When receiving a large loan, it can be overwhelming to think about its repayment. One thing that is concerning is the fear of the inability to pay back the loan due to unforeseen circumstances. Payment Protection Insurance is available to ease this fear. In the UK there is a scandal that has arose from the sale of PPI (Payment Protection Insurance). It can be referred to as a scandal because PPI  policies are sometimes sold without the consumer knowing. This causes the consumers to file claims against lending companies to get back money they have paid towards the policies that they were unaware they had.


If you are reading this and are someone who has been thrown into this type of situation, there are many resources out there to help you through it.

You are not alone! Companies are out there that can be hired to help you get the money back. For example, http://www.lowfeeppiclaims.co.uk, offers a competitive fee to help file these claims which can make the task less daunting. Most claims management companies will charge fees of 25% or more, whereas they charge a fee of 12% on your PPI claim, which is one of the lowest in the UK. A claims management company has the resources that will allow you to get your refund in a hassle free and timely manner.

Calculate your Claim

There are apps out there that can help you calculate what you could potentially be owed. You will need to know the details about your policy (Loan amount, term of loan, your premium amount and interest rate, etc.)

Buyer Beware

Consumers are also being mis-sold on PPI by not fully understanding their policies. There have been reports of a lot of consumers unhappy about PPI claims being turned down because of exclusion clauses in their policy. This is a form of being mis-sold on the policy because people buy into them thinking they would be covered for a particular situation and if that situation occurs, they may be denied coverage. Another issues is the coverage may not be explained in its entirety to the consumer when purchased, and the sum of money provided at payout could only be a percentage of your salary. There are often loopholes in the contracts that people are not aware of.

Overall PPI can be a very helpful tool to keep your family safe at times of crisis. However, it is  important to know what you are signing up for and to do your research before committing to a policy.


What to Consider Before You Switch Insurance Plans

Whether you have to wait until open enrollment to change your health insurance coverage or your coverage allows you to switch at any time, there are a few things to consider before jumping ship on your medical insurance. Often, the plan you enroll into has a period of time that you are “locked into” the plan, and you may have to wait up to a year to change again. Keeping that in mind, this is an important decision that requires some thought.

Is Your PCP Covered?

Being able to freely see your primary care provider when you need a doctor is one of the most important reasons to carry health insurance. If your doctor is out of network on a new plan, it’s a potentially bad idea to switch. Out of pocket costs can really add up, even for those that are in good health and only see a doctor a few times a year.

Other Types of Insurance

If one of the reasons you want to switch is to have better dental insurance and vision coverage, that’s a very important thing to consider. Paying out of pocket for dental care, even routine cleanings twice a year, can get really expensive, even if your dentist has a sliding scale. If your new plan includes general dentistry and vision exams, it may be time to switch. Another thing to consider is prescription coverage.

Waiting Periods for Eligibility

If your new plan has a substantial waiting period and it’s fairly on par with your current plan, it probably isn’t worth the wait. This is an important question to ask if you’re switching jobs, in which case changing insurance may be unavoidable. COBRA, the type of insurance that covers you between jobs, can be more expensive than staying with your original plan. Even if you have to pay a higher premium to stay with the insurance offered from your old employer, it may be worth it to stay on.

Quality of Care

Another important thing to consider is your quality of care. If you’re happy with what you’re receiving now, it may be a good idea to stick with the plan you have. If a new plan is less expensive and you can keep all of your same doctors, hospitals, and specialist choices, that is of course, a different story.

Bottom-Line Costs

Almost as important as quality of care, the bottom line costs are an important factor when you’re thinking about switching. What are your premiums and deductibles? Obviously, no one can predict the future, but if you’re a reasonably healthy adult with high premiums and low deductibles, it may be time for higher deductibles that may save you money in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Money isn’t the most important thing when it comes to deciding whether to switch health insurance. Your health is paramount, and if your quality of care will go down over just saving a few dollars, it’s better to stick with your current plan. However, if you find a way to keep costs down while keeping the same quality of care, it is a good idea to switch.


