How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?

Homeowners insurance is essential to protect what may be your most valuable asset — your home. But many people ask themselves, “how much homeowners insurance do I need?” It’s a valid question — buy too much and you’re wasting your hard-earned money. And if you don’t get enough coverage, you’ll be wishing you had more […]

The post How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need? appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. American Express® Gold Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card* and American Express® Gold Card are two of the most lucrative rewards credit cards available. Both cards earn flexible and transferable points – either Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. Both cards also offer solid welcome offers and earning potential, and each card can unlock powerful redemptions.

Deciding between the two comes down to what you’re looking for in a credit card and how much you’re willing to pay for extra services and perks. Let’s take a look at the Amex Gold versus Chase Sapphire Preferred and see which card may be right for you.

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Amex Gold: At a glance

American Express® Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Rewards rate
  • 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and on Uber Eats purchases
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases annually, then 1 point per dollar)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on travel
  • 2 points per dollar on dining
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
Welcome bonus 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Annual fee $250 $95
Other benefits  

  • Up to $120 in annual dining credits
  • Transfer Membership Rewards points to 19 airline and 3 hotel partners
  • Up to $100 property credit and upgrade (when available) when booking hotel stays of two nights or longer through the Amex Hotel Collection
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash annually (up to $10 per month)
  • Terms apply
  • Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to 11 airline and 2 hotel partners
  • 25% bonus when redeeming Ultimate Rewards for travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (a value of 1.25 cents per point)

Earning points

Both the Amex Gold card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offer the ability to earn valuable flexible points. American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points work in similar ways – the one you value most will depend on what other credit cards you have and how you typically travel. It’s fair to say that a Membership Rewards point and an Ultimate Rewards point have a similar, if not equal, value.

See related: American Express Membership Rewards vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards

That being said, the category bonuses of the American Express Gold card are decidedly better than those of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, for most people.

The Sapphire Preferred card only earns 2 points per dollar in the travel and dining categories, while the Gold Card earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com.

It is true that Chase’s definition of the dining and travel categories is less restrictive (dining and travel versus restaurants and only flights at amextravel.com). Still, once you consider that the Gold Card also gives 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases annually, then 1 point per dollar), most people will likely earn more from ongoing spending with the Amex Gold card.

Redeeming points

Both Membership Rewards points earned with the Amex Gold Card and Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Preferred can be redeemed in two major ways (at least for the most value per point). You can either transfer your points to hotel or airline partners or use your points to book travel directly.

Both American Express and Chase have a variety of hotel and airline transfer partners available. American Express has 22 different transfer partners, while Chase has 13 transfer partners. While the two brands share a few partners (Air France/KLM, British Airways and Marriott Bonvoy for instance), for the most part deciding which partnerships are worth more will depend on how you travel.

In most cases, both Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards points transfer 1:1 to airline miles and hotel points, and both American Express and Chase offer periodic temporary transfer bonuses to various partners.

When it comes to redeeming points directly for travel, on the other hand, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are distinctly superior. You can book flights through amextravel.com at a rate of 1 cent per Membership Rewards point, but for other types of travel (hotel, car rentals, etc.), you will only get a value of 0.7 cents per point. Ultimate Rewards points redeemed by a Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholder, however, get a value of 1.25 cents per point on airfare, lodging, rental cars and even some travel experiences.

Bonus perks

The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not have very many noteworthy perks, other than its high welcome bonus and redemption options – but one nice benefit is its rental car coverage. The Preferred card offers primary rental car coverage, meaning you don’t have to file with your own insurance carrier first. Rental car coverage on the Amex Gold card is only secondary (after your own primary car insurance.)

The American Express Gold card has two big perks that come with having the card, that can boost its value. First, there is a $120 Uber Cash credit – the most recent addition to the list of Amex Gold benefits. You can use up to $10 per month on Eats or Rides in Uber Cash when you add your Amex Gold as a payment method in your Uber app.

best cards for grocery spending.

