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3 easy ways to find money for voluntary insurance

When times are financially difficult, many Americans tighten their belts by eliminating items they want but don't necessarily need. Unfortunately, some people make the mistake of placing voluntary insurance in the latter category. That's because it's an intangible – something that can't be held or seen, unlike food, warm clothing or a car that transports them to and from work. 

Cash-strapped workers tell themselves they'll apply for policies later or, worse, save money by canceling coverage already in place. But both of those tactics can be costly: Without the right insurance protection, many families find themselves in financial hot water after an unforeseen accident or illness. Consider that an estimated 15 million Americans emptied their savings accounts in 2013 to cover medical bills, while another 10 million didn't have the money needed to pay for rent, food or utilities because of those bills.1

The bottom line is that while insurance is invisible, Americans who don't have policies in place are vulnerable to hard-hitting financial blows. Fully 46 percent of employees have less than $1,000 on hand to pay out-of-pocket expenses associated with unexpected illnesses or accidents, and 25 percent have less than $500.2

Having the right type and amount of insurance goes a long way toward helping American families remain financially secure. But in an era of tight budgets, how can workers find the extra cash to pay the premiums?

Fortunately, voluntary policies come in all shapes and sizes, and applicants can choose the amount and type of coverage that best meets their needs. If money is a concern, odds are that a close look at spending habits will reveal they can afford coverage and enjoy life too. Here are three easy examples:

  1. A night at the movies is lots of fun. But many families head out to their local theaters every time a new, child-appropriate film comes to town. With Hollywood churning out more of those films than ever, the costs add up.

    Over the summer, Americans purchased 585 million movie tickets at an average of $7.84 each.3 Add in popcorn, candy and sodas for a family of four and the tab for a single film can easily top $50. By waiting until some of the less-buzzed-about films are available for home viewing, families will save not only on ticket prices but on treats too. After all, theaters make a profit of 85 cents for every dollar spent at concession stands.4

  2. The United States is a nation of coffee drinkers. According to a 2013 National Coffee Association survey, 83 percent of adults drink coffee. What's more, "traditional" coffee is increasingly passed over in favor of gourmet beans.5 In October, a pound of coffee cost an average of $5.15,6 while the tab for a large – or venti – caffe latte at Starbucks was $3.95.7 That means Americans who swing by Starbucks for a cup o' Joe each day before work shell out a whopping $79 in four weeks. By cutting the Starbucks habit to three times per week, they'll save nearly $32 per month.

  3. Many workers prefer to break up the day with a restaurant meal. According to a Visa survey, the average employee eats out twice per week and spends an average of $10 each time, or $936 annually.8 Remember, though: That's the average. Some people go out to lunch more frequently and spend more per meal. In fact, according to the survey, the lower the income, the higher the per-meal cost. Cutting back on lunchtime excursions can save hundreds of dollars per year.  

These are just three examples of money-saving choices that can make adding or keeping voluntary insurance coverage more affordable. After all, when deciding between helping to secure their family's financial security and forgoing a movie, fancy coffee or lunch with co-workers, most Americans choose their family's well-being every time. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a solicitation.

Sources

1 NerdWallet Health, “NerdWallet Health estimates 56 million Americans under 65 will struggle with medical bills in 2013,” accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/2013/06/19/nerdwallet-health-study-estimates-56-million-americans-65-struggle-medical-bills-2013/    
2 The Aflac WorkForces Report, conducted by Research Now, accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://www.aflac.com/aflac_workforces_report/2013/fast_facts.aspx
3 The Hollywood Reporter, “Average movie ticket price falls 6.4 percent to $7.84 in third quarter,” accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/average-movie-ticket-price-falls-649818
4 Time magazine, “Movie theaters make 85% profit at concession stands,” accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://business.time.com/2009/12/07/movie-theaters-make-85-profit-at-concession-stands/
5 National Coffee Association, National Coffee Drinking Trends survey press release, accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://www.ncausa.org/custom/headlines/headlinedetails.cfm?id=871&returnto=778
6 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index, accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost
7 Fast Food Menu Prices, Starbucks Prices, accessed Nov. 20, 2013 -  http://www.fastfoodmenuprices.com/starbucks-prices/
8 2013 Visa Lunch Spending Survey, accessed Nov. 20, 2013 - http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/resources/pdfs/Visa_LUNCH_SPENDING_RESEARCH_0913.pdf
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