10.23.18 Brand name prices skyrocketing; Scam calls proliferate; Zip codes and car insurance prices
Debbie here on the Clark Howard show where it's all about you and that Walla yours. I want you to learn ideas me so you can save more and spend less and don't let anyone ever rip you off speaker ripoffs be really wary answering your phone. I got some new info for you coming up in today's Clark rage about why answering your phone can be dangerous here, wallet and later yet being a dangerous to your wallet. Do you know one of the factors really affecting what you pay now for insurance is the zip code you live in, at least with some insurers. I'm gonna give you advice how to counteract that or benefit from it right now, though I wanna talk about something that is an issue. Fear wallet as the economy's gotten better. Americans in larger numbers are buying products from name brand manufacturers instead of pride. Label store brands and the manufacturers of heavily advertised consumer goods are feeling like, wow, this is the first time in forever that people are buying our stuff even at higher prices to the point that now Proctor and gamble is raising the price of a lot of its stuff, five to ten percent. Think of things like head and shoulders shampoo. They make dawn detergent Oli moisturizer. They're just one brand name product company Proctor and gamble makes a lot more things than that. By the way, diapers are big with them toilet paper paper towels. It goes on and on and on. And so those brand name items for the first time in decade or really moving up in price and the quantity sizes are shrinking with a lot of products at the same time is what. You pay at the checkout is going up. And so this time right now is the strongest in probably a decade for the argument that I make the you should buy private-label or Storebrand instead of buying the brand name because I mean, whose money is it, it's your money. And so I am very experimental with private labels and try different ones. And we accept or reject based on basically collection of opinions within the family on private label in which ones they like, which ones they don't. We're all private-label paper towels. Now, all private label facial tissue where private label on most things that we buy in the house. And one of the things that's been. A big influence or an our house is we do about eighty percent of our grocery shopping at all d. a. l. d. high, which is almost one hundred percent private label store brand, and the quality of the goods are so good that it pretty much has become our Goto as a grocery store, and it has been a way for us to save a lot of money, but be wary of these big price increases on the brand names because this is a cycle. There's a cyclical thing when people are feeling better about their own wallets, even if they have been happy with the private label, the store stuff, they somehow gravitate back to the brand names because dollar in your wallet just doesn't feel as important when the dollars have gotten a little fatter in your wallet. And to me. Me dollars important at all times, but I wouldn't be me. I didn't feel that way right. Amy's with us on the Clark Howard show. Hi, Amy. Hi Clark. Thank you for taking my call. Sure. How are you doing? I'm doing well, thank you. So you have a bit of a conundrum that let's see if I can be of help to you. Yeah, actually, it's my daughter who seems to have lost her birth certificate and her social security card. And I am wondering what to do, what what to offer her in terms of advice with the most important thing that would be an immediate move is to freeze her credit file. If she has not done that yet. Yeah, we've she's done that. So if she's done those things, you cannot change the social security number. There's almost no circumstances where the social security ministration will change a number. So for her, if is it possible? The card was stolen. I mean, it's not it's. I think there's a small chance that it was. It wasn't it's it's been misplaced and it might have been misplaced in a place where somebody could have picked it up and taking it. Okay. So it's really hard to know. So I guess I just wanna make sure that in the event somebody does have it that you know, we figure out what to do to try to prevent something from happening where you know, I talk about credit freeze as something I want everybody to do anyway. But in her case, credit freeze is very valuable because with the information, if the information from the birth certificate and the social security card with its number on it, if those two items fell in the hands of a criminal, that's like opening it up wide for a density theft and applying for creditors if they're applying for serve. With companies as if they're her. And so by having the credit frozen, it's like the perfect example how to deal with the perfect storm of key personal information being out there. So there's not really anything else for her to do other than when the time comes that she needs to thought her credit for some purpose. I would like her to sign up with credit karma and credit sesame so that she's got monitoring going on at at all times of what's going on with their stuff. And both of those are free to use. You can't set up with them while you're credits frozen though. So actually she does have credit karma account. Oh, good. Good. That's great. So she'll have ability to monitor anyway and she's got it frozen. So the monitoring is really if somebody were able somehow defeat the. Credit freeze system, and so she's done what she should, and you know getting a new copy of a birth certificates very easy in most jurisdictions and the replacement