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Saturday, August 30, 2014

How Not to Be Noah

Posted by Tim Stobbs on March 27, 2013

Well if you have been wondering why you haven’t heard much from me lately…I’ve been busy trying to prevent my house from getting flooded.  Flood?!? In Regina?!?

Here is the latest flood forecast for SK, notice the big red dot in the south that says ‘very high.’ In the center of that area is Regina.  So in reality it won’t take much to cause a flood here after all we did break a record for snowfall this year with over six feet of the white stuff (snow, not the other white stuff).  So right now there is a whole lot of people trying to move snow away from our house foundations and praying for a slow melt and little rain for the next month or so.

Moving snow and chipping ice of my roof trying to prevent ice dams has largely where I’ve been spending my free time for the last week or so.  Why the sudden rush?  It’s been driven by the forecast, with Easter is just around the corner so is the first longer period of positive high temperatures for daytime highs.  Yes, I’ve spent most of March in freezing temperatures, and yes it sucked (moving on before I rant).

As you can imagine with six feet of snow I have some impressive banks of snow around my house that I’m trying to move away from the foundation is well interesting.  After all the snow piles everywhere in my yard are huge, so moving the snow really means breaking up the ice layers in the snow then shoveling the snow into areas which should drain better.  It’s also like a geology lesson on our storms during the last winter as the snow has four or five layers to it with different density and hardness. Ironically the easy stuff to shovel is at the bottom.

But don’t you have insurance in the event your basement does flood?  Well yes, but just because I have insurance for my house in case it burns to the ground doesn’t mean I want to set my house on fire to actually use it!  I rather put in some time now in prevention than deal with a bigger mess down the road.  After all, to remind me of this fact our neighbour had a burst pipe this winter and came back from vacation with 10 inches of water in their basement.  Ick, what a mess.

So have you ever had to use your insurance for a big clean up?  What was the cause and would you did you do to prevent it?

Is Dental Insurance Worth it?

Posted by Tim Stobbs on December 6, 2012

I currently have dental insurance through my work and while it does seem to save a lot of money I was curious how much did it really save me.  So  I kept track of our dental costs through 2012 and here is the summary of the work done:

  • Four checkups and cleanings (two kids, two adults)
  • Three adult fillings
  • Four kid fillings
  • Coating on four teeth to prevent future cavities for kids

Total cost invoiced by the dentist: $1952.  Yikes that’s a lot of money!

The premiums on my dental plan cost me $37.99/pay period or $911.76 per year.  Ugh, that’s a lot of cash off my paycheques, but my co-pay on all that dental work was only $414.  So in total we paid $1325, so we saved about $627 or 32% of the cost.

What is really interesting is the checkups and cleanings were $748 of the cost invoiced by the dentist.  So if you ever have those years were all you have done is the cleanings, then I’m actually paying more in premiums than the savings I’m getting from the insurance.  To make it break even on a yearly basis you need to have at least one filling fixed per year in your family.  After that I’m actually getting some savings out of the insurance.  Of course if you dental plan covers major expenses as well there is that additional benefit which can save you even more.

In summary, yes dental insurance can be worth it if you get routine work done on a fairly consistent basis (at least in this example), but if you have really good teeth and almost never get any work done…well you are likely in a losing situation.

So are you planning to have dental insurance in your retirement?  Or are you going to just accept the costs the come up?

So How Do You Get An Annuity Quote?

Posted by Tim Stobbs on October 12, 2012

So as a follow up question to my previous post on The Cure for Pension Envy when I discussed annuities.  I had a question from someone:

So how do you get an annuity quote?

Well you can search around the internet for public information on rates, for example I came across this website for Canadian information that would give you some ballpark numbers.  Yet there is a problem with these sort of sites as they will even warn that the rates change constant due to a number of factors.

So what factors really matter?  Well the obvious one would be the age difference between your spouse and you if you are looking for a joint annuity  (when your spouse will continue to get payments if you die).  If you are just six months apart in age that is one thing, but if you are six years apart that is an entirely different ballgame especially if you are picking up an annuity in your 70s.

So in the end, it might just be faster to breakdown and contact some companies directly and get some quotes.  That way you can be sure to get the correct information for the options that you are looking for and for your particular situation.    In general the quote forms will be similar and ask the following information:  your name and contact information, what product you want a quote on (single, joint or term certainty), your age (and your spouses age if applicable), if you plan on using money from your retirement or investment accounts and then some details on what payments you are looking for (and how often) or the lump sum you are looking to invest.

A quick search with Google for ‘annuity calculator’ will generate a nice list of potential places to check out.  For example I ran a few different searches and came up with a few sites like: Saga annuity calculator (UK) or RBC annuity calculator (Canada).  You should with little difficulty be able to get a list of quotes to know approximately what you are looking at if you really want to buy an annuity.