Ask HTM - Is ID Theft Insurance Worth It, Reducing Car Insurance Rates for Kids Who Rarely Drive, and the Merits of Balancing a Checkbook #164

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This episode is brought to you by office. Depot Office depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size and they have a wide range of services they can provide twenty four seven tech support. Print your marketing materials and even help you design your office with variety of furniture solutions. They also have all of the supplies. Your office needs from ink and in paper to cleaning and break room supplies. I'll tell you one thing that I never want to have to mess with again is figuring out what kind of toner cartridges. My particular brand of printer her needs office depot. has you covered whether you're running a home office like I do or work in a larger corporate setting they have you covered office. Depot is ready to help your business with knowledgeable eligible associates in over thirteen hundred stores or online at Office Depot Dot Com. Welcome to how to money. I'm Joel and I imagine that today we are answering your listener. Questions That's right Joel. It's Monday okay. And you know that means that there is a fifty fifty chance of that. were either going to answer listener questions or we might have an amazing guest on and today the guests were having on our listeners. uh-huh who have questions you just confused everybody out there or answering listener clash myself. What are we doing today? So for instance. We're going to cover whether or not we feel that. ID theft insurance. If it's worth it we're going to talk about what to do about your car insurance if you have a kid who rarely drives right if they're off the college and we're going to talk about checkbooks what our thoughts are you still use a checkbook. Lots of good questions to cover today Matt but before we get to our listener questions. Let's talk about gift cards allowing allowing people right. It's early February. A lot of people though have gift cards that they got for Christmas that they haven't used yet. And maybe they're already laying around in Jerusalem. Where is that outback steakhouse kaos gift exactly? Where did I put that thing? And oh well my blooming onion right. I should probably be using it for the balloon onion or whatever you know but but gift cards go unused so much of the time so I think it's just a good reminder that we WANNA put out there for folks to find them put them all in one place rifle through them and start taking advantage of the gift cards that they have and they're not going to expire fire in all likelihood they use of them won't yeah they some of them might some of them. Will I think there was a federal regulation that was put into the required retailers to have an expiration date that was at least east five years from the point where it was sold. Gotcha so that's good. That's helpful but even then man we just lose them. We misplaced the one of those things that we just have a hard time holding onto. Yeah personally I think before I tell you what I think. What do you think about gift cards? Well I think I understand why people give them. It feels like it's a thoughtful gift but for the most part a very thinly veiled cash gift. Yeah exactly exactly like in cash is just such a better thing. Yeah exactly I mean I think gift cards are dumb like like honestly and I think there are a lot of folks who agree with me because there is an entire ecosystem of websites where you can go and unload your gift card. A lot of people are looking adding to convert their gift cards into cash because cash is universal and so I am one who believes that I would much rather have cash than a gift card to give cards. There's just so much hassle involved I will say if someone gives me a gift card or maybe a gift certificate to someplace that I frequent. That is a thoughtful gift right. If they know that this is someplace you enjoy you you know. We know that you like going to the store. Something like that even then man. Sometimes I forget to bring it along a emily and I went to a restaurant the other night and then we just came back and we looked at our gift cards. which is what made me? Think of this okay. We have a gift card to that place and we forgot to bring it so basically all of our date nights for the next three months are going to revolve around where we have gift. Cards burn through that bag senior senior. Yes we're trying to burn through all of it because it starts to get out of hand it gets ridiculous a little ziplock there. Yeah but if you do want to sell a gift card card pool is a good website gift card. Granny is another website will lead to those in the journalist but those are good places to sell your unwanted gift cards and get some cash also too if there is a place that you frequent Matt and you basically want to get an automatic discount on everything you buy there. You can gift cards from those side. Yes you can get your gift cards at a discount. I think that's another good reason that makes giftcards worthwhile by sure. Awesome like one of our favorite restaurants. Yeah you're gonNA talk about the every December you can get three hundred bucks worth of gift cards for two hundred dollars. That is a good deal. Yeah and so we use it throughout the year. And that's just a place that we know we're going to go often and we always use a gift card when we go because we get the sweet deal thirty three percent off like off the bat. Yeah well there's an article that and our both reading. That was talking about gift cards. And just basically the business and economics behind gift cards and how retailers benefit and one of the most interesting little facts in there was the that stood stood out to me at least was that consumers are two and a half more times likely to pay full price when they're using a gift card or something versus if they're using their own hard-earned cache. Yeah so what that tells me. Is that folks are just less price conscious when they're using a gift card versus using their cash and what that also tells me is that people value convenience because what they're doing is they're not looking for the deals they just see something by it or they go to the store. They're going to pay full price. They value the convenience to not have to look for a deal. So what is the most convenient currency Z.. That you can always have cash up not a gift card cash my friend. It is amazing that we've been convinced to turn something that let's say is worth fifty one hundred dollars that you can spend anywhere in the entire world basically that you want to and say you know what I'm gonNA trade this in for the ability to spend only at one