On the other hand, the higher welcome offer, increased value in redeeming points and lower annual fee mean that the Sapphire Preferred will likely provide more value for most people, especially during the first year of having the card. Take a look at your spending and travel patterns and decide which card is best for you.

*All information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. 

Source: creditcards.com

Credit Sesame Will Give You A Free Credit Score, Credit Monitoring And Identity Theft Insurance

Credit Sesame is a service that gives you FREE monthly credit scores and credit monitoring. Here is what they have to offer, and why you should sign up.

The post Credit Sesame Will Give You A Free Credit Score, Credit Monitoring And Identity Theft Insurance appeared first on Bible Money Matters and was written by Peter Anderson. Copyright © Bible Money Matters – please visit biblemoneymatters.com for more great content.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Mortgage Impounds vs. Paying Taxes and Insurance Yourself

If you’ve been researching mortgages, or are in the process of taking out a home loan, you’ve probably come across the term “impounds” or “escrows.” When you hear these seemingly scary words, the loan officer or mortgage broker is referring to an impound account, also known as an escrow account. You may even be told [&hellip

The post Mortgage Impounds vs. Paying Taxes and Insurance Yourself first appeared on The Truth About Mortgage.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Buying a Home Sight Unseen

buying sight unseenViorel Kurnosov/Getty Images

Buying a home sight unseen might seem like a massive gamble: plunking down hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of dollars on a property you’ve never set foot in, your fingers crossed it looks just like the photos and doesn’t have major issues! So how lucky do you feel, anyway?

But during the pandemic—when stay-at-home restrictions made touring a property difficult and folks were eager to get out of densely populated cities—greater numbers of buyers than ever before were more game to buy sight unseen.

One of those buyers was Jenny Haiar of Sioux Falls, SD, who recently went through the virtual process of purchasing a new condominium in Scottsdale, AZ. She purchased a one-bedroom, one-bathroom with a view of the mountains.

How have Haiar and other buyers like her successfully bought a home sight unseen? Sure, the process comes with risks and challenges, but, if done right, it’s possible to land a property that checks all your boxes. Just be sure to avoid the following mistakes.

1. Not asking the right questions

Zach Combs at Northrop Realty in Maryland says asking questions is the No. 1 tool in purchasing a home. The simple equation: the more you ask, the more comfortable you will be when it comes time to sign the paperwork—so let the queries fly.

“I ultimately compiled a list of everything I thought of regarding my day-to-day and work-life needs, goals, and expectations,” says Haiar. “This was about eight months of questions and answers to gain a full understanding of the homeowners association, rules, policies, buying process, and more.”

Combs says you can never ask your real estate agent or potential new HOA too many questions, so jot down each and every one.

2. Not hiring the best local agent for the job

A local real estate agent can serve as your eyes and ears when buying a home sight unseen.

Haiar knew exactly what she was looking for, but she didn’t live in Arizona.

“I felt a local agent based in Scottsdale could give me the best overall bird’s-eye view of properties. I never felt pressured to look at anything that didn’t fit my criteria,” says Haiar.

Vet agents by looking at personal testimonies, and don’t be afraid to ask them for a list of references. You can use a real estate site (such as this one!) to uncover more info about how long the agents have been at the job, their sales volume, the areas they specialize in, and client reviews.

3. Not fully using all technology

FaceTime tours, Google Street View, and online property listings are all useful tools you need to take advantage of when buying a house sight unseen.

“Use every bit of technology available for the listings you are interested in,” says Combs. “Not all listing agents or sellers pay for a 3D tour, but if they have one, use it to understand the flow of the house.”

He says at the very least, buyers should always video-chat with their agent to see the house and get a feel of the space.

4. Not demanding a floor plan

While a floor plan may not always be available, it is an important detail buyers should not overlook.

“If you have an open space in your current dwelling, either outside or inside, where you can tape off the actual room sizes, then you can make a mock layout with your furniture. This will help you truly understand if the space really can work for you and your family,” says Combs. 

