Insuring a New Marriage

Reevaluating their insurance coverage isn’t uppermost on the minds of most newlyweds, and it won’t ensure a long and happy marriage. But the right insurance can go a long way toward shielding you against the kinds of financial calamities that can strain and sometimes break a marriage. Life insurance It’s a given that couples should have life insurance if they have or expect to have children, or if one spouse earns most or all of the couple’s income. But it is often suggested that life insurance is not needed where couples have no dependents and where both spouses work in comparable-paying jobs. This may be suitable in some cases, but you may still want to consider additional life insurance beyond what is offered at work.

Working couples typically raise their standard of living: a bigger apartment or house, nicer cars, new furniture, vacations. So the question becomes, if one of them dies, will the survivor be able to afford to maintain the higher standard of living on his or her own salary? Probably not—unless each has sufficient life insurance to cover the gap.

One or both spouses may bring debts to the marriage, such as student loans or credit card debt. The surviving spouse probably won’t be responsible for debt accumulated by the deceased before the marriage (though there can be complications in this area). But the deceased’s estate would have to pay off the debt, thus leaving less for the survivor. The couple also may accumulate new debt together that the surviving spouse may find difficult to pay off without life insurance.

Life insurance may be necessary to cover funeral expenses and possibly out-of-pocket expenses incurred from medical treatments associated with the death. The advantage of getting life insurance early for many newlyweds is that they can lock in low premiums while they are young and healthy.

Lastly, while group term insurance is probably available at work, it can’t go with you if you leave your job, and is often insufficient. You’ll want to acquire additional life insurance at a time when you are most insurable.

Rename beneficiaries If either one or both spouses bring existing life insurance to the marriage, they’ll probably want to name their new spouse as beneficiary. Otherwise, death proceeds could end up going to an ex-spouse or a parent.

Disability insurance Competing with life insurance premium dollars are other insurance needs for newlyweds, and high on that list should be disability insurance. This insurance is designed to partially make up for lost wages should you be unable to work due to an injury or long-term illness. Statistically, young people are more likely to suffer a lengthy disability than to die prematurely.

Group disability coverage at work typically is not sufficient, so you may want to supplement it with a private policy. While any employee, single or married, should consider this, it becomes even more important when you have a spouse, particularly one who may be dependent on your income.

Health insurance Married working couples should review their individual health plans at work to see if they want to go with coverage under only one employer and possibly save premium dollars, or in some other way coordinate coverage between the plans.

Auto insurance Couples will probably want to insure their autos with a single company in order to get a multi-car discount. Married drivers usually can get lower rates, too, so be sure to tell your agent you’ve gotten married. Coordinating other property and casualty insurance with the same carrier can also save premium costs.

Homeowner’s or renter’s insurance While this is coverage you should get even when you’re single, it becomes more critical when you get married. For one thing, you’re likely to start accumulating more expensive possessions that you want to be sure are covered. For some valuables, such as the wedding ring, you may need to insure them with a separate rider.

Don’t overlook renter’s insurance. Newlyweds commonly live in apartments or rented houses before buying their first home or condo, yet they often mistakenly believe that the landlord’s insurance will cover damage to their personal property. Renter’s insurance is inexpensive and easy to get.

Life Insurance: Can You Afford to Wait?

by Maureen M. Kesler

With adulthood comes a number of exciting changes. Perhaps you have decided to buy a home, get married, or have children. These decisions require careful consideration, as they can irrevocably change your life. One decision that’s easy to delay or overlook is the decision to purchase life insurance. What you may not realize, however, is that delaying the purchase of life insurance can be a costly mistake for you and your loved ones. Waiting just a few years can have a negative impact in several key areas. Whole life offers financial protection and cash value accumulation. In its simplest form, whole life insurance protects the people who depend on you for financial support. Aside from providing money to your beneficiaries to replace your income, should you unexpectedly die, whole life insurance also offers guaranteed* cash value accumulation on a tax-deferred basis, as long as the policy remains in force. If available, cash value can be borrowed against to fund a child’s education, supplement your retirement income as the life insurance needs decrease, or meet an emergency cash need. Remember though, that policy loans accrue interest at the current variable loan interest rate and reduce the total cash value and total death benefit by the amount of the outstanding loan plus interest.

The effects of waiting. Since a portion of the premiums paid accumulates cash value each year, over the long term this accumulation can be considerable (especially since taxes on the growth are deferred). So the sooner you start paying policy premiums, the faster your cash value may grow.

A whole life policy is also eligible to receive dividends, if and when they are declared by the insurance issuer. Unlike cash values, dividends are not guaranteed. As a policyholder, you have several options for dividends usage: you can take dividend distributions in cash, for example, or you can use them to purchase additional paid-up life insurance. Paid-up insurance is also eligible for dividends, has cash value, and requires no additional premiums. So waiting to purchase insurance could cost you the opportunity to increase the cash value of your policy and the benefit paid to your beneficiaries.

Perhaps you’re healthy now and you’ve decided to delay the purchase of life insurance for a few years. However, in these few years you may suffer unexpected health problems that could put your insurability in jeopardy. In a worst case scenario, if you were to unexpectedly die, the cost of waiting would be the lack of a death benefit for your loved ones.

*Guarantees are backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer.

Remember, purchasing life insurance is a major decision. So it’s important to take the time to gather the necessary information and choose the coverage that best suits your needs. While the decision is ultimately yours, keep in mind that postponing your decision can prove to be costly.


This educational third-party article is provided as a courtesy by Maureen M. Kesler, Agent, New York Life Insurance Company.

4 Ways Healthcare Reform Will Affect Your FSA

by Manisha Thakor  

'Tis the season... for open enrollment.

Open enrollment is the annual window where you can sign up for valuable employee benefits such as a Flexible Spending Account ("FSA"). If you work for an employer offering this benefit, trust me.  You want to keep reading.  As a self-employed person not eligible for this benefit right now - I'm here to tell you an FSA is nothing to sneeze at.  Back when I was in corporate America I didn't appreciate FSAs enough - and want to make sure you don't make that same mistake.

FSAs are a great way to plump up YOUR bottom line by enabling you to pay for necessary out-of-pocket medical expenses with pre-tax dollars. As a result, when you sign up for an FSA, you can save up to 40 percent on expenditures that you are going to make anyway. This year, healthcare reform has brought about some changes to FSAs.  To help current and prospective FSA users prepare for open enrollment, I've teamed up with Wage Works on a "Save Smart, Spend Healthy Campaign" to spread the word about what you need to know to make the best choices for you and your family. 

Here are four key differences from last year that you should know about when planning how much to contribute to your FSA account:

1. OTC Medicines Are Still Covered... But You Will Need A Prescription. When there is change, there is often confusion. A number of news stories have inaccurately reported that the IRS is no longer allowing over-the-counter (OTC) medications to be paid for with FSA funds. Thankfully, this is incorrect. The truth is that starting January 1, 2011 OTC medications (excluding insulin) will require a doctor's prescription in order to be paid for with FSA funds. Note: the key word here is "medicines." Other non-medicinal OTC items such as band-aids, crutches and diagnostic kits can still be paid for with FSA dollars prescription-free. The easiest way to prepare for the new rule around OTC medications is simply to have a frank dialogue with your doctor at your next annual exam and get the necessary paperwork (specifically, a prescription) in advance for things like allergy medicine or pain relief capsules.

2. Contribution Caps Are Coming... So Plan Today For Elective Procedures. Starting in 2013, annual contributions to FSA accounts will be capped at $2,500. (Right now contribution caps are set by individual employers, and tend to average around $5,000). If you've been contemplating an elective procedure for you or a qualified family member - such as LASIK or braces - 2011 and 2012 are the last two years in which to set aside and use extra funds in your FSA. Remember, a payment made with FSA dollars is akin to getting a discount of up to 40 percent off since you are paying with pre-tax dollars. So it's really worth it to make an estimate of your FSA eligible expenses for the coming year and sign up to contribute that amount into your account.