place like literally one store one company and I'm really going to do business with them with this money I mean it really is. It is kind of silly when you think about it so a bit. There's creative ways to give cash. Maybe in the future we should think about creative ways to give cash instead of gifting gift cards and we should think about using the gift cards we've been given because we don't want those just sitting around in our doors we want to get our money's worth out of them. They just like emily getting organized and schedule your date nights around all these gift cards. I think. That's a really smart data. Answer Basically GonNa be free for the next three months man. That's pretty sweet. Do you can be great. All right this episode also. We are having a beer. Did you know that we typically do. And it's one of my favorite parts of the show. Yeah this beer is called Aggress Dick which is an American Wild Red Ale and this is from firestone Walker Brewing Company out in California. This is another beer that was donated to the show by our friend Josh. We're having two weeks of Beers on him. Well you can tell the the level of friendship that we have with him based on the number of beers featuring as I've been friends Josh for a long long time so big thanks to my good friend for sending us some of his favorite favorite California Beers and my new friend Josh. Yeah you guys have been friends for a few years absolutely but that being said we have lots of great friends who don't give us beer and that's totally cool. Friendship is not contingent on donation beer of craft beer. Of course no are Mel. Let's get onto the listener questions. We got some good ones that we want to get to today and for everybody out there listening if they want to submit the question to be featured on a future ask. ATM Episode Well. We'd love to have it. Just go to how to money dot com slash. Ask The directions for submitting your voice question or incredibly credibly simple and it'll take you just a few minutes and then matinee will hopefully in the near future but let's get to the first question of this episode and it's about still using checkbook. Hey guys this is Matt from Tampa. I still balance a checkbook every month when my bank statement is e mailed to me last week I was depositing a reimbursement check from work. Irk My banks APP on my phone. Once it cleared I wrote the deposit in my checkbook when it dawned on me as I looked at the balance of my checking account and all all the transactions on my phone. Do I need to keep a check book. I rarely write checks anymore and like I said all the information from my account is accessible on my phone protected with facial recognition of course at this point. I think it's just had it because my mom told me it was something I'm supposed to do. What do you guys think is balancing a checkbook extol necessary today or is my sister right again for calling me the youngest old man on the planet? Thanks for all your advice on the podcast this year. It's really given me the push needed to to get my finances in order for now and in the future all right matt. Thanks so much for the question and guess what your sister is right. You are the youngest old man but your mom's also right when she said that. This is something that you need to be doing. She's right though twenty years ago. Here we're going to dive into the history right like what was the original purpose of having that checkbook. You know that sheet where you could write out your transaction but back in the day before folks had instant access to the transactions in their checking accounts the APPS and online banking. They had to wait until their monthly statements that were mailed to them to see how much money that they had left in the bank. Right and so if you wanted to write a check and make sure that it didn't bounce you needed to have a running record of all of your deposits and all of your withdrawals or your checks so keeping up with your checkbook ledger. That was really important in order to have that that latest up-to-date information but you can get that up to date latest information at the touch of your fingertip right now. I mean Matt mentioned that through Apps on your phone so these days keeping that Leger updated is really redundancy since you can just use your phone and immediately see how much money is in your account and hopefully most of us are using credit cards. Instead of checks we're using them responsibly. Because they offer additional benefits and protections met. We talked about that recently on the show. Yeah and we've actually got some great articles on the site regarding credit cards and how we would recommend in for folks to use them. Yeah be sure to check those out in the show notes. Yeah but basically it's best to go with another method of tracking your expenses and not your Checkbook Ledger and meant or y nab or using just excel spreadsheet our favorite ways to go about aggregating that information your income and your outgoing from bank accounts and credit cards. Yeah those it's a great apps and you'll appreciate the nod to excel because you know that's how I roll. I'm old school like mad as well and I like to rock the excel. I gotTA keep the nerds in mind like my best buddy. I appreciate we share that. And so whether you're using a more automated APP like mints or like why Nab. Or if you're mainly reconciling your statements and excel or even Google sheets. You Still Lewanda. Check your statements against your receipts against your actual deposits withdrawals and your payments and the reason for this is because you want to keep an eye out for errors there. Sometimes the banks make sometimes airs that merchants will make sometimes they. They'll double dip your credit card and so you'll get that identical charge won't always be noticed by your credit card company but more often the not its errors that we make so being able to check that and to keep an eye on our spending well. That's a great reason to look at the statements and also when you're looking at how you recently we spent your money it's easier to course correct if you are spending too much you can look at what you're spending your money on and ask yourself. Does this get me closer to the financial goals that I set for myself Joel recently on automating your finances. That's one of the downsides that we had listed out for automating your money if you are not looking at what you're spending your money on what's hard to recognize poor spending behavior and some of the bad habits that we can subtly develop over time. Yeah for sure and I think another big thing that Matt needs to consider when he's deciding whether or not to ditch the checkbook and stop carrying it around