The Dough Roller | Money Management and Personal Finance
Founded in 2007 by Robert Berger, the Dough Roller has become a popular personal finance blog read by millions each year. They bring you the best tips, resources and news to help you make the most of your money. Their content has been featured by the likes of MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Business Insider, and U.S. News.
Donating your used clothes, household items, or even vehicles is a great way to declutter. But there are special rules when it comes to deducting these items on your tax returns. Here’s how to value non-cash donations at tax time.
Clutter can be overwhelming. It’s easy to let outgrown and unused things pile up over the years, especially if you’re not sure what to do with them. One way to clean out your closets, give back, and save money on your taxes is to donate non-cash items to charity.
Whether you’re cleaning out your kids’ old toys or giving college books to the Salvation Army, the non-cash items you donate have a value. When you itemize your taxes, you may be able to write off the value of those items, ultimately saving you some money.
Here’s everything you need to know about deducting non-cash donations to charity.
First, you should know that in order to deduct the value of donations on your taxes, you need to itemize your taxes. There are two ways to take deductions on your taxes: the standard deduction and itemized deductions.
The standard deduction is an annual, set amount that every taxpayer is entitled to take on his or her tax return. When you itemize, though, you can include a variety of deductible expenses, including real estate taxes, mortgage and student loan interest, cash and non-cash contributions to charities, job-related expenses, union dues, and more.
(Note: Some of this will change with the recently-enacted tax law. The government has increased the standard deduction and reduced some of what you can claim as an itemized deduction. Check out this article for a discussion of the deduction changes and what they may mean for you.)
Whether it’s better to itemize or take the standard deduction depends on your tax situation. But the bottom line is that you should take whichever option gives you the bigger write-off.
When you itemize, you’ll do so using Form 1040 Schedule A. It includes slots for all of the different items that you can write off on your taxes as a deduction.
Unless you know for sure that you won’t be able to itemize your taxes, you should do the math to decide which deduction will work best for you. If you use a tax-preparation software or hire a reputable tax-preparer, they’ll tell you which option will work best for you.
If it’s to your advantage to itemize your deductions, though, you should be as specific as you can. And make sure you don’t forget anything. Even a few old pairs of jeans from your kids’ closet could save you some money on your taxes! You’ll save between 15 and 35 cents for every dollar you can deduct on your taxes, depending on your tax bracket.
Cash vs. Non-Cash Donations
If you give cash donations to a charity or church, the nonprofit should send you a receipt at the end of the year detailing your giving. Some are better about this than others, though. So be sure to keep track of all your cash donations.
These are easy to include when itemizing your taxes. Simply total up how much you’ve given in the tax year, and put it in the appropriate Schedule A line. If you donated or tithed by check, record-keeping for the year is even simpler. Just be sure to save those receipts or check records in case the IRS ever questions your deduction.
Valuing Non-Cash Donations
Non-cash donations, on the other hand, can get a little squirrely. Donations of items like clothing, cars, or household goods are assessed at the “fair market value,” or FMV. This is about how much you could get if you sold the items directly to a willing seller.
However, as with all things IRS-related, you need to be able to back up your claims about how much items were worth at the time of donation. This means that you need to keep good records about any non-cash items you may have donated.
Many times, when you donate items to a well-known nonprofit like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, they’ll offer to give you a receipt for your items. However, these receipts are usually blank. You’ll have to decide how to value the items. It’s best to include as many details as possible about the items you’ve donated. This should include the number of items and descriptions of the items’ conditions. This will help you avoid FMV issues.
Then, you can use a handy online tool like the Salvation Army’s Donation Value Guide to see how much your items might be worth. The Salvation Army’s list isn’t all-inclusive. And gives you a low and high resale value for a variety of generic items. It’s up to you to decide how much your items are ultimately worth and to value them accordingly for tax purposes.
You can actually deduct quite a bit for some items, including clothing and kids’ toys. However, it’s best to be honest when it comes to your valuations, rather than taking the highest value for everything you donate.
Other Information to Record
Besides a description of each item donated and the items’ value, record the name and address of the organization to which you donated the items. You should also include the date and location of the contribution and what resources you used to determine the value of the property.
If, for instance, the nonprofit gave you the resale value of a big-ticket item, cite that in your records. Or if you just got a list of items from the nonprofit and then used the Salvation Army’s Donation Value Guide to value them, record that.
Also, if you received anything in return for your donation, you’ll need to record that, too. This is one place things can get a little confusing.
Say, for instance, that you donate an old vehicle worth $2,000 to a local charity. In return, the charity gives you a pair of tickets to a local concert, worth $100. In this case, you can only claim the difference between the tickets’ value and the value of the vehicle on your taxes, so $1,900.
Total Property Values
If you donate a stack of clothes to Goodwill, chances are you’ll wind up valuing the total donation at less than $250. In this case, you just need the above-noted information to make sure the donation is legitimate. You can put the valuation of the non-cash donation directly into your Schedule A and be done with it.
But if you’re donating property worth more than $250, things get a little trickier.
If you’re donating items valued between $250 and $499, you’ll need to be more detailed with your description. You’ll also need to write down the tax year for which you intend to take the deduction. And you’ll need a statement about whether or not you received anything in return for your donation.
Non-cash donations valued in excess of $500 will need to include information about how you received the property. This includes whether you bought it yourself, inherited it, or whatever the circumstance may be. And you’ll need more detailed information about the actual value of the property. This could include information about when you received the property so the IRS can determine if the valuation is fair.
So, what if you’re donating items that are even more valuable? Say, a car that is worth more than $5,000.
In this case, you’ll need to get an appraisal of the item to include with your tax records. Some charities that accept large non-cash donations like this will help you with the process. Otherwise, you may just need to have an appraisal done on your own, and keep the resulting paperwork with your other tax-related documents.
If you do contribute more than $500 worth of non-cash donations in a tax year, you’ll need to fill out Form 8283. This form requires you to put more information about your non-tax donations together. So, if there’s a chance that you’ll donate $500+ worth of items to charity in a tax year, check out this form. See what it requires, and then keep your records with this specific form in mind.
Changes for 2018
If you’ve read anything about the new tax law, you may be wondering how that could affect your charitable giving in 2018. When it comes to valuing non-cash donations, it won’t have much effect. Except that you may not wind up taking a deduction for your charitable giving at all.
One change the tax law implements is that givers can now donate up to 60 percent of the Adjusted Gross Income in cash, as opposed to the prior 50 percent limit. But that doesn’t have much effect on our current question in this article.
The change that may make a difference, though, is the one that bumps up the standard deduction significantly. Single filers can now take a standard deduction of $12,000, while married people filing jointly will be able to take $24,000. (Remember, this is what you can claim in 2018 on your 2017 taxes!)
This makes it much less likely that you’ll meet the threshold for itemizing your deductions. And if you know for sure based on your itemized deductions that you won’t meet that threshold you don’t really need to value your non-cash donations, anyway. Instead, you can just give away that stuff you don’t need without worrying about receipts. But if you think you might still itemize, be sure to follow the above steps to properly value those donations!
Donating to charity is a great way to give back to your community and get rid of the extra stuff you have lying around. But before you drop off those items at Goodwill or have Salvation Army grab them off your porch, be sure you know what you need for your records. It’s important to be as accurate as possible if you want to successfully claim their value as a tax deduction.
Apps today can help you earn a side income. We’ve assembled 32 of the best money making apps that just about anybody can use to earn some cash.
You already do everything from banking to handling your bills via smartphone. So why not use your phone to earn money, too?
The apps listed below generally won’t make you rich any time soon. But many can give you ways to earn just a bit of extra cash. Check them out if you want to earn a little money on the side, often for little to no actual work.
This app puts trending news and ads on your phone’s lock screen. That’s kind of annoying. But it then pays you for the privilege. When you slide your phone open, you earn a little bit of money. You can transfer the money to your PayPal account or use it to buy gift cards or donate to charity.
This app is generally geared towards those who want to make a few bucks, but you could also become a full-time Gigwalker. You can use the app’s built in map feature to find gigs near you. Gigs can include things like putting together furniture, walking the dog, or just running basic errands. Pay for and frequency of gigs depends on where you live.
This app gives you alerts when you qualify to take a paid survey. You can set up your profile ahead of time, and then get notifications for surveys for which you qualify. You can also do product reviews, be a secret shopper, or test ads. You’ll get money, which you can reward at iPoll’s online store.
This is another survey app that lets you set up your profile and then take surveys for which you get paid. It lets you rate shopping experiences and products or even review movies or TV shows. You’ll get your first dollar right away when you download the app.
