Ditch the Clutter, Your Mind and Wallet Will Thank You

How’s the spring cleaning going this year? Are you finished? Still knee deep in your piles of “keep,” “donate,” and “trash” bags? Or did you give up? Should we not even ask? Wherever you are in your annual quest to clean, tidy, and declutter, we’ve got some motivation for you not to quit (or to start). Unless, of course, you’re one of those people who’ve already finished, in which case we salute you (and silently curse you). All that excess clutter around you is more than just an eyesore, or a hazard to your feet (we’re looking at you, LEGO), it can actually drag you down mentally, and be a drain on your finances. So to keep you going, let’s look at how decluttering can be good for your mind and your wallet! 

Your Brain on Decluttering

We’re going to lay something kind of deep on you: sometimes the clutter that has accumulated around you is a physical symptom of what’s going on in your mind (and sometimes it means you have kids, which also means you’ve got a cluttered, stressed mind!). So that means the opposite is also true: decluttering can have a positive affect on your mental health. How?

1. Decluttering can boost your confidence and strengthen your decision-making skills

caucasian woman smiling with her thumb up

Part of what some of us dread about decluttering is all the choices we’ll have to make, especially about what stays and what goes. When you’re in a not-so-great mental state, making decisions can become overwhelming, which can up your anxiety levels. But a good old-fashioned clean-out can boost your confidence in your decision-making skills, and even make you feel empowered! You’ll be restoring your sense of agency and usefulness as you sort through the things that you need, and the things that are might merely be “should keeps,” or things you’re holding onto to please someone or for some other reason that isn’t helpful to you. 

Not only that, but making the choices about what stays and what goes in your environment can be a very powerful way to set boundaries in your life, both with yourself and with those who share your space.

2. It can reduce anxiety

Humans prefer order and symmetry, so decluttered spaces can be calming to an anxious mind; in addition, patterns can also help relieve anxiety. That means that not only does having things ordered and balanced around you help to reduce anxiety, the actual process of creating patterns by sorting similar items, taking inventory, and organizing what stays and what goes can be a sort of coping mechanism to release anxious energy. Not only that, but as Nidhi Tewari, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health therapist, points out, “The process of organizing requires that you be present, so it can be grounding in instances where anxiety is heightened.”

3. It can energize you

We get it: it can be hard to get up off that couch and start the decluttering process. But once you do, you’ll kick yourself into that high-gear, getting-stuff-done mode, which can spill over into other parts of your life. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Bhavna Barmi, “When you accomplish the relatively small task of decluttering, you attain a sense of accomplishment which leaves you more energized and helps you move towards your goals.” After all, anytime something you do (no matter how big or small) takes you toward a goal, you’ll feel better, more productive, and more motivated to keep on keepin’ on!

4. It can reduce stress and boost your mood

african american woman smiling
Decluttering can improve your mood.

Feeling stressed because you can’t find things in your space, or even lashing out at the people around you when things get lost, or when the clutter gets overwhelming? Yup, clutter definitely causes stress; in fact, in one study, when working couples gave tours of their homes, women who used more words describing clutter and disorganization also tended to show higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggesting chronic stress. So, on the flip side of that, decluttering can help to alleviate stress: other studies show that the actual act of cleaning and decluttering can decrease overall stress by lowering cortisol levels, and increasing endorphins (our feel-good hormone).

Your Wallet on Decluttering

Are you starting to feel good already, just thinking about how a decluttering project can benefit your mental health? Great! But the benefits don’t stop there: decluttering can actually save you money, as well! It’s a common misconception that keeping everything will save you money in the long run, but that just isn’t the case (in fact, studies show that storing unused items in your home costs roughly $10 per square foot). Here’s why:

1. You won’t need to buy multiples of anything anymore

Get this: according to one study, U.S. households collectively spend a whopping $2.7 billion annually replacing lost items! But if you declutter, once you’ve gotten rid of excess stuff, and whittled down to the stuff you need, and organized the stuff that’s left, you’ll know exactly what you have and where it is. Great for your stress levels, but also really practical because you’ll no longer end up buying something you already have! 

2. You’ll save money on storage solutions

Ok, a trip to one of those stores that sells endless rows of streamlined storage solutions can be really fun, we admit it. But all of that extra stuff that you need to store all of your extra stuff is costing you a whole lot of money! And here’s a tip while decluttering, while it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and spend a bunch of money on organization items halfway through the decluttering process, don’t. You need to know how much stuff you’re actually keeping before you buy storage. 

