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Saving money on

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									  Saving money on
                                                                                                          may be available for student drivers with good
                                                                                                          grades or college students in the household
                                                                                                          that live on campus for most of the year. Your
                                                                                                          insurance company may also offer you a multi-
                                                                                                          policy discount if you purchase both auto and
                                                                                                          homeowners coverage.




    C
             ar insurance is one of the most        liability-only insurance, when the market value
             common bills that most households      of the vehicle is below $2,000. In the event of an
             are required to pay. According to      accident, your insurance company will only pay
  InsuranceUSA.com, an online insurance             what the cash value of the vehicle is at that time.
  marketplace, car insurance is the most widely     If your car is worth less than your deductible and
  purchased type of insurance coverage because      your collision premium, you could be paying
  automobile drivers are required to have car       more for insurance than necessary. Realize that        What to do in an accident:
  insurance almost everywhere. Below are some       having liability-only coverage also means that the
  tips that may help you save on this expense.      insurance company only pays for the damages            Here are some tips provided by Erie Insurance
                                                    of the other parties involved if you are at fault.     Group (www.erieinsurance.com) to help
     Consider raising your deductible. A            Damages for your car will not be covered.              you remain calm and gather the necessary
  deductible is the amount of money that you           To help you make a decision, visit Kelley Blue      information in the event of a car accident.
  have to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance    Book’s web site at www.kbb.com to check the            A detailed and accurate report can help you
  company pays the claim. According to the web      market value of your vehicle. Also, consult your       expedite your claim for repair costs.
  site of the Insurance Information Institute       insurance company before dropping any coverage
  (www.iii.org), increasing your deductible from    so you are complying with the laws in your state.      •    The first priority is to make sure your
  $200 to $500 could reduce your collision                                                                      vehicle is safely off the road and check to
  and comprehensive by 15-30%. Opting for a            Drive safely. Numerous at-fault claims and               see if any parties are injured. If so, contact
  $1,000 deductible can save you approximately      traffic violations may increase your insurance              emergency personnel immediately.
  40%. If you choose to do this, you should have    rates. You may help avoid the likelihood of an
  the deductible on hand if you have a claim.       accident by driving defensively and obeying            •    Always call the police even if there is
  InsuranceUSA.com defines comprehensive as         traffic laws. Stay safe by adhering to road signs,          minor vehicle damage. A police report can
  insurance that “covers damages that are caused    driving the speed limit, and resisting the urge             help speed up the claims process.
  to your vehicle through                                               to talk on a cell phone while
  vandalism, natural cause,                                             driving. Many insurance            •    Although car accidents are stressful
  hit and run, or hitting                                               companies offer discounts if a          situations, remain calm and do not
  an animal.” Collision                                                 policyholder has maintained             discuss who is at fault. You will have an
  insurance “pertains to                                                a clean driving record for a            opportunity to talk to your insurance
  the coverage you receive                                              specific amount of time.                agent about the details. Exchange
  for accidents, where you                                                                                      information with the other driver(s),
  actually collide with or                                              Take advantage of all                   which would include names, phone
  hit a vehicle while you                                             discounts. You may qualify                numbers, addresses, license plate
  are driving.”                                                       for car insurance discounts for           numbers, and the make and model of each
                                                                      a variety of reasons. Mention             car.
    Know the value                                                    to your insurance company
  of your vehicle.                                                    if your vehicle has features         •    You may also want to record information
  Some drivers choose to                                              such as air bags, anti-lock               such as date, time, location, and weather
  drop collision and/or                                               brakes, and anti-theft devices.           conditions. Most cell phones come
  comprehensive insurance                                             Keep track of how often                   equipped with a camera, so consider
  once a car depreciates                                              you use your vehicle. If your             taking picture at the scene. In case of an
  to a certain value.                                                 mileage is lower than average,            accident, Erie recommends keeping a
  InsuranceUSA.com                                                    you may receive a discount.               disposable camera along with a notepad in
  recommends dropping                                                 Younger drivers usually cost              your glove box.
  collision; also known as                                            more to insure. Discounts

VOLUME 7                                      Saving Money on Auto Insurance • Reading the Fine Print • Inspiring Thoughts
   #4                                              UCAN Corner • Save Money on Home Improvements • Spare Change
         Corner
                                                       As you strive to settle your debts, most of you have made a commitment to rely on cash instead of
 Another client combats                             credit cards. After you complete your debt negotiation program, you will probably want to re-establish
    collector abuse                                 your credit. As you probably know, credit cards can cause serious financial problems if they are not used
                                                    properly. Periodically, this column will discuss a credit card issue and give you tips on responsible credit
   For the past few months, we have been            card use. This month’s topic is the importance of the fine print in credit card agreements.
informing you of cases in which UCAN


