Thursday, September 22, 2016

Should You Let Your Insurance Lapse?

When you’re young and healthy, insurance of all kinds tends to be more affordable. Health insurance premiums are low, life insurance is a negligible expense, and additional add-ons can cost less than your monthly coffee budget.

As you age though, insurance rates tend to increase. Plans that guarantee life-long rates tend to start out at a higher cost, leading many young people to choose term plans that eventually expire. 

When these come to term, the chances of renewing depend on several factors. If you’ve had long term care insurance and never used it, it may be tempting to let it lapse. In fact, 25% of seniors let their long term care insurance lapse, despite entering the years where they’re likely to need it most. 

Below are some considerations you’ll want to make when deciding whether to renew your long term care insurance.

Upfront Cost

The most common reason to let insurance lapse is the monthly cost. After all, that is the only tangible effect that insurance has on your life until the moment comes that you finally need to use it. 

Be sure to price compare across several companies. If you have a term up for renewal, try to negotiate with your current provider. If you get a comparable quote from a competitor, your current provider is likely to cut you a deal to keep a customer.

Likelihood of Need

Long term care insurance often covers services like adult daycare, home health aides, and assisted living facilities. You can judge your potential need for these services by considering the following:

  • Your current health and self-care capabilities
  • Your family health history, particularly related to debilitating conditions related to aging
  • Your family’s time and monetary resources. Are there relatives who can/will care for you?

Depending on your current and predicted future health, as well as the availability of familial caregivers, you may decide you aren’t likely to take advantage of long term care insurance. 

In this case though, you will still want to consider burial insurance and other life insurance policies that will limit the financial burden of your eventual passing on your loved ones.

Personal and Family Finances

If your life savings is small and your family is financially stable, there may be no reason to have long term care insurance. Conversely, if your fortune is large, it may be more financially savvy to just spend the money on care rather than get it covered. 

But if your wealth is between $200,000 and $2 million, you are in the spot where you have financial assets you may want to pass to family, and long term care could significantly impact that amount. 

This window is the magic spot where insurance can be extremely useful.

You’ll want to consider both your finances and the finances of family members who will bear the burden of your care. 

Talk with them about the best path forward for all. Do you want the security of future protection, or is the possibility of needing long term care one that you’d rather save the money from insurance premiums to address straight on when the time comes? 

There are pros and cons on both sides, and the right answer for you will largely depend on your personal situation and your preferences of where your money goes. 

Would you rather pay into a system that gives you security, but may not be utilized, or risk having to pay higher costs should the need for long term care arise?

Insurance can be a personal and frustrating topic to navigate. Talking with family and financial professionals who you trust can help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Jeriann’s interest in financial writing sprouted from her attempts to pay off her student loans. She was tired of seeing the same tips for saving money (cut your home line, reduce eating out). She now writes about her journey, financial and otherwise at her blog,

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

How to Enjoy Halloween Without Wrecking Your Wallet

Halloween is always a lot of fun, but it can also be expensive. Between the costumes and candy for the entire neighborhood, you can really feel the pinch on your budget. 

The good news is that you don’t have to break out the credit card to ensure that your kids have a great season. Here are a few ways that you can keep Halloween enjoyable and affordable.


If you have the time and patience, then you can work on your DIY skills and make your Halloween great. Use old shipping boxes to make your own cemetery for the front yard, and add spooky faces to your trees with oven-baked clay. 

Build a coffin that you can use at your next party or for holding the candy on Halloween night. You’ll find countless ideas online, and it only takes a little patience to bring them to life.

Creative Candy Options

If you go through a ton of candy every year, then consider buying from a discount club. If you have a friend with a membership, then you can just go shopping with them to make the purchase. 

Another option is to add just a few bags to your weekly grocery purchases starting in September. Be sure to look at the price per item to see if you’re getting a good deal. 

If the price per unit isn’t listed, then just look at the serving information to see roughly how many pieces are in a bag. You can also save by skipping the name brands and going with generic options. Keep an eye out for coupons and sales to help you save more.

Shop Online

Before you go to the high-priced Halloween store around the corner, look at shops online. There are discount retailers who save by selling direct to the public, and they pass the savings on to their customers. 

All you need to find a great price on cool Halloween costumes for women is some basic measurements so that you can get the right size.


Rather than going out to buy new costumes, recycle with what’s already in your Halloween bins. Sometimes the funniest costumes are actually a conglomeration from years past. 

Take the worn out pirate’s costume and make yourself a pirate zombie. Look for costume ideas that focus on ordinary clothes and face paint. You probably have the clothing already, and paint is quite affordable.

Fill an old costume with stuffing and strap it to your back so that you can have a piggyback skeleton or a scary monster chasing you. It’s also possible to turn the old costumes into decorations by stuffing them or putting them on dressmaker’s dummies.

Visit the Dollar Store

When it comes to your DIY projects, the dollar store may be your best friend. You can typically get affordable parts and pieces so that your cool idea won’t wind up being a drain on your budget. You can also look for supplies around your home to save even more money.