with him is the security factor. That's like a really important thing mentioned that the Info on his phone is actually safer than the checkbook and he's right because facial recognition right facial recognition fingerprints you know special zigzag codes that you can create like they're all these ways that you can lock down your phone and prevent people from opening it and logging into your counts but if you drop your checkbook or somebody reaches into a purse or handbag or backpack and they grab your checkbook. Well they've got access to your routing number and your account number and they could also go round writing checks if they were you. I'm pretty nervous to carry around a checkbook. I have one but I keep it at home because I honestly never. You really need to write checks but I understand that Matt's doing it for the ledger purpose but instead I think one other thing to do is to hold onto the receipts from purchases that you've made and to when you get home home. Have some sort of a ledger that you keep an right in that. If it's important for you to write those things down and I know that it can be for some people. Mindy one of our friends that we had recently on the PODCASTS Asmat. She didn't mention it in that episode. We didn't talk about it but she has a ledger that she keeps on her kitchen counter. And so what she does. She hangs onto a receipts from the purchases. This is that she's made that day whether if she went out to eat or something like that or bought something for herself. She writes those by hand into a ledger and for her. That's what feels best so I think if if that is important to keep something physical handwritten you can do that but carrying your checkbook around with you just poses too much of a security threat. I'd be very nervous to do that. Yeah and also something else too to is. Another argument for having an emergency fund is not having to constantly check your balances whether it be in your checking account or even on your credit card right like if you are spending raining so much that you're right up to that limit that's not the kind of place you want to be in and when it comes to your checking account if you are riding the line so close that you may not have enough money to swipe your card. Well that's not the position you want to be in so having an emergency fund having some margin built into your checking account can alleviate a lot of that stress of having your car declined and that means you can reconcile your accounts once a month. You don't need to do it every single day. Right exactly something that can just be out of your normal flow of how you handle your finances you really only have to think about it. Once once a month and one of the recommendation we would have for us to check out the APP dollar bird if you love that feeling of manually updating what you're spending and seeing it in real time I mean I think dollar burdekin provide ride some of those benefits. It's a really cool APP that allows you to input those expenses as you make them and it's also a bit safer carrying that checkbook around with you all the time. It's a good way to update that practice. Practice that habit into an APP really easy to use. So we've got a couple more questions that we're GONNA get to after the break. We're GONNA talk about car insurance and also going to take a question from someone who's considering buying a primary Mary home or maybe buying an investment property instead. The New Year is about growth breath and change. Joel you and I neither of us are really into New Year's resolutions but we are always looking for ways to improve how we handle our money and it's also important to grow as an individual as well if you're a business owner looking to grow your business linked in can help you find the right hires that can set you up for a strong year. Yes so many people are already on Lincoln and and the interface makes it easy for those folks to find your job listing Lincoln job screens candidates with the hard and soft skills. You're looking for so you can hire the right right person fast. Things like collaboration. Creativity and adaptability linked in looks beyond the work skills and put your job post in front of qualified candidates who match watch your business requirements perfectly. It's no wonder a person is hired every eight seconds with linked in find the right person for your business today with Lincoln jobs. You can pay what she want and get the first fifty dollars off just visit linked and dot com slash. HTM again that's linked dot com slash. HTM to get fifty dollars off your first job post terms and conditions apply back in the break and let's get to our next question it involves alls paying a lot of money for something. You're not receiving a lot of benefit from Joel name is Kim. And I'm from Minnesota. I have car insurance question. I I have to college aged daughters. Who Live about thirty minutes from Homa? They both Sherry vehicle which stays at home and they do not have at at school. One daughter comes home about one to two days every month or two some very limited. When she is home she will drive? Dr The other daughter almost never comes home. I wanted to find out from my insurance. If there was a discount due to their very limited amount of driving now there was nothing they could offer me because they went to school to close to our home. My question is are there any other options for me other than totally canceling their coverage. And maybe only getting it during the summertime. That would maybe work work. I could probably make my car available in most instances for my daughter when she came home to visit. I pay about a thousand dollars a year. You're to cover their car and that's just a lot of money. If they very seldomly use it I would appreciate any thoughts. You have on invest. Thank you Kim. Thanks so much for the question I was about to say. I feel your pain but I don't feel your pain but I might feel your pain and someday I just realized that I'm GonNa have four kids. That are teenagers at some point where I will likely be paying or contributing towards their car insurance. Joel that makes me a a little scared. Don't saving now buddy a lot of money right but came as a good question and it is a tough one actually. I was surprised when she said only a thousand bucks which is not too bad for from everything. I've read all the stats. I've seen. That seems kind of low although it is still a lot of money thousand bucks and so any way that we can help Kim figure out how to save that thousand bucks. We want to do it right. Yeah that's right and and so Kim. The first sort of option that we want to cover here is how you can. Maybe keep your daughter's on your insurance but