How to Choose the Right Comprehensive and Collision Coverage Levels for your Budget and Lifestyle

When was the last time you used “subrogation” in a sentence? How about “telematics”? “Indemnity”? Odds are unless you’re studying your handy insurance jargon glossary on a daily basis, you’re probably not dropping these terms into casual conversation. The world of insurance terms can be confusing, intimidating, and downright frustrating, especially to someone just learning the ropes. Whether your switching insurance companies, changing plans, or just trying to educate yourself on your options, you might quickly find yourself bemoaning the often-confusing, sometimes-convoluted, always-complicated terminology.

How-to-Choose-the-Right-Comprehensive-and-Collision-Coverage-Levels-for-your-Budget-and-Lifestyle

Luckily, Metromile has found a way to make insurance lingo actually make sense—even to the most inexperienced newbie. Finding a plan that fits your budget and lifestyle and keeps you feeling at ease knowing you’re covered is so important—not just for your peace of mind, but for your physical and financial security. Here’s what you need to know so you can choose the plan that’s perfect for you.

What Do “Comprehensive” and “Collision Coverage” Cover Anyways?

Throw the word “comprehensive” on anything and it sounds pretty impressive and all-encompassing, right? What else could you possibly need if you’ve got something “comprehensive” on your side? Well, for starters, collision coverage. If you’re struggling to make sense of how something “comprehensive” could omit an issue as major as collisions (especially when cars are involved), you’re not alone. Before you judge a book by its cover and go with the first seemingly all-inclusive plan you see, get to know the ins and outs of what “comprehensive” and “collision” coverage are really all about:

  • Collision insurance coverage: Collision coverage helps pay for repairs to your own vehicle in case you crash into another car, an object, or you experience a roll-over. This type of insurance will also help cover the cost to replace your car if it is totaled in an accident. In the event of a hit-and-run, your car could be covered with this type of insurance, but it’s not guaranteed in all states. While you might think this type of coverage should be required, it’s not—most states only mandate you to have coverage for injuries or damages you cause to someone else in an accident. There aren’t many states that require drivers to have insurance that covers their own damages.
  • Comprehensive insurance coverage: Comprehensive coverage is also optional in most states, but you’ll want it if you think it’s a good idea to be covered in the event of non-accident-related damages. Comprehensive coverage helps pay to repair or replace your car for damages that occurred in just about anything but an accident. Usually, this type of plan covers damages from events including natural disasters, fires, falling objects, vandalism, theft, and hitting (or being hit) by animals like deer, cows, bears, etc.

While both collision and comprehensive plans cover a lot of ground, neither one truly protects you in all situations across the board. There are certain things neither one cover—take vehicle wear and tear, for example. If you need new brake pads or a headlight bulb replaced, you won’t be able to rely on collision or comprehensive coverage to foot the bill. And while comprehensive coverage will be a huge help if your car is stolen, it won’t help you replace any items that were in that stolen vehicle.

Do You Really Need Comprehensive and/or Collision Coverage?

In most states, no one’s going to (figuratively!) twist your arm to sign up for comprehensive and collision coverage. The majority of states only require liability coverage (which covers damages for the people you hit in the event of an accident that’s your fault). But just because you’re not required to have additional coverage doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t consider it.

When you’re trying to figure out the kind of coverage you really need and want, it’s best to look beyond the bare minimum legal requirements of your state and take stock of several factors in your life:

  • What’s your monthly budget? The more money you pay for your policy and the lower you set your deductible, the less money you’ll have to pay out of pocket in the event of an accident or other event. You don’t want to barely scrape by every month in order to afford your coverage, but you do want to settle on an amount that’s affordable and puts your mind at ease.
  • Do you have an emergency fund? If you don’t opt for collision or comprehensive coverage, could you repair or replace your vehicle in the event of a crash or other incident?
  • Do you own your car? If you lease or finance your car, your bank may require you to have collision or comprehensive coverage (be sure you’ve closely studied your contract!), but if the car is all yours, then you’ll have to decide for yourself whether you have the funds to fix or replace it after a damaging event.
  • How likely are you to file a claim? It’s impossible to predict the future, and the saying “accidents happen” is a saying for a reason. But if you know you’ve gotten into your fair share of fender benders over the years, then that fact is worth taking into consideration.

If you’ve mulled those questions over and come to the realization that collision and/or comprehensive coverage is right for you, then it’s time to figure out how much you need. Here’s where your deductible comes into play—that’s the out-of-pocket expense that you agree to pay for losses up to a set amount, like $250 or $1,000. The lower your deductible, the more you’ll pay for insurance (since your out-of-pocket expense will be lower and your insurer will have to cover the rest). You can also choose to pay a higher deductible and pay less for insurance, but that means if you do want to take advantage of your collision and/or comprehensive coverage, you’ll have to shell out more out-of-pocket before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest.