Here’s yet another survey app that lets you get surveys about once a week. With this app, you get rewards that you can use in the Google App store. The surveys are generally pretty short, and can include things like rating different ads.
This app is similar to others that focus on surveys but also let you earn money by watching videos and completing other small online tasks. It will notify you when you can complete different types of offers. You can then transfer the rewards to your PayPal account as cash.
You’ll have to work slightly harder to earn money with this app. But Uber driving could be a full-time job if you work it hard enough. For many, though, it’s just a side gig. Consider signing up to drive and then just turning the app on as you go about your day. You might be able to pick up a ride on your way to work or school, for instance, for just a bit of extra money.
This app basically turns your step counter into cash. It tracks your activity, and then rewards you with sweat coin. You can’t turn the digital currency into cash. But you can spend it in the in-app store on goods and services, or you can donate them to charity as cash. It’s an easy way to earn cash just by walking around.
If you’re constantly snapping photos on your smartphone, Foap could help you make money. You can sell your photos to brands and individuals around the world. You can sell photos you already have in an online portfolio. Or you can go on specific missions to sell photos to brands like Bank of America or Pepsi. Foap lets you cash out your earnings through PayPal.
Turn your spring cleaning into cash with Mercari. This app-based shop lets you sell everything from toys to clothes. Your listings are free. You just pay a 10% fee when your sale is complete. This is also a great place to buy used merchandise online.
We’ve written before about Swagbucks as a way to earn side money. You can make this even easier now by using Swagbucks as an app instead of just on your computer. As with many of the other apps featured here, this one will give you notifications when you’re eligible to take surveys or complete other paid tasks.
Want to become a secret shopper? Mobee lets you do it easily. Download the app and then use the map to pick a business on it. You can complete missions at a variety of retailers and restaurants. You’ll get points for each mission, which you can redeem for gift cards or swag.
Here’s another way to sell unwanted stuff with ease. Just download the app, and then sell pretty much anything. This app is made for local sales of larger items like furniture, but you can also find baby and kid stuff, clothes, electronics, and more.
With this app, you can take fun pop quizzes on everything from album covers to movie quotes to anatomy. You’ll earn points for each quiz, which you can cash in on your Perk Plastik Discover Card or to buy gift cards. Each quiz also enters you into a daily cash prize drawing for $50.
This app makes it really easy to earn rewards without having to think about it. You just link it to your credit and debit cards, spend as you normally would, and then earn points by shopping with your favorite retailers. You can redeem the points you’ve earned for free gift cards.
If you’re interested in earning money by completing basic tasks and running errands locally, check out Task Rabbit. You can earn money for completing these things for your neighbors, and then you can cash out your money. It could be a good side gig.
Use Ibotta when you go shopping to save with cash back rebates or earn points for buying your favorite brands. You can also earn by linking your store loyalty cards to the app or sending your receipts to the app after you shop. You can cash in your cash back through PayPal, Venmo, or in the form of gift cards.
Kill some time with this app, and earn money while you’re doing it. With the app, you can try apps and games or watch videos to earn rewards that you can cash in through PayPal. You can also cash in your points for gift cards.
This book lets you find retail pricing for used books and textbooks. Just use your phone’s camera to snap a picture of the book’s ISBN, and you’ll see what it’s worth online. You can even use the app to create a shipping label for the books you send to Bookscouter. This is a great app if you want to declutter some books, cash in on your used college textbooks, or shop for potentially valuable used books at garage sales and thrift stores.
Here’s another app that lets you make money off of your smartphone photos. This gamified photo selling app gives you points and lets you level up as you provide businesses with photos. You can use the app to create a portfolio and to share photos with whoever you want. You can also get notification about requests you might be able to fulfil.
This app lets you sell specific types of items that you might have lying around the house. It focuses on CDs, DVDs, and games. You can use the app to snap a picture of the item and get an instant offer for the price. You can ship the items to Decluttr for free and get your money by direct deposit the next day.
As with Uber, Lyft drivers have to apply. And Lyft’s criteria are a bit more stringent. But, still, you can install this app to give rides as you go about your own day, which can be an easy way to earn a bit of money on the side.
This cash back app lets you search for rewards, coupons and promo codes. If you’re a frequent mobile shopper. Installing eBates can help you save. The app also gives you push notifications about new deals and sales.
Use the Shopkick app in your favorite retail stores, including Target and Walmart. While you’re there, you can complete challenges like walking down different aisles or completing a scavenger hunt for certain items. You can also earn points by submitting your receipt after you shop. You can redeem Shopkick points for free gift cards to Amazon, Target, and more.
This is the replacement for the older eLance website. It lets you find gigs, similar to the other gig apps mentioned here. But for the most part, these gigs will take place online. You can find work as a virtual assistant, a writer, or a web developer. And you can set up the app to get notifications of job openings and more.
With this app, you can get notifications about missions in your area. Basically, your goal is to help companies better serve their customers. You can do this by visiting local stores, shopping for specific products, or taking photos. You can also answer questions or take surveys. You’ll earn cash, which you can receive via direct deposit or Dwolla.
If you use credit cards or retailer apps, chances are some of the items you buy are subject to price protection policies. This means if the price drops within a certain amount of time of your purchase, you get a refund. Earny hooks up with your credit cards to automatically search for price drops and subsequent refunds. The app takes 25% of the refunds it gets you. But since you probably were never going to remember those policies anyway, it’s still free money.
10 Largest Banks in the World
1. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
Established in 1984, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has quickly grown to become the largest bank in the world based on assets. Its current asset tally is a whopping 3.47 trillion. ICBC focuses most of their efforts in industry (the name kind of gives it away). They offer the majority of their loans in manufacturing, transportation, power and retail. This bank shows no signs of slowing down either. It reported a 3.3% rise in profit for the 3rd quarter of 2017.
Headquartered in Beijing, China
2. China Construction Bank Corporation
The second largest bank in China also happens to be the second largest in the world. The China Construction Bank Corporation currently holds $3.02 trillion in assets. One of the older banks in China, CCB was founded in 1954. In 2005, Bank of America wanted to expand its business into China. So it purchased a 9% stake in CCB. That didn’t work out so well however. And BOA needed to sell most of its stake in 2009 during the US financial crisis. In 2013, Bank of America sold its remaining position in CCB and has focused its Asian operations in Hong Kong.
Headquartered in Beijing, China
3. Agricultural Bank of China
If you’re sensing a trend here, you’re not alone. Yet another Chinese bank, the Agricultural Bank of China ranks third largest in the world with $2.82 trillion in assets. Known as Ag Bank and founded in 1951, the Agricultural Bank of China has branch locations in Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, London, New York and many other of the world’s largest cities. Fun fact: In 2007, Ag Bank was victim of the largest Chinese bank robbery ever. Thieves stole $7.5 million.
Headquartered in Beijing, China
4. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (Mitsubishi)
With $2.63 trillion in assets, Mitsubishi is Japan’s largest bank holding/financial services group. Part of the Mitsubishi Corporation, the company provides a wide variety of financial and investment services including commercial banking, trust banking, international finance, and assets management services. With all of the accolades MUFG has garnered, it’s surprising to learn they were only founded in 2005.
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan
5. Bank of China
Yet another Asian bank rounds out the top five. Bank of China controls $2.61 trillion in assets and was founded in 1912. While this bank is no longer 100% government owned, the largest shareholder of the Bank of China is still the investment arm of the People’s Republic of China. The Bank of China is the second largest lender in the country. It currently has two locations in the state of New York.
Headquartered in Beijing China
6. J.P. Morgan Chase
One of the two so-called “too big to fail” banks, along with Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase is the sixth largest bank in the world with $2.50 trillion in assets. The company provides products and services to its clients in 100 countries, It offers asset management, investment banking, private banking, treasury and securities services, and commercial banking. J.P. Morgan Chase is traded on the NYSE under ticker symbol JPM. Of all the banks on our list, Chase is the second newest, having only been founded in 2000.
Headquartered in New York City, New York
7. HSBC Holdings PLC
HSBC Bank has more than 460 bank branches throughout the United States, with the majority (380) in New York State. This one comes in at number seven on our list of the biggest banks with $2.37 trillion in assets. HSBC offers its 4 million customers access to global markets through its personal financial services, private banking, retail banking, commercial banking, and global banking and market segments. HSBC was initially founded in British Hong Kong in 1865.