the possible discounts that we can get for you right so you said that your current provider that they do not offer any sort of discount with your daughter is being off at school. That's a bummer. It's true that a lot of insurers require the kids to live at least one hundred miles away in order for them to qualify for the away at school discount. And so for you. It's definitely worth it to shop your coverage around and see if there might the provider who does offer a discount given their limited usage even though they only live about thirty minutes away and also make sure that you are asking for a discount for good grades. Typically your kids only need to have a B. average or better and they don't even need to have a b. average or better continuously can even only be for a single semester in order for that to register and free to lock in those low rates and ditching. Your current insure altogether in favor of another one that is willing to provide you more discounts in a better overall rate. That's definitely worth considering. But if you really want to keep your current insurance and that might be the best way to go. We'll see in my mind. I would look at the bottom line. But if you're wanting to stay with your current insurance provider and that might be the best way to go ultimately we'll see but be sure to ask your agent or that company about all of the available discounts. They offer for example. If your kids were willing to take a safe driving course that would potentially drastically lower the rate that you pay you know this from personal experience role. Yeah man so I actually went to. AARP's website website. Even though. I'm not a senior citizen. AARP offers a defensive driving course and it's totally online which is nice because oftentimes you have to go into a place to actually take the course horse and it's like a Saturday morning kind of thing. Yeah I didn't really want to do that but if I can do it online and it was easy. I'm totally in. Did you also have to lie about your age. I didn't I didn't it's available able to anybody mine. Sure has taken to make sure we're covering our butts and saved a lot of money over the years just having essentially taking the couple of hours to do that course so I would recommend that. Also make sure you're asking your agent or insurance company about other more traditional methods that could help you save even more on your insurance like Princeton's or your kids driving in inexpensive car if it's a more expensive newer vehicle then you're gonNA pay more consideration near deductibles and if it's a really really old car which we would suggest for newer younger drivers. Well consider cutting collision and comprehensive altogether. Because that's going to save you more money on your insurance and then the other option you're considering there is to potentially totally cancel so your coverage and only have it during the summer when they might be at home and so. This is assuming that you'd sell that extra car. Since you mentioned making your car available to your daughters if your girls were driving your car and not one that was specifically there then you might be able to take them off your insurance altogether you just remove them and in this case as you would need to fire up that coverage that insurance during the summers at all and this is because insurance typically follows the car not the driver so for example. If you have a a friend come over and they drive your car and you guys go to the store or something like that well. That friend is covered under the insurance. That you have on your vehicle and so the same thing might be true of your daughters. I think it's also important consideration. How little your daughter's driving that There are some alternatives that they could potentially take part of that would mean. They don't have to drive a car car when they're home. Visiting there are potentially other options for them to get around. And I'm thinking first and foremost ridesharing if they get lift ruber and maybe win their home. They're taking fifteen or twenty one eighty dollar ride here or there then. I think I could save you money when you're talking about a thousand dollars a year for how much you're paying for insurance that can get expensive right ridesharing but would it be more or than the crazy monthly cost of the car insurance for your college age. Kids probably not and they could also use your car like Matt. Kinda just mentioned friends could pick them up. They could ride a bike a little bit more. I mean there's all sorts of ways. Depending on the distance traveling. A bike might be in order for where they're going or using public transit in one of the few cities that has a decent system there are all sorts of other ways that you could kind of tackle this problem as opposed to just going the traditional route of having them on your insurance when they so rarely use your car. Yes so in this case ace. You're saving money because you're not paying for insurance costs but you're also saving money because you no longer have a depreciating asset. I'm thinking about that extra car that hardly ever gets US Rachel however one other thing to keep in mind if you did remove your daughters from your insurance is that if and when the time comes for them to be insured again their rates might be be more expensive in some providers won't even reinstate the policy if there's a lapse in coverage but here's the thing is that on average not a crazy expensive increase. We're only talking about an additional two hundred dollars annually. which isn't a ton of money considering that you would be able to save at least a thousand dollars every single year and so again? This is something that might be specific to your individual carrier. So make sure you're asking the right questions. Make sure that you're asking these questions as well when you're shopping your coverage around. Yeah I mean every insurer is a little but different in how they handle these sorts of things in every insurer has a different algorithm for instance I might get the best rate with liberty mutual. You might get the best rate with state farm or USA like who who knows really are individual circumstances. Play a big part in what we're quoted for Car Insurance and home insurance shopping around with different providers is just a smart way to go so I think that's a really big recommendation for Kim shop with three or four or five providers. Use a service like policy genius to help you. Shop that rate ultimately changing insurance might be the best route it might not. But you don't know until you shop. Yeah shop until you drop but this is the shopping all right. We've got another question and this one is from a listener that is considering buying some real estate. My name is seth calling from the DC area. Hello Gentlemen first of all really appreciate the podcast listening since the beginning also happen to maybe a certified sommelier so when I hear you guys reviewing Your Beers and everything definitely brings me back to my wine days which I really appreciate as well. The reason I'm sending in this question is because my wife and I have saved up enough money to buy a house but we were contemplating the possibility maybe getting investment property or two instead of buying a house we live in the DC area and to get a decent house in this area. We're talking at least four hundred thousand dollars. Alternatively we could get a couple townhouses for that much and rent them out out and stuff like that we would probably use a rental property management company. Pay Them ten percent. They manage all that. I work a lot my wife. Life is a stay at home moms. We wouldn't have a whole lot of time to handle a lot of the INS and outs. But I also worked for a home improvement company so windows and doors and gutters. Here's and roofs and stuff like that citing actually get at a pretty awesome discount so any type of rehab that would need to be done out definitely ought to get a little bit it less expensively I just wanted to get your thoughts on whether or not it would be more beneficial for us is buy a house live in it pay for it. Enjoy having some extra space to be honest honest with you but at the same time may be better just to stay in our comfortable building where we have utilities paid for parking garage and concierge and a pool and a gym Cam and all that stuff and then get some cash flow if we were to go the route of getting a couple investment properties as opposed to getting a house for ourselves. And that's pretty much. What's up? Take it very much seth. That's a great question. I love that our show brings you back to your SOM- days. That's that's one of my favorite documentaries on Netflix. And that's a real documentary. We actually recently. That was the last episode. We talked about the mockumentary. The different mockumentary is out there. We're on a documentary kit. 'cause we talked about king of Kong which is a real documentary and now we're talking about about SOM- which by the way impress me. When I watched that how much these guys can no winds? Yeah we like beer board complete noobs when we compare ourselves to those guys. Yeah when Seth here's talking about beer here he's probably like those guys are idiots tastes good taste. Buds are completely busted. What they're saying they might be? They might be. But hopefully our advice vice for seth isn't busted. I think we've got some help with. That's where you hear seth I mean first congrats on saving up so much money in. DC Man's kind of an expensive market to be buying real estate in so if you can afford to buy their it. Sounds like a really good job saving for the future and for potential big purchase. Like this. Yeah Nice Work Seth so first off. Let's talk about the money right. If we're only talking about dollars and cents. This can essentially be simple question of math right on one hand. You'll continue to pay rents. But you'll have the cash slow from rental properties which can be a helpful additional source of income and it can allow. I increased flexibility in the future on the other hand though you're trading in your rent four mortgage but you've also got no cash flow in both cases you'll have paid off property eventually and so you just need to ask yourself like what do those numbers look like. Hopefully with that information you can make an informed decision but the problem is you're not GonNa know what house could potentially be worth down the road. You're not going to know what some townhouses could potentially. It'll be worth down the road as well. It's not as cut and dry as I'm making it sound so really a question like this encompasses so much more than just the money. Yeah really met so much becomes Lifestyle factor the. Seth mentioned enjoying the extra space. That's a huge factor to consider in this whole thing and like for example Matt we for the longest time in our house which is kind kind of set up like a duplex but it also converts incredibly easily into a single family home. We've rented out the back of our house for four and a half years. It was great and we knew when we bought it that. That's what we wanted to do you with the property but once we had baby number three we decided you know what it's time for us to take over the whole house and so there was a lot of flexibility there but that wasn't a money decision fission because we're losing money when we took over the whole house we're losing the income from our tenant. That was a lifestyle decision that we had to make. And so I think for seth here he really he and his wife need the sit down and they need to think about what they want their lifestyle look like do they want increased cash flow now to stay in that department with the gym or the gym and the pool and the concierge like nice benefits. Me Wonder like why. Don't I live in an apartment right. Yeah it's super sweet and if you're not into leave if it's a good fit for you guys for the foreseeable future future. Then maybe it makes sense last wise to buy some rental properties but if you guys are looking to settle down and have a place of your own I mean that question goes beyond just money that it really comes down to what you want your life to look like and the great thing is is that you've set yourself up for the ability to go either route based on the kind of dedication that you've put into saving money. Yes Sir Seth for you and your wife what we'd recommend is to go ahead and just honestly make a list of pros and cons and see which ones stand out to you. Which of these benefits mean the the most you and hopefully you can make your decision based on that but the other thing to consider too is sort of what Joe was saying? If you want the best of both worlds maybe looked to house hacking. Instead of buying a single family home instead look to multifamily either look at a duplex or triplex or even a quad plex. That might be a way for you to get the additional space. But at the same time you had Bilton Reynolds's Rosiak Bilton investment properties as well for a lot of people. This is a fantastic way to build an incredible amount of wealth over a short period of time but again it's not all of the money right like we're talking about lifestyle thing back because one of the things you mentioned is that you don't WanNa be landlord doesn't sound like you want to be actively managing these properties and if you're looking at a multi family well guess what it makes