When asked to name the most important type of real estate insurance, many homeowners confidently and without hesitation answer “homeowners insurance.” After all, homeowners insurance policies protect against potentially huge financial losses due to damage from fire, water, wind, vandalism, and a host of other perils. What could be more important? Well, for starters, making sure the property covered by that homeowners insurance policy actually belongs to its purported owner.
The cost of housing varies widely from market to market. According to Zillow, Dallas’s mid-2015 median home price sat near $126,000, up from about $91,000 three years earlier. By contrast, Zillow pegged San Francisco’s mid-2015 median at a cool $1.08 million, up from about $620,000 just three years earlier. Though the average San Franciscan earns more than the average Dallasite, the latter still pays a far lower percentage of income for housing.
My 30-day challenge left me with some clear lessons that can be broadly applied by anyone using a reloadable prepaid debit card to budget for day-to-day expenses – particularly if the card is part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program.
1. Clearly Communicated Fees Make Budgeting Easier
One of the first things I noticed when I signed up for my Green Dot® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card was the clear, straightforward fee schedule. All possible fees are laid out on a single webpage, making them easy to process at a glance.
To experience the versatility and ease of my Green Dot® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card firsthand, I planned and participated in a 30-day challenge, sponsored by Visa Clear Prepaid and Green Dot, that required me to pay for my day-to-day expenses with my prepaid debit card. The Green Dot® Reloadable Prepaid Visa® Card is one of the prepaid cards in the Visa Clear Prepaid program, which helps alleviate stress in choosing and using a prepaid card. Cards meeting the Visa Clear Prepaid standards provide you with transparency and consumer protections. Here’s how it went:
Planning the Challenge
Radioactive gas seeping through porous building foundations and threatening residents’ health sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s something that homeowners in many parts of North America should legitimately worry about.
The culprit is radon, a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the soil and bedrock underlying huge swathes of the continent. According to the EPA, radon is responsible for about 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year. It’s the second most common cause of lung cancer overall (after smoking) and the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers.
Translating an innovative concept into a thriving business is a complicated and unpredictable proposition. For entrepreneurs without the resources to fund a startup out-of-pocket, it’s essential to secure adequate financing – often before the nascent company has any revenues – or even a marketable product – to speak of.
Traditional banks are often reluctant to fund vulnerable startups with what they perceive as unproven ideas. And though there are numerous nontraditional startup financing options, not all are suitable in all situations.
What Is Equity Crowdfunding?
Outside of tropical climates, every dwelling requires a reliable source of artificial heat. Depending on the type of dwelling, geographical location, and the property owner’s budget, heating systems take different forms: forced-air ducts connected to heat pumps or central furnaces, steam radiators connected to boiler units, electric baseboards, and electric space heaters that plug directly into wall sockets, to name several.
When the weather is cool, heat is a nonnegotiable expense, no matter what type of system you have. However, there are many ways to reduce your heating bills, such as installing a programmable thermostat or bulking up your home’s insulation.
America has lots of old houses. According to HUD’s 2013 American Housing Survey, the average owner-occupied structure is about 37 years old. For reference, that’s higher than the U.S. median age.
In some parts of the country, the housing stock is far older. On average, owner-occupied housing in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania is more than 50 years old. Though there are exceptions to the rule, homes tend to be older throughout the Northeast and Midwest, and in urban cores across the country.
By contrast, newer homes and bona fide new construction homes are more common in Southern and Western cities in general, and in suburban and exurban communities across the country.
When you swipe a credit card or take out a loan to make a purchase, you probably don’t think of the experience as a test of your personal integrity or reliability. You’re more interested in how you’ll feel behind the wheel of your new car, walking through your new home’s kitchen, or sitting in front of your new flat-screen TV.
But your creditors don’t care about how your purchasing habits improve your personal happiness or quality of life. They just want to recover the money they lent you – with interest.
Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Green Dot and Visa Clear Prepaid for working with us to bring you this content.
I’m the first to admit that I’m not always faithful to my personal budget. While I’m frugal by nature, I have weak spots, like the occasional nice meal out or live sporting event. Some months, these vices make it harder for me to reach my financial goals.
The consolation is that I’m far from being alone in this predicament. For numerous reasons, many consumers find it difficult to stick to their monthly spending budgets. But what if there were another way?