Category Archives: On OneChristianVoice.com

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 Surprising Things You Can Expect from a Christian Writers Conference

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The following article was first published on TallyChristianVoice.com, a subsidiary of OneChristianVoice.com. Check them out for faith-based news and lifestyle articles that affect you.


Have you ever had a moment when you knew, with utter clarity, that God was speaking to you?

I had one of those moments in January 2015. I had just finished reading an encouraging email from a Christian blog when I heard God say these words: “I’m going to send you somewhere…and you’re going to go.”

I was so excited! Although I had often dreamed of doing missions work, God had never sent me anywhere before. Figuring He would reveal the details over time, I replied simply, “Okay, Lord. Just let me know where.”

Then I flipped over to Facebook and saw the latest post from Todd Starnes, a writer and journalist with FoxNews. In his feed, he announced that he would be the keynote speaker at the Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC) the following month. “I hope to see you there,” he wrote.

So this was where God was sending me! I showed the post to my husband and said, “I think I need to go to this writers conference.” Being the super-supportive guy that he is, he said, “Okay. What’s a writers conference?”

“Um…I’m not really sure.”

 

What to Expect

I had no idea what I was getting into. After weeks of research and preparation, I still felt totally unprepared that week. The good news is that it didn’t matter; I was in the right place at the right time. God used that conference, and the ones to follow, to open doors I had never imagined for myself.

I got to meet Todd Starnes in 2015!

The sad truth is that I would have missed out on all of it if God had not spoken directly to me. Without such clear conviction, I would have drummed up a hundred reasons not to go to that conference, most of which would have centered around my inexperience and fear of failure.

If you’re a writer, you may be mulling over reasons to skip that writers conference. Perhaps you could use the money for something else, or you think you’re doing fine on your own. Or maybe you’re justifying your fear by saying that you need more time to work on your writing project, or you’ll be more prepared next year.

As someone who has now attended three conferences and will be attending two more this year, I can tell you that there’s nothing more beneficial to a writer than going to a conference. To help you understand the benefits, I’ve pulled together this list of four surprising things you can expect to find at a Christian writers conference.

1 – Community

I have a background in business, so I assumed the conferees would act like businessmen and treat each other as competition. Instead, everyone—every single person I met—was excited to share their book ideas, freely dispensed words of experience and advice, and genuinely wanted to help me succeed.

I’ve learned that this camaraderie is a hallmark of the Christian writing world. Since we are Christians first and writers second, we believe we have a responsibility to bless other writers as well as our audience. This community readily accepted me—a wanna-be-writer with no blog or platform—and has supported me in many ways over the years.

2 – Encouragement

If your mom likes your writing, that’s nice. If an award-winning author likes your writing, it’s awesome! I had the opportunity to share my ideas with people who knew the industry, the trade, and the genre I was writing in, and I was immensely grateful for their feedback. Even constructive criticism was music to my ears because it helped me grow as a writer.

After the conference, I realized that I needed year-round encouragement and accountability, so I joined an online critique group through Word Weavers International. In our monthly meetings, we pray for one another, critique each other’s writing, and encourage one another to keep working. I’m so glad the encouragement from the conference can last throughout the whole year!

3 – Education

Education is a key component of any Christian writers conference. There are usually multiple classes going on at the same time, so you can learn more about the topics that are important to you. Whether you want to dig into the craft of writing, the publishing process, or social media, there are plenty of classes to choose from.

By the end of the week, you’ll feel like you’ve been drinking from a fire hose! The good thing is that you can reference your notes and resources throughout the year.

4 – Opportunities

You may have already figured out that randomly mailing your manuscript to publishing houses probably won’t get you published. Statistically, you’re just one in hundreds of thousands of writers vying for the publisher’s attention. But at writers conferences, the editors and agents come to you!

While every conference has a different process, you can usually schedule time to meet one-on-one with editors and agents so you can pitch your book ideas. You can also sit with them during lunch and dinner, which is a great way to connect on a personal level. No other venue can give you this kind of face time with the very people you need to get published.

 

Where to Go

Maybe God hasn’t told you specifically to attend a writers conference, but has He been urging you to write? Have you felt led to document your story, write a devotional, or start a Bible study? Don’t try to write on your own! Seek the community, encouragement, education, and opportunities that only a Christian writers conference can provide.

Here are four exciting options for you to consider:

 

This year, I plan to attend FCWC, BRMCWC, and the Tallahassee Tour Stop. To quote Todd Starnes, “I hope to see you there.”

 

[Click to Tweet: There’s nothing more beneficial to a writer than going to a conference. #christianwriter #bigsisterknows @TChristianvoice @bigsistertweets]