So while there’s unfortunately no perfect mathematical formula (or magic spell) to reveal your ideal level of coverage, understanding all the factors involved and thoughtfully considering the options that fit your budget and lifestyle will help you land on a plan that leaves you feeling content and comfortable.

Still Have Questions?

Totally understandable—this stuff is tricky. One great way to get more answers to common questions is to visit the Metromile Help Center. There, you’ll be able to comb through content on a variety of topics like billing, pricing, coverage, and more. If you’ve got a question, chances are someone else has it, has had it, or will have it in the future.

If you’d rather talk one-on-one with a qualified specialist, Metromile has plenty of those too. Call 1.888.242.5204 any time from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m .PT, Monday through Friday, and a licensed agent will be able to address any of your concerns, give you a personalized quote, or start your new policy. Already a customer? Awesome. Call 1.888.311.2909 between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT, Monday through Friday, and a qualified specialist will help you out. Your driving situation is unique—be sure to choose a company that gets that and will work with you to find a customized plan that makes sense and meets your needs.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How to Master Your Monthly Bill (Tips For Creating a Mileage Budget)

With most car insurance premiums, you cannot control the amount you pay. You get a quote and cross your fingers, hoping that your bill won’t break the bank. Even if it does, you still have no choice but to pay it, because car insurance is non-negotiable… right?

Here at Metromile, we do things a little differently. Instead of paying a flat fee, your monthly car insurance bill varies and is based on two simple things: your monthly base rate + the pennies-per-mile you pay. That’s it – and it’s all within your control.

Want to learn how to become the master of your monthly bill? Right this way – follow us.

Figuring Out Your Mileage Budget

We get it – figuring out a mileage budget can be stressful, time-consuming, and maybe a little unpleasant. After all, it can be easier to hop into the car and drive anywhere your heart desires without thinking about the slowly ticking odometer. Maybe you have a strict monthly budget you need to stick to. Maybe you don’t want to have a bill that fluctuates from month-to-month. If your ultimate goal is to take control of your financial future, the first thing to check off your list is creating your monthly mileage budget.

handwritten-note_1

First, on a spreadsheet (or even just a plain ol’ piece of paper), create two columns. In the first column, write down your monthly Metromile base rate. This is the rate that you would be responsible for paying even if you drove zero miles. In the second column, write down the estimated mileage for every destination you need to drive to in a month. For example, if you drive to and from your job, estimate your daily mileage and multiply it by 20 (the number of working days in a month). If you drive to and from church on Sunday, estimate that mileage and multiply by 4. Keep doing this until you have a fairly good estimate of the miles that you consistently drive each month.

Once you have your estimated monthly mileage, multiply that number by your per-mile rate. Add the number you just calculated to your monthly base rate in the first column and voilà! You have successfully estimated the cost of your monthly Metromile bill.

How To Stick to Your Mileage Budget

If the number you calculated is looking a little bit higher than you’d like it to be, try to brainstorm ways to cut down on the number of miles that you drive each month, like Brian D. did. In December, Brian drove 730.1 miles, mostly shopping for presents and visiting his family in Southern California for the Holidays. The following months, he didn’t drive much, but in March, his monthly mileage peaked at 682.5 miles, which included a 3-day weekend trip to the wine country with friends. He also regularly checks the Metromile app to know how much he owes at one point in time.




Consider the following options to minimize the quantity of miles driven:

  • Carpool to work or events with a friend or family member
  • Bike to the store, to church, or even to work instead of driving
  • Whenever possible, choose to take public transportation
  • Consolidate the number of errands/trips to the store and try to go only once a week
  • Take the drive with the least amount of miles, even if it’s not as scenic as your usual route
    If your morning routine includes stopping for coffee or breakfast, pick a coffee shop that’s already on your usual route instead of driving out of your way for that French roast you can’t seem to live without
  • Shop online rather than driving all over town
  • Deposit checks with a phone camera and app instead of driving to the bank
  • If you can, call into a meeting or video chat instead of driving to the office
  • Avoid circling around the block for parking – have a game plan of where you’re going to park before getting to your destination

All of these seemingly insignificant things can really add up to a lot of extra miles driven at the end of the month! These options to reduce your monthly mileage may help save you hundreds at the end of the year, and some are probably why you’ve decided to switch to Metromile in the first place. As a bonus, the fewer miles you drive, the less you’ll have to spend on gas each month. That’s a win-win in our book.

You Are Now the Master of Your Monthly Bill

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a mileage budget and (most likely) a lower monthly car insurance bill. Well done! By implementing these tips and strategies, you were able to lower your monthly insurance bill to fit within your budget. As with all things in life, the fine art of budgeting takes a bit of time and skill – but you’re well on your way to a healthy financial future.

This exercise is also helpful for prospective Metromile customers, and something that we already take into account when offering a free quote. As always, whether you’re a current Metromile customer or are thinking about making the switch, we want to hear from you! Drop us a line and let us know how we can help. Be safe out there and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

What is Prepayment?

