Author Archives: Ashley L Jones

About Ashley L Jones

My heart's desire is to show people of all ages how the Bible applies to their lives. I use my Masters in Biblical Studies to dig into the Word, and I share what I've learned on my blog (BigSisterKnows.com). Check out the About section of my blog for more details. Thanks for stopping by!

10 Tips to Save Big On Your Car Insurance

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The following article was first published on OneChristianVoice.com. Check out their site for more news, entertainment, events, and inspiration.


There’s nothing like getting the keys to your first car! For most of us, it’s a huge sign of maturity as well as our ticket to freedom.

Unfortunately, schools don’t often teach teens about the cost of driving. Sure, we know that cars can be expensive to buy and maintain, which is why many of us drive beat-up jalopies until the wheels fall off—then we just put the wheels back on and keep on going. But there’s another expense: car insurance.

I have a degree in insurance and have worked in the industry for over 15 years, but even I’ve struggled to get good coverage at a good rate. Just this week, I re-quoted our policy and was surprised by the cost differences and the changes introduced by self-service online systems. I can only imagine how hard it is for teens (and even adults!) who haven’t been schooled in insurance. It’s enough to make you throw your hands up and say, “Forget it!”

But we can’t do that. Getting the car keys is only a sign of maturity because it carries responsibility. We have to take care of ourselves and others on the road, as well as the car we’re driving. Whether we like it or not, car insurance is the best way to protect our car and our cash.

So whether you’re new to the road or an experienced driver, here are my best tips to help you save money on your car insurance while getting the coverage you need.

 

Save Up Front

 

1 – Buy It

Car insurance is legally required if you own a vehicle. There are strict penalties for driving uninsured, so be sure to buy insurance!

If you’re looking to buy a car, then call around or go online for quotes first. Insurance prices are based on a lot of factors, including the value of the car, the security and safety features, and the type of car (whether it’s a sports car that you’re likely to drive fast or a station wagon to haul your drum set around). If you have a monthly budget, make sure you can afford the car payment, the insurance, and maintenance fees combined.

 

2 – Combine Forces

Companies usually offer multi-policy discounts, so if you need renters or homeowners insurance, have the company quote both policies.

Also, take advantage of discounts that are available to you through special memberships. For instance, AAA and credit unions often obtain discounted rates for certain insurance companies, but you have to be a member to qualify.

 

3 – Talk with an Agent

Agents are educated and licensed to sell insurance in your state, so they know the laws that affect you. While they actually represent the insurance companies—not you—they do have a “fiduciary responsibility” to sell you only the coverages you need, want, and can afford.

Today, you can buy insurance online by answering a few questions. However, you won’t know if you’re getting the best prices and options or if you’re missing important coverages. If you do shop around online and find a quote you like, call the company to speak with an agent. Your insurance policy is a legal contract, so be sure you understand it before you make a payment or sign on the dotted line. (If you have any questions or concerns, contact your state’s department of insurance.)

 

4 – Understand the Quote 

A quote is a cost estimate based on the details you provide. Oftentimes, companies will give you an initial quote based on a few basic facts. If you like the quote, they’ll perform a credit check and pull your claims history. After considering this information, the price (called the “premium”) can change drastically. That’s why it’s important to provide honest, accurate information up front (and another reason why you should avoid bad credit and aggressive driving).

 

5 – Careful with Payment Plans

Most companies offer a monthly payment plan, but it can be more expensive than paying it all upfront. (In one quote I received, the difference between the monthly and single-pay plans was $150!) If you can’t pay it all at once, look for a company that offers a better monthly rate.

 

6 – Watch out for Bells and Whistles

Many companies now offer special programs like accident forgiveness or new car replacement. These can be extra coverages or special tiers (or programs) that can cost you more in the long run. If you see these bells and whistles, ask for a quote without them for comparison.

 

Save Going Forward

 

7 – Watch for Your Renewal

The standard length of car insurance contracts is only six months. At the end of the policy term, the company can decide not to renew your contract or can increase your premium. That’s why it’s important that you look out for your renewal—or non-renewal—about a month prior to your policy’s expiration date. Even if your policy renews at the same rate, you may want to shop around to see if other companies can give you a better offer.

 

8 – Ask for Better Rate

Companies change their rate structures frequently, but they may not apply a reduction automatically. That’s why it’s important to call your agent (or the company directly) before each renewal and ask if there are ways to cut the cost. Be sure to report any changes that could lower your premium, such as reducing your annual mileage by working from home instead of 30 miles away. (I just saved over $400 by having my company re-quote me in a different tier with a lower annual mileage!)

 

9 – Take Care

Your car insurance policy won’t cover regular maintenance, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. In fact, the company assumes that you’ll take proper care of your vehicle. If you drive with a known maintenance issue and have an accident, it won’t be your car’s fault, it’ll be yours, and that can lead to an increase in your premium. Besides, you really don’t want to be stranded on the side of the road because you failed to change the fluids!

 

10 – Be Diligent

Accidents are expensive! Not only can there be big upfront costs, but the company can increase your premium for years by removing discounts and applying additional charges.

But accidents impact more than just wallets. According to the National Safety Council, about 100 people die every day in car crashes. When considering all crashes, up to 94% are caused by driver error. One of the biggest distractions is talking on the phone while driving. In fact, the NSC states that drivers using phones (handheld or hands-free) are four times as likely to be involved in an accident. Bottom line: if you want to save money and be safe, then keep your focus on the road.

 

It’s true that buying car insurance can be a pain, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. With these 10 tips, you can use insurance to protect your cash and your car without breaking the bank.

 

[Click to Tweet: Insurance insider shares 10 Tips to Save On Your Car Insurance. #bigsisterknows #savemoney #frugal]

To Romance Your Wife, Consider Her Love Language

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The following post was first published on OneChristianVoice.com. Check out their site for news, entertainment, events, and inspiration.


I don’t like roses. I never read romance books. And under no uncertain terms do I want anyone reading poetry to me!

According to the media and most romance movies, I am not a “romantic person.” But that’s not really true at all.

You see, my primary Love Language is Quality Time. A romantic evening to me involves hanging out with my hubby on a Friday night. I don’t need gifts or flowery speeches, just the sacrifice of his time.

In other words, my Romance Language coincides with my Love Language—and I bet the same holds true for your wife!

According to Gary Chapman, author of the hugely successful series The 5 Love Languages, all of us have a primary Love Language. When our spouses and families speak to us in this language, we hear them loud and clear, and we feel truly loved.

So if you want to introduce a little romance this Valentine’s Day (or any day for that matter), stop and consider your wife’s Love Language. Here are some suggestions.

 

Words of Affirmation –

  • Tell her you love her. If you miss this one, you’ll miss the boat entirely.
  • Tell her why you love her—and be specific.
  • Write a love letter. It doesn’t have to be long or filled with quotes or poetry. She’ll love the fact that you made the effort, no matter what you write.
  • Write a bunch of little notes (e.g. “Be Mine” and “I’m lucky to have you,”) and scatter them throughout the house. This is a great option if you’re uncomfortable writing an actual letter.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Receiving Gifts, then memorialize your love by giving her a necklace, bracelet, or wall art that tells her what she means to you. (You can find homemade, personalized gifts on Etsy.com.)

 

Acts of Service –

  • You know that honey-do list? She wrote it down for a reason. Start there.
  • Write her a coupon that entitles her to a “day off.” When she redeems it, let her put her feet up while you do all the things she would have done, from cooking dinner to doing the dishes. (Make sure you put in the same amount of work she would have. Avoid Chinese takeout and paper plates.)
  • If her secondary language is Physical Touch, then incorporate it by giving her a foot rub or a back rub…after you do the dishes.

 

Receiving Gifts –

  • Has she been dropping hints about something she wants? If it’s within reason, get it for her.
  • See if she has a “Wish List” on Amazon. You can find what she wants and order it as a surprise. She’ll think you read her mind!
  • If she mentions items she wants, write them down. She’s telling you for a reason.
  • Give her something that fits her secondary Love Language. If it’s Physical Touch, get her a spa certificate. For Quality Time, buy tickets for the two of you to see a play, watch a special movie, or see her favorite band.

 

Quality Time –

  • Dedicate a day to spend time with her. Let her pick the activity or destination. If she likes surprises, plan the whole day and let each event be a little surprise.
  • Don’t assume your time together has to be fancy to be considered “quality time.” If she’s more of a home body, or you can’t find a babysitter, order takeout from her favorite restaurant and enjoy it together while watching her favorite movie.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Physical Touch, hold her hand while you’re spending time together. If it’s Acts of Service, then spend the day helping her with whatever activity is on her to-do list, from cleaning out the garage to shopping for groceries.

 

Physical Touch –

  • Be physically affectionate. Even something as small as holding her hand can go a long way to filling her love cup.
  • Think outside the box. Consider activities that involve touching, such as going dancing. She may also appreciate different physical sensations, such as a late-night swim in the pool.
  • If her secondary Love Language is Receiving Gifts, then give her a gift certificate for a couple’s massage. If it’s Acts of Service, give her a foot rub and then paint her nails (which you’ll both find hilarious).

Being romantic with your wife is easy when you know her Love Language and you’re willing to make the effort to make her feel loved.

If you don’t know your wife’s primary Love Language, then have her take the quiz at www.5lovelanguages.com. She’ll appreciate that you want to know more about her, and you can take the quiz, as well. You can also research the latest books in the 5 Love Languages series.

You only have one wife; make sure you’re speaking her Love Language!

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Does it fit her Love Language? I’d love to hear from you!

[Click to Tweet: This Valentine’s Day, I’m considering my wife’s love language!]

[Click to Tweet: My romance language is my love language.]

4 Dating Rules I Never Learned

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No one taught me how to date. Odds are, no one’s taught you, either.

