New Car Insurance — Finally

insurance

Last week (3 months late), I finally acted and switched my auto insurance from my current provider to Progressive.  I have had Progressive before and have no issues with being a member but ultimately, my choice was based on premiums.

Three months ago, my auto insurance renewed at $149.50 per month!  This was including a discount that came with a home policy as well.  That renewal was a $30 increase from the previous six months.  This increase was put in place even though 3 full years had elapsed since I had received a speeding ticket (boo!) and had dropped off my record. So when my company showed no interest in working with me, I looked at my options.

I checked with Esurance and Progressive, both with similar coverage and rates at $100 or less each month.  Even with losing the bundle discount from not keeping my home and auto policies with one provider, ultimately going with Progressive saves me about $60 per month. That is about $720 per year.

What I have noticed about insurance companies is that after a certain time, they increase rates exorbitantly. So, my charge is to drive safely, earn no violations and keep aware of better offers in the future.  For now, I am extremely pleased that I took care of this (belatedly, no doubt) and am getting my fall finances in order.

Next project, complete my tax returns!

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My Mint Account Reveals

Mint

I have been a Mint user for a little over a year now and I LOVE IT. I love it so much I wish, even now, that the moment I first heard Jean Chatzky mention it on an episode of Money Matters that I had gotten up off the sofa right then and created my account rather than waiting for as long as I did. I should have hopped up the moment she said it was FREE.

The love I have must be obvious because in one 2 minute conversation with my mom, I convinced her to try it and now, she LOVES IT, TOO. This is not to be taken lightly.  My mom doesn’t really have a lot of patience for sitting at a computer, gathering ALL of the account numbers, passwords, secret questions and the like. Plus, she has a healthy distrust of the internet and its ongoing security issues that get played out on the evening news.  Think Target, Home Depot, Ashley Madison, etc. But if you were to ask her, she would admit to those 2-3 hours of setting up her account as the best investment of time she can remember.

It has been a game changer for me.

Before Mint, I would check my accounts regularly at different websites plus kept a general spreadsheet of my income and expenses but never, had I had the ability and desire to gather ALL of my accounts in one place on my own.  I think this largely had to do with not fully understanding the concept of net worth at the time.

With Mint, having almost all my accounts in one place takes allows me to know my net worth, my credit score, my due balances and most importantly, my financial trends. It is the TRENDS function that has me so excited right now.

I was playing around with the TRENDS function in a way I hadn’t before and was able to determine how I have been spending my money by category.  I was particularly interested in the area of Food and Dining – specifically the Groceries sub-category. With Mint, I can compare trends over time.  The options range among last seven days, last month 3 months, 12 months or the comparison can be customized for a particular investigating.

I beat myself up a lot because of the amount of money I spend on groceries each month. We are eaters in the Thrifty Image household. We like to eat, Mirror Image likes for me to cook and I take joy in our being able to come together over a delicious meal without the extra salt, fat or costs of eating out. But I really felt that the monthly costs were pretty high. So I took a look and compared my costs over the last 6 months with the previous six months then did the same with the year to date.

What a pleasant surprise!

I have spent approximately $1,000 less these last six months than I did in the previous six months on Groceries. And I know why. The Water Challenge in January and the current Meat Free March challenge. I have been perplexed by what has felt like excessive spending yet, the overall food category has gone done overall. Hurrah!

This is just one of the ways Mint helps me manage my money and gives me the tools to explore not just the money but better money management.  With all of the information in one place, it is so much easier to manage the money and understand the nuances. With Mint I see:

  • Cash (Savings) Account
  • Investment (403b, 401K, Roth IRA, Schwab One, Betterment)
  • Credit Card Accounts
  • Housing Value (provide by Zillow)
  • Vehicle Value
  • Loans (Mortgage)

Accounts can be added (say you get a new credit card or open up a Betterment account) or they can be closed or deleted (perhaps your credit card number was stolen or your car was totaled and it doesn’t exist as an asset anymore). The only account I cannot currently see is Mirror Image’s Private College 529.  According to Mint, there needs to be a pent-up demand and I guess I am the only one with that account.  Another reason to transfer that account over to my State College Savings Plan!

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Monday Money Review

Monday - Let's Do This

It was a beautiful and productive weekend at the Thrifty Image household. Errand running,  a preteen sleepover, (more) shoveling and Church.  And great food, thank you Aldi and and Sam’s Club.