Here at Metromile, we hear a lot of questions about our initial prepayment to sign up for Metromile. We also truly value transparency and don’t wish to confuse any of our customers. The way we work is a little different than traditional auto insurance companies, so that’s why we are here to clear up any confusion about how prepayment works.

What-is-Prepayment

One of the key differentiators between Metromile and traditional insurance carriers is our unique billing model. The short explanation is: the less you drive, the less you pay each month. The Metromile billing structure gives you – the customer – the unique opportunity to always be in control of your monthly bill. This means that you can tailor your bill to fit your budget and your lifestyle. Pretty cool, huh?

So, herein lies the confusion: if your bill varies each month based on how much you drive, how is it possible to prepay for many months at a time? Let’s throw it all the way back and chat about how billing works here at Metromile before diving into the explanation.

How Billing Works at Metromile

When you first purchase your Metromile policy, you are charged for your first month’s base rate (plus any additional prepayment). This is because we don’t have any data on how many miles you drove that month. Then, at the end of the first month, you’re charged for the next month’s base rate + any/all miles you drove the previous month, at your per-mile rate.

Autopay is a requirement for all Metromile customers. If there ever comes a time when you need to update your billing info, it’s not a problem. You can always update your billing information from your online dashboard or app at any time. Simply navigate to ‘Billing’ and then select ‘Edit’ in the ‘Payment Method’ section on the right-hand side of the page to edit your payment information.

A special note for all you New Jersey customers: you exceptional folks may opt-out of autopayments and opt-in for manual billing at any time by calling us at 888-244-1702.

So… You Still Haven’t Told Me What ‘Prepayment’ Is

Because we charge for insurance based on mileage, Metromile requires a one-time, upfront payment to start a new policy – and this is called a prepayment. A percentage of your prepayment will be applied as a credit to each of your first five billing statements – which means that your first five bills will be slightly lower. When you receive your sixth bill, the prepayment credit will have been fully spent, so you will no longer see a credit. You can think of your prepayment as a “security deposit” on your insurance policy. In the event of a cancellation in the first six months of having the policy, we will refund any remaining prepayment credit.

Prepayment is only a requirement for your first policy term, the credit is applied to your first five monthly bills. After six months your policy will renew, and no future prepayment will be charged or applied to your policy.

Your monthly bill will be made up of your low monthly base rate + (per-mile rate x miles driven that month) – (prepayment amount ÷ 5) until your sixth bill. From there on out your bill will be calculated by taking your base rate, and adding it to your per-mile rate, multiplied by the number of miles driven that month.

Hopefully, that helped to clear up any questions or confusion that you had about how prepayment works at Metromile.

Now that you fully understand how prepayment works, it is a perfect time to finally get that quote you’ve been thinking about. As always, we are truly here to serve you, so please Tweet, or DM us with your burning questions. We’ll get you answers as soon as we can. Be safe out there and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

8 Road Trips That Can Be Done On The Cheap

If you’ve opted to forego the pricey European summer vacation in favor of a more budget-friendly road trip in the States, you’re already ahead of the game in terms of saving. But while low-cost accommodations and meals will undoubtedly cut costs, diving head-first into a spontaneous cross-country excursion could still result in a nasty surprise in the form of a scary credit card bill. Carefully plotting out your journey from beginning to end will spare you any unpleasant financial surprises, and will take the guesswork out of where to eat, sleep, and sightsee. Here are some of the very best American road trips that can be done on a strict budget:

8-Road-Trips-That-Can-Be-Done-On-The-Cheap

8 Road Trips That Can Be Done On The Cheap

  1. Big Bear Lake, California.
    The trip from San Francisco to Big Bear is just shy of eight hours—the perfect amount of time to blast your favorite Spotify playlists and still have time for some juicy podcasts. And if you’re in Los Angeles, Big Bear is the ideal quick and easy escape from the big city (it’s about 100 miles northeast of L.A. proper). The mountain resort is a perfect budget-friendly destination, thanks to its comprehensive website full of online coupons for everything from dining and shopping to lodging and recreation. There’s no cost to visit the destination itself, so with a little research, you can tailor-make a stay that’s totally affordable.
  2. Antelope Canyon, Arizona.
    You’ve seen the seemingly endless stream of Instagram pics—now it’s time to get your own stunning selfie. Antelope Canyon is easily accessible from a number of starting points, including Phoenix, AZ, Nevada, or Utah. The epic attraction is also close to the Grand Canyon, so if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, this route will pack plenty of action. The canyon is located on Native American Navajo territory and requires a $6 entry fee. You can try your luck with local tour groups at the canyon entrance, or make a reservation ahead of time for under $40 per person.

