Friday, January 23, 2009

We are wasting $3,000 a year on financial products

"Most Americans are wasting over $3,000 per year on the financial services they own." According to a new survey, we are wasting $500 on car insurance, $500 on life insurance, and $2,500 on mutual funds/securities. That could mean an extra $250,000 in 20 years! $700,000 in 30 years!
Most people I have talked to believe that you can’t have enough insurance. They don’t understand that you should insure only what you can’t afford to lose. For instance, for car and home insurance, you are better off picking a high deductible to save up to 40% of the cost of a policy. Claims are infrequent—every 11 or 12 years—so you are more than likely to earn interest on the premiums you save year after year.
Insurance is not an item our moms taught us to buy. Who wants to spend their time comparing coverages? Who wants to meet with an insurance agent? This thinking has changed. Insurance and financial services in general have become commodities, like groceries.
With the Internet and new product pricing, you can actually find a huge difference in costs. Depending on your lifestyle profile and the insurer’s marketing plan, you could pay $3600 or $1400 for the same two-vehicle coverage. The difference—$2200—could accumulate to over $150,000 in 20 years. Both insurers are highly rated and responsive.
The differences in price are significant across almost every type of coverage—life, health, long-term care, accident, disability, and excess liability. See the amount of savings by type at
The options you pick, but don’t need, can significantly change the price. For each type of insurance, you need the guidance of an unbiased advisor—someone who does not profit from your choices. There are 20 to 30 discounts available. To buy wisely, you must know what you need.
Money management is the area with the greatest savings. Many of us pay over $2,000 a year needlessly. When you read the advice of the most well- respected industry practitioners—Warren Buffett and Bill Gross—you learn that “money management is a gigantic rip-off.” There is little correlation between what you pay in commissions, fees, and spreads, and the after tax returns you end up with over time. A low-cost index fund is best for most investors, Buffett said. Thus, most of us are giving away 1%-2% of our pensions and mutual fund balances—3%-4% when inside annuities. That $2,000 drain on each $100,000 every year reduces your eventual spending power by up to $700,000.