Here’s is where we work out if the weekend matched the expected weekend money so here we go:

Before

  • Church donation = $28
  • Groceries = $60
  • Dollar Tree = $30
  • Safelite (cracked window) = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Auntie’s B-day gifts = $100
  • Sam’s Club Rotisserie Chicken = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $20
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum = $0
  • Total = $238

After

  • Church donation = $28
    • Church donation = $28
  • Groceries = $60
    • Groceries = $63
  • Dollar Tree = $30
    • Dollar Tree = $30.22
  • Safelite (cracked window) = $0
    • Safelite = $383.00
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
    • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Auntie’s B-day gifts = $100
    • Auntie’s B-day = $0
  • Sam’s Club Rotisserie Chicken = $0
    • Sam’s = $7.97
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
    • Zip’s Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $20
    • Prescriptions = $0
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum = $0
    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum = $0
    • Gas = $26.21
    • Walmart = $60.98
  • Total = 512.19

Way over…and not even on fun stuff.

Groceries category wasn’t too bad based on my projections but still more than it should be for 2 eaters in one week.  We restocked from the storm and this will last us until next week.

Dollar Tree total is fun because I actually purchased $50 worth of stuff but used $20 in coupons and in store promotions. Last week I saw this YT video – Dollar Tree Haul Brag.  I had no idea it was a thing to purchase items at the Dollar Tree and post a video about it. So that led me to videos like this –Dollar Tree Couponing and this –  Dollar Tree Couponing.  I was hooked on the idea of seeing if I could get those staples that I often go to the Dollar Tree T for (movie candy, cleaning products, etc.) for less. And I did!  This is what my Dollar Tree shopping looked like this weekend:

Dollare Tree Shopping with Coupons
The Pedigree Dentix dog snacks were FREE with coupons!!

My dog has enough snacks for 6 months, now.  The Lysol cleaners came to only 50 cents each.  Our supply and snack cabinets are now stocked, locked and loaded.

Windshield repair.  Sigh.  It turns out that my windshield could not be repaired because the crack is longer than a dollar bill.  So, it is replacement for me, not repair.  Thanks for having my back, Emergency Fund.

Auntie’s B-day celebration has been pushed back to next weekend.

I purchased a Sam’s Club membership that came with a bunch of goodies.  However, what I didn’t know was that you had to redeem those goodies within 2 weeks.  Yikes!  So instead of walking out with a rotisserie chicken, I walked out with the chicken, the breakfast platter (pastries) and a cheesecake platter (7 flavors).  Obviously I will be asking the kind people at work to help me nosh through this unexpected haul.  Since I purchased this through Groupon and there was no paperwork, I didn’t know about the 2 week deadline.  It pays to ask the basic questions at the membership counter.

Sam's Club Membership Goodies
I looked like a real member with all this stuff!

I also used $7.97 to purchase watermelon sticks. Mirror Image and I love watermelon. And all of this came in timely since I had some giggly girls doing sleepover/movie night this weekend.

I did not pick up the prescriptions.  I was so overwhelmed by having to get so much more food than I thought, I completely forgot.

I forgot I needed gas and didn’t account for it on Weekend Money. I was excited to get gas for only $1.76 per gallon at Exxon until I drove further down the street and saw it for $1.69 at Shell.  Hopefully using my Plenti rewards card helps close that gap when I go to cash in my points.

My daughter’s printer ran out of ink on Friday night so we purchased that and a couple of either personal care items from Walmart.  I have to find a cheaper ink opportunity. It is too expensive.

So there is it.  On the surface, major fail being $361.30 over projections.  However, I would have had to get the windshield replaced anyway in order to drive legally. Here’s hoping for no surprises next weekend!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

 

Weekend Money

Weekend

The weekend is here and that means a loosening of the schedule, running of errands and spending some money.  At least that is how we do it in my neck of the woods.

Almost every weekend, when Mirror Image  and I venture out to run errands, we drive by a large Bank of America with a large parking lot that is across the street from a small PNC bank with a tiny parking lot.  Those places are usually packed.

I am inevitably stopped at a light at this intersection and while waiting, I make the usual observation that “folks are getting their weekend money”.   This use to fascinate my daughter.  Now  she doesn’t even look up from playing her free Minecraft imitation game on her FreedomPop phone.  Yes, I do say it a lot.  Not to judge.  Just as a funny observation.  I hate going to banks.  I bank electronically.  Hadn’t stepped foot in one in years before we set up Mirror Image’s savings account to hold her birthday money at the PNC across the street.  But clearly others still enjoy the process of going in to complete their money transactions or walking up to an ATM to do the same.

I started thinking though, that I can play the weekend money game, too.  I am going to pre-spend here on this post, then reconcile on Monday.  I plan for this to be another avenue of accountability and budgeting.  So here we go:

  • Church donation = $28
  • Groceries = $60
  • Dollar Tree = $30
  • Safelite (cracked window) = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Auntie’s B-day gifts = $100
  • Sam’s Club Rotisserie Chicken = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $20
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum = $0
  • Total = $238

Groceries will be tricky. My usual weekly grocery goal is $40. Mirror Image is a foodie like me. And she has been cooped up in the house all week because of school closures due to the storm.  She is going to want to eat her freedom via her mom’s mad cooking skills.  Aldi has some awesome yummies in the ad this week so hopefully this will help me stay on budget.

