Category: Investment Stab

Private or Public Housing Loan?

Buying a HDB flat for the first time can be an intimidating experience. It is probably the first big-ticket purchase in your life that will take the next couple of decades to pay off, so you would definitely want to rake in as much savings …

CPF LIFE or Private Annuity Plan?

Disadvantages of using Private Annuity Plan instead of CPF LIFE.Although this post title is “Disadvantage”, but we included some “Advantage” of Private Annuity against CPF LIFE too below.From what we have found, Private Annuity Plans available in the m…

Retirement Might Not Be For Everyone

Reaching your retirement tough, especially with inflation, low-interest rates and longevity.The amount that we are saving might not be sufficient for us to retire at the age we feel we should be retiring.Assuming you make the income as per below.Assumi…

Here’s How You Can Opt Out of CPF Life

source: www.publicdomainpictures.netEveryone has a goal of retiring comfortably after working more than half their lives out for money.We all hope to get a lump sum retirement fund when we reach our retirement age.But, in Singapore, our money is ins…

Climate Change Is Real

Image result for climate change meme

Polarising views regarding the recent speech that Greta Thunberg gave at the United Nation’s meeting have surfaced and are spreading wildly on social media.
One side praised her for determination and bravery, and admire her for pushing world leaders to act on climate change.
Another side said her speech was too cringy, that she was hypocritical, amongst much other criticism.
I figure I could give my 2-cent view on this whole thing (environment and her speech) since this is what this blog is about (although this is not a finance post, this is a platform for betterment).
PS: this is a long post, I’ll try and break it down into headers you can follow.
But, let’s start with a video of her speech:

Facts
Let’s get some facts straightened out before we continue
1. Climate change is real, most of it comes from our man-made activities.
2. Climate change can cause serious damage to biodiversity (animals and plants), increase number of natural calamity, cause extreme weathers, and more.
3. The richest countries produced the most greenhouse emissions, the poorest countries suffer the most consequences from it

Greta’s UN Speech
Most of the netizens found her speech cringy – honestly, so do I.
Was she overly melodrama? – Yes
Was her tone and expression overkill? – Yes
Was it necessary? – No
Does it matter? – NO
Why are people fixated on her tone, the cringe, the melodrama, instead of the content of what she’s saying?
Focus on the content: the world leaders need to get their act together so that there’s a sustainable future to speak of.

Paris Climate Agreement
The Earth’s temperature is set to rise several degrees if we continue our current path.
Doesn’t sound like much but if you read enough on the science behind rising temperature, you’ll know it is actually quite a lot (refer to Fact 2)
In fact, we have gone way past the stage of reversing the effect of climate change.

If you read the Paris Climate Agreement, the world leaders and scientists aren’t even talking reversing the effect of climate change. 
They gave up reversing it, they’re just going “let’s try and contain the temperature rise to 2 degree Celsius”.
Xiaxue’s IG on Greta’s Speech
Xiaxue commented that Greta sees things too one-dimensional and views the world too simply.
Not going to deny, but Xiaxue’s right, to hope to get the world leaders to act for climate only is too one-dimensional (more on it below), and Greta does view the world too simply.
But, let’s just give credit to Greta for trying to get her “prevent global warming” message out on a global stage to world leaders instead of posting another beach photo on a social media platform to a pool of netizens (I’m guilty of this too btw :P).
And why are we mocking her simple world view? 
Would Greta be mocked if she was 61 instead of 16?
When we were kids, we all had wild dreams – to save lives, to fight crime, to be ironman, etc.
Our parents, relatives, adults around us didn’t go “not possible la, face reality, hard to be them ok!”
Nope, they went “if you study hard, work hard, you can be any of the ones you choose to be”.
Suddenly when it comes to “I wish to prevent global warming”, the reply becomes “you see things too one-dimensional and too simple, it is much more complex than that, etc…”.
What’s the difference? You cannot choose something that’s much bigger than yourself?
Well, her choice of “career” is saving lives, not in the “vaccine creation” way, but in ensuring the adverse effect of climate change never hit us (which is kinda like a vaccine)

Then there’s a second post on straws, killing oneself to save Earth, and time left before the end of the world.
Not going to deny that not using straws are going to help much, but at this stage, every bit counts.
For a budding 5000-followers micro-influencer, losing 10 or 20 followers isn’t going to matter much, but every one follower counts towards a larger audience.
On time left before climate change ends our world, the timeframe given is almost always never spot-on. World’s going to end in 2012, and here we are in 2019.
Here’s the thing, scientists are split on the exact time period, might not even be this century.
Doesn’t mean we are not going to do anything until we know the exact end date.
Like you know you are going to retire, you just don’t know it’s before or after you are 65 years old.
Doesn’t mean you stop working because you don’t know the exact date you can retire.
We don’t know the exact date the ice cap will melt, but we do know it will melt finish, and when it does, that’s going to create a lot of problems.