Headquartered in London, UK
8. BNP Paribas
This French bank comes in at number eight with $2.19 trillion in assets. BNP is one of the largest global banking networks in the world with operations in 75 countries. BNP has four domestic retail banking markets located in France, Italy, Belgium and Luxembourg. In April 2009, as a result of BNP’s 75% purchase of Fortis Bank, the Belgian bank is now the largest Eurozone deposit holder. BNP Paribas was founded all the way back in 1848. Its core profitability comes from retail banking. More than three quarters of its revenue comes from everyday client accounts.
Headquartered in Paris, France
9. Bank of America (BAC)
BAC is the largest bank holding company in the United States, by assets, with $2.19 trillion. The company serves clients all over the world and has a relationship with 99% of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies. In 2008, BAC acquired Merrill Lynch, making it the world’s largest wealth manager. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and is part of the S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina
10. Wells Fargo
Sneaking into the top 10, Wells Fargo has labored through the last few years with a few scandals they’d like to forget. Still, the bank currently holds $1.93 trillion in assets and is one of the United States’ largest retail banks. Founded all the way back in 1852, Wells Fargo has close to 9,000 retail locations scattered across the United States. They became my bank of record when in 2009, when they purchased Wachovia. All of a sudden, my login was changed, and I remember seeing a lot of wagons!
Headquartered in San Francisco, California
So there are 10 largest banks in the world. But of course, bigger is not always better. So if you are looking for banks with the best interest rates, check out these options:
Buying car insurance for the first time can be intimidating. To help, we’ve researched the best auto insurance for young adults. Here’s what we found.
If you’re behind the wheel of a car, you need auto insurance. And if you’re a young driver, you know that this insurance can often come at a high premium. A higher cost is inevitable across the board. But your state still requires that you carry coverage. So which company offers the best auto insurance for young adults?
Let’s take a look at the auto insurance companies out there that insure young drivers. We’ll also explore the discounts available from each. And we’ll see which one will provide you with the best service and coverage every time you get on the road.
Factors Impacting Cost
A number of variables impact the cost of auto insurance premiums you’ll pay each month. Things like your driving history, credit history (in certain states), and where you live in your city can raise or lower your cost significantly. The amount of coverage you choose–state-required minimum liability or additional coverage–will also impact the price of your premiums.
Of course, there’s also the issue of your age.
Younger drivers (those under 26, typically) will typically pay a considerable amount more each month for auto insurance, regardless of the other factors involved. This is because these drivers are obviously less experienced behind the wheel. They also have higher rates of speeding, driving under the influence, and crashes involving speeding.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 64% of alcohol-impaired accidents resulting in a fatality in 2010 were caused by drivers between the ages of 21 and 34. And when examining accident-related fatalities in 2012, they found that 37% of 15- to 24-year-old male drivers were speeding at the time of their crash.
It’s no wonder, then, that auto insurance companies charge a higher premium for drivers under the age of 30, and particularly those under 26.
Premiums can also be affected by the insured’s credit history, which many young adults are still working on. Other factors like whether they own or rent their own home and how many miles per year they drive also can count more heavily against young drivers.
Which Companies are Best
Some auto insurance companies are better than others when it comes to insuring young adults, though. Let’s take a look at some of the best out there, and what they offer.
This insurance company is known for ads targeted at the younger crowd. Plus, they offer low, instant quotes. They were also bought out by Allstate a while back, so they are now supported by one of the most established, reliable companies on the market.
Esurance has an easy-to-use website and online portal, making it simple to get an instant quote and manage your account once you establish coverage. They offer a mobile app. It lets you to view your insurance documents, make a claim, communicate with agents, and even upload supporting documents, straight from your phone.
They offer a number of discounts for drivers, too, helping you save some cash each month. Here are a few:
Fast 5 Discount: Simply start a quote online and you’ll snag 5% off of your first term’s premiums.
Switch & Save Discount: Bring your insurance over from another company to Esurance, and they’ll reward you with 5% off of your first two terms’ premiums.
Good Driver Discount: This is the most significant discount in most states. Esurance automatically grants it to drivers without any significant incidents (accidents, citations) on their driving record.
Defensive Driver Discount: Complete a voluntary, certified defensive driver course (online or in a classroom) and receive a price cut on your premiums.
Good Student Discount: If you are a student under 25, have a B average (3.0 GPA or higher), and are enrolled full-time in high school, a university, or college, you’ll be qualify for this discount.
Pac-12 Discount: Are you a Pac-12 student or alum living in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, or Utah? Esurance has a price break for that. For more info on qualifying, visit their Pac-12 Discount page here.
On top of everything they offer, Esurance also has a reputation for excellent customer satisfaction ratings. In fact, the JD Power 2017 U.S. Auto Insurance Study found Esurance to be the top-rated insurance company in the country.
You’ve probably seen commercials recently for this auto insurance provider, touting their New Car Replacement coverage. Well this, combined with a wide variety of discounts to choose from, makes Liberty Mutual a great choice for young adults.
Here are a few of the discounts that they offer to young drivers:
Good Student Discount: Available to student drivers under the age of 25 who also maintain a B average or higher overall.
New Graduate Discount: Just walked the stage? Great! You’re eligible for exciting new savings to commemorate your accomplishment.
Newly Married Discount: Newlyweds can celebrate with added auto insurance discounts through Liberty Mutual.
Vehicle Safety Features Discount: Have airbags in your vehicle? What about bluetooth hands-free capability? Lane departure sensors? You’ll find a number of safety-related discounts just for driving the car you already have.
While not a discount, Liberty Mutual also offers another valuable feature: accident forgiveness. This means that if you get into an at-fault accident, your premiums won’t go up after one claim. And if you’ve just bought your first new car, you might consider adding the company’s New Car Replacement rider. If your car is totaled, you’ll get enough money back to replace it in with a similar car.
The jingle seems to ring pretty true, even for younger drivers: Nationwide really is on your side. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy online quote or multiple premium discounts to choose from, this insurer offers it all.
Nationwide gives drivers discounts for just about everything, including:
Easy Pay Sign-up Discount: Sign up for paperless billing and auto-pay to snag an easy discount. And you’ll also never forget to pay your premiums!
Accident-free Discount: If you’ve gone 5 or more years without an accident, you’ll pocket some extra cash in the form of a discount on premiums.
SmartRide® Discount: This little device plugs directly into your vehicle and offers Nationwide feedback on your driving and vehicle usage, in exchange for a potential notable discount.
Good Student Discount: Drivers aged 16 to 24 who are enrolled in school full-time and maintain a B average or higher can take advantage of this price break.
If you’re worried you’re missing out on potential discounts and price breaks, Nationwide will even help you evaluate the policy. Simply request an On Your Side® review. This free assessment takes a look at your policy and individual needs. You can then determine if you have the right level of coverage for your lifestyle, if you’re taking advantage of all the discounts available to you, and if you understand your policy and benefits.
Blame it on the witty lizard or the lightning fast online quotes (promising to save you 15% or more). But GEICO is worth a look if you’re a young driver seeking auto insurance. The company consistently carries a four-star customer satisfaction rating from JD Power and offers excellent rates. They even have a unique program that makes transitioning from mom and dad’s policy to your own easy and cost-effective.
In addition to other great features and discounts, GEICO offers the Family Pricing program. You may have gotten an awesome rate by jumping onto your parents’ policy as a teen or young adult. But these usually skyrocket when it’s time to split off onto your own policy. However, GEICO does things differently.
With the Family Pricing program, you can receive the same great rates you enjoyed on your family’s policy, even if you move to a solo policy. This allows you to spread your wings a bit without seeing premiums double, triple, or worse. Of course, you may lose out on certain discounts your parents enjoy (such as multi-driver/multi-car discounts or combined policy discounts for also insuring a home, motorcycle/boat, or personal property). But at least your base rate will stay the same.
Here are some other great discounts that GEICO offers young drivers:
Good Student Discount: Are you a full-time student in high school or college, aged 16 to 24, with a B average or higher? You could save as much as 15% on your premiums.
Good Driver Discount: If you haven’t gotten in an accident in the last 5 years, you’ll see a reduction of as much as 26% on your bill.
Vehicle Safety features: If you’re driving a later model vehicle with a number of safety features, you could save quite a bit. An anti-lock brake system will net you 5% off. Anti-theft systems save up to 25%. Airbags will earn a discount between 25-40%, and daytime running lights net another 1% off.
Certain affiliations: GEICO offers discounts if you’re a member or alum of a number of different schools, sororities/fraternities, student organizations, federal groups, and more.