If a floor plan is unavailable, ask if your agent can measure the rooms and give a crude layout of the space. If an agent can get the measurements, Combs recommends buyers use Floorplanner.com, a free tool that can help you visualize your potential new home.

Understanding the floor plan was crucial for Haiar. When coordinating furniture delivery, she says, it was important to know the items fit in her space.

5. Not getting an appraisal and a home inspection

Giving a home a good walk-through is important with any home purchase, but buying sight unseen means calling in the experts.

“If you are purchasing the home with a loan, your lender will require an appraisal for them to be able to close the loan,” says Combs. “If you’re buying with cash, then it would be up to you.”

But regardless of how you’re financing the purchase, Combs says buyers should get a home inspection when buying sight unseen, “so you know exactly how much work the house needs and if you are comfortable handling those repairs.”

Haiar says it’s also important to have an insurance broker review insurance requirements and your HOA policy and coverage (if applicable).

The post Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Buying a Home Sight Unseen appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

The Half Payment Budget Method Explained

The post The Half Payment Budget Method Explained appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

The half payment budget method might be what you need.  If traditional budgets do not work, you really might want to consider this method instead.

 

half payment budget method

 

If you do any research, you will find many ways to budget.  However, many times, the options you find do not work for you.  That is why it is important to find the right budget for your needs.  A new one you may not have tried is the the half-payment budget method.

This system helps many people stop living paycheck to paycheck.  Simply explained, it is where you take your regular, recurring payments and divide them in half.  Each payday, you set aside the necessary money out of each check so that you have the full payment available when it is due.  The half payment is not paid at that time, but rather you hang onto it and pay it on the due date.

If you are just learning about budgeting, you will want to check out our page — How to Budget. There, you will learn everything you want to know about budgets and budgeting.

HOW TO USE THE HALF-PAYMENT BUDGET METHOD

In order to explain this in a simple manner, here is how this system might look for you:

Monthly income: $2,500 (paid $1,250 every other week)

Recurring monthly payments (other than utilities):

Mortgage/Rent: $900
Vehicle Payments: $450
Auto insurance: $100

When you apply the half-payment method, your weekly budget would look something like this:

Paycheck #1 – $1,250

Set aside $450 for rent/mortgage
Set aside $225 for vehicle payments
Set aside $50 for insurance

Leaves $525 out of your paycheck for other expenses

Paycheck #2 – $1,250

Take $450 from previous paycheck and add $450 and pay $900
Take $225 from previous paycheck and add $225 and make full $450 payment
Take $50 from previous paycheck and add $50 to make $100 payment

Leaves $525 out of your paycheck for other expenses from each check

 

Now, let’s compare this to the method that many use – to just pay when the bill is due:

Paycheck #1 – $1,250  

Rent – $900

Leaves $350 for all expenses

Paycheck #2 – $1,250

Vehicle payments – $450
Insurance – $100

Leaves $700 for additional expenses

If you do the math, you will notice that you still have the same to spend over the course of a month, however, you will see a difference in the amount from each paycheck.  You might show that you have more money left after your 2nd paycheck of the month, but will you really save that?  Most people do not. If they have extra month to spend, they just spend it.

 

How to Start

I would not recommend that you jump in and change all of your bills so that they are paid using this method.  That may be too much and you might quit before you even really get started!  Instead, select one bill, such as a car payment, and try using the half payment method for a few months.  Once you see it works, you can transition other bills into this same payment method.

 

Why it Works

So, why would you use the half payment method?  For many it works better because you have around the same income to spend out of every check, rather than cutting your spending in half like you see in the second example.  For many, there is always that paycheck that makes spending tough.  When you have to pay a few larger bills all out of one check, it often leaves little to no money left for other purchases.

By changing to the half method, you are still paying your bills, but you are just earmarking money to pay a bill due later in the month.  You still have the same income.  You still pay your bills on time. However, you have more disposable income every two weeks by doing it in this way.

