A Personal Mini-Recession

I think the economy is fine, even though many Wall Street followers will try to lead you to believe otherwise.  But, unfortunately, we’re in a bit of a rut with our personal finances.

I just completed our net worth analysis, and for the fourth month in a row, our net worth has fallen.


Luckily, the amounts every month a pretty small, and even with four months of losses, the overall loss isn’t much.  It could be made back up with one good month, so here’s to hoping.

Still, I thought it would be worth looking at why:

  • We paid our Disney trip – Trips to Disney World aren’t cheap, and we definitely decided to splurge given that it was a trip we’ve been saving for awhile and aren’t likely to repeat for at least a few years.  The payment for that came due and even though it was earmarked, it still took a chunk out of things.
  • That darn stock market – Even though I think we’re fine, the market has been a bit spastic, so our mb-201102piggybankinvestment balances have declined a bit over the past few months with the market turbulence.
  • Summer spending – I don’t know about you, but it seems like the time when spending gets a little bit above normal seems to coincide with when the temps are higher, and we’ve definitely felt it this year.  We haven’t made any major purchases, but it’s been more the little things adding up.  My wife and I have talked and will be consciously reigning in our spending to get back to where we’re more comfortable.
  • Side income was down – When we camp, my wife’s side hustle gets shut down, and my side hustles have been in a bit of a lull.  Now, things have picked up for me and my wife’s shop will be open more, so this should help on the income side of things.

That’s really about it.

Am I concerned?  Not really.  While it would be nice to have our net worth go up month after month, the fact is that it doesn’t.  I actually track how often it does, and it’s around 70% of the time for us where it goes up, meaning that 30% of the time it doesn’t.  Over time, it will average out and that’s what I’m targeting.

Readers, have the warm months been kind to your finances or do you have some ground you’d like to make up?

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

No Exam Life Insurance: Guaranteed Issues vs. Simplified Issue

Not all “no exam” life insurance policies are created equal. There are two primary differences when it comes to these policies: guaranteed issue and simplified issue. One aims to make the process more convenient while the offer is a last attempt at getting life insurance when you’ve been denied or may be denied elsewhere.

If you have had issues getting coverage with other carriers, you might be looking to these two types of policies to give you the important protection afforded by life insurance. Understanding how these work is important for you to get a good perspective on what to do next.

Comparing the Two

Caps are higher with simplified issue because it’s still geared towards healthy people. This means that the coverage obtained under guaranteed issue is guaranteed but limited. The bar for declines is higher with simplified issue since it is not meant for people with serious health issues. If you have medical concerns, it is a possibility that you could be declined for coverage with simplified issue. Simplified issue is intended to make the process easier but the challenge with this is that you must still qualify in general.

Bear in mind that being denied for one company does not mean you will be declined for all coverage. Do not jump the gun and apply for guaranteed issue because you’re concerned about not getting coverage at all. Do some shopping and speaking with a life insurance expert to learn about all your options. Some carriers have specific red flags that might cause you to be declined there, but this does not mean you are out of choices. Get the details from someone who knows as soon as possible so you’re not limited by your next steps.

When Is It Best to Go Traditional?

Even though both of these types of policies have their benefits, there are times when it just makes more sense to go the traditional route and get an exam. Knowing the carriers and which ones will be friendlier to the medical issues you have makes the application process much simpler. As is the case with no exam life insurance, various carriers view issues in different ways. Do not get hung up just because one company gives you a bad rate or a decline.

If you decide to go the traditional route, you might get better rates, the potential to look at more carriers overall, and more coverage options. With caps being such a big issue in simplified issue and guaranteed issue, traditional exam life insurance opens the potential for your beneficiaries to get more value from a life insurance policy. If this appeals to you, consider working with an independent life insurance agency that can recommend the best option for your individual situation.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

We Joined Amazon Prime

For the first time ever, our household has joined Amazon Prime as paying members!  We had previously been Prime members for a trial period during the heyday of the Amazon Mom program, and scored lots of great deals on diapers and such, but once our free period ran out, we returned as non-Prime members.

We have gone back and forth for awhile, and when Amazon had a one day $67 deal for new members last month (marked down from the regular price of $99) , in celebration of their Emmy award, we decided to go for it.

Here are a few things we’re looking forward to:

2-Day Shipping

The first and probably still most popular thing about Prime membership is the 2-day shipping.  We don’t have bad luck with the Free shipping, but it can back up at times, and always works out that when you want something most, it takes the longest to get there.  It’ll be nice knowing that most items will be there in two days.

