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Top Tips When Choosing A Life Insurance Policy

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Hitting your early 30s and thinking it’s time to start planning your financial future? Let us guess, you are being given unsolicited advice left, right and centre and now you are confused on where to begin?

Do not worry, we all have been in the same boat as you and have felt as we are drowning. The good news is we are here to offer you a life jacket filled with tips and ideas on how to kickstart your fiscal planning. One vital element of any effective financial strategy is to select an optimal life insurance policy that will aid your family in your absence.

Essentially, a life insurance policy is a written agreement you will hold with an insurance service provider whom you will pay monthly premium instalments. When the policy holder has passed on, the insurance company will dish out a lump-sum amount to the designated beneficiary. It will help lift your beloved ones’ economic status and save them the hassle of facing any possible fiscal troubles. When choosing a life insurance policy, there are several factors to take into account.

Since there is a plethora of information out there, the process of life insurance selection can get confusing and complicated.  That is why we reached out to these life insurance lawyers in Houston to share a few clarifications and to make the whole procedure a little bit easier.

Don’t Get Lost

The variety of life insurance products available may appear overwhelming. Remember that you do not want to get lost in the marketing or technical jargon thrown at you and you want to truly comprehend the intricacies of the policies you are considering. It will be easy to confuse one kind of insurance policy for the other but remember that true life insurance portfolios differ from others in the category. For instance, mortgage term insurance compensates your property debt and is not meant to leave any additional income for your family.

Know Your Needs

As stated, there is a whole world out there of insurance brands. It is imperative that you conduct an internal analysis to identify your needs and verify what your requirements are. Once armed with this knowledge, selecting an insurance product will become a clearer and rapid process. For instance, you could go with level term insurance as it is simple and direct in its approach. It pays out a certain amount given that you pass away in the time period assigned to your contract.

Be Transparent

Hey, it’s the age of the internet where all kinds of information are available and it is not really possible to hide any facts. Hence, be honest and don’t worry if you slipped your hand in the cookie jar. What we mean is that if you had any kind of illness before or any form of surgery, make sure you disclose it to the insurance salesman. Be an open book about your medical history. Sure, you may be delegated a slightly higher monthly premium but you will not endanger your future payment (upon expiration) as you were transparent from the beginning.

Go Single

Yes, we all love our spouses but we do not mean to be single in that aspect (We are invested in the idea of happy families!). When you are buying an insurance policy, avoid taking out a joint one. This option may lure you in as it is a cost effective one compared to paying two separate monthly premiums. However, the policy will be terminated once the first person passes away. This implies that your partner will have to procure another one and start from scratch. If she or he is older at that stage, the life insurance premium will be quite expensive.

Know Your Coverage

A general rule to follow is to request the financial cover to be approximately ten times your yearly income. Usually, this is applicable up to the time your children have completed their education, whether college or high school. If the former, you may contemplate a higher volume of coverage. Have a think and consider what kind of debts or expenses you may have, and then quote a figure.

Quit Smoking

If your wallet is dearer to you than that pack of cigarettes, then you may want to give it up. Think of it as a double whammy: you save a few extra pounds by not buying cigarettes and you pay a lower premium on your insurance policy. If you consume any form of tobacco, your monthly payments will be much higher compared to those who do not use tobacco. So, go nicotine free for a year and enjoy not only healthier lungs but also lower expenses.

Go Cheap

Yes, policies that may appear “cheaper” to you have the potential to be as effective as their costlier counterparts. Life insurance is actually pretty straightforward: it’s a policy that will dish out money upon one’s expiration. You do not need multiple add-ons and can focus on getting the amount you require in the future.

Eat Right

If you are one of the many people who chose to live life right by eating healthy and working out regularly, then chances are your monthly premiums are much lower. It differs from case to case and person to person, but the healthier you are, the cheaper your premium will be. A 40 year old insurance policy taken out at the age of 35 will be easier to obtain than a similar product at the age of 55. Regardless, you may want to swap those daily French fries for a baked version. You never know when you may want to choose your insurance policy and being prepared in advance will help you go a long way.