How to Save on the Cost of Life Insurance

All too often people avoid buying life insurance because they simply cannot afford it. However, it might be that you cannot afford your ideal life insurance policy, but you can afford something for less. The following article will cover money saving tips when purchasing life insurance.

Fifteen money saving tips when purchasing life insurance

  1. Buy cheap term life insurance

Life insurance comes in three main flavors: term, whole, and universal life. One of the best ways to save money on your life insurance premium is to purchase term life insurance. Here is a brief description of each type of life insurance.

Term life insurance is designed to last for the term of the policy. Usually, the term can be anywhere from 10 years up to 30 years. You can even find a 35-year term policy with a return of premium rider. Typically the premium is fixed for the duration of the term with the ability to renew on an annual basis. However, because the policy ends at a specified time (the term) your premium will be less than a product that lasts the rest of your life, such as whole or universal life insurance.

Whole life insurance lasts the rest of your life. The policy builds cash value. Typically the premium and face amount are fixed for the life of the primary insured. You can borrow against the cash reserve. Any interest owed on the money you borrowed against will typically be repaid from the death benefit when you die. And for those who want permanent coverage, single premium whole life insurance saves you on the cost of protection.

Universal life insurance is a permanent policy. It is very similar to whole life but has more flexibility when it comes to the payment. There are three main types of Universal Life: Guaranteed, Indexed, and Variable. Guaranteed Universal Life typically has a fixed premium amount. Indexed Universal Life has the premium you paid tied directly to a benchmark, such as the stock market. So if the market does well you pay less and vice versa. Variable Universal Life allows the owner to invest the policy into various investment vehicles which can make the premium and cash reserve go down or up depending on the performance of the investment index the policy is tied to.

You might need life insurance for the rest of your life. In that case, term will not be the best choice. However, you cannot beat cheap term life insurance for the savings it will provide compared to Universal or Whole Life.

A word of advice when choosing the type of life insurance for you: You need to consider how much life insurance you need today, not some hypothetical day in the future. All too often people get hung up on cheap term life insurance because they are too fixated on what may or may not happen once the term expires. The problem is this misses the point of term life insurance. Term should be used to meet your needs in the here and now.

For example, if you know your family needs $500,000 of life insurance proceeds to pay off the mortgage then you should get $500,000 of coverage. What tends to happen is people will purchase $100,000 of whole life instead of the $500,000 of term they need because they are too focused on the term expiring and “then what?” But consider if that person dies in a few years or few months from now.

That $100,000 policy is not going to do the job. And further, how much will $100,000 be worth in 30-40 years when the insured dies? That is why a healthy husband or wife age 40 and younger should consider a million dollars of life insurance. The idea is to buy the amount of insurance you need in case you die today and deal with the future when it comes.

  1. Have your beneficiary or beneficiaries pay for it

Another great way to save on the cost of life insurance is to have your beneficiary pay your life insurance premium. Often older clients will be saddled with a high premium that makes paying life insurance painful. As a result, many people will simply let the life insurance lapse, cash it in, or sell it for a life settlement because it does not fit into the budget. But a good idea would be to see if your life insurance beneficiary will help or completely pay the premium. After all, they are the one who stands to benefit from the policy. Why shouldn’t they help pay it?

  1. Stop smoking

An important money saving tip on life insurance is to know the requirements of getting a non-tobacco rate class. As you may already know, smoking and life insurance are poor bedfellows. Typically, the premium is three to five times higher for a smoker compared to a non-smoker. To save on your life insurance, you will need to quit for at least one year. There is a company that will offer a preferred rate class after one year of no tobacco use. But you need to quit for at least one year to qualify for a non-tobacco rate. For those of you who use other forms of tobacco besides cigarettes than make sure you apply with a company that has favorable underwriting for tobacco products other than cigarettes. And if your tobacco product happens to be marijuana, make sure you apply with a marijuana friendly life insurance company.