On killing oneself, may I refer you to the below part where I talk about the misconception people have on climate change actions?

FB Post from Critical Spectator
So this post compared our current times to our history of wars, famine, civil unrest, pandemics etc.
We are so much more fortunate now than we are in the past, where most of the world don’t experience any of the above problems.
And yet Greta is complaining that her dreams were stolen by the inaction of world leaders towards climate change when so much had already been done to ensure the betterment of mankind.
Nice history recap in the article except, maybe if besides reading history, the author also read the biographies of those who were involved in these wars etc, he/she might get a better picture.
We have a stop button for wars – armistice, surrenders, etc. And if you stop a war, it stops. Period.
In fact, after wars, we had institutions set up, meetings, and discussions held by world leaders to prevent war (UN), famine (UN), civil unrest (UN), pandemics (WHO) from occurring again because we know the devasting affect any of these have on our societies.
The problem with this model is, we act (or start to act) only after we’ve been hit.
We didn’t have a UN to prevent wars, famine, civil unrest until after we had them, realised they were bad, and decided to do something about it.
We didn’t have WHO until we had pandemics spreading like wildfire, then realised we needed to get something done about it.
We as a whole, as a society, are reactive instead of proactive when it comes to solving problems.
I think it’s easier to be blindsided by history than to face the future
If we look back at what the kids of the past wished, they also wished for no wars, even campaigned for it not much dissimilar to Greta albeit with a smaller platform because there was no social media then.
And probably the adults in the room probably dissed them off too, stating war has always been the way because the adults then weren’t forward-looking enough to solve the problem before any war begins – and after it ended realise they needed to stop wars before they happen, hence UN.
Looking back at history, many would agree wars and diseases were preventable or casualties could be minimised to lowest.
The same can be said for climate change, if enough people die, we’ll have adults in the future saying “climate change could have been prevented etc”.
We just have not reached that stage yet (where enough people died), and just saying, if we ever reached that stage, we better hope Elon Musk colonised Mars or Jeff Bezos colonised the Moon, and the tickets there are cheap.
Because it is not like wars where an armistice can end it, nor like pandemics where vaccines can be created really fast. In climate change, if it is here, it is here.

Rich People’s Game
If I don’t have a roof to sleep, food to eat, water to drink, I also won’t care about climate change.
It just so happen that those who have the above 3 are contributing to climate change the most.
Yes, refer to Fact 3.
So Greta can only choose the UN platform (where the most carbon emission contributors gather) to get them to get their act together.

People’s Misconception of Going Green
I have spoken to many people about going green.
I’ve tried going green – I tried to use less plastic, use reusable food containers for takeout, use bottles/tumbler for takeaway drinks, take more public transport, etc.
Nonetheless, I still use plastic – the candies I eat are wrapped in a wrapper, the ice cream I eat still comes in plastic container, the food delivery I ordered came in plastic bags, and I still fly around and travel.

People seem to think that if someone is going green,
they must do the following:
1. Use ZERO plastic (no disposables, no plastic bags, etc)
2. Don’t fly or travel
3. Don’t eat meat
4. Generate minimum waste
You are either environmentally-friendly or not environmentally-friendly, you can’t be in between.