a lot of sense to manage those properties yourself because you live on the main floor and they live on the lower floors or you live next door that sort of thing and so keep that in mind. If that's not something you want to do well something you should consider. It's definitely a question that goes beyond just the money. Those are some of my favorite questions. Think about Matt. I love because money. You have to really wrestle with. Yeah Yeah and like it's not one size fits all like we've all got different goals. We've all got different hopes and dreams and some of US WANNA become landlords and some of us. Don't find that to be a big deal. I'm sure lots of folks listening are never going to do that. And so yeah it's kind of a choose your own adventure thing. And I think seth he's on the right path and best of luck. Seth and making a great decision that works for you and your family are Matt. Let's get to a couple more questions including one about. ID theft insurance. We'll get to that right after the break in this episode is brought to you by office. Depot Office depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size. I speak to this personally as a college student when I was a business. The size of one office depot provides twenty four seven tech support for it. Lets you print your own marketing materials and it can help you design your office with a bunch of furniture solutions. They also have exactly lead the supplies. Your office needs from Your Home Office to a commercial setup. They've got the ink. They've got the paper they've got the cleaning. They've got the break room supplies. So when I was setting up my Home Office I went straight to office depot because I had a ton of stuff I needed to get and I wanted to get it all in one place but don't take my word for it see for yourself. Office depot is ready to help your business with knowledgeable associates over one thousand three hundred stores or online online at office depot dot com back from the break. We've got a couple more questions and let's hear from a listener. Who might be concerned about identity theft high Matin? Joel this is cat from Milwaukee. My question is about identity theft insurance if you think it's necessary if if you recommend any particular companies at anything else worth considering thanks for everything you do to make finance and approachable topic and empowering your listeners. Cat Hat Greek question. Thanks so much. For listening and theft protection it's definitely something has been marketed. Heavily over the last decade because data breaches have become more and more common right. I mean obviously the Equifax is kind of the biggest one that we all can pinpoint. I'm sure but many of us are encountering breach fatigue. Because we hear about a new one every week there's a gal who wanted me there are breaches. Yeah all over the place. There's small hospital systems. I mean it's just our information it feels like it's out there and it's hard to know what to do about it. I pretty much resigned myself off knowing that my social out there I feel like I can just wait and see it on the show right to eight nine seven three. I'm going to resume aren't even my digits. Oh Okay I wish I knew your social say you're saying that is something you would do you totally put my number out there just to mess with me and that's exactly what. Actually the CEO of lifelock did right. Do you remember those. Oh Yeah Yeah. Yeah so lifelock. Is the place that most people turn. It's the most recognizable name in the Biz. But they want to charge you for credit monitoring and we're not offense that because there are great free options out there so don't go with the big guy don't go with the expensive credit monitoring option. Go with a great free version instead cap. That's what we would say back. Yes there are a couple free things that you can do that you can do yourself first of all you can monitor your own credit. We are fans of credit. Karma's free free service for this. You can create an account there easily and they will monitor your credit. They will let you know if they see anything. Weird the super easy to do second. You can freeze your credit this. This is now free thankfully with each of the three major credit bureaus. I think it used to cost like like fifteen bucks or ten bucks every time you wanted to freeze on freeze your credit state. It was state specific for the longest time so some states had made laws that made it free and other states. It was ten bucks exactly per bureau every time three well. Here's the thing though. It doesn't matter anymore because it's completely employee free and it's super easy while Joel to unfreeze your credit actually. I did a little exercise before. We sat down to record this episode but I sat down. I hit the stop. Watch on my phone and logged into all three bureaus to see how long it would take me to unfreeze my credit. We really should have gotten on video. Just would have been sitting at the computer. I wash it intently. No joke it took me less than three minutes to unfreeze my credit on all three bureaus nice three bureaus three minutes to me. That is a very small price to pay into know that your credit is completely locked down. Yeah and it's free and that's ultimately what we want. We want the thing that's going to offer to most protection for the lowest price and and credit freeze is exactly that option it. It locks down your credit so that no one can open credit as if they were you and cost zero dollars. So that's a slam dunk. We would say freeze your credit credit with all three bureaus hold onto those passwords. And then throw your credit anytime you need access to it. Should we come up with with the saying like free three three so it's free three minutes three bureaus. ooh I like it for free for three something like that something like that. Maybe next time we talk about this we can have a catchier slogan. Catch your slogans needed. Because that wasn't great I I try and met one other thing. I think we should mention because when Kate was mentioning it made me kind of think of what small businesses have to endure when it comes to potential identity theft or cyber eber hacking malware ransomware. That's something that's becoming more and more common to and for folks that do own a small business looking into cyber liability coverage might make some sense. There's been a proliferation. In small businesses being attacked and then having to pay money to get their systems restored that can be a huge pain and it can cost a small business tens or or potentially even hundreds of thousands of dollars so cyber liability coverage is something that they should seriously consider as well. It's something like that could