Real Talk: You Need Renter’s Insurance

Thinking of skipping or canceling renter’s insurance in order to save money? Think again!

Renter’s insurance is the #1 most important coverage for anyone who is not already covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Let’s say it again for the folks in the back: If you do not own your current living space, you need renter’s insurance.

“What’s the big deal?”

Unless you personally have homeowner’s insurance or are legally married (not just engaged) to someone with homeowner’s insurance, your personal items are not covered by an insurance policy. Meaning, if there is a flood, fire, tornado, accident, or Act of God of any kind, your items are gone forever and you’ll pay out of pocket to replace them.

Your landlord’s insurance policy only covers the actual building and any appliances/features owned by the landlord in your rental space.

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“Doesn’t it cost a lot?”

No. The average policy is around $15 per month ($180 per year), and now there are new companies like Lemonade boasting rates as low as $5 per month. Even if you underestimate the value of ALL your personal belongings in your living space, the cost is no comparison (Think: Computer, phone, clothes, shoes, dishes, furniture, etc.).

Your car insurance company usually also has renter’s insurance, which can help you save money by bundling policies.

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“Doesn’t it just cover my stuff?”

No. If your policy includes liability coverage (and you should definitely have it), you are covered if a guest gets injured in your apartment or if you accidentally burn half of your kitchen down attempting your own cooking show. Your out-of-pocket costs can escalate quickly if you have to repay any medical bills, legal expenses, and/or repair costs.

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Bite the bullet and get renter’s insurance now. Tree falls through your roof? Covered. Pipe bursts in the winter? Covered. Break-in? Covered.

Your future self and wallet with thank you!

The True Cost of Paying Rent Late

The first of the month can sneak up on you, and if your bank account isn’t ready to pay up, you could be seeing red. How much does it actually cost to pay your rent late?

Know the fees.

Your lease agreement will list the late fee charged by your landlord if you pay after the designated grace period (also noted in the lease).

Cost: 5%-10% of rent amount

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Know the deadlines.

If you still have not paid rent after the late fee, your landlord will most likely begin the eviction process. Depending on your state’s laws, the landlord will send a written demand to pay rent or move out (also known as a notice to “pay or quit”) with a deadline of 3-10 days. Landlords usually charge a filing fee that covers the court’s fees and processing.

After the period of time in the notice expires, your landlord can file for eviction or dispossessory, which is a legal notice to the court that you have not paid rent and the landlord wants to take back possession of the property. The sheriff’s office or a designated process server will notify you in writing (via USPS mail or posted on your front door) that the landlord has filed eviction. Pay attention to any court deadlines such as filing your answer.

  • Filing an answer means you are officially responding to the court’s notice of eviction. In most counties/states, filing an answer automatically places your case on the court’s magistrate calendar. This also means that your landlord may charge an additional attorney fee for attending the court date.
  • Failing to show up to your court date will result in a “default judgment” in the landlord’s favor. A writ of possession will be taken out right away, which means the landlord is allowed to take back possession of the home once the sheriff’s office completes the eviction.
  • Attending court may allow for a court-ordered payment plan, but it may be risky depending on your state’s usual process. If you miss any court-ordered payments, the landlord can file the writ of possession.

Costs: $100-$250 Filing Fee
             $200-$300 Attorney Fee
             $50-$100 Writ of Possession

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Know how it affects your credit.

Did you know that civil court filings are part of your credit score? Every time a landlord files for eviction, the case is reported to the credit bureaus. Future landlords and creditors will see the eviction filings, even if the eviction was cancelled by a payment made in full. Too many filings will disqualify you from some rentals. It’s a good idea to use free credit reporting sites yearly so you’re not surprised by your score or history in the future.

Cost: Negative rental history and/or lower credit score

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Know your options.

Till now offers a rental loan that may be cheaper than your late fee! Depending on your state and application, using a rental loan that can be repaid bi-weekly over several months may be your cheapest option. Paying back the loan actually helps improve your credit score by building credit history! To apply for a rental loan visit: https://tillsavings.com/loan_application

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Plan ahead whenever possible and research your options so you’re not hit by surprises later. Happy renting!

 

Living Green – Energy Savings That Save Money

Summer is on the horizon, and with it comes hotter temperatures – and higher utility bills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 the average amount spent on utilities by consumers was $3,885!!

Did you know saving energy can also save you a lot of money? Follow these tips below and you’ll be seeing green!

 

Change Out Lightbulbs

Did you know that swapping your 5 most frequently used lightbulbs in your home with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can save $65 per year? As a bonus, they are also brighter and last 6-10 times longer!

  • Always turn off lights when leaving a room. Turning off just one 60-watt incandescent bulb that would otherwise burn eight hours a day can save about $15 per year! (Energy Star)

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Phantom Energy Sucks

Electronics like cell phone chargers use electricity even when on stand-by mode. This “phantom” power load accounts for 15% of household electricity usage. Unplug electronics when not in use, or use a power strip to help avoid unnecessary energy use.

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Showers Over Baths

A ten-minute shower can use less water than taking a bath. Limit those bubble baths whenever possible and switch to a low-flow shower head that can also save you up to $150 per year on electricity.

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Cold Water Laundry

Hot water accounts for about 90% of the energy your washing machine uses to wash clothes — only 10% goes to electricity used by the washer motor. Switching to cold water-only laundry can save more than $40 per year!

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Don’t Touch The Thermostat

Summer months cause a strain on your AC and your wallet. Cut costs by setting the thermostat between 74 and 78 degrees. Change the AC filter regularly and shut the blinds or drapes to keep the sun’s rays out.

  • Setting your thermostat too low can actually freeze your unit, which makes it stop working altogether. If your AC isn’t working, turn it off and give it a few hours to thaw before turning back on.

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Even small changes like these can make a big difference with your monthly utility bills. What energy-saving habits do you practice?