  1. Get healthy

Easier said than done, we know. However, many steps can be taken today that will help you qualify for a much better rate class down the road. And going from one rate class to another can save you between 10-25% on your premium. In fact, the difference between a preferred plus rate class and a standard rate class is typically 200%.

The two primary contributors to getting healthy are diet and exercise. Think baby steps. You don’t need to run a marathon or go vegan. Instead, take small steps to improving your diet and fitness. For example, you could cut down on the fast food you eat or take an evening stroll around the neighborhood in the evening. You would be amazed at how a few small changes can make an enormous difference over time.

If you are currently working on getting healthier but you need life insurance today, consider a cheap term exam or no exam life insurance policy. A 10-year term will provide ample length and you can easily re-apply for life insurance once you have reached your desired health goals six months or so down the road.

  1. Pay annually

Here is an often overlooked tip for saving money when purchasing life insurance that adds up over the years. You receive price breaks by paying less frequently. For example, the best way to buy life insurance is with a single premium policy where you put down a large sum of money to purchase an even larger death benefit. Single premium is a great deal for some who have a lot of liquid cash but for those of us who do not have an extra $50,000 or more lying around, there are still ways to save money.

The lowest premium is the annual premium. Paying your premium once a year will provide you the most savings, followed by semi-annual, then monthly and then quarterly. Yes, quarterly is the most expensive way to pay for your life insurance.

  1. Buy it while you are young

Age is the primary factor that a life insurance carrier will consider when determining your premium. The reason is, the actuarial tables that an underwriter looks at considers your life expectancy above all else. Therefore, the older you are, the closer you are to that fateful day. Therefore, the younger you are, the more money you will save on your life insurance.

For all you 20, 30 and 40-year-olds looking for cheap term life insurance, there is no time like today to lock into a policy. Once you get into your 50s, life insurance premiums jump up around 5-10% year over year.

  1. Avoid Dangerous Hobbies

The dangerous hobbies that do raise a red flag for life insurance companies will either make your premium go up, require an exclusion, or cause your application to be declined. And you will have to wait two years after quitting the hobby to qualify if you do engage in particular dangerous hobbies. For thrill seekers, refraining from dangerous avocations is not realistic. However, if you don’t regularly participate in adrenalin sports and have plans to purchase life insurance, don’t go skydiving or make plans to go skydiving before you secure that policy.

  1. Consider the term length

Here is another great tip to save money when buying life insurance. If you are pressed for cash because your monthly budget is precarious close to swamping you but you want life insurance to protect your family as their primary income source, then consider a shorter term length. There are two distinct advantages to doing so.

One advantage of a shorter term length is the premium will be less because the chances of you dying in 10 years or 15 years is less than you dying in the next 30 years.

Also, most term policies come with an additional life insurance rider called a conversion option that will allow you to convert all or a portion of your policy into a permanent policy at your original rate class. That way, even if you do come down with some condition that precludes you from life insurance, you can convert your term policy to a permanent policy with no proof of insurability.

Further, you can always add additional coverage or buy a new policy when you are not so financially strapped, but at least you have some life insurance in the interim.

Also, be aware that some life insurance carriers offer term coverage for every year from 15-30. That means 16, 17, 18, 19, and so on. So you can tailor a policy to your particular need.

  1. Actual age versus insurance age

Some life insurance companies will use your nearest age to determine your life insurance “age”. How this works is the life insurance company will date you at the age you are closest to. So if someone 44 years old was born in August and they apply for life insurance in March, that person is one year older for life insurance purposes because they are nearer to turning 45, rather than 44.

Now you can backdate the policy to save age but you will end up paying more premium up front to do so and it is not in everyone’s best interest to backdate although at times it makes sense.

Other companies will use your actual age. That means as long as you apply and are approved for life insurance before your birthday then you are your actual age. If you have a birthday during the underwriting period, than you are your new age for that insurance carrier. Therefore, you want to make sure you applied with an actual age company with a few weeks or months to spare to lock into your current age.