cover claims for lost income while you're under attack or the cost to replace valuable data if your if your site was wiped out or your databases all that nerdy website stuff. So yeah definitely something to consider if you're a small small business and you are handling sensitive customer information over the web and if you're online presence is an important part of generating revenue no doubt all right cat will hope that helps pre free resources for you get going on that and lock down your identity. Are Matt let's get to the next one. It's time to talk more small business and how a small business can help their employees save for retirement. Hey this is Josh. From Thousand Oaks California. I'm a small to medium sized business owner and have about seventy employees. I want to offer a retirement option for those is that would like to contribute because of the amount of employees I have. It looks like I have to go with a simple. IRA or a 401K. There is a chance I could grow to over one hundred employees in the next few years which would then leave me with only four one K.. Option from what I have read should I pursue a simple IRA for now until I have too many employees for that or go ahead and do the 401K 401k. Secondly I've been researching the retirement options with vanguard and have had my personal. IRA account with them for years. But I also have a personal. CPA who is a registered Richard Agent with American funds. There is a fee load on his plan but he also will do all the work for me after the account he will set it up. Make the monthly deposits meet with my employees employees about investing and provide compliance notices. How much work am I saving by paying? The percentage fees is the process. Really very simple and not worth paying some I wanted to do it. Is there an easy way to estimate the total cost over the life of the plan to determine how much my employees and I would really be paying. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Aw Oh that's a great question. Josh by the way. That voice sounds familiar. Yeah it's worth mentioning. This is the same Josh who donated the beer to this episode as well as last week's episodes as well so josh thank you so much and yet normally met with good friends. I'm happy to help him out into their question in any way former fashion just on the phone. Whatever via text like we? We talk about money with our friends all the time but josh wanted to submit this for the show and I think in large part because his question in the answer can help other people. There are a lot of small businesses trying to figure about how they tackle retirement accounts for their employees. And so yeah. Let's get into it. Josh we totally understand why you're interested in a simple IRA. They're not complicated. And all and they are more affordable than going with traditional 401k provider. And we think if you were to start a simple plan with a company like fidelity that'd be a great option but because you're getting close to that hundred employees threshold and you might have to go with a 401k. In the future we think it makes sense to start going in that direction now because that game is completely changed and there are some awesome companies out there providing small business 401k plans that are really simple an incredibly affordable Joel. We'll get to those companies here in a bit but Josh we would recommend for you to definitely consider the 401k for your employees especially since it is likely going to be your only option in the near future assuming being that you're gonNA continue to grow you want to be locked into something that is going to limit your ability to take care of your employees and you mentioned vanguard while vanguard is great but they're not necessarily necessarily the best for small businesses they just aren't built to cater to small businesses. So the fees that you're GONNA pay as a small business will likely take them out of the running. This is the one place where vanguard is going to be too expensive. I know man. They're so good in so many area everywhere else but not here just not great at small business. Retirement accounts are in. Let's talk about fees as well on another level Joshu specifically asked about your CPA. And whether he should be handling this for you man I truly think oh you should avoid the fees and you should diy. I mean you're listening to a personal finance podcast and you're asking the right questions so this is something we believe that you can handle yourself like you mentioned. Fees fees can have a massive impact on retirement. Your employees will experience so keeping fees. Low is huge in helping them achieve financial independence sooner and we're talking segment fees on both sides of the ledger. Because you're going to be paying bigger fees. In order to get this plan set up your employees will your employees are going to have far more expensive fund fund options and so that's going to inhibit the ability of their retirement accounts to grow like they should be growing. So yeah we would say this is something you can. DIY and there are companies out there. Now they can help you do just that. Yeah exactly Joel up until now typically Josh. You've only had expensive options available to you. But that has changed in the last few years there are companies out there like it's and guideline both of them can help you to provide a low cost. 401K option to your employees. Look into both of them. So then you can compare apples to apples on what costs that you will incur. Typically there is a flat on boarding rate. There's a flat monthly rate. And then there's a dollar amount going to cost you monthly per employee. All those costs added up. Might seem a little bit. Daunting like something that you may not really WANNA consider but starting a 401k and hopefully your ability to provide a match that is going to help your ability to hire great employees. It's also incentivize. Those awesome folks. Who are there with you to stay? Yeah I think better Minton guideline are both great wants to consider I'm particularly interested in guideline these. You're talking about them a lot. Their pricing is so good and also so you can schedule a free thirty minute intro. Call with them so I think if you're nervous if you have questions if you want to get the the rundown of how it all works an intro call with the folks over there. Can we know what you're getting into before you sign on the dotted line and can get the ball rolling. But I love what they've been able to do in helping small business owners set up a retirement plan for their employees and guidelines awesome because they offer vanguard funds almost all the funds we offer our vanguard funds and they also have Josh