3. You can cash in on the good stuff

Remember that old decluttering technique: divide everything into piles of things to keep, donate, and trash? You can also add a fourth category for the stuff that’s in great shape: sell. That used to be a tall order, with a lot of running around to places like consignment shops, but nowadays you have a ton of options right at your fingertips! Try sites/apps like eBay, Mercari, Poshmark, ThredUp, Vinted, and Facebook Marketplace.

And don’t forget about that donate pile: donating your unwanted stuff feels good (just soak in that good feeling knowing you’re helping others while you declutter!), but it’s also tax deductible.

4. You can’t pay bills you can’t findfiles and papers stacked on top of each other

Nobody likes paying bills, right? But what’s worse is paying your bills late and racking up late fees or hurting your credit score. And that’s what’s happening to a lot of people with cluttered spaces, simply because they misplace their bills! In fact, 25% of adults say they pay bills late because they lose them.

5. A decluttering mindset can rein in spending

You might notice that, once you’ve done some decluttering, you won’t want to go back to the bad old days of a cluttered house, and will be more likely to stay in that “decluttering mindset.” That might also mean that you’ll be less likely to mindlessly buy unnecessary stuff that will just become clutter, which will save you money as you shop!

6. Time is money

Having a cluttered space can suck up your time, and take you away from more productive things. Consider these stats: the average person spends two and a half days searching for misplaced items each year, and nearly 25% of us are late to school or work at least twice a week as a result of searching for lost items. Not only that, but in the average home, getting rid of clutter eliminates 40% of the housework! Just think what you could be doing with all that extra time! You’ll have more time to do stuff yourself, instead of paying someone else to do it, or you’ll be able to find better deals on things. Add to that your reined-in spending, and you might find you have to work less, or you can start paying off your debts!

There you have it: we’ve given you 11 great reasons to get back on that spring cleaning decluttering train. It might feel overwhelming when you look around you at all the clutter that’s dragging you done, but you got this. Just start small and don’t feel like you need to do everything in a day – remember that every step you take towards your goal will make you happier, healthier, and maybe even a little better off financially. 

Can Shopping for Life Insurance Online Save you Time and Money?

If you’ve realized that life insurance is important and worth looking into, that’s great! But are you starting to feel a little anxious about where to start looking, and how to begin comparing plans? Fortunately, you have the ability to shop online with ease and comfort these days – but how do you know if you’ve found the best option for you, and the most savings? Will searching for life insurance online really save you time and money? The short answer is yes, but the long answer is that you have to work with a reputable agent and insurance company, so you make sure you get what’s right for you and your family. Luckily, we can help!

illustration of a hand with a blue curve over the pointer finger
Shopping online won’t necessarily save you money, but it is more convenient.

Can You Save Money?

We know you want to save as much money as you can when you’re shopping for insurance, and we don’t blame you! Saving money is important when you have responsibilities and a family that you need to take care of. And we get it, many people think that life insurance is expensive, but it is possible to find a great rate and save money by shopping for a plan online! Life insurance rates will be the same, whether you meet with an agent in person or work with one online: there won’t be any special deals that you’re missing out on by shopping online. But it will be more convenient for you, and you can save money when you do the proper research and have an agent help you compare different plans from different reputable companies. 

Can You Save Time?

You can absolutely save time when you shop online for a life insurance policy. You can avoid having to travel to different life insurance agencies to learn about the policies they offer, and then having to take all of that info and try to compare plans before making a decision. When you work with an agent online, you can sit back in the comfort of your home while they will do all the work for you, saving you both time and money. You will not have to go back and forth researching and comparing different policies from different companies; instead, you can save time by working with an agent online from one of the companies below. 

Working With A Reputable Company & Agent

Licensed agents can compare plans in minutes, and help you find a policy that is right for you and your family’s needs. They will go over your needs and help you figure out how much coverage is right for you – shopping for life insurance doesn’t have to be a time-consuming and anxiety-inducing experience if you use online tools, or speak with an agent.

illustration of a man with a headset on

Choosing the right life insurance policy will ensure that your family gets the benefits they need. It might seem complicated and frustrating to find the right policy for you, but it can be done, with some help. The best way to find the right life insurance policy for you and your specific needs is by working with an agent who specializes in life insurance. We have provided the top life insurance companies in the nation below; each offers hassle-free assistance and the most competitive rates. Always check multiple sites to make sure you have bargaining power and know the advantages of each company. Make sure a hard time isn’t made harder by a financial burden, check life insurance rates today.