Founded in 1922, State Farm is one of the oldest auto insurance companies around, as well as the largest auto insurer in the country. They have a proven track record for customer service, reliability, and fair pricing. And this extends to their younger customers, as well.
The company boasts excellent customer satisfaction ratings from JD Power with just shy of five stars. Of those companies listed here, they’re only second to Esurance. They offer plenty of excellent discounts to ensure your premiums are manageable. They also offer various online tools to make managing your account–and choosing coverage–easier than ever.
If you’re looking into State Farm, here are a few of the discounts you can enjoy:
Good Student Discount: While almost all companies offer a discount to students with good grades, State Farm continues this discount even after graduation. If you’re enrolled full-time with a B average or higher, you can enjoy up to 25% off of your premiums. Once you graduate, this discount will continue all the way to age 25!
Good Driving Discount: If you’ve gone three or more years without a driving incident, you’ll snag yourself a hefty discount for being a safe driver.
Drive Safe & Save Program: Enrolling in this program allows State Farm to log data from your phone’s app or your vehicle’s OnStar/SYNC system, in order to see if you’ve been a safe driver. If so, you’ll receive notable discount on premiums based on the info they receive.
Steer Clear® Program: If you’re 25 or younger, haven’t had an accident in the last three years, and want to snag a hefty discount on your premiums, the Steer Clear program is perfect for you. It serves as an opportunity to review your driving skills through their online or in-app course. Those who complete the program? They’ll earn serious discounts on their bill.
Getting the Cheapest Price
Getting auto insurance as an adult under 30 (and particularly under 26) is a pricey venture. Thanks to good ol’ statistics, you’re going to pay more than if you were a few years older. There’s just no avoiding it.
However, there are a few ways that you can make the best of the situation and find the lowest possible rates on car insurance.
Boost Your Credit. Improving your credit history can, in many states, result in a drop in auto insurance premiums. Not all states factor in your credit history, but many do. Having a positive, established history can work wonders for your quote.
Drive Responsibly. It should go without saying, but the smarter you are as a driver, the lower your premiums will be. Avoid speeding tickets and definitely don’t get in an at-fault accidents if you want to see your bill drop.
Raise Your Deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premiums will be. Depending on your situation, the difference can be significant. Just make sure you have enough money set aside that you can cover the deductible if the need arises unexpectedly.
Combine Coverage. If you have homeowners, renters, personal property, or boat/motorcycle insurance, look into combining policies with the same company. You can often net serious savings by creating a multiple-policy bundle, rather than paying each policy separately with different companies.
The Wells Fargo Way2Save offers a Save As You Go option designed to help banking customers save more money. In our review, we look at how Way2Save works, including its rates and fees.
When it comes to saving money, I’m a big believer in doing whatever it takes. If having too much tax taken out of your check each week so you get a big refund helps you save, do it. You’ll lose interest on your money while Uncle Sam is holding on to it. But it’s better than blowing it on stuff you don’t need.
Way2Save is a basic FDIC-insured savings account with two twists. The first and most important one shows you the value of a high-interest savings account. Unfortunately, Wells Fargo pays a grand total of 0.01% APY on all balances with this account. The amount you save doesn’t matter. And your previous relationship with Wells Fargo doesn’t matter. This account simply does not offer a reasonable interest rate.
The second twist is much more beneficial and has to do with what Wells Fargo calls the Save As You Go option. Save As You Go requires you to have a Wells Fargo checking account in addition to the Way2Save savings account. With both in place, Wells Fargo will help you save by transferring $1 from your checking account to your savings account when one of the following occurs:
You make a check card purchase (using a PIN or signature).
You pay a bill online with Wells Fargo Bill Pay.
You have an automatic payment deducted from your linked checking account.
Perhaps most importantly however is that the Way2Save account charges a monthly maintenance fee of $5 unless one of the following three conditions are met:
The account holder is under the age of 18
You set up a direct deposit
Your carry an average daily balance of $300
Is Wells Fargo Way2Save Worth Your Time?
The sad reality for this kind of savings account is that it’s outdated. When interest rates were under 0.50% and the economy was in the tank, a bank could get away with offering a poor interest rate if they offered other perks. Having your money automatically taken from a checking or debit card and placed inside of a savings account was a pretty neat feature 10 years ago. Today, dozens of other sites offer savings apps that do this very thing. And many offer this perk without charging a penny.
As I said at the start of this post, I’m all for doing whatever it takes to save some dough. And if the Save As You Go option helps some save money, that’s great. Still, it seems like more of a gimmick to me. And if you keep relatively small sums of cash in your checking account, the last thing you may want is for money to be transferred to savings. Wells Fargo won’t make the $1 transfer if it would cause the account to be overdrawn. But keeping track of your balance in light of automatic $1 transfers could be a real headache.
Bottom line; this may have served a portion of savers years ago; but today it holds almost no value. Look to put your money in an online savings account, or high-yield CD to get an exponentially better return. Then if you want to add an automatic savings component, use an app like Qoins or Acorn to get it done. Wells Fargo’s Way2Save is a financial dinosaur.
Bitcoin isn’t the only digital currency available today. Here is a list of the best cryptocurrencies as measured by their general acceptance by investors and consumers.
Cryptocurrencies. We hear of them all the time, even in the financial media. It’s worth noting that they’ve only been around for less than a decade. But despite that short history, hundreds of cryptocurrencies have arrived on the scene.
We’re not even going to attempt to describe all 1,500 cryptocurrencies, or even to list them. But below is a list of eight of the most popular cryptocurrencies, and a brief description of each.
Bitcoin is most widely traded of the cryptocurrencies, and easily the most popular. It’s become unusual to read the front page of a major financial publication and not see at least one article on this crypto. One of the reasons for the BTC surge is that it’s now easily traded in the United States, and can be bought and sold with ease.
Bitcoin is also the first cryptocurrency. It came into existence in 2009, and is credited to someone who goes by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It has become so popular that some large companies have begun accepting it for payment. Major companies include Microsoft, Expedia and Overstock.com.
Coin ATM Radar.com reports that there are more than 1,400 Bitcoin ATMs across the US, and the number is growing rapidly.
Litecoin is based on an open source global payment network, and was founded in 2011. Like most cryptocurrency’s, it’s a peer-to-peer Internet currency. The currency was actually developed to improve on weaknesses in Bitcoin, but Bitcoin remains by far the largest player in the cryptocurrency market.
One of the benefits of Litecoin is that it actually has more currency units than Bitcoin (84 million versus 21 million). Though that benefit is largely offset by the fact that Bitcoin can be split into smaller units, known as satoshi. (If all of this seems confusing, it’s because crypto currencies are still in their infancy, and both the field and the details are changing rapidly.)
Ethereum is probably the second most well-known crypto currency, behind Bitcoin. The currency was rolled out in 2015, and started in Switzerland. However, it has since split into two separate block chains, Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). Ethereum Classic is actually the continuation of the original.
Ethereum is sometimes considered to be Bitcoin’s chief competitor, and even heir apparent to the dominant position. It’s shown a similar price pattern to Bitcoin over the past couple of years, and the two seem to be moving largely in tandem.
Zcash is a Bitcoin competitor that provides higher levels of privacy and fungibility. It’s hoped that it will provide greater anonymity for its users. This is in response to privacy concerns over big data becoming more easily accessible. Zcash supposedly enables its users to operate within the network while being completely anonymous.
Anonymity is provided by the fact that transactions are encrypted and can only be viewed by users who have access to the information. Bitcoin, by contrast, operates using an open ledger system.
The currency has only been around since October, 2016, which makes it about middle aged in the cryptocurrency scheme of things.
Bitcoin Cash is a derivative of Bitcoin Classic, and came into existence in August, 2017. It’s main benefit is that it increases the size of blocks (as in blockchains), and allows more transactions to be processed. It was designed to avoid situations in which transaction times could be delayed as more blocks reached maximum capacity. Technically speaking, it increases the block size from 1MB to 8MB.
The increase in transaction capability–it is hoped–will enable Bitcoin Cash to compete with PayPal and Visa, in handling large numbers of transactions. At the moment, it seems to be more of a concept that a common currency.
Like Bitcoin Cash, Dash provides faster service to its users. And like Zcash, it offers greater anonymity. Launched in January 2014 as “Xcoin”, it was rebranded as Dash in 2015. Like other cryptocurrencies, Dash duplicates Bitcoin’s code, but seeks to offer improvements on its weaknesses.
