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Guest Post Articles

Obesity Can Raise Your Health Insurance Premium

November 15, 2010 | Guest Post | Healthcare | Insurance | No Comments

This morning, my health insurance company sent me a very nice note with a very ugly truth inside: my premium went up because 55% more people in 2009 than in 2007 received surgery for obesity.

Health Insurance Premiums and Weight on the Rise

The estimated annual cost for treatment of obesity is $200 billion, but 70% of disease is preventable and 87.5% of claims made are due only to the individual’s unhealthy lifestyle choices, to include but not limited to poor diet, over eating, smoking, excessive drinking, lack of exercise, and more.  One of every five healthcare dollars are spent on treatment of diabetes.

As stated in this web site’s February 3rd post of 2009, many health insurance holders are provided insurance by their own workplace; because healthcare costs are only rising, businesses are pushing expenses toward their employees.  Even those of us who are physically fit must pay for the irresponsible lifestyles of others.  This is part of being a citizen of the United States; rather than complaining about health insurance premiums and healthcare reform (not that criticism isn’t warranted), we must ourselves take action by living more healthful lives.

A Little Known Truth About Dieting

The known tips and tricks are old and known, even trite: don’t eat fast food, don’t eat lots of sweets or salty snacks, exercise three days a week, diet, diet, diet.  How, then, is a nation so obsessed with dieting— the American diet industry makes close to $40 billion annually selling pills, foods, cookbooks, DVDs, clothing, etc—also known as the fattest nation on the planet?

The answer is more obvious than we think.

Dieting

Clinicians at eating disorder treatment centers—commonly believed to be filled only with “skinny” folk like anorexics and bulimics—know that dieting is the biggest trigger of eating disorders.  In truth, eating disorders are not limited to “skinny” diseases but include habitual overeating, stress eating, mindless eating, binge eating, and more.  These are the diseases causing our health insurance premiums to rise.  In fact, about one in two individuals enrolled in dieting programs suffer from BED, or Binge-Eating Disorder, which inevitably leads to weight gain and even, in some cases, heart disease and diabetes.

How Dieting Is Making America Fat

Here is the logic behind this paradox: If a parent tells a child to not eat a single “bad” food like a cookie, a candy cane, an ice cream cone, a donut, or a bag of chips in an entire emporium of “bad” foods, what will the child do?  Want the “bad” foods more and eventually cave in and eat all the “bad” food the child’s stomach can take.  Then, the child feels bad for disobeying his or her parents and vows to never do it again . . . until the next time he or she caves and binges on “bad” foods.  The child in this case is any dieter, the parent is society (run by the diet industry and media, hand in hand), and the emporium is any American fast food restaurant or grocery store.  We are daily surrounded by stress that makes us seek comfort food by which we are surrounded, and the more we are told by society to not eat “bad” foods, the more we want them.  Eventually, we all cave.  “For every diet, there is an equal and opposite binge,” according to Geneen Roth, a disordered eater for nearly twenty years and now a Good Housekeeping columnist and advocate of natural health and weight.

So, for the sake of our own health and the health and happiness of our wallets, let’s rethink diets and dieting and seek, instead, balance.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online degree programs and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

How Much Auto Insurance Do You Really Need?

October 25, 2010 | Guest Post | Insurance | 1 Comment

With the national uninsured rate rising at a steady pace, having adequate auto insurance coverage has become more important than ever. If you get into an accident with someone who is either underinsured or driving without insurance, you could suffer both fiscally and physically. On the other hand, you don’t want to buy too much insurance. Auto coverage isn’t cheap, and you could end up spending way more than you have to if you purchase coverage you don’t really need. The following info will help you sort through coverage options, required minimums, and recommended asset protection.

Coverage Options

Every auto insurance policy consists of a collection of coverage options that protect you from different things. You can choose to purchase all of these coverage options or a select few.

  • Liability – Liability policies cover other people’s expenses when you are at fault in an accident. There are two types of liability coverage: bodily injury liability, which pays for other people’s medical expenses, and property damage liability, which pays for damage done to the other car.
  • Personal Injury Protection – Also known as Medical Payments or Med Pay in some states, PIP covers your medical expenses regardless of fault. PIP also covers the medical expenses of your passengers. Other costs that may be covered include lost wages due to injury and funeral expenses.
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist – This type of auto insurance coverage is designed to help cover costs that may be incurred by you if you are hit or injured by someone who either has no insurance or has only minimal coverage.
  • Collision – Collision covers damage done to your car in an accident.
  • Comprehensive – Comprehensive covers costs if your car is stolen, vandalized, or damaged by something other than a traffic accident, such as fire or falling objects.