The difference between the costs for an actual age company versus a nearest age company will probably be a few dollars. However, for longer terms, such as 20 or 30 years, that will amount to thousands of dollars of savings on life insurance premiums. It pays to know which company to choose.

  1. Know your insurance companies weight chart

Different companies have different build tables. Your build is your height and weight allowance that a life insurance company will use to determine your rate class. Another way to say this is that some companies allow for a larger body mass index than others.

The key for overweight or big boned clients looking to save on life insurance is to apply with a carrier that has a more liberal build chart. As we mentioned above, the difference between rate classes can save you 10-25% on your premium. That is sizable savings over the life of your insurance.

  1. Buy in bulk (discounted rate bands)

Life insurance companies bundle policies in much the same way that a company like Costco bundles its food. You receive a price break when you buy more life insurance. Face amounts $0-249,999 are in the lowest band, although some companies have it $0-199,999. The next typical band is $250,000-499,999. There is a price break at $500,000-749,000 and then another price break on cost per units at $750,000-999,999. Another price break on cost per units at $1,000,000-1,249,999. Therefore, a great way to save on life insurance is to inquire into that specific companies price breaks.

You might find that your $700,000 policy actually costs more than a $750,000 policy because the larger policy had a bigger price break on costs per unit.

  1. Take an exam compared to a no medical exam policy

If every penny counts, then this is another awesome tip for saving money when purchasing life insurance. Life insurance companies want to get a complete picture of who the company is offering life insurance to. Therefore, taking an exam provides a company a complete picture of your health and lifestyle.

As a result, exam policies (called “fully underwritten”) are less than a no exam policy. For those of you with a fear of needles or that have superior health, there are still affordable life insurance companies available that do not require an exam. It is these instances when the premium is very close or when it makes sense to choose a no exam policy versus an exam because of a potential health issue not yet discovered that a no exam policy can save you a lot of time and money.

  1. Consider a second-to-die policy

If your goal is to leave money to your estate, then a survivorship life insurance policy might be right up your alley. With a second to die policy, the premium is lower, up to 40% lower in some cases, than buying coverage on an individual. The reason being, both spouses have to die for the policy to pay out. But if neither spouse needs money, an excellent way to increase an estate and pay any estate taxes is with a second to die life insurance policy, perhaps in an irrevocable trust.

And a second to die policy can be purchased on two business partners, siblings, and many other potential scenarios as long as there is an insurable interest. Buying coverage on two business partners is a great way to create a business succession plan with life insurance, such as funding a buy sell agreement, or key man business insurance.

What do you self insure?

If you’re like me you pay a pretty penny each month for insurance. Health, dental, vision, car, life, renters, it seems like the policies never stop. Although I don’t mind paying for the peace of mind, I’d be lying if I pretended I was excited about the expenses. This is why I have a goal to self insure many aspects of my life. Here are a few areas I’d like to cover…

Electronic purchases:

I was a sucker for purchasing “extended warranties.” While I thought I was being responsible for doing so, I’ve come to realize that is hardly the case. Come to think of it, I can’t ever recall being able to take advantage of an extended warranty. This makes sense when you think about it. Take for example Apple Care. For $160, you get two additional years of coverage. Do you think Apple would sell Apple Care if their products typically failed within that time frame? Heck no they wouldn’t. They sell the policy because they know the chances of your device breaking down is highly unlikely, not to mention that it only takes one accidental dent/crack/chip to completely void the warranty.  I’ve bought extended warranties on every Apple product I’ve purchased, but have never once had to use them. Next time I’m offered an extended warranty I will politely decline, knowing I have the liquidity to cover any repairs if need be.

Our Cars:

Girl Ninja brought a 2005 Toyota Corolla to the marriage. Last week I was calling to get quotes to add her to my insurance policy. Since she owns her car outright, I toyed with the idea of not paying for the comprehensive and collision insurance. This means if she crashed in to another car, our insurance WOULD pay for the damage caused to the other vehicle, but it WOULD NOT cover any repairs necessary for Girl Ninja’s car. I “Blue Booked” the value of her car and saw it should sell for about $8,500. Although we have the funds to completely replace her car, we decided the small premium increase is worth it to add comprehensive and collision coverage. Once her car drops to around $5,000, then we will probably drop that coverage and self insure and damage that may be caused.

