Don’t Make These Mistakes When Setting a Budget

Spending less than you earn is a key part of any person’s financial health. In order to do this successfully, many people set a budget – an itemized list of categories, and how much can be spent on them in a month. Unfortunately, not all budgets work out – and there are four main reasons why.Here is a quick breakdown of the four major reasons why budgets fail, along with advice that you can use when making your own budget to avoid these mistakes:

Overestimating Your Income

When creating your budget, the first thing that you need to do is estimate your monthly income. Include anything that you know you will bring home, but make sure that you don’t ‘pad’ your earnings. It’s not typically advised to include bonuses or overtime ear

ning because it’s not guaranteed – this income should just be a pleasant surprise when it happens. Otherwise your budget will suffer if you don’t receive the income.

Rounding Down Your Spending

Once you figure out your income, the next step of creating a budget is allocating your money into categories like ‘living expenses,’ ‘food,’ ‘entertainment,’ etc. Make sure that you don’t shortchange any of these categories. If your grocery expenses average $80 to $100 a week, for example, start by budgeting $400 to $500 for a month. Remember, this can always be adjusted later when you know what you spend.

Also make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of saying that you’ll lower your spending. If you don’t know how much per month to budget for a category, estimate high and adjust later. Also make sure that you stay within your budget instead of ‘borrowing’ money from other categories. For example, don’t borrow from your grocery money for overflow entertainment expenses… that’s a slippery slope!

Forgetting to Account for Occasional Splurges

The occasional splurge is a part of human nature. Once in a while, we need to buy something special for ourselves or our loved ones. Unfortunately, the typical person’s budget isn’t so understanding of the urge to buy something that’s not planned for ahead of time – that’s where your ‘splurge’ category should come in. If you are proactive and set aside a little bit of money each month for a rare ‘splurge’ purchase, it won’t hurt your bank account when it happens once in a while.

Never Tweaking Your Budget

Creating a budget is easy, but making a budget that works can be difficult. What’s even harder is sticking to that budget in order to reap the benefits of solid financial planning. In a perfect world, you should reevaluate your budget every few months to readjust your allocations. If you want the help of a professional financial planner in Boston, the folks at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency have got you covered!

If you need help creating or refining your household’s budget, call the Financial Planning professionals here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. With one quick call to 617-298-0655, you can set up a meeting with a professional to get you and your money on track to success in no time.

Bridging the Gap Between Captive and Independent Insurance Agents

In the insurance world, there are two types of agents: captive agents and independent agents. Years ago, you could ask either type, and they would have told you that it’s their way or the highway, and that the other type of agent isn’t as customer friendly for various reasons.

Thankfully, here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we know better. Having worked as both a captive and an independent agent, I can say with confidence that both have their ups and downs, but we can fulfill our ultimate goal of helping our customers by working together.

That’s right – formerly sworn enemies working together. It may sound like the plot of a B-movie at first, but it’s true. Like I mentioned earlier, captive and independent agents both have their strengths and weaknesses:

  • Captive Agents wrote the book on branding consistency. While they may not all wear ‘khakis’ like Jake from State Farm, they know how to unvaryingly sell a product and have an image of uniformity that independent agents could learn from.
  • Independent Agents, because they aren’t beholden to one insurance provider, are all about flexibility. They can cover anyone in almost any situation with something from their proverbial ‘bag of tricks,’ something that captive agents sometimes need.
  • All insurance agents know one thing for certain: it’s important that we continue to evangelize for ourselves as an insurance community. In today’s digital age, an ever-increasing amount of people don’t have a dedicated insurance agent because they’re buying online. It’s our job to show them the downfall of shopping online for insurance, and the benefits of having a dedicated agent to get quotes, file claims, and more.

In the end, both captive and independent insurance agents share one common goal: help their customer get the insurance policies that they need. As a captive agent, it is sometimes hard to find the perfect product for your client within the parameters of the products that you’re allowed to sell.

You can show your customer that you’re willing to be flexible in order to get them the insurance products that they require with a referral to an independent insurance agent just for that product. You will look like an insurance expert, and this gesture will show them that, without question, you have the client’s best interest at heart. And don’t worry – we won’t try to steal your client. We’ll just get them the one policy that they need and send them back to you happy and fully covered.

So, for example, you can send a client to our agency if they need a specialized home insurance policy, but keep their auto insurance and other policies with your company.

If you’re a captive insurance agent and you want to find out more about how you can team up with Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for the benefit of your clients, all you have to do is reach out! Call our agency at 617-298-0655 and we can have coffee and figure out how to start a mutually beneficial relationship right away.

I will finish this blog with this quote:

“Price is what you pay value is what you get.”

-Warren Buffet

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We are Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and rather than share a post about how you can save money or better use your insurance policies, we want to take today and share what we are thankful for most.

Our Clients

If you’re reading this blog post, thank you. You are one of the many reasons that we are thankful at Vargas and Vargas Insurance this holiday season. It’s because of you that we are able to offer great insurance products. We love being able to help you with your insurance quotes, questions, and concerns, and we look forward to maintaining a relationship with you for years to come.

Our Staff

In addition, we are thankful for our staff. We all love coming to work every day and have a blast being able to offer great insurance products to our customers. Helping the people in the Greater Boston area with their insurance needs is a fulfilling and rewarding job, and having such a caring and friendly staff makes Vargas and Vargas Insurance a great place to work.

What are you thankful for? It’s important to participate in the tradition of giving thanks by sharing the things in your life that you appreciate. Make someone feel great this holiday by telling them how much they mean to you. And don’t stop there – show your appreciation every day of the year. If there’s someone here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance that you are thankful for, tell them on our Facebook page.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours. With love from the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency.

Ensure that Your Jewelry is Covered

Everybody loves a little bit of bling. Whether your passion is precious metals, gemstones, hand crafted statement pieces, or any of the other dozens of types of jewelry out there, you need to make sure that your valuable items are properly covered – just in case. Thankfully, there are two coverages for your valuable jewelry, general coverage that comes with home and renter’s insurance, and jewelry riders for additional protection.

General jewelry coverage is a part of almost every home insurance and renter’s insurance policy that we offer here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. This will cover most casual, everyday jewelry. Check with your insurance agent to make sure that you have this basic coverage, and see how much coverage it offers.

If you have valuable items, you may want to check your insurance policy’s coverage offered for theft and mysterious disappearance. There is often a limit on the general coverage that may be less than some of your more valuable items, like a family heirloom or your engagement and wedding rings. For these cases, you may want to inquire about adding protection in the form of a jewelry rider on to your existing insurance policy.

To speak to an experienced insurance professional, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. One of our agents can tell you if you have enough coverage, and will help you add a jewelry rider to your existing insurance policies if you need some extra protection. These are typically very inexpensive, and are well worth the coverage they offer. So, don’t let your jewelry go uninsured or underinsured any longer – call us today!

Three Mistakes to Avoid When You Purchase Motorcycle Insurance

Your motorcycle insurance will protect you and everyone else on the road from the financial consequences of an accident. You need to make sure that you choose the right policy to get the insurance coverage you need at a price you can afford.

Vargas & Vargas Insurance in Dorchester, MA wants to help you find the motorcycle policy that fits your lifestyle. The following are three mistakes to avoid when you purchase motorcycle insurance to make sure you get the ideal policy:

1. Not specifying that a motorcycle is only a recreational vehicle

Some bikers use their motorcycle to make an everyday commute to work. Others are merely recreational riders who might go for a ride on the weekend or only a few times a month.

Make sure you opt for recreational coverage if you’re not using your bike every day. This can save you money on coverage without detracting from the amount of coverage you’re going to get.

2. Buying a bike without considering the costs of insuring it

The costs for insuring particular bike models can widely vary. You should factor the cost of insurance into the decision of making a bike purchase. A higher end or faster bike will more than likely result in higher insurance costs.

3. Purchasing separate motorcycle insurance without first looking into the possibility of a motorcycle endorsement

If you have a car or another type of vehicle, you may be able to add a motorcycle endorsement to your policy so that it will cover both your vehicle and your motorcycle. Bundling insurance is a popular choice if you have all your policies under one insurance agency.

Find the right motorcycle policy in Dorchester, MA with the help of Vargas & Vargas Insurance. Our agents are waiting to answer your questions and are ready to help you start a policy.

Historic Vehicle License Plates for Classic Cars

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we love seeing classic cars on the road. It takes us back to a simpler time. Did you know that classic cars can have special license plates in the state of Massachusetts? Here are the two specialty plates that you can request for your antique vehicle:

Antique Plates – These plates may only be used for vehicles that are over 25 years old. In addition, the vehicle must be used only for exhibitions, car club events, and similar activities. The total cost of this plate is $50 annually – this will increase to $80 annually if your antique plate is personalized.