these six Pacific portfolios that range from aggressive to not not aggressive so if your employees aren't really sure what they should be investing in those premade investing options can kind of make it easier for the folks that are working for you if they I don't have a whole lot of investing knowledge. It can help them make the right decision so that they don't have to become investing wizards and they don't have to know a whole lot. They have a couple things laid out in front of them that that are super low cost that can cater to them wherever they're at in their life so yeah I'm a big fan of guideline I love what they're doing. Yes thirty five different funds that you can choose from overwhelming overwhelming. Yeah that are very clearly explained in labeled man that's totally comforting and low cost to boot. Yeah so again Josh. This is for you specifically but everyone else out there who has ask fewer than one hundred employees and who are not looking to hire more folks a simple. IRA is a great option for those folks but if it's a small business owner who is looking to have at at least one hundred if not more than certainly look into some of these new companies like betterment and especially guideline Yeah Matt I think more important thing to mention is there's a new law it took effect at the end of last year. That can actually really help Josh. Get kickstarted in this endeavor. And it's called the secure act and it did a lot of things. It was overhaul of our retirement system. Certain extended chase a few rules around when people tap their retirement accounts. How five twenty nine accounts are handled? But one of the biggest things was it helps small business owners be able to start a retirement account for their employees boys and the coolest part of this. The really needs to know is there's a tax credit to help with startup costs of this retirement account. So if he's worried about the cost of he's going to incur as he sets this up. Well there's a tax credit available to him because of the secure act up to five thousand bucks so yeah that's just another great reason to get started rated. There are low cost companies out there and you know what in all likelihood that tax credit is going to absorb pretty much all the startup costs. You'RE GONNA anchor tax credits. My favorite I think one of the few things I like more than tax credits Joel are craft beer. And so I think it's only appropriate and fitting that we were able to enjoy one of Josh's beers that he donated to the show while all at the same time answering his question. I agree so Joel. This episode we had aggress tick. What were your thoughts on the Spearman? Yeah this was a great wild Ale from Firestone Walker out in California where Josh lives and this was really really good. Do this had a lot of Nice oak notes. And also I think the predominant flavor I got was like Meyer Lemon had a lot of like lemon zest coming through but it was really bright. Those Meyer Lemons man. I just had those recently for the first time. They're these beautiful lemons that just tastes completely different than a regular Leno. The grocery store the case obsessed like anytime it's Mirela season everything has Marlin look. I'm on like some salmon that we cook the other night and it was delicious. It was like ten times better than a regular lemon and so yeah this kind of had that shining through it was really really tasty. I love kind of that lemon sour combined with kind of those rich oak notes. It was a great beer. I mean I'm with you I think for for me. That's one of the things I love. Most about. American Wild Ales is the acidity. They're so bright they're so acidic and this one in particular had a lot a funky notes as well you can definitely taste different barrels at this beer was aged in on the on the label. It said it's aged between twelve and fifteen months in different barrels man. You could one hundred hundred percent so it kind of had that Funky nece but without going over the top and becoming a farmhouse Ale it's still was able to maintain its rich American Wild Ale heritage wjr but I really enjoyed this. One is a radio so it's kind of reminiscent of Flanders Red as well. I'm not sure if that's just in the name I see the red there and and it's acidic and so I immediately think think of like Rosenbach or some of those other flavors reds that are out there but knowing that I really do enjoy those styles as well. I really enjoy this one. Yeah those beers come from a region in Belgium that is known for making these incredibly beautiful beers very complex but also highly acidic just like this one so yeah really really good beer. Thanks again to our good Buddy Josh for sending in his question and for donating beer as well and let's not forget our book away from last week our guest Mindy Jensen. She was kind enough to give away ten copies of her book. How to sell so your home? The essential guide to a fast stress-free and profitable sale are winners are Jima. Seventy Double O.. Rien or double zero so Ryan. I should say many of the mailman curls and e one dripping with Kids Mia oh three will maistre frugal crafter after dancing. Queen Abba and t-bird if I said you're screening will be reaching out to you shortly to find out where to send your copy of the book amount. Yeah Matt that's going to do it for this episode. We'll have Charlotte's up on our website at how to money dot com. Yeah in the show notes will also include some links to the different credit bureaus where you can go directly to freeze your credit and also if you're listening to the show and you haven't given us a review yet. We would be incredibly thankful if you were to do that. Helps us to get the word out. Helps new folks to find the show. Just head to apple podcasts. PODCAST or wherever it is that you listen to your podcasts. And while you're there make sure that you hit subscribe as well so joe that's going to be at Man until next time best friends out. Best turns out travel is awesome and taking that trip is even better if you can use credit card points instead of your or hard earned dollars and if you WANNA learn more about how to do that check out talking points. It's a new podcast from the points guy and you can find out more at the point sky dot com slash money each week the og point guy and podcast host. Brian Kelly talks with industry executives from top travel brands as well as travel influencers. Like the ones who've been to every country in the world including both the North and South Poles. That's a lot of travel talking. Points is a podcast for the savvy. Curious and smart traveler head to the point sky dot com slash. Money Subscribe and listen now.

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