Archives for May 2005

Met with my Agent last week… (Car Insurance, not Acting)

Ok, I sat down and talked with my State Farm agent. One really annoying thing is that I had certain coverages because I swear I was told I needed them for my $1 million Personal Umbrella Policy. This time, I was told I didn’t need them. I feel somewhat misled, and am seriously considering another agent, but maybe I just misheard. Humph. Here’s what we discussed:

Non-owned Car Coverage – Liability
I drive a company car for work, and also for personal use. This extends my liability (and $1M Umbrella) coverage to that car, so if something happens in it I am covered. It only costs $10/year, and also covers rental cars, so it’s definitely worth it to me. I was told that this was required for the Umbrella Coverage (I think), but it’s not.
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Automobile Insurance Part 3 – Should I get the Extras?

Speed Racer(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2.) In addition to liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, there are a couple other options to choose from in the car insurance world. These include: Personal Injury Protection, Emergency Road Service (Towing), Rental Car Coverage, Full Glass Protection.

Personal Injury Protection
While Liability covers the other person’s vehicle, PIP covers the medical cost for the passengers in your vehicle, no matter who’s fault it was. Chances are if you already have decent health and disability insurance, you won’t need this coverage. Some states require a minimum amount, like mine. I’m just carrying the minimum.
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White Trash Champagne and a Moment of Silence

I hope everyone is enjoying remembering those who have died in our nation’s service along with the eating of charred meat, potato salad, and beans from a can. Oh, and don’t forget to try “white trash champagne” – beer + lemon-lime soda.

On a more serious note, according to USMemorialDay.org:

“To help re-educate and remind Americans of the true meaning of Memorial Day, the “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’.”

How Much Car Insurance Coverage Do I Need? (Part 2: Collision and Comprehensive Coverage)

porsche.jpgThe most common advice I hear about how to lower your car insurance premiums is either to drop collision on your car, or raise your collision and comprehensive coverages as high as possible. But first, I think you have to put things in perspective first.

What is collision coverage? Will it go up if I make a claim?
Collision insurance will cover costs related to repairing damages to your car due to an accident with another car (including hit-and-run). Usually this type of coverage is only required when you lease or have a loan on your car. In most cases, if you do get in an accident and make a collision claim, your rates will go up. Some companies will forgive the first accident if you have a certain length of accident-free history. For me I think it’s 10 years.
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How Much Car Insurance Coverage Do I Need? (Part 1)

Thanks for everyone’s comments about insurers, I’m going to whittle it down to 3-4 major auto insurers, I don’t want to deal with the small fries. My policy expires in mid-July, so I have a bit of time. Now I need to examine my policy coverage levels to see if they are appropriate. There are many components of auto insurance, and I actually understood very little about each until recently.

How much liability coverage do I need?
Liability covers damage you may cause to other people’s property and injuries to the people themselves, including your passengers. It offers protection from lawsuits. Usually each state designates a minimum level of coverage that everyone is required to have, something in the neighborhood of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident, and $5,000 property damage.
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Need a summer job? If only I could make it this easily…

Apparently someone I know knows someone who knows somebody to who knows this woman selling ad space on her body. (Got that?) $11,300!!! Talk about an easy summer college “job”! I’ve worked full-time entire summers for a lot less.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Request for Auto Insurance Recommendations

I may be purchasing my company car after it goes off-lease. This, of course, means I have to insure it myself along with our current car, and I’ve been meaning to shop around for car insurance again anyways. I’m tempted to get quotes from everywhere, but as I understand it many of the car insurance companies pull “hard” inquiries on your credit report, which will hurt your credit. (Update: I’m not entirely sure about this. This link at Washington Mutual Insurance suggests something different. However, some people have had inquiries from car insurance companies show up on their credit report). So, I’m asking my readers to give me their personal advice and experiences. Which car insurance company do you have? Do you like it? Does it have a good multi-car discount? Which did you switch from? What website did you use to compare prices? Thanks!
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Google Maps + GasBuddy = Improved Gas Price Website

As a follow-up to my post on gas expenses as part of budgeting, Flexo introduced me to Cheap Gas, which lets you locate visually where the cheapest gas around you is (if you live in a major metropolitan area). I found a decent-priced station somewhat along my work commute, gonna check it out later. Cool!