                                                      W
helped clients prevail against collector
                                                                  hen applying for a credit card,          balance on your credit card because of the
harassment. We have another victory to share
                                                                  most people disregard the small          negative effects of debt and you also run the
with you. Recently, a Pennsylvania couple
                                                                  type that details the provisions of      risk of obtaining an over-the-limit fee. A late
enrolled in a debt settlement program used          the agreement. Many applicants will simply sign        payment could also allow a credit card company
UCAN services to take a stand against an            their name, stating that they agree to the terms.      to impose a late fee in addition to an over-the-
unscrupulous collector. These consumers             Although this fine print may be long and tedious       limit fee.
started to receive harassing phone calls            to read, we suggest that you review a credit card         Reading the fine print may also alert
from a debt collection agency representing          agreement in its entirety. This task may prevent       consumers to the fact that credit card companies
Chase Bank. The major collection agency             future problems or you may decide that this is         may charge a no-balance fee if you pay off your
subjected the consumer to repeated calls and        not the right credit card for you. Below are some      balance in full or apply an inactivity charge if
harassment at work and at home in order to          key points that you may want to focus on as you        your account has been inactive for a certain
embarrass them. Examples of the collection          read the fine print.                                   period of time.
agency’s questionable conduct include:                                                                          Credit card companies also charge fees for
• False statement that the collector was an           Don’t be fooled by low                                     cash advances and balance transfers.
  attorney                                          teaser rates and extremely
• False statement that a judgment was issued        high credit limits. When                                                Understand universal
                                                    you receive a credit card                                                default. All of a sudden, an
• False and threatening claim that the                                                                                          unsuspecting cardholder
                                                    solicitation in the mail,
  collector forwarded a special note to the                                                                                        may receive their monthly
                                                    the envelope may
  judge “without recourse” from the couple                                                                                           credit card statement and
                                                    read that you are
• False threats of wage garnishment and bank        pre-approved for                                                                   be shocked to discover
  levies                                            a low interest                                                                      that their interest rate
• Use of loud and threatening language              rate of 2.9%                                                                        increased dramatically.
                                                    and a credit limit                                                                  This action, known
                                                    up to $25,000.                                                                   as universal default,
   Having been previously educated by               This impressive                                                              could have occurred for a
UCAN to preserve all debt collector contacts        offer may persuade                                                        number of reasons. If a credit
as well as keeping a precise call log, the couple   some people to                                                         card company reviews your credit
gathered written statements from all potential      immediately complete and sign                                       report and senses that you may
witnesses and forwarded those materials to          the application without reading the                              become a potential credit risk, they have
UCAN. Upon receiving and reviewing the              small print.                                                  a right to drastically raise your interest rate.
consumer’s issue, a UCAN representative                First of all, consider most verbiage                    You may have been late or missed a payment
forwarded the matter to Apex Law Group for          on envelopes of credit card offers to be               with this particular creditor or a totally different
placement with a FDCPA attorney located in          advertisements intended to entice you to open          credit card company. Let’s suppose that you are
the couple’s local area. The attorney obtained      the mail and apply. If you look closely, you may       current with this credit card account, but the
a $1,000 settlement for the consumer and the        find that there are several asterisks printed by       card issuer raises your rate because your credit
$12,000 debt was also forgiven.                     these grandiose statements. The fine print may         report shows that you have taken on too much
   As this case study shows, it is vitally          state that you may not be “pre-approved” and           debt or have had many recent inquires.
important for debt settlement clients to be         that your credit limit and interest rate will be          Much controversy has surrounded the issue
proactive in their programs and actively look       based on your credit history.                          of universal default. Many consumer advocates
for such things as voice recordings from                                                                   want banks to ban this practice. In 2007,
collectors that seem over the line. With              Don’t make the credit card companies                 Citibank was the first credit card company that
your help, more clients will be able to turn        richer by incurring fees. Consumer                     put an end to universal default. Also, legislators
a negative and stressful collection experience      Action, a non-profit consumer advocate group,          have outlawed this practice in the state of New
into a positive one.                                reports that credit card fees cost cardholders         York last summer. As you can see, progress
   If you are receiving threatening or harassing    approximately $13 billion every year. Avoid late       is being made and perhaps universal default
messages from a collector, knowledgeable            fees by reading the fine print to find out the         will not exist in the future. However, a survey
consumer advocates are here to assist you. You      grace period and due date for your payment.            conducted by Consumer Action indicates that
may contact UCAN at 1-877-462-8226 or               Some companies state that a bill is also due by        nearly half of U.S. banks use universal default,
send an e-mail to info@ucan.net. Our normal         a certain time on the due date. For example,           enabling them to legally raise credit cardholders’
business hours are Monday through Thursday          if your bill is due by noon, you could incur a         interest rates as high as 40%. Reading the fine
9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST and Friday 9:00          late fee if the credit card company receives your      print in your credit card agreement will indicate
a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.                              payment at the end of the day.                         whether your credit card company enforces
                                                       We do not recommend that you keep a high            universal default.
                                                        M
                                                                   any people think that if they had           Why is this? According to an article by Laura
                                                                   more money they would be happier.        Rowley, author of the book Money & Happiness
                                                                   You may have thought that if you         (2005), “Scientists have found that while a
                                                      won the lottery or received a significant pay         certain amount of money does indeed make
                                                      increase that you would be more content.              us happy, once basic needs are met, happiness
                                                         More money may allow you to live a more            doesn’t continue to rise in direct proportion to
                                                      comfortable lifestyle, but it may not necessarily     income.” Also, Forbes Magazine indicates that
                                                      buy happiness. You may have heard stories on          lottery winners return to their previous level of
                                                      the news about people who won millions in             happiness after five years.
                                                      the lottery and were broke within a year. Some           As you strive to settle your debts, you may


