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Living Large in Lean Times

Basic Book InfoLiving Large in Lean Times

  • Full Title: Living Large in Lean Times
  • Author: Clark Howard
  • Publisher: Avery
  • Price: $18.00

If you checked out my review of Living Large in Lean Times, you noticed that I recommend buying it. However I have a great contest starting today that is even a better deal.

Living Large in Lean Times Twitter Contest

I thought this would be a wonderful book to giveaway to a reader. If you’d like enter, please follow me on Twitter and tweet ” I entered the Living Large in Lean Times Contest! #couplemoney”

I’ll pick a winner Friday, August 5 at 6pm EST. Please have the hashtag so I can find your tweet and enter it.


Agreeing to Disagree

couple talking finances

Wait or Go Ahead with the Car

So I mentioned earlier this week that we’re having some big repairs for the Toyota if we want to keep it. It looks like we’d be shelling out thousands of dollars. As I wrote how we’re going to get a second opinion before making a decision on whether to repair or replace the Toyota.

So have we got a second opinion?

Honestly, no we haven’t.

I just want to say that my husband and I have two very different styles of handling situations, each with its own pros and cons. My husband is very patient, analyzing a situation thoughtfully until he’s comfortable with moving forward. At its best, we’ve made some wonderful decisions that has benefited us through the years.

I’m more of the look at the situation, gather as much information as quickly as possible, and then make the decision as soon as possible. If a decision can be made today or this week, why wait?

Both of us look at the information before us, I’ll attack it until I get what I need and he’ll go at his own pace before moving forward. For the most part, I think our styles have worked very well with our mutual goals whether its finances or family decisions. Once in a while, though, we kind of look at each other and wonder how in the world we make it work.

Love :)

The good news is that it’s not terribly urgent as we do have my car. I’m n0t using it with this heatwave going on. I’m trying to stay cool  and indoors as I wait for the baby to arrive. (She was due earlier this week.)

I’m curious about your family and how you handle the different personalities. How do you handle differences? Do you tend to wait for a consensus or do one of you kind of jump in and get started?

Note: I just wanted to point out that Financial Samurai has a wonderful post up today on how valuable a reliable mechanic is car owners. I’m sharing this information with my husband. Sam got some wonderful savings, so maybe that might motivate my husband to go ahead and try a second mechanic.


Personal Finance Posts to Catch Up On

If you have some free time this weekend and want some tips and information for your finances, be sure to read some of these wonderful posts.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. I also recommend checking out my blogroll to pick up some great personal finance blogs to follow. Please also let me know what are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Have fun this week with your family and try to stay cool!

Photo Credit: Funkdooby


Insurance and Family Changes

insurance for couples

Insurance is a given for most people. There’s insurance for our home, cars, health and life among other types. Some need to be adjusted based on changes in your personal status. We’ll take a look at when that typically occurs.


You know you’re an adult when you have to start buying your own insurance policies. Until the recent health insurance law, children usually aged off their parent’s policy by age 23; it is now 26. Usually you get your own policy with your first job with benefits. I recently helped my son talk through the various options offered by his workplace.

There’s no set age for having to buy your own vehicle insurance policy but the general rule in our home was when you moved away from the family home. That will also be the time to get renter’s insurance to cover belongings in a rented apartment or home.


Not long after the ringing of the wedding bells stop, changes to employer-sponsored insurance plans must be submitted. If you want coverage for your new spouse the deadline to apply is usually 30 days. Otherwise, you have to wait until the next open enrollment period.

Review the health insurance offerings of both employers and figure out the best scenario for the two of you in terms of cost, coverage and medical providers. Doing the research before the wedding will ease some of the stress once the clock starts.

You’ll want to do the same analysis for vehicle insurance as well but it’s not as time-sensitive. Take advantage of multi-car discounts by going to one policy. Make sure your renter or homeowner policy covers the expanded amount of belonging with another person in the home.

New Children

The same 30 day rule applies for your newborn. Don’t miss this one as babies may incur their own medical expenses in the hospital and you don’t want to pay it all out of pocket.

If you don’t have life insurance already, this is a good time to do so. You will want to provide for the home and care of the children in case of an early demise.


You still need health insurance as a retiree, but most of us won’t have employer-sponsored options. Enroll in Medicare when eligible (Part A and B) to avoid paying a 10% penalty for each year you delay for as long as you have part B. If you include your spouse on a employer-sponsored health plan, you should reassess whether to continue their coverage once they’re on Medicare.

Once your home is paid for and your children are no longer dependents, it may not make sense to have a life insurance policy. You may decide to cancel or at least reduce the coverage based on your financial position.

Personal changes in your status, both happy and sad, require evaluation of your insurance policies. Save yourself money, time and stress by making them as soon as needed. What was your last insurance adjustment?

Photo: Some rights reserved by

How to Improve Your Credit Score

caredit card network

If you don’t normally give much thought to your credit score, but find you’re being rejected by lenders maybe now is the time to take action. Your credit score is essentially your credit reputation, or your history as a borrower. Since your credit score reflects your financial history, it gives lenders a basic idea of your creditworthiness.

This becomes important when you apply for a loan or a credit card. It’s easier for someone with a high credit score to get loans and competitive interest rates, while a low credit score can cause you to be denied a loan altogether. For this reason, it’s important that your score is both correct and as high as possible.

So, how can you optimize your credit score? There are many small steps you can take, but they can each have a big impact on your score. The following suggestions will help you boost, and maintain, your credit score.

Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

There are several ways to get hold of your credit report, but the internet tends to be the easiest. You can get your credit reports (not scores though) through Annual Credit Report.