 

Required Minimums

Every state in the nation requires motorists to have liability insurance. Minimum liability limits can vary from state to state. For example, in Alaska, the minimum requirements are $50,000 of bodily injury liability for one person, $100,000 bodily injury liability for all people, and $25,000 property damage liability. In Florida, minimum requirements are much lower–$10,000 of bodily injury liability for one person, $20,000 bodily injury liability for all people, and $10,000 property damage liability.

Some states also require motorists to carry personal injury protection and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Additional requirements may also be set forth by your lender if you lease or have a current loan on your vehicle. The amount of insurance or types of coverage your lender will ask you to buy may vary but will almost always cover the actual cash value of the vehicle or the amount of the loan.

Deciding How Much Insurance to Buy

The amount of auto insurance you need is very dependent on your individual situation. First and foremost, you will need to purchase the minimum amount of insurance required by the law in your state. After doing that, you will need to decide how much your vehicle is worth and whether or not you need to protect your assets in the event of a lawsuit.

If you are driving a junky car you may be able to get by with minimum coverage. If you drive a nice car, you will want to make sure you have enough coverage to recoup the full cost of repairs or replacement of your vehicle after an accident.

You may also want to consider protecting your assets in the event of a lawsuit. The minimum amount of liability insurance required by law may not be enough to cover someone else’s medical expenses. If the accident is your fault, the injured party could come after your assets.

Many insurance experts recommend purchasing 100/300 limits of bodily injury liability for additional asset protection, but this is just a general rule of thumb. To determine your individual needs, you should calculate your net worth and make sure you are covered for an amount equal to the total value of your assets.

Guest post from Bailey Harris.

7 Ways to Save Money Using Comparison Websites

October 18, 2010 | Guest Post | Save Money | No Comments

On today’s tight budgets and busy schedules, many consumers are turning to comparison websites to help them stretch their dollar and find the products and services they are looking for at the best possible prices. Nearly anything that can be purchased can be researched on a comparison website. Below are just a few of the many hundreds of ways that using comparison websites can help you save money and obtain the best possible results from your purchase activities.

1. Purchase a computer at a great price

Comparing computer prices online is easy and fast. Many great websites offer the ability to “build” the type of computer that you want and then conduct a search to find the lowest priced computer that meets your needs and expectations.

2. Find a mortgage or home refinance loan that saves you hundreds each month

Shopping for a home loan or mortgage refinance loan? Using comparison websites that specialize in providing this service is a must if you want to find the best interest rates, the lowest overall borrowing process and the most effective customer services. Smart consumers no longer rely on their hometown bank as their sole source of financing their home mortgage needs. Using a mortgage comparison website is the most effective way to find the absolute best mortgage products.

3. Find lower cost insurance

No matter which type of insurance you seek, whether it be life, property, auto, health or another type of insurance, using a comparison website ensures that you, the consumer, will be able to find the best products for your money. Comparison websites that specialize in insurance provide you with the ability to research identical insurance coverages from several companies at one time and visually line up their price quotes next to each other on the screen so you can most easily see which company will provide you with the lowest cost product.

4. Purchase the car of your dreams at the best price

Some of the most advanced online comparison websites serve the automotive buying market. As with other types of comparison websites, these websites offer you the opportunity to ensure that you will get the lowest possible purchase price for your dream car. These websites find sales locations that have the exact vehicle you are looking for and present you with the type of information that you need to make the best purchase possible.

5. Find great travel deals

You need only look as far as one or more of the many great travel deal comparison websites to ensure that you not only get the vacation your are looking for, but that you get it at the best available prices. No matter the size or length of your trip, the location or the level of expense you are looking to incur, using a travel comparison website makes the process much easier. These types of comparison websites also provide you comparative pricing and amenity offers from multiple providers, again ensuring that you, the consumer, get a great deal for your travel dollar.

6. Purchase your home needs at the lowest possible prices

Just about any household item, be it an appliance, a furniture item, or anything else, can be compared online. Comparison websites can show you everything you need to know to make and informed purchase and to do so at a great price.