What is great about this method is that it works no matter how you are paid.  If you are paid monthly or weekly you might try using a quarter payment method every week (breaking out your check to leave spending weekly).

 

If you want to learn more about understanding your money attitude, change your spending habits and get out of debt once and for all, check out the Financial Rebook eBook.

The post The Half Payment Budget Method Explained appeared first on Penny Pinchin' Mom.

Source: pennypinchinmom.com

How to Buy a Used Car, Step By Step

You’ll have to purchase the report if you’re buying from a private seller, so wait until you’re seriously interested in a particular vehicle. If you’re buying from a dealership, the salesperson should provide a copy of the vehicle history report for free.
These tips will give you some guidance to make a good choice.
Montoya said plans sold by auto manufacturers or reputable dealerships are better options than those sold by third-party companies. Make sure you understand exactly what your plan covers.

Why Buying a Used Car Is a Smart Money Move

For any dealer you visit, do some due diligence and check customer reviews online. If you know others who’ve recently purchased a car, ask for recommendations.
The end of a model year — around September or October — is another good time to shop, DeLorenzo noted, as salespeople are looking to make deals to clear out their used vehicle stock to make room for new inventory.
Buying an extended warranty or service plan can give you peace of mind that certain repairs or maintenance jobs will be covered.
“Severe accidents and instances where a car has been declared a total loss should signal the buyer to use caution,” he said. “That said, a small fender bender shouldn’t always mean that a buyer should walk away from a great deal.”
But don’t just assume a car’s history. Getting the car’s history report, such as through Carfax, is a crucial step when buying a used car.
Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Former staff writer Carson Kohler contributed to this post.
Don’t just look at the tires’ tread. Each tire should include a four-digit number marking the month and year it was manufactured. Tires older than six years can be dried out and need replacing.

The Best Time to Buy a Used Car

RobertCorse/Getty Images

If cost is your primary concern, a private seller is likely to offer a lower price. A dealer folds overhead, repairs and marketing into its price.
Of course, when you need a car might not align with a particular sale or time of month. Shopping for a vehicle before you’re in critical need of one will allow you time to search for the best deal rather than having to settle for something quick.
Sharifi said to watch out for discrepancies with the odometer reading and if there’s a branded title, which indicates that the car has been significantly compromised in some way.
Be wary of independent car lots that boast they can make you a deal regardless of your credit or circumstance.
“The end of the month (or the end of a quarter) can also be a good time to strike a deal, since dealerships may need to hit monthly or quarterly sales goals,” he said.
Before you accept a sales price, research the value of the car to make sure you’re not overpaying. Carfax, Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds all have price appraisal tools online.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.
DeLorenzo recommends pre-qualifying for a loan at a bank or credit union before visiting a dealership. You can compare the offer with the dealer’s financing terms for better negotiating leverage.
Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said when dealerships host big sales events for new models that can also benefit used car shoppers.

FROM THE SAVE MONEY FORUM

Where to Shop for a Used Car — and Where to Avoid

Where you shop for a used car matters so you can avoid purchasing a lemon.
When you’re buying from a private party, you may be able to get more accurate information about how they’ve driven and maintained the vehicle and what particular issues it might have, said Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.
Knowing when and where to buy a used car is just half the battle. Figuring out how to vet a used car can be tough, especially if you have little to no car knowledge.
The older a car is, the cheaper it’ll be — but the more it’s likely to have issues requiring repair. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to what they’re willing to handle. A general rule of thumb is that a car is driven about 12,000 miles per year. A higher average could mean the car has more wear and tear.

Pro Tip
“In the first year of ownership, depreciation can continue, and that same car could be worth up to 20% less than its original sale price,” he said.

Montoya said used car buyers must strike a balance between the age of the car, the amount of miles and what price they’re willing to pay.
However, there are certain times when you’re more likely to score a better deal.
“You want to make sure there’s enough room for you,” Montoya said. “Take a look at the cargo area. Take a look at how easy it is to see out of the vehicle. Test out the entertainment system.”
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
However, you also need to be OK with buying the vehicle as-is and securing your own financing. And be sure the owner has clear title to the car — in other words, don’t let anyone sell you a car they don’t legitimately own.

What to Look for When Buying a Used Car

GreenPimp/Getty Images

You can also compare similar vehicles on the market to get an estimate of a car’s value, but keep in mind, no two used vehicles will be the same due to how they were driven and maintained. Use all this information when you sit down to negotiate — and don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t think you’re getting a fair price.
Knowing the ins and outs of how to buy a used car will make the whole process less stressful and, most importantly, save you money.

1. Find a Vehicle That Fits Your Needs

Sometimes just looking at a car will give you some idea of its history. Rust, worn out pedals and a side panel painted in a different color are red flags.
DeLorenzo recommends shopping at franchised car dealerships that have certified pre-owned cars — used vehicles that have been thoroughly inspected and typically come with some type of warranty coverage. Non-certified cars aren’t bad — and they’ll typically cost less — but they’re more likely to have higher mileage and more maintenance needs.

2. Determine How ‘Used’ You’re Willing to Go

Unlike new car releases, used cars come on the market throughout the year. It all depends on when their previous owners end their leases, put them up for sale or decide to trade in their vehicles.
It’s best to avoid shopping for a car on the weekend when there’s an influx of customers and sales staff is spread thin, Sharifi said. You’ll get more attention from the sales team by visiting on off hours, specifically on weekdays.
Those vehicles often have low mileage and are in great condition, having had only one previous owner. Sometimes they even still retain a hint of that new car smell.

Pro Tip
“Typically they’ll try to get you in with a low price, but you may not be getting the best quality car,” he said. “The other thing is that if you get your financing through those types of dealers, they typically charge you a much higher interest rate.”

3. Make Sure The Price is Right

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average price of a new car in November 2020 was more than ,000. Yowser.
New cars are sleek, shiny, full of impressive tech and smell amazing — mmm, new car smell. But they also come with price tags that can take your breath away — and not in a good way.
So that covers the why. Now let’s get into how to buy a used car.

4. Check the History of the Car

For any used car purchase, but especially if you’re buying from a private seller, have your mechanic inspect the vehicle before committing to buy.
When you’re budgeting for a car purchase, make sure you’re factoring in all the associated costs, like sales tax, insurance and getting the car registered.
Always, always, always take a car for a spin before buying it. If you can bring a mechanic with you, even better.
Think of the big sales that fall around holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
“[Dealerships] will have more used vehicle inventory as a result of those types of promotions,” he said.

5. Go for a Test Drive

Outside of dealerships, look for cars online at trusted sites like Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, Carfax or Edmunds — or buy from a private seller.
Just because you’re buying a car at a lower price point doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a clunker that was manufactured decades ago. Cars that are just two or three years old often hit dealership lots when their previous owners reach the end of their lease.

Pro Tip
If you’re in the market for a set of wheels that’s more affordable, steer your sights over to the used car lot to save a little money. Or even a lot of money.

Jim Sharifi, formerly a content editor at Carfax, said research shows a new vehicle can lose as much as 10% of its value within the first month.
It’s easy to focus on the numbers — age of the car, mileage and cost — but you also want to make sure you’re buying a car that’ll fit your needs for however long you expect to have it. If you have a growing family, you might want to rethink that two-door coupe or compact vehicle.
“Some general things you can do on your own without being super knowledgeable about cars is [to] turn off the radio [and] listen for any strange noises,” Montoya said. “See if the steering wheel stays straight when you drive down the road. Does it pull to one side? Look at the tires to see how old they are.”
If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a car as a depreciating asset, it’s true. The longer you have a car, the less it’s worth. The first year of owning a new vehicle is when depreciation really packs a punch.
When you buy a used car, the original owner has already taken that initial hit on depreciation and the price you pay accounts for that, so you don’t have to shell out as much cash.