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April 30, 2012

Protecting Your Personal Assets in Your Relationship

Starting out in a new relationship is one of the most exciting things in life. You have stars in your eyes, butterflies in your stomach, and you are so elated that you have found your lifelong soul mate. When you are in this part of the relationship, you think that nothing could ever go wrong, but unfortunately the reality is that there is a strong chance that this may not be the last relationship you will ever have. This is not to say that you should prepare for the worst, but you should definitely protect what you have worked so hard for.

Plan for the Best and Prepare for the Worst

Be an optimist with a pessimist’s plan. If you are going into a relationship with the thought that it will fail, then it probably will. The best course of action is to go into a relationship with the thought that it will succeed, but putting into place the right actions for a just in case can help you as well as your partner. You not only want to protect yourself, but you want to protect them as well. Although it is a tricky subject to cover, if the two of you can work together through it, you can most likely work through anything.

Lay it All Out on the Table

When your relationship gets to the point that it is becoming a partnership, you will need to take some serious action. Whether you are moving in together or even getting married, there are things that you will need to know about each other. In order to accomplish this task, you will need to each lay your finances out for the other to examine. You both should share your credit report, banking information, bills, assets owned, retirement and investment accounts, and anything else that has to do with assets and liabilities. If you have an open and honest relationship, this should not be an issue. By doing this, you will be transparent with each other and you will know how to proceed.

Know the Law

Having an understanding of the laws in your state when it comes to joint property is important when it comes to your relationship. You should know at what point your debts and assets become shared. In most cases this immediately happens upon marriage, so make sure that you have all of the information you need before tying the knot. In some cases there is a certain timeframe where your relationship is considered a legally binding partnership that hold the same responsibilities as a marriage. There are also some states that will allow cohabitation agreements. Make sure that you know what laws apply to you and your relationship before getting too far into it.

Relationships are not started with the plan to fail, otherwise you would have never started the relationship in the first place. Not only that, you wouldn’t hand all of your assets over to someone without first knowing what they are going to do with it and probably not without some sort of protection for you if things go wrong, so don’t do it in your relationship. Get to know all about your partner, including their financial status, so that you know the kind of road you are headed down.

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April 29, 2012

How to Save Money on Summer Vacations

Going on a summer vacation is a tradition in America, but it seems that most tourist destinations use this fact as an excuse to hike up prices. Fortunately, there are ways to save money on travel during the summer and still have a great vacation.

Flying is practically essential if you plan on leaving your immediate area. If you need to save money air fare, try a few of these tips.

Flying Tips

1. Plan to fly on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday. Since many business travelers try to avoid these days, airlines offer discounted travel on these days.

2. Be sure to start checking air fare prices early. If you aim to book your air fare thirty to ninety days from when you and your family want to fly, you’ll be in the zone to get the lowest prices. Historically, airlines offer higher fares in the time frame before ninety days out to leave room so that they can adjust for higher fuel costs if needed. Within thirty days of travel, demand for seats is higher, causing the airline to charge more.

3. Try to fly from a major hub. In general, major international hubs like Los Angeles and Chicago offer airfares that are usually cheaper than flying from your local airport.

4. Watch out for last minute deals. Last minute deals on airfare are offered by nearly all of the major carriers, and if you live near a major hub they could save you a lot of money. For example, airlines will typically sell their last seat or two on flights to other major hubs for a fairly significant discount.The airlines assume that they would rather make some money by selling the seat rather than let it go empty. These deals are usually only offered on one or two seats at a time, so you will have to keep your travel party small to take advantage of them.

5. Be willing to stay overnight at a strange airport. In order to completely fill their planes, airlines offer great deals on “split” or overnight flights. These flights will require you to take the very last flight at night to an airport, stay the night, then leave on the first flight of the morning.

Driving Tips

Depending on the car you drive (and the gas mileage), it might be a good idea to get a rental car. Make sure your car insurance covers car rentals before leaving the lot.

1. Use cell phone apps to find cheap gas. Gas stations that are located near the highway typically charge more than those located off the highway. Have kids figure out if driving a little further will be worth the savings.

2. Use cruise control. Most modern vehicles will be able to use fuel more efficiently in this mode. Also, setting the car speed to the speed limit will reduce your likelihood of getting a ticket.

3. Pack lightly. Every extra one hundred pounds of stuff in your car can reduce your fuel efficiency by as much as one percent. Try to avoid carrying a lot of extra gear.

Lodging can be a major expense on any vacation. Follow these tips to save on hotels.

Lodging Tips

1. Consider options outside of hotels. Staying with friends and camping out are two great ways to avoid having to pay for hotels. Many campsites today come with amenities such as swimming pools and upscale bathrooms, making camping fun for everyone in a family. Other options can include renting a house or condo. While not as cheap as camping, these kind of places can be much more affordable than renting multiple rooms when traveling with a large group.

2. Travel during the week. Weekend rates for hotels are usually the highest. Try to plan your travel during the week to get better rates.

3. Look for discount codes and coupons. Booking online can save money, especially if you have a coupon code for the hotel chain or the booking website. Just type in the hotel name and “coupons code” into a search engine to find discounts.

The summer is a great time to go on vacation, and many people still have memories of the great family trips they took as kids. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts and look for deals at every place you plan to travel this summer.

Author Bio: Danielle Parker is a freelance writer and a very picky consumer. Whatever she purchases, she only wants the best. Even when purchasing car insurance, she is only interested in the top rated car insurance companies.