At some point, my parents deemed me old enough to hang out with friends and to have boyfriends, and that was that. (I’m pretty sure no one taught them how to date, either.)

A couple years ago, I met the award-winning author Bethany Jett. Although I was already happily married, I read her book The Cinderella Rule: A Young Woman’s Guide to Happily Ever After. I liked Bethany, but I wasn’t really expecting this book to be much different from the others that fill the market (most of which just focus on abstaining from sex before marriage). But Bethany’s book is totally different! I just wish I had read it in middle school; it could have saved me from a lot of heartache.

Since Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and we’re all inundated with romantic movies and images, I thought I’d share the most important dating lessons I never learned until I read Bethany’s book. You can find these in the “Availability” chapter under “God’s Authority.”

 

  1. Don’t Submit to Your Boyfriend

“Maneuvering the blurred roles of wife and girlfriend seem tricky, but thankfully, we have a God who laid it out for us. God gave us three commands when it comes to the men in our lives. ‘Honor your father’ (Eph. 6:2), ‘respect [your] husband’ (Eph 5:33), and ‘submit to your husband as to the Lord’ (vv. 22-24).

God never mentions your betrothed. The rules that apply to your future spouse do not apply in your dating life…. When you’re dating, you are not required to ‘submit’ to your boyfriend. Don’t do it.”

The section above may be commonsense for you, but it was news to me. I had grown up in a church in which “submission” was spoken of a lot, but no one clarified that it didn’t pertain to boyfriends.

So, if you’re dating someone now, and he wants you to follow him to another city, to get a different job, to change your friends, or even get married, guess what? You don’t have to!

[Click to Tweet: Don’t submit to your boyfriend. Leave that honor to your future husband.]

  1. Make Sure Your Boyfriend Listens to God

“A marriage is a partnership. You’re a team. So while you’re dating, you need to make sure that you trust that boy to listen to God when it comes to every decision. Because when you’re married, and he says, ‘I think God wants me to take this job 500,000 miles away from our friends and family,’ you’re gonna be faced with a choice. If you don’t trust him to be in daily communion with God, then don’t you dare agree to marry him.”

Robby and I will celebrate our seven-year wedding anniversary next month—whoop whoop!—and I can testify that what Bethany is saying is spot-on. Life is full of a million little decisions, and in marriage you have to know that your husband’s antennae is in tune with God’s frequency. (Thankfully, Robby continuously seeks God’s will for our family and future.)

[Click to Tweet: Make sure your boyfriend listens to God. If he doesn’t, then don’t marry him.]

  1. Don’t Give Your Boyfriend Unlimited Access to Your Life

“Spending unlimited amounts of time with your honey is a marriage perk. Until that boy slides a wedding ring on your finger, unlimited access denied.

What does that look like? When we were dating, I didn’t have to answer Justin’s phone calls. I didn’t have to explain where I spent my money. I didn’t have to do everything with him, because we weren’t married. I don’t have to do those things now, but the accountability level has changed, and as my husband, partner, and teammate, he gets more access. Every activity, phone call, date was a choice and a privilege. I loved being with him, and I chose to share aspects of my life with him, but he wasn’t entitled to it.”

Not entitled. Let that sink in for a moment. If you have a bossy boyfriend, and he wants to know everything about your life, you do NOT have to tell him. In fact, you don’t have to continue dating him.

[Click to Tweet: Don’t give your boyfriend unlimited access to your life. That honor is reserved for your future husband.]

  1. Let Your Boyfriend Pursue You

The whole message behind The Cinderella Rule is that women are meant to be pursued by godly men in a godly way. Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:

“When you allow yourself to be pursued, you give the guy the opportunity to invest in you while you determine how much of yourself to share…. if you pursue him, you won’t ever be sure whether it’s his heart or his hormones that loves you more.”

I was smitten with Robby from the beginning, but he was careful to take the lead. He called me every day like clockwork, and if I couldn’t talk, that was fine. He wrote me letters, brought me flowers, cooked me dinner…he pursued me, and he’s still pursuing me. Bethany is right:

“When a guy sees a girl he wants, he goes after her…. I’m talking about romantic, I-can’t-get-her-out-of-my-head intensity. When a worthy guy desires you like that, girl, watch out!”

[Click to Tweet: Let your boyfriend pursue you. If you pursue him, you’ll never be sure if he loves you or lusts you.]

 

If you’re in the dating scene, take heart! I believe your guy—the one God has in mind for you—is out there. Prepare yourself now so when you meet him, you’ll be able to date in a godly way.

I highly suggest you check out Bethany’s book, The Cinderella Rule, whether it’s for yourself, a family member, or a friend. You can also follow Bethany on her website at BethanyJett.com.

 

Want a free copy of The Cinderella Rule? Be sure to enter the #publishgirlswithgusto giveaway, where one lucky winner will receive an autographed copy of this book! The drawing also includes five other books from award-winning authors, an Amazon gift card, and other prizes. Visit the Giveaway section of my Facebook Author Page to enter the drawing. (Available only within the U.S. Drawing closes on 2/28/18.)