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Archive for the ‘Lifestyle & Money’ Category

Anyone who’s had an accident or gotten a speeding ticket knows the feeling. If only you could do things over again, you’d obey the speed limit. Or yield. Or just stay home. Safeco Insurance is capitalizing on that desire with its new Rewind program, which combines driver monitoring technology with accident forgiveness. Although the program can’t turn back time or pay your traffic ticket, it can prevent a mishap from increasing your car insurance premium. It’s a free pass with conditions — a sort of car insurance parole. How Rewind works After a speeding ticket, minor violation or at-fault accident, […]

No matter where you shop for presents this holiday season, one question will remain after the holidays: When was the last time you spent some quality time with your credit card statement? With paperless billing and automatic payments, many people don’t bother to review their monthly charges and overlook any hidden messages on a statement. If you’re among the guilty of blindly paying your monthly credit card bills, here are some things you could be missing: The “reality check” box. Somewhere on a statement is a section that discloses how long it will take you to pay off your debt […]

For some it’s an annual phenomenon: the New Year’s hangover. But there’s reason to believe next month’s could be worse than usual. No, not the headache that comes from a late night and too much champagne on New Year’s Eve. That might hurt for a while, but you’ll be fine in a day or so. The hangover with more lasting effects comes from the harsh reality of the holiday credit card bills that come due in January. Some people dig themselves a hole in December that they spend the following year trying to escape. And again, 2013 is shaping up […]

Dreaming of a Bright Christmas If you’ve ever watched the holiday classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and felt an affinity with the decoration-happy Griswolds, you’re in good company. Every holiday season brings out a few “super celebrators” whose over-the-top light displays and decorations draw gawkers from around town and even surrounding states. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the record holders for the largest number of holiday lights are David and Janean Richards of Canberra, Australia. Their 2011 extravaganza of more than 331,000 lights included 18 miles of strings, 15,000 cable ties and a 60-foot Christmas tree, the (London) […]

When it comes to cars, it’s usually better not to do the math. Adding up your gas bill, then dividing by your mileage, might give you a shock: At $ 4 a gallon and 20 mpg, that’s 20 cents per mile. Do the same with your car payment and your car insurance bill and you may find you are leaving a trail of dollar bills in your wake. But suppose you’ve already done the math and were shocked enough to park the family Camry in favor of a bus pass. You’ve still got the car payment, but you are saving […]

Dear Dr. Don, I recently borrowed $ 470,000 to buy my home, and I’ve financed it with a 30-year mortgage at 4.25% interest. There are 353 months left. Mortgage rates keep dropping, though, and I recently found out I could refinance at 3.5% interest. It would cost me about $ 8,500 to do so. Should I refinance right away? I plan to keep the house for at least 15 more years. Thanks,  — Mike Makeover Dear Mike, If you can get a loan commitment at 0.75% below your current interest rate, you should jump on the opportunity. Why do I […]

Christmas season has arrived. And for homeowners, that means it’s time to break out the decorations and light up the house to show your spirit. But how do you keep the house looking festive without breaking the bank with your electric bill? As with most cost-saving plans, the one for Christmas lighting relies on a few smart investments, some hands-on work and a little creativity. “It’s all about getting that traditional feel and evoking warmth without breaking the bank,” says Hillary Zody, marketing director at Christmas Lights Etc., in Alpharetta, Ga. Getting Started The first step most lighting and decorating […]

On Nov. 13, just in time for the holiday shopping season, Citi unveiled “Price Rewind,” an important enhancement to its price protection program. From now on, you can register any eligible purchase you make solely and entirely using a Citi credit card, and the bank promises to monitor hundreds of retailer sites for the next 30 days to make sure the exact same item isn’t advertised elsewhere cheaper. If it is — and the price difference is greater than $ 25 for that single item — you stand to receive a refund equal to the price difference, up to a […]

If you’re divvying up assets and liabilities during a divorce settlement, you’ll also have to think about how to split insurance coverage for your kids. Arranging health insurance is usually fairly smooth sailing during divorce proceedings, but reaching an agreement on car insurance can face stiff headwinds, says James McGinnis, a partner in the Atlanta family law firm of Warner, Bates, McGough & McGinnis. (See: “Love hurts: 5 insurance heartaches.”) Health insurance tends to be a breeze because “one parent will be obligated to provide health insurance for minor children,” McGinnis says. That will typically fall to the parent who […]

Viewers of the National Geographic Channel show “Doomsday Preppers” know there’s a lot to be afraid of these days. From earthquakes and hurricanes to economic meltdowns and 2012 Mayan-prophecy mania, threats run the gamut from the possible to the absurd. But preppers, the catchall name for those who appear on the show to demonstrate and test their survival plans, often take preparedness to the extreme, according to Paul Purcell, an Atlanta-based terrorism and natural disaster preparedness trainer and author of “Disaster Prep 101.” “It’s a cottage industry, and there’s a lot of fear-based marketing, so folks tend to either ignore […]

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