Time It Right

Rather than buying early, go the other direction and buy certain things late. If you have the time to carve a pumpkin right before Halloween, then you can take advantage of sales as stores try to clear out the inventory.

You can also save on candy by stopping at the store on the way home and picking up your candy at discounted prices. An added bonus is that your pumpkin won’t have time to rot before you use it, and you won’t eat half the bag of candy while waiting for the big day.

Halloween doesn’t have to be hard on your budget. With these tips and solutions, you can keep the cost down and ensure that you keep your spending down and the focus on fun.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

How to Avoid the Mobile Security Risks Associated with Financial and Health Apps

Health and financial mobile apps have gained questionable credibility regarding the level of security incorporated in their technologies. 

According to Info Security Magazine, consumer confidence appears to be inversely proportional to the level of security integrated in these mobile apps.

The latest Arxan Technologies reports show that the doubts over the security of health and financial apps somewhat negate their success. In the study conducted, it revealed that majority of application users and application executives surveyed feel adequately secure about their mobile applications. 

About 82 percent of these executives believe everything is being done to protect their apps, while only 57 percent of application users do.

Risks from Security Threats Still Abound

However, the reality of security threats is evident among 126 most popular mobile health and finance apps tested in the U.S, U.K, Japan and Germany. It was found out that 90 percent possessed at least two of the Open Web Application Security risks. 

Such risks may include lack of binary code protection which accounted for 98 percent of the mobile apps; while about 84 percent of mobile apps tested had poor transport layer protection.

Being vulnerable to such threats may result in tampered devices, violations of privacy, binary code modification and even identity theft.

Certain questions arise regarding the use of such apps including clients or patients entrusting classified information over an unsecured data platform. 

There are also questions about financial apps running the risk of identity theft through mobile or electronic banking transactions. 

According to a tech blog expert, today’s viruses do not compare to traditional viruses that IT specialists can easily detect. Rather, they are dominated by android adware and SMS Trojans. 

However, even with the unimaginable rate of unsafe mobile apps, users can still find ways to avoid dealing with them. 

As a step towards finding suitable solutions to counter these vulnerabilities, IT policies on vetting apps can be enhanced and users should be equipped with the knowledge of the potential security risks from using such apps. 

Stay Away From Unofficial Third-Party App Stores

Users can also steer clear from unofficial third-party app stores, and stick with legitimate Android installing apps like Google Play. Users can also be cautious of malware threats disguised in app permissions and ad blockers. 

Requested app permissions, even seemingly-legit and lengthy ones, are usually used by intrusive apps to target users because they have become accustomed to such features. In the end, users can be led to allow permission access without being aware that they clicked on a malware.

There are also cases that even ad blockers become malware targets. Similar with app permissions, clicking on malware disguised as ad blockers increase security risks However, not all mobile apps encounter problems regarding ad blockers that can potentially threaten security. 

According to Born2Invest co-founder Dominique Einhorn, ad blockers only affect mobile apps that utilize outdated mobile advertising modes such as pop-up ads.

Being in the highly downloaded list of Google Play’s business and financial news app, Born2Invest is aware of these impending threats, which is why it focuses on delivering native ads rather than interstitial ads. 

However, Einhorn knows that at the end of the day, good editorial content still matters.

The need for security update to constantly identify potential attacks can work wonders. Even those taken for granted certifications on websites help validate authenticity of download sites. 

Budget Miracles: How to Start Saving for the Ultimate Dream Home

We all long for the ultimate dream home in retirement, where we're able to enjoy retirement to its fullest. 

A little planning now can make that dream a reality. With a little creativity and discipline, you can change your current spending habits and start saving for a down payment. But how do you save when you're financially maxed out? 

Here are some ideas.

Invest Your Raises in Your New Home

Whether you're close to retirement, or you're a few decades away, invest now in your new home. Every time you get a raise at work, put as much as possible into a savings account that will contribute to the down payment on your future home. 

This is a great way to save money because you save it before you get in the habit of spending it all. Even the smallest amounts of money can add up over time. 

One or two hundred dollars a month doesn't seem like it would make a dent in a new dream home purchase, but added up over fifteen years, it could be a significant help. 

If you're not disciplined enough to leave the money alone, have your bank draft out the money automatically and put it into a separate account before you get a chance to spend it.

Budget, budget, budget!

So many people say they have a revenue problem, that they simply don't make enough money. But is it really an income problem, or is it actually a spending problem? 

Start a budget, if you don't budget already, and know exactly where your money is going every month. When people start to track their expenses they are often surprised at the amount of waste that can be eliminated. 

Don't be discouraged if you're only able to save a little each month. It all adds up, so save what you can, when you can.

Sell Current Real Estate

Another great way to get money for a down payment is to use the equity you have in your current home. 

Do small home improvements now that will add value to your home. Then, years from now, when you're ready to buy your dream home, your current home will hopefully have appreciated in value considerably.

Even if you have made bad financial decisions in the past, it is never too late for financial stability. Start budgeting, start saving, and get on the path to financial success so you too can have your dream retirement home one day. 

For more information, the experts at Assurance Financial Group recommend talking to a loan officer to help you prepare for and go through the process.

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