My life:

Right now I can get a $1,000,000; 20 year level term life insurance for about $30/month. I see that as a completely fair trade, but as I age my insurance premiums will increase, or even worse I may become ineligible for life insurance if I develop some serious health issues. This means I have 20 years to build up a large enough Net Worth so that my bank/retirement accounts become their own life insurance policy. If I have enough liquidity, Mrs. Ninja can rest easy at night knowing that even if I am uninsured, she will still have adequate resources to carry on without me.

That said, there are a few areas I will probably never self insure in…

Renters Insurance:

It’s soooo cheap. I pay like $10/month for $30,000 worth of coverage through AAA. It’s honestly my favorite insurance because I pay the whole year up front ($120) and have the peace of mind knowing my place can get robbed at any moment and I will be taken care of.

Health Insurance:

While I hope one day to have a small fortune, I don’t know if I will ever be wealthy enough to self insure my medical expenses. For example, Dad Ninja got in a pretty gnarly motorcycle accident two years ago where he almost lost his leg. After multiple skin grafts, a muscle transplant from his back, two weeks in the hospital, a few months in a wheelchair, and two years of physical therapy he is finally getting back to normal. While I don’t know the total cost of this entire process (probably close to $500,000 in medical expenses), I do know how much  the first night in the Emergency Room cost him…$94,000. That’s freakin’ crazy. He wasn’t in this small hospital for more than 12 hours before being transferred to a larger hospital, but he left with a medical bill of nearly $100k. Suddenly my health insurance premium doesn’t sound too bad.

There are about a billion other things one can choose to insure, self insure, or just flat out ignore. Homeowners insurance, umbrella insurance, ALIEN ABDUCTION insurance (it really exists!) to name a few. Are there any areas of your life you “go it alone” and self insure? Where do you ALWAYS plan to pay the premium?

WTF Adulthood?!

If there was one thing I learned upon graduating college, it was this: Adult life is expensive. I’m talking real expensive. What do you mean I have to pay for toilet paper? All these years the roll has always magically been refilled. Are you trying to tell me I’m  now responsible for this magic? Fudge, I didn’t sign up for this.

Maybe I was spoiled, but I had almost all of my daily expenses taken care of as a kid. Some of these expenses I didn’t even realize (ie health insurance), so graduating to adulthood came as a giant financial shock.

Here are a few of the expenses I’m not too stoked about….

Income tax:

Unfortunately I live in California. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the greatest place in the world. We have income tax, sales tax, property tax, and a tax for farting….okay maybe not the last one. I grew up in Washington state, where there is no such thing as income tax, so making the adjustment to California’s system was not the funnest. Unbeknownst to me, dibs were called on 9.3% of my pay check by the the golden state.


What the heck is this insurance stuff? Do I really have to pay $300 a month for all the different insurances I need? You mean I can’t spend that money on Xbox, Hot Pockets, and Barbies? Is rental, car, health, dental, and vision insurance really necessary? Okay fine. You win. I’ll fork over the darn money, but I’m not happy about it. When I was a kid Ninja I never had to pay for these things. Being an adult sucks.

Random Household Stuff:

Toilet paper, paper towels, soap, sponges, toothpaste, etc. What the heck! These suckers add up quick. There are so many “hidden fees” that come with adulthood I’m starting to feel nauseous. Please hold while I throw up….

….I can’t handle the nickel and dime-ing going on. I know, I’m being a whiner, but really what kid realizes all things things actually cost money? I sure as heck didn’t. I blame Mom Ninja for my naivety.

The list goes on and on. There is no denying that the transition from childhood to adulthood is an expensive one. And there is no denying that transition kind of sucks balls. I want to hear some of the hidden fees that shocked you? Did you have everything taken care of as a kid? Or did you always understand the costs of life?