For example, while it can take several minutes to complete a transfer through Bitcoin, the same transfer could be run through Dash in a matter of seconds. The additional speed also prevents multiple uses of the same cryptocurrency. It’s believed that longer transaction times open the possibility that a user could make simultaneous purchases with the same currency. Should that happen, one of the recipients would not receive payment. Dash seeks to remedy that problem.
Ripple is one of the older crypto currencies, having been launched in 2012. But it’s actually better known for its digital payment protocol, than as a standalone cryptocurrency. It operates as an open source, peer-to-peer, decentralized platform. It allows seamless transfers of money in any form, including global currencies like the US dollar, and competing cryptocurrencies.
The downside of this cryptocurrency is that trust is a major factor by the network participants. The system uses, Gateway, to act as the credit intermediary. It receives and sends currencies the public addresses over the Ripple network. Anyone can register and open a gateway, authorizing the registrant to act as a middleman for exchanging funds.
Holding balances with a gateway opens counterparty risk. This is similar to the concern that many have with traditional banks. If the gateway doesn’t honor a liability, the user can lose the currency held at that gateway.
Manero is a digital currency, and one that also offers a high level of anonymity. It’s a decentralized peer-to-peer cryptocurrency but is characterized as a private digital cash. The currency was started in April, 2014, as a “fork” of another cryptocurrency. A fork is when an original cryptocurrency is split into two. In the case of Monero, it’s a fork of Bytecoin.
It’s still one of the smaller cryptocurrencies, but it’s been growing due to its high level of anonymity. Monero, unlike Bitcoin, doesn’t enable a sender to view the recipient’s holdings, even if the sender has the recipient’s public address. Currency sent to the recipient is rerouted through an address that’s randomly created, specifically for that transaction. It makes it impossible for anyone to track the addresses and individuals involved in past transactions.
Final Thoughts on Available Cryptocurrencies
My thought is that we shouldn’t get locked into any of the above cryptocurrencies, even though they’re currently the most popular. This is a fast changing environment, and we’re likely to see a changing of the guard (or several) in the coming years. In fact, it’s probable that this list will look very different one or two years from now. The entire cryptocurrency concept is in the very early stages of its evolution.
Raising your car insurance deductible is one way to save money on auto insurance. But how much will you actually save. We’ve done the research, and here is the answer.
When choosing the auto insurance policy that’s just right for you, you’ve got a lot of options. Do you want state-minimum liability? Should you pay more for full coverage? Can you take advantage of any special discounts? These are all important questions, but there’s one more to consider: whether raising your deductible will save you money on premiums each month.
Adjusting your policy’s deductible for collision and non-collision claims can indeed impact your premiums in either direction. But is the difference in price really that significant, and is it worth the financial risk?
Let’s take a look at what an adjusted deductible can do to your monthly bill, and whether it’s the right decision for you.
What is a Deductible?
When you purchase an insurance policy of any kind (auto, home/renters, or even health), there is a deductible involved. This is the amount of money that you, as the policyholder, agree to cover up front if you file a claim.
With an auto policy, the deductible is related to added coverage for your own vehicle. If you’re involved in an accident for which you’re at fault, your state-required liability coverage will cover repairs and damages for the other driver and their vehicle. But what about your car? You still have damage, and you’ll likely want it repaired.
If you’re at fault in an accident–or if your vehicle is involved in a hit-and-run, is broken into, or if the glass is broken/cracked somehow–you can make a claim against your full coverage auto insurance policy. Then, your insurance company will also pay for your vehicle’s repairs, for every dollar past your deductible amount.
What does this mean? Well, let’s say that you get in an auto accident and your vehicle sustains $4,000 in damage. You have opted for full coverage (as opposed to only buying state-minimum liability), and your deductible is $500. This means that you will pay the first $500 in repairs (usually to the repair shop directly). Your insurance company will foot the bill for the remaining $3,500.
Of course, you will pay more money in premiums for collision coverage each month. You’ll also pay more in premiums the lower you set your deductible.
Why Deductibles Impact Premiums
The lower you set your deductible for your collision coverage insurance policy, the higher your monthly premiums will be. Why is this? Well, by lowering your deductible, you’re essentially choosing to accept less risk for your policy. Your insurer shoulders more of the responsibility if you make a claim. So this translates to a higher bill for you each month.
However, if you choose to raise your deductible–essentially accepting more financial responsibility for future claims–your insurance company will reward you by lowering premiums. This is in their best interests, too. Higher deductibles eliminate smaller, more frequent claims against the policy. You won’t make $400 windshield claims if you have a $1,000 deductible, for instance. However, you might if you only have a $250 deductible.
So, you know a higher deductible means a lower monthly auto insurance premium. But how much lower are we talking? Is that drop in price each month really worth the added financial responsibility?
How Much Deductibles Impact Premiums
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-`cut answer as to exactly how much your premiums will be impacted if you adjust your deductible up or down. The answer is unique to each company and each individual policy. Depending on your vehicle, driving history, and coverage limits, you may see a greater or lesser impact.
We took a look at two auto insurance companies that both offer quick online quotes to see how a change in deductible would impact the quoted premiums. Here’s a look at how Esurance and Progressive measured up.
When I got my initial quote from Progressive, I picked a Choice (or mid-level) plan. This included property damage and bodily injury liability coverage that was twice my state’s minimum requirement. The default setting was for a deductible of $500 a month. It resulted in a monthly cost of $32.13 (or $386 a year).
Then, I wanted to see how altering my deductible would impact my monthly premiums. Progressive’s online tool was really neat. It let me see exactly how each change would impact my monthly bill, all from one screen. Here’s what it looked like:
As you see, bumping my deductible from $500 to $1,000 would mean dropping my premiums by $17 every six months. This would result in a savings of $34 a year or about 8% of my premium. This isn’t incredibly significant. But hey, every little bit helps.
If I took it a step further and increased my collision deductible to $2,000, I would see savings of $39 every six months, or $78 a year. This equates to about a 20% drop, or two months of auto insurance coverage at this rate, so that’s quite the savings.
I found similar results from Esurance. There, the website couldn’t confirm that I currently had auto insurance and asked me to fax or email proof of coverage. This raised my monthly premium quote substantially, but the impact of the deductible change was the same.
Esurance even offered up a handy chart, based on “drivers like me.” There, it showed the true breakdown of the premium and how individual coverage choices–including a raised or lowered deductible–would impact the price I pay.
Here, you can see that the shift from a $500 collision deductible to a $1,000 one results in a savings of almost $12 a month. That’s about $144 a year saved (or just under 7%), which isn’t chump change!
You can also adjust this within your quote directly rather than just calculating by the chart. Here, you see that my premium cost due to the chosen collision deductible of $1,000 is $39.32 a month.
However, if I adjust this even higher to $2,000, my deductible-related price drops to $30.54. That’s a savings of almost $9 a month, or another $108 I could save each year.
Is a Higher Deductible Worth it?
The real question isn’t just how much you could save each month by raising your collision deductibles. You should also be asking yourself, should you?
Yes, you could potentially save tens or even hundreds of dollars a year, depending on your individual policy. However, you need to take into account whether or not you can afford the expenses that come along with a higher deductible.
This means that if a rock cracks your windshield on the highway, you’ll likely replace that out-of-pocket. A few hundred dollars at the glass shop isn’t worth an insurance claim, of course, especially if your deductible is higher than the bill’s total. But do you have the budget to cover that expense when it unexpectedly crops up?
The same goes for your deductible. If you get in an at-fault accident or otherwise need your vehicle repaired, a $250 deductible–even when it’s an unexpected expense–isn’t too painful. However, a $2,000 deductible can be a significant hit to your budget. When $2,000 stands between you getting your vehicle back in driveable shape after an accident or being without a car, can you afford to drop that kind of money without notice?
Making it Work
If you choose to save money each year by holding a policy with a higher deductible, there are a number of ways to make that work for you even more.
Ideally, you should take those savings and put them in your emergency fund. You could even establish a separate, vehicle-specific savings account, specifically for things like glass repair or covering your deductible in the event of an accident. That way, you’ll pay less out of pocket for your policy each month. But you’ll also have contingency funds in place in case something does happen.
You should also research ways to save money on premiums aside from just raising your deductible. These include paperless billing, bundling auto policies with other types of coverage (renters, homeowners, or even personal property, for instance), and being a safe driver. Some states take your credit history into account. So be sure that you’re doing all you can to improve your credit history if you want to see lower premiums.