Choose Fixed Prices

Reviewable or guaranteed premium? The latter means you dish out the same amount every month in all circumstances for the duration of the policy. If you opt for the reviewable alternative, then the amount you pay on a monthly basis can be revisited at the discretion of your insurance service provider.

Saving While Shopping – How To Shop Smart While Managing Debt

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People get into debt for all kinds of reasons a bad investment, overspending, an emergency that drained their savings, you get the idea. But however, you ended up in the situation the end result is the same, isn’t it?

There really is no sugar coating it if you’re in debt and have applied for an IVA your finances are going to suffer but that doesn’t mean you can just stop buying your essentials does it? Sure, those luxuries should be avoided or left behind for now, but you still need to buy food, toiletries, and other essentials, don’t you?

But managing your weekly shopping while you’re in debt is very tricky and it’s easy to make mistakes or fall into those old habits. So, to help you tackle your shopping trips I’ve outlined some smart shopping tips below. By following these tips you’ll be able to save more and budget better while also reducing your debt.

Get Your Essentials Written Down

The first thing anyone who wants to ensure they shop smart should do is write down a list of all their essential goods. Food, drink, and toiletries are going to appear on everyone’s list but then there are other things to consider.

Pet food, petrol, cleaning supplies (to give just a few examples) are all common essentials that people will need to stock up on every so often. Once you’ve got all your essentials worked out you’ll know what you need to buy has a minimum this will help when it comes to budgeting your weekly shop.

Avoid Impulse Items

Whether it’s a supermarket or a small corner shop they’ll likely be strategically placed impulse items all over the place. And avoiding them isn’t easy sure a chocolate bar or packet of crisp might not seem like a lot, but it will add up and when you’re trying to save money especially if you’re in debt impulse items are things you should avoid in all forms.

Impulse items aren’t just things strategically placed in shops either they can also be things you think you need. Which is why your essentials list from my first tip is so important, think carefully before buying anything that isn’t on that list because if you don’t need it it’s money that could be saved.

Special Offers Aren’t Always What They Appear

Shops rotate their special offers on a regular basis and while it might look like you’re getting a great bargain that’s not always the case. That 6 pint of milk might be on offer but if you don’t need that much, and the 2 pint is still cheaper is there really any point in buying it?

It’s also easy to start buying products that aren’t on your essentials list just because you’ve been enticed by the special offer message. Remember even if it looks like a great deal if it’s not something you actually need ask yourself whether you can afford to buy it first.

Shop Around More

There is no shortage of places to shop is there? And you don’t have to just stick to one place either. If you want to get the best deal on your shopping you shouldn’t be afraid to shop around at different places if you can. You should also try discount chains and shops to help you save more money on your essential goods.

Make A Shopping List

In a world with online shopping, dedicated shopping apps and the ability to pay using your smartphone using a shopping list might seem a little low tech. But they are great tools when it comes shopping on a budget and can really help you save money.

If you’re struggling with debts, then a shopping list can be a huge help because it will help you stick to your essentials. In fact, that list of essentials items from my very first tip can double as your shopping list can’t it?

Swap Out Expensive Brands

Even if you stick to your essentials you can still reduce the costs by moving to cheaper brands. If you like coke-cola, for example, why not switch it out for a cheaper brand? It might take you a while to adjust to taste differences in some cases, but it will also save you a lot of money.

Many supermarkets also have their own specially designed budget brands as well for all kinds of goods from soap powder to shampoo and much more. So, try searching those out if you want to cut the cost of your weekly shop.

Be Firm With Yourself

This might seem relatively easy after some of the tips I’ve mentioned but in the majority of cases, it is one of the hardest tips to follow through on. Even if you’re struggling with debt and trying to save money it can be very easy to fall back into old habits and end up buying things you don’t need.