    Antelope-Canyon-Arizona

  3. Florida Keys, Florida.
    A short and sweet trip south of Miami is the two-hour drive from Key West to Key Largo. The quick escape is packed with historic sites like Victorian mansions and museums (the Hemingway Home was built in 1851 and it’s where the iconic writer lived from 1931 to 1940—admission is jut $14). And if you’re looking for a nature-based adventure, for just $12, you can see hundreds of butterflies, birds, and tropical plants at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
  4. Big Sur, California.
    This central coast California destination is a must for outdoorsy types. It takes less than three hours to drive the 145 miles from San Francisco, and accommodations can be pretty cost-effective since campsites are plentiful (some cost as little as $15 a night, but you’ll have to make advanced reservations). If roughing it isn’t really your thing, you can indulge in some self-care without totally splurging—take a late-night dip in the healing waters at Esalen hot springs for just $35.

  5. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana.
    If a 12-mile hike sounds like your idea of the perfect way to cap off a road trip, then consider driving Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. The high-altitude, 50-mile winding route connects the East and West passes of Glacier National Park, and includes access to the Highline Trail, a wildflower-dotted hiking path that’s not for the faint of heart—but totally free to try.
  6. Canyon Country, Utah.
    National park connoisseurs will definitely want to make an adventure out of a Southern Utah excursion. Within just 650 miles of desert, you’ll find five national parks that some people consider among the best in the country. Drive from Moab to Grand Junction in just 90 minutes, and you’ll have a chance to see Arches National Park and Canyonlands (both cost just $30 for seven days’ worth of admission per private vehicle).

  7. Great Lakes Seaway Trail, New York and Pennsylvania.
    Get a serious history lesson on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, one of the first American roads to be designated as a National Scenic Byway. The 518-mile route follows along the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River and includes an astounding 40 state parks. Presque Isle State Park is one worthy stop in particular. The (free!) natural attraction is a 3,200-acre peninsula that features miles of beach.
  8. The Loneliest Road, Nevada.
    Okay, yes, the name is a drag, but you’re bound to have a pretty great time traversing this largely-isolated section of U.S. Highway 50. Because the route follows the Pony Express path, there are actually quite a few must-see attractions on the drive from Carson City to Baker, including hot springs and old mining towns.

    Nevada

Before you hit the road, you’ll need to have a car insurance company that has you covered. If you’re not a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Visit metromile.com for a free quote today.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How to Cut the Cord with Your Biggest Money-Wasting Bills

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on cutting costs. I don’t like paying for things I don’t use (who does), and I find myself frequently combing through my own finances to find ways to trim down those recurring expenses. However, there are always a few things that slip through the cracks unnoticed, like the quarterly membership to a gym I haven’t been to since I moved, the wine club I swear I unsubscribed to, and the magazines that mysteriously keep getting renewed every year.

How-to-Cut-the-Cord-with-Your-Biggest-Money-Wasting-Bills-

Here at Metromile, we’re all about saving money. We want our customers to only pay their fair share for the things that they use. Your monthly expenses don’t have to wreck your budget, so we’ve rounded up our best tips on cutting down your most expensive bills and making the most from your monthly budget. Buh-bye, overpriced cell phone bill. See ya never, streaming service I used once and then forgot about. Let’s get into it.

The Top Budget-Busting Expenses & How to Cut the Cord

  1. Cable TV: With the abundance of shows and movies available on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Showtime, who even watches cable TV anymore? What’s truly crazy is that the average cable bill rings in at about $80/month! Save yourself some major dough and cut the cord with your cable TV bill – because you probably won’t even miss it when it’s gone.
  2. Cell Phone Plan: Besides your rent or your mortgage payment, your cell phone plan might be one of the most expensive bills you’re locked in to pay each month. But it doesn’t have to be. Many cell phone carriers offer less expensive plans with no long-term contracts. Also, apps like Hiatus will negotiate a lower monthly cell phone bill with your provider on your behalf, saving you money and time.
  3. Car Insurance: Wait, are you telling me that you’re a low-mileage driver and still paying the same insurance premium as someone who drives 3x more than you? Hold up, that just isn’t right. If you find yourself driving under 1,000 miles every month, you’re most likely a low-mileage driver who could literally be saving hundreds of dollars every year by switching to Metromile. Same great coverage for less money – what’s not to love?
  4. Dining out: What starts as a dinner here and a drink there can quickly cascade into delivered lunches every day and happy hour every week. Even if you hate cooking, it pays to research some easy-to-make meals. Go grocery shopping and prepare large batches of food to eat throughout the week and never pay for overpriced Seamless delivery again.
  5. Recurring subscriptions: I know, I know – getting a package in the mail is fun and exciting. It’s like a present for you, from you, every month! YAY presents! However, when you sign up for subscription services like Birchbox, wine clubs, dog toy boxes, etc., it can really eat away at your bottom line. The next time your subscription package arrives, make note of how many of the items you will actually use/enjoy. You might be surprised to see that most of the time, those subscription boxes are filled with junk that just ends up cluttering your home. Cancel that recurring subscription, save the money, and enjoy a less-cluttered space.
  6. Prescriptions: Depending on your medication, the cost of prescriptions can take a huge bite out of your monthly budget. Consider switching to generic medications instead of brand-name prescriptions – they’re the bio-equivalent of brand-name drugs but can cost 80-85% less. Apps like GoodRx, LowestMed, and BlinkHealth can also help you determine the lowest prices of medications at your nearby pharmacies. Also, if your job offers an FSA or HSA account, utilize that account to stockpile some pre-tax dollars to pay for your prescriptions and doctor’s appointments.
  7. Shopping & Entertainment: Whether retail therapy is your way to chill after a long day at work, or you like catching a new blockbuster every weekend (me), finding ways to trim down these indulgences will always be better for your bottom line. When shopping online, I always do a quick Google search to find promo codes and can usually root one out (Retailmenot is the best promo code aggregator). By signing up for loyalty programs at my local movie theater, I manage to always save on concessions or the price of tickets.

