Making Cents: Get control of monthly cost of living
Whether you earn more than you spend or you are living exclusively from your savings, it is a good idea to know your monthly cost of living.
Some people are still suffering from the dark days of the recession and watching every nickel carefully. But they are not the only ones who would benefit from a solid review of what cash flows out the door. This is equally important to those with minimal resources and those with more income than they need. Many people still have areas where they wastefully send out checks or have automatic withdrawals from our accounts.
In the areas of property and casualty insurance, most people haven't reviewed their costs compared to other options in a long time. Whether you call a company directly or you use an agent, you should ask how the benefits you need are priced at more than just one company.
The same may be true for life insurance. Although aging is not typically a premium reduction condition, you may in fact be able to lower your premiums with a new contract because of differences in the contract structure and pricing. Insurers over the past few years migrated to a newer mortality table with extended life expectancies and lower costs of insurance.
We see many clients paying for services that they no longer need or use. An example of this may be a credit repair program. These companies in the credit repair business can be very valuable when you need help with raising your credit score. But once that credit score is high enough to qualify for the best rates available, you don't need to pay the monthly fee for repair. Perhaps a credit monitoring service to identify unusual activity along with some identity theft protection will now do the job.
Consider a competitive look at the telecom carriers in your neighborhood. Many cable watchers have more cable boxes and DVRs than the family can use, especially when the children are grown or at college. The same holds true with telephone and Internet. Providers today want to be your provider for everything that is wired or wireless in your home, and rates are dropping as the competition grows.
And, no budget-buster discussion would be complete if I didn't talk about paying too much in taxes: federal and state income, death and gift taxes. With income and estate tax changes on the horizon, now is the time to be sure that you won't be spending any more than you need to.
John P. Napolitano is the CEO of U.S. Wealth Management in Braintree, Mass. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.