Year of Manufacture (YOM) Plates – To keep your car as original as possible, the state of Massachusetts will allow you to use license plates from the vehicle’s year of manufacture. The vehicle must be over 25 years old, and must have passed a state inspection. In addition, you will be required to acquire authentic Massachusetts license plated issued in the model year of your vehicle. The plates must be in good condition, and may be no more than six characters. The fee for using Year of Manufacture Plates is $50 annually.

If you’re interested in finding out more on how to get a specialty plate for your classic car, see the Applying for Specialty License Plates page on dmv.org.

We want to make sure the classic cars in the Greater Boston area are properly looked after, and protected. That’s why we offer top-notch classic car insurance for our clients. For a free insurance quote on a policy that will protect your classic car, just call 617-298-0655 and speak to a Vargas and Vargas Insurance agent.

How to Get the Best Black Friday Deals

When the feasting is over, and Thanksgiving is done, it will be time to gear up for deals – that is, if you’re a Black Friday shopper. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a few dozen years, you know what Black Friday is: a day of savings and often a great opportunity for bargain shopping.

Here’s the secret to getting the most out of Black Friday – it’s all about planning ahead.

Gather the advertisements for stores that you are interested in, and see when their sales start, and whether they are available online or in-store only. In recent years, some stores have been starting sales on Thanksgiving night, while others wait until bright and early on Friday morning. If you want to snag more than one big deal, you may need to recruit a friend or loved one so that you can divide and conquer once the shopping madness begins.

Make sure that you don’t get lured in by a fantastic sounding deal. Just remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Retailers want to sell as much as they can, so they sometimes make inferior products sound like a good buy, so check the specs of electronics before you make a purchase.

Don’t forget to increase your savings with coupons, memberships, and savings apps. Every little bit of money that you save now will mean more that you can spend during the holiday season!

And remember – you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to save on your Massachusetts insurance policies. Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency always has great deals on home insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, and all of our other products. Just call 617-298-0655 for a free quote.

Make Your Thanksgiving a Breeze

It is hard to believe that it’s already November! The Holiday Season is quickly approaching, and that can only mean one thing: Thanksgiving is right around the corner. If you’re planning on hosting Thanksgiving dinner for your friends and family, use these tips to keep things stress-free and running smoothly:

  • Start with a calendar – Print out a blank calendar for the week leading up to Thanksgiving. You can use it to plan out when you will be shopping, decorating, preparing for company, and doing your preparation. And don’t forget to figure out when to take the turkey out of the freezer if you’re using a frozen bird!
  • Start shopping early – You probably have an idea of what you will make ahead of time, so don’t wait to start buying the nonperishables that you will need for the day. It will save you a lot of hassle (and cart space) when you make your big holiday trip to the store.
  • Do everything you can ahead of time – You will have enough on your (both proverbial and literal) plate on Thanksgiving Day, so make sure that you do all that you can in advance. This includes make-ahead dishes like pies, but can also include tasks like setting the table. Before you go to bed, make sure that the dishwasher and trash cans are empty – they’ll need to be ready for heavy use on Thanksgiving!

One more thing that you can do to get ready for the big day is to call your insurance agent and ask them for a home insurance review. It will give you peace of mind to know that you are protected during the holiday season, and all you have to do is call 617-298-0655.

Tips for Filing a Condo Insurance Claim

Condominiums are a great alternative for homeowners. With a Massachusetts condominium, you get perks of homeownership and perks of apartment living in one place.

When there is an issue, however, you need to know which policy covers the damage. This will tell you who must file the claim – you, the unit owner, or the condo association. Here is a quick breakdown of what each policy typically covers.

Master Insurance Policy – Often considered “walls-out” coverage, a condo association’s master policy often covers the walls of their buildings, as well as common areas. They may have liability insurance in case an accident occurs in a common area. There is often additional Directors and Officers Liability coverage built in to the policy.

Unit Owner’s Coverage – Insurance for condo unit owners often covers everything inside the walls. This includes personal property, fixtures, appliances, and more. Sometimes unit owners will also need to insure carpeting and cabinets as well. In addition, it is always advisable to have liability insurance – just in case an accident occurs inside the unit.

While this is typically how the coverage falls, each condominium association will have their own unique policy, and the verbiage in that policy will affect your Unit Owner’s policy. To know for sure who is responsible for damages, call your insurance provider.

And if you need a Massachusetts condo insurance policy, just call our agency at 617-298-0655. We are experienced at writing both master insurance policies and unit owner’s coverage, so we are ready to take care of your needs, no matter how big or small they may be. Call today!