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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.

The post Best Cheap Life Insurance for 2020 appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.



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Finance

This White Man’s Journey to Understanding Racism in America

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These are incredibly challenging times right now, aren’t they?

For months now, we’ve been dealing with COVID-19 and the isolation that comes with it. As if that weren’t enough, we’ve had three racially motivated killings during the same time.

Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by a father and son, one of whom is a retired police officer.

Breanna Taylor was shot in her apartment (8 or more times) while in bed. They said they were searching for a suspect who allegedly was already in custody (according to a lawsuit filed). 

And the final, most egregious of them all was the murder of George Floyd. A Minneapolis police officer held his knee on this man’s neck for over 8 minutes, suffocating and killing him senselessly while other officers stood by and watched. The look on his face and the lack of emotion in what he was doing was stunning.

I’m Angry 

As I’ve watched the outrage on the news and, more importantly, on social media, I’ve been surprised, amazed, and, if I’m honest, pretty angry about what I’ve seen. 

During the most recent killing of innocent black men and women, I’ve seen many people, especially white people, like me, asking what they can do. That’s good. We should be asking that question. We should have been asking that question and doing something about it for years. 

Conversely, I’ve seen far too many people expressing uninformed, often harsh opinions on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. They express outrage over what’s happening. They shame people who don’t feel that outrage. That self-righteousness grates on me. 

Over the past few years, that’s the pattern I’ve observed. Another police officer kills an innocent black man or woman. Media goes into a feeding frenzy over it. Everyone suddenly expresses outrage that this is happening and goes out of their way to show their anger. 

A Pattern Repeats Itself

Here’s the question – Where have they been over the last several decades? Do they think this is something new? If so, that’s sad. It’s been going on for hundreds of years. 

Here’s another question. Will the outrage be different this time? Will it turn into action after the news dies down? Because so far, that hasn’t been true. As one involved in this battle, it’s pretty hard to see this pattern repeating itself yet again. 

I’m hoping that hearing the story of how I went from an indifferent, disconnected, and a biased white person to the man I am today will offer some answers as to what you (we) as a majority community can do to affect change. I’m no saint. Nor do I have all the answers. If we’re honest with ourselves, all of us have racism in our hearts at some level. 

For those asking the question of what they can do, I will share my ideas in this post. My comments are based solely on personal experience. Take it or leave it. It’s up to you. And I will not try to shame you for what you are or aren’t doing right now. 

With that wordy intro, let’s get started.

A Sheltered Childhood

Who am I? I’m a white male Baby Boomer. I grew up in Zionsville, IN, an all-white community just outside of Indianapolis. The only time I saw black people were on the news, usually those arrested for committing a crime of some sort. The other times were on the basketball court when my HS team played a Marion County school that had black players. There were no schools in Boone County, where Zionsville was, or most any other school on our regular basketball schedule. 

I heard and was a part of tasteless jokes about blacks. The N-word was common among friends. I never had a black friend. Nor had I ever had a meaningful conversation with anyone of color. I suspect many of you who are reading this grew up in similar circumstances, whether you are black, brown, Asian, white, or any other ethnicity, likely hung out and grew up with people of the same or similar ethnicity and background. 

We don’t have a choice where we grow up. That choice comes when we’re on our own.

Relationships Matter

It seems that many of us form opinions about other people groups based on information we get from other people, be it friends, the mainstream media, or social media. 

That brings up a question I asked myself many years ago.

If, as a white person, I don’t have relationships with African Americans, how can I form such strong opinions and stereotypes about them? Where did I get the information that shapes those stereotypes and views? If it’s from the media, how do you think it gets portrayed? Do you ever see the media show blacks in a good light? Rarely.

In most cases, they show blacks at their worst. They emphasize gangs, guns, and violence. The portrayal is of a group of people who are criminals to be feared. 

That was my view for the longest time too. I had no relationships with anyone of another race, let alone another culture. There were no blacks in my neighborhood, my town, my school, or anywhere around me. Even in college, nothing changed. I hung out with people who looked like me. I was oblivious to the concerns I heard on the news from blacks about being mistreated. It didn’t affect me, so I didn’t pay attention to it. 

The Awakening

When my wife, Cathy, and I moved to Indianapolis from where we were living in Bloomington, IN, we started attending Second Presbyterian Church (Second). My brother and his wife attended there. We were looking for a church, so we gave it a try. That was in 1984. Second Pres. was one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the city. That didn’t include us but did include many of the area’s business and civic leaders.

The former Mayor of Indianapolis, William Hudnut, was the pastor at Second before becoming Mayor. The CEO of Ely Lilly, some of the city’s top lawyers, doctors, and business leaders, were members and in leadership at Second. 

The Event that Changed Us

A Senseless Killing

Somewhere around 1987, racial tensions in the city were escalating (sound familiar?). During that time, Michael Taylor, a seventeen-year-old boy, was arrested. I don’t remember the reason for the arrest. He was handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police car. Somehow, he ended up shot and killed while handcuffed in the back seat of the police cruiser.

Protests began immediately. Leaders of black churches raised their voices. After the police investigated the killing, they determined that Michael Taylor had somehow committed suicide with the police officer’s gun while handcuffed, hands behind his back, in the back seat of the police car. I’m not joking. That’s what they drummed up at the time.

Tensions went through the roof. The Mayor of Indianapolis at the time, Stephen Goldsmith, called together white and black pastors of the largest and most influential churches in the city asking for help. It was there that our pastor, William Enright, met the pastor of Light of the World Christian Church, T. Garrot Benjamin. After the meeting, Tom Benjamin invited Bill Enright to do something together as churches.

In typical grand thinking, pastor Benjamin suggested the two churches shut down their doors on Easter Sunday and do a joint worship service in one of their churches. He was ready to roll. Since Bill’s church is Presbyterian, run by elders, and required to do things “decently and in order,” Bill told Tom he liked the idea, but it would take some time to work through the system.

The Planning Begins

I don’t recall exactly how long it took, but it was at least a year before anything got scheduled. A group of people from each church got together to talk about and plan an event. It was during this time that I met Andy Hunt.

Andy was the business manager for Light of the World Church. He and his wife Sandra and their three children moved to Indy from Atlanta for Andy to take that position. More on that shortly. 

Our group met regularly and finally came up with a plan. We would hold a joint worship service, not on Easter, but a regular Sunday at Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis. We scheduled the event and continued meeting to plan the details.

The Celebration of Hope

The name for the event was The Celebration of Hope. We felt it captured what we were trying to portray. The hope that blacks and whites could come together in unity to worship, pray, and fellowship together. And that’s precisely what we did.

It was a beautiful experience. Our two choirs, with entirely different styles, sang together. Ushers from each church led people to seats. Elders from both churches served communion. We took an offering that day. It was divided equally between the two churches.

James Forbes, who at the time pastored Riverside Church in NY City, gave the message. 

The auditorium was packed. Most of us in attendance had never experienced a worship service like it.

Relationships Begin

I mentioned that I met Andy Hunt during the planning meetings. He and I hit it off almost immediately. We decided it would be good to get our wives together for a meal. So we did. Cathy and Sandra hit it off as well. 

As we talked about the event, we realized something was missing. It was great to get together in large groups for a single event. But what we needed was to build personal relationships with each other. 

To accomplish that, we decided to start a dinner group with couples from each church. At its peak, we had six or seven couples who were part of it. We met for dinner monthly. A different couple hosted each month. We continued meeting for a couple of years. It was a fantastic experience for all of us.

We learned that, despite our different backgrounds and experiences, we had far more in common than differences. We all loved our kids. Many had struggled with jobs, finances, relationships, etc. There was one difference. For the first time, the whites in the group heard about what it’s like to be black in a predominantly white world.

It was eye-opening and shocking to most of us. We had no idea what blacks, especially black males, had to deal with daily. Remember, we all came together after the Michael Taylor shooting. For blacks, this was a regular part of their lives. Fear of that happening to them was real. For whites, we thought it was an isolated incident. How wrong we were. 

A Moment of Truth

Andy and I continued to meet for lunch, and the four of us for dinner fairly regularly. But there was something that was bothering me about his and my relationship. I would talk to him about pressing issues in my life. He listened, but I always felt he kept a distance. As time went on, I continued to feel like he was holding me at arm’s length.

Finally, I’d had enough. Keep in mind; this was before email, texting, and the things we take for granted today. So, I sent Andy a letter. In the letter, I told him I was tired of trying to get close to him and to get pushed away continually. I said I wasn’t looking for any more shallow, surface relationships. I already had plenty of those. But if he wanted to start opening up to me and share his life, I was all in. I told him I didn’t know what his problem was, but that I didn’t cause it.

As soon as Andy got the letter, I got a phone call from him. He was on the verge of tears and asked if we could have lunch. We went to Hoolihan’s a couple of days later, where he finally opened his heart and told me his story. 

Crying Over Nachos

Andy and Sandy were in the process of moving to Atlanta. That’s where Sandra’s family lives. They just had their first child, Drew. Sandy and Drew went back to Atlanta while Andy stayed behind in California to finalize things with his job. 

Sandra’s mother loved Drew. It was her first grandchild. When she and Drew were together, grandma had Drew in her arms. One Saturday afternoon, they decided to visit a new mall that opened up in Cobb County. So Sandra, Drew, grandma, and grandpa got in the car and headed to the mall. 

As they pulled on to the ramp to the mall exit, a car full of young white men pulled beside them. They rolled down the windows and yelled the following: “What are you n***ers doing up here in Cobb County. You got your own n***er malls where you come from. You need to get your asses back to your n***er malls and get out of Cobb County.” 

Grandpa decided he needed to defend the honor of his family. So he was going after the boys. In the back seat, grandma said to Sandra, “take Drew.” Remember, that was something that just didn’t happen. Drew and his grandma were inseparable. She passed Drew to Sandra, had a massive heart attack and died in the back seat of the car.

As Andy told this story, I was balling like a baby. He could barely get the story out himself. What came next changed the nature of our relationship forever. He told me that after that happened to Sandra’s grandmother, he’s hated white people ever since. He said words that resonate with me to this day. I use them often. He said I let an incident become an indictment. The incident killed Drew’s grandmother. He indicted all white people as a result—powerful and poignant words. 

Changed Hearts and a Changed Relationship

That lunch happened almost thirty years ago. Other than my wife, Andy, is my closest friend in the world. He is truly a brother from another mother. The four of us have walked through life together ever since. We have vacationed together almost every year for the last twenty years. 

One of the life missions for Andy and me is to do what we can to foster racial reconciliation. We have been a part of starting three Great Banquet ministries. The Great Banquet is a three day spiritual renewal weekend. Other versions you may have heard of ar Walk to Emmaus, the Catholic Cursillo, and the Tres Dias. 

In 1995, I attended my first Great Banquet. Ironically, it was in Zionsville, IN. That’s the small white town where I grew up. I invited Andy to go there several times. He always had an excuse for why he couldn’t attend. Once we started a community at Second, he and one of our other mutual friends from Light of the World church finally participated.

The Truth Comes Out

I later learned the reason they wouldn’t go to Zionsville. It was because of its reputation as a racist, all-white town. Once it moved to Second, they were all in! 

That community now has probably around 3,000 or more members. Andy and Bill, our other friend, invited dozens of people from Light of the World church to the Banquet weekends. What started as an all-white group, now boasts a diversity that probably consists of 40% or more people of color. They’ve gone on to do more things together as churches. May personal friendships across racial lines now exist.

When Cathy and I moved to Northern Virginia in 1998, we started another Great Banquet out here. Our first weekend was in October 2001, right after the 911 terrorist attacks. One of our primary goals was to build a racially, diverse community. God has blessed that goal. Once again, with intentionality, the local community is close to 2,000 strong and of a similar level of diversity. Because it’s in NOVA, that diversity expands beyond blacks to include many Latinos and Asian Americans.

It Starts with Relationships

By now, many of you might be wondering what’s the point of all of this. That’s a legitimate question.

Here’s the point. If whites and blacks don’t start building relationships with one another on a personal level, I don’t see how meaningful change takes place. 

When our opinions come, not out of our personal experience, but from media or others, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to have empathy and understanding of the pain of our black and brown brothers and sisters. 

Until the Celebration of Hope and my friendship with Andy, I certainly didn’t. The result of that friendship has changed my life. It’s changed Cathy and Sandra’s lives as well. It’s made it easier for me to develop relationships with other people of color. It gives me a perspective of events I see that I would never have without these relationships. There is absolutely no way I’d have the empathy I do without hearing Andy’s and others’ stories. It puts faces with the struggles. I hear real-life, often chilling accounts of what they deal with daily.

Where to Start

At times like these, many people want to know what they can do; where to start. Here’s my suggestion. If you’re white, you know someone, either at work, at your kids’ schools, sports, or somewhere who is black or brown. Pick up the phone today and call them. Don’t worry about what to say. Keep it simple. Ask how they’re doing with everything going on right now. Ask them if you can have a cup of coffee (socially distant, of course) to chat. 

You don’t have to have any profound conversation planned in your head. Just say you’d like to get to know them better. Let them know you stand with them in their pain. Ask them how you can support them. Be willing to hear their passion, rage, tears, or whatever comes up. Understand that for them, the George Floyd murder was the tipping point. It’s the accumulation of decades of discrimination, of life devalued and being thought of as lesser than. 

A pastor friend of mine said it best. Just engage in the ministry of presence. Be with them in their pain. 

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

African Americans are tired. They are tired of being pulled over for DWB (driving while black), tired of having conversations with their sons about how to behave if you’re pulled over by police, tired of wondering whether their sons will come home that night.

They are tired of being followed in stores, tired of having to explain why they’re walking in your neighborhood, which also happens to be theirs. A friend gets a visit by the local police almost every time a new owner moves into his neighborhood on his street. It usually goes something like this. He’s out working in the yard, or even walking down his driveway. The new neighbor calls the cops to report a man who appears to be doing something untoward. They know Dave well. Many have been to his house before. But because they were called, they have to respond. So they come, have a brief conversation, and report to the new neighbor they live there.

They are tired of gentrification, being pushed out of their homes and neighborhoods in the name of economic development. 

They are tired of being turned down for loans, even though they have the same income, credit scores, and qualifications. If you don’t know this history, research redlining, a policy that kept blacks from buying houses, one of the most significant sources of wealth for white Americans. 

They are tired of being overlooked for promotions for jobs in which they are equally or even more qualified than their white counterparts. I have not only read about all of this, but I’ve heard personal stories from people I know.

Getting Defensive

Don’t get defensive if that’s what you hear. Even though it may not feel real or right to you, it is real to them. Think about it. As a white father, have you ever had to have that conversation with your son? I know I haven’t. It’s not something that ever crossed my mind. But every African American father I’ve met has had that conversation with their sons. 

Please understand. I don’t offer these things as some sort of expert on the topic. I’m not. In the years I’ve spent with Andy, Sandra, and many other African Americans, these are some of the things I’ve come to know. They come from conversations with many people with whom I’ve developed relationships over the years.

Two Types of Responses

I’ve seen two types of responses from whites during this and other times of police killings of blacks. The first, and most damaging, is the opinionated, self-righteous person who spouts off about blacks being their own worst enemies; that if they’d just comply with police, they wouldn’t get killed. Or one of the favorites, something like, “I don’t know why they’re bitching all the time. They have the same opportunities the rest of us do.” These words have to be coming from people who have never had a meaningful conversation or relationships with a black or brown person. Because if they did, there is no way those words would cross their lips.

The other response and one I appreciate is, “what can I do?” I hope the suggestions above provide some ideas. Sometimes, we make things more complicated than they are. We want to make a big difference. Start with one person. See where that goes. You’d be surprised at what you will learn. But it won’t happen overnight. Andy’s and my story is a perfect example of that. The person you’re sitting across from has lots of years of mistrust for white people built into their lives. It’s not personal. Be patient, and keep showing up.

For another perspective on the topic, I highly recommend this article from Josh at Money Life Wax – My Next Door Neighbor is African American and My Other Neighbor is a Cop

Final Thoughts

The most important thing I’ve learned and been the most grieved about is that this is a way of life for black and brown people every day. We are all stirred by the senseless and inhuman murder of George Floyd. Remember Michael Taylor, the death that birthed the Celebration of Hope and my friendship with Andy and his family. That was 1987. Redlining started in the Roosevelt administration. Woodrow Wilson screened the Birth of a Nation in the White House. If you don’t know what that is, look it up.

Racism is in the very fabric of America. Is it better? Yes? Is it over? Not by a long shot. It won’t end until whites get involved and demand changes. What you’re witnessing now in cities across the country is a release of hundreds of years of frustration and anger at a system that refuses to change. It’s a shame that people are destroying businesses and looting stores. That’s criminal and, for many, reinforces the stereotypes many whites have of blacks. 

But let’s not be too quick to judge. Put yourselves in their shoes. Peaceful protests have not brought about meaningful changes. When another police murder happens, the pent up frustration reaches a peak. When there are three in a row like now, it can and did reach a breaking point. 

They want and deserve change; to be treated with respect; to feel like their lives mean something in a free society. I’m asking my white brothers and sisters to join me in saying, we hear you. We value and stand with you.  We will walk with you in pushing for changes that make a difference. 

If we do that, things can and will change. If we don’t, I’m afraid what we’re seeing now will be the way of life for the foreseeable future.

The post This White Man’s Journey to Understanding Racism in America appeared first on Your Money Geek.



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The Best Portfolio Analysis Tools For 2020

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portfolio analysis toolsportfolio analysis tools

Tracking and analyzing your investments can be a complicated and time-consuming task. Between expense ratios, dividend yields, management fees, tax planning, and asset allocation, there can be a lot of moving parts to keep track of.

But thankfully there are now many powerful portfolio analysis tools that can save you time and headache. Some tools are free, while others cost money. Some offer deep insights while others keep the analysis at a higher level.

While it’s great that there are now many options available for investors who want to evaluate their portfolios, it can be difficult to tell which ones are the best. Don’t worry. We’ve done the homework for you. Keep reading to see which companies made our short list of the best portfolio analysis tools available today.

Top 3 Picks For Portfolio Analyzer Tools

Here’s our top 3 picks for portfolio analyzer tools. If you’re not using one of these analyzers, we strongly encourage you to check them out for your portfolio planning needs.

Best High-Level Visualizations: Personal Capital

Personal Capital is a free portfolio analysis tool that gives a “mosaic” plot chart to help you visualize the composition of your portfolio. It breaks down your portfolio into stocks, bonds, international, domestic, and other important categories.

Personal Capital made our list of the best portfolio analysis tools primarily because of the huge variety of calculators and charts that it offer. In addition to the mosaic chart, Personal Capital can track your net worth, cash flow, and will provide personalized investing recommendations and insights​.

Although Personal Capital is a free tool, there are a few strings attached. It serves as an advertising platform for Personal Capital’s advisory services. When you first sign up, you may receive a few calls from financial advisors looking for your business.

Pros

  • Free: A great tool comes at the best possible price. 
  • Excellent visualizations: While I’m not a huge fan of Personal Capital’s pie charts, the majority of their charts and graphs are helpful for investors trying to make sense of their portfolio.
  • Helpful recommendations for the average investor: The app makes high-level recommendations about where your asset allocation should be given your risk tolerance and your age. Their recommendations aren’t always a perfect fit for everyone, but can be a great starting place for beginner investors.

Cons

  • May receive phone calls from Personal Capital: If you’ve got a six-figure portfolio, expect a few calls from Personal Capital representatives. It may be annoying at first. But after a few calls, you’ll be able to use the tool for free without being hassled.
  • Minimal insight into volatility: Personal Capital doesn’t give much insight into expected volatility unless you dig deep into the recommendations section.
Personal-Capital-LogoPersonal-Capital-LogoPersonal-Capital-Logo

Best Probability-Based Tool: Portfolio Visualizer

Portfolio Visualizer is one of the most robust portfolio analysis tools on the market. It specializes in Monte Carlo simulations (which give the probability of a portfolio lasting a specified period of time), backtesting, and various forms of asset allocation analysis. The tool also provides some insights into timing strategies.

Portfolio Visualizer is ideal for investors who enjoy tinkering with their portfolio. But you’ll also want to be someone who’s committed enough to your basic investing strategy that you won’t be tempted to dump it every time you come across a new tool in Portfolio Visualizer.

Pros

  • Monte Carlo and Backtesting: Probability-based portfolio analysis is key for people trying to do DIY retirement or college planning. Portfolio Visualizer provides easy to use and easy to understand options for both of these.
  • Robust free plan: The free version of Portfolio Visualizer provides all the major functionality except exports to Excel or CSV files and the ability to import portfolios. But if you simply want to understand the tool, the free plan is excellent.

Cons

  • Must pay to import portfolios: It costs $19 per month for a “basic” subscription to the tool. This includes importing and saving portfolios and exports to CSV or Excel files. Investors who own lots of individual stocks will probably need to upgrade to this option.
  • Expansive set of tools can be overwhelming: With great power comes great responsibility. In spite of the educational materials on the site, Portfolio Visualizer can be overwhelming especially for people just getting started. I recommend familiarizing yourself with basic investing concepts using Personal Capital or Morningstar Portfolio Manager before digging into this advanced tool.

Best For Mutual Fund And ETF Investors: Morningstar Portfolio Manager

Morningstar is one of the premier portfolio analysis tools for everyday investors looking to understand more about their investment portfolio. Morningstar’s Portfolio Manager is a free tool that gives details on stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. 

The X-Ray tool also gives a deep dive into each mutual fund or ETF to give details that other analysis tools might miss. For example, it uncovers hidden fees and shows whether you may be accidentally over-invested in a single stock due to a fund’s allocation.

Pros

  • Easy to understand: The charts and statistics that morningstar provide are easy to understand, even for people who don’t have a lot of background in investing.
  • Focused on the right details: Most investors need to understand their asset allocation and the fees they are paying.The Morningstar tool provides details on these but doesn’t overwhelm with too much information.

Cons

  • Have to manually enter portfolios: Unlike many portfolio analysis tools, Morningstar’s Portfolio Manager cannot connect to your brokerage account. You must manually enter all your portfolio positions.
  • Accessing the best tools requires a paid subscription: While Morningstar Portfolio Manager is completely free, X-Ray is part of the Morningstar Premium service which costs $199 per year. However, you can try a 14-day trial for free.
Morningstar LogoMorningstar LogoMorningstar Logo

Final Thoughts

The portfolio analysis tools outlined above are excellent. But as robust as they are, they won’t meet every need. A lot of times, the best tools for improving your finances are tools that help you manage your cash flow. For this type of need, a free app like Mint, Clarity Money or Emma may make more sense. 

For the spreadsheet inclined, Tiller Money can help with net worth tracking and cash flow management. Or if you wanting to see how your investing portfolio fits into your overall financial plan, tools like Savology or NewRetirement could be better options.

The post The Best Portfolio Analysis Tools For 2020 appeared first on The College Investor.



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Introducing Coverage Critic: Time to Kill the $80 Mobile Phone Bill Forever

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A Quick Foreword: Although the world is still in Pandemic mode, we are shifting gears back to personal finance mode here at MMM. Partly because we could all use a distraction right now, and even more important because forced time off like this is the ideal time to re-invest in optimizing parts of your life such as your fitness, food and finances.

Canadian Readers – we have also collected some recommendations for you at a new Canadian Mobile Phone recommendations page.

Every now and then, I learn to my horror that some people are still paying preposterous amounts for mobile phone service, so I write another article about it.

If we are lucky, a solid number of people make the switch and enjoy increased prosperity, but everyone who didn’t happen to read that article goes on paying and paying, and I see it in the case studies that people email me when looking for advice. Lines like this in their budget:

  • mobile phone service (2 people): $160

“NO!!!!”
is all I can say, when I see such unnecessary expenditure. These days, a great nationwide phone service plan costs between and $10-40 per month, depending on how many frills you need.

Why is this a big deal? Just because of this simple fact:

  • Cutting $100 per month from your budget becomes a $17,000 boost to your wealth every ten years.

And today’s $10-40 phone plans are just great. Anything more than that is just a plain old ripoff, end of story. Just as any phone more expensive than $200* (yes, that includes all new iPhones), is probably a waste of money too.

So today, we are going to take the next step: assigning a permanent inner-circle Mustachian expert to monitor the ever-improving cell phone market, and dispense the latest advice as appropriate. And I happen to know just the guy:

Christian Smith, along with colleagues at GiveWell in San Francisco, circa 2016

My first contact with Chris was in 2016 when he was working with GiveWell, a super-efficient charitable organization that often tops the list for people looking to maximize the impact of their giving.

But much to my surprise, he showed up in my own HQ coworking space in 2018, and I noticed he was a bit of a mobile phone research addict. He had started an intriguing website called Coverage Critic, and started methodically reviewing every phone plan (and even many handsets) he could get his hands on, and I liked the thorough and open way in which he did it.

This was ideal for me, because frankly I don’t have time to keep pace with ongoing changes in the marketplace. I may be an expert on construction and energy consumption, but I defer to my friend Ben when I have questions about fixing cars, Brandon when I need advice on credit cards, HQ member Dr. D for insider perspectives on the life of a doctor and the medical industry, and now Chris can take on the mobile phone world.

So we decided to team up: Chris will maintain his own list of the best cheap mobile phone plans on a new Coverage Critic page here on MMM. He gets the benefit of more people enjoying his work, and I get the benefit of more useful information on my site. And if it goes well, it will generate savings for you and eventual referral income for us (more on that at the bottom of this article).

So to complete this introduction, I will hand the keyboard over to the man himself.

Meet The Coverage Critic

Chris, engaged in some recent Coverage Criticicism at MMM-HQ

I started my professional life working on cost-effectiveness models for the charity evaluator GiveWell. (The organization is awesome; see MMM’s earlier post.) When I was ready for a career change, I figured I’d like to combine my analytical nature with my knack for cutting through bullshit. That quickly led me to the cell phone industry.

So about a year ago, I created a site called Coverage Critic in the hopes of meeting a need that was being overlooked: detailed mobile phone service reviews, without the common problem of bias due to undisclosed financial arrangements between the phone company and the reviewer.

What’s the Problem with the Cell Phone Industry?

Somehow, every mobile phone network in the U.S. claims to offer the best service. And each network can back up its claims by referencing third-party evaluations. 

How is that possible? Bad financial incentives.

Each network wants to claim it is great. Network operators are willing to pay to license reviewers’ “awards”. Consequently, money-hungry reviewers give awards to undeserving, mediocre networks.

On top of this, many phone companies have whipped up combinations of confusing plans, convoluted prices, and misleading claims. Just a few examples:

  • Coverage maps continue to be wildly inaccurate.
  • Many carriers offer “unlimited” plans that have limits.
  • All of the major U.S. network operators are overhyping next-generation, 5G technologies. AT&T has even started tricking its subscribers by renaming some of its 4G service “5GE.”

However, with enough research and shoveling, I believe it becomes clear which phone companies and plans offer the best bang for the buck.  So going forward, MMM and I will be collaborating to share recommended phone plans right here on his website, and adding an automated plan finder tool soon afterwards. I think you’ll find that there are a lot of great, budget-friendly options on the market.

A Few Quick Examples:

Mint Mobile: unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 8GB of data for as low as $20 per month (runs over T-Mobile’s network).

T-Mobile Connect: unlimited minutes and texts with 2GB of data for $15 per month.

Xfinity Mobile: 5 lines with unlimited minutes, unlimited texts, and 10GB of shared data over Verizon’s network for about $12 per line each month (heads up: only Xfinity Internet customers are eligible, and the bring-your-own-device program is somewhat restrictive).

Total Wireless: 4 lines in a combined family plan with unlimited calling, texting, and 100GB of shared data(!) for $100 per month (runs on Verizon’s extensive network).

Ting: Limited use family plans for under $15 per line each month.

[MMM note – even as a frequent traveler, serious techie and a “professional blogger”, I rarely use more than 1GB each month on my own Google Fi plan ($20 base cost plus data, then $15 for each additional family member). So some of these are indeed generous plans]

Okay, What About Phones?

With the above carriers, you may be able to bring your existing phone. But if you need a new one, there are some damn good, low-cost options these days. The Moto G7 Play is only $130 and offers outstanding performance despite the low price point. I use it as my personal phone and love it.

If you really want something fancy, consider the Google Pixel 3a or the recently released, second-generation iPhone SE. Both of these are amazing phones and about half as expensive as an iPhone 11.

——————————————-

Mobile Phone Service 101

If you’re looking to save on cell phone service, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the industry. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to skip over a lot of nuances in the rest of this post. If you’re a nerd like me and want more technical details, check out my longer, drier article that goes into more depth.

The Wireless Market

There are only four nationwide networks in the U.S. (soon to be three thanks to a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint). They vary in the extent of their coverage:

  • Verizon (most coverage)
  • AT&T (2nd best coverage)
  • T-Mobile (3rd best coverage)
  • Sprint (worst coverage)

Not everyone needs the most coverage. All four nationwide networks typically offer solid coverage in densely populated areas. Coverage should be a bigger concern for people who regularly find themselves deep in the mountains or cornfields.

While there are only four nationwide networks, there are dozens of carriers offering cell phone service to consumers – offering vastly different pricing and customer service experiences.

Expensive services running over a given network will tend to offer better customer service, more roaming coverage, and better priority during periods of congestion than low-cost carriers using the same network. That said, many people won’t even notice a difference between low-cost and high-cost carriers using the same network.

 For most people, the easiest way to figure out whether a low-cost carrier will provide a good experience is to just try one. You can typically sign up for these services without a long-term commitment. If you have a good initial experience with a budget-friendly carrier, you can stick with it and save substantially month after month.

With a good carrier, a budget-friendly phone, and a bit of effort to limit data use, most people can have a great cellular experience while saving a bunch of money.

MMM’s Conclusion

From now on, you can check in on the Coverage Critic’s recommendations at mrmoneymustache.com/coveragecritic, and he will also be issuing occasional clever or wry commentary on Twitter at @Coverage_Critic.

Thanks for joining the team, Chris!

*okay, special exception if you use it for work in video or photography. I paid $299 a year ago for my stupendously fancy Google Pixel 3a phone.. but only because I run this blog and the extra spending is justified by the better camera.

The Full Disclosure: whenever possible, we have signed this blog up for referral programs with any recommended companies that offer them, so we may receive a commission if you sign up for a plan using our research. We aim to avoid letting income (or lack thereof) affect our recommendations, but we still want to be upfront about everything so you can judge for yourself. Specific details about these referral programs is shared on the CC transparency page. MMM explains more about how he handles affiliate arrangements here.



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