3. Adult Children Get A Helping Hand... Under Certain Circumstances. Thanks to healthcare reform your adult children can stay on your healthcare policy up to age 26 - as long as they are not offered coverage by their employer. Now is a great time to check in with your entire family and see who might need coverage and/or whether any of your adult children qualify as dependents. Note: some firms will allow mid-year FSA contributions to reflect the addition of adult children so check with your HR department about their policies on qualifying events.

4. "Free" Preventative Care... Means Some Costs Will Go Away. Last but not least, routine screening for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol may no longer require a co-pay. Other cancer screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies as well a pre-natal care visits, vaccinations, and routine infant and childcare checkups may also be provided as part of your baseline insurance - thus requiring no additional out-of-pocket cost. If you had previously used your FSA to pay for these expenses, you can pare back here.

Ultimately, spending a little bit of time understanding how healthcare reform may change the amount you choose to contribute to your FSA for 2011 is an investment that you won't regret.


[Want more financial love? You can follow Women's Financial Literacy Initiative founder, Manisha Thakor, on Twitter at @ManishaThakor or on Facebook at /MThakor.

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Manisha Thakor

From Manisha's linkedin profile page:

Manisha Thakor is the Director of Wealth Strategies for Women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth and The BAM Alliance. 

Manisha and her colleagues provide both evidence-based wealth advisory services for high-net-worth households and core asset management solutions for women and families nationwide with $80,000 or more in investible assets. 

An ardent financial literacy advocate for women, Manisha is the co-author of two critically acclaimed personal finance books: ON MY OWN TWO FEET: a modern girl’s guide to personal finance and GET FINANCIALLY NAKED: how to talk money with your honey. She is on Faculty at The Omega Institute and serves as a Financial Fellow at Wellesley College. Manisha is also a member of The Wall Street Journal’s Wealth Experts Panel, a member of the 2015 CNBC Financial Advisor’s Council, and wearing her financial educator’s hat serves as a part of TIAA-CREF’s Women’s Initiative. 

Manisha's financial advice has been featured in a wide range of national media outlets including CNN, PBS, NPR, The Today Show, Rachel Ray, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The LA Times, Real Simple, Women’s Day, Glamour, Essence, and MORE magazine.

Prior to joining the Buckingham team, Manisha spent over twenty years working in financial services. On the institutional side she worked as an analyst, portfolio manager and client relations executive at SG Warburg, Atalanta/Sosnoff Capital, Fayez Sarofim & Co., and Sands Capital Management. After this she moved to the retail side and ran her own independent registered investment advisory firm, MoneyZen Wealth Management. 

Manisha earned her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1997, her BA from Wellesley College in 1992 and is a CFA charterholder. She lives in Portland, OR where she delights in the amazing Third Wave coffee scene and stunning natural beauty of the Pacific NorthWest. Manisha’s website is MoneyZen.com.

On the 12 Days of Christmas

by Susan Hirshman

As I was driving the other day, the song … On the twelve days of Christmas my true love gave to me….came on the radio.  It made me think – who really is our true love and what is it really that we want.

Who really is our true love?  Well, I am not Dr. Phil but we must first start with ourselves. And what is it that we really want? From a financial perspective most people tell me it’s “ peace of mind.”

So I took a little literary license and came up with a new song for the holidays.

On the 12 days of Christmas I gave to me the best gift of all…peace of mind….

Here are twelve things you should think about and examine

Day 1 – Review your life insurance coverage.  Is it working as projected?  Is the pricing up to date? Is the coverage in line with your needs?

Day 2 – Examine (or create) your retirement goals.  Are the assumptions realistic?  Is it a priority?  Are you on track?

Day 3 – Look at your emergency savings.  Do you have any? Is it liquid? What do you want it to cover?

