Dec 02 2016

How to Find the Perfect Agent to Save Money on Your Insurance

The following is a guest post

Everybody needs to find ways to save in today’s economy, and that includes reducing the premiums you pay for your auto, home and life insurance coverage. If you have your healthcare policies, you need to cut the premiums on those as well. You might think that you’ll save money by shopping around for different carriers on your own, but you’d be better suited to discuss all of your insurance needs with an expert. He or she can find discounts you never knew about.

Do a Little Homework First

You’ll want to do a little homework before selecting the local insurance agent with whom you will work. Review your current policies to determine what coverage you have, and then find an agent in your neighborhood that specializes in this coverage. For example, if you own your own business and have a general and liability policy, you’ll want an agent who specializes in both personal and business insurance. You’re looking for an expert in what you need.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of possible agents, contact each one and ask for client references. Speak with the agent’s customers to ensure that they are satisfied with the service they receive from him or her and the office staff. You should also research each agency online to see if there are any complaints on your local and state’s insurance authority websites and on popular review sites. These are places where people speak out, and the information can be invaluable.

Make Certain He or She Works in Your Area

With so many national companies advertising on television, it might seem odd to focus your search on a local insurance agent, but that is exactly what you should do. Where you live affects the types of coverage you’ll need, and you’ll want to work with someone who knows the neighborhood to get you the best savings. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, a Miami agent won’t understand the best earthquake policy; if you live in Miami, a Los Angeles agent is ill suited to get you hurricane coverage.

They Should Know Their Stuff

You might think working with someone who has 15-plus years in the insurance industry is a sure bet he or she will save you money, but you might be wrong. In this industry, years to do not mean a thing. What you want to see is that your agent knows his or her insurance products like the back of his or her hand and knows how to save you money with them. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in business for one year or 100 years. They need to know their stuff.

Many people believe that getting their insurance directly from the insurance company rather than through an agent will save them money, but this is not necessarily true. Work with someone who is an expert in the industry. You’ll be surprised how much you will save on all of your insurance coverage. These people work directly with their contacts at the various carriers. Their primary goal is to get you the best deals on your insurance policies, whatever your personal or business needs may be.

Nov 20 2016

Stacking discounted gift cards with cash back sites for extra savings

Here’s how I stack online deals to get the best discount possible. These maneuvers are not for the faint of heart. If you’re not up for these extra steps, then simply using a cash-back credit card, hitting Ebates or Swagbucks first, navigating to your shopping portal, and then searching for coupon codes will suffice. If you don’t want to do that, then … why are you reading this page?!
1. Grab your cash-back or best rewards card. I’m not chasing a sign-up bonus at the moment, so my go-to is a Visa from my bank that nets a 1.75% back on all purchases. (Note: If you’d like a link to the Southwest Premier card, let me know. I have one for 50,000 bonus miles).
2. Navigate to Swagbucks (where you already have an account, right?)
3. Click Shop, then to see the cash-back deals for your desired store. Via Swagbucks, you’ll earn 1% SB on your purchase, but some retailers have coupon codes and bonuses. This will be revealed on the “coupons & details” link. 
4. Click over to . New users, get $5 off here and note there are coupon codes available (these should appear on Swagbucks or Ebates).
5. Purchase a gift card of the amount you’ll need at So, say you’re buying a $25 something from Sephora. Get a gift card to Sephora for that exact amount or slightly less than, and pay the balance with your credit card. Sephora gift cards have an extra 5% off via Swagbucks when you use the coupon code. Apply all relevant coupon codes to your order, pay with best credit card, and obtain credit card rewards. That $25 value Sephora card with coupon code is $21.85 on Raise right now, plus 22 SB back. $0.38 cash back to my Visa.
6. Once your gift card is purchased, go back to Swagbucks or Ebates to see the best-case situation for cash-back/SB back and available coupon codes. Navigate to Sephora via the best portal. At this writing, it is Swagbucks, offering a 7% SB back to Ebates’ 4%. Choose a coupon code that fits your purchase.
7. Make your purchase using the newly obtained gift card from, supplementing with your credit card if needed.
8. Rinse and repeat for your online transactions to see the savings add up.
It’s true, it’s only a few dollars in this case. However, if you’re making a large purchase or spending a bit over time, it really does add up, especially with a killer coupon code. I did a similar strategy last year when buying Disney gift cards and the result saved me more than $300. Sure, it was some work, but my hourly rate was very high for the effort.
Last night, I used this strategy plus stacking coupon codes and cash-off codes to save on my Shutterfly photobook order. Finally got around to making photobooks of my last two trips. Um.
I’ve had good experiences with coupon codes, but just to be safe, I only purchase them immediately before I am going to complete my final transaction. I want the gift card on my account, spent, done.
How about you? Do you stack the savings like this? What’s your strategy?
*Affiliate links within, obviously

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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