So, you need to be firm with yourself and stick to your budget, if you’re really struggling to avoid temptations while you shop then consider shopping with a friend or family member. They’ll be able to help you stay on track. One other trick some people use is to go shopping with just the money they need to buy their essentials.

That way you can avoid buying anything you don’t need because you won’t have the means to pay for it. It’s an extreme method and I wouldn’t advise it every case but if you think it might work for you, by all means, give it a try.

Treats Should Be Earned

I’ve probably made the weekly shop sound like quite the gauntlet, now haven’t I? But you can still have fun and treat yourself even when you’re saving money just make sure it’s not something you do every week.

One good tip to follow is to make treats a reward for having a productive and successful month. For example, if you’ve met your savings goal for the previous month then reward yourself with a little extra purchase like some chocolate of a nice dinner, this way you’ll be more likely to make your savings in the future.

 

5 Tips To Help You Move House With As Little Stress As Possible

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Moving home is something that most people don’t relish, even when it is for positive reasons such as a new addition to the family or starting a new life with your significant other. One of the biggest problems that proves the most stressful for people when moving to a new house is timing.

It can be hard and stressful trying to work towards your big moving date and making sure you have done everything that needs to be done and that everything is packed that needs to be packed. Even if you just had your move to deal with, it would be stressful enough. However, most of us do not have the luxury of just focusing on our move and have to juggle the demands of our day to day life too – whether it is work, study or family commitments.

How then, can you successfully move home with as little stress as possible? In the following post we look at several helpful tips to help.

Start As Early As Possible and Declutter

When preparing to move to a new house, the most crucial tip we can offer is to ensure that you give yourself enough time to everything done. Even if we think we only have a small amount of stuff to pack and move, you will find that it is more than you thought when you actually come to packing it up. Before you pack then, it can be a great help to go through your stuff and declutter where possible. Throw out, recycle or sell/give away anything you don’t actually use or need. You need to be ruthless and avoid holding on to things without good reason.

Work methodically from room to room. It could be those books or DVDs you have already ready or watched or just furniture that has seen better days or there is no space for in your new place. You will be glad when it comes to packing, moving and unpacking if you have less to do.

Decide Who Is Going To Help You Move

Although it is obviously less expensive to handle a removal job yourself, it may not be the best option for your own circumstances. If you can, enlist the help of friends and family. Hire a van or two and make a plan of who is going to do what and when and ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.

However, if you are looking for more convenience, there are many benefits to hiring a company like http://securemoveservices.co.uk/. As well as providing professional help with the move itself, you can also hire them to help you with the packing. Having their experience and know-how can be handy when it comes to figuring out how to fit your items safely into boxes and then packing a van using space in the most optimum way.

Create A Moving Schedule


There is so much to do and remember when moving to a new house that it helps to be as prepared beforehand as possible. From the moment you know you will be moving and have an actual date this will be happening you should be planning exactly what needs to happen and when.

Remember the old adage ‘when you fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. By planning out exactly what you are going to do from this point to move day and beyond, you can better organise your daily tasks and work them into your normal schedule.

You Can Never Have Too Many Boxes

No matter how many boxes you have, you will probably still find that you need one or two more. It is thought that the average three-bedroom house requires around 100 boxes for a move. Therefore, make sure you have enough boxes. In fact, make sure you have MORE than enough boxes, along with box cutters, labels, permanent markers, tape dispensers and brown packing tape. As well as buying special boxes in bulk for your move, it can be helpful to take a trip to the local supermarkets and stores in your area. They will often let you take boxes off their hands completely free of charge. Not only will you be saving money, but you will be helping protect the environment by reusing cardboard.

Make sure too that you have a sufficient amount of packing paper for lining your boxes with before and after placing your possessions inside them. It is recommended that you use this rather than newspaper as the ink has a tendency of transferring onto the contents of a box.