7. Find a local service provider and get the best value for your money

There are many types of comparison websites that make it easy and efficient to find a local service provider at the lowest cost. Depending on the type of service you need, it is a great idea to utilize a comparison shopping website in order to give yourself several options for having your need met, and to make sure you are able to do it at the lowest cost available. These are just a few of the ways that using comparison websites can help you save money. Not only will comparison websites provide you with great cost savings information, in many cases they will also save tons of your valuable time as you are able to make your purchase in minutes online rather than driving all over town to do the comparison shopping yourself. No matter what you are looking for, the chances that you will find it at the best possible price are greatly increased by using comparison shopping websites.

The 10 Best Jobs for College Students to Reduce Debt

October 13, 2010 | Financial Tips | Guest Post | Loans | No Comments

With tuition, books, room and board, transportation, and all the rest, the costs can really add up. Having a job during this time can help you cover some, if not all of these costs, and hopefully keep debt to a minimum. Here are some options for jobs that are often well suited to students and might offer an opportunity for employment at or near your school or maybe when you go home for the summer.

1. Bartender: Taking on the role of bartender while away at school might not be for everyone, but the money can be good and the work exciting and entertaining. Depending on the state or location in which you attend school, you may or may not have to be 21 years of age to serve alcohol. It you do end up at as a bartender, you may find that several hours of work here and there on the right days and at the right times (Friday and Saturday nights are often most busy at many bars, especially on college campuses), can have you raking in some pretty good money.

2. Waiter/Waitress: Similar to bartending, working as a waiter or waitress could have you making some serious cash while minimizing the number of hours you work. Often, the key to making good wages at this type of work (besides providing good service) again may depend upon the restaurant at which you work as well as the days and times you work.

3. Golf Course Employee: Many college campuses have golf courses in close proximity to campus and that may be associated with the school itself. Working at a golf course in a position at the pro shop or in concessions may provide a pleasant, often relatively stress free environment that might offer a lot of down time that could allow for a bit of studying. This type of work can also make for a good summer job.

4. Delivery Driver: If you have available transportation while away at school, you might consider working as a delivery driver. Depending on the type of food being delivered, you could make decent money. The downside to this type of work is that you will need reliable transportation, which will come with the usual associated costs (insurance, upkeep, etc.), and how much money you make may largely depend on current gas rates and customer tips. On the upside, there is typically a lot of this type of work in college towns during the school year.

5. Work Study Program Through School: Work study can provide a variety of roles that allow you to make money while still keeping an eye on your studies. Consider checking your school’s Internet website to search for available work study program opportunities.

6. Lifeguard: While the pay may not always be great as a lifeguard, it could make for a nice break after an exhausting school year. Depending upon the geographic location in which you attend school or live during the summer, this could be solely a summer gig, or it could be an opportunity for five or six months in a warmer climate, or even all year long if you work at an indoor pool. This job can be a great way to stay in shape and help others.

7. Coach: If you’re into sports, you might find that coaching could be a good way to earn money for school. Whether it is by way of coaching baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming, etc., there could be a variety of options that might meet with a sport skill that you have.

8. Summer House Manager: If you are a member of a fraternity, being the summer house manager (if your house remains open over the summer) could be a great way to live rent free or receive discounted rent over the summer. You might serve as the summer caretaker with duties involving tasks such as cleaning, cutting the grass, general maintenance and repairs, and similar activities.

9. Internship: While an internship might not make you much money toward paying down college related debt, it could help you earn at least a few bucks. More importantly, if you can get an internship related to your degree work, it could provide valuable experience for getting a better paying job after school that could help you pay off your school related debt more quickly.

10. Zoo: The zoo can be a fun and relaxing environment in which to work during school. This work however may be seasonal, and more zoo positions may open up as summer nears and the zoo heads into its peak season.

Tom Becker works at Money Choices, a comparison service where you can compare savings accounts and keep track of interest rates.

Be Skeptical, Scammers Prey on the Unsuspecting and Educated

September 8, 2010 | Financial Tips | Guest Post | No Comments

In these difficult economic times, it is easy to let our guard down and accept for the moment that an unsolicited offer promising easy wealth at little risk may be the answer to our daily prayers.  However, the preponderance of scams in the marketplace suggests that the latest get-rich scheme has only the swindler in mind when it comes to filling his wallet with the content of yours.