Day 4 – Review your disability coverage.  Do you have any?  Do you know what your policy covers, for example is it your own occupation or any occupation?

Day 5 – Go thru your estate plan (or lack thereof.) Are the guardians you named for your children still the right choice?  Is the executor the right choice?  Has your life circumstances changed and those changes are not reflected in your will?

Day 6 – Appraise your need for long-term care insurance.  What is your family’s health and longevity history?  Do you have family members that would be willing and able to take care of you in the manner that you choose?

Day 7  - Assess your diet. Studies have found that discrimination based on weight in the work place is more prevalent for women than men, especially white women in professional occupations.

Day 8:  Study your portfolio performance.  Are you an emotional investor? Do you end up buying high and selling low?  How long do you usually hold on to a mutual fund?

Day 9: Take a break from TV.  Reduce your TV watching by less than 8 hours a year and you can gain financial success. Snookie won’t be able to help you but by taking a few hours to get financially educated (read Does this Make My Assets Look Fat? A woman’s guide to finding financial empowerment and success), then take around 5 hours to get organized and develop a plan, and then take an hour 2x a year to review your plan.

Day 10 – Re-evaluate your umbrella policy.  Do you have one?  Is it sufficient? When was the last time you revisited it? Experts report that only 10%of people have the proper umbrella policy.

Day 11: Make sure you are familiar with all your finances. Do you know what would happen to you financially if you were to get divorced? 25% of couples married for twenty years get divorced.  Furthermore, the “grey divorce” (people over 65) is the fasting growing group of people to get divorced

Day 12:  Go over your credit cards.  Understand your interest rates, payment options.  Make sure you are not paying more than you have to.

I Lost My Job – What About Health Insurance?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I received an email from a Savvy Lady today; a heartbreaking tale of how she had been laid off, and was now trying to figure out how to survive – and feed her two small children, as she is a single mom. One of the expenses she worried about was medical. I think any parent can relate to this: with children around, unless you have the proper insurance coverage, medical expenses tend to run the gamut. For those of you in the process of losing your jobs, here’s how to keep this aspect of your finances under control. First of all, if you are still employed, make the most out of your insurance plan while you have it. Get all your routine checkups out of the way. If you use medications, take out as much as your insurance provider will allow. If you have been putting off procedures, now’s the time to have them done.

Once you do lose your job, know that you have options. Under COBRA rules, in most cases, your company must allow you to keep your insurance coverage for six months, as long as you pay the full premium. While this is great news indeed, there is one drawback. The full premium can be quite a bit higher than the monthly payment you are used to, depending on your insurance plan and how much your employer has been contributing. Do your research – shop around, and request other quotes. You may be able to find a cheaper deal on your own.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Your Financial Fitness Checkup

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Leaving the organic produce store yesterday, a flier on the revolving glass door caught my eye. It was entitled “HEALTH CHECKUP: Do You Have the Supplement Basics Covered?” and listed five types of supplements - multivitamins, enzymes, probiotics, fatty acids, and green vegetables - as the foundations for good health. Not only is it nice to know that I take all the necessary measures to ensure my physical well-being, this also translates very well to financial health.

Do you have the personal finance basics covered?

  • Do you make more than you spend? Are you able to pay all your bills in full, on time, or do you need to make more and/or spend less?

  • Do you have an emergency fund? Do you have enough money to cover six months worth of expenses, and is this money easily accessible?

  • Are you in the black? Do you pay off your credit cards in full every month? If not, draft a plan to get rid of those balances!

  • Have you thought about retirement? Do you have a 401(k), Roth IRA or similar, and do you contribute to it regularly?

  • Have you protected yourself against disaster? Do you have the insurance coverage you need, including medical, disability and homeowner’s insurance?

Yes on all? Congratulations! Chances are you’re in great financial health.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

6 Smart Money Moves in Your Thirties

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

A couple of weeks ago, I attended my friend’s thirtieth birthday party. A week later, she called my office to schedule an appointment. While I was delighted to accommodate her, I couldn’t help but scratch my head a little. She never asked me about money before. What was going on? 

It turns out that like so many people entering their thirties, she suddenly felt overwhelmed with financial responsibilities. Would she ever be able to pay off her student debt? What about buying a home? And retirement, it had dawned upon her, wasn’t as far off as it had seemed before. Nor was the whole baby thing.

It is true that your thirties bring a ton of financial responsibilities - but it is also a decade of wonderful opportunities! Below are six smart money moves and stepping stones toward a prosperous future.

  1. Learn to prioritize and keep your expenses down. While a few people pick this up in their twenties, many people never do – and they rarely enjoy a better-than-average standard of living.
  2. Pay off your credit cards. Not only will you save a bundle on financing charges, but as your FICO score improves, you can obtain better rates for mortgages and many other things.
  3. Build an emergency fund. Most experts recommend that you keep enough money to cover six months worth of living expenses in an easily accessible account. This is especially true today.
  4. If you haven’t done so already, start saving for retirement. You are best off stashing this cash in an account that scores you tax benefits, such as a 401(k) or a Roth IRA.
  5. Watch your debt. Get into the habit of spending less than you earn, making room for savings. Stay clear of high-interest and toxic debt.
  6. Review your insurance coverage. Chances are you have some sort of medical insurance already. Other types to look into include long-term disability and homeowner’s insurance (if you are planning to buy a home).

You don’t have to deal with them all at once. Just keep them in mind, and work on them whenever possible.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Term or Whole Life Insurance – Which Is Right for You?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I had breakfast with a new client this morning, at a cozy new bakery around the corner from my office. While the fruit and croissants couldn’t have been better, our conversation was anything but. My new client was- like so many people these days – in a bit of a tough spot financially, so last week he attempted to cash out on the whole life insurance policy he purchased three years ago. He had put almost $9,000 into it, surely, he would be able to withdraw something?

Before sharing his account of this transaction, allow me to explain the difference between term and whole life insurance. Put simply, a term insurance policy is acquired for a certain period of time, often with an option to renew. If the insured person dies before the end of the term, the beneficiary is paid the face value of the policy. A whole life insurance policy is usually for life, and it has both insurance and cash value components.

Now, back to my new client’s case.

The woman who sold him the policy informed him that if he wished to make a cash withdrawal, he would have to wait several years. Even then, he wouldn’t get much.

This type of scenario is far from uncommon. Most whole life insurance policies you need to hold for at least twelve to fifteen years if they are to generate decent returns – some of them never do. Other drawbacks with these types of insurance policies include hidden fees, high commissions (100% of the first year’s premium is not unusual), and that overall, they tend to be lousy investments. There are so many better ways to save for retirement!

So unless you have a very high net worth and intend to use the whole life insurance policy for estate planning purposes or a disabled child or parent, opt for term insurance. It is simpler, less expensive, and you are much better off investing your money elsewhere.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

I Lost My Job – What About Health Insurance?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I received an email from a Savvy Ladies member today; a heartbreaking tale of how she had been laid off, and was now trying to figure out how to survive – and feed her two small children, as she is a single mom. One of the expenses she worried about was medical. I think any parent can relate to this: with children around, unless you have the proper insurance coverage, medical expenses tend to run the gamut. For those of you in the process of losing your jobs, here’s how to keep this aspect of your finances under control.

First of all, if you are still employed, make the most out of your insurance plan while you have it. Get all your routine checkups out of the way. If you use medications, take out as much as your insurance provider will allow. If you have been putting off procedures, now’s the time to have them done.

Once you do lose your job, know that you have options. Under COBRA rules, in most cases, your company must allow you to keep your insurance coverage for eighteen months, as long as you pay the full premium. While this is great news indeed, there is one drawback. The full premium can be quite a bit higher than the monthly payment you are used to, depending on your insurance plan and how much your employer has been contributing. Do your research – shop around, and request other quotes. You may be able to find a cheaper deal on your own, especially if you are eligible for a state run insurance program.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Cheap and Expensive Cars to Insure

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

When I bought my son a Scion Tc, a client told me over mid-morning mochas the other day, I didn’t anticipate that my insurance bill would skyrocket. I suppose I sort of assumed it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

The key to staying clear of a situation like hers is to do your research before you buy. Overall, small, sporty, speedy cars mean higher insurance premiums – simply because they are involved in more accidents than bigger, chunkier, slower cars. Add a young driver to the equation (they are considered extra accident-prone) and your price tag will be hefty, regardless of what insurance provider you choose. Just for fun, below is a list of the five most expensive cars to insure – and the five cheapest.

Most expensive:

  1. Cadillac Escalade EXT 4WD
  2. Subaru Impreza WRX 4WD
  3. Hyundai Tiburon
  4. Mitsubishi Lancer
  5. Scion Tc (my client near died when I showed her this)

Cheapest:

  1. Ford Five Hundred 4WD (now called the Ford Taurus)
  2. Buick Rendezvous 4WD
  3. Buick Lucerne/Buick Rainier4 WD/ Honda Odyssey
  4. Ford Freestyle 4 WD/Subaru Outback 4 WD
  5. Buick Rendezvous/Honda Odyssey

So if cheap insurance is important to you, instead of the sports car, buy your teen a Buick! I know that my brother got a Trans Am when he was 16 and only 6 month later got a ticket for speeding at 40 mph over the limit! Yes that is right. The car went as did all future speeding tickets and by giving him a 10 year old clunker so did the high auto insurance bills.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Homeowner’s Insurance Basics

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I am aware that we are in a real estate crisis and many homeowners are suffering, but everywhere around me, people are buying, buying, buying. And truly, for those who have been patiently awaiting a decline (or weakness, or at least standstill depending on where you live) in real estate prices, this is a time to celebrate. With so many of my friends closing deals on condos and houses, the topic on everyone’s mind seems to be homeowner’s insurance. Here’s what you should know.

Homeowner’s insurance is usually mandatory, at least if you are taking out a mortgage. Even when you pay cash, I still strongly recommend it.

You know how when you rent, your personal property (the things inside your house or apartment) must be insured separately? Homeowner’s insurance is different, because it covers both the building and structure of your home (along with any other buildings on the property) and your personal property. In some instances, it even covers lawsuits. It is, however, important to note that homeowner’s insurance does not cover you in the event of flooding or a major earthquake. If you live in an area affected by these, you can purchase earthquake/flooding insurance separately.

In most cases, loan providers require proof of insurance prior to closing. They then can add the insurance policy to your mortgage payments, and may sell the right to service your loan to a third party. It is important that you keep track of who your insurance agent and servicer are, and that you check in with them a couple of weeks before payments are due to make sure everything is proceeding according to plan.

 

 

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

What Health Insurance Plan Is Right for You?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

With the birth of my daughter just around the corner, my husband and I spent Sunday afternoon reviewing our family’s insurance coverage. Many times, the addition of a new family member means that a different provider or different type of plan becomes more beneficial overall.

If you are shopping for health insurance on your own or if you are covered through your (or your spouse’s) employer and your open-enrollment period is coming up, below are a few must-knows.

Most health insurance plans fall into one of the following two categories: HMOs or PPOs. When enrolled in an HMO, your co-payments tend to be reasonable, but you must stick to doctors within the network. Many times, you need approval from your primary caregiver in order to be entitled to specialist care or certain procedures.

With a PPO, you have much greater flexibility to choose your providers, but co-payments are typically higher and many PPOs have high deductibles. If you are young and healthy, many times it pays off to select a PPO. If, on the other hand, your children are sick often or you have a chronic condition, chances are you are better off with an HMO.

Whichever type of plan you opt for, there will be a number of different providers available. You can research them online at www.ncqa.org.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

What Types of Insurance Does Your Family Need?

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

One of the moms from the park called me last night, in tears. Not only had she come back to her apartment to find the door ajar and her things all over the floor – when she got hold of the landlord, he informed her that his insurance policy only covers the building structure – not the renters’ personal property. So when her valuables were stolen she lost not only many dear memories, but the money invested in them as well. If you are one of the many people confused about insurance, below are the most common ones to consider.

  1. Renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance is the one the mom from the park now wishes people had told her about. It covers the things inside your house or apartment when you are renting.
  2. Homeowner’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance is usually mandatory if you take out a mortgage, and recommended either way. It is also important to note that your homeowner’s insurance needs to be updated when you make major changes or renovations.
  3. Health insurance. This is a complex one with a myriad of different options. Shop around to see what type and provider and coverage would be most beneficial for your family.
  4. Life insurance. Many employers supply their employees with this type of insurance. In case yours doesn’t or not enough insurance is provided, you need to purchase it on your own.
  5. Auto insurance. If you have teenagers who drive, it is generally cheaper to add them to your policy than to get them policies of their own. Make sure everyone who drives your car is covered.
  6. Disability insurance. This, too, may be provided by your employer (or your spouse’s), but you may also need to purchase it on your own as most employers do not provide enough coverage.

Depending on your unique circumstances, other types of insurance, too, may be beneficial for you. If you have your own business, you will need additional types. You may also want to insure art and other valuables.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Long-Term Care Insurance: When to Get It and When Not To

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

I met with a new client yesterday. While this is not unusual, the reason he had come to see me was: he was in his thirties, healthy, athletic – and extremely anxious about the fact that he didn’t have long-term care insurance. While some would call this paranoid, for those who have yet to explore this type of insurance, here’s what you should know.

Long-term care insurance covers you if you need to spend an extended period of time in a nursing home or an assisted facility - or if you need long-term care at home. While this is also true for the government-sponsored program Medicaid, there’s one important difference: Medicaid only covers individuals with minimal net worth. The Medicare program covers stays in nursing homes or assisted facilities in certain cases, but only for very short periods of time. What this comes down to is that if you have a decent amount of money but no longer are able to take care of yourself, you will be very happy that you purchased long-term care insurance.

So should everyone get a policy? Well, the drawback is that long-term care insurance can be very expensive – a policy can easily cost you $2,500 per year. Because of this, unless some scary disease runs in your family, it is generally best to wait until you are close to your late fourties or nearing fifty before you take out a policy. You don’t want to make payments on a policy for years and years - only to be forced to drop it due to financial difficulties a year or two before you need it.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Pet Healthcare and Insurance

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Last week, I spent a long afternoon in the animal hospital with my cat. The good news is that Sunshine is doing just fine – the bad news is the bill - almost $700. Most people who – like me – love their pets to death have considered purchasing health insurance for them at one point or other. But despite the wild rates charged by many veterinarians, it may not be the best solution. Here’s why.

  1. Health insurance for pets is expensive. Expect to pay several hundred dollars per year and pet – if not more. If your local vet is reasonable, you may be better off paying his or her bills than dumping your money into a policy.
  2. Pet insurance plans usually have high deductibles. Don’t expect to be reimbursed for any minor checkups or procedures. These are on you – in addition to the insurance plan.
  3. The insurance company will tell you they cover pretty much everything – until you try to collect. Then, suddenly, you will learn that eye problems are not covered for this certain breed of dogs, or that this bird disease is exempt. Be very careful when you chose your insurance company and plan. When taking recommendations from friends, make sure their pets have actually been sick, and that they have successfully collected from the company in question.
  4. You may be better off giving your pet a savings account. Especially if your pet is young and healthy, it may be more beneficial to set a bit of money aside each month for vet expenses. This way, you have no deductibles and no holes in the coverage.

With all this said, of course, in certain situations it makes perfect sense to purchase health insurance for your pet. If, for instance, your horse colics and has to spend four days in the animal hospital, with rates of several thousand dollars per day, you may be glad you did.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.