Pack Wisely

If you are taking on the task of packing, make sure you do it wisely and strategically. Start by packing all non-essential items first from each room, remembering to pack the heavier items at the bottom. When it comes to really heavy items though, use smaller boxes to avoid over-packing them and making it harder (or impossible) to lift.

Dangerous and items such as paint cans and bleach etc. should be packed separately. Make a list of all the items in each box and the room they will be going into in your new home and tape these to the top or sides of the box. If possible, it can be incredibly helpful to decide the specific cupboards and drawers or other storage spaces where things will be going in rooms. By doing this, you will be able to come into each room with the relevant boxes and unpack them quicker and more efficiently.

Another crucial tip for packing is to ensure you make a survival box up. This box should have everything you will need when you first move into your new home, such as a kettle, coffee machine (if you prefer), mugs, coffee, tea bags, milk, plates, cutlery, washing-up liquid, dish cloth and toilet paper. It is also a good idea to pack a first aid kit, light bulbs, change of clothes, towels and toiletries.

Although in a perfect situation, we’d hope that these tips will be enough to avoid stress when the time comes to move home; we know this is highly unlikely. However, what we can guarantee is that when you take the time and make the effort to plan your move and follow the tips above, you will significantly reduce the stressfulness of the process.

The Countdown To Your New Home – Our Top Tips

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Moving house is supposed to be one of the most stressful days of your life. The only way to reduce the level of stress is to meticulously plan the event to run as smoothly as possible.

This doesn’t mean getting up early on the day to allow you extra time to fit it all in – it means pre-organising every detail to make sure nothing can go wrong, and even then, something will, but at least you’ll have the heart to know it’s one less thing gone wrong than there could have been.

Make lists. Lists are your best weapon. Here’s a good overview to make your other more detailed lists from.

2 Months to go…

1. Declutter

Don’t waste money transporting things you’re going to throw out or get rid of. Do it now.

2. Notify your landlord

If you’re moving from a rental property then your landlord needs to know straight away. He’s going to need to make plans to re-let the property and he is also going to need to know when your rent will stop. You must do this in writing – a phone call won’t do. You both need an official record. Send a letter or an email if that’s been acceptable during earlier communications.

3. Pick your removal company

You need to decide whether you’re going DIY and just hiring a van or going professional with a company such asAMC removal services in Edinburgh. If the latter, then it needs nailing down as soon as possible. You don’t want to be left last minute with no way of moving all your belongings from A to B.

Check your household insurance policy to see what it will cover in transit. Run that alongside the removal company’s policy to see if you’re likely to need any additional cover.

4. Research your new area

You can start learning about where you’re going to be living as soon as you like and this will help with last minute needs on the moving day. Where are the local shops, a handyman store, take-aways or restaurants? There’s a good chance you won’t feel like cooking once you’ve got unloaded and you certainly won’t have your pots and pans to hand.

1 Month to go…

1. Start your packing

You should have already made a full inventory of what’s moving so order and buy all the boxes and packing materials you’ll need. Start filling them with the things you don’t really need day-to-day in order to reduce the amount of work nearer the time.

2. Do you need storage?

If you’re downsizing or staying in temporary accommodation until your new house is ready for you to move in then you’ll need to figure out where to store your belongings and your furniture and how much space you’ll need. Finding a storage facility local to your new home rather than your current one will speed up the process on moving in day.

3. Check access at your new property

Make sure you know if there are any local restrictions at either address for the size of vehicle you’re using and that it can gain access to as near the property entrance as possible.

4. Notify the utility companies

Up front notice for your suppliers gives them chance to prepare your accounts for termination or moving to the new property. They will advise you on the correct process to take to make it as straightforward as possible for both of you.

5. Check your car

If you’re moving a long distance the last thing you need is a breakdown. It could be a good time to organise that service you’ve been meaning to.

6. Never work with children or animals

Find someone to look after the kids and your pets. They’ll be bored or ‘too helpful’. They’re bound to get in the way so get them out of it from the start.