There are other websites that say that also can give you a credit report, but please be aware that there usually fees associated with obtaining your report from these websites.

Now there is a free option to get a credit score. You can use Credit Sesame to get a credit score using data from Experian updated monthly. The free membership (no credit card required) allows you to see your credit score and you can also get suggestions on ways you can save money on your finances, like mortgages or credit cards.

I wrote a review on Credit Sesame if you’re interested in how it works.

Check the Report for Accuracy

Your personal information, such as your address and date of birth, should be correct and current. Any debt you have, as well as who you owe, will also be included. Delinquent accounts should be listed, as well as any criminal history. Generally the report will only contain information for the last seven years, so if anything older than that is included, contact the credit bureau, in writing, to have it removed. Any information that’s incorrect should be updated immediately. You can contact the credit bureau directly to do this as well.

Remove Bad Debts

Getting rid of any record of bad debts can have a very positive impact on your credit score. If your credit report shows any late or rogue accounts, get these back in good standing immediately. Sometimes you can contact these lenders to negotiate a payoff, or to set up a payment plan that’s more manageable for you. In any case, you’ll first want to pay any outstanding amounts, and then stay current on any future payments. Keep all accounts current if you can’t pay them off right away.

Sign Up for New Credit

If you don’t already have a credit card, get one. Be diligent about making payments on it and only use it when you’re sure you’re able to pay the bill. By having a credit card and using it responsibly you can establish a positive credit history for yourself. Make sure you pay at least the minimum, and always pay the bill on time. This will show that you’re consistent with paying back your debt, which will also help to raise your credit score.

Opt for an Installment Loan

Installment loans-such as car loans, student loans, and mortgages-are especially good for increasing scores, but you must be diligent about always making your payment. Never borrow more than you can afford to pay back. Also, be aware that when you apply for these types of loans, your credit score is often pulled. You often need to demonstrate a decent credit score to be approved. Additionally, applying for too many loans and being rejected will actually have a negative effect on your score, so be careful with this option.

Give Your Card a Break

When using your credit cards, don’t always use your card immediately after fully paying off the balance. If you have multiple credit cards, try to use each one every few months. You should also try to not use any one card more frequently to avoid a large balance to one lender. By using different cards and leaving gaps between full payments and use, it will look as if you’re not dependent on credit cards to live.

Avoid Large Balances

While having regular activity on your cards is important, carrying too much debt can make you appear financially strained, so be sure to pay balances quickly. Strive to pay off your credit card balance each month. If you’re unable to pay your balances in full, make sure you’re at least making the minimum payment due, and make sure it gets there on time.

Maintain Old Accounts

Keep older credit card accounts open and use them from time to time. The longer an account has been open, the more information on your credit history is available. Having an established relationship with a lender can indicate to other companies that you are a trustworthy borrower. By using older accounts that are in good standing you reinforce your established pattern as a responsible borrower.

By being aware of your credit score, you will have a general idea of your creditworthiness and your financial reputation to lenders. Striving to maintain good credit habits will pay off in the long run. With consistency and dedication, you can easily raise your credit score and get your financial life in order.

This article was written by William from Home Loan Finder. Visit Home Loan Finder to compare home loan interest rates.

Photo Credit: eliazar

Big Car Repairs Needed for the Toyota

toyota celica repairs

It’s time to repair the Toyota Celica. Before I get into the numbers, let me catch you up on how we ended up with a large car repair estimate.

Air Conditioning Out and It’s a Heatwave

In case you’ve been missing it, it has been extremely hot where we live, with temperatures reaching 100 and the heat index much higher. Well, my husband car had the air conditioner just stop working. Great timing, right?

He’s been busy at work and my schedule was bit hectic as I’m trying to get everything ready before the baby.

Last week we dropped off the car in the evening so the mechanic could look at it first thing the next morning. He was going to call my husband with an estimate about why the A/C was broken and how much it would cost to fix it.

Looks to Be More Complicated Than We Thought

My husband called me during lunch to let me know that the car needed more repairs than we anticipated. Here’s a rundown of the mechanic’s diagnostic:

  • New A/C Compressor and Clutch Need
  • Replace Serpentine Belt
  • Replace Radiator
  • Replace Head Gasket

Total estimated cost for parts is about $2,000 and then there’s labor. So we’re looking at $3,500 to repair a car that cost less than that. It definitely soured my husband’s mood. He didn’t think that his car needed that much repair and having it so close the baby’s due date is a bit stressful.

However, we’re not going to just accept this estimate, we’re going to see if we can get a second opinion.

Hunting for a 2nd Opinion

First thing I thought was we needed a second opinion from someone familiar with his car’s make and model. We also wanted to check out the itemized bill a little bit more.

We also started digging around to see if we could find parts at much more reasonable prices. Using Advnaced Auto’s site with my husband’s car information we found part for approximately 30-40% cheaper than the estimate. For example, we were looking for an A/C compressor and clutch, the repair shop quoted us $560 and Advanced Auto said it would be about $250-$350.

I then went on Facebook and asked friends if they could recommend mechanics. I called and found a shop that could check it out this week. Hopefully we’ll get some good news with that.

Thoughts on Big Car Repairs

For now, we’re going to share my VW Jetta as much as possible, especially with this horrible heat. Since the baby is due any day now, I’m not really driving around town as much anyways. Hopefully we’ll find a solution this week and get my husband’s car fixed.

What has been the biggets car repair you’ve made? How much would you put into your car before you decide to look for a new one?

Photo Credit: RJL20