- You can save several hundred dollars a year by purchasing auto insurance from a licensed, low-price insurer. Call your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different companies. Then call at least four of the lowest-priced, licensed insurers to learn what they would charge you for the same coverage.
- Talk to your agent or insurer about raising your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverages to at least $500 or, if you have an old car, dropping these coverages altogether. Taking these steps can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
- Make certain that your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
- You can save several hundred dollars a year on homeowner insurance and up to $50 a year on renter insurance by purchasing insurance from a low-price, licensed insurer. Ask your state insurance department for a publication showing typical prices charged by different licensed companies. Then call at least four of the lowest priced insurers to learn what they would charge you. If such a publication is not available, it is even more important to call at least four insurers for price quotes.
- Make certain you purchase enough coverage to replace the house and its contents. “Replacement” on the house means rebuilding to its current condition.
- Make certain your new policy is in effect before dropping your old one.
- If you want insurance protection only, and not a savings and investment product, buy a term life insurance policy.
- If you want to buy a whole life, universal life, or other cash value policy, plan to hold it for at least 15 years. Canceling these policies after only a few years can more than double your life insurance costs.
- Check your public library for information about the financial soundness of insurance companies and the prices they charge. The July 1998 issue of Consumer Reports is a valuable source of information about a number of insurers.
- You can often negotiate a lower sale price by employing a buyer broker who works for you not the seller. If the buyer broker or the broker’s firm also lists properties, there may be a conflict of interest, so ask them to tell you if they are showing you a property that they have listed.
- Do not purchase any house until it has been examined by a home inspector that you selected.
Renting a Place to Live
- Do not limit your rental housing search to classified ads or referrals from friends and acquaintances. Select buildings where you would like to live and contact their building manager or owner to see if anything is available.
- Remember that signing a lease probably obligates you to make all monthly payments for the term of the agreement.
- Home repairs often cost thousands of dollars and are the subject of frequent complaints. Select from among several well established, licensed contractors who have submitted written, fixed-price bids for the work.
- Do not sign any contract that requires full payment before satisfactory completion of the work.
- Consult Consumer Reports, available in most public libraries, for information about specific brands and how to evaluate them, including energy use. There are often great price and quality differences among brands.
- Once you’ve selected a brand, check the phone book to learn what stores carry this brand, then call at least four of these stores for the prices of specific models. After each store has given you a quote, ask if that’s the lowest price they can offer you. This comparison shopping can save you as much as $100 or more.