Not going to deny, there are those who do live their lives that way, but most environmentalists don’t.
Think of it as a spectrum.
On one end, it’s the person that uses only disposable items, drives diesel cars, meat-only, and generates tonnes of wastage – 10 tissues to clean 1 mouth. Let’s say this is 0 marks.
On the other end, it’s the person that uses zero plastic, flies when necessary, vegan, generates waste that fits inside a jar. Let’s say this is 100 marks (full marks).
Most of us are in between, we use plastic, eat meat, travels, and generates a decent amount of waste, but we also use cups and plates (at home), take public transport, and turn off lights when not in use.
The goal here is to be as close as we can to the full marks, or a nice 70 marks would work too.
Most of us probably fail – I don’t have a matrix for this but if you do food takeout daily (food or drinks, especially coffee and lunch) you probably failed.
Think about it, 1 plastic container, 1 plastic bag, 1 plastic spoon and fork, 1 plastic cup (paper cups are actually just as bad as plastic – surprised?), all used and thrown after about 1 hour of use.
If you go to work 200/365 days, you generated 200 sets of the above combination. That’s a lot.

But, we can always improve to a pass.
1. Bring your own food container to put takeaway food (can save $0.20 container money).
2. Bring your own bottle to put takeaway drinks.
3. Turn your air-con to fan mode after a couple of hours
4. Sleep early (if you don’t use lights at night, you don’t create emissions :P)

Yup, I know, I heard people say “but if I wash it, it wastes water. Isn’t it just as bad?”
We have NEWater plant, we have developed ways to clean water so that they can be reused.
I haven’t heard we have developed anything to biodegrade plastic harmlessly or reuse disposable plastics.

We have gotten used to our lives that we cannot revert back already.
It is almost impossible now to work without air-conditionally, or to expect us to not travel as the world gets more interconnected.
But what we can do, is to use renewable and sustainable alternatives.
Use renewable energy instead of coal, generate less waste, push for greener materials in buildings, push for more energy efficient transportation, etc.

Why Political Actions are Required
Policies need to change to incentivise or disincentivise certain actions.
Traffic rules and fines are created and enforced to ensure accidents don’t happen like before these rules came into place.
Our government gave out subsidies to students so that they can afford education, an education that would give them a chance to succeed in life.
The same can and has to be done for the environment, but the political will to do so does not exist.
Why Political Will to Act is Low? – because welcome to the real world
In the US, oil companies pay huge lobby money to politicians to ensure their business are protected. And politicians need the money to ensure they get elected (how else would their election campaigns and political party funded?).
Clean renewable energy, green companies etc, on the other hand, are budding industries, they don’t have money to lobby politicians to side them. These companies need government subsidies or private funding to ensure they can get their product to the market. Nevermind competition against the old oil & gas companies, it would be nice if it was a fair competition – but it’s not.
So without the voters pushing their politicians to act, how else would green companies be able to compete and provide their solutions to us?
To compel matters future, oil & gas companies hire many employees – think millions of employees.
Support green companies and put the oil & gas companies out of business.
The repercussions:
  • As a politician, I lose my corporate sponsors (lobby money)
  • My voters will be out of jobs. Voters are not going to be voting for me in the next election
A politician is a career in the US. It’s not a part-time thing like Singapore. Imagine, you doing the right thing and the result is you lose your job. Sounds good if it’s the right thing to do, but let’s face it. Who’s going to really risk their career to do the right thing – takes a huge amount of guts that most of us don’t have.
But, voters can change this. You can vote to protect your politician if he/she did the right thing.
Except if he/she caused you to lose your (oil & gas) job, you probably aren’t going to give him/her your vote.

In Singapore, this is the same. Our Jurong Island refineries employee thousands of Singaporeans.
While we do not produce much of the greenhouse emission, we refine oil for other countries to use. We in a way “produced” these emissions.
Do we have a choice to shut these refineries down? – Yes
At what cost?
1. Tens of thousands of Singaporeans will lose their job
2. We might get a Hong Lim protest to get the jobs back
3. The government sure ain’t going to be elected in the next GE
4. Job loss creates social disruption in many different ways

SO THIS IS THE DILEMA POLITICIANS FACE

Conclusion
I’ve said my piece.
Action or no action is up to you.
Appreciate if you could share this article with more people to let them know that if we want to see less of Greta on stage making a cringy statement, then we need to get our act together, prevent climate change, reduce waste, and make the world a better place.
Thank you for reading.

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Who Pays For Your Credit Rewards?