Movies and TV

Amazon has a pretty good selection of movies and TV shows available for free streaming.  I think the only issue I’ve seen is that a lot of their content isn’t HD, but I can live with that.  We have a Roku that we rarely used, which has a built in Amazon Prime channel, and also have a couple of Chromecast devices that can stream to the TV.  We limit the amount of TV our kids watch, but when it’s really bad weather in the winter, we do tend to allow it a little more, so it’ll be nice to have a few more options.  I also know they have a lot of different options in case my wife and I want to check out a movie or TV show.

They have quite a library of songs available for free streaming as part of Prime membership.  I love listening to music at work and my wife very frequently has something going on her tablet as she does things around the house.


I love reading and try to get through at least 4-5 books a month rented for free from our local library.  I believe that you get a couple of free Kindle rentals per month as Prime members.  I don’t have  a Kindle, but this could entice me to get one or ask Santa for one!

File and Photo Storage

You get 5GB of free cloud storage space as a Prime member, plus unlimited photo storage.  When you upload photos, they’ll automatically expand your total limit so that photos never count toward your 5GB.  That’s pretty cool and is a great way to back up your precious memories!

I’m hoping that our Prime membership saves us money in the long run.  It’ll be nice to order things that we would have gone out and bought anyway, and gotten either a lower price or the same price, but saved on time and gas.  I know that many people find that they spend more with Prime, and obviously that’s what Amazon wants you to do, but I would think that if we limit our spending, it could work out well for Amazon and for us!

Readers, did any of you sign up for Prime with the recent special or have you been Prime members for a while?  What do you like or dislike about Prime?  Please share your experiences in the comment section below.


Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Working From Home

With more and more people quitting their jobs to pursue their passions as freelancers and home based entrepreneurs, the landscape of work is changing. Back in the day, you had to to have a 9-5 job – any job, especially if you were the man of the house – just to conform to society’s standards.

This often meant doing a job you hated, in an office you despised, much like what many people are still going through now. But what the heck. As long as it pays the bills and provides health benefits, all’s well that ends well. Right? Well, that pretty much sums up why 70% of Americans hate their jobs!

Shifting Gears

This has brought on a shift in the way people think. Many of them are realizing the benefits of working from home and are turning to freelancing or accepting positions as virtual employees for some of their income, while working on another side hustle to generate more money.

Telecommuting is fast on the rise, with an estimated 3.2 million Americans enjoying the comforts of working from home and many more international employees getting hired by companies who realize they could get cheaper talent abroad at a fraction of the cost. Freelancing has also become a pretty lucrative business if you’re skilled at what you do.

The benefits are awesome, to say the least:

  • Everyday is dress down day.
  • No traffic!
  • No jostling for position in a crowded subway.
  • Eat healthy, home cooked meals all the time.
  • Everyday is bring your pet to work day!
  • Everyday is bring your child to work day!
  • Perfect work-life balance.
  • Extreme flexibility.
  • Never be late!
  • Lower your carbon footprint.

These are just a few of the benefits of working from home. Of course, your pet or child can’t be with you for the duration of your work, but at least you can spend time with them during lunch or when you’re having a short break. Your office should also look and feel like an office, or your productivity will suffer.

What job can I get?

There are many things you could get into while working from home. Here are some of the more lucrative jobs and projects you can take on:

Writer – If you’re a talented wordsmith, put your pen and wits to good use by offering your services as a writer. There are many options to choose from, depending on what you love doing. You can be a ghost writer, web content writer, copy writer or technical writer. Writers get paid either hourly or per project, so choose which one is most applicable for you, and don’t forget that you should charge for research!

English Tutor – There are many websites that can pair a native English speaker to a person from across the globe looking to learn, all from the comfort of home through VoIP. If you’re an English major or if you know how to teach basic English, tutoring is a great way to earn money from home. Conversational English may be part of the deal, but translation isn’t. If your client is looking to you to help translate a document, ask them to try a professional linguistic service like Textualis.

mb-2015-10-laptopGraphic Designer – If you got an eye for design and color, a career as a freelance Graphic Designer may be in the cards for you. The good thing about this is that everything can done virtually, from talking to clients by VoIP to getting an idea what they want. Files can be shared instantly, and cloud computing makes collaboration much more easier to do.

Web Designer – Another creative telecommuting idea is to offer services for web design. These days, web design is all about templates, and sites like WordPress, Weebly and SquareSpace offer templates by the dozen. But if a client wants something unique and different, you can use your CSS and HTML5 skills to make them beautiful web pages.

Other good, work from home careers are in accounting, customer service, tech support, sales and programming.

See you at Home!

The list above is hardly complete and there are a myriad of other lucrative work from home jobs available if you know where to look and if you put in enough time and research into honing the skills you’re offering. Don’t forget to check out sites like Fiverr, Elance and Freelancer if you want to view what jobs are in demand and what other people are charging.

Copyright 2015 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.