32 New Year's Resolutions for a Fiscally Smart 2021

Lucy Lazarony
December 28, 2020

It’s time for those New Year’s resolutions. At the top of the list, is reviewing insurance policies. Are you getting the coverage you need at the price you want? If not, it may be time to change policies. Need a different price? Shop around for better offers. And don’t forget to ask your current insurance companies about discounts. Need some additional coverage? Talk to your insurance agent about what you need. And if you don’t like the insurance quote for the additional coverage, you can always shop for a new policy.

Let’s take a closer look at how you can save money on all your insurance policies in 2021. We’ll also provide money-saving tips on how to save money on buying a car and buying a home. But first let’s get started with insurance.

1. Change the Deductible

Deductibles on home insurance policies range from $500 to $2,000. Is it time to change yours? Increasing your deductible is one way to lower your insurance premium. On the flip side, decreasing a deductible will actually boost up your premium, not the direction you want your premium to go.

So mull over those home insurance deductibles carefully. Are yaou ready to make a change? The same principle applies to deductibles with auto insurance. Choosing a higher deductible will help to lower your car insurance premium.

2. Check for Discounts

Home insurance companies offer discounts for a whole range of things. Are you a new homeowner? There’s a discount for you. Got more than one insurance policy at the same company? There’s a multi-policy discount for you. Got a smoke or burglar alarm in your home? There’s a discount for that. Some discounts are listed on the insurance company’s website. And you can always ask your insurance agent to run down the list of things that make you eligible for a discount. Things at home may have changed in the past year. For instance, if you got a new roof, you may be eligible for a discount.

3. Try Bundling

Do you have your homeowners insurance policy at the same company as your auto insurance policy? Bundle the policies together and save money. This one is simple to do. Make a phone call to your insurance company and get it done. With some policies you save as much as 10 percent so don’t delay the savings. A 10 percent savings on your homeowners insurance policy would be a nice way to ring in the New Year.

4. Keep a Clean Driving Record

Be a safe driver with no at-fault accidents, no speeding tickets, no moving violations, no DUIs and you’ll save money on car insurance. There’s even a special discount for good drivers. So let your insurance company know that you’ve been a good driver and deserve a discount.

5. Get a Multi-Policy Discount

Insure more than one car with the same insurance company and enjoy the savings of a multi-policy discount. Pay Your Bills Once or Twice a Year

6. Rather than paying monthly auto insurance bills, pay the entire annual amount or six-months amount. Your premium is lower when you pay just once or twice a year.

7. Check Safety Features

Having certain safety or anti-theft features on your car will lower your car insurance. So be sure to check with your insurance company about the safety and anti-theft features on your car, it could save you money on your auto insurance premium.

8. Check Out Memberships

Members of particular professional groups and affiliates get discounts on auto insurance. Check the memberships in your wallet and see if they warrant a discount.

9. Get Good Credit

This one applies to homeowners insurance as well as auto insurance. Most insurance companies use consumer credit data to assign risk pools and price policies. If you have good or excellent credit, you will pay a lower insurance rate than a customer with bad credit or no credit. Credit not so great? Improve it in 2021! Get current on all past due accounts, pay down debt and avoid taking on new debt. All these things will help you to build up your credit score.

10. Insure Older Cars for Less

The maximum payout for collision coverage and comprehensive coverage is limited by the value of the car. So if your older car has a low market value, it may not make financial sense to carry comprehensive and collision coverages any longer.

11. Maintain Your Insurance Coverage

You’ll pay higher insurance rates if you don’t maintain continuous coverage of your auto insurance. So stick with your insurance coverage and save money on your premium.

12. Be a Low Mileage Driver

If you are a heavy commuter and rack up the miles, you will pay more on your auto insurance. If you are a low-mileage driver, you will pay less on your car insurance. So drive less and pay less for car insurance.

13. Check for Discounts

Students, veterans and good drivers are all eligible for discounts on car insurance. So if any of these groups apply to you be sure to reach out to your car insurance company for your discount.

14. Choose a Safe Neighborhood

If you live in a neighborhood with high accident rates and high auto theft rates, you will pay more on your auto insurance. If you live in a neighborhood with low accident rates and low crime rates, you’ll pay less on your auto insurance premium. So choose a safe neighborhood and save money on your auto insurance.

15. Be a Married Motorist

If you are married, you will pay less for car insurance. There is a correlation between being married and exhibiting safe driving behavior. Because of this, married drivers pay less for auto insurance than singles. Got married in 2020? Be sure to scoop up this discount.