Wanna start a fight? Talk prenup

Just so there is no confusion, Girl Ninja and I wont have a prenuptial agreement. Neither Girl Ninja, or myself, have amassed a great fortune thus we have no need for one. Furthermore, from a purely statistical view, we have a lower probability of divorce. We both share similar spiritual beliefs; neither of our parents, or even grandparents, have been divorced; we did not move in together prior to marriage; and we’ve never participated in “adult” activities together.**

Anywho, Yesterday, I talked about how Girl Ninja and I will operate our financial lives. The idea of a prenuptial agreement was mentioned in the comments section twice so I thought I would share my $0.02 on them today.

If you don’t know what a prenup is, it’s a contract entered into prior to marriage which commonly includes provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce. They are more common amongst the wealthy. The idea is if Joe, a 50 year old millionaire, marries some 20 year old hottie (and she signs a prenup) she will not have the right to half of his fortune in the event they divorce. It’s basically a contract that prevents, or limits, gold-digging.

I’ve managed to get in to three fights (all with girls) when it comes to talking prenuptial agreements. The conversations usually start something like this…

Someone brings up the idea of a prenup

Me: I don’t think they are that terrible, I could understand why some people would want them.

Random Girl: What? Are you crazy? I would never marry someone if they made me sign a prenup.

Me: Why?

Random Girl: Because, like, a prenup totally means that, like, you are counting on getting divorced.

Me: No it doesn’t.

Random Girl: You’re right. It doesn’t. I was silly to think that it did. You are so smart ninja and your biceps look especially strong today.

Okay, that’s not exactly how the conversations go. Typically, the girl usually ends up screaming at me for defending prenups. I’m sitting here wondering if most women think prenups are bad, or if it’s just some freak coincidence that every girl I know hates them.

My stance:

While I don’t think the majority of marriages pose a need for a prenup, I could definitely understand why some couples would want one. I like to think of them as an insurance policy. You have car insurance right? Do you plan on getting in an accident? Probably not. Similarly, most married couples don’t plan on getting a divorce. The prenup acts an insurance policy in the event someone wants to break things off. Remember, it was a predetermined agreement laying out how your financial assets will be distributed. There is no ability for the woman (or man) to try and suck their spouse dry since the contract already discloses the terms.

Girl Ninja’s stance:

She believes, like most of us probably do, that marriage is a lifetime commitment. She’s particularly fond of the “Til death do you part” aspect. If both people truly mean those words when they marry, there should be no need for a prenup. To her, a prenup implies you are essentially doubting the success of your marriage from day one, and if there is even a slight doubt, you’re not ready to get hitched.

I can’t really fault Girl Ninja for her thought process because she believes in the integrity of a promise, and so do I. I also have to admit, if I was about to marry a femaleionaire (get it, female millionaire) and she wanted me to sign a prenup, I would probably be pretty hurt (or at least offended).

I don’t think there is a winning opinion in this debate, but I sure would LOVE to hear your thoughts…

  • What’s your stance on prenups?
  • Are there certain circumstances they are okay? Or should they cease to exist?
  • If your S.O. asked you to sign one, would you? Or would you be pretty offended?
  • Do you have stories about prenups and family or friends?

**Update: It appears that premarital sex and residing with your partner prior to marriage no longer results in a higher probability of divorce compared to those who don’t. Many of you pointed out in the comments below that you no longer thought those stats were relevant, and it turns out you are right. It appears in the 70’s and 80’s those stats were true, but in our current generation that’s no longer the case. I appreciate you all keeping me honest and fact checking my posts. I always strive to post relevant factual content, but sometimes I guess my facts are outdated (I’m not perfect). I have no problem conceding when I am wrong. And on this post, I was wrong. I never intended to pass any judgment on couples that have lived together or had premarital sex, you are your own person and have to do what is right and best for your relationship 🙂 Sorry again