social security cards, not hard either. So getting new documents that's not hard. It's worrying about what somebody might do with the documents that were misplaced. That's the part that's failing. Okay. And that basically, those are basically the things that she has to do and and she doesn't have to notify you know the social security office or any of those any official office or. No. And how old is she? She's twenty nine. So that's not really an issue the if she were if she were in her fifties or early sixties and her social security card had gone missing? I would recommend a process with social security where you can set. Yup, something called my social security. Were you able to monitor that? Nobody's attempting to do an application to social security, but it twenty in our twenties. That's not an issue. Okay, great. So she's going great. Thank you very much. Sure. Advice and best to her and sounds like an situation that could be messy. She's well protected by having that credit freeze already. There Kimberley's with us on the Clark Howard show. Hi, Kimberly, high Clark. How're you doing. I'm doing well, how are you? Good, Kimberly. I'm so glad to have you here because I have had quite a bit of feedback and the two occasions that I've talked about people doing their own teeth straightening and you have a perspective on that that you wanted to make sure that listeners heard about the idea buying one of these at home t- straightening kits. Yeah, absolutely. Being a business manager for dental office, you know, there's, there's issues around direct to consumer orthodontics. We all see that I really feel like the vast majority of consumers may not be aware of so hit us with. 'cause what you're going to share as the perspective of when things go wrong. Because I hear plenty from people who've used the at home t- straight Nur's that are thrilled with the result, but I'm not hearing from the people who you are privy to tell me what kind of things are fouling people up. Sure. I, it's not the appliance. It self the appliance. Structurally is going to be very similar if not identical to clear liner that you would get from your dentist orthodontist where the issues come in and we're, we've seen oral health issues and in some cases, costly, oral health issues, not to mention painful. It really comes. Not the align itself, but the active straightening a patient's teeth without the in-person supervision of eight into orthodontist. So what kind of things make people vulnerable that are using these at home t- straightening kits? Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. You know, really any oral health issues and particularly oral health issues that haven't been diagnosed so that they win is going to be gum disease or particularly advanced gum disease, you know? So anytime with with gum disease involved, or if there's really any number of procedures that a patient would need, things like fillings or a root canal or crown, that hasn't been diagnosed and hasn't been done. You came concept, VERA damage to your teeth? What brought this issue up for me as a patient that an orthodontist treated adult patient whose front teeth were so loose adult permanent tees or so loose in looked like I was watching video of a child. Losing baby teeth shocking, but that patient hot advanced gum disease, I just know it. So we ask this question, Kimberly. If somebody is going to a dentist for teeth, coining and exams on a regular basis twice a year, they're going to be aware already, aren't they? That they would have gum disease. Yes. And that's more of the ideal candidate. You know, if you're gonna do orthodontic treatment without the direct supervision of dentist or orthodontist, you want to have been regularly senior inist, ensure that your mouth is healthy enough for that. So that's the exact you know, in most cases that can help mitigate problems, you know, however, there can still be issues that come up just in the process of straightening teeth that even if you've been cleared by your dentist, you can still have issue. One of the bigger ones that I hear about and I talked to a patient last week about is she she kept describing it to me that her teeth or clanging and banging together, and the more that I talked to, I realized that what she was saying very uncomfortable, painful, what she was saying. She can't close her upper and lower teeth. So that's another part important part of the orthodontic process that's harder to really address. Yes, you know, when you're not seeing a patient in person is not just straightening teeth but aligning their teeth. So they fit together comfortably when the patient closes their mouth, you know anything like that that might require Vance treatments, you know, or other modalities to address. It's just a lot harder to pick up on when you're working remotely with these companies. Well, I appreciate that perspective very much and you know, we've had a lot of strong feedback from people in the dental industry and that that it doesn't at all share the full story. When I talk about people doing this and why they're doing it and how much money they're saving, that you've got a perspective. It's very clear that people can have harm when all they're trying to straighten their teeth that the consequences can be more severe than they realize. Thank you for sharing the Clark. Howard podcast is brought to you by trunk club. You know how to make smart investments. With your portfolio. But what about with your closet with trunk club, personal styling, you get paired with professional stylist who can help you build a smart and functional wardrobe for everything from Monday morning