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April 28, 2012

Using Negative Gearing to Your Advantage

Investing in real estate has long been a way to generate wealth and passive income for investors. If you are thinking about investing in rental property, you may want to create positive cash flow from the beginning. However, another strategy, known as negative gearing, could actually work out better for you. What is negative gearing and how can it help you in your property investment pursuits?

Negative Gearing

Negative gearing is a process in which you borrow money to buy an investment property. Once you borrow the money and purchase a property, the cost of the interest on the loan and other related fees then exceed what you make from the rental income on the property. When you realize a loss on an investment property, you can then use that loss to offset other money that you have made from other endeavors. This gives you a realized loss that you can take advantage of when it comes time to file your taxes.

Advantages

The advantage of using negative gearing is that it reduces your taxable income for the year. If you make good money from some other source, you may have to pay a lot of money in taxes. By using negative gearing, you can reduce your taxable income, and reduce your taxes for the year. This makes it a lot easier to handle your tax bill than it would be otherwise.

Another benefit of using this type of system is that the government and the rental income from the property essentially helps pay for the property. With the combination of the rent and the tax savings that you receive from this type of investment, you get the equity from the investment paid down. After a certain amount of time, the equity built up so that you can access it through a loan or by selling the property. If you hold onto the property for the long-term, the property could eventually be paid off and then you’re left with a tangible asset that you can use at any point. You could then keep renting the property out and collecting passive income or you could sell it to generate a lump sum of money. Regardless of what you do, you’ll be in a good position financially because of the tax savings and rent that you have been receiving all this time.

Considerations

Although negative gearing can be an advantageous way to invest in property, you have to be careful when getting involved. You have to make sure that the numbers are just right to make it work. If you borrow too much money to buy a property and the mortgage payment is too high, your strategy may be difficult to keep up with.

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April 27, 2012

Insurance Essentials: Home and Life Insurance

The world is an unpredictable place and even the most careful person can happen upon unforeseen events that can turn their existence upside down. That is why it is increasingly important for homeowners to purchase home insurance and for anyone with a family to look after to consider purchasing life insurance.

Taking out these two policies will provide peace of mind and more importantly, will make things so much easier to deal with in case of an unexpected, unfortunate incident.

Home insurance

Home insurance policies — which can also be known as hazard insurance or homeowners insurance — are property insurance that cover private residences. These policies typically cover the physical structure of the house as well as personal belongings inside the house, and liability. Since all of this is covered under one policy, the homeowner pays just a single premium. Home insurance and life insurance policies have some similar history.

Home insurance is a relatively new type of insurance in the United States, where the first official policy was available in 1950 — shortly after World War II and the subsequent boom in middle class home ownership. Home insurance was available in Great Britain before that year, and was available in other forms in parts of the United States, but it was not known as home insurance and did not do quite the same thing.

Life insurance

While home and life insurance both give peace of mind, life insurance has been providing that relief for far longer, as it has been available in varying forms for centuries. Life insurance is currently available in two forms: term — or temporary — insurance, and permanent insurance. There are also policies available that cover just accidental death and do not cover such things as suicide or health problems, and are typically sold for a much lower premium because of this fact.

Why choose insurance?
Any homeowner who does not get home insurance is playing a very risky game — one where the consequence for losing can be the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Anyone who owns a home should have a home insurance policy. Life insurance is a bit more tricky, but it still makes sense to have some sort of policy so that in case of death, loved ones are taken care of and the cost of a funeral is covered.

Both of these policies provide something priceless: the ability to go to sleep at night with less worries and more security.

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April 25, 2012

Growing Trend of Insurance Automation

The insurance industry is dynamic and changing every day, and with advancements in technology, many insurance companies are improving their level of efficiency. Instead of relying on manual systems to handle business operations, many insurance companies are instead relying on insurance automation to do the job for them. With current insurance market trends, more and more insurance companies are starting to automate many of the processes that they engage in on a regular basis.

What is Insurance Automation?

Insurance automation is a process that involves leaving some regular functions up to automated systems. Instead of having employees engage in these activities, they have automated computer systems that handle the functions. This makes it possible for employees to focus on other areas of business and allow the automation systems to handle the rest.

Claim Processing

One area in which many insurance companies rely on automation is in claim processing. When an insured has some kind of damage that he needs to be reimbursed for, he must file a claim. While some insurance companies still have call centres and agents that file claims, others set up automated systems to handle this task. With these automated systems, customers can file a claim on the insurance company’s website or call into a phone number. If a customer calls the phone line, you will talk to an automated system that will ask them for information such as his policy number and details about the claim. At that point, the information will be entered into the claim tracking system so that an adjuster can be assigned to the claim and begin working on it. This cuts down the amount of labour that it takes to run the insurance claims coming in.

Follow Up

In addition to handling claims in this manner; many insurance companies also lead to follow a process through an automated system. For example, when a claim has been handled, the insurance company may want to check back with the customer to make sure that all of his problems were handled in a professional manner. An automated system can mail out a survey or send one via email to all of the appropriate customers at the right time. Sometimes, an automated phone system can be used to call all of the customers in a particular area. This makes it possible to check back with customers on a regular basis to make sure that they are being taken care of in a timely manner.

Considerations

When it comes to using insurance automation, insurance companies can use a number of different systems and tools to make their jobs easier. They can cut down on costs by eliminating some jobs that employees traditionally had to do. Because of the improvements in technology, it is possible to save money on labour costs and get things done more efficiently. Insurance companies have to walk a delicate line to make sure that they don’t try to automate too much so that they seem like they are getting away from a customer-centred position. Otherwise, automation can play a valuable role in the industry.

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