Switching your auto policy’s collision deductible to a higher amount can be an easy and immediate way to recognize monthly savings. Before you make the shift, though, be sure that you are financially prepared for both out-of-pocket expenses and the risk of paying that higher deductible unexpectedly.
Tuck your savings away in your emergency fund or a designated savings account. Then you’ll not only keep more of your money each month, but you’ll be prepared for anything that happens.
Buying car insurance is more complicated than just finding the lowest price. To help, here’s everything you ever wanted to know about car insurance.
Each year, millions of consumers make decisions about insurance. And it’s actually one of the more complicated decisions we make as consumers. Whether it’s auto, health, or life insurance, the options, features, and pricing can all be a bit overwhelming.
When you’re paying for insurance, you’re basically paying for financial protection. It’s a less straightforward financial product than, say, a loan or checking account. But it’s also one of the most important.
Our goal here is to help you figure out how to find the best auto insurance at the best rate. Before you can do that, though, you need to understand exactly what it is that you’re shopping for.
Car Insurance State by State
One thing you should know about car insurance is that it’s regulated at the state level. Each state has its own car insurance expectations, but it’s now mandatory on some level in every state. Massachusetts was the first state to make car insurance mandatory way back in 1927.
These days, all states require motorists to carry at least liability insurance. We’ll go into more detail later. But for now, know that this is the type of insurance that generally protects other people’s property and physical damage should you cause an accident.
All states require basic liability coverage. But their requirements can vary dramatically. Arizona’s requirement, for instance, is 15/30/10. But Idaho’s is 25/50/15. What do these numbers actually mean? Let’s start there, and then we’ll move into other options you can pay for when it comes to car insurance.
Basic Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is the type of insurance states require drivers or vehicle owners to carry. This type of insurance covers someone else’s expenses if you cause an accident. We’ll talk later about the type of insurance that covers your own expenses. For now, know that this basic insurance basically acts as financial protection for other drivers. If you cause an accident, your liability insurance will cover two things: bodily injury and property damage.
So if you get into a minor fender bender that causes the other driver to get whiplash, your liability insurance will cover repairs to the other driver’s vehicle and their doctor’s visits to have their neck looked after.
You’ll notice in the state minimum discussion above that we listed insurance minimums as three numbers. But doesn’t liability insurance only cover these two things? Yes. But the three numbers stand for the following:
Bodily injury maximum for one person injured in an accident
Bodily injury maximum for all injuries in one accident
Property damage maximum for one accident
Say you’re carrying Arizona’s minimum 15/30/10 liability insurance. If you cause an accident, your insurer will pay up to $15,000 in medical bills for one person injured, or up to $30,000 for all parties injured in the accident. It will also pay for up to $10,000 worth of property damage.
Each state has different minimum requirements for liability insurance. And you have to carry at least this minimum, of course. But you can, for an additional premium, get additional liability coverage through your car insurance company. In fact, many companies will show you quotes comparing various levels of coverage when you’re shopping around for car insurance.
What if It’s Not Enough?
It may sound like 15/30/10 is a lot of insurance coverage, but it’s really not. Unless you run into a building, you’re unlikely to max out the property damage portion of your insurance. But if you’ve ever been hospitalized, you know that you can reach a $15,000 medical bill in about two minutes.
So what happens if you cause an accident but don’t have enough liability coverage to handle the other person’s medical expenses?
In this case, you’ll be personally responsible for picking up the remaining tab. Typically, the injured party or parties will take you to court for a settlement. If you have absolutely no assets, you may be in the clear. But if you own a home or other assets, the injured parties could place a lien on them or seize them to settle the claim. Or if you have a job, they could garnish your wages or drive you to file bankruptcy.
This is why you may want to consider purchasing more than just the bare minimum of state coverage–especially if you’re in a tight financial situation. Those with more money to spare can, ironically, afford cheaper insurance. They can pull money out of savings to cover additional liabilities. But if you’re just scraping by, paying for more insurance coverage can be worth it if you get in even one moderately expensive accident.
Other Types of Liability Insurance Coverage
As we noted above, liability insurance is the minimal type of insurance you need just to drive a car. But it’s often a wise idea to have additional types of insurance, as well. In fact, some state are starting to require one more type of insurance–the kind the pays for your injuries or property damage if you’re in a not-at-fault accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
For instance, in Kansas, you need 25/50/25 liability insurance plus 25/50 UM/UIM and $4,500/$900 work loss PIP insurance.
What do all those acronyms mean? Here’s your quick guide:
UM: Uninsured motorist coverage. This covers your personal injury or property damage if you’re hit by an uninsured motorist.
UIM: Underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage jumps in to cover the difference if the at-fault drive doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your expenses.
UM BI: Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This coverage is only for bodily injury expenses caused by an uninsured motorist.
UMPD: Uninsured motorist property damage coverage. This coverage is only for property damaged caused by uninsured motorists.
PIP: Personal injury protection. This insurance covers bodily injury claims in a no-fault situation.
PPI: Property protection insurance. This is only required in Michigan, and it’s the property damage counterpart of PIP.
As noted above, some states require these types of coverage, as well. This can help cut down on your own expenses if you’re in a no-fault accident or if the at-fault party doesn’t have enough insurance to cover your claim.
PIP and PPI insurance are similar, except that they’re meant to cover your medical expenses even if you’re in a no-fault accident. This insurance will cover yourself, other drivers in your household, and people in your vehicle if you’re in a no-fault accident. It can sometimes also cover pedestrians in your household who are injured by other vehicles. This type of coverage is currently required in Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Washington.
Even if your state doesn’t require these types of coverage, you can choose to add them to your insurance policy when you purchase it.
A Note on No-Fault Laws
In some states, it’s really hard to recover medical or property damage expenses if an accident is declared “no-fault.” But in some states with no-fault laws, your insurance company is required to pay these expenses, even if no one is at fault for the accident. You should do some research into your state’s laws and requirements before you choose your insurance coverage. No-fault coverage can be very helpful in an otherwise messy situation.
Other Types of Coverage
States only require combinations of the above-listed types of auto insurance. But if you owe money on your vehicle, your lender may require comprehensive and/or collision insurance. Even if you own your vehicle free and clear, these types of insurance can be a good option.
Comprehensive coverage covers damages to your own vehicle from certain types of damage not related to vehicle accidents. Coverage varies from policy to policy, but might include things like:
Natural disasters like storms or tornadoes
Fire, civil commotions, and explosions
Vandalism and theft
Damage from hitting animals, such as a deet
Broken or shattered windows not related to an accident
Acts of terrorism
Collision coverage covers damages to your own vehicle from, you guessed it, collisions with other vehicles or objects while the car is begin driven. If you crash into another car or another car crashes into yours while parked or you hit a stationary object or wind up in a ditch, this type of coverage kicks in to pay for damages to your vehicle. If you’re in a hit-and-run, this is helpful, too. In this situation, you can’t typically use uninsured motorist coverage since you don’t know who the motorist was. But collision coverage will typically pay for damages.
If you lease or finance your vehicle, you’ll almost always need to pay for both comprehensive and collision coverage. But you might want this type of coverage if you drive a car that’s new or one that you couldn’t easily afford to repair or replace in case of an accident.
Totalling Your Car
You may have heard the term “totalled” when someone is talking about a car accident or damage. this basically means the damage to your car would cost more to repair than the car is worth. In this case, the insurance company figures out the value of the car at the time of damage. Then it gives that money to you.
If you owe money on your vehicle, you’ll have to pay off the loan with some or all of that cash. If not, it’s yours to go buy another car or do whatever you want with.
A Note on Gap Insurance
There’s one more type of car insurance we should cover: gap insurance. This is an optional policy that you can sometimes add as a rider to your existing coverage. Or you might choose to purchase it as an altogether separate policy. This insurance covers the difference between the car’s value and what you owe on it if the vehicle is totalled.
Say you buy a new car for $10,000. It’s worth $7,000 just a year later, but you still owe $8,000 on it. Then you total the car. The insurance company will pay you what the car is worth at the time of totalling it–$7,000. But you still owe the lender another $1,000. If you have gap insurance, that will cover the difference.
If you’re not putting a bit down payment on your vehicle, so that you’ll be underwater quickly or for a long time, gap insurance can be worth it. But make sure you count the cost to see if it’ll actually be worth the extra expense over time.
So What Do You Actually Need?
We’ll talk more in-depth in another article about figuring out how much car insurance you need. For now, know that the absolute bare minimum will be dictated by two things: your state and, if applicable, your lender.