Find Out Which Premium Tax Credits You Qualify For This Open Enrollment Period

In case you haven’t heard, earlier this year, President Biden passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), which extended health insurance premium tax credits to more Americans. What this means is that you can now qualify for premium tax credits that you probably couldn’t have before. So, how much can you save exactly? Well, to find out how much you and your family can save on health insurance premiums, speak with a licensed EZ agent. Our agents will make sure to find the most savings for you – you could save anywhere from $50-$1000 a month!

What Is The Premium Tax Credit?

gold money signs with a green background
Premium tax credits help you pay for a portion of your monthly insurance premiums, so you can save more money.

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) established the premium tax credit so that individuals or families with low or moderate incomes could afford health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Premium tax credits help you pay for a portion of your monthly insurance premiums; you can choose to have payments of the premium tax credit go directly to insurers to pay a share of your monthly insurance premiums, or wait until you file taxes to claim them. 

Do You Qualify?

Since the passage of Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act, premium tax credits are now available to individuals or families with incomes between the federal poverty line and 400% of the federal poverty line. It also requires that Americans pay no more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance premiums, and provides a larger tax credit to people who already receive financial assistance. To qualify:

  • You must prove you do not have access to an affordable employer-sponsored plan.
  • You must prove you are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE.
  • You cannot be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
  • You must file a joint federal income tax return if you are married; you cannot file a married filing separately tax return (unless you’re a victim of domestic abuse or spousal abandonment).
  • You must have a household income that falls within a certain amount.

It is important to note that you will not be eligible for the premium tax credit if you buy a plan outside of the Marketplace or exchange.

How Much Will You Save With An EZ Agent?

Our agents are highly trained and work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation, making it easier for them to compare plans and find ways to save you the most money. Between the premium tax credits and your agent’s comparison shopping, you can expect to see a drop in premiums of $50 a month or more! With the new law:fifty dollar bill in a jean pocket.

  • An individual making $19,000 or less will not have to pay a monthly premium for health insurance. 
  • Couples who earn more than $70,000 together will save $1,000 per month on their health insurance monthly premiums. 
  • A family of 4 with an income of $90,000 will pay about $200 less in health insurance premiums. 

If you buy a health insurance plan during the Open Enrollment Period, or switch plans, you will be able to receive the tax credits. So, what better time than now to find an affordable plan and save money? Comparing plans is the best way to find an affordable plan that provides the right level of coverage for you, but before you start doing the work of comparing on your own, come to EZ. We will make the process quicker and easier by comparing available plans in your area in minutes. Our licensed agents work with all the top-rated insurance companies in the nation and can go over your budget and needs, and find the best plan for you and your family. We compare plans and offer guidance at no cost to you. To get free quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak directly with an agent, call 888-350-1890.

EZ Can Help You Cut Group Insurance Costs, Not Benefits

HMO, PPO, and POS, oh my! These are just some of the many different types of group health insurance options on the market. While it’s good to have options, having so many of them can make choosing a healthcare plan intimidating. There are many factors you have to consider, from the types of benefits offered, to your employees’ needs, to your own bottom line. Group health insurance can be costly, but there are ways to cut costs and keep benefits. That’s where EZ.Insure comes in. We are experts in the insurance industry, and so will find you the best value for your money by assessing the needs of both your business and your employees.

Assess Your Employees Needsmagnifying glass over a many clustered pictures of people

Finding out what kinds of benefits are important to your employees is the first step in deciding what kind of plan to offer. For example, some employees will have a family they need coverage for, some will need extra coverage for chronic health conditions, while others will just want the basics. One way you can figure out what your employees want in a healthcare plan is by distributing a health survey

Remember to assess your employees’ plans on a yearly basis, because what worked well for them one year, might not work the next year. 

Make Your Premium Dollars Count

pink piggy bank next to a jar that has money in it labeled HSA
HSAs allow employees to put aside pre-tax money to help offset the out-of-pocket expenses of a high deductible plan.

When choosing a plan, you also need to consider how much cost sharing you can afford. The cost of monthly premiums are generally shared by employees and the employer, and the more you contribute, the more likely your employees are to enroll in your plan. There are ways to save both you and your employees money while still offering them quality insurance. For example, if you choose an ACA Bronze plan and pay 100% of your employees’ premiums, you will still be saving more money than if you were paying a lower percentage of a high premium Gold plan.

If you decide to offer your employees a plan with a lower premium but a high deductible, and decide to pay either most or all of the cost of their premiums, consider also offering a health savings account (HSA). These accounts allow employees to put aside pre-tax money to help offset the out-of-pocket expenses of a high deductible plan. They’ll be saving money on premiums and will be able to put more money into their HSAs. This way, they’ll be more likely to seek care and remain healthy, which can save you money in the long run.

many boxes on one side of a scale and one box on the other side being weighed down.
Comparing plans with one of our agents is the best way to make sure that you know what all of your options are.

Compare ALL Available Plans

The more you know, the less you spend. Not only are there HMOs, PPOs, and POS plans, but there are also the metal tier plans from the ACA, QSEHRA, and more. Comparing plans with one of our agents is the best way to make sure that you know what all of your options are. EZ’s agents are trained, licensed, and highly experienced with all the different types of group plans, and they know what will work best for you and your employees.

Our agent will navigate through all the plans to find the most coverage for your employees, while keeping more money in your pocket. We get how time consuming and irritating it can be to comb through all the different group plans in your area. We will provide you with a personal agent who will assess everyone’s needs, and compare all of the plans available within minutes. All of our services are free, and there are no obligations. To get free quotes, enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to an agent, call 888-998-2027.

4 EZ Tips For First Time Health Plan Shoppers

The world of health insurance can be intimidating. There are so many industry terms, as well as different types of plans with different coverage options and prices. Doing all of the necessary research to find the plan that fits your needs can feel overwhelming. You can opt for a short-term insurance plan that offers the basics and are fairly cheap, or a more comprehensible insurance plan. On top of trying to figure out which type of plan suits you, there are ways to save money on insurance that you could miss out on if you don’t know where to look. Here at EZ, we understand how intimidating it can all be, which is why we have some tips for making the process a little less unnerving. 

1. Know The Terminology health insurance terms around the word health insurance

The first thing you should do when jumping into the world of health insurance is familiarize yourself with the terminology. All of these terms can seem confusing, but they don’t have to be. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most important ones to know:

  • Premium– the fixed monthly rate that you pay the insurance company to cover you and your family. Premiums do not count  towards meeting your deductible.
  • Deductible a fixed amount you must pay before the insurance company either reimburses you or covers medical expenses. For example, if your deductible is $1,500, and you go to the doctor and get a procedure $3500 done, then you must pay $1500 first. Then, your company should take care of the last $2000, minus the amount of coinsurance you owe.
  • Coinsurance Once your deductible is met, any insurance-covered procedure, treatment or service will result in a medical expense. The most common division of coinsurance is 80/20- health insurance companies pay 80%, you pay the remaining 20%. For example, in the above-mentioned scenario, you would have to pay 20% of it $2,000. 
  • Copayment– a set amount you pay whenever you use a specific type of healthcare service. You can have a copay for primary doctor visits, specialist doctor visits, ER visits, as well as pharmaceutical copays on prescription drugs.

2. Know Your Budgetcalculator next to a paper with pens on it and coins below it

Before you start choosing specific insurance plans, weigh how much you are willing and able to pay for health insurance against your healthcare needs. Are you relatively healthy and just need the basics, or do you have a chronic condition and need more comprehensive coverage? These factors will play a big part in how much your monthly premiums will be versus how much your deductible will be. 

If you are healthy, then a high-deductible health plan might be your best option. These plans offer low premiums and a high deductible- the thinking behind choosing a plan like this is that, since you are healthy, you will hopefully never have to pay your full  deductible. It sounds like a bit of a gamble, but it can be worth it to save money on premiums.

If you need more coverage, then an ACA plan, or private plan that is offered by brokers or agents will work best because these plans offer more comprehensive coverage. There are different types of plans such as HMO plans with limited network coverage, and PPO plans that offer more in-network coverage (which costs more).