I am one of the chosen ones. Yay.

I have been chosen as a juror for an estimated 3-4 week trial. Balancing this and work is gonna s-u-c-k. I’m intrigued by the whole process though, and I’m not unhappy I suppose. I’m going to bring my laptop and see if I can get some work in during the (many) breaks. Maybe some blogging too. The case? Can’t tell ya, but let’s just say I know why certain Google Adsense keywords are so lucrative…

Inadequate Jury Duty Compensation

So I’m now finished with Day 2 of jury duty and still going, and as of right now I have a 40% chance of getting picked on a jury for a four week trial! My company does pay me while serving on jury duty, which makes me happy after hearing all the people talk about the lost wages they’ll suffer from if they get picked. I totally feel for the hourly workers… Jury duty pay in my area is like $25 a day. Of course, the courthouse is located right smack in downtown – that’s how much parking + a cheap lunch costs per day!
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Budgeting, Part 2: Variable Expenses: Gas

Ok, I’ve gotten off track from my close examination of my family budget. In Part 1, I went over monthly fixed expenses. I’m glad to say I cut $6/month in fixed expenses already. Now I’d like to move on to variable expenses. First, gas. Although prices are dropping right now, they still represent a significant part of most people’s budgets. In April, we spent $117 on gas for two cars (and we were gone for a week). We currently just go to the Shell station near our place and get regular gas when we need it. Is it really worth the extra effort to do anything else?

My main tool to save money on gas: I use my Citi Platinum Select MasterCard. It gives me 5% cash back on all gas purchases, which ends up being about 13 cents a gallon. For me, that’s about $100 a year savings on gas!

Other than that, I gathered the usual tips for saving money on gas, let’s see if they help:

1) Buy cheaper gas. Websites like GasBuddy.com and GasPriceWatch.com list gas prices of local gas stations, so you can find the cheapest place. For some reason, Arco is just always dirt cheap where I live. I don’t get it. But I still don’t use Arco, as they charge extra for credit cards, which negates their price advantage. I am also soooo waiting for my local Costco to get gas. That would be sweet.

One thing is for sure: Don’t buy premium gas unless your car’s manual says you need it. This has to be one of the best ad campaigns ever, calling hi-octane gas “premium”.

2) Drive differently. Simple stuff really. The more you drive, the more gas you burn. The higher RPM your engine revs, the more gas it burns. Drive less, and watch that tachometer. I already minimize my driving and have no NASCAR delusions like others, so not much savings to be had here.

3) Improve your gas mileage by optimizing your car.

– Make sure your engine is tuned properly according to your car manual. If it’s spurting out crap, check it? I just passed my smog test too, so I’m happy.
– Check & replace air filters. Mental note to check on this. I don’t think I’ve done this in a while for my older car. Supposedly this can improve mileage by up to 10%!
– Keep tires properly inflated. Mental note to check on this too. Hint: Even if the place charges 25 cents for “Air”, fill up first, and then ask the guy in the booth. Every time I’ve asked they’ve turned it on for free.
– Remove excess weight. Pretty obvious. My trunk is pretty empty, but seriously some of my friends need to clean out the New Kids on the Block cassetts from their trunks…

Of course I’ve left out a bunch, like buying fuel-efficient cars, carpooling, etc. For a good resource, check out http://www.fueleconomy.gov/ and run through the items yourself. For me, I think checking my air filter and tire pressure is a cost-effective idea. Otherwise, I’m not sure I can do that much more to save money on gas.

Pop Quiz: Test Your Investment Knowledge

I know, it’s too early for a quiz. But it’ll be fun! =) Vanguard has a quiz on investment knowledge with 20 questions. The questions are pretty good overall, some good questions that probe common misconceptions. I scored 95%. I know, I’m hot stuff. That’s pretty good – according to Vanguard:

“Some 1,000 investors completed the 20-question 2002 Vanguard/Money Investor Literacy Test in May and achieved a mean score of 40%, which is a modest improvement over the 37% score on a similar test administered by Vanguard in 2000.”

Yeesh, 40%? If you score that low, I’d recommend either more coffee or go read Random Walk Down Wall Street or Informed Investor. Which one did I miss?
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