     Inspiring
                                                      television programs also feature biographies          yearn for more money so you can move past this
                                                      about famous people who squander their entire         situation. We are not suggesting that your debt
                                                      fortune.                                              was incurred due to extravagant purchases. If


     Thoughts
                                                         These examples may seem extreme, but the           you encountered debt as a result of extenuating
                                                      same concept may apply when people receive            circumstances, additional income would certainly
                                                      a raise from their employer. Many individuals         come in handy to pay those unexpected bills.
                                                      increase their standard of living instead of paying      However, spending a lot of time wishing
       Often people attempt to                        down debt or creating an emergency fund.              we had something else may delay our goal of
    live their lives backwards;                       Once we acquired the amount of money that we          financial freedom. If we dwell on the fact that we
    they try to have more                             thought would make us happier, it does not seem       are in debt, this can create unhappiness. We can
    things, or more money,                            to be enough and we want more. At one time, we        not change the past and we have to realize that
    in order to do more of what                       may have thought that if we buy a nicer car or        there are very few lottery winners. As hard as it
    they want, so they will                           charged that new state-of-the-art television that     may be, making the most of our current situation
    be happier.                                       we would be content. After the novelty wore off,      may make us less stressed and give us hope for
       ~Margaret Young                                we may regret the extravagant purchase and feel       the future.
                                                      anything but happy.

                                                                                                            efficient products when selecting heating and
                                                                                                            cooling systems, windows, insulation, and wall
                                                                                                            and roof assemblies. Visit Energy Star’s web site
                                                                                                            at www.energystar.com for more information.
                                                                                                               You may also contact your utility company
                                                                                                            to see if you qualify for the Weatherization
                                                                                                            Assistance Program. Sponsored by the U.S.
                                                                                                            Department of Energy (DOE), this program
                                                                                                            helps low-income families reduce their energy
                                                                                                            bills by making their home more energy efficient.