I have discovered that Dollar Tree accepts coupons for real!  Last year I tried to use one when  I saw the sign but the cashier was clueless so I just gave up.  Well, thanks to youtube, I found out that coupons actually are accepted and I plan of stocking up on cleaning supplies and dog snacks.  I have coupons for Lysol toilet bowl cleaner, Puffs Tissue, Bounty and Canine Carry Outs.  All of these products are currently being sold at the Dollar Tree.

My windshield is a victim of the storm that came rolling through. I discovered the crack and feather driving home last night.  But no issues because I have insurance!  Nationwide covers windshield repair at 100%.  And Safelite will come to me tomorrow morning (I set up the appointment online). My prayer is that this is a true repair and not a replacement. If I have to replace it, my deductible is $400.

It is Auntie’s birthday next week! She will be 81. Flowers, gifts and homemade cupcakes for the birthday girl.

I am not buying any clothes in 2016.

No dry cleaning necessary this week.

I purchased a Sam’s Club membership last year through Groupon.  I got the $45 option which gave me one year of membership, a $20 gift card to spend and a:

  • Free rotisserie chicken (2.75lb—$4.98 value)
  • Free Daily Chef Breakfast Pastry Platter (54 ct—$19.98 value)
  • $14 Off a $14.98 Daily Chef 7-Flavor Cheesecake

I love this deal because I basically got all my money back and then some. This weekend is all about the rotisserie chicken.  Because of my 30 day Water Challenge, I have used none of my restaurant budget this month.  Getting this chicken for FREE will be a nice treat without budgetary impact.

While at Sam’s Club.  I hope to pick up a prescription.  This will be my first time using their prescription services and I am hopeful that the price difference is as significant as I have heard.  According to the price list online, I should see great savings.

I mentioned that Mirror Image has been inside all week (except for walking the dog with me).  I picked up some Ripley’s Believe it of Not Museum tickets through Groupon last month for $18 for 2 entrants.  We may catch the commuter train downtown and visit the Museum and celebrate her excellent report card.  Not extra costs here.

So that’s the weekend money plan.  Looking forward to Monday’s accounting.

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

Speedometer Icon

Years ago, I had a job that required that I commute to Philly from my home office 2 times per week. I went to school in Philly and lived there after college so I love the town, the memories and the cheese steak. So it shouldn’t have been an issue. Except there kinda was an issue. Picking up Thrifty Image, Jr. from her after care, on time. Because if I don’t pick her up on time, I would get charged a fee. Plus, it’s rude and disrespectful to delay the after care workers. After all, they have spent their time watching the kiddies as agreed. They deserve to get home, too. Right?
So in order to get to her on time, I would manage my schedule that gave me just enough time to leave Philly and arrive on aftercare’s doorstep with seconds to spare. Unless I didn’t leave on time. Then, I might resort to speeding. Because it is better to speed than to pay $5 or $10 in fees, right? Well, no. In fact, it is better to make the hands free call to the aftercare center, apologize that you are running late and safely and legally drive on. That’s smart, right?

Here’s dumb.

No surprise that in this scenario, I sped to get to mini me on time as I was waylaid by a malicious traffic jam somewhere before crossing into Delaware. No pun intended. So I tried to make up the time by ever so slightly nudging to accelerator. I was caught. I was ticketed. I was ashamed. I never speed. I am known in my family as the speed police. But it doesn’t matter. Once was enough. I was caught red-handed. Or lead footed as it were. I think the ticket was about $100. Far more than the $5 or $10 I would have spent in fees is what you are thinking? Well you are right but it doesn’t stop there.
Traffic violations have a STRONG impact on you insurance rates. (they could also have a negative impact on your credit score if they go unpaid but who would do that?). At the time, I was paying $85 per month for my monthly premium with a new insurer I had just switched to (combined with home for a bundle discount , naturally). Soon, I noticed that my premium went up to $115! Error? Slipped discount? Bait and switch? No. Speeding violation that had made it onto my record. That would stay on my record for 3 years.
3 years.
Let’s do the math shall we?
$100 – speeding ticket
+$1080 – $30 per month increase on insurance premium x 36 months
=$1,180 – amount I will not be using for umbrella topped drinks on my vacation, or adding to additional principal on my mortgage or watching grow in a high-yield savings account
Use this tale of warning to help yourself. Watch the speed limit or watch your money get run down to the ground. Click here to learn more about how premiums can be impacted by traffic tickets and how to contest tickets.

Keep it 55!

Thrifty Image Mirror