Category Archives: Life Guide

Best Home Insurance Price Strategy

After having insured many homes over the years I would like to offer my thoughts on the ways to get the best home insurance rates. Certainly in the Minneapolis & St. Paul area but also nationwide Travelers Insurance and American Family Insurance are what I have found to be the most cost effective carriers. If you are only going to get one quote for your home insurance then go with Travelers Insurance for the best price. Their policies are sold through many brokers but having the policy serviced through GEICO is quick, easy and means you have access to agents 24/

If you have just bought your home or know what it would sell for otherwise then you should use that as the beginning basis for the dollar amount you should have insures. Then you can often check your county’s property website to see the county’s assessment of your property. Make sure their assessment is the same or lower than your market value assessment. Also, at this point note the amount the county has appraised your raw land to be worth.

Now, it is customary to only insure the value of the home sitting on your land and not the value of your land itself. This is because if there is a loss from a storm for instance only your actual house can sustain damage. Even if your house is completely destroyed you are still left with an empty lot which should hold the county’s assessed value even without a house on it. So, the amount of insurance you need should be no more than the market value of your house minus your land value.

If you talk to an insurance broker they will tell you that you need to insure the rebuild american-familyvalue of your house. That’s how much it would cost to hire contractors to rebuild your house from scratch. This value can end up being much more than the actual market value of your house or what you could sell your house for. This is good advice only if you want to pay more for insurance and have the privilege of rebuilding your house on the spot rather than moving to a new house in the event your house is completely destroyed. So, if you have a magical location and don’t mind waiting the 1-2 years that it takes to rebuild a house then you may want to insure the rebuild cost of your house. But, for the rest of us that would want to get on with our lives it makes more sense to sell your land where your house was destroyed and buy a new house nearby. If you fit into this category than you only need to pay for insurance on the market value of your house which could be quite a bit less than the rebuild value.

The next challenge is that insurance companies, Travelers and American Family included do not give you the option to directly insure only the market value of your home. Therefore you are left with only the option to legally minimize the rebuild cost of your home in the eyes of your insurance carrier to the point where it is the same as the market value. You would have to consult a professional of some sort to understand what is legal but the general procedure to determine the rebuild value of your house involves a questionnaire. The insurance company asks you questions like what is the total square feet of your house. If you don’t know they will use the value on file with the county. However, if you measure the square feet of your house yourself and come up with a lower value then that is the most effective way to lower the rebuild value that the insurance company calculates. Other questions you have the option of answering that contribute to the calculation are how many bedrooms do you have, what remodeling has been done recently and what other structures are there on the property to insure.

Bottom Line

Don’t pay extra by over insuring your home using the values that your insurance company gives you. Take your own house measurements and legally minimize the coverage amount your company offers you. As long as your coverage amount is the market value of your property minus the land value then you should have enough coverage to move into a similar home if yours is destroyed.

Save on your Xfinity Bill

For everyone tired of paying more to Xfinity (Comcast) after their promotional periods ends you must read this tip. Once you get the shocking bill with your rates going up just call in to Xfinity and tell them you want to cancel your service. You’ll get routed to a very exclusive call center with very friendly and articulate employees. Don’t be afraid to tell them that you are calling in to cancel your Xfinity subscription because it has just gotten too expensive. The call center staff will give you plenty of options to change your mind so don’t feel that there is any finality to what you are saying.

Now just sit back and see what new offers the cancelation staff comes up with. Even when Comcast_Xfinitythe regular Xfinity (Comcast) sales people have no better offers for you the cancelation department can always come up with some discount that’s just a few dollars more expensive than your original promotional offer. With any luck you’ll get yourself another year of service at a nice low rate. Then, next year there’s nothing keeping you from applying this same strategy again.

 Bottom Line

Next time your Xfinity (Comcast) bill is out of control just call in and ask to cancel. Rather than lose you as a customer Xfinity will miraculously become very creative in discounting your bill for another year long period!

Car Insurance Comparison

I checked all the major car insurance companies in the Minneapolis & St. Paul area  and Minnesota as a whole so you don’t have to.  Here’s what I got:

#1 lowest price year after year:

#2: Allstate has some interesting sign up and safe driving incentives that were able to lower the price below that of Geico for the first 6 month period.  After renewal, however, Geico always came out on top again.

#3 There are also some very cheep car small name insurance providers out there that beat the Geico rates but have such horrible rating s and reviews that they are not worth the trouble.  The criticism is usually that of bait and switch where the provider quotes impossibly low rates and then later calls to raise the rates.