  I                                                     Obtain several bids. If you do need to                 Get Involved. Habitat for Humanity
       f you are a homeowner, you probably
       realize that your dwelling requires frequent   hire a professional, obtain bids from various         builds new homes and renovates old homes for
       upkeep and various repairs. As you strive      companies and contractors. When you compare           low-income families. This organization is always
to settle your debts, spending money on costly        prices, you may find that costs can vary greatly      looking for volunteers to help with their building
home improvements may not be an option. Yet,          among companies. Before you make a decision           projects. Each work site is supervised by a
there may be some ways that you can save money        based on cost, ask for references on the person or    professional that trains and assists the volunteers.
and still perform necessary upgrades to your          business that you plan to hire. Also, verify that     You may consider volunteering for your local
home.                                                 they have insurance coverage. These precautions       Habitat for Humanity branch. In addition to
                                                      may prevent you from becoming a victim of a           helping your community, you may also learn new
   Learn to do-it-yourself. Although                  home improvement scam.                                skills that may help you with your own home.
                                                                                                            Visit their web site located at www.habitat.org
you may have to hire a professional for some
                                                                                                            for more information and to search for a local
complicated projects, you may be able to tackle
some tasks yourself. A wealth of informational
                                                        Choose energy-efficient                             division in your area.
                                                      construction elements. When possible,
resources exist to teach you how to do home
improvement jobs such as cleaning your                invest in energy-efficient products for your                                  •••
gutters, painting, and installing a ceiling fan.      home. Some of these items will be more costly            Many homeowners have the desire to beautify
Visit your local bookstore or library to find a       than their counterparts, but you may save             their surroundings. At this point in your debt
comprehensive guide on do-it-yourself home            approximately                                         settlement program, you may not be able to
improvements.                                         one third                                                                         finance every project
   The Internet and television are also great         on your                                                                           on your list. Keep
sources. DIY Network brings you such cable            energy bills,                                                                     in mind that you
shows as “DIY to the Rescue” and “DIY Be              according to                                                                      do not have to
Your Own Contractor.” You can also visit their        Energy Star,                                                                      complete every home
information-packed web site located at www.           a government                                                                      improvement job at
diynet.com. This site features a wide array of do-    backed agency                                                                     once. Choose the
it-yourself projects, with topics that range from     that offers                                                                       necessary things first
home improvements to decorating.                      consumers                                                                         and finish each task
   Home Depot also offers free Do-It-Herself          energy-                                                                           as your budget allows.
Workshops, Weekly Clinics, and Kids                   efficient                                                                         Good luck on your
Workshops. Visit www.homedepotclinics.com to          solutions.                                                                        home improvement
register at a Home Depot near you.                    Look for                                                                          endeavors and enjoy
                                                      energy-                                                                           the end results.
                                                                                using automated dialers to call cell phone                                        grew from 3% in 2006 to 40% in 2007. Here are
                                                                                numbers. Automated dialers are standard in the                                    some other interesting findings in the report:
                                                                                industry, so most telemarketers are barred from
                                                                                calling consumers on their cell phones without                                    •       California and Illinois are among five states
                                                                                their consent.                                                                            whose residents are most at risk for identity
                                                                                                                                                                          fraud.
                                                                                             Consumers feel that the                                              •       Young adults who fall victim to fraud are
                                                                                             economic stimulus package                                                    most likely to purchase ID fraud insurance
                                                                                                                                                                          and sign up for fraud alerts. Older adults
                                                                                             is a temporary solution. An                                                  who fall victim often react by no longer
                                                                                Experian Consumer Direct poll shows that more
                                                                                                                                                                          sending bill payments and checks through
                                                                                than half of Americans feel the federal economic
                                                                                                                                                                          unsecured mailboxes.
                                                                                stimulus package is a short-term solution for the

 Spare Change                                                                   troubled economy, while 32% feel the package
                                                                                will cause more Americans to reinvest in the
                                                                                economy. When asked how consumers plan to
                                                                                                                                                                  •       Over the past three years, overall fraud
                                                                                                                                                                          declined, while the cost per consumer
                                                                                                                                                                          rose. This cost is defined by the total
                                                                                use their rebate check from the federal economic                                          out-of-pocket expense consumers incur
  News, financial tips, and other                                               stimulus package, 19% said they would pay off a                                           when falling victim to ID fraud. The cost
 information regarding personal                                                 debt, 16% said they would pay utility bills, and                                          per consumer in 2007 averaged $691, an
        financial freedom                                                       10% said they would apply the proceeds toward                                             increase of 25%, over the $554 recorded in
                                                                                home repairs.                                                                             2006.
           You do not have to register                                                       New research confirms identity                                                     Haggling may help you
           your cell phone number.                                                           fraud is declining. The 2008
         According to the Federal Trade                                                                                                                                         save money. A national study by
                                                                                         Identity Fraud Survey Report, released by                                         Consumer Reports reveals that haggling
Commission (FTC), consumers should not                                          Javelin Strategy & Research (www.javelinstrategy.
be concerned that their cell phone numbers                                                                                                                        over the cost of goods and services is not only
                                                                                com), confirms that identity fraud is declining in                                alive and well, but can be successful in many
will be released to telemarketers in the near                                   most parts of the United States, and that thieves
future despite the recent claims made in e-                                                                                                                       cases. More than 90% of shoppers who tried
                                                                                are turning to unexpected channels to commit                                      to negotiate a better deal on goods and services
mails circulating on the Internet. It is also not                               fraud. This year’s report reinforces a three-year
necessary to register cell phone numbers on the                                                                                                                   including furniture, electronics and appliances,
                                                                                trend that criminals mostly obtain the majority                                   floor and demonstration models, and medical
National Do Not Call (DNC) Registry to be                                       of information from stolen personal belongings,
protected from most telemarketing calls to cell                                                                                                                   bills got one, according to a new survey
                                                                                and through telephone calls, rather than online.                                  conducted by the Consumer Reports National
phones. Federal Communications Commission                                       Access through mail and telephone transactions
(FCC) regulations prohibit telemarketers from                                                                                                                     Research Center.

   The Road to Financial Freedom (RTFF) is published by The Premier Institute for Financial Freedom. While articles in the RTFF newsletter are factual and accurate, they are not intended to replace the advice of professional financial,
     accounting, and/or legal advisers. As with all decisions regarding your finances, the advice, techniques, ideas and suggestions offered herein should be followed under the supervision of the appropriate competent professional.




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                                           Phone: (800) 256-7273 • FAX: (724) 861-1039

								
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