What the experts say
Protecting your home from theft
“Before you head out on vacation this month, here’s another item for your to-do list: Make sure your home isn’t a target for burglars,” said Kelli B. Grant in CNBC.com. Theftrelated insurance claims peak in August, which sees 13 percent more claims than other months. The best defenses are often low-tech, like having your mail and newspapers held. “Ask a trusted friend or neighbor to keep up with regular chores like mowing the lawn and putting the trash cans out.” Make sure you have enough insurance to replace valuables whose coverage may be limited in a typical homeowners policy, such as jewelry, which “is often capped at $1,000.” It also helps to keep a home inventory, to provide documentation in case you need to make a claim.
You, too, can be a millionaire
“Your odds of becoming a millionaire aren’t what they used to be—they’re better,” said Sandra Block in Kiplinger.com. A record 10.8 million U.S. households had a net worth of $1 million or more at the end of 2016, and many of those newly minted millionaires appear to be self-made. In a survey of households with investment portfolios worth $3 million or more, only 10 percent credited an inheritance for their wealth, while 52 percent cited income from a job or business and 32 percent credited investments. Want to get there? Financial planners say “lifestyle creep” is “one of the biggest barriers to reaching the $1 million milestone.” Avoid the temptation to spend that raise or bonus on a bigger house or a nicer car, by dedicating a specific percentage of each paycheck to savings. “The sooner you start saving, the less you’ll have to put aside each month.”
Tapping into life insurance
Life insurance’s main purpose is to pay out a death benefit, but “that doesn’t mean you can’t also reap the benefits of these policies while you’re still alive,” said Maryalene LaPonsie in USNews.com. Although most people opt for basic term life insurance, permanent life insurance “has an investment component that allows policies to build a cash value over time.” Policyholders can tap into that money in several ways. They can take out a loan from the cash value, though it will accum ulate interest charges. They can also withdraw money, or surrender the policy altogether, releasing its entire cash value. Policies can also be sold in exchange for a lump sum or an annuity. In that case, “it’s best to work with an experienced broker to get the best payout possible.” ■