There you have it. Are your wheels already turning thinking about which bill you’re going to slash first? Go forth and cut the cord with your biggest budget-busting bills with confidence. Besides, why should you be paying more than you need to for anything? Nowadays, there are so many ways to cut down your monthly costs. As always, get a quote with Metromile today and find out how much you’ll be saving each month! Be safe out there and see you on the roads.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

How to Road Trip on Less Than $100 Per Day

If you’ve already mapped out your budget for that epic upcoming road trip—nice work! You’re one step closer to turning your behind-the-wheel fantasies into reality and activating that out-of-office automatic email reply.

How-to-Road-Trip-on-Less-Than-100-Per-Day-

But if you did all the calculations and discovered you’re a lot more strapped for cash than you realized, you might be on the brink of reconsidering that late summer getaway. Fear not, financially-challenged adventurer: you can still put together a fun, fruitful escape that’s actually affordable. Here are some strategies.

How to Road Trip on Less Than $100 Per Day

  1. Choose wisely. Sure, landing in a major metropolis might sound like the most epic way to bookend your trip, but big cities like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are notoriously expensive (which you might already know if the purpose of your trip is to try and get away from one of those places). Picking less popular points along the journey will inevitably save you money on everything from gas to food to lodging. For example: Napa Valley might call to your wine-loving heart and soul, but if you set your sights about 400 miles south, you’ll find plenty of amazing vino-themed attractions at a far lower rate. Go super simple and plan ahead, and you may be able to score a basic motel room for under $75 a night (leaving the rest for gas and food).
  2. Gas up on the go. Rather than fueling up in a big city (are you seeing a theme here?), stop for gas in small towns, where you’re more likely to save cents on the gallon. And do a quick search of the app store—there are several money-saving tools you can download directly on your phone that will help you locate the cheapest gas in your area. According to GasBuddy, the cheapest gas right now in California is $2.99 per gallon in Turlock. Rates per gallon in bigger cities like San Francisco and San Jose are close to $4. The most common cars in America have gas tanks that hold about 15 gallons, so just stopping at an off-the-beaten-path station could save you about $15 (a full tank at $2.99 is about $44.85 versus $60 at the higher rate).
  3. Find free fun. It’s easy to blow a ton of cash on tourist traps, but if you do some advanced planning, you’ll find there are tons of totally free attractions, landmarks, and activities all throughout the country. Need some inspiration? Here’s a list of must-see landmarks to get you started! And if you don’t see your destination on the list, do some digging to see if local museums offer free days or if you can join a no-cost walking tour.
  4. Shop smart. The simplest way to kiss your dollar bills goodbye is by dining at a chain restaurant, diner, or mini-mart at every stop along the way. It’s totally possible to spend way less than $50 a day on food if you plan ahead and set yourself up for success. Packing snacks before you hit the road is your best option for curbing cravings and staying within your budget. Bring along items like pretzels, rice cakes, nuts, and dried fruit that will quell hunger pangs and keep you satiated between stops. And consider loading up a small cooler with heartier perishable items like hard-boiled eggs and yogurts. Not only can these items keep you going between meals, but they make for great ingredients for an on-the-go breakfast. Prices will of course vary depending on where you stock up on snack staples, but if you hit a major supermarket, you can definitely find a six-pack of yogurt, a jar of peanut butter, and a pack of bagels for well under $20—and that could be breakfast for days! Look for local eateries and avoid chain restaurants, and you can definitely get away with keeping costs low.
  5. Make sure you’re using Metromile. Even if you’re traveling long distances, pay-per-mile insurance makes perfect sense. That’s because Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as a pay-per-mile rate, capping customers’ daily mileage costs at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). So if you hit that magic number, you’re still likely to save big bucks. Your personal rate will vary depending on a number of factors like your age, gender, location, driving history, etc., but if you’re driving less than 10,000 miles a year, there’s a good chance Metromile is the provider for you. And since you’ll be paying that low rate on a monthly basis, the impact on your daily budget will be pretty minimal (though that may not be the case for other traditional insurers).

