle.

Property Damage

Property damage coverage is also exactly what it sounds like. This covers physical damage to property, which usually means a vehicle. It may cover other property damage too, but this depends on the coverage.

Full Coverage

Full coverage car insurance is likely what most people think of when they search for auto insurance. Full coverage insurance will cover your vehicle in the event of an accident.

It may also cover your vehicle for than just an accident too, but this depends on the terms of the policy. Some policies cover acts of God, which means you will have coverage for natural disasters and other natural events. Some examples include the following:

  • Falling objects
  • Flooding
  • Theft
  • Other unforeseen circumstances

Legally Required Coverage

The coverage required by law varies depending on the state. Forty-seven states require liability insurance. The amount varies depending on the state. However, if you use a loan to purchase to a vehicle, then your loan provider will require you to purchase full coverage insurance. Lenders do this so they can receive money if you have an accident, or the car gets damaged.

Do I Need Full Coverage?

The decision to get full coverage or liability coverage is one that depends on a wide range of factors and your risk tolerance. This section will cover all the factors you should consider before deciding what insurance to choose. However, this section will not recommend a policy type for you to purchase. Simply consider the factors listed below when shopping for auto insurance.

Things to Consider

The following are a few considerations to make when deciding the level of insurance coverage you will need:

Your Ability to Purchase a Vehicle: one of the most important things to consider is your ability to purchase a new vehicle in the event of an accident. Remember, if you total a vehicle, then you will likely need a rental car for a few days while you search for a new car.

Also, you might have money at the moment, but if you’re in a money crunch and wreck your car, then you might have a problem purchasing a vehicle. Make sure to keep your ability to purchase a new vehicle in mind before dropping full coverage.

Vehicle Resale Value: another important factor is the resale of your vehicle. For instance, if you have a junk car, then paying for full coverage might not be worth it. Your insurance company will most likely total the car in the event of even the most minor accident because the cost of repairs exceeds the total loss in value of the vehicle. The car’s value might not even exceed the deductible, which means you might have to pay out of pocket!

On the other hand, if you have a very expensive vehicle, then full coverage will mean your wallet will not hurt as much in the event you wreck your vehicle. Your insurance company may even pay to fix the vehicle rather than writing it off. This just depends on the cost of the repairs and the total value of your car.

Policy Cost: the price difference between a liability insurance policy and a full coverage insurance policy will vary depending on a lot of factors such as your driving record, type of vehicle, zip code, and even the color of your car. It will also depend on your credit score!

Despite all those factors, sometimes only a marginal difference in price between the two policies exists. If the price difference is small enough, then it might make more sense to purchase the comprehensive coverage.

Risk Tolerance: one of the more critical factors in deciding the type of coverage you want is your risk tolerance. Insurance, by definition, is merely paying to transfer your risk to another party. You will have to analyze all the factors and determine the amount of risk you want to have.

Loan: if you have a loan on your vehicle, then you will have to purchase full coverage insurance for the amount of your loan. You might have the ability to lower the total coverage to your loan amount though. You will have to contact your lender to check.

Final Thoughts

The difference between liability insurance and full coverage insurance is a very large one in a legal sense and a benefit sense. It can also make a financial difference. You want to know exactly what type of coverage you purchase before signing a contract.

Make sure to fully review the policy and understand exactly what it covers and does not cover. This understanding is especially important for a full coverage plan since they tend to be very large.

More importantly, understand exactly what type of insurance fits your needs. Sometimes purchasing a liability plan make more sense for you and sometimes purchasing full coverage makes more sense for you. The above checklist should help you find the right type of insurance for your needs.

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