3. Know How To Save Money

After you’ve explored the different plan options available to you, don’t forget to look into the money saving options that come with some of these plans! You can save some extra money with:

    • Subsidies– If you make between 100%-400% of the poverty line, then you are eligible for subsidies when purchasing plans on the ACA Marketplace. There are different kinds of subsidies:
      • Cost-sharing reductions- Cost-sharing reductions are discounts that lower your deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Your eligibility for these extra savings is determined by your household income.
      • Advance Premium Tax Credit– This is a tax credit that you can use to lower your monthly premiums. When applying for Marketplace health insurance, you estimate your expected income for the year. If you qualify, you will receive an advance tax credit that you can apply to the cost of your monthly premiums.
  • pile of coins growing in a row with a persons hand holding coins over the last pileHealth Savings Accounts (HSAs)- If you do go the route of getting a high deductible health plan (HDHP), then an HSA will help you save money. These accounts allow you to save up money to use for qualified medical expenses.You can contribute money to this account tax-free and allow it to roll over every year, but you can only have one of these plans alongside a qualified HDHP.  

4. Get A Good Agent

If you are in the market for a health insurance plan, eliminate the hassle of doing all the research yourself and contact an agent. EZ.Insure offers highly trained agents in your area who can answer questions about all of these topics, and more. With us, you’ll speak with an actual human being, not an automated phone system. We will provide you with your own personal agent who will search and compare all available plans in your area, for free. Get the answers you are looking for quickly and at no cost. No pressure, no gimmicks. To get instant quotes, enter your zip code in the bar above. Or if you would like to get specific answers, speak to an agent by calling 888-350-1890.

Making The Most Of Your High Deductible Health Plan

High deductible health plans are rising in popularity, with more companies offering them and even more people purchasing them individually. These plans definitely have benefits, like their lower premiums, and they can be great for healthy people on a budget. On the other hand the high deductibles of these plans can be a problem, because going to the doctor or hospital can mean being stuck with a big bill. Or knowing you have a high deductible to meet might make you think twice about seeking care, and you might end up ignoring symptoms until things get worse. However, there are ways to make the most of your high deductible health plan while getting the care you need and saving money.

Utilize Your Freebies

the word free in caps and in red

Under the ACA, all insurance plans must provide coverage for some preventive health services with no out-of-pocket costs- this applies to high deductible health plans. These free preventive services will not have a copay and do not count towards your deductible. You can expect to get free vaccines, cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, birth control, and some cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies.

Check with your insurance plan’s details and be sure to stay in-network to avoid unexpected costs; these services are free but you still have to stay within your plan’s network.

Ask For Discount

If you are sick and need to seek treatment, but are worried about a high medical bill, ask your provider if they offer any discounts. Some doctors’ offices will offer a discount if you pay with cash, or you can ask your doctor for a discount on a service that you will have to pay for entirely out-of-pocket. If they do not offer any discounts, then ask if they offer payment plans so you can avoid medical debt

black silhouette of a piggy bank with a gold dollar sign in the middle
HSA accounts have triple tax advantages which can help you save money for medical expenses.


Triple Tax Advantages With HSA

One of the major benefits of having a high deductible health insurance plan is the ability to have a health savings account (HSA) alongside it. HSAs allow you to put money aside, pre-tax, to help you pay for qualified medical expenses. These accounts offer a triple tax advantage because:

  • Contributions are tax-deductible
  • Contributions roll over and can continue to grow tax-free into the following year
  • Withdrawals are not taxed if you use them for qualified medical expenses. 

Take note that unqualified expenses incur a 20% penalty.

Stay In Network

caucasian womans hand pressing into the middle of a blue network

This is said a lot, but it is worth repeating. In order to avoid major out-of-pocket expenses, you must stay within your plan’s network. When you have a high deductible plan, it is especially important to stay within the network to avoid extra charges. Only in-network services will count towards meeting your deductible; any care you get outside of your network will not count. Make sure to double check with your insurance company and doctor’s office that any specialists you are referred to are in your plan’s network. 

Do you have a high deductible health insurance plan? Are you considering one? If you are in need of help, EZ.Insure is here for you. We provide accurate quotes on all plans in your area, and our trained agents will go over each plan and will find one that fits your needs and budget. To get free quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to an agent, call 888-350-1890.