Cashback, air miles, merchant discounts, other perks, these are the incentives that banks and credit card companies (Financial Institutions – FIs) use to attract you to apply and spend on their cards.Every transaction you spend using these cards, …

3 Tips to Starbucks Gold Membership

This is the young adult’s symbol of status, and how much we are willing to splurge for coffee.This Starbucks Gold Card is only available to those who spent $300 per year via their Starbucks card.That’s about $25 per month.But fret not, here is 1 trick …

Why Budgets Don’t Work—and What Does

As someone who has spent a huge amount of brain cells mulling over money, a well-known pillar of financial wellness is that you need to budget.
Here’s the thing: while budgeting is touted by many in the personal finance blogs as mission critical to getting your finances straight, they don’t always work. Not for long, anyway. For every budget I’ve tried — the 50/30/20 budget, zero-sum budget, spreadsheet, and envelope system — I would start out great.
I would meticulously track every purchase and expense, allocate my income into neat categories, and congratulate myself for creating such a neat, beautifully put-together budget. It felt like magic, at least at first.
Fast forward to a few months’ time, and I would have let my budget fall by the wayside. Why’s that? The reasons may stem from a number of reasons: feeling boxed-in from having too specific spending categories, lapsing into a cycle of shame followed by guilt for going over in X category, or from weaning interest.
Forget the traditional budget. Here’s what works instead:
Track Your ExpensesThis is pretty essential. It’s hard to figure out a long-lasting approach to saving if you don’t know where your money is going. There’s no shortage of free money management apps out there to help you track your spending.  After you have a good idea of how much your living expenses are and anywhere else your money is going, you can create a system.
Create a Money Flow SystemHaving a system for how you save and spend your money will keep things on autopilot. The less “mind time” and work it takes, the more likely you are to stay within your spending limits. Yes, this takes work. It’s not an overnight thing. 
As a self-employed freelancer, I have both a business checking account and a personal checking account. At the end of each month, I’ll automatically transfer a set amount into my personal account for basic living expenses.
I portion out “buckets” of cash that are then transferred to two separate debit cards. There’s a set amount for discretionary expenses or things that change every month. (Think eating out, groceries, gas, etc.) I also allocate any extra cash toward my savings goals. For instance, I put set amounts toward emergencies, a splurge fund, and a vacation fund. I also save for a house when I can.
Why so complicated? After I’ve devised a money flow, it’s pretty much set and I can forget about it. I methodically check my balance and monitor transactions, but that’s it.
AutomateAutomation is a godsend for a lazy money person — no shame.  I automate as much as possible: savings goals, bills, and for a buffer fund in case my checking goes to zero. My bills are paid on time, and I make sure I sock some away some of my income towards retirement. If you’re new to automation, make sure you schedule your transfers so they hit a few days before or after you get paid. You’ll also want to keep an eye on things at first, just to make sure there aren’t any hiccups.
Create a Space for Guilt-Free SpendingJust like guilt-free afternoons binge-watching Netflix while eating ice cream instead of having salads and cycling classes — you need breathing room to do whatever you please with some of your cash. This will prevent you from going hog wild and splurging. Create a separate saving account for some guilt-free spending. Or allow yourself to spend $X of each paycheck on whatever you please. Of course, this is only after you’ve covered your living expenses and savings goals.

Recommended Post: 10 Ways to Save on Insurance
Have a BufferOne of your friends decides to drop in unexpectedly for the weekend and you go on a pricey dinner date and night out. Sure, it’s fun times, but also cry-time for your wallet. You’ll want to have a bit of cushion in your budget for small, unexpected expenses. I like to keep a buffer of a few hundred bucks in my monthly budget, and you may need more or less.
Place Your Money on an Emotional SpectrumTry putting your entire money situation — earning, spending, saving, and investing — on an emotional spectrum. What I mean by this is to think about the things you spend money on. What do you dislike spending money on?
For instance, maybe making payments on your student loans or credit card debt are things that make you groan or ask, “Whyyy?” 

What are you neutral about? That could be utilities, rent, and gas for your car. And last, what types of spending and money goals bring you joy? Perhaps that’s when you get to go out for massages or buy hip clothes, or that subscription box of goodies that you look forward to receiving every month. 

When you categorize your money on an emotional spectrum, it’ll help guide you toward what you want to minimize or remove altogether, and what you want to have or do more of. So if you detest paying off debt (which is more than likely) focus on crushing it as soon as possible. On the flipside, if you love investing in art, try to find ways to put more money into those areas of your life. 
Final ThoughtsWhile budgeting doesn’t always work, creating different systems to make saving and spending as easy and painless as possible, does. What works for me may not work for you. That’s why it’s important to approach it as an experiment. Exploring new ways will help you find a strategy that works best with you.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com.




