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Budgeting tips to make your accident plan payout go further

Discover 4 budgeting tips to make your accident payout stretch a little further.

An Accident Protection Plus plan with Guardian Direct® is your best line of defense against costly medical bills when you or a family member has an accident.

Even if you have a regular health insurance plan, your medical bills can still be far from affordable. And if you or a spouse have to miss work due to an accident, that’s extra income you may be missing. 

Your accident insurance plan provides a lump-sum cash payout that you can use however you want. From medical bills to medications to rent or utilities, your benefit payment can help make ends meet when you need it most.

But even with the extra financial help, balancing the costs of your medical bills with other expenses like rent, utilities and groceries isn't always easy. That’s why we’ve rounded up some helpful budgeting tips to help make your accident payout stretch a little further.

Utilities

Chances are you probably spend a portion of your paycheck on utilities every month.

On average, Americans spend the following amount on monthly utilities:

  • $183 on electricity
  • $82 on natural gas
  • $40 on water
  • $12-$20 on garbage/sewer/recycling
  • $100 on cable TV
  • $47 on internet

How to save on utilities

  • Save on heat: Since the typical US family spends at least $2,200 per year on energy bills, consider upgrading to a smart thermostat. Switching from a conventional thermostat to a smart thermostat can save you 10–12% on heating and up to 15% on cooling.
  • Save on power: Invest in energy-efficient light bulbs and smart power strips. A smart power strip can save you the hassle of unplugging individual electronics or appliances when they’re not in use.
  • Save on gas: Regularly replace your furnace air filter and perform annual furnace maintenance. A dirty air filter can slow down air flow through your furnace, causing it to work harder to heat your home.
  • Save on water: Install low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators in your home. Conventional showerheads use 3-4 gallons per minute. Some low-flow showerheads use as little as a gallon and a half of water per minute.
  • Save on TV/Internet: Not all plans are created equal, so shop around for the best price for your household’s needs. 
  • Save on garbage: Create less garbage. Some cities and private collection services charge per bag, so the fewer bags you use, the less you pay. If you need to pay a private company to collect your trash, shop around to see if you can find a better price elsewhere.

Groceries

According to the Department of Agriculture, Americans spend about 6% of their budget on groceries, and around 5% of their disposable income on dining out. 

A good marker for how much of your overall income should go to your food budget every month is about 11%.

For example, if your post-tax income is $3,000 a month, you’ll want to budget around $180 for groceries and $150 for dining out. But if you end up spending more money on groceries every month, cut back on dining out to save.

How to save on groceries:

  • Shop on a full stomach: You’ll buy fewer snacks and extra items if you’re not shopping for food while ravenous.
  • Stick with a list: Go armed with a pre-planned list and stick to it.
  • Plan meals ahead: Plan your meals for the week before you shop and buy the ingredients you need.
  • Shop only once a week: You’ll tend to spend more if you stop at the store every day or several times a week.
  • Return your bottles and cans for the deposit that you paid: If you've got kids, get them to help with this job and let them keep the cash they earn.
  • Clean out your fridge and cupboards once a month: Use up what you bought before buying more.

Rent

If you’re like most Americans, a big chunk of your income goes straight to housing. According to Business Insider, housing accounts for about 37% of most American's budget.

How to save on rent:

  • Move to a new town: An effective way to save on rent is to move to a cheaper city. House Beautiful’s data on average one-bedroom rental rates for major U.S. cities shows a big difference between rent prices in different cities — sometimes with a difference of thousands of dollars. 
  • Get a roomie: Want to cut your rent in half? Find a roommate. You can use Roommates.com or Craigslist to find a compatible match.
  • Rent a room in a house: If you’re single, it’s usually cheaper to rent a room than to rent an apartment or whole house for yourself. And some or all utilities may be included in the rent.
  • Look into Government Subsidies: “Section 8” housing, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program subsidizes your rent if your income is low enough to qualify. HUD has a page where you can locate your nearest public housing assistant.

Health care

In 2017, annual costs for health care in America hit $10,345 per person. 

That’s a lot of dough, considering that according to a GoBankingRates survey, more than half of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account.

And an even higher percentage of Americans have no savings at all: 39%, up from 34% in 2016.

Your accident insurance payout can be used for any medical costs associated with your covered accident. Anything from MRIs to ambulance rides to medications is covered by your plan. And that can make a huge difference, considering an ambulance ride, MRI or a CAT scan could range well into the thousands, depending on your location.

How to save on healthcare bills:

Medical coverage is your first and best defense against high medical costs. And your accident insurance plan helps protect your family and your wallet even more.

From negotiating with hospitals to crowdfunding your bills to Medicaid, there are many ways to save money on health care bills.

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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.
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