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Best Cheap Life Insurance for 2020

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The best life insurance policy is one you can afford. 

When it comes to finding life insurance coverage that fits your needs and your budget, cheap life insurance is the way to go. If you’re in decent health, finding an affordable term life insurance policy should be a breeze. The internet has made it possible to shop around and compare cheap life insurance policies from the comfort of your home, and some policies don’t even require a medical exam.

But, which life insurance provider should you go with? While there are a ton of companies offering affordable term policies online, it can be difficult to know which one to trust with your insurance needs and your family’s future.

Your best bet is figuring out which companies are reputable and honest, then comparing pricing with each for the amount of coverage you want. Since term policies all work similarly in the end, providing your family with a lump sum of cash in the event you pass away before your policy’s “term” runs out, pricing is the most important factor you should consider.

The Best Cheap Life Insurance of 2020

To help in your search for affordable life insurance coverage, we took the time to compare more than 20 companies who offer term life insurance policies online. From there, we looked closely at each company and their offerings to see how they stacked up. Based on our research, here are the best life insurance providers for term coverage in 2020 and beyond:

  • Bestow
  • Ladder
  • Haven Life
  • AIG Direct
  • Health IQ
  • Prudential

Best Cheap Life Insurance: The Details

Any of the life insurance companies that made our list would work great for your term coverage needs, but you should still compare each company to find out their strengths. It also makes sense to shop around and compare pricing to make sure you wind up with the best deal. The following life insurance reviews can help you narrow your search.

Bestow

Bestow offers cheap term life insurance coverage for as little as $5 per month, and you can get approved online in a few minutes once you submit a full application. One of the major advantages of this company is the fact they don’t require medical exams. Instead, they rely on technology and advanced algorithms in order to estimate your risk as a customer, as well as figure out the monthly premiums you should pay.

Buying term life insurance from Bestow is also a safe bet since this company is backed by insurers with an A+ rating for their financial stability. Terms are available for up to 20 years with Bestow, and the entire application process can be completed virtually. 

Ladder

Ladder is another online life insurance provider that lets you fill out a full application online and get life insurance coverage in a matter of minutes. This company promises lower prices thanks to the technology they use to determine rates and coverage options. Since they’re fully online, they can also extend policies without having to employ a fleet of life insurance agents.

One interesting detail to note about coverage with Ladder is the fact that they encourage you to “ladder” your coverage over time. This means making sure you have more life insurance coverage when you need it (such as during your highest earning years), followed by less coverage as your needs change over time. This means you’re only paying for the life insurance you need when you need it, and nothing more. 

Haven Life

Another term life insurance company that has grown in popularity over the last few years is Haven Life. This provider makes it easy to apply for life insurance coverage online and get approved in a matter of minutes. It’s possible to secure a policy without a medical exam if you meet specific criteria, and you can choose among policies of various lengths to meet your needs. Haven Life even lets you “estimate your rate” online and without filling out a full application, which makes it significantly easier for you to compare pricing. 

Also note that Haven Life policies are backed by MassMutual, one of the country’s most reputable and reliable insurers. The company may also offer some of the most affordable term policies money can buy right now. For example, they advertise rates as low as $14.99 per month for a 20-year policy for $250,000. 

AIG Direct

AIG Direct is another insurer that made our list due to their affordable pricing and high-quality policies. This company advertises term coverage for as little as $14 per month for a 20-year, $250,000 policy. You can also get a free term life insurance quote online and without any obligation, which makes it easy to compare prices for the amount of coverage you need.

AIG Companies have been providing life insurance and other types of coverage for more than 100 years, meaning they have a long history of financial security. This means you can purchase a policy from AIG Direct and never worry if your coverage will be there if you need it. 

Also note that, if you really want to speak with an agent, AIG Direct does offer phone access to agents who can help you talk over your coverage needs. 

Health IQ

Health IQ offers term life insurance coverage that is uniquely tailored to individuals who are more health conscious than average. Because this company focuses on customers in excellent health, they claim they can offer term life insurance policies for up to 41% less than their competitors. While a variety of health conscious lifestyles can help you qualify, Health IQ focuses on consumers who can run an eight-minute mile, cycle 50 or more miles per week, or deadlift their bodyweight. They also focus on customers who have had a gym membership for at least a year. 

However, you should note that Health IQ is an aggregator, meaning their platform lets you compare pricing among more than 30 insurers. This is a major benefit since Health IQ effectively lets you “shop around” with multiple insurers in one place, but it’s important to understand your actual policy will come from an independent company and not Health IQ.

Prudential

Prudential is another reputable company that offers term life insurance coverage you can secure online. You can call in to their customer service center to speak with a licensed insurance agent about your needs, but you can also get your life insurance policy started online and from the comfort of your home. 

Prudential has an A+ rating with A.M. Best, meaning you can purchase a policy and rest assured it will be there when you need it. This company also offers affordable policies for consumers who aren’t necessarily “young.” A $100,000, ten-year term policy for a 50-year-old male starts at just $22 per month, for example.

The best way to find out how much you’ll need to pay for term life insurance coverage with Prudential involves filling out some basic information on their website. You’ll have the option to tailor your coverage to your needs, including how much coverage you want and how long you want it to last.

Quick Guide to Cheap Life Insurance 

Let’s get things straight: Life Insurance is NOT expensive. In fact, unlike other types of life insurance products, term life insurance is super cheap. In addition to buying term life insurance, we have some other great tips to help you save money. Click each tip for a full explanation or continue reading below.

11 Tips for Getting Cheaper Life Insurance

Follow these 11 simple tips and save BIG on your life insurance policy. 

Tip #1: Shop Independently

Back in the day, my wife used to sell insurance for a big outfit. Since I was also able to offer insurance, we did a comparison.

We based it off a quote she did for a male individual applying for term life. When we ran the quote, it was more expensive to go directly through her, even though we were both offering the same company and the exact same products. Lesson learned: it pays to shop around.

There are stark differences between a captive insurance agent and an independent insurance agent.

  • Our Rating
  • Best ForComparing Carriers

Captive insurance agents usually represent one company and can only offer policies from that company. Independent agents are allowed to represent several different insurance agencies and are not tied to one specific business. Using a captive agent could be much more expensive, even if you bundle all your policies together.

Make sure to use an independent agent like PolicyGenius who can quote you among various carriers. This is even more crucial if you have some health condition that qualifies you as a high-risk individual. Along those lines…

Don’t buy through your cousin who just got into the business: Agents come – and go just as quickly. Some agencies push hard for new agents to sell to family and friends. Once the supply of familiar contacts has been exhausted, the agent is out looking for a new career. And you don’t want to buy something as important as life insurance from a newbie anyway. 

Tip #2: Don’t Procrastinate

Unless you’re Jack Palance and doing one-arm pushups at the Oscars at the age of 70, the chances are as you get older, your health is going to decline. Surprise, surprise. Procrastinating in buying your term life insurance can have a drastic impact when you go to apply.

I know what you’re thinking: Oh, nothing will ever happen to me.

Tell that to the 37-year-old male who had no prior condition but had a heart attack at the age of 32. Luckily, he’s okay, but due to complications that resulted from the heart attack, getting life insurance is not impossible, but it’s super expensive.

Super expensive does not equal cheap.

The longer you wait, the more expensive life insurance could be, especially if you’re a male. Every year that you get older, your term life monthly premiums could go up by as much as 10%.

Every year that you age is one year closer to death (fun thought right?), which means that insurance companies have to charge you more to earn their money back.

Tip #3: Get Healthy

If your idea of the three healthy food groups is Cheetos, hot dogs and Ben and Jerry’s, then eventually you’re going to pay in more ways than one. Eating crap, aka junk food, can have drastic effects on your cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure, which can crank up your insurance premiums super quickly.

If you’re trying to get the cheapest term life rate possible, you have to cut out the crap.  Regular exercise can also significantly reduce your chances of having health complications or being diagnosed with diseases. 

The American Heart Association suggests getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise every day. 

Similar to dumping bad habits, if you’ve lost a lot of weight and began to exercise, it’s a good idea to ask your agent for a policy reevaluation to see if you’re eligible for lower monthly premiums.

Some of the best life insurance companies in the United States even offer incentive programs to their customers. These programs are working to make their enrollees healthier and live longer.

Each Wellness program is different, but most of them include some “point system” that reduces rates depending on how many points you accumulate. These programs typically include an activity tracker to measure the amount of exercise you do every day.

Tip #4: Don’t Smoke (or Chew)

Not too long ago, I had a client that was applying for a term life policy. He doesn’t smoke, and as far as I knew he didn’t chew either. A week before he had his physical, he was working in his yard and decided to indulge in a cigar to celebrate when he finished.

I’m fairly certain that any other time he could have gotten away with it, but not 7 days prior! Sure enough, the tobacco showed up in his system, and his premium went up; it went up a lot. If you want to make sure you’re getting the cheapest term life policy possible, put out the cigarette and grab a stick of gum.

Smokers can expect to pay double or triple what a non-smoker is going to pay.

If you’re like the client that I worked with that had a celebratory cigar,  find a company that is going to be favorable towards your habits. There are dozens of companies that will allow applicants to have cigars on special occasions, typically a couple every year, and not automatically give you smoker’s rates.

Bottom line: If you’re a smoker, cut that crap out! Kicking the habit will save you thousands of dollars every year (not to mention the money you save from not buying cigarettes).

If you already have a life insurance policy, but you’ve kicked a bad habit like smoking, you can have your policy reevaluated. It’s easy to have your policy reevaluated, in most cases you just have to ask your insurance agent. Depending on how long you’ve kicked these habits, you could receive a lower monthly rate.

Tip #5: Slow Down

A good friend of mine used to drag race cars as a weekend hobby. Supposedly, that weekend hobby transferred over into wherever he drove. His lead foot resulted in several traffic violations, not only increasing his auto insurance premium but also jacking up his life insurance premium.

Having several accidents or speeding tickets could jack up (pun intended) your monthly premiums.

Because of all the deaths that occur due to reckless driving, line insurance agents have started looking at driving records as a part of the application process.

Sure, going 10, 20, or even 30mph. over the speed limit might save you a couple of minutes, but it could break your bank. Stop driving like Jimmie Johnson – you’re not a NASCAR driver! Make sure that your term rates don’t get caught speeding, too.

Tip #6: Don’t Forget the Family

When applying for life insurance, many people don’t realize that family history comes into play, too. Even if you are super fit, but you’ve had a parent pass away prematurely (think before the age of 70), for a condition that could be hereditary, like heart disease in fathers for sons, or breast cancer in mothers for daughters, it could mean bad news for your insurance premiums.

If those conditions took their life, that could mean immediate disapproval in the worst case scenario or a higher rated class in the best case scenario. Obviously, some conditions you can’t control with your parents, but if they’re not exercising and taking good care of themselves, you have an incentive to speak up.

If you don’t know your family history, or you’re adopted, don’t worry it isn’t going to hurt you. Be honest with your agent and tell them that you don’t know how healthy your family history is. So, before you start looking for cheap life insurance, call Uncle Bobby and see how his health is doing.

Tip #7: Stop Living Like Sir Richard Branson

It’s always fun to take a little bit of risk to get your heart rate going. A scary roller-coaster ride, skiing, tubing behind a boat are all good examples of this. Even the top life insurers don’t think twice if you partake in any of these activities.

If you’re a sky-diver, space jumper, crocodile wrestler, that’s a completely different story. Just because Richard Branson likes to do crazy things doesn’t mean that you need to too, especially if you’re trying to get cheap term life insurance. You don’t have to quit all of your hobbies and live in a bubble. You can still continue to do the things you love, as long as your hobbies are safe.

Aside from skydiving, several hobbies can raise your premiums that you might not think about. Activities like riding a motorcycle, hunting, boating, and scuba diving can cause your monthly premiums to go up anywhere from $500 – $2,000 every year.

Tip #8: Tell the Truth

When applying for life insurance, you have to be transparent. You must share everything about your medical history, especially if it’s going to come back on your records. You might not be able to handle the truth, but the insurance companies will, and will do so by denying you.

Lying to the life insurance agent does nothing but slow the process down and cause you more trouble in the end.

The insurance agent wants to help you get the best rates possible; they are working on your team, being 100% honest is important. So before applying for life insurance, be ready to give factual answers for the following categories:

  • Your family history – You should be prepared to provide serious health conditions of the members of your direct family line. That can include parents, siblings, and even children, as all can indicate the presence of genetic issues. If your mom or dad died young from health conditions then you may be in for higher rates.
  • Your occupation. Some occupations are considered to be hazardous by the insurance industry. Insurance companies will charge a higher premium as a result. This is something that you will want to discuss with your insurance broker, so you can decide the best companies to apply to.
  • Health conditions. Think carefully that any health conditions that you have, even if you don’t think they are serious. This can include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a previous bout with cancer. It’s always better to disclose these conditions, than to ignore them and hope that the insurance company won’t find out.
  • Your weight. They’re going to weigh you so there’s no point in giving an optimistic number on the application.
  • What you do for fun. If you have any potentially hazardous extracurricular activities, you’ll have to disclose these as well. Insurance companies do have an issue with people who are into skydiving, deep-sea diving, or flying a private plane. If you don’t disclose it, and the insurance company finds out about it later, they could void your policy.
  • Bad habits. This includes smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug use. What you think of as only an occasional habit, can classify you as a higher risk. If you have any these habits, it may be best to drop them before applying for life insurance, if getting the lowest possible rate is your overriding concern. Otherwise, disclose them to your broker so he can find the best companies to apply to.
  • Your driving record. A history of traffic accidents, police citations, and especially DWI/DUI episodes will matter for insurance purposes. Information is readily available through databases, and the insurance company will check.
  • Your Credit History – I know it seems crazy to think that your credit is a factor in an insurance decision, but statistics do not lie.  Life insurance companies have determined that people who have better credit not only pay their premiums on time but also take fewer risks and are less likely to need to make a claim on their life insurance.

Each of these will have an effect on the premium. Be honest up front, that way you can find the insurance companies that will take the most favorable view of your specific situation. Not only will lying just cause more problems and slow the whole insurance process down, but there could be some serious consequences of lying on your life insurance application.

If you are dishonest and you’re accepted for coverage without disclosing that information, the insurance company could refuse to pay out on the policy. Hiding the truth could cost your family thousands of dollars and leave them without the resources they thought they were going to have. 

Tip #9: Establish Your Goals – What Do You Want Your Policy To Do For You?

This is where you determine how much insurance you need, and for how long and where you match your life insurance to your actual needs so you don’t pay more than you need to.

Here are some common uses for life insurance:

  • Paying off your mortgage. If you have 20 years remaining on your mortgage, and you owe $150,000, then a 20-year term life insurance policy for $150,000 will get the job done – assuming no other needs.
  • Paying off other debt. If you have large amounts of credit or business debts to pay off, you may want to maintain a policy large enough to do that.
  • Providing for your children through adulthood. Figure out how much your spouse will need each year to care for your children without your income, then multiply that figure by the number of years remaining until your youngest child turns 18 or 21. That will also help you to determine the length you need.
  • Financing your children’s college education. You may want to make an allowance to cover your children’s college education. Figure out how much that is, and you will have your insurance number.
  • Allowing a business partner to buy-out your share of the business upon your death. This consideration is mainly for the self-employed, but it can be super important if you are. You can buy a term life insurance policy that will provide your business partner(s) with the capital needed to buy-out your family’s interest in the business upon your death. Your partner will get the business – and your family will get the cash. Brilliant arrangement, don’t you agree?
  • Paying estate taxes on your estate. Even if you have so much money that you are self-insured, you may still want to keep a life insurance policy to pay the estate taxes. In that way, you will ensure that all of the money you have saved for your heirs will go to them, not to the tax authorities.

These are just general parameters to help you decide how much insurance you need, and for how long.