So, make your life easier and just choose Geico car insurance.  The company is owned by Berkshire Hathaway which is run by Warren Buffet and has a very interesting backstory.  Geco car insurance is run with a very lean operating structure with little or no middle management.  That means they pass the savings on to the customers in the form of lower rates.  Give them a try if you want a solid car insurance company with the lowest rates year after year.


Startup Business Ideas

The alternative to wage work:

Amazon is the best way to resell used products for a profit. All things with a barcode or ISBN will work. Pros: All the advertising and payment infrastructure is provided by Cons: Amazon deducts 15-30% from your earnings as their commission Limiting factor: The amount of material stuff that you can get your hands on. Good channels are library used book sales, garage sales and estate sales.

Starting a business in the real world

Leave the web behind and do something in your neighborhood. Detail: This can be very exciting but it requires motivation, persistence and startup capital. This can involve doing anything to take a problem off other people’s hands. You could load a van up with printer cartridges and drive around to local businesses offering to replace their empty cartridges. Pros: Not only can this option free you from relying on other people for your livelihood, but it brings with it a certain degree of respect in the community. Long hours over many years can lead to a thriving business. When successful, businesses can be handed down to partners and family members providing income for generations. Cons: Sometimes the market is just unfavorable and other times people don’t have the energy and long-term commitment required to carve out their niche in the market.

Seasonal jobs

Examples: Selling roses on Valentines Day or selling glow sticks on Independence Day. Just find a crowd of people and start offering what ever meets the occasion. Cons: Only provides supplemental income.

Network Marketing

Network marketing is very similar to a sales position that runs strictly on commission. The more people you recruit and the more items you sell the more successful your business will be. The network marketing group provides you with the product and the marketing scheme, while taking a cut of your profits. Detail: Maybe you’ve had someone invite you to coffee to discuss an exciting new business idea only to find out that she is trying to hook you into some pyramid scheme. Well, in fact, if you work hard at these businesses it is possible to succeed but the obstacles are numerous. The main problem is that you rely on somebody else’s support structure to prop up your business. And naturally the person providing the support structure takes a cut of your profits. Pros: You can jump right into building your business without first mastering tools for marketing and record-keeping. Cons: By relying on the infrastructure of the network marketing group your business will always be paying commissions to other people.

The world’s largest marketplace, bringing buyers and sellers together. eBay is an amazing place where competition runs wild and products are sold at rock-bottom prices. Find your self a steady source of below-market products and you’ll be sure to make a profit selling them on eBay. Pros: Listing products on eBay provides maximum exposure bringing in buyers from all over the world. eBay is also the best choice for selling one-of-a-kind and customized items. Cons: The listing fees that eBay charges may be anywhere from $1-$5 of the typical transaction.


Blogging is more a way of life than a business. That said, with a knack for journalism, and some skill setting up advertising, this profession can easily substitute your primary income. Cons: Even the most successful blogger typically has a day job to help pay the bills.


Website advertising involves coming up with any idea that will drive visitors to a website and then placing advertising on that website. Detail: You can create anything from a dog lover, community websites to a soup recipe exchange website. The driving factor in this business is how many visitors, one can attract to their given website and then how many advertisements are clicked. For every thousand visitors per day you can expect to earn a few dollars in advertising revenue. Pros: Once the business is established, it requires very little ongoing commitment and can serve as a passive source of income. Cons: Building a website with high traffic can take a brilliant idea, hundreds of hours of development, and many years for grassroots growth.

Flipping houses

Flipping or remodeling houses requires solid financing, hard work and long hours. However, seeing the finished product can be extremely satisfying and financially rewarding.


Investing money is more of a Zen art that is the business. This art takes temperance and control, but the potential for games is always there, whether the market is good or bad. Detail: With a vast array of financial instruments available to investors today it can be a daunting task to select a single investment. Most beginners however will start with either mutual funds or by trading directly in stocks. While trading individual stocks keep in mind that the more you diversify your portfolio, your risk and your return drop as well. If you’re investing with mutual funds, you should understand the distinction between a managed and an unmanaged fund. Managed funds typically underperform the market due to management fees that come out of the fund’s performance. Unmanaged funds are a great way to diversify and they have returns similar to that of the overall market. Pros: By either selling short or buying long an investor can always make money if the market is moving in some direction. Cons: The complexity of the financial markets can be so daunting that people hire others to manage their money, which is almost guaranteed to give you worse results than the market at large.

Domain parking

Domain parking is the idea of buying domain names that people would commonly type into the browser address bar and then selling advertising on these domain names. Detail: This business was hot in the 90 during the initial gold rush and now has much lower returns.