Every driver is legally required to carry the state’s minimum amount of insurance. This is, by the way, something you’ll need to pay attention to if you move into a new state. You may need to change your insurance coverage. And if you owe money on a loan or lease for your vehicle, your lender will likely impose additional collision/comprehensive coverage requirements.
Beyond that, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you need additional insurance coverage.
IRA CDs can be a safe way to invest for retirement. The key is to find high yields. To help, here are some of the best IRA CD rates available today.
I recently learned that my father has decided to cash out his UPS pension. The immediate question from my dad was, “How do I avoid paying taxes on this thing?”
After running through the various options in my head, I remembered something about my parents’ portfolio. My extremely risk-averse parents continue to keep nearly all of their money in a local savings account that earns a robust 0.05% APY. The most reasonable answer was “Dad, roll your pension over to an IRA CD.”
IRA CD’s are not sexy. In today’s interest rate world, a good IRA CD will likely keep you in line with inflation. The best IRA CD’s will keep you just above that line. Even inside of a growing economy that sees interest rates rising, the best return an IRA CD is likely to provide you is just 3%.
But for people like my parents (and for me quite honestly), the intrigue of this kind of investment is not the millions I dream of earning. The benefits are in the tax savings, and the guaranteed, 100%, infallible security.
You’ll find the best national IRA CD rates below. Two very important things to note before making a decision on opening an IRA CD
Check your local banks and credit unions. Most will offer junk rates but there are some that can do better than what a bank like Ally can do (for example). My local Citizens Bank is always five to ten basis points higher on CD’s than the best rates I can find online.
All of the below banks are FDIC insured for up to $250,000 per depositor. If you want to open a CD with more than that, consider spreading it around to a few different banks. This insured amount is per person, not per account. Opening multiple accounts with the same bank does not reset the $250,000 FDIC limit.
The Best IRA CD’s
Ally Bank: The purple people eaters have done a tremendous job over the last decade re-branding themselves from GMAC Bank. Ally Bank currently offers a full range of IRA CD’s, scaled from three months to five years. Unlike the other banks on our list, Ally offers a tiered interest rate depending on the amount of cash you have available for your IRA.
For example, if you’re looking to open a five year traditional IRA CD, the rates are 2.25% / 2.40% / 2.50% depending on your deposits. With deposits of less than $5,000, you’ll receive the 2.25% APY. For deposits greater than $5,000 but less than $25,000, you’ll receive the 2.40% APY. For deposits greater than $25,000, you’ll receive the 2.50% APY. These tier levels are the same for all CD’s, but the interest rate variation is a little different depending on the term you choose.
Perhaps the best feature Ally Bank offers for it’s IRA CD’s is the 10 day best rate guarantee. If you open an IRA CD and the rate goes up inside of the first 10 days, Ally Bank will honor the new rate. This also applies on the date of your CD renewal, so you’re offered a touch of protection should interest rates immediately be on the rise.
Roth, Traditional and SEP IRA’s are available
No minimum deposit required
EverBank: EverBank’s Yield Pledge IRA CD’s rank as the very best in terms of interest rates. All balances receive the same interest rate, with no tier levels to speak of and the minimum amount you must deposit in order to open up an IRA CD with EverBank is $5,000. The reason EverBank calls these accounts “High Yield Pledge” CD’s is because they guarantee the interest rates are always inside of of the top 5% of competitive accounts.
In addition to High Yield Pledge CD’s, EverBank also offers a Bump Rate CD. The interest rates on this style of CD are a little bit lower but you are allowed to increase your CD rate once per term should EverBank offer higher APY’s while your CD is locked in. The minimum deposit on a Bump Rate CD is also lower, at just $1,500.
The two best IRA CD rates EverBank is currently offering customers is a 2.11% APY for a two year CD and 2.55% for a five year CD.
Roth and Traditional IRA’s are available
$5,000 minimum deposit required
Synchrony Bank: Formerly GE Capital Bank, Synchrony Bank is consistently in the top 2 or 3 when it comes to online banking interest rates. For consumers looking to deposit into an IRA CD, Synchrony offers terms of three months to five years. That said, the interest rates Synchrony provides for their, three, six and nine month CD’s is poor compared to others on this list. Rates of 0.25%, 0.41% and 0.45% (respectively) are simply not good, but when you deposit into a 1 year IRA CD, the rate becomes 1.95% and that’s where the value in Synchrony kicks in.
When your IRA CD matures with Synchrony, you are allowed to deposit additional funds inside of the grace period. You can change beneficiaries at any time my completing a simple transfer form on Synchrony’s site, and can also change your IRA from Traditional to Roth or vice versa if you so desire (but with tax implications). The five year IRA CD at Synchrony offers a yield of 2.50%
Synchrony also offers a great high yield savings account with an APY of 1.55% and no minimum balance required.
Roth and Traditional IRA’s are available
$2,000 minimum deposit required
Discover Bank: Discover is a very well known credit card brand, but they’re also becoming a very trusted online bank. In addition to offering savings and checking accounts, Discover also offers both Roth and Traditional IRA CD’s. What sets Discover apart from others on this list is that they offer both seven year and 10-year IRA CD’s. If you’re OK with locking in your interest rate for a little while longer, Discover can assist. In fact, in 2012, I signed up for a 10-year IRA CD with Discover. So far, the process and statements have been painless.
The slight downside to the Discover IRA CD portfolio is its interest rates. Similar to Synchrony, its three month–nine month terms pay very little interest. The one year CD, however, has an interest rate of 1.95%. As you work your way up the ladder, the five year CD sports a 2.45% APY. The seven year has a 2.45% APY and the 10 year offers a 2.45% APY.
Discover is kind enough to offer an IRA CD calculator. It enables you to figure out just how much you can contribute to an IRA each year. It also helps you determine whether or not a Traditional or Roth IRA makes the most sense for you.
Where can you get tomato seeds, tools, job hunting help, books, and music – all for free? Your local library, that’s where! Here are 35 ways a library can save you money.
While libraries started as a place to borrow books, they’ve evolved into much more. And all the offerings from your local library, used correctly, can add up to some serious savings back in your pocket.
Interested? See if your local library carries some of these twenty-eight items:
Obviously, you can pick up books at your local library, which means that you don’t need to spend money on books ever again. But don’t just think of the library as a place to check out chapter books for the kids and romance novels for your reading pleasure. At the library, you’ll also find books on everything from history to home repair, from parenting to plant-based dieting.
The library is also a fabulous place to save money on books for school. High school and college students alike can find many of the books they need at the local library for free, especially books for literature classes. (Just reserve your book ahead of time to make sure you get it when you need it!)
2. Audio books
What better way to regain some otherwise-wasted time than to “read” a book on your commute or while you work out? Most public libraries now carry a collection of audio books on CD. And many libraries nationwide now use services like Overdrive, which lets you check out audiobooks on your phone or another device.
Before you spend money on a new book for your Kindle, see if your local library carries a copy. Many libraries have access to large, shared collections of audiobooks and ebooks, which can run on a variety of reading devices. Again, many libraries now use the Overdrive app, which gives you access to tons of ebooks, as well. You can read them on your phone or even kick them over to your Kindle device.
Redbox has almost doubled its prices recently, and Netflix is getting more expensive, too. Save your $2.50 on Friday night by renting a movie from the local library. Most libraries are excellent at stocking Blockbusters and new releases, so you don’t have to wait long to see that flick you’ve been dying to check out. Again, this can work best if you reserve your movies ahead of time. Most libraries make this simple with an online interface.
Don’t pay for a pricey magazine subscription before you check out your library’s archives. Many public libraries offer a wide range of magazines–from popular glossies to hobby-specific mags. Sometimes you can’t take the magazines home. But libraries also tend to offer quiet, comfortable places to relax and read a few articles.
Again, most public libraries keep a collection of up-to-date local, regional, and national newspapers. To stay on top of the latest stories, just check out your local library’s newspapers once or twice a week.
Considering downloading a new album, but not sure you’ll love it? Check your local library for the CD. Most libraries offer a large collection of music of all sorts, and you can rent CDs for a set amount of time. This is also a great way to expose yourself to new sounds–without paying a hefty price.
Some libraries also offer services like Freegal Music, which lets you download a certain number of songs per week–all for free.
If you only need internet occasionally, consider nixing the internet bill altogether in favor of your library. Today’s high-tech libraries usually offer Wi-Fi service for card holders. So you can take your laptop to access the web, or use one of the library’s computers.
Don’t have a computer of your own? No problem! Your library has you covered. Instead of buying a computer for work, school, or personal web browsing, sign up for computer time at the library. It’s free and easy, and library computers are bound to have all the basic programs you need. At some libraries, you can even print off documents for a small fee.
10. Job hunting resources
Looking for a job or a new job? Public libraries often offer free job hunting and career resources. Librarians may help you boost your marketable skills with typing and computing courses, or they can help you research specific jobs and educational programs. Many libraries also offer free career resources, including long lists of great employment websites.
11. Research help
Need help researching local businesses to market your freelance services to? Looking for information on your family tree? Want to write a stellar paper for a college course? Look no further than your local library!
Research librarians specialize in finding the information you need to succeed. And most libraries also have access to special databases that give you information on everything from local businesses to decades-old news stories to peer-reviewed scientific studies.
12. Special events
Local libraries help you connect with your community and your family through (usually free!) special events. Many libraries host cultural events like Christmas carol sing-a-longs, Easter egg hunts, and Kwanzaa celebrations.
Your library may also offer kid-centered events. These are a great way to while away family time on the weekends without dropping a fortune. Our own downtown library, the biggest branch in Indianapolis, has a great kids’ play area. We love spending rainy Sunday afternoons there. (Bonus: The kids aren’t home wrecking the house!)
13. Toddler time
Stay-at-home parents, in particular, tend to love toddler and preschooler story times at the local library. These story times help kids socialize and get used to the classroom-like activity of reading in a large group. But they often include play time, so parents can relax and chat while kids enjoy some time away from home.
14. Museum admission
Many libraries partner with other local attractions–museums, theaters, and the like–to reduce admission prices for library card holders. Ask your library if a library card can get you a reduced (or free!) price at attractions like these. If so, this is a great way to save money on family entertainment you might otherwise be unable to afford.
15. Performing arts
Plenty of libraries host free or very affordable performing arts programs for kids. These programs are a great way for kids to experience the stage while building self-confidence.
Other libraries offer free-admission adult performing arts events. These are a fantastic way to experience live theater without the high costs.
16. Personal development workshops
Looking to brush up on your Microsoft Excel skills, get better at public speaking, or take control of your health? Check out your library’s workshop offerings. These workshops are often put on by local experts, businesses, and non-profit organizations, or by knowledgeable librarians themselves. My local library system recently launched a new series of classes on coding. It’s a fantastic way to be introduced to highly marketable skills.
17. Fun classes
Don’t just look to the library to brush up on professional skills or health knowledge. Check out your library’s offerings for fun hobby classes, too. Many libraries host writers’ guilds, offer craft and hobby classes, or even offer art classes for kids and adults, alike.
18. Book discussion groups
For a fun way to meet new people and strike up some interesting conversations, check out your library’s book discussion groups. Many libraries will host a discussion once a month, focusing on one or more books, in particular. Discussion groups are a free, fun way to get out of the house and enjoy yourself.
19. Celebrity events
Local libraries are always on the lookout for local celebrities–from published authors and poets to well-known speakers and entertainers–to give speeches and workshops. Check your library calendar for admission to these interesting events.
It’s true! Some libraries actually rent out tools–from basic wrenches and hammers to complicated power tools. Before you head off to the hardware store to drop a couple hundred bucks on a tool set you’ll only use twice, see if your library offers free tool rental.
Libraries are great places to expose yourself (and your kids!) to art of all sorts. Many offer rotating displays by local artists and children, which are fun to check out on a regular basis. Some libraries even keep a lendable collection of artwork that you can check out for a couple of months at a time. Redecorate away!
So your middle schooler is interested in playing the trumpet, but isn’t sure she’ll like it? Ask if your library has an instrument lending service. More libraries are starting services like these, which let you experience an instrument for a while before dropping the money to buy one or rent one longer-term from a music store.
23. Hobby supplies
Non-perishable hobby supplies are one more interesting thing you can rent from a library. Some libraries rent out fishing poles, while others offer scrapbooking stamps and Cricut cartridges. Before you buy new supplies for your hobby (or a hobby you’d like to try for the first time) check with your local library.
24. Cooking tools
Recently, some innovative libraries have begun checking out special baking pans and other cooking supplies. So if you want to make your kid a Dora the Explorer or Winnie the Pooh birthday cake for one year only, see if your library offers cake pans before you spend $25 on that one from Wilton that you’ll use exactly once.
25. iPads, Xboxes, and more
As libraries focus more on technology, many are offering free rentals of gadgets like Xboxes, iPads, and even karaoke machines. These are great for trying out a gadget you’ve been considering buying, or for getting a gadget for free that you only need for a short period of time. (Like when you need a karoake machine for your next party!)
Kids tire of new toys relatively quickly, so what better way to keep your kids engaged than by renting toys from the library? As a bonus, many libraries that do allow patrons to check out toys carry a large supply of educational, motor-skill-building toys for tots.
27. Community gardening
Community gardens are popping up everywhere as the “eat local” movement really takes root. You might be able to get in on a community garden through your local library! Some libraries with extra-large plots of unused land are offering their extra space for families who want to garden but don’t have a large enough yard.
One more unusual green option from local libraries: seeds. Some libraries are beginning to offer seed “rental” programs. Families check out a packet of seeds, and then commit to harvesting some seeds from the fruit or vegetables they grow to bring back to the library. It’s a self-sustaining way to bring more green into all our lives.
29. Health trackers
Do you want to see how healthy your habits are? See if your local library rents out health trackers like FitBits or even blood pressure monitors. These days, more and more libraries are helping their patrons become healthier with equipment like this. Sometimes you just have to sign an agreement to release the data from the monitors for scientific study purposes.
30. Science kits
Some libraries have weird scientific collections you can borrow to study. For instance, you might get access to rocks for geological studies or even to animal skeletons. Some also lend scientific equipment or science experiment kits for kids.
31. Board games
Our local library has a huge board game collection. You can’t take the games home with you, but they host a weekly game night where you can try them out. As a board game playing family, it’s great to be able to see if we like a game before we drop money on it.
32. Maker spaces
With the craze surrounding 3D printers and everything they can do, more libraries are offering access to maker spaces. They might help kids learn how to use these high-tech tools to make new things. Or they may just set you loose in the library’s tech area to make whatever suits your fancy.
33. Tax services
We’ve talked elsewhere about how to get free tax help. But libraries are a fabulous resource in this area. Many have their own programs or play host to the existing programs through the federal government or the AARP.
34. Meeting spaces
If you’re a freelancer, small business owner, or student, you know how important it can be to find a place to collaborate with others. Libraries often offer this type of space for free. Even our tiny neighborhood branch has a couple of quiet rooms. They’re great for studying solo or for scheduling meetings with small groups of people. And as libraries have modernized, more are allowing patrons to have drinks and snacks in the library. Because clearly I am not going to any meetings without my coffee in hand.
35. Individual with advice
Public libraries in larger metro areas have always been a hub for the homeless and housing insecure. These days, more libraries are serving these populations as part of their mission. Your local library may have a social worker on staff who can connect you to resources during tough times. Libraries are also increasingly offering times for people to talk with others who have valuable advice and experience to offer. This may include nurses, entrepreneurs, or local individuals who just know where to go for help in your area.
Make the Most of Your Library
While most libraries won’t offer all 35 of these items for free, most will offer at least a good selection of free items, events, and classes for library patrons. Here are a few quick tips to take full advantage of your library’s money-saving offerings:
Get a library card. The first step, obviously, is to get a library card. They’re nearly always free, but you usually have to bring your drivers’ license and proof of address–just so they know you’re paying taxes in their county or city.
Ask a librarian. If you aren’t sure what your local library does or does not offer, don’t hesitate to ask. And if the library doesn’t offer a program that you’d like to see, suggest it! You might even head up a committee to start that particular program to benefit your whole community.
Use inter-library loan. If you live in a larger city or county, chances are that you can actually check out items and visit programs from a range of inter-connected county or city libraries. In systems like these, you can often use an inter-library loan system for free. So if your small, outlying library building doesn’t have the book, CD, or movie you’re looking for, you may be able to get it shipped straight to your library from the larger library downtown.
Check the calendar. Most libraries have an online calendar that will give you great insight into upcoming events and ongoing programs. Check the calendar frequently to be sure you’re making the most of your library!
Schedule library days. Going to the library two or three times a month is the best way to take advantage of its rotating resources–like newspapers and magazines–and to remember to always take book back on time!
The bottom line is that local libraries have a whole host of offerings beyond just books. Too many people spend money on things they could get from the library for free. So be sure you check out your local library before spending a dime on any of these things!