7. Tell your Doctor

You don’t need to tell them you’re moving but if you deregister it will make administration and transferring your records much easier for your new GP.

8. Stop any deliveries

Tell the paper-shop, the milkman, the Ringtons tea-boy, the window cleaner and anyone else who makes a doorstep delivery that you need to tie up their account and finalise their services.

9. Start eating the frozen foods

You’ve got a month to eat it or waste it. It’s up to you.

1 Week to go…

1. Confirm arrangements

Call the removal company and the estate agents or letting company. Get all arrival times confirmed, key collections sorted and double check your route and access details.

2. Disconnect your appliances

Arrange for the appropriate tradesmen to come and deal with any cookers, ovens, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers or anything else that is coming with you.

3. Start dismantling your flat pack furniture

4. Book a locksmith

You’re going to want to change the locks at the new property, sooner rather than later – you don’t know who might still have a set of keys for the place. If you can organise it to happen on moving day then that would be ideal but as near to as possible if you can’t.

3 Days to go…

1. Wash all the clothes

You’re probably not going to want to wash anything for a few days when you start to unpack, you might not even have a washing machine straight away, so make sure you’ve got as many clean clothes as possible.

2. Your old keys

You should label all your existing keys for what they unlock and leave them somewhere easy to find for the new occupants.

3. Essentials package

Put together a selection of all the things you might need to hand for the first few days to get you through. Toilet roll, light bulbs, tea-bags and refreshments are just the beginning. Try and think of the basics you use every day that might not make it out of packing for a while; toiletries, torches, a first aid kit, a pen and notepad, and perhaps some basic kitchenware including cutlery and crockery.

2 Days to go…

1. Put your contacts list somewhere safe

You should already have a list of everyone involved in the move; solicitors, estate agents, bank/mortgage company, landlord, letting agency, removal company – put it with your priority items and KEEP IT SAFE. You’re going to need this very close to hand all through moving day.

2. Pack your valuables

Put your valuables, your important items and contacts list with all of your important legal documents, passports, bankbooks etc. These will want to travel with you in person and not be packed away with the rest of your belongings.

3. Defrost your fridge and your freezer

4. Do you have the new key yet?

Double-check with your estate agent or landlord about collecting the keys if you don’t have them already.

The Day Before…

1. Finalise all packing

All the packing should be done apart from the essentials for the kitchen and bathroom.

2. Charge your phone

If you’ve got a bolt-on battery, charge that up too. It’s likely it’s going to get a lot of use.

3. Final walk-through

Do your final walk-through and check all cupboards, storage spaces, garage, garden and shed. You’ll have forgotten something. I guarantee it.

It’s Moving Day!

1. Drop off the kids and the pets

Do this first. Then you can start to think clearly without interruption for the rest of the day.

2. Organise your removal team

Help the removal company by giving them clear direction to where everything is, any troublesome items, and any special instructions that you need them to know. Ask them what they need from you and follow their instructions to the letter.

3. Make a final check on all meter readings

4. Give the house its final clean

5. Do your final, FINAL walk-through

Do a final walk-through with the removal team. Make sure nothing is left. The house should be empty unless there are items you’ve arranged to leave for the new occupants.

…and when you get to your new home

1. Check all utilities are working

If not, get on the phone. You should have the numbers on your contacts list.

2. Make everyone a cuppa before the heavy lifting starts

This will give everyone a chance to see the new house layout and where all the beautifully labelled boxes will be heading.

3. Check the van is empty and order a takeaway

Once you’re sure you have everything off the van the removal team can leave with your gracious thanks. You’re going to need to eat and luckily you have knives and forks packed in your essentials box – all you need is the phone number of that local take-away you garnered 2 months ago…!

How does remortgaging work?

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Remortgaging is what happens when a homeowner switches to a new mortgage deal (with a new or existing lender), and this applies also when remortgaging with bad credit (but the choice of lender may be limited). People most commonly remortgage when the current discounted interest rate is about to end.

