BY RAUL HERNANDEZ
Want to avoid a lot of headaches and save money?
Subscribe to Consumer Reports and do research on the Internet. I just renewed my subscription to the magazine. The October issue arrived just in time for the holidays: “Secrets to Stress-Free Flying. How to: Score the Lowest Fare. Save on Baggage Fees. Nab the Comfiest Seats. Stay in the Sane Coach and Avoid the Germiest Spots.”
There are other articles: “Medical Identity Theft” and “Meal Delivery Plans.”
Consumer Report magazine also has its own website where people can subscribe. The magazine doesn’t carry any commercial ads so they don’t have to worry about what advertisers will think or do if they are critical about goods and services.
Also checkout Nerdwallet.com. There are many other consumer-information websites, some good and others suspect.
I love to do the research to the point that it become a game to see how much money I can save every year on cell phone plans; auto insurance; auto purchases; tires and repairs; hotel rentals; airline tickets; electronic products; cable services and credit cards.
Keep in mind, cheaper doesn’t always translate into quality.
Always review the ratings on goods and services. If it is a big ticket item like a car or refrigerator, the more time spent on research the more cash a person can save. Also research levels the playing field in the marketplace because a consumer knows such things as what questions to ask, what to avoid and what not to be pressured into buying like, in many cases, product warranties.
Do you rent? Do you have renters insurance? Why not?
If there is a fire and your dwelling place is uninhabitable, you will need a place to stay. That can be costly. How are you going to replace your personal belongings like a TV set, electronic devices and furniture?
Renters’ insurance sounds expensive.
I live in Santa Barbara, California. Renter’s and earthquake insurances cost, $198 and $128, respectively, for a total of $326 a year. It can be paid in monthly payments.
BTW: Renters insurance doesn’t cover earthquakes. It is a separate policy. Well, at least, not in California. However, California consumers can tailor their own earthquake policy through the website, Earthquake Insurance
You can get a cheaper insurance policies with higher deductibles and less coverage.
With my renters’ insurance, I get $25,000 in personal property protection. Also if I have to move until my apartment is repaired or find another apartment, my rent is paid for up to 12 months.
There is a $500 deductible. It also covers some medical and personal liability.
Doing some homework can result in a finding a good and inexpensive policy. Remember, knowledge is power.
A fire at my apartment complex underscored why renters and earthquake or flood insurance are good investments.
About eight years ago, a chain-smoking woman set her apartment on fire by accident. She threw a lit cigarette into a wastebasket. When I got home from work, the fire was out but there were still fire trucks at the scene.
Thankfully, nobody was hurt. But a downstairs apartment had water damage.
Two days after the fire, there were pieces of burned furniture at the parking lot. I bumped into the woman. She was in tears. I offered to help her move or find another place. She thanked me.
Weeks later, the landlord Jim said the woman had no renters insurance. He was upset after the woman asked him if she could have her security deposit back because she had no money.
“We were cleaning up the mess, and she has the nerve to walk into the apartment, smoking a cigarette and ask for her security deposit,” Jim said. “I told her, ‘get the hell out of here.’ I told you about smoking in the apartment and you ignored me. Get out.”
He said he had to pay a large deductible on his insurance so he could repair the apartment.
CHOOSING A DOCTOR
Here is an eye-opening fact about finding a doctor or healthcare clinic:
Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, now operating in nine cities across the country, has charged nearly 2,900 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program for more than $10 billion, according to Department of Justice.
So this is an indication that there are many quacks and unscrupulous healthcare providers.
To report medical fraud contact your health insurance provider or go the the Medicare fraud website: Medicare Fraud
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