meetings to Saturday night dinners. It's as easy as messaging your stylist and telling them what you need. They'll put together a trunk, a curated selection of clothes, shoes and accessories, and send it straight to your door. They can even create custom suits shirts trousers and sportcoats just for you since trunk club is not a subscription, you can order a trunk. Whenever you want. This also means there are no recurring charges and no cancellation fees. Talk about smart spending. Start building your best wardrobe by visiting trunk club dot com. Slash saving. Today's Clark -rageous moment is something that is aggravating for so many of us, and that is the junk phone calls. I have new data for you that will make you reluctant to answer your phone. Roaches Clark Regis moment. You ever heard of you mail way. Oh, you mail? It is one of those free me. I'm business model voicemail services where you're able to have basic services for free. You want fancy stuff you pay and they have. Steadily continually updated list of scam numbers. And when you have you mail, if there's one that they know to be a likely scam call it pops up that way, and they will divert the call where it will never go through to you and it won't allow the people to leave a voicemail in many circumstances. Well, they with database of people who use you male, they're able to track the source of calls coming in and their most recent report just released finds that nearly four out of ten phone calls that we received now are from scammers nearly four Atta ten. Another one in five or from telemarketers. So between those two, you've got closing in on two thirds of phone calls that we're receiving are junk phone calls of some kind and more likely to be from scammers than they are from just regular sales people trying to reach us. So consider following my rule is this simple rule. If I don't recognize the number as being from someone I know I do not answer the call just before I went on the air today. I had a phone call come in that said, it was from Bank of America. And I don't do business with Bank of America. I knew that it was what's pretexting call fake call and I didn't answer. But what if I was a customer of Bank of America and I see that come up on caller ID I might be more likely to answer, right. Well, if your Bank or whoever actually needed to talk to you, they're going to leave you voicemail and then never call back from the number left in that voicemail call the number that you know to be the financial institution because even when it's a place you do business with the caller may be phony this situation, they're calling you about maybe a kind and don't get taken. Glad you're with us here on the Clark Howard show where it's about you being empowered with knowledge, so you can keep more of what you make. And by the way we offer advice to you off air over. Forty hours each week. You can talk with a member of team Clark. It's a free service of our show has been for twenty six years where we'll answer your calls off the air Mondays through Fridays. And if you go to Clark dot com, scroll down a little, you'll see the phone number and hours off. Air advice is available each weekday. So over the years, I've talked about how insurers use credit scores as a bigger and bigger factor in how they set rates for a variety of insurance products, particularly auto and homeowners. Now I can add to that that another factor insurers are using to either stick it to people or reward them is the zip code that you live in. There was a study just completed by the consumer federation of America that found enormous differences from zip code desert code. And this is something a particular interest to me because at one point, my wife and I lived in a house that was at a corner where threes zip codes met. I mean, isn't that crazy when the postal service drew zipcode. If I stepped one way I was in the second set code, if I stepped another way I was in the third zip code and my driveway, I was in the zip code. That was our official one. And according to what the consumer federation of America found, there can be. The differences of hundreds and hundreds of dollars typically four hundred dollars for taking that step across per year and what you pay for auto insurance or homeowner's insurance that they specifically, I shouldn't say that specifically the study was auto insurance just stepping across the street. And not all insurers do things the same way. They're not a monolith, but insurers routinely will use credit scores as a minor factor or a big factor in setting rates. Zip code is a small or big factor in setting rates, and because neither of these things have anything to do with your driving record your age male, female. They have nothing to do with the historical factors of setting rates. It means that for the same human being, the price differences from insurer to insurer are the widest gaps that have ever existed. So now you could be someone who has never had a ticket or hadn't had one in recent years. My last ticket was. In nineteen ninety three. Pretty good streak. Aren't I without a ticket? I don't want that streak to run out and I can't remember the last time I was in an accident. Smell long time anyway. So. Those things how I drive you'd think that would be, how would be determined what I'm gonna pay, but that credit score. Is gonna be giant with many insurers and the zip code a little giant. So for you. Shopping around where you already know what kind of driver you are. You just need to quote the same level of coverages that you have now, and by the way. Raise that deductible. When you go to shop, typically do a thousand dollars. You may