When that happens, the borrower will be moved to a long term variable rate agreement. These rates are normally higher than those that are offered on new mortgages – this is the reason why this point is so popular with people looking to remortgage. It should be noted however that those wanting to remortgage with bad credit will end up paying higher rates of interest anyway.

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Things to consider when remortgaging

Variable Vs Fixed rates

You will most likely have to pay at a higher rate at first if you choose to fix it, as opposed to using a tracker. This should not be surprising though because you will be afforded security in the knowledge that you will always know exactly what your payments will be from month to month for the next few years. For those that need to manage their budget carefully, paying this little extra is worth knowing just what is leaving your account and when.

That being said, there are those that will happily go for a tracker, the slight added risk to their budgeting and take advantage of the short term lower monthly payments. Both fixed and variable rates are available for those remortgaging with bad credit, too, but the rates will still be higher.

A problem with variable rates is that nobody can say when the base rate will fluctuate or by how much. There is precious little point in trying to guess or ‘work it out’ either as the chances are pretty strong that you won’t get it right. Certain trends in a given area can be watched for though, and if you have reason to believe that your payments may go up, into uncomfortable or unaffordable territory, then go for the security of fixed rates.

Arrangement fees

On first glance the lower rate mortgage may look the better, cheaper deal but that may not actually be the case. It is important that you consider the effect of arrangement fees too. After looking around at your options you may find it is actually more cost effective to make payments at a slightly higher interest rate – if setup costs are cheaper. Taking these kinds of things into account can save you a fair amount of money over time, but if you aren’t sure of what to look for a mortgage broker will be able to help you. This approach could be especially important if you are remortgaging with bad credit.

Other fees

There are going to be valuation and legal fees to consider too, so you need to keep those in mind when you are adding everything up. These fees are not going to be as high as when buying a property, but your new lender will need valuation survey and there will be paperwork to be completed by a lawyer.

It is worth keeping in mind that there are some lenders that provide services free for those that are remortgaging so it is worth considering and it could work out cheaper that way in the long run too. If you are not sure how you go about figuring which deal is the best one for you, a mortgage broker will be able to help you out.

Deposits

How much equity you have can make a big difference in the kinds of mortgages that you will qualify for. If you have the cash to make the deposit, you will find that the best possible rates are more readily accessible if you are able to make a deposit of 25% and sometime even more.

Generally speaking, the more that you can lay down on a deposit the more favourable the repayment options are going to be. This is another instance where ‘shopping around’ and comparing offers is really going to pay off.

Charges for early repayment

One question that you are going to have to ask yourself, or should ask yourself at any rate, is how long do you want to be attached to your current deal for? Like any other type of loan, the sooner you pay it off the more you will save over time… That’s how it is meant to work, anyway.

You will see, when comparing mortgage products, that the majority will charge an Erc (early repayment charge) which will apply during the introductory period. If, for example, you have a two year fixed rate mortgage you will be charged a fee for paying off the mortgage inside the first two years.

Not all remortgaging products have an early repayment charge though. The majority of lifetime trackers are totally fee free which, as options go, makes them very flexible indeed.

Fees for leaving your current mortgage agreement

After taking the decision to remortgage, and the process has come to an end (this can take around a month), you are going to be charged what is known as an exit fee. This is just standard practice and the fee is to cover the costs generated by the administrative process of closing the current mortgage account.

How much the fee will be is going to depend on the lender you are with. The most that you can be charged is around the £295 mark. The fee that you will actually be charged will be printed on your existing documentation for the mortgage you currently have.

This stated fee will not have changed – lenders cannot alter the amount during the mortgage term, the FSA (Financial Services Authority) saw to that a while back.

Of course, all of these fees will weigh slightly heavier on your shoulders if you are remortgaging with bad credit but with proper planning and sound advice you can still walk away with a suitable, if expensive, deal.