Aren’t a Metromile customer? Any chance you read that and decided it’s time to seriously reconsider your current car insurance provider? Awesome. It’s time to visit www.metromile.com and get your free quote today.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How Much Should a New Car Really Cost, and How Do You Know If You Can Afford One?

The time has come. You’re finally ready to trade in your old beater and treat yourself to a brand new car. You have an idea of what kind of car you want to get, but with every car dealership advertising their latest “deal,” it can be easy to get suckered into paying more than you should for your new whip. Because of this, it’s important to do your research and have a solid plan in place before ever stepping through the front door of the dealership.

New Car - How Much Should it Cost?

So: how do you know how much your new car should cost? Then, with all the down payments, warranties, and dealership fees, how to do you if you can actually afford the car you want without blowing your budget? Don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop. Step into your future-new-car negotiation with confidence using our fool-proof tips.

How Much Should a New Car Really Cost, and How Do You Know If You Can Afford One?

    Assess Your Assets

    Before kicking your clunker to the curb, find out if the car has any trade-in value. Most car dealerships will take your old car as a trade-in, which will, in turn, knock the price of your new car down. The ol’ trade-in deal is a bit of a double-edged sword, however, because the car dealership will try to lowball you. Since most people are not in much of a position to negotiate the trade-in value of their current car, they are likely to take the deal presented to them.

    Putting the trade-in deal firmly in the “pro” category is the fact that the dealer does all the paperwork. After you and the dealer settle on an acceptable price, all you have to do is sign the vehicle over to the dealership and be done with it. However – the price you pay for the convenience of being relieved of your vehicle will likely be less money for you than if you sold it yourself. The dealer will not give the full retail value of the vehicle and people are often disappointed by the offers presented to them. To avoid any surprises, be sure to get the Kelley Blue Book® Trade-in value of your vehicle before you step foot in the dealership.

    Your Credit: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    Next up: addressing how you will be paying for your new vehicle. If you plan on financing your new car (90% of people take this route), your credit score will come into play. See, car dealerships assess how likely it is that you will pay your loan on time every month if you’re likely to skip payments, and more based on your credit history. If your credit score is looking less than stellar (above 700 is considered “good”), you’ll definitely need to factor that into your new potential payments. Your monthly payments may increase if your credit score has been looking a little worse-for-wear.

    Calculate How Much You Can Afford

    There’s no perfect formula to calculate how much you can afford, but our short answer is that your car payment should be no more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay. If you’re leasing, it should be no more than 10%. There are a few online calculators that will help you crunch the numbers:

    Did you know that the average new car payment is $499/month for 68 months? Most car loans come in well over $30,000, which is absurd considering the median household income is around $56,000/year. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to figure out how much you can truly afford to spend on a car. No matter what, don’t leave it up to the car salesman to decide how much you can borrow. Why? Because, according to their facts and figures, your credit and income may qualify you to buy just about anything on the lot.

    In addition to the price of your new vehicle, remember that you’ll also need to cover license plates, insurance, and any additional taxes required by your state. Additionally, you’ll need to pay sales tax on your vehicle, although your lender may roll your taxes into your loan (if you ask).

In Conclusion

The reality is that true affordability is never dictated by lenders or big banks. At the end of the day, only you know how much you can afford to spend on a new car payment and your other bills.

Once you have an idea of how your monthly income and expenses look, you can shop for your new car with confidence. When decide to pull the trigger on your new ride, we’ll be here to take care of all of your car insurance needs! Be sure to grab a free quote from us – and happy car shopping.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

How to Calculate a Daily Road Trip Travel Budget

It’s no secret that vacation planning can be headache-inducing. The logistics, scheduling, and reservations are painful enough to figure out, but then there’s that money issue. If you’ve decided to swap the sky-high cost of airfare for a more affordable car trip, you’re already on the road to big savings (all puns totally intended). But even if you’ve figured out the tricks for snagging sweet hotel deals and cutting corners to save cash, you’ll still be faced with plenty of financial decisions as you drive. The best way to avoid an unpleasant post-trip credit card bill is to set a realistic budget that keeps you in check while leaving room for plenty of fun—this is a vacation, after all.

How-to-Calculate-a-Daily-Road-Trip-Travel-Budget

Here’s how to calculate a daily road trip allowance:

  1. See what you’re working with. To get the ball rolling, it’s best to know exactly how much money is in the pot, so to speak. To do that, take your monthly income and subtract all your expenses (car insurance, rent, phone bill, cable TV that you sadly won’t be watching while traveling, etc.). Once you have that leftover number, consider that your limit. Sure, you could charge outside your means, but that pretty much defeats the whole “traveling on a budget” concept. Unless you have a special savings fund to pull from, stick to spending within your monthly net income.
  2. Figure out your fueling needs. The most obvious expense you’ll encounter on a regular basis is, of course, gas. If you’re traversing the country, it may be tough to pin down an specific price per gallon, since costs vary from place to place. Even if you can’t land on an exact dollar amount, you can take an educated guess and round up, just to be safe. And if you have no idea where the open road is taking you, just rely on the national average, which is currently $2.85 per gallon.