None of us ever expects to be the victim of a cleverly designed con.  That kind of thing is reserved for the movie theater that “cons” us out of money for overpriced tickets and popcorn.  Department of Justice studies also point out that those of us with either a little or a lot of education are also the ones that are most often defrauded.  We all must be ever vigilant and alert to fend off these thieves.  Healthy skepticism is a must if we are to protect ourselves from the criminal element in our society and the scams they promote.

The Internet has been the great facilitator of our age, enabling online shopping and commerce to flow, while providing additional opportunities to earn and work from the convenience of our own homes.  Trust is often too easily given where anonymity is the name of the game and business partners never have to reveal their true identities.

While much has been done to police the Internet for commercial and investment fraud, the long arm of the law still has difficulty reaching across borders to stop a crook.  One must remember that a “.com” address does not mean that they are located in the United States and therefore subject to our laws.  Many of the online scams today take advantage of this geographical conundrum.

The latest case in point is the email or ad that entices your response, only to load a “malware” robot on your PC.  You are suddenly informed that your computer is loaded with many ferocious viruses.  Lists of horribly sounding worms are presented.  The robot freezes your PC’s operating system and demands that you pay for their service online to receive the “PIN” that will make everything work again.  The graphics appear convincing, but spelling or grammar errors suggest otherwise.  A visit to your local “Geek” will clear up the problem.  However, the crook is in Russia or Nigeria, free to approach his next “mark”.

Forex scams are another problem area where genuine offshore service providers abound, but where swindlers can roam about freely, touting their outrageous offers.  The cons here revolve around unscrupulous brokers that attract your money and then disappear, or fund managers that promise incredible returns, but who also depart once they have your good funds wired to their offshore account.  Lastly, are the purveyors of the latest forex trading software that will release trading robots that will make oodles of money for you while you sleep.  What could be easier than that?

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, or CFTC, has managed to return $476 million to 26,000 defrauded forex customers over the past decade.  We can only guess at the amounts that were never recovered.  Due diligence in selecting your broker and staying onshore are two lessons to take from this.  

The major lesson, however, is to be extremely skeptical of any unsolicited offer that may come your way via email, the phone, or from a friend.  Crooks know how to use cyberspace and telemarketing techniques to their advantage.  If the offer sounds too good to be true, then, most likely, it is.  Stay alert, be skeptical, and be safe!

Quick Tips to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

August 30, 2010 | Credit Cards | Guest Post | No Comments

Plastic money often tempts us to get extravagant and we spend more than we can afford. When our expenses exceed our income then there is chance of financial crisis and we might get into the trap of debt. This article would share few tips in order to get rid of credit card debt.

Ways to get out of credit card debt:
   
1) Negotiate to pay off your debt:
Negotiate with your creditor so that the payment plan is affordable for your pocket so that you can repay your debt. Choose debt negotiation and show a reasonable excuse to the creditor for being a defaulter. While you negotiate make sure that you not only lower the outstanding balance but also the interest rate. You can threaten him of filing bankruptcy if the creditor does not agree on your terms of settlement. The creditor would be aware that if you file bankruptcy then he might not get a penny. So he might agree on your clauses as he would be hopeful of getting back a partial amount of his money.

2) Pay the outstanding balance and not the minimum:
Make a monthly payment of your debt instead of paying the minimum amounts make sure you pay off the owed amount. If you are only paying off the minimum balance then your debt would keep on piling as the outstanding balance is not being paid along with the interest rate. And you might take a long time to get rid of debt if you only pay the minimum amount.

The credit card company has used the minimum payment plan as a trap for the consumers to ensnare into the maze of debt. But the debt settlement company can help you pay off your debt and you would be able to achieve financial freedom.   

3) Relatives can be of some help:
Pay off your credit card debts by taking loans from your relatives or friends. In order to come out from the trap of debt you can take loans from them as the family member won’t charge you interest on the amount. But ensure that you repay the owed amount other wise they might not be willing to help you next time in your financial crisis.    

4) Budgeting is essential:

If you think of paying back the owed amount then you have to prepare a budget so that you do not spend more than you can afford. You need to pay off you debts immediately and then plan a budget. In order to avoid the labyrinth of debt budgeting is a crucial part of it.  But if you constantly dissuade from your budgeting track then you might land up in severe trouble.   
 
5) Financial advisor can be helpful:
You can easily come out from the debt trap with the help of the financial advisor. The credit counseling services are beneficial for you as it would show you a path for a debt free life. The financial advisors would help you to manage your finance and get you out of this financial doldrums.

These are the few tips to fight debt and secure your financial future.   