16. Buy a House

Statistics show that people who own homes drive more safely. So let your insurance company know that you own your home and enjoy the savings on your auto insurance premium. Bought a house in 2020? Reach out for this discount.

17. Shop Around for Insurance

This tip applies to car insurance and home insurance. Shop around for the best deal. You want to get quotes from several different insurance companies near you before choosing an insurance company. SmartFinancial makes this easy to do for home insurance and auto insurance quotes. With SmartFinancial’s help you’ll be comparing insurance quotes near you in no time. And because SmartFinancial has access to more than 200 insurance companies you are bound to find the coverage and price that you want.

18. Buy Used

Shopping for a used car in 2021? It is a savvy financial choice. New car values drop by more than 20 percent in the first 12 months and for the next four years you can expect to lose 10 percent of the car’s value each year. As the second owner of the car, you miss the big depreciation hit.

19. Work the Quotas

Car dealers have quotas to meet, be sure to take advantage. The closer a car dealer is to a quota the more ready he is to make a deal. With monthly, quarterly and yearly quotas coming due, December is the absolute best time to shop for a car. March, June and September are good months to shop for a car with quarterly and monthly quotas coming due. Shopping at the end of any month will help you be close to a car dealer’s monthly quota goal. So start shopping for cars near the end of the month and save money.

20. Shop Different Dealerships

When shopping around for a car, shop different dealerships and let the dealers know what you are doing. You are looking for the best price on the car you want and you’re willing to go to any dealership that makes the best offer. Get the dealerships to compete against each other for your business. And watch the price of the car that you want slip down.

21. Make the Most of Cash Rebates and Discount Financing

Buying a new car? Check out the rebates. Is there a cash rebate available? What about discount financing? A cash rebate could cover a couple of car payments. And a low-rate financing deal is a nice way to finance a car. But you’ll need good credit to qualify for discount financing so if your credit is not so great, you’ll need to choose the cash rebate.

22. Shop Ahead for Financing

Shop around for financing before you set foot on a dealer’s lot. You want the car dealer to beat the best financing deal you found on your own. So shop ahead for financing and see if a dealer can give you an even better deal on your auto financing.

23. Stick with 3 Separate Transactions

When you are buying a car there are three, separate transactions. There’s the trade-in of your old car, the price of the new car and the financing. Negotiate each of these transactions separately. A car dealer will try to roll these transactions together. Don’t let him. You want the best deal you can get on each separate transaction.

24. Shop Around for a Mortgage

Because interest rates vary from lender to lender, you’ll want to get mortgage quotes from several different lenders. You’re looking for the best deal you can get for your credit. So take some time and look around. Your bank or credit union is a good place to start.

25. Put 20% Down

If you have the cash for this, putting 20 percent down on your home loan will save you from paying private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is required by lenders when you are unable to put down a 20 percent down payment when buying a home.

26. Choose a Fixer-Upper

Forget about the perfect home. Choose one with potential. With a few quick upgrades, that so-so home could be stellar. So look for a home that needs a little love, give it some and watch it shine. Your wallet will thank you.

27. Shop for a Home in Winter

Done with all of your holiday celebrations? Why not buy a house? Spring and summer are the busiest months for buying a house and demand makes prices climb. In winter, home prices drop by thousands of dollars and it is a great time to buy a home.

28. Check Out VA Loans

Are you an active or retired member of the military? Check out home loans from Veterans Affairs (VA). These VA loans require no down payments and you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance either. These are good loans so be sure to look into them if you are a member of the military.

29. Consider FHA Loans

With Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, buyers are allowed to make down payments of 3.5 percent of the home’s purchase price if they have credit scores of 580 and higher. If a buyer has a credit score between 500 and 579, a down payment of 10 percent is required. FHA loans do require PMI so factor that expense into your mortgage budget when you take out a FHA loan. FHA loans are good options for home buyers with low down payments who are looking to buy houses. Rather sitting at home saving for months, you can be into a home with a FHA loan.

30. Downsize to a Smaller Home

Have the kids moved out? It may be time to downsize to a smaller inexpensive home or even a condo. Doing so will result in lower mortgage payments and you may be able to eliminate PMI on your new home purchase.

31. Choose a Cheaper Home

Want your mortgage payments to go down? Choose a more inexpensive home. Choosing a cheaper home will lower that mortgage payment nicely. So re-assess your home needs carefully. Can you get by with a little less house? It can save you money.

32. Make Extra Payments

Did you get a big raise at work? Make extra mortgage payments. Doing so will chip away at your balance and take you that much closer to owning your home outright.

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