say, hey, what am I gonna do? I don't have a thousand dollars if something goes wrong. Well, here's the thing you make small-claims on auto insurance. You now have a Mark of shame that makes it difficult for you to shop around and is likely to lead to big increases in the premium. She pay with who you're then stuck with. So you wanna use auto insurance when you got something relatively bigger that you have to deal with, not something relatively small because they'll burn you when you make that small claim. It's worse even with homeowners insurance, but you raise that deductible. And if you have a lot of assets, you own your home free and clear which like third people do. You've got things that are value, don't cheap out on liability coverage when you decide to get quotes, make sure you have a decent amount liability coverage. Because people see those billboards people see those TV ads. People see those signs on the side of buses that you have won the lottery. You might not. You don't have to worry about winning the big game or the mega millions. You just have to be an accident that you got somebody, you can go sue. We're a sue happy country. I was on the west coast of Florida recently, and there was this billboard of this person smiling who'd been injured in an accident and the billboard, the person's talking about how some lawyer got him six hundred sixty thousand dollars, and they're smiling ear to ear people out there like that. So make sure that if you got stuff the, you've got enough liability insurance. And if you got a lot of stuff, meaning money. And Yellen stuff. Rian clear. You wanna look into an umbrella which sits on top of your regular coverage as additional liability, very cheap to buy for what you get sold in increments of one million dollars of additional protection for you. In the event, somebody's able to hold you responsible for something that went wrong and their lives, and they don't have to necessarily show that you're at fault. They just have to convince the insurance company is not worth their time to defend you, and they just start handing out checks. Jason joins us on the car coward show. Hi, Jason. Hey, Clark, how are you? Great. Thank you, Jason. You've got money hanging out all over the place. I do and I know what to do with it. All right. Let me see back in help. These are good problems to have the way. Yes, sir. What's got. I've got a, I've got two different 401K accounts from two different companies I've worked for in the past. One is currently sitting about eighteen thousand some chains and the other one around seven thousand. Of course, no longer work for them. And the company currently worked for does not offer a 401K. So I guess my question is, what do I do with his money that's sitting where you do have the option of just leaving it. And were those big companies small or in between that you were with before? Okay. So the one with eighteen thousand one of most concerned with a smaller company and I'm worried if they go out of business, what happens to that money, the money would be okay in the 401K. But if it's a small business, there's a different issue and that small businesses tend to have very high costs for a one ks, right? So I would skedaddle that money out quickly and move it to one of the low cost providers and have an IRA with one of them. The three big low cost providers for having IRA's our vanguard, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity Investments. Okay. And let me tell you something. Do not call the administrator of the 401K and say, hey, I want to. Move this money out into an IRA, they'll say, great. What addressed he wants to India check? Never take a check because what they do is they would subtract thirty six hundred dollars from the Czech. They'd send you and send it to the IRS withholding and you have to make up that thirty six hundred in the next sixty days or you end up paying massive tax for not being able to make that up. So what you do with whoever you would go with is they'll do paperwork that will move the money directly from the old employer's plan straight into wherever you're going to have the IRA. Okay. Do you recommend an IRA or the Roth IRA. Do I hear you talk about that. All right. So the story is you can't take money. There was an traditional 401K and put it into a Roth without having a big tax Bill because all that money was pretax. Correct. So you go into a traditional IRA with that money? Not a Roth IRA. Okay. And you can over time migrate the money from the traditional to a Roth as you could afford to pay tax on money each year or you could just know you got money, that's they are. That's going to grow over the years that you're going to have to pay tax on some day. Now, let's talk about the other one. The seven thousand is that in a big employers plan or small. Now, it's a very large employer trading on the stock exchange, so is a big employer, the odds favor that will be an extremely low cost plan probably lower than you could find in an IRA. Okay. So. The only exception to that would be if they have that money administered by an insurance company for them the 401K or by a Bank, it's it's, it's it's through one of the three that you mentioned and you could just leave that seven behind and move the eighteen. Okay. And then as far as contributing to that, then you're able to contribute straight to the IRA versus trying to go through back question. Great question. So let's say, let's keep this simple. I in fact, let me let me really think about this. Who is the company that administers the plan for the big publicly traded company used to work for its vanguard. So if you want to keep it simple. Move both of them van guard in an IRA and just be done with the old employers for one case because if his vanguard the cost, so being low enough as an individual anyway, and then you've got the simplification just having IRA there and then vanguard open a Roth for any future contributions, see Italy, the twenty five to grow in a vanguard IRA. And then you open a new account with vanguard for a Roth in any current or future contributions he make go into the Roth. Okay. And then those can be so just I'm sorry, I, I'm not a hundred percent up to date on all these things, but it rough is post tax. Correct? Exactly. And you're already going to have twenty five grand. That's a pretext account. You wanna have money in a post tax accountant a Roth. It's really great to have a mix of both, but tilted more towards the Roth. This would be a way for you to do it. You simplify your life. You just have an IRA at van guard a Roth, IRA vanguard, old money in the IRA new money and the Roth IRA. And that would be a good way few to build up money going forward. Chris is with us on the Clark Howard show. Hi, Chris. Hey, Clark. Thanks for taking my call. Sure. You got a puzzle you want to see if I can find the pieces for. Yes, sir. What we're looking at twenty nineteen health plans. Currently we're, we are all on a family plan under my health insurance. However, my company starts surcharge surcharge for a spouse that's able to get health insurance through their employer and using around numbers. It's roughly fourteen hundred dollars a year. So if I cover my dependents and myself it the premiums would be nine hundred versus including her which would be eighteen hundred on top of that fourteen hundred dollar surcharge anyway. So she's nine hundred extra month plus an additional fourteen hundred dollar surcharge year. Correct. So she's ten eight eleven eight, twelve twelve thousand something a year for health coverage through your existing employer. How much is it for her? If she goes on her employer's plan, it would be eleven hundred year. Eleven hundred a year versus twelve thousand a year. Versus about twelve hundred additional on top of for the family plan. The nice thing too. If we both take. Are company sponsored plans that they're both high deductible plans where mine's three thousand dollars, but the company incentivizes the employee's for two thousand thus leaving roughly a thousand dollars to cover for that deductible. Were hurt for hers is five thousand, but it would cover one hundred percent once that's met. So the main question to still keep the whole family under one bucket or should we each take our own plan and then just try to max out the annual HSA twenty nineteen. So that was all very confusing numbers. The advantage of each of you being on your own employer's plan is you never know what happens with the job market jobs you have who ends up owning who you work for and things like that. So I actually like an less it was prohibitively more expensive for each of you to be on your own plan to be each on your own plan. In this case, it's actually cheaper for her to be on her own plan. If I followed the math, correct. It would say right around twenty two hundred a year gave her cake in premiums and surcharge. Yes, I would say it definitely makes sense for her to stay on to go on her company plan your on your plan gathered. It was better for the kids to be on your plan. So I would do that where you eat have gives you more flexibility more versatility with health coverage. If you're each on your own thing instead of all. Of you are on your own, particularly with being a money savings. It's time for ask Clark where you post to question for me at Clark dot com. Bruce Joel asset Clark Bill road, and he said, what's your opinion on having a living will? Oh, I want everybody to have a living will because I want you to be able to state what your preferences are in the event that you are incapacitated and can't speak for yourself. Many states now have a state mandated form often referred to as an advanced healthcare directive. And in many states, you have both a Representative. You a point in this form and you state your wishes. Now, what do you want to have happen in different circumstances? In many times, they'll be things you really haven't thought of or through because just because you're temporarily incapacitated. The question within become more, what are your chances for recovery and all that and you decide, I've sat with people doing these forms wherein you don't know where people's heads are about this kind of stuff till they do it where someone will say, oh yeah, do everything possible, or somebody else say, no way, you know, I wanna do not resuscitate. I want this, that and the other personal preferences what matters. It's not appropriate deduced having in your own head and all you gotta do is going whatever search engine use. Google duck duck go, whatever you do and you put in advanced healthcare directive, and then whatever your state name is, and then you will see get past the ads. These forms are free done by the states, and you'll see the official form for your state. If your state has most of them do have an official form, just fill it out, have it witnessed? Is it. Calls for and you're good. Just make sure the people you wanna make your medical decisions for, you know, your wishes verbally as well as having a copy of the form. You're listening to the Clark Howard show. Thanks for joining us today that Clark Howard show is produced by Kim droves. Joel LARs guard Debra Reese and gem airs and remember twenty four hours a day where there to serve you at Clark dot com. And Clark deals dot com.