Should I Get Long-Term Care Insurance?

Old Man In SantoriniI spoke to my father yesterday and curiously asked him about his thoughts on assisted living facilities.  “Absolutely depressing!“, he said.  I couldn’t agree more that assisted living programs are depressing given it reminds us everyday about our mortality.

Who wouldn’t want to stay put in a home they’ve lived in for years instead?  I know I would.  Home is a special place that makes us feel comfortable and warm.  Ideally, you own your home outright in retirement and no longer have payments.  However, this is a topic for another post.

We can only hope that we remain healthy for the rest of our lives, but we’ll eventually need some help thanks to injuries or illnesses.  Some of us will have the financial strength to comfortably pay for our healthcare in retirement.  Others might have wealthy children to rely on.  But what if you do not want to burden anybody, and don’t have that much money to last?

Buying long-term care could be an ideal solution for your retirement years.


The Right Amount Of Life Insurance

Inner TubeIf you haven’t done so already, calculate your net worth to assess how you did this past year.  Hopefully, you’ve grown your net worth, despite the stagnant stock markets through aggressive savings, retirement company matches, a diversified investment portfolio, rental property cash-flow, and an increase in your start-up’s value.

Wait, all you have is your savings?  Then you better start diversifying your income stream so you’re always moving forward, no matter how rough the economy.  Once you’ve calculated your net worth, make sure your life insurance levels equals this amount, especially if you have dependents, or a spouse who makes much less than you.  If you die, and want your loved ones to maintain a similar standard of living, consider matching your life insurance amount with your family’s net worth amount.

Some might not agree with this life insurance guideline and wonder whether it would be better to have insurance that equals a family’s debt level only.  Having enough life insurance to pay off all of your family’s debt is better than no life insurance at all.

If you’re single and have no dependents, do you really need life insurance?  Probably not.  If you die with a million bucks in debt, you’re living large!

Consider the Robinson family in San Francisco with two children ages 8 & 7:

Car Insurance Basics For Dummies

Car Wreck

Make sure you have insurance because accidents happen!

One of the key decisions in deciding what car to buy is assessing how much all the other costs are that come with ownership.  The purchase price and/or the car payments are just the most obvious of costs.

There are two main ownership costs to consider: maintenance and insurance.  For new cars, maintenance costs are quite minimal, unless you have a lemon and have to waste all your time going to and from the dealer.  For used cars, maintenance costs are a much bigger issue that can quickly eat into any savings you’ve made from not buying new.  We can talk about maintenance costs in more detail in another post.  For now, let’s talk about insurance costs.

I received my semi-annual car insurance premium bill the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover it only costs $285 every 6 months to cover Moose. However, by not telling you the full details of what $285 gets, it’s hard to understand whether $285 really is good value. Let’s breakdown the line-items to better understand what car insurance options I get for my money.


Resolving My Insurance Company Home Premium Scam

Pacific Heights MansionIt’s been two weeks since I found out I was being scammed by my insurance company. I sent in my 8 month old house appraisal to Tricky Dick, who is trying to raise my home insurance premium by 45% since their inspection 7 months ago.  Their shady inspector made my house 50% larger than it really is, so they could raise my premiums by a similar magnitude.  It’s so easy to prove what my house’s square footage is, it’s not even funny.  It’s like saying Lebron James is 10 feet 5 inches instead of just 6 feet 8 inches tall.  Utterly ludicrous.

The recent appraisal I sent in contains perfectly drawn outlines of my house’s layout and square footage.  It matches up to within 50 square feet of what the SF County Assessor’s has on record.  I’ve had two other appraisals in the past 7 years, and both are also within 50 square feet of the real size.  Clearly, this case is as slam dunk as convicting Elliot Spitzer for messing around!  Not so!

If you’re curious, here’s the e-mail exchange I had with them with names, figures, and dollar amounts changed that mimic the same percentages.  All of this takes precious time.  In this post, you will learn what the tricky “Home Protector Insurance” product is.  You’ll also learn whether the rebuild cost premium you pay trumps the square footage size they have in their documents, and what you get to rebuild if your house blows up.


The Fittest People Have The Lowest Self-Esteem

I’m somewhat obsessed with physical fitness right now.  It’s surprising, because the new year’s health push usually dissipates by February!  Just yesterday I thought, “What’s the point of being thin if I don’t have four pack abs?”  And then I started thinking what kind of person thinks about these types of questions?  Pretty unproductive and pointless if you ask me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that those with the highest self-esteem are the least fit and most indebted people on Earth.  Meanwhile, those who constantly think about their looks, and who are always at the gym exercising and pumping iron have the lowest self-esteem.  They are constantly checking themselves in the mirror to admire their physiques, even though they already know they look fine.

Think about the extreme case of anorexia.  Despite being thinner than the average person, the person who is inflicted with this disease doesn’t have the self-esteem to recognize their own beauty and stop punishing themselves.  Now think about the morbidly obese person.  Is this also a disease as well?  The person doesn’t really care what you think of him or her.


How Insurance Companies And Appraisers Scam Their Customers

House On Golf Course In HawaiiI’ve always trusted my insurance company, which I’ll call TRICKY DICK in this article, to do the right thing. After all, I’ve been a client of theirs for almost 20 years. They’ve benefited from my growth in assets and I now have auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, valuable personal property insurance and an umbrella policy with them.  Furthermore, I’ve got a relatively large chunk of change in CDs deposited with them as well.

I had a unwelcomed change in my credit card the other day and had to call Tricky Dick to cancel my existing card on file and add a new one. Imagine my surprise when looking over my previous statement that they were billing me 45% more a month in premiums!  What the hell, I thought to myself.  Clearly there must be a mistake.  Oh how wrong I was.


Open Enrollment: You Might Die An Expensive Death So Sign-up Now

Updated for 2014!

It’s open enrollment time again for insurance and benefits for the following year.  With all this talk about health insurance costs going up and benefits going down, I’m surprised to see my total insurance and benefits costs hover the same at around $150 a month for an individual.  I looked carefully at each line item and compared it to the previous year, and the costs are only about $5 dollars a month higher.

Your company benefits have real value that is calculated as part of your total compensation, so pay attention and maximize these benefits to your full advantage.  The deadline to enroll is usually by mid-December, otherwise what you have now *might* get carried forward to the next year except for some discretionary flex spending decisions, which reset to zero.  You don’t want to die an expensive death for your loved ones just because you forgot to enroll and didn’t understand what the term “excess liability insurance” means!  Get thinking and get cracking!