    Your total for the day will of course depend on your vehicle’s tank and the amount your driving per day. But for clarity’s sake, here’s an example: Some of the most common cars in America have gas tanks that hold about 15 gallons, and get up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. If you’re driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles one day, that’s about 383 miles, which you should be able to do on one tank of gas (15 x 30 = 450 miles). Based on the national average, that’ll cost you about $43 if that’s all you’re driving in a day, but it’s worth rounding up to $50 to be safe (or more to be extra safe).

    A few more ways to save on gas:

    • Gas Buddy and Gas Guru are two apps that help you locate the cheapest fuel around.
    • Community-based app Waze offers real-time traffic information and gas prices. Be sure to keep your oil fresh, engine tuned, and tires inflated to ensure better mileage, and when you can, fill up outside of big cities, where prices are often way higher.

    And of course, if you’re a Metromile customer, you’ll want to make sure to keep an eye on your daily distance since you have the benefit of pay-per-mile coverage. If you’re worried about accruing a big bill because you’re traveling—relax. Metromile caps the daily mileage costs at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). But if you’d prefer to stay under that limit, map out your daily route ahead of time, and make sure to pull over once you’ve hit that self-imposed max. Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as that pay-per-mile rate, so chances are, you’ll still save big—whether you’re driving all day or limiting your miles—just because you’re a Metromile customer. Congrats!

  3. Factor in accommodations. This will of course vary tremendously depending on whether you’re camping, glamping, or going for full-out luxury (that last one probably shouldn’t be in the cards if you’re trying to save…but you knew that). While the current average daily rate for a U.S. hotel hovers around $127, that amount could fluctuate a ton. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to sidestep exorbitant hotel costs, so take advantage of every tip and trick you can ahead of time!
  4. Eat economically. The simplest way to slip up and spend way more than expected is to fall into a “treat yo’self” mentality when it comes to food. Yes, you’re on vacation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a steak dinner is in order every night (those four bags of chips at each rest stop may not be a great idea either). If you have no idea how to begin calculating an approximate food allowance, consider allotting $5 a day for breakfast, about $10 for lunch, and $15 to $30 for dinner. That should give you a fair amount of wiggle room without leaving you ravenous. But eating cheap doesn’t have to mean subsisting on an all-junk diet. Some ways to spend less that don’t involve drive-through at every stop:

    • Hit the grocery store. Better yet, before your trip, pay a visit to a bulk store and stock up on big quantities of wholesome car-safe snacks that don’t require refrigeration (think: rice cakes, pretzels, popcorn, etc.). And invest in a cooler to pack nutritious perishables (yogurt, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, etc.). The accessory will pay for itself when you realize how much you’ll be saving on road snacks.
    • Go halfsies. Traveling with family or friends? Consider splitting entrees when you sit down for meals. Portion sizes at most restaurants are way beyond single serving, and since you probably won’t be hauling leftovers with you, order a single meal for two.
    • Eat breakfast before you go out if you can. If you are staying in a hotel, you might just be able to score a free breakfast buffet. And even if that’s not the case, you can still make a pretty hearty morning meal without overspending at a diner. Oatmeal packets are awesome options to keep on hand (just add water!), and fruit, granola bars, and more can set you up with a solid base so you’re not starving by lunchtime.
    • Eat like a local. Talk to people around town and ask where they love to dine. Chances are, it probably won’t be at a chain restaurant. You’re more likely to find a delicious, affordable destination off-the-beaten-path if you do a little research.

If you’re not a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Visit metromile.com for a free quote today. Happy trails!

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

The Best Free Landmarks and Road Trip Destinations

If you’ve done your due diligence planning a wallet-friendly road trip and booking the best hotel deals out there—the last thing you want to do is blow all that budgeting with some pricey sightseeing. While lots of landmarks charge a hefty admission fee, you might be surprised to discover the plethora of totally free destinations all around the country. Here’s our list of some of the very best:

The-Best-Free-Landmarks-and-Road-Trip-Destinations

The Best Free Landmarks and Road Trip Destinations:

  • Fairfield, CA: The Jelly Belly Factory. Does anyone really need a reason to hit up a literal candy factory? Whether you love Sour Cherry, Tutti-Fruitti, or Buttered Popcorn (haters, keep those comments to yourselves!), you’ll leave this road trip stop with a big smile on your face (and a ton of free samples in your mouth).
  • Birmingham, AL: Birmingham Botanical Gardens. For absolutely no cost, you can peruse 67.5 acres of 30 themed gardens at this iconic nature wonderland billed as Alabama’s largest living museum.
  • Boise, ID: Boise River Greenbelt. This 25-mile route is lined with trees and offers pedestrians a super scenic views and a wildlife habitat. Take a driving break and go for a walk or a leisurely bike ride.
  • Princeton, NJ: Princeton University. If your only point of reference for The Garden State is Jersey Shore, it’s time to take in this epic institution and recognize the state’s greatness. Besides, Michelle Obama went here, so that’s reason enough to roam any part of the 500 acres.
  • Bardstown, KY: The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. You may not get as many free samples here as you would at the aforementioned candy factory, but it’s still worth a visit. The museum houses a 50-year collection of rare whiskey-related artifacts and documents dating from pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years.
  • Des Moines, IA: The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Art lovers, prepare to really geek out. This 4.4 acre park features stunning modern sculptures from a collection of creatives, and guests are encouraged to snap pics and picnic among the works.
  • Omaha, NE: Boys Town Hall of History. This legendary site is the former dining hall built by Father Flanagan in 1939, and displays artifacts like the Best Actor Oscar Spencer Tracy won for his role as Father Flanagan in the movie, Boys Town.
  • Philadelphia, PA: The Liberty Bell. If you drive through Philadelphia and don’t take a selfie with the Liberty Bell…did you ever really drive through it at all? Get a history lesson and see the famous inscription for yourself (“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”).
  • Richmond, VA: Maymont. This 100-acre park features Japanese and Italian gardens, mansion, and a petting zoo (those last two come with a suggested donation). If you’d rather not spend any cash, you can still wander the grounds free of charge.
  • Seattle, WA: Pike Place Market. Nothing is more quintessentially Pacific Northwest than this collection of owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands, specialty food stores, and of course, a year-round farmers market. You might end up dropping serious dough on delicious snacks, but after all that penny pinching, you deserve a treat.

Before you hit the road, make sure you have a car insurer that has your back. Visit metromile.com today to get a free quote.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

Do You Fly More Than You Drive?

When contemplating potential savings opportunities for vacation, it can be easy to default to taking a road trip rather than booking air travel. However – recent fluctuating gas prices have thrown that assumption for a loop. Now, the comparative costs of flying and driving depend on more elements than just gas prices (such as how much you’re paying for car insurance!).

Do-You-Fly-More-Than-You-Drive

Maybe you travel a lot for work. Maybe you live in the city and take public transportation or use ride-sharing apps. Whatever the case may be (and maybe without even realizing it), it is possible that you decide to fly or take other forms of transportation more often than you decide to drive. Of course, there are pros and cons to all forms of transportation, but here’s a checklist you can use to find out if your frequent flier miles are racking up faster than your odometer.

Do You Fly More Than You Drive?: A Checklist

  • Have you taken more than 5 air travel trips this year?
  • Do you average less than 1,000 miles driven per month?
  • Do you take frequent 2 hour (or less) flights?
  • Do you usually reserve a rental car at your destination?
  • Do you find yourself relying on public transportation (i.e. subway, bus, train, etc.) or using ridesharing apps to get to your destination?
  • Does cost-savings on a trip matter to you?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you probably fly more than you drive. This checklist is not an exact science, however – to truly calculate it, you will have to do some number-crunching of your own. If you have a suspicion that you fly more than you drive, then it might be worthwhile to do the math.

Thanks to the Internet, there are some handy tools you can use to figure it out. With these online calculators, all you need to do is enter some basic information that you probably know off the top of your head. Keep in mind: these sites typically say that they are for information purposes only, so don’t blame them (or us) if their answers don’t match up to the ones you produced using your own formulas. BeFrugal lets you enter your vehicle make, model, and travel information and then compares the calculated cost with current airline prices. BeFrugal also lets you compare carbon dioxide emissions for each mode of travel. CostToDrive calculates how much you’ll pay to drive from one U.S. city to another based on your vehicle model. AAA offers its online Fuel Cost Calculator to members and non-members alike – for free.

Also, don’t forget that your car insurance is an additional cost to factor into your flying vs. driving calculations. If you’re calculating monthly expenditures (rather than yearly), be sure to divide your yearly premium payment by 12 to get your monthly car insurance cost.

This brings me to my final point and the pinnacle of our discussion: if you’ve realized that you fly more than you drive, then Metromile could be a great option for your car insurance! We structure our monthly billing cycles on the pay-per-mile model – therefore, the less you drive, the less you pay each month. Why pay exorbitant car insurance premiums if you find yourself flying (or taking other forms of transportation) more than you drive?

Even if you haven’t yet done the math, click on over to grab a free quote from Metromile. It will only take a few minutes and may potentially save you hundreds of $$$ this year! That’s a few hundred more in your bank account to book your next trip, so what are you waiting for? As always, be safe out there and see you on the roads!

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram