How to Make Your Money Go Further – Part 3

Be Brave and Ask

Today I looked at my budget and removed the money from the “salary” line. The bottom line was a sobering reality – soon I will not have money to cover even my basic living expenses. I have to find a job soon. In my field, most of the employers who pay more than minimum wage now require employees to be vaccinated. You can read about my feelings on that, here : Vaccination: the 24/7 Helmet You Can Never Remove.

Writing this series on How to Make Your Money Go Further is helping me to feel like I do have a bit of control over my life. Or maybe I’m just distracting myself!

Today we will Be Brave and Ask

Call your cell phone, internet, or credit card providers and ask for a discounted rate or their best price. Often, you will be able to get ten or twenty dollars knocked off your cell phone bill every month with almost the same amount of data. Sometimes, if you bundle providers, you can save on your internet as well.

Do the same thing with your credit cards. Companies charge a fee to give you a card that includes travel or other points on every purchase.  If you are unvaccinated, these travel points are useless. The “gifts” you can get with credit card points are usually high priced items that can be bought cheaper elsewhere. Hopefully you do not carry a credit card balance because if you do, getting another card with a higher interest rate will not work for you.

Insurance Deductibles

The purpose of property / casualty insurance is to enable you to get back to where you were financially – not to enrich you. In fact, making a claim can penalize you and increase future premiums. When I sold insurance, I always told people to avoid making any small claim – save your claims for the big stuff.

With that in mind, one way to save money on insurance is to increase your deductibles. A deductible is the amount you have to pay before the insurance company picks up the rest.  For example, if you have a deductible on your house insurance of $2,000 – you would have to pay that before making a claim for the rest of any damage. You can see that this would help the insurance company avoid claims of little monetary value and all of the administrative work that goes along with them.  

Pay for Smaller Losses Yourself

I will not make a claim for anything less than a few thousand dollars because I have seen what happens when an insurance company denies or cancels coverage for someone who makes a couple small claims.

When I was an agent, I got a phone call from a panicked and tearful woman in a town not far from ours. She was not a client but was desperate and working her way through every agency, trying to get help. If she didn’t get insurance placed on her house by that afternoon, she was going to lose her house because the bank would not give her a mortgage.

The sad story was that her insurance company had declined to renew her, deeming her a bad risk. She had had three claims over a few years. One was for a couple hundred dollars, the next even less for a stolen bicycle, but the last was a house fire of several thousands.

One of the questions an insurance company asks on their application is if you have ever been denied coverage. If one company has said “no” to covering you, the others will follow suit. And if you can’t get insurance on your house, you cannot hold a mortgage on that property. 

As an agent, I had developed relationships at several insurance companies. I spent hours on the phone that day trying to get that woman coverage. Finally, I was able to do it by pulling in a favour at my favourite company by raising her deductible to the value of her entire house. In other words, unless the house was a total loss, she had no coverage. This satisfied the bank and she was able to keep her house.

Save Money on Insurance – the Right Way

If you raised the deductibles on your house insurance as well as the collision insurance on your car, you could save hundreds each year.

One thing I will not do, however, is change my coverage from a comprehensive policy to a specified perils policy or other lesser policy. Lowering the amount covered or not buying “replacement cost” are not good ideas because if you did have a total loss, you would not be able to replace what you have. It would be far better to pay for the best policy you can by increasing your deductibles to lower the premium.

Loyalty matters to insurance companies and they often give a small discount if you have been with them for several years. Note: this is to the company that actually holds your policy, not the agent who sells the insurance. Don’t jump ship to save a few dollars – stay with your company because chances are that when they raise their rates, the others will follow. Behind all the companies, there are really only a handful of big guys so there isn’t much choice. We all share the costs of natural disasters or catastrophic events, all over the world.

Car Insurance

You might consider also raising the deductible on the comprehensive coverage for your car, which covers fire, theft, impact with an animal (check your policy for this one) and vandalism, among other things but remember that comprehensive often also covers glass. If you drive in the winter and are subject to rock chips and other glass damage, you may not want to increase this deductible.

You can also ask the agent about discounts for driving for pleasure use only, rather than to and from work, or what else you could do to lower your premiums.

Consider buying a storage policy and walking or riding your bike during warmer months. This saves on insurance, wear and tear on your car, gas and is better for you and the planet as well!

Share items with Neighbours, Family, or Friends

We just got a big dump of snow the other night. I talked to my neighbour, who was also out shovelling, and he complained that he’d gotten rid of his snow blower last summer. It took up too much space in his garage and he hadn’t used it in two years!

A snow blower is rarely used enough to keep in your garage year after year. They are heavy so try to share one with a close neighbour. The person that has to store it should have someone else do his driveway to help compensate him for storing it. It’s only fair!

Why not share big ticket items with people you trust? What about sharing large tools like a jig saw, table saw, wet tile saw, or brad nailers and powerful impact drills? You could take turns helping each other with summer and winter tire changeovers!

Hobbies Don’t Have to Be Expensive

Anyone who keeps a budget knows how much hobbies can cost but having a creative outlet is crucial to our well-being. There is something about seeing something we imagined take shape from our own efforts that is almost magical. Even if the results are less than professional!

How often do we use items for hobbies or preserving food? You may use your specialized canning equipment (pressure canner), dehydrators, or smokers once or twice a year and then it will sit in storage. You could work out a schedule to share wool spinners and looms, quilting frames, etc. with friends or neighbours, too.

If you’ve decided to take up sewing after reading Part 2 in the How to Make Your Money Go Further series, why not consider sharing a sewing machine or serger?

Maker Spaces

We have a couple places in town that are informal “drop-in” spaces for anyone who feels like creating something. For a small fee, you can drop in and use the equipment like pottery wheels and kilns, stained glass cutters, painting easels, or nearly anything else you can imagine. If nothing like that is available where you live, you might have to advertise to find others of like mind. Someone might have a garage or basement big enough to establish a very small collective to share equipment at the very least.

Set up a Lending “Library”

You can try sharing toys, books, and children’s clothing by setting up toy or children’s clothing “libraries”. Kids toss aside toys and games quickly because they lose their novelty. Fancy shoes or suits are outgrown so fast, kids often only wear them once, making these ideal to share.

Trade Goods or Services

With your newfound home cooking skills, if you’ve tried the ideas from How to Make Your Money Go Further – Part 1, you could deliver meals to an accountant in exchange for doing your taxes, for example! Or, if you want to stay away from tax implications, maybe someone would walk your dog for you every day for a weekly meal delivered. 

Is That All?

I haven’t tried all of these ideas so I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has. Right now I am not feeling especially creative as my mind is distracted with worry.

There are other things I do to save my money but I didn’t mention them because some of them are embarrassing. What I mean by that is, mainstream society would think I was radical and strange if they knew some of the lengths I go to to save money.

I’m going to share them, anyway. I am already blacklisted by society so what have I got to lose? Part 4 is going to be Hard Core Tips for Those Who Take No Prisoners.


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