The Mindset for Success by Jeremy Schoemaker

October 16, 2009 | Guest Post | No Comments
J_Schoemaker

Below is a post by Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney.com.

I am hearing a lot of great stories from people who have gone through my free shoemoneyx.com course and doing some neat things generating revenue.   Please keep sending me your stories.  I love hearing them! That is why I made the program!

Now I don’t mean to pee in your cheerios but I want to talk to you and share something with you. Something I feel is really important.  Making money online is easy.  Profiting from it over the long haul IS NOT.

Eventually everyone’s ship comes in.  When your ship comes in what will you do?  Maybe your ship just came in?

This is my personal story and dealing with my first big success and how I was able to position myself for the best outcome.

I hit rock bottom about 8 years ago.  I was 420 lbs, smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, about 60k in credit card debt, and just had lost my job.  I also sleeping on my friends couch.

 Its important to know what rock bottom feels like.  Its important to know what its like to really be hungry.  Its important to know what it feels like to drive a 1990 rusty van with no muffler.  Its important to know what having massive amounts of credit card debt and what appears to be no way out feels like.  Its important to have that feeling that you are a failure at life and maybe that’s all you will ever be.

Now I say that its important but to me it was ABSOLUTELY crucial in developing my mindset for success.

I am guessing you have seen the image of me and the Google AdSense check for 132,994.97 for one month.  

shoemoney

Its actually hard to search for anything related to making money on the internet and NOT see it…

The one thing I have never really talked about was the back story on WHY I took a picture of me and that AdSense Check for 133k before taking it to the bank to cashing it.

As I am sure you know Google AdSense is run on your website and you get money when visitors click on your AdSense ad.  Almost all of my traffic was coming from Google so I felt it was really a house of cards.  If Google felt my website was no longer relevant for the keywords they were sending me traffic then over night I was done!

At the time I was totally new to making money on the internet and I never thought it was going to last.

I took the picture because I always thought that if my websites disappeared tomorrow I could leverage that picture into a book or something… I didn’t really know…

I always had in the back of my mind what rock bottom felt like and I never wanted to experience that again.

In hind site it was even more brilliant then I ever thought it was going to be.  Especially that that month was the last month that Google ever sent out paper checks for over $10,000.00  so really nobody will ever have a check.

But I never took my success for granted and I diversified my website income into many other forms instead of just Google AdSense.

I learned how to make money from donations,  affiliate programs direct banner sales,  selling my own products, and subscription.  Within a few months my subscription revenue, Direct banner sales, and affiliate revenue each by themselves dwarfed my Google AdSense revenue.

So I have all this money coming in from the website im all diversified but I still did not really feel safe.

So I started the ShoeMoney blog (originally on googleninja.com before I obtained shoemoney.com) basically just talking about the ins and outs of making money.

Because I had the Google AdSense Check for 133k and some pretty other large screenshots of revenue that I could use to make points on what I was talking about the blog VERY quickly became an authority in the space of making money online.   So much so that in its first year that we implemented advertising on shoemoney.com we did over 2007 $100,000.00 in revenue.

In 2008 we boosted that to $490,000.00

in 2009 shoemoney.com will make over $750,000.00 probably closer to 1m in revenue.

But lets take a step back.  Because we had built this authority we were able to leverage our audience into starting our own conference called the elite retreat.  We started the event in 2006 and have sold out events every year since.  Even at a price tag of $5,000.00 per person.

In 2007 we leveraged the blog audience and our contacts and started our own advertising network called Auctionads.  Auctionads is truly an amazing success story and one of my proudest accomplishments.  We took a company from 0 to 25k active publishers doing over 3 million per month in revenue in less then 4 months and sold the company.  That is simply unheard of.  It would not have been possible without leveraging our previously accomplishments and taking them to the next level.

So what drives me to keep doing more things?

I can remember that feeling of hitting rock bottom like it was yesterday.

ONLY now the steaks are MUCH bigger.  I am now married and have 2 kids.  I also have 20 employees that I am responsible for.

So why am I telling you all this.

I want you to recognize what you have and not take it for granted.

I had to hit rock bottom to find myself and really develop a work ethic and drive for more.  Maybe you don’t?

Always be leveraging your current position and looking for your next thing.

I have no doubt that everyone reading this will come into money/success eventually.  If you love what you do and you keep trying then its just the law of averages.  Eventually its going to work.  But when it does what will you do?