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5 Numbers More Important Than Your Income

As my friend Mel says, “Numbers are sexy.” We love talking about numbers, and tend to fixate on them — particularly when it comes to how much we earn. “I’m a six-figure freelance designer,” or, “If I take this job, I’ll earn $10,000 more.” 

We oftentimes measure our worth based on how much money we rake in. It can be easy to feel like you’re behind, or a grade-A underachiever when your cousin or bestie or partner makes more than you. Sure, your income is important, but there are other numbers that deserve a closer look than how much cash you earn. When it comes to financial wellness, here are five metrics that trump your income.

1. Cost of Living Index

Bottom line: the salary you earn living in one part of the county might not stretch as far living in another part of the country. It’s like how we always say “if we earn in Singapore and retire in Malaysia, our money will last us 3 times longer”. But if you earn in Singapore and retire in Singapore, budget might be tighter. The same applies if you earn in Malaysia and retire in Malaysia.


How much you make is relative to a number of things — one being the cost of living in your stomping grounds. So the next time someone says they’re making $120,000 but live in Silicon Valley, chances are they aren’t enjoying the same standard of living, than those in less-expensive parts of the country. 

2. Compensation Package

When it comes to your work salary, it’s also important to look at the entire package, including the benefits you will be getting. Your employee benefits can make up to one-third of total compensation costs. That includes health benefits (medical coverage), corporate discount (mobile plans, gym memberships, etc), and group rates on things like car insurance, life insurance, and even financial and legal advice.


Besides your take-home pay, you’ll want to factor in the full suite of benefits that your employer offers. In turn, that makes a difference as to how much you have to work with each month.


3. Happiness Report

Yes, happiness is a difficult thing to pinpoint. But in recent years metrics have been developed to gauge how happy nations are as a whole, giving us a good idea of wellbeing and work-life balance.

The U.N.’s World HappinessReport uses data from the Gallup World Poll, which surveys citizens in 156 countries on how happy they feel — to determine the overall well-being of a country’s denizens. The Cantril Ladder, or Cantril’s Self-Anchoring Ladderof Life Satisfaction, is made up of 10 rungs. The bottom of the ladder equals 0, and represents the worst possible life for you. The top of the ladder equals 10, and equates to the best possible life for you.

Per the Gallup World Poll, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, respectively, ranked highest for happiness. The bottom three countries were Afghanistan, Central African Republic, and South Sudan. Where does the Singapore fall? 34 out of the 156, not too bad. 

Consider doing your own happiness assessment using the Cantril Ladder. Are you living your best life? What does it exactly mean for you to be living your best life? What steps can you make in the right direction to boost your well-being?

Recommended Post: 10 Ways to Save on Insurance

4. Net Worth 

Remember: Your income isn’t a measure of your wealth, your net worth is. To figure out your net worth, tally up your assets — this includes your investments, how much you have sitting in your savings, and any other assets, like your home or car. Next, tally up your debt. Subtract your debt from your assets and you have your net worth.


Net worth gives a full picture because it factors in how much money you make, how much debt you owe and how quickly you’re paying it off. It’s what you have left at the end of the day that’s for Future You. Having a positive net worth shows that you’re financially healthy. 

5. How You Spend Your Money

Are you putting your paycheck toward paying off debt, helping your family, or are you squandering it? Not only does how you spend your money affect your progress toward net worth, but it’s ultimately an indicator of what you value.



For instance, while I am typically pretty frugal when it comes to clothes, I spend more on good food. There are no right or wrong, it is just a personal preference. Just make sure that you are not overspending or exceeding your budget to indulge in the things that make you happy.

There you have it. Five metrics that are more important than your income. As you can see, while your take-home pay does play a key role in your financial well-being, there are other ways to measure your financial success.

This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com.




Remember to offer your opinions. If you don’t put your two cents in, how can you expect to get change?
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10 Ways to Save on Insurance

Having insurance is great when the universe decides it’s time to give you a major (or even minor) problem. But when you can get a policy for practically anything, it’s easy to spend more on protecting your life than living it. Don’t worry, though. We can help you keep these expenses under control while still getting the coverage that you need.


Here are ten ways to be protected for less:

1. Assess Your Needs

Rather than buying coverage simply because you think you should, it’s important to consider your specific situation. Your life today and your future plans should dictate what insurance policies you need and how much coverage is appropriate.

Although there are lots of factors to consider for each type of insurance, you should think about the following to determine your needs:
  • Your assets: More assets (cash, investments, businesses, property, etc.) may mean more insurance
  • Your family: Having dependents typically requires more coverage
  • Your health: Poor health could necessitate a more robust medical policy or more life insurance

2. Shop Around

Before committing to any policy, get pricing from multiple companies. You may be surprised at how much variation you see. And remember — don’t just set it and forget it. It pays to do this before every policy renewal.


3. Bundle Policies

As you get quotes for coverage, ask each company for a bundle price (rider policies) on the types of insurance that you need. You could score big savings and simplify your bill paying process.


4. Get a Discount by Employer
Some employers might be able to get you a better deal on health, life, and disability insurance if you bought them from certain insurance company. Check with your HR department if there are any insurance companies that can offer you such deals.

5. Raise the Deductible

Increasing your policy’s deductible could be an easy way to save a few bucks each month. Be sure, however, that you can cover the higher deductible if you ever need to make a claim.



Recommended Post: Is Whole Life Insurance a Scam?


6. Keep Your Credit Report Clean

Poor credit history can cost you big time. Insurers may assign you an insurance score (similar to a credit score), with lower scores resulting in higher premiums. They believe, right or wrong, that a low score indicates irresponsibility and therefore more risk.


7. Save on Car Insurance

If you want to own a car, you need car insurance. The good news is that you can defray the expense with tons of different discounts. You might be able to save cash by comparing the offers between different insurance companies or driving safely (being an accident-free driver can save you a lot of money on insurance).

8. Save on Homeowners Insurance

If you have a mortgage, you’re probably required to have mortgage insurance – especially if you are buying a HDB. If you are buying a HDB, you probably can’t save much since it is a requirement to have a mortgage insurance and they are pretty decently priced. However, if you are buying a private property, you can consider if you want to get a mortgage insurance or a life insurance with higher payout. The logic is: the mortgage insurance is used to pay for your home in the event of anything bad happens (fire, or if the buyer dies). And the insurance is usually required if you have a mortgage loan. Once your mortgage is paid up, you generally do not really need to have a mortgage insurance – that means the money you have paid for it is technically “gone”. Rather, you could have just bought a life insurance with a higher payout that can cover both the require expenses for your dependents as well as pay for the mortgage. This is more complicated and best to seek advice from a licensed insurance agent. 
Tip: Use this guide to take an inventory of your belongings and determine the value of your stuff, which gets factored into your insurance requirements.


9. Save on Life Insurance

If you have a family to protect or want to leave loved ones a little something when you’re gone, you may want to purchase life insurance. There are a few different types, each with their own pros and cons, but generally, the most affordable type is term life insurance. Term life insurance will pay your beneficiaries a specified amount if you die within a certain timeframe (usually 10-30 years). There are a number of ways to save on life insurance such as paying the entire year’s worth of premiums upfront or getting a volume discount (aka getting more insurance for less money!).

Tip: Try this calculator to see how much life insurance you may need.


10. Save on Health Insurance

It’s no secret — medical care is crazy expensive. Adequate health insurance can save your wallet from a beating if you become seriously ill or injured.  If you’re in good health, don’t go to the doctor frequently, and have a cash reserve, consider saving money on your monthly premiums by choosing a plan with a high-deductible. You’ll pay the full tab if you go to urgent care with the flu or a sprained ankle, but you’ll (hopefully) pay less overall each year due to premium savings. 
Tip: Although a “all medical expenses paid for by Insurer” is a very happy thing to have, the premiums will also be exceptional high, which might not be that much of a happy thing afterall.

Final Thoughts
Insurance can be a significant line item on your budget, but there are many ways to minimize the expense. While this article isn’t an exhaustive list of ways to save, it gives you a good start to being covered affordably.


This article was originally published at HiCharlie.com.

Remember to offer your opinions. If you don’t put your two cents in, how can you expect to get change?

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