How To Pay Cheap Auto Insurance Rates

Glasses.

Auto insurance is something that you must have if you have a vehicle. The good news is, high rates are not a requirement. By shopping around and comparing auto insurance rates, you can find a great option for you and pay a low price. Continue reading to learn more about how you can find cheap auto insurance rates (you could use some websites for car insurance comparisons).

One thing you can do if you want to pay a low price for your auto insurance is to contact an agent that you may already have. If you have any type of insurance already, you may qualify for a multi-policy discount. For instance, if you already have a homeowners insurance policy, you can save money on your auto insurance if you go with the same company.

You can also talk to the agent about how to get a lower insurance rate. They may have options for you as to what you can do or choices you can make concerning your policy that can help you pay less. For instance, if you don’t drive much, you may be able to choose a low-milage policy. Or if you are a safe driver, this could save you money, too.

Another way to get cheap auto insurance rates is to compare quotes. As you look at the prices that different insurance companies are charging for the exact same policy, you can find the lowest price around. Just be sure that you are comparing the exact same coverages and the same deductibles to ensure you are comparing exact quotes and don’t end up getting surprised when you go to purchase the auto insurance policy.

As you can see, you have options for paying a low price for your auto insurance. Use the tips shared here to help you get the insurance you need.

Pain Management – Your Diet Could Hold The Key

stencil.blog-post-feature (11)

It is staggering to think about how much of the population live in either chronic pain, or at least frequent pain.

For some, taking a host of pills and tablets is just part of their daily routine. Whilst many conditions certainly require specific medicine, could our diet also act as either a pain-reliever or a pain-contributor? Indeed it can!

If you’re suffering from inflammation related pain, you may want to talk to your doctor about choosing an anti-inflammatory diet, for many, the results are life-changing (just like how getting permanent life insurance cost can change your life).

So what foods might your doctor talk to you about? In general foods fit into two different categories; Foods That Cause Inflammation and Foods That Are Anti-Inflammatory. Looking for a quick guide? Here it comes:

Foods That Cause Inflammation

  • Refined Carbs. Think white bread, pastries, donuts, cakes, and you’re on the right line.
  • Fried Foods. Sorry but that includes fries (that are fried of course!), and other typical fried meals such as bacon, sausages, fried bread and so on.

Foods That Are Anti-Inflammatory

  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Blueberries
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Cloves, Cinnamon, Oregano, Sage and Thyme
  • Dark Chocolate (that’s a nice little surprise!)

If it seems like your diet includes more inflammation foods, than anti-inflammatory ones, it may be well worth while to have a good chat with your doctor. You may be very thankful that you did!

Behavioral Economics

stencil.blog-post-feature (2)

Economics has an Achilles’ heel. Until recently many practitioners attempted to ignore or dispute this shortcoming — but it can ultimately be held responsible for many of the glaring mistakes economists have made for hundreds of years. It is the erroneous assumption that humans are rational.

Experience shows that people are by no means consistently rational. An obese smoker, were he truly rational, would go on an immediate diet and give up cigarettes, recognizing the danger he is causing to his health. Were each of us truly rational, we wouldn’t be so swayed by ‘buy one get one free offers’; we would judge the adequacy of our salaries based entirely on their absolute level rather than comparing them to what our neighbor, or our spouse’s sister’s husband, earned.

Yet, despite these commonplace examples of irrationality, standard ‘neoclassical’ economics hinges on the notion that people have a limitless capacity for rationality, willpower and selfishness. It is the foundation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand theory, which posited that when selfish, rational actions take place en masse, it will result, overall, in a more prosperous society. This typical rational man imagined by economists is often dubbed Homo economicus.

In reality, however, people are prone to emotion — to excitement, love, jealousy and grief, for example — which can make them act irrationally.

The Origins

Behavioral economics investigates why and how people act irrationally. It is among the newest and most fascinating areas of academic study, combining economics and psychology. Moreover, far from merely being an interesting realm of study, it is now starting to play a key role in economic policymaking. And as understanding develops as to how the mind and the brain work, so behavioral economists are providing greater insight into what really drives people to act as they do.

The pioneers of behavioral economics were psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, who, in the 1970s, adapted theories on how the brain processes information and compared them with economic models.
They found that when people are faced with uncertainty, they tend to react neither rationally nor indeed randomly but in certain predictable ways. Typically, they use mental shortcuts — rules of thumb — which Tversky and Kahneman called heuristics. These can be influenced by experience or environment. For instance, someone who has been burnt by a frying pan will tend to be more careful when picking one up in the future.

The evidence People can also be influenced into taking particular decisions by the way a certain proposition is described to them — something known as framing. For instance, in one paper Tversky and Kahneman laid out the scenario that the US was facing the outbreak of an unusual Asian disease expected to kill 600 people. They posited two alternative courses of action: Program A in which a projected 200 people will be saved, and Program B, which has a one-third probability that 600 people will be saved and a two-thirds probability that no one will be saved. Some 72 per cent of respondents chose Program A, although the actual outcomes of the two programs are identical.

A more recent example comes from MIT behavioral economist Dan Ariely, who asked his students to write part of their Social Security number on a piece of paper, and then to suggest how much they would be willing to pay for a bottle of wine. The amount they were prepared to pay depended on their Social Security number — those with the lowest digits tended to bid the lowest and those with the highest bid more. This phenomenon is known as anchoring, and, like framing, it undermines the firmly held view that prices in the marketplace are a function of supply and demand.

The latest development in behavioral economics capitalizes on modern MRI technology to scan subjects’ brains and link the activity observed to economic decisions. One interesting finding from neuroeconomics is that when someone trying to sell something is offered an insulting price by a potential buyer, the part of the brain that reacts is the same that activates when people encounter a disgusting smell or image.

Nudge Economics

So people do not always make decisions based on their own self-interest. This is a profoundly important realization, since most economies are structured largely on such an assumption. For instance, economists usually assume that people will save throughout their lives because it is in their own interests to have money left over for when they retire. They assume that people will not take on more debt than they believe they can reasonably handle. In fact, according to behavioral economics, we are quite often pushed into taking on debt not by self-interest but by heuristics. The powerful implication is that people need to be nudged in a certain direction – to save, to lose weight, to improve their finances – rather than being expected to do it of their own volition.

This has led to what some call ‘libertarian paternalism’ or ‘nudge economics’ — efforts to put behavioral economics into practice. For instance, although people should not be deprived of free choice, some argue they should be pushed gently in a particular, positive direction. A commonplace example is that of automatically enrolling employees in a pension scheme but offering them an opt-out. Another controversial idea — mooted by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008 — is to apply this idea of ‘presumed consent’ to organ donations, assuming by default that everyone is willing to be a donor unless they explicