10 Money Books for Children and Teens

Reading is one of the most valuable skills children learn. Not only does reading enable us to navigate the modern world, it provides an endless source of learning and entertainment.

I am incredibly thankful that all of my children are avid readers who love nothing more than to have a fresh new book in their hands, but over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t just toss any book at them and expect them to read it. They’re engaged by compelling stories and by things that match up well with their interests in the moment. They’re not immediately going to gravitate to a book about money unless it speaks to them in some way.

Why worry about it at all? The reality is that financial education is a big part of modern parenting. Many schools provide very little in terms of practical financial education, leaving it up to parents to prepare their children for this aspect of adult life, and it can be a real challenge.

There’s an abundance of great financial books for adults, but it’s harder to find great options for children that really hit the sweet spot of being age-relevant and interesting to them. Here are 10 options that manage to balance these two goals.

In this article

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a wonderful picture book for read aloud time or for early independent readers. It tells a relatable story from the perspective of the two younger Berenstain Bears about the challenge of having limited amounts of money. Children are going to be familiar with the idea of not having enough money to buy the things that they want, but what do they do in that situation? This book handles it with care.

Another good financially minded book choice for preschool children is Curious George Saves His Pennies by H.A. Rey. It focuses on the challenge of having enough patience to save for a large goal without getting distracted, balanced with George’s colorful adventures and distractions.

Brock, Rock, and the Savings Shock by Sheila Bair and Barry Gott takes the idea of compound interest and makes it into an accessible children’s book with a lot of clever rhyming and beautiful illustrations. The book focuses on twin brothers, one of whom chooses to spend on momentary impulses while the other saves his money, leading to the end when the saving brother has a lot of money built up thanks to the compounding.

Another great choice for early elementary children is The Squirrel Manifesto by Ric and Jean Edelman and illustrated by Dave Zaboski. It’s a beautifully illustrated book that brings to mind the fable of the grasshopper and the ant, focusing on a parable involving a squirrel saving resources for the winter to come.

For upper elementary kids: Lunch Money

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Brian Selznick tells a great story of a rivalry between two entrepreneurially minded children, but within the rollicking tale comes a lot of good ideas about working to earn money, the value of cooperation, investing in yourself, and putting aside money for the long haul. These ideas are really effortlessly weaved into the story.

An alternative choice is How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista and Matt Fontaine. While this isn’t story-oriented like many of the other selections here, the provocative title and the perfect approach for older elementary-age children who are beginning to have somewhat more expensive tastes make this a great choice for adolescents.

Money Hungry by Sharon Flake tells a very memorable story about a 13-year-old girl who seems obsessed with money, finding all sorts of ways to earn a dollar here and a dollar there. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that she’s driven by a fear of poverty and some painful memories of not having enough when she was younger. This book has spurned some wonderful conversations in our home about money, needs and how different people see those things differently.

Another really great option for middle schoolers is Katie Bell and the Wishing Well by Nephi and Elizabeth Zufelt, which takes something of an opposite approach to Money Hungry. Here, the titular character finds all of her financial wishes easily granted, but finds that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and that much of what we think of as a wealthy life comes from other things, like relationships.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen is a beautiful story about a teenager with a summer job who is using that opportunity to both earn money and escape from some difficult life issues, particularly the death of a parent. The book intertwines money issues with the multitude of concerns and difficulties teens often face, resulting in a wonderful story with a great conclusion.

A completely different type of financial book that might just click with your high schooler is I Want More Pizza by Steve Burkholder and editors Rebecca Maizel and David Aretha. This is a nonfiction book, but it’s extremely applicable to and targets almost perfectly the financial concerns of high schoolers. Should they get a job? Should they be saving for college or for a car? It does a great job of addressing the exact questions I often hear from the high schooler in my home.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

The Best Car Insurance Companies in Florida

The search for the best car insurance company entails digging into such factors as price, coverage options and customer satisfaction. And things get more complicated when you are choosing auto insurance in Florida. That said, we break down how you can choose insurance you’ll afford while feeling comfortable with your choice in auto insurance carrier.

Florida has some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation due to factors like its weather, its no-fault insurance law and the high rate of uninsured drivers. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports that Florida had the sixth highest in uninsured drivers in 2019 at 20.4%, the year with the most recent data.

That said, you can still find an insurance company in Florida that provides excellent coverage within your budget. We took a look at the best insurance carriers that serve Florida and picked our five favorite ones, including the best overall auto insurance company in Florida. (Spoiler alert: It’s Geico.)

The factors that influence how much car insurance companies will charge you include your age, marital status, driving history and even ZIP code. Each insurer weighs those factors differently. The best strategy for finding cheap car insurance in Florida will always be to compare quotes. Just make sure the quotes you get are comparable in coverage, and of course, check out our reviews below.

In this article


When comparing Florida auto insurance companies, we used our SimpleScore Methodology to consider factors such as discounts, coverage, support, customer satisfaction and accessibility.

We also looked at authoritative reviewers and gatherers of auto insurance statistics such as J.D. Power, Bankrate, Insurance Information Institute and Consumer Reports. Bottom line: We’ve worked to give you the best advice about car insurance in Florida.

The best car insurance companies in Florida

These insurers were ranked at the top of J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Study in the Florida region. J.D. Power is a global leader in customer service surveys. These insurance providers also have excellent marks on our own SimpleScore and have gained the notice of Consumer Reports and the Insurance Information Institute.

  • Geico — Best overall for Florida auto insurance
  • State Farm — Best for Florida auto insurance claims customer service
  • Allstate — Best overall for Florida auto insurance customer service 
  • Progressive — Best for Florida auto insurance coverage options
  • Liberty Mutual — Best for Florida auto insurance discounts

Best overall for Florida car insurance – GEICO

When compared to other Florida auto insurance providers, Geico got top marks both from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Why? This carrier’s scores for claims and non-claims service were excellent. In fact, Geico is our favorite all-round Florida auto insurance carrier.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



4.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore GEICO 4.8

Discounts 5

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

Among the auto insurance carriers we track, Geico’s premiums were among the lowest for average minimum coverage, at $433 (per Bankrate’s 2020 data), which is actually also one of the lowest among the Florida providers we like best.

In addition to ranking among the best with J.D. Power for auto insurance companies in Florida (846 out of a score of 1,000) in 2020, we found that Geico was one of the largest auto insurance providers in 2019, according to the Insurance Information Institute, with almost 14% market share. We found that coverage options were robust, with 11, and discounts were quite plentiful, with 16.

Best for Florida car insurance claims customer service – State Farm

We consider State Farm to be the best in claims service satisfaction, an assertion backed up by its strong ratings with Consumer Reports.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



4.6 / 5.0

SimpleScore State Farm 4.6

Affordability 4

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

State Farm’s wide reach can be a major attraction for some, with more than 19,000 independent agents and over 16% of the market share among auto insurance direct premiums written. This ensures that such benefits as the number of coverage options (we counted 13) is at your fingertips.

Over at Consumer Reports, we found that State Farm gets a 4 out of 5 for both claims and non-claims service satisfaction, although the company doesn’t rank as well for premiums and policy review satisfaction.

Best overall for Florida car insurance customer service – Allstate

When compared to other Florida auto insurance carriers for overall customer satisfaction, Allstate landed on top, with a J.D. Power score of 851 out of 1,000.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



4.4 / 5.0

SimpleScore Allstate 4.4

Discounts 3

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

Allstate is a solid provider of car insurance, with good coverage options, customer support and accessibility. This carrier offers two apps: QuickTrip, which provides support for routing daily trips and maintenance reminders, as well as Allstate Mobile, which can be used for filing claims and other tasks.

This carrier is not a favorite for premium prices: Consumer Reports only gives Allstate a 1 out of 5 in that category, although the company ranks well with claims satisfaction, with 4 out of 5.

Best for Florida car insurance coverage options – Progressive

Progressive is the best in coverage options in our estimation, when compared to other Florida insurance providers, with 13 at our count.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



4.2 / 5.0

SimpleScore Progressive 4.2

Discounts 4

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 4

When it comes to claims satisfaction, Progressive performs well, says Consumer Reports, with a 4 out of possible 5. The Progressive app is also robust, with the ability to get roadside assistance, file a claim and more.

Progressive is middle to top of the pack in premium costs for Florida auto insurance. Bankrate found that average minimum coverage was $1,356, near the top of the providers we follow, while full coverage was middle of the pack at $2,573. That said, Progressive has definite advantages as a large, established insurer.

Best for Florida car insurance discounts – Liberty Mutual

Of the Florida auto insurers we compared, Liberty Mutual won out with its insurance discounts (we counted 17). Options include such discounts as rewarding you for driving a hybrid or electric vehicle and even if you get a quote from this company before your policy runs out.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



4.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore Liberty Mutual 4.8

Discounts 5

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

Liberty Mutual is also one of our strongest in coverage options, with 18 counted. One nice feature is that you can have the option for original manufacturer replacement parts, which means that if you have a Toyota Camry, you can get parts made by Toyota, not an after-market manufacturer.

Consumer Reports found that Liberty Mutual did not enjoy the satisfaction in premium prices that you might hope for, but satisfaction in claims processing was strong with 4 out of 5.

[ Read: Steps to Switch Car Insurance Companies ]

Choosing your Florida car insurance provider

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when signing up for car insurance is whether to choose a local or national carrier. Both come with advantages and disadvantages.

Local carrier


  • A personal relationship with your agent.
  • Services that are specific to your location.


  • Fewer discounts.
  • Fewer digital tools.
  • Slower claims process.

National carrier


  • More discounts.
  • Faster claims process.
  • More money to invest in digital tools.


  • May not have an individual agent.
  • Less of a personal touch.

Florida’s minimum insurance requirements

Florida’s minimum insurance requirements are the lowest in the U.S., with 10/20/10 in bodily injury liability and property damage liability. That’s as of March 2021.

What does that mean? Coverage must include up to $20,000 for everyone in an accident (middle number), subject to a limit of $10,000 for one person (the first number), and $10,000 for property damage (the last number). Also, instead of policy limits, policyholders can satisfy the requirement with a combined single limit policy. 

By comparison, Maine’s and Alaska’s minimum required coverages are at 50/100/25. (For Maine, policyholders must also carry coverage for medical payments.)

Property damage

Florida requires that all drivers carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability insurance. This coverage will protect other drivers from financial loss in case you are at-fault for an accident and damage another vehicle. Failure to do so can result in the suspension of your registration or driver’s license.

Personal injury protection

Florida is one of a handful of no-fault auto insurance states. This means that regardless of a car accident, each driver is responsible for covering their own medical bills. As a result, the state requires that all drivers carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection. This coverage will pay for 80% of medical expenses from a covered accident.

Taxi insurance

Florida requires that taxis carry extra car insurance to protect their passengers. Vehicles registered as taxis in the state must carry at least $125,000 bodily injury liability per person, $250,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $50,000 property damage liability per accident.

How much does car insurance cost in Florida?

Drivers in Florida pay $2,364 annually for full coverage and $1,101 annually for minimum coverage, according to Bankrate records.

Florida car insurance can get high depending on the ZIP code, as much as $3,314 in Miami, the state’s largest metropolitan area. (Miami-Dade is one of the largest counties in population in the U.S., with almost 2.8 million in 2018, according to the U.S. Census.)

Meanwhile in North Florida, Tallahassee has some of the cheapest premiums for the state, according to Bankrate.

City Average annual premium for full coverage
Jacksonville $2,230
Miami $3,314
Orlando $2,405
Tampa $3,027
Tallahassee $2,043
St. Petersburg $2,662

Bankrate uses Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record and good credit.

Car insurance FAQs

Florida drivers face a variety of unique circumstances that make car insurance rates more expensive. Factors that cause Florida car insurance rates to be high include:

  • The state’s no-fault insurance law.
  • A high rate of older drivers.
  • A high rate of uninsured drivers.
  • High rates of inclement weather.

Florida requires that drivers carry $10,000 of both property damage liability and personal injury protection coverage. But you can certainly choose to purchase more insurance, and you may want to. Florida’s minimum requirements don’t provide any protection for your vehicle, only for other drivers. If you want your car to be covered in an accident, increase your coverages.

Both collision and comprehensive coverage protect you in case of damage to your vehicle, but they apply to very different situations. Collision coverage protects you in case of a car accident. Comprehensive applies to situations where your car is damaged for a reason other than an accident, such as vandalism, theft or inclement weather.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the insurers we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

What’s the Average Cost of Car Insurance in the U.S.?

When it comes to shopping around for car insurance, it can be difficult to figure out the pricing structure. Part of the issue is that the price varies significantly by where you live, the minimum coverage requirements and a number of other factors. 

Your auto policy and the premium will also depend on such factors as age; car year, make and model; driving record; and gender, which we get into more later.

The average cost of car insurance in the United States is $1,758 per year, which works out to about $146.50 per month. In Florida, the average monthly cost is 29% higher than the national average. A car insurance policy in Alaska, on the other hand, will cost you much less on average, at just $77.88 per month. Even ZIP codes in the same town can differ.

This means that your insurance premium and the premium of your friend living across town will likely be quite different.

With all those factors, how do you know what to expect when it comes to the cost of auto insurance? Well, we’ve got your back. We’ll go into how much auto insurance costs by state and by insurance provider, dive into the other factors, and talk about what you can do to save money on auto insurance.

Research Methodology

The Simple Dollar analyzed millions of car insurance rates in every U.S. ZIP code to determine the average cost by state, carrier, coverage amount, credit score, and other factors from Coverage.com. This includes analyzing thousands of rates from all 50 states that were publicly sourced from 2019 insurer filings. Rates are based on a 30-year-old male or female that had a clean driving record, and we looked at those who had both good and poor credit. These rates should be used to inform your car insurance shopping process, but your own quote may differ based on your unique driving profile.

In this article

What decides the cost of auto insurance?

Here, we’ll get into details about factors that decide the cost of your car insurance. They can be:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Where you live
  • The car you drive
  • Your driving history
  • Education level
  • Profession
  • How long you’ve been driving
  • Your credit score
  • Your driving habits
  • The amount of coverage you choose
  • The type of coverage you choose

[Read: The Simple Guide to Car Insurance]

1. Why does where I live affect the cost of car insurance?

Car insurance rates vary dramatically by state and even ZIP code.

Let’s look at Louisiana. That state offers the most expensive rates for full coverage, with an average annual rate of $3,279.18. One of the reasons why car insurance is so expensive in Louisiana is because the state has one of the highest accident rates. The number of fatal accidents and frequency of collisions in the state is significantly higher than the national average, which leads to higher auto insurance rates.  

State car insurance rates are also determined by the number of uninsured drivers on the road. This leads Florida to be the most expensive state for minimal coverage — 26.7% of drivers don’t have car insurance. Uninsured drivers create more risk and ultimately increase the price of insurance for everyone.

Most expensive full and minimum coverage costs per state

State (Full coverage cost) Average Full Coverage Cost Average Full Coverage Monthly Cost State (Minimum coverage cost) Average Min. Coverage Cost Average Min. Coverage Monthly Cost
1. Louisiana $3,279 $273 1. Florida $1,544 $129
2. Florida $3,289 $266 2. Michigan $1,525 $127
3. Maryland $3,079 $257 3. Maryland $1,489 $124
4. Michigan $2,730 $227 4. Louisiana $1,488 $124
5. New York $2,609 $217 5. Rhode Island $1,445 $120
6. Pennsylvania $2,493 $208 6. Connecticut $1,309 $109
7. New Jersey $2,471 $206 7. New York $1,245 $104
8. California $2,417 $201 8. New Jersey $1,162 $97
9. Rhode Island $2,394 $200 9. Delaware $1,017 $85
10. Colorado $2,346 $196 10. Nevada $989 $82

Which states have the cheapest car insurance?

At an average premium of just over $300 each year, Iowa drivers pay the least amount for minimal coverage –– by a significant amount. Iowa’s low population density is one of the main reasons costs are so low. The majority of the state is made up of “dense rural” areas, rather than urban areas. With fewer drivers on the road, there is less risk of accidents overall.

Cheapest full and minimum coverage cost per state

State (Full coverage rank) Average Full Coverage Cost Average Full Coverage Monthly Cost State (Minimum Coverage rank) Average Min. Coverage Cost Average Min. Coverage Monthly Cost
1. Idaho $1,094 $91 1. Iowa $306 $26
2. Maine $1,242 $103 2. South Dakota $382 $32
3. Hawaii $1,264 $105 3. North Dakota $390 $32
4. Iowa $1,275 $106 4. Wyoming $393 $33
5. Vermont $1,366 $114 5. Nebraska $412 $34
6. Ohio $1,397 $116 6. Idaho $429 $36
7. Nebraska $1,397 $116 7. Hawaii $439 $37
8. North Carolina $1,417 $118 8. Montana $441 $37
9. North Dakota $1,419 $118 9. Ohio $462 $38
10. New Hampshire $1,487 $124 10. North Carolina $482 $40

2. What are my choices of insurance coverage and which are more expensive?

Though every state sets its own regulations, there is a minimum amount of insurance you must carry in each of the 48 states that require car insurance. (New Hampshire and Virginia don’t require insurance.) You can choose to carry higher limits, which will result in a higher premium.

What type of auto insurance coverage should I choose?

You can also choose to add collision and/or comprehensive coverage to your policy to create “full coverage.” While minimum coverage only protects you against liability claims from others, full coverage also protects your vehicle. Collision coverage, as the name suggests, protects your vehicle when it collides with another vehicle, building or other objects. Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle in non-collision incidents, such as theft or a natural disaster. 

Not everyone needs full coverage. Here are some things to consider if full coverage is right for you:

  • Older vehicles may not need full coverage since the deductible could be higher than the value of the car.
  • Full coverage may not be worth it if you rarely drive and have little to no history of accidents.
  • If you have a lease or a car loan, check with your lender. You may be required to maintain full coverage.

Your policy limits and deductible will fine-tune your car insurance costs, whether you choose minimum or full coverage. The policy limits are how much the insurance company will pay for each type of incident. The deductible is how much you are responsible for paying before the insurance company starts to pay.

Should I choose minimum coverage vs. full coverage?

Minimum coverage car insurance differs in every state, but it usually includes: bodily injury, liability coverage and property damage liability coverage at a minimum. This is the cheapest coverage you can buy, and you can’t legally carry less than the minimum amount.

Full coverage car insurance, on the other hand, is more expensive because it offers significantly more protection. However, it’s worth the added cost. If you settle for the state’s minimum insurance requirements, you run the risk of being underinsured.

Full coverage car insurance usually includes:

You will see coverage amounts listed as three numbers separated by slashes, such as 30/50/30. These numbers represent, in order, bodily injury liability per person, bodily injury liability per accident and property damage liability per accident, in thousands of dollars. So 30/50/30 insurance covers $30,000 of bodily injury per person, $50,000 of bodily injury per accident and $30,000 of property damage per accident.

Drivers can also elect to purchase additional coverage for things like roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and accident forgiveness.

If you get into a costly accident, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have enough coverage to pay for the full extent of the damages. In that case, you would be financially responsible for paying the difference, which would come out-of-pocket.

3. Can my credit score impact the cost of car insurance?

Your credit score can have a massive impact on your car insurance rates, regardless of other factors. Only three states — California, Hawaii and Massachusetts — ban insurers from factoring in credit score, while in many states your rates could more than double if your credit is poor.

Car insurance cost: poor credit vs. good credit

Carrier Good Credit Full Coverage Average Cost Poor Credit Full Coverage Average Cost Difference
Allstate $2,457.21 $3,528.41 $1,071.19
American Family $1,728.63 $2,897.22 $1,168.59
Farmers $1,534.08 $2,560.31 $1,026.23
Geico $1,336.58 $2,197.10 $860.52
Nationwide $1,379.07 $1,931.89 $552.82
Progressive $1,915.07 $2,976.39 $1,061.32
State Farm $1,902.69 $2,701.59 $798.90
Travelers $1,952.91 $2,635.82 $682.91
USAA $1,178.28 $3,486.49 $2,308.21
Average Difference     $1,058.96

4. Do my age and gender affect the cost of auto insurance?

In a word, yes. Even your basic demographics can have a strong impact on your car insurance costs. Most (though not all) states allow drivers to be rated based on:

  • Age: Younger drivers and those over the age of 75 generally pay more.
  • Gender: Among drivers under age 25, men typically pay more than women — this discrepancy tends to go away for more experienced drivers.
  • Marital status: Married people are considered lower risk, and thus tend to pay less for car insurance.

5. Can my type of car affect the cost of my insurance?

Which car you choose can have a surprisingly big effect on your insurance rates.

Less expensive to insure

  • Big vehicles
  • Family vehicles such as SUVs or sedans

More expensive to insure

  • Small cars
  • Sports cars, especially those that are considered high-performance

6. How can my driving history affect the cost of auto insurance?

As you might expect, insurance companies don’t particularly like paying claims. So if your driving history is poor, you can expect higher premiums. In order of costliness, some things that could raise your rates include:

7. Do auto insurance companies care about my driving habits?

Statistically, the more you drive, the more likely you are to get into an accident. Likewise, parking on the street is more likely to result in damage than parking in your own garage. To save money on car insurance, consider:

  • Taking public transportation to work
  • Reducing your commute
  • Carpooling
  • Paying for off-street parking

8. How does the car insurance company I choose affect my cost of auto insurance?

Of course, all insurance carriers are free to set their own prices. Some carriers offer discounts for which you might qualify, such as safe driving bonuses or discounts for military families, and some may rate your particular risk level lower than others. So it always pays to shop around.

As you can see below, most major car insurance providers are in the same ballpark for rates, but there are some clear outliers. You’ll get the most expensive full coverage auto insurance premium from Allstate, and the most affordable from USAA.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Travelers offered the most expensive minimum coverage rate of $815.41, and USAA offers the cheapest rate by far – just $487.04 each year. This makes USAA seem like the obvious choice, but USAA doesn’t provide coverage to just anyone — it has strict military and immediate family restrictions.

Carrier Full Coverage Average Cost Full Coverage Monthly Cost Minimum Coverage Average Cost Minimum Coverage Monthly Cost
Allstate $2,457.21 $205 $800.53 $67
American Family $1,728.63 $144 $813.48 $68
Farmers $1,534.08 $128 $614.64 $51
Geico $1,336.58 $111 $568.88 $47
Nationwide $1,379.07 $115 $830.00 $69
Progressive $1,915.07 $160 $742.80 $62
State Farm $1,902.69 $159 $801.81 $67
Travelers $1,952.91 $163 $815.41 $68
USAA $1,178.28 $98 $487.04 $41

How can I save on car insurance?

There are a few tricks for saving on auto insurance, including lowering the amount you drive, improving your credit score, and of course, driving more safely. You can also get a host of discounts, depending on your choice in insurance provider.

To get the best deal for your circumstances, conduct a car insurance comparison.

Different insurers offer different discounts. Insurers like Geico, State Farm and Progressive are frequently recognized for having cheaper car insurance rates.

Common discounts include:

  • Good student savings
  • Certain organization membership
  • Active duty military
  • Bundling other policies with the same company
  • Driving a low-risk car
  • Infrequent driving
  • Having a good credit score

Boost your credit score

Taking the steps to improve your credit score is a powerful way to save money on your car insurance. As an added bonus, it will help reduce costs in other areas like credit card APRs. Start by paying all of your bills on time, checking your credit report for errors and keeping your credit card balances low. Remember, improving your credit score is a marathon, not a sprint. It will take some months to see your score increase.

[Read: Car Insurance Rates Are Up – Here Are Eight Ways to Get Yours Back Down]

Car insurance cost FAQs

It varies by state, but in general, you can expect to need coverage for bodily injury liability, property damage liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. States like New Hampshire don’t require car insurance, though additional requirements are in place.

It depends on a few factors. You should consider the likelihood of your car being damaged (based on your area, your vehicle’s age and similar factors) and your ability to pay for repairs if damages were to occur. Also think about how often you drive. From the start, driving more will put you at a higher risk for an accident.

After an at-fault accident, you can expect to see a 42% rise in your premium, according to data from InsuranceQuotes and Quadrant Information Services. Unfortunately, these rates were measured from people with relatively clean driving histories. If you have a less-than-perfect record, you may be subject to even higher premium increases. How much your rate will increase will depend on the claim type, if you were at fault, your carrier and what state the accident took place in.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the car insurance we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

4 Reasons Furnished Apartments Are Better For Short-Term Leases

Person in sweatpants walking around cozy , stylish furnished apartmentIt’s a dilemma many people entering short-term housing situations face: How to make a space feel like home without investing too much time or money. Thankfully, you don’t need to worry about being stuck with a sparse or impersonal apartment. Furnished apartments could be the solution to your short-term lease AND decorating needs! Why do we think so?

1. There are only so many hours in a day.

Articles that try to convince you furnishing an apartment can be done on the cheap tend to gloss over a crucial point. You’ll need to run around to many different retailers to get everything you need and likely make multiple trips. But you’re preparing to relocate! THAT’S where you need to focus your energy! You likely don’t have time for full-scale bargain hunting. With the time you save, you can select a few inexpensive yet personal pieces to help your new place feel like home. (See #3.)

2. You only have so much money.

Realtor Magazine asked several designers about the expense associated with decorating spaces. The good news is that the rooms the designers worked on look great. The bad news is that you’ll need about $15,000 for the living room alone! That’s way more than you’ll spend furnishing a short-term apartment during your entire stay!

3. No one wants to make sacrifices … and you won’t have to.

Here’s where you can spend some of the time you saved with reason #1! You’ll probably need a security deposit for your short-term lease, but what you won’t need to sacrifice is your sense of style. There are many ways to personalize your short-term living space by:

  • Decorating with plants
  • Adding curtains to cover window treatments you don’t like
  • Putting up removable wallpaper
  • Using candles or scent sprays

4. It could not be easier.

Thanks to ApartmentSearch, finding a furnished apartment for your own short-term housing needs is amazingly simple. Here’s just how simple:

  1. Select “Short-Term” in the search box at the top of ApartmentSearch.com’s home page.
  2. Enter your search term (a zip code will do).
  3. Once you look at each property, scroll to the bottom of the page and look under the heading “Need It Furnished.”

Setting up a short-term housing situation should be easy, regardless of where and why you’re moving. ApartmentSearch.com makes it easy to search for short-term lease options AND furnished apartments at the same time. Give it a try today!

More Short-Term Housing Help

  • How to Be a Short-Term Housing Pro
  • Tips for Finding Temporary Housing in a Pinch
  • Hotel vs Furnished Apartment: How to Choose

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Here’s What To Do If Your Mortgage Won’t Let You Make Extra Payments

Freedom from debt is a common and powerful financial goal. Owning your home free and clear with no other debts gives you a strong financial base for whatever plans you may have in life.

In most situations, you will save money if you make extra payments on an existing mortgage. Doing so will directly reduce the balance on your mortgage, which means that for the rest of the life of your mortgage, the amount of interest you’re charged each month is lower. That means each subsequent mortgage payment will have more going to the principal amount than it would have before, and the end result is that your mortgage is paid off months or even years earlier than it would have been otherwise, even with just a single extra mortgage payment early in the mortgage.

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One potential hazard in that path to financial freedom is the fact that, in some cases, a lender won’t allow you to easily make extra payments on your mortgage. They’ll use various mechanisms to keep you from actually reducing your mortgage balance, such as penalties, suspense accounts and partial payment accounts, that result in little progress toward paying off your mortgage even if you’re trying to pay it down quickly.

What are these things, and how can a homeowner seeking financial freedom get around them?

In this article

What is a prepayment penalty?

A prepayment penalty is an extra fee charged by some home lenders in the event that you pay off too much of your mortgage early. The exact terms of the prepayment penalty are spelled out within a clause in your mortgage agreement.

 Typically, it only applies if you pay off the entire mortgage balance at once, but some clauses apply if you pay off a specified portion of your mortgage at once.

[ Next: Should You Pay Your Mortgage Off Early? ]

Why do lenders charge a prepayment penalty?

Lenders make money when you pay off your mortgage in steady monthly payments, as each payment includes interest that goes in their pockets. If you pay off the mortgage early, the lender loses that income. A prepayment penalty is thus a form of insurance for the lender against you paying off your mortgage too quickly.

This doesn’t just affect people who want to pay off their mortgage quickly, but it also affects those who choose to refinance through a different company. In that situation, the new company will pay off your previous mortgage in full and get hit with that prepayment penalty, which would then be added to the balance of your refinanced mortgage, making it less of a good deal.

What is a suspense account?

A suspense account is an account set up by a lender to hold a borrower’s funds in a suspended state until the lender decides how to allocate them. In the case of a mortgage, if your mortgage specifies the use of a suspense account, any extra payments you make would be deposited into that account.

Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, there are some limitations to the use of suspense accounts. They can only contain an amount less than a full mortgage payment. So, if you make an extra payment on your mortgage that’s less than a full monthly payment, it would go into that suspense account until you made enough extra payments to add up to a full monthly payment, which would then be applied to your mortgage.

To find out if any extra payments on your mortgage would be applied to a suspense account, you can check your mortgage documentation.

What is a partial payment account?

A partial payment account refers to a specific use of an expense account. In this case, it is used in the situation where you make a partial payment on your mortgage rather than a full one. Let’s say, for example, that you decide to pay your mortgage bill by making a half payment every two weeks. Your first partial payment would go into the suspense account, then when your second partial payment arrives — making a whole payment — it would then be applied to the mortgage. Again, check with your mortgage documentation to find out if your lender utilizes a partial payment account.

[ See: When Is the Right Time to Get a Mortgage? ]

What’s the problem? The problem is that the lender is holding your money in limbo while it waits for the rest of your mortgage payment to arrive. During that time, you don’t have it available to you in an emergency and you’re not earning any return on it, but it’s not been applied to your mortgage either.

The best way to avoid this is to simply only make full extra mortgage payments. Pay exactly what you owe each month, then when you can afford to make a full extra mortgage payment, do so.

How to avoid a prepayment penalty on your mortgage

With some mortgages, a prepayment penalty can kick in if you pay too much of your mortgage in advance. This can be a big issue if you want to pay your mortgage off early or refinance. Here are some things you can do to avoid a mortgage prepayment penalty.

Talk to your lender

The first place to start is to talk to your lender, ideally before you ever sign on the dotted line for your mortgage. Ask that your mortgage not include any sort of prepayment penalty clause. If the lender is not willing to do that, shop around for a different mortgage.

If you already have a mortgage, it can’t hurt to ask, especially if you are interested in refinancing with the same lender. Mention the possibility of refinancing into a new mortgage without a prepayment penalty.

Refinance your mortgage

Even with a prepayment penalty, refinancing with a different lender may still be the best option if it lowers your overall interest rate. However, you should make sure that your new mortgage does not include a prepayment penalty. Spending the time to shop around for a great refinancing rate can save you a lot of cash, especially if you have equity built up and your credit has improved since your initial mortgage.

[ Read: The 10 Best Cities for Refinancing a Mortgage ]

Only make full extra payments

If you’re not looking to pay off the full balance all at once, you can still improve your financial situation a little by only making full extra payments on your mortgage. This avoids having any partial payments placed in a suspense account, even for a while. If you don’t have enough to make a full extra payment, keep saving.

Invest your extra payments instead

If your mortgage is locked in at a very low interest rate but has a prepayment penalty, you may want to consider just investing your extra payments instead. This might be a good opportunity to bump up your workplace retirement plan contributions or start saving for a child’s college education with a 529 college savings plan.

Compare top mortgage lenders

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

What Is FR-44 Insurance?

Actions have consequences — particularly when you’re behind the wheel.

Causing a little fender-bender will probably leave you with nothing more than an insurance headache, but more serious offenses come with heftier repercussions. Specifically, if you’re caught driving with a suspended license or you get cited with a DUI, you might be court-ordered to have a specific document filed on your behalf.

In most states, this is called an SR-22. It’s a document your insurance provider files with the state proving that you have enough liability coverage to mitigate the high risk you present out on the road. But if you commit a serious driving offense in Florida or Virginia, you might be required to show a different certificate of financial responsibility (CFR) called an FR-44.

What is FR-44 insurance? And how do you get it if you’re required by your state to do so? Floridians and Virginians need to know.

In this article

What is FR-44 insurance? 

FR-44 insurance isn’t a separate insurance policy or a type of coverage. Instead, it’s a document that gets filed with your state proving you have enough liability coverage. Your insurance provider files it on your behalf, showing your state’s driving authority that you have sufficient amounts of the required liability insurance.

As a quick auto insurance refresher, liability coverage steps in if you cause damage on the road. Most states require two types of liability insurance: coverage to pay for any injuries you cause and coverage to pay for property damage.

When you need an FR-44, you’re required to have more of both types of liability coverage than other drivers in your state. It’s your state’s way of making sure you’re not a huge risk when they let you back behind the wheel. With a filed FR-44, you prove that you have enough insurance to protect others.

[ See: How Much Car Insurance Do You Need? ]

All this isn’t to say that Virginia and Florida don’t have SR-22s. They do — but they use FR-44s for their highest-risk drivers. FR-44s have higher liability coverage requirements than SR-22s.

Who needs FR-44 insurance and why?

When you live in Florida or Virginia, you could be required to get an FR-44 if you commit a major driving violation like:

  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving with a suspended license

You might find out you need an FR-44 while in court for a hearing about your driving violation. Alternatively, you could get a letter mailed to your house indicating that you now need FR-44 insurance.

Long story short, if you majorly messed up behind the wheel, keep an eye out. Odds are, you’ll be required to carry more liability insurance. And if you do need an FR-44, don’t wait. Talk to your insurance provider right away.

Most insurance providers offer FR-44s. But if yours doesn’t, you’ll need to switch to one that does. Make sure you get enough liability coverage to meet the now-required limits (more on that later) and that your new insurer will file the FR-44 for you ASAP.

What if I don’t own a car? 

If you committed your violation while driving someone else’s car or you sold your car after the fact, you might be stumped by an FR-44 insurance requirement.

[ More: How Are Car Insurance Costs Determined? ]

In this case, your best bet is to get non-owner car insurance. This is liability coverage designed to cover your risk if you drive someone else’s vehicle and while doing so, cause property damage or injure someone.

Getting an FR-44 with non-owner car insurance can be tricky. Not all insurers offer non-owner car insurance, and not all insurers file FR-44s. You can use our list of the best non-owner car insurance to start exploring your options.

On a positive note, FR-44 insurance for non-owners is generally a lot more affordable than standard car insurance policies for FR-44 drivers.

How much does FR-44 insurance cost? 

There’s good news and bad news here.

The good news is that the actual FR-44 is very affordable. Generally, you’ll pay a flat fee of $15 to $25 for your insurer to file the FR-44 for you.

The bad news is that once you require an FR-44, you’ll be seen by all insurers as a high-risk driver. And that means more expensive car insurance.

The exact amount you’ll pay will depend on your overall driving history, the vehicle you drive, your annual mileage and more. But generally, if you need an FR-44, you can expect to pay twice as much (or more, even) than the average driver because of your history of serious driving violations. For example, we’ve found that drivers with a DUI will see a 79% rate increase, on average, once their insurer learns of the violation.

Ultimately, if you need an FR-44, expect to pay significantly more for your auto insurance than your neighbors.

[ For You: Auto Insurance Quotes, Explained ]

Does FR-44 insurance require more coverage? 

Yes. In fact, that’s the whole point of an FR-44.

Here are the minimum coverages needed for an FR-44:

  • FR-44 insurance Florida requirements: $100,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person, $300,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident and $50,000 of property damage liability coverage
  • FR-44 insurance Virginia requirements: $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person, $100,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident and $40,000 of property damage liability coverage

These limits are steep. Compare them against what all Florida drivers need: just $10,000 of bodily injury coverage (called personal injury protection [PIP] in this case) and $10,000 of property damage liability coverage.

Even more staggeringly, you can compare these limits against SR-22 requirements in Virginia. Virginians who need an FR-44 are required to carry twice as much liability coverage as Virginians who need an SR-22.

FR-44 insurance vs. SR-22 insurance

FR-44s and SR-22s are the same in many key ways: they’re both certificates of financial responsibility. They’re both state-required after a serious driving offense. They both get filed by your insurer to prove that you’ve purchased enough liability coverage to meet the extra liability limits to which you’re now subject.

But there are some major differences, too. For starters, every state uses SR-22s, while you’ll only find FR-44 insurance in Florida and Virginia. More importantly, FR-44s come with much higher liability coverage requirements than SR-22s.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

How To Estimate Your Home Insurance Costs

Whether you’re shopping for your first home insurance policy or you just moved to your forever home and want to make sure it’s fully insured for the long haul, you want to know how much coverage to buy.

You might use a homeowners insurance calculator or ask your insurance agent for a home insurance estimate, but you don’t want to leave all of the legwork up to others. If you do, you could be left without enough coverage — only to find out just when you need it most, after disaster strikes.

To help yourself out, you want to know how to create an accurate homeowners insurance estimate. And that comes down to knowing what a typical policy covers, which additional coverages you might need and how your policy will pay out after a covered loss. With these things, which you’ll learn here, you’ll be a walking homeowners insurance calculator.

[ Read: The Best Homeowners Insurance Companies ]

In this article

Why it’s great to know how to estimate when shopping for homes 

Coming up with a home insurance estimate isn’t just a fun number-crunching exercise. It’s a critical component of knowing how much home you can afford — and where to buy it.

Your homeowners insurance payment won’t be as hefty as your mortgage, certainly, but it is an additional cost of homeownership that you need to factor in. And certain homes cost more to insure than others. Some things that could leave you with pricey premiums include:

  • A home in an area with a lot of crime
  • A home in an area prone to natural disasters
  • An old roof
  • Lackluster fire suppression systems
  • A pool (because of the increased liability that someone could drown)

Generally, if you want to keep your home insurance costs low, you should look for a home with limited risk. That means one located in a safe area that’s protected from natural disasters. It means choosing a home without aging systems — or planning to replace them right away. And it probably means skipping the pool.

Typical home insurance 

Aside from avoiding high-risk homes while you’re house shopping, the next biggest thing you can do to get an accurate home insurance estimate is understand the different types of available coverages — and roughly how much you’ll pay for each.

As a quick primer, home insurance policies generally cover:

  • Your house itself
  • The personal property you store in it (up to your policy limits)
  • Unattached structures like fences and garages
  • Your liability in certain instances, like if a neighbor slips at your home and sues you
  • Extra expenses you incur if you get displaced by a covered cause and have to stay in a hotel (i.e., loss of use coverage)

But the times when a home insurance policy will kick in to cover the above varies from policy to policy. Different types of home insurance policies cover different things.

An HO-1 policy, for example, only insures you against the perils specifically named in your policy (e.g., fire, theft), while an HO-5 policy will insure you against everything unless it’s specifically named as an exclusion in your policy.

As is true will all insurance products, the more protection you buy, the more you’ll pay for it. To get a solid homeowners insurance estimate, it can be helpful to decide which type of policy is right for you before house hunting. That way, you can compare the cost of that policy type across any homes you’re considering.

Additionally, you need to consider any additional coverages you might need for your home. Almost all home insurance policies specifically exclude earthquake and flood coverage. If you live in an area prone to either and want insurance for that risk, you’ll need to buy a separate policy. Factor that into your overall home insurance estimate.

[ Read: The Complete Guide to Homeowners Insurance ]

How home insurance varies by state

You can use a homeowners insurance calculator to get a rough idea of your home insurance costs, certainly. But there’s one key issue there.

Many calculators don’t take location into account. And insurance needs vary depending on where you live. We’ve already mentioned that you might need flood or earthquake insurance, depending on your location. But even standard homeowners insurance coverages can cost more or less, depending on your location.

Standard home policies include tornado coverage, for example. While homes are generally cheaper in Kansas than in, say, California, the cost of home insurance might not be too different from a coastal home if you’re house hunting in Tornado Alley.

All told, if you’re trying to come up with a homeowners insurance estimate, it’s important to understand how much coverage costs locally. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Here’s a quick list of the average home insurance cost by state.

Replacement cost coverage: How does it work? 

Now you have a handle on some of the key components of an accurate home insurance estimate: high-risk factors that can raise costs, the type of policy you need and how your location affects your coverage and premium.

But there’s one final piece to consider. When you buy a homeowners insurance policy, you get either actual cost value (ACV) or replacement cost coverage. ACV factors in depreciation. So if your five-year-old couch gets destroyed in a fire, you’ll only get paid enough to buy what it was worth today. If you want enough money to replace the item with one of a similar quality, you’ll need replacement cost coverage.

When it comes to home policies, you’ll usually get replacement cost coverage automatically for your dwelling itself and the other structures on your property. That said, you can opt for extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage, which offers money above your dwelling limits in case the rebuild costs more.

When it comes to your personal property coverage, you’ll generally need to elect to get replacement cost coverage. You’ll pay more for it, but it can help you rebuild your life the way it is now after a disaster.

[ Read: How to Find Cheap Homeowners Insurance ]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

The Best Renters Insurance Companies in Boston

Renters insurance in Boston is more expensive than in most areas in the United States. It’s expensive for a few reasons, but the main one being that it’s necessary to protect your belongings. With a high amount of claims every year, providers must make up for any foreseen losses by charging Bostonians more for coverage. For this reason, renters in Boston need to find the best insurance companies on the market.

To help you navigate through the overwhelming sea of insurance providers, we used our SimpleScore methodology to find the companies that deserve your business and attention.

In this article

The best renters insurance companies in Boston

[Read: Eight Landlord Horror Stories That Will Dash Your Dream of Owning Rental Property]

Best for bundling with auto insurance – Geico

You always have to think of the bigger picture, and with Geico you’ll save big if you do.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



3.3 / 5.0

SimpleScore Geico 3.3

Discounts 3

Coverage Options 2

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Accessibility 4

Even though Geico has third-party underwriters, that doesn’t mean you’re not going to get a good deal. Since you’re working through Geico, you can save on both your renters insurance and your auto insurance if you decide to purchase both policies with Geico. Bundling insurances with the same provider is called a multi-policy discount, and if there’s any company you want this with, it’s Geico since you could save as much as 25%.

Best for affordability – Travelers

Any national carrier that can boast it is the cheapest provider in a city infamous for expensive rates deserves your undivided attention.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



3.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore Travelers 3.8

Discounts 5

Coverage Options 4

Customer Satisfaction 2

Accessibility 4

Travelers is a national provider that has been quietly beating some of its bigger rivals as of late when it comes to price. Currently, it’s the cheapest provider in Boston, Massachusetts, for most renters. However, not only is it affordable, but it also offers a few discounts to help lower your premium. Open up another policy or install various protective devices in your home, and Travelers will give you a discount.

Best for discounts – State Farm

If you like your money to stay in your wallet and not in someone else’s, put State Farm on your shortlist.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



4.2 / 5.0

SimpleScore State Farm 4.2

Discounts 3

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 5

Accessibility 4

State Farm offers many discounts, no matter what type of policy you have. Get a renters insurance policy with State Far and you could save on your monthly premium if you install a:

  • Smoke detector
  • Burglar alarm
  • Home monitoring system

Of course, you’ll also save if you get multiple policies, too.

The savings aren’t anything to walk away from, either. As one of the biggest insurance companies globally, State Farm can offer its customers the most significant savings year after year.

Best for fast quotes – Garrity Insurance

Getting a quote from Garrity Insurance is so fast and personable that you’ll wonder why the internet thing is such a big deal.

J.D. Power Rating


AM Best Rating


Standard & Poor’s



2.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore Garrity Insurance 2.8

Discounts 3

Coverage Options 3

Customer Satisfaction N/A

Accessibility 3

A national provider can pump out an online quote within a few minutes, but it turns out so, too, can Garrity Insurance. The average wait time to speak with an agent is about 20 minutes. Not only do you get your quote, but you also get to speak with a real live person who can answer any question you may have, such as how much renters insurance you actually need.

Choosing your provider

When choosing which provider you want to work with in Boston, Massachusetts, you should look at both national and local providers. Each has its own unique set of pros and cons, and therefore each deserves your attention.

[Read: How Much is Renters Insurance?]

Local Carrier


  • Supports your local economy
  • Develop ongoing relationships with the same agents
  • Agents know exactly what you need to have in your policy for your area


  • May not have as strong of an online or mobile app presence
  • May be more expensive than a national carrier
  • May not have as many coverage options as a national carrier

National Carrier


  • Able to offer cheaper rates than many local carriers
  • Will likely have a stronger online and mobile app presence
  • Will likely have more coverage options than a local carrier


  • Agents may not be familiar with your needs as a Boston resident
  • Will be difficult to develop an ongoing working relationship with an agent outside of filing a claim
  • You will likely not have access to a brick and mortar location

Additional renters insurance coverage in Boston

Boston, Massachusetts, has a higher crime rate than much of the United States. Currently, residents in Boston have a 1 in 153 chance of becoming a victim of crime. Unfortunately, insurance companies definitely look at this type of data when calculating what you’ll pay for a premium. If you are considered to live in a high risk area, you’ll pay more.

[Read: Defending Against Porch Pirates: What to Do about Package Thefts]

Boston has also been experiencing more flooding as of late. When purchasing renters insurance in Boston, you will definitely want to consider also purchasing flood insurance.

Flood Insurance

A standard renters policy does not protect you from damages from flood waters. Though you may be able to purchase flood insurance through your insurance provider, most renters opt to purchase it from the U.S. government’s FloodSmart program. To see if you live in an area prone to flooding, you can input your address into FEMA’s flood zone map.

[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]

How much does renters insurance cost in Boston?

The average cost for renters insurance in Boston is $191 a year, which is only $12 more than the national average of $179. A lot of factors influence the total cost you’ll pay for renters insurance. These include such things as:

  • Deductible amount
  • Type of policy you choose
    • ACV (actual cash value) policy versus a replacement cost policy
  • Property coverage amount
  • Liability coverage amount
  • Location of rental
  • Applicable discounts

Boston renters FAQs

Yes, a landlord can require renters insurance in Boston MA. Though there is no state law requiring it, it is well within your landlord’s rights to require it if he or she states so in the lease.

Yes, according to the Insurance Information Institute, Massachusetts is the tenth most expensive state to purchase renters insurance. A variety of factors influence this, but rising flood occurrences is one of the biggest reasons.

Yes, flooding in Boston has been progressively getting worse. Even if you don’t live in a ground floor apartment, it’s a good idea to purchase flood insurance.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the insurers we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com