Most people need life insurance for more than one of these issues, so you have to crunch some numbers to come up with the final amount you will need.

This will help you to buy only as much life insurance as you need, which will help keep the cost down.

It doesn’t take rocket science to do this, but I still see many people that fail to do these easy steps.

Tip #10: Only Buy What You Need

Along those lines, don’t buy more than you need. The goal of life insurance policies is to provide for your loved ones after your passing. Because death is a scaring topic, many consumers get worried about leaving their loved ones with thousands of dollars in debt.

This fear will cause a lot of people to buy a larger policy than they need. 

Many financial experts suggest reevaluating your life insurance needs once every couple of years. Because your life changes so frequently, you might find that your life insurance needs change also.

Having children, paying off your house, or going back to college can drastically change your financial situation, which could impact the amount of life insurance you need. Don’t get scared into paying for more insurance than you need.

All this to say: don’t buy a million dollar policy when you need $500k of life insurance and don’t buy 2 million in coverage when you only need one. Don’t overbuy!

The average person actually buys around $400,000.

Your situation is greatly going to determine the amount, as well, even if you aren’t basing it on a few things from above.

Take stay at home moms, for example. While a stay at home parent doesn’t make an income, their work around the home is what allows the other person to go and make an income. Therefore, they need coverage, too!

Think about it like this… if something were to happen to the spouse who is at home, the working parent would be required to either pick up the slack and not go to work (loss of income), or to hire someone to do the same work (increase in expenses). 

Even a $250,000 policy (which is where there are lots of price breaks) can be enough to buy the spouse some time to get things straight over a medium range of time. Buying a $5M policy would obviously be overkill.

Buying a quarter million may even allow you to skip the exam and still get super affordable rates.

Which brings me to my next topic…

Tip #11: Decide Whether Skipping the Medical Exam Is Worth It!

If getting your blood drawn is not your thing, then there are options to get cheap life insurance with no medical exam.

The millennial generation is the greater purchaser of this kind of life insurance coverage because they value convenience more than any other.

Our go-to carriers are Assurity and Fidelity that not only get you life insurance without a physical but also issue the policies very fast.

But you have to realize that if you’re bypassing the medical exam, the insurance company is taking on more risk and you’re going to pay for it.

Another drawback is the protection.

You’ll get the same protection, but you might not be able to get the same amount.

Depending on the carrier, you might be severely limited on how much insurance you can buy.

When does it make sense to get a no exam term life insurance policy?   Here are a few of the most common instances:

  1. Need Life Insurance Fast – Most commons reasons are to secure a business loan for collateral assignment or to satisfy a divorce decree. With a no medical exam policy, you can get life insurance much faster.
  2. Absolutely Hate Needles –  One client confessed to me that the sight of a needle will make her pass out. A no exam policy was definitely in her future.
  3. Totally Impatient –  Do you hate waiting for things to get done?  Traditional term insurance takes 4-6 weeks to process.  Life insurance without a physical can take anywhere from 48 hours to 2 weeks tops to be put in force. Sure, a no medical exam is going to be faster, but that speed doesn’t mean that it’s always the best option.

The other possible situation that no-exam life insurance policies are a good option is if you absolutely CAN’T be approved for a traditional policy with a medical exam.

You have to be careful though, there are people who have health problems, so they automatically assume that they would be declined if they applied for a life insurance policy, but in most cases, that isn’t true.

Additional Ways To Save Money on Your Term Life Insurance Policy

Here are 4 additional bonus tips to keep you from paying too much:

  • Buy while you’re healthy. Life insurance is one of those things that we often tell ourselves that we’ll buy “later”. But later can bring about the onset of health conditions that will make your policy more expensive. If you’re healthy now, then now is the time to get your life insurance.
  • Avoid up-sells. There are a host of policy riders that can be added on just about any life insurance policy. They have benefits, but they will raise the cost of your insurance. For that reason, you’ll want to keep them to a minimum. Couples should buy their own policies, not just add each other as riders, for other reasons, too.
  • Bundle – IF it will save you money. You can sometimes save money on your insurance policies by bundling them together. Just make sure that you aren’t paying too much for one type of coverage so that you can save on another. If the company that you have your auto insurance and homeowner’s insurance through also offers life insurance, you could save a huge chunk by buying it through the same company.
  • Make sure the insurance company is reputable. You should make sure that the company is rated “A” or better through a ratings agency such as A.M. Best. It will do you little good to have the cheapest life insurance policy if the company won’t stick around long enough to pay a claim.

Get a Free Life Insurance Quote Today and Save

Life insurance is important for any family.

No family should ever have to worry about covering the final expenses of their loved ones.

Life insurance will not only pay for bills if something were to happen to you, but it also gives you peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of.

Getting cheap term life insurance is not difficult.

Get your free quote now so you can have a policy in place as soon as possible.

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First-time home buyers: Advice in a high COL area. Do I have my ducks in a row?

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Quick intro and thanks: I have been following this sub since 2012 when I turned 21 and I am sincerely grateful for the plethora of individuals who take time out of their day to educate those who browse this sub. All constructed criticism is welcomed and thank you in advance for a sanity check before our largest financial decision in our lives.

I (28M) and my long-term girlfriend of 5 years (26F) are aiming to close on our first house/townhouse in the greater Denver area this spring. We aim to live in the unit for a few years while building up equity and then rent it out while we move on to our next property. We plan on getting engaged this year and married next year. All the units we have looked at are near downtown, right next to public train transit centers, and have seemingly high ROI rental opportunity. We have no issue with living in a 1,300 sq/ft townhouse and for now don’t have a need for a larger house; we would rather pick an area with high growth potential. No kids and no plans for children until mid-late 30’s.

Townhome we are looking to put an offer on is listed at $499,000. Comp’s in the area seem to be around $525k but have a bit better of a view. Rent in identical units in the small complex are between $2,600-2,700 a month for future cash flow estimates. Area has high growth projections.

I qualified for a 30-year VA loan @ 3.000% (3.281% APR) w/ no PMI @ 0 down. I am debating on if we should put any money down and cut into my liquid cash savings. They qualified me for up to $548k but I don’t feel comfy with spending more than 500k. Calculator's online say our mortgage after property taxes and insurance will be between $2500-2650 a month on the quoted townhome above.

Income: $159,800 pre-tax combined yearly income. $9,850 a month post tax combined income

Current savings: $34,500 in an Alley high-interest savings account

10k in a checking account @ a credit union

$2,500 in an HSA

Investing/Retirement: $18,500 saved in a lifestyle fund 401k. Currently contributing 10% pre-tax income with an additional 4% company match.

$10.2k of Cryptocurrency @ current market value I purchased back in college.

Dept: Neither of us have student loans or any CC dept. We have 2 car loans. My car has 9k left to pay off @ 1.8% interest and a payment of $385 a month. Car’s current trade in value is 27k and has 2 years left of full warranty. Her car has 8k left on a loan @ 2.1% with a $310 a month payment. Her car’s trade in is valued at 18k and has 3 years left of full warranty.

Both of our credit scores are slightly above 800.

Current rent is $1,750 a month but we have longer commutes than if we were to live closer to downtown. We have been living together in our current rental for 3 years.

Am I missing something major here? My calculated mortgage with property taxes and insurance included @ 0 down would be right around 26% of our post-tax monthly income. Including our only other dept (2 car payments) our total dept payments post-tax would be 32.4%. We could shop for a cheaper house or townhome farther from downtown but older homes seem to be in the 430-470k range and need some updating/new appliances or have an older roof. Projected rents in those homes farther from downtown seem to be lower than the unit we are looking at that is next to a main st district and public train transit center.

Do these numbers check out or should I continue renting/searching for cheaper places? Are we in a good position to be purchasing our first house in a high COL area? The sticker shock of spending half a million on a townhome is a tough pill to swallow but I have been dreaming of being a homeowner since I got out of the military and made it one of my young-adult goals to start acquiring property to generate a cash-flow rental LLC. Any and all advice is welcome!

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Practical Strategies for Gratitude, Mindfulness and Financial Success

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When I think about my worst spending mistakes, when I abandon all sense of frugality and damage my financial success by spending a lot of money on something wasteful, there’s almost always one big element that those mistakes have in common. They always happen at a moment when I feel really negative about myself and my life.

If I feel really good about things in my life, the things, the relationships that I have and all of the things going on, then I’m far less likely to make spending mistakes, particularly big ones. It’s only when I’m feeling as though my life isn’t very good and I’m missing out on things that I find myself spending money recklessly.

For me, perhaps the most powerful tool to avoid spending mistakes, stay frugal in my spending habits and keep heading toward financial success is to simply have a positive attitude about my own life and the various elements in it. As I noted, if I’m feeling good and feeling content about what I have, I’m less likely to spend recklessly to try to fill some emotional hole, and the less likely I am to spend recklessly, the easier it becomes to achieve all of my financial goals.

How do I really do that, though? I’ll be the first to admit that I find this approach to life easy at times and hard at others. There are times when I find it quite easy to feel good about myself and what I have, and there are other times when I find it very hard to feel good about things and find myself thinking very negatively about some elements of my life. That latter mindset almost always leads to big spending missteps.

I am never going to be a perfect person with a permanently sunny outlook and positive perspective on my life. I don’t think anyone is. Even though I know it’s foolish and it feels bad and it almost always causes financial and health missteps, I still sometimes fall into negative feelings and discontentment with my life.

Instead, what I aim for is a life that’s a little more positive overall than it used to be, with a set of tools I know I can use to make negative thoughts a little less likely and to help myself get out of a rut of negative thinking. These tactics aren’t like some kind of magic switch that transforms everything. Rather, they move a mind that might be, say, 60% positive and 40% negative to something like 70% positive to 30% negative. That might not seem like much, but it’s actually quite huge. That simple switch means my negative thinking is 25% less frequent than it used to be, which means 25% fewer spending mistakes. (It’s actually bigger than that, because I find that my spending mistakes get worse and worse the longer I dwell on negative thoughts, and these approaches help to stop long runs of negative thinking.)

Here are 10 techniques that work well for me in terms of cultivating a persistently more positive mindset, which not only helps me feel better but also helps me spend less money, eat better, and be more active.

Write down, in your own handwriting, five things you’re grateful for each day.

In the past, this was something I did in fits and starts. I’d do it for several days, then stop doing it, then pick it up again for three weeks, then drop it. It was only over the last year or so that I’ve really started doing it consistently, day in and day out, as part of a morning routine.

I try really hard to think of ordinary, little things in the last day that really made me feel good. In the last month or so, I wrote down things like “the enchiladas we made for supper last night,” “my youngest getting excited about figuring out a good move in a game,” and “curling up in the big blanket on a really cold day.”

What I’ve found is that the process of reflecting on my day and intentionally looking for those positive little things makes it easier to see those little things throughout the day. I’ll see one of my kids laughing, our family dog will curl up next to me when I’m reading a book or I’ll smell apples baking in the kitchen and I’ll think, “Man, life is pretty good,” and I’ll try to remember to include it tomorrow.

The thing is, when you start to see those kinds of things popping up all the time, you begin to not just see those little things, but also see that life as a whole is pretty good. Yes, there are things that aren’t perfect and there are things that are uncomfortable and difficult in life, and this doesn’t make them disappear. Rather, this is about getting your mind to notice more of the flowers in the field, not pretending that there aren’t weeds.

Challenge your own negative thoughts, particularly ones about yourself.

Everyone has a monologue of thoughts going on in their head most of the time. It’s a mix of hopes and plans for the future, reflections on the past, things that need to be done, reflections on yourself and people in your life, and all kinds of other stuff.

Depending on your mood, that monologue of thoughts can have a positive tone or a negative one. I find that, for me, when it’s positive, it tends to focus on things I like about myself and my life and optimistic things about the future, whereas when it’s negative, it’s very self-critical and gloomy. It’s that sense of self-negativity, doom and gloom that often drives me to spend foolishly, as I’m much more easily swayed by product pitches, marketing and the idea that I can buy something that will fix it.

A much less costly solution, albeit one that can be sometimes hard to remember when you’re in a funk, is to push back on those negative thoughts and question them fiercely. When you think that your life is terrible, push back on it. Is that really true? What about all of these good things in your life? When you envision failure, ask yourself if that’s really going to happen, particularly if you put some actual effort into making it not happen.

This doesn’t mean that you should be converting every critical thought into something positive. Some level of self-criticism is good, as it drives you to do things and to make yourself better, and some self-criticism is justified.

Pushback merely separates the meaningful and useful self-criticism, the stuff that should translate into action to fix it, from the stuff that just tears you down for no good reason.

It’s never a perfect filter, of course, but every step you can take to separate some of the useful things from some of the trash in your internal monologue is a step in the right direction.

“Pre-load” decisions when you’re in a good mindset so you can do less damage when you’re in a negative mindset.

Whenever I’m feeling good about myself and my life and the things I’m doing, I try to pre-load as many decisions as possible so that I can keep the good things rolling. I’ll do things like making an extra contribution to my Roth IRA or adding some extra money to our vacation savings. I’ll do a big frugality project. I’ll dig through the pantry and organize it for meal plans for the next few weeks.

The point is that I’m trying to reduce the space for bad decisions later when I’m in more of a bad spot mentally. If I’m feeling down but I know that I have supper planned out and all the stuff is already bought and ready to go for it, I’m much less likely to just order food from somewhere. If I’m feeling down and want to buy something foolish, I’m less likely to do so if I know that I’ve already “spent” that money on Roth IRA contributions.

At the same time, I try to delay big decisions if I know I’m in a bad spot. If I’m about to spend money (or eat something or waste a lot of time or whatever) when I’m in a negative mood, I try to tell myself not to do it and just to wait until I feel a little better. Again, this doesn’t work all the time, or even most of the time, but it pops up often enough make a difference.

For me, this type of thing works best when I use some visualization. I actually think about myself in a funk and then visualize myself giving that kind of pushback. I do this kind of visualizing when I’m driving somewhere, waiting for my daughter to get out of choir practice or sitting in the dentist’s office. I just visualize myself doing things the right way in the near future, and more often than not, I end up actually doing things in that “right way.”

Practice mindfulness meditation every day for 15 minutes or so.

One of the most influential books I’ve read in the last ten years or so was 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris. For those unfamiliar, Dan Harris was a news anchor for ABC News who had a panic attack on-air during a newscast. His stress level was through the roof and he was having a hard time dealing with the number of things he was juggling in life.

The thing that helped him more than anything else was discovering basic mindfulness meditation. Basically, he spends about 30 minutes a day over two sessions simply sitting in a chair, closing his eyes and focusing his thoughts on his breathing. If his mind wanders and starts monologuing, he brings his attention gently back to breathing. That’s it. It seems comically simple.

I read this book when I was struggling with a lot of things in my own life. I had tried meditation a few times in the past, but not as an ongoing, consistent thing. After reading the book, I started practicing it on my own, about 15 minutes a day. I’d just sit in a chair, focus on my breathing with my eyes closed — breathe in, breathe out — and if my mind wandered, I’d bring it back to breathing.

What I found was a lot like what Harris found: it was at the same time life-changing and not at all life-changing. That might seem self-contradictory, but you might get a clue from the book’s title, 10% Happier. Basically, as long as I keep doing that practice every day, I find that I’m consistently calmer and less anxious and better able to focus on the moment. My resting heart rate is lower (seriously), as is my blood pressure (seriously). I’ve had a lot of other nice effects, too, but they seem to vary a lot from person to person.

My own practice is about 40 minutes a day, split into two sessions. I’ve tried lots of meditative practices, but honestly, the simple practice of focusing on the breath for 15 minutes really works incredibly well. It will not be life-changing, but it is noticeable if you stick with it for long enough, and the time I put into it has paid off many times over.

When things inevitably go bad, look for humor in them.

Sometimes, life doesn’t go the way you want. You or someone you care about gets sick. You don’t get the promotion you want. Your car breaks down. Your furnace stops working on one of the coldest days of the year when you have several houseguests (I’m speaking from recent personal experience on that one).

It’s easy for those moments to nudge you into a negative mindset, one that can stick with you for a while. One of the most powerful antidotes for that is to simply find humor in the situation. Make a joke about it.

Whenever someone in our family is sick, we play up humor about how everyone else is their “servant” or how badly they’d do at a normal activity, for example. I almost always follow any bad event by saying, “It could be worse…” and suggest something comically awful that’s far worse than what’s happening.

Even with something like the death of a loved one, I’ll try to find really good stories to tell about them — funny, lively ones that make people (including myself) remember the good times rather than dwelling on the loss.

Look for humor in your current situation rather than despair. It’s a spectacularly powerful way to take the edge off of negative thoughts about it, and that almost always indicates the start of a turnaround in one’s mindset.

Hang out with positive people and dial down the time spent with negative people.

If you surround yourself with people who are generally negative in their comments and attitudes toward others, you’ll find that you begin to be negative in your own attitudes and comments and those begin to shape your thoughts. The reverse is true with more positive people — if you’re mostly around people who are generally positive in their comments and attitudes toward others, they’ll shape your attitudes and thoughts in that direction as well.

Thus, one easy solution for nudging your thoughts in a more positive direction is to simply spend more time engaged with people that have an overall positive perspective on life and spend less time engaged with people that have an overall negative perspective on life.

If you have a friend that mostly just complains about everything and sees the worst in everything and makes fun of people in a cruel way, then time with that person is likely to shape your thoughts in a negative way toward the world and toward yourself, so dial down your time with that person. The reverse is true: if you know someone who largely talks about people and things he or she likes and reacts to you in a positive way, that person is likely to shape your thoughts in a positive fashion both toward the world and toward yourself, so increase your time with that person.

How do you “dial down” your time with negative people and “dial up” time with positive people? Intentionally choose to do social things with the more positive folks. This doesn’t mean that you start avoiding the more negative person, just that your calendar is more filled with time with positive people.

I should also note that I’m not talking necessarily about people who are cloyingly positive. Rather, I’m referring to people who don’t react in a negative way toward news of your life and don’t spend their time talking down and ridiculing others. Rather, they talk in a positive way about things of mutual interest.

I’ve spent a lot of time cultivating my friends toward the more positive folks, not in an effort to cut my friendships with the more negative folks, but just to put myself in a better place, and it pays dividends.

Spend less time on social media.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and all of the other social media sites can be a useful way to stay in touch with people, but they can also be incredible hotbeds of unnecessary negativity.

All of those platforms encourage people to share only unrealistic highlights of their life — causing you to feel negative by comparison — or to spur people into extremely critical and negative discussions about the issues of the day, cutting people to shreds for simply having a different viewpoint.

That’s not a healthy way to interact, and it doesn’t reflect real-world, face-to-face interaction very well. It also strongly encourages negative thinking, even when away from social media. Dial down your time on social media and find other things with which to spend your time.

Spend less time with entertainment that makes you feel bad; spend more time with entertainment that makes you feel good.

There are some books, movies, television shows and other forms of entertainment that leave me feeling emotionally cold afterward. That can be fine in small doses, particularly considering how many great works do have a negative tone to them. However, the reverse is true: if you primarily dwell on and consume content that has a negative perspective to it, it will begin to shape your thoughts in a negative direction.

I’ve witnessed this often in my own life. For example, if I spend a lot of time watching 24-hour news channels, I often end up with a more negative perspective on life and the world around me. I’ll view people, particularly politicians, as being far more crooked than they are (on average) and that large swaths of people are lacking any recognizable personal values.

Yet, when I interact with people in real life, the vast majority of people are good people. They might have differences of opinion, but they’re almost all working to make a better life for themselves and their family or, at the very least, trying to get by. A very small percentage of people are out to genuinely cause harm or to rip off others. I’ve witnessed astounding kindness and generosity from people time and time again, with comparatively few acts of cruelty in the big scheme of things.

Spend more time with people and less time with media, particularly media that presents humanity in a negative light. While you don’t have to exclusively choose positive entertainment, use that as a consideration when choosing what to watch. For me, the best switch I made was to stop watching 24-hour news entirely.

Go outside and move around.

A few years ago, I spent a bunch of time doing mood tracking. I wanted to figure out what things I did during a day would shape my mood in a positive and negative way. It was hard to really find consistent patterns in all of the data, except for one thing: almost always, the higher my step count was on a given day, the better my mood was on the following day.

Basically, the more I walk, the happier I feel for the next 24 to 48 hours, and it’s very consistent over time. It’s not something I consciously notice at the moment, but if I step back and look at the big picture of my life, it’s pretty consistent. If I’m outside and walking a lot and moving around a lot, I tend to feel good about things. If I stay inside and barely move around, my mood will start to decline, my thoughts will grow more negative.

Again, when I’m in a negative mindset, I’m much more likely to spend unnecessarily on things that don’t really matter in the long run, whereas if my mindset is positive, I’m far less likely to fall into that trap of overspending.

Focus on the best you can do in this moment, above all else.

This final tip is perhaps the most universally useful of all: focus on the moment and making the best of that moment.

For example, if you’re having a conversation with someone, put your phone on “do not disturb” and focus on that person. Make that conversation amazing.

If you need groceries, make a thoughtful grocery list, go to the store, and focus on getting the items on that list.

If you have a huge project at work, think about what you can be doing right now to move that project forward effectively, then focus intensely on that task.

Whatever is going on in your life, whatever you’re doing right now, aim to do that well. Aim to do it the best you can, with the best long term outcome.

If you do that consistently, you’ll find that you’re not only proud of your efforts in that moment, but you’re also going to be happier with how your life goes in the long term. Your relationships will improve. Your finances will improve. Your career will improve.

Focus on the moment, make it the best you can, and aim to make choices that improve your long term prospects. You’ll feel better in the short term and in the long term.

The thing is, you’ll never do this all the time. The key is to do it just a little more than you do it now, taking a step in the right direction.

The path to success isn’t perfectly even.

People often buy into the idea that if they just nail this one project or do this one thing right or buy this one product, the success they want will just magically appear.

In truth, success at anything involves a lot of little steps forward, a lot of failures that knock us back a few steps, and then some luck on top of that.

A lot of the time, the difference between success and failure is that you took a few more little steps forward and a few less little steps backward. It’s consistently making little decisions and taking little actions and being a little more positive that makes the difference. It’s about moving from 60% positive steps to 70%, and that’s really what all these strategies are about.

Success is often found simply by making a few little decisions each day a little better than before, having a slightly more positive attitude about life, and looking at things from a “glass half full” perspective a little more often. Do that day in and day out and before long your trajectory is heading in a much better direction.

Good luck!

The post Practical Strategies for Gratitude, Mindfulness and Financial Success appeared first on The Simple Dollar.



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CVS: Deals for the week of January 26-February 1, 2020

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Looking for all the best weekly CVS deals? Check out this list of the hottest deals you’ll find in-store this week!

Here are the best deals at CVS this week, with a big thanks to Passionate Penny Pincher for her help in compiling them:

Buy 2 Crest Pro Health or Complete Toothpaste 2 pk at $4.99, Get $3 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $2/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Pay $5.98 out of pocket, Get $3 ECBs
$1.49 each after coupon and ECBs

Buy 2 Dove Hair Care at $4, Get $2 ECBs (Limit 1)
Use $3/2 coupon from the 1/26 RMN insert
Pay $5 out of pocket, Get $2 ECBs
$1.50 each after coupon and ECBs

Buy 2 Crest 3D White Brilliance or Whitening Therapy at $6.99, Get $4 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $3/1 Crest CVS App coupon and $3/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Pay $7.98 out of pocket, Get $4 ECBs
$1.99 each after coupon and ECBs

Buy 2 Crest Pro Health 16 – 32 oz or Scope Mouthwash 1 L at $4.99, Get $3 ECBs (Limit 2)
Use $1/1 Crest CVS App coupon or $1/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Pay $7.98 out of pocket, Get $3 ECBs
$2.49 each after coupon and ECBs

Spend $12, Get $4 ECBs (Limit 6)

Buy 2 Revlon Liquid Eye Liners – $8.49
Use Buy One Get One Free Revlon Lip or Eye Cosmetic (Max Value $12.99), exp. 11/2/19 (SS 10/06/19 R) or $5/1 Revlon Face Cosmetic, exp. 11/2/19 (SS 10/06/19 R)
Pay $6.98 out of pocket, Get $4 ECBs
$1.49 each after coupons and ECBs

Spend $20, Get $10 ECBs (Limit 1)

Buy 1 Aleve Pain Reliever 100 ct – $11.79
Buy 1 Aleve Pain Reliever 50 ct – $8.49
Use $4/1 coupon from the 1/26 SmartSource insert
Use $2/1 coupon from the 1/26 SmartSource insert
Pay $14.28 out of pocket, Get $10 ECBs
$2.14 each after coupons and ECBs

Spend $30, Get $10 ECBs (Limit 1)

*Deal Ideas*

Buy 3 Bounty Paper Towels 6 Huge Roll or Charmin Toilet Paper 8 Mega Roll – $9.99
Use $0.25/1 Bounty CVS App coupon or $0.25/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Use $0.25/1 Charmin CVS App coupon or $0.25/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Pay $29.22 out of pocket, Get $10 ECBs
$6.40 each after coupons and ECBs

OR

Buy 2 Tide Pods 12 -16 ct – $4.94
Buy 2 Tide Laundry Detergent 50 oz- $5.94
Buy 3 Pantene Hair Care – $4
Use $2/1 Tide CVS App coupon or $2/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Use $2/1 Tide Pods CVS App coupon or $2/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Use $3/3 Pantene CVS App coupon
Pay $22.76 out of pocket, Get $10 ECBs
$1.82 each after coupons and ECBs

OR

Buy 3 Pampers Diapers Jumbo Pack – $9.99
Use $1.50/1 Pampers CVS App coupon and $1.50/1 coupon from the 1/26 P&G insert
Pay $25.47 out of pocket, Get $10 ECBs
$5.15 each after coupons and ECBs

Other Deals In Ad

Arizona Tea – $0.50

ERA Laundry Detergent 40 oz – $1.99
Use $0.50/1 coupon from the 1/26 RMN insert
$1.49 after coupon

New to shopping at CVS? Be sure to check out my CVS 101 post that gives you the full scoop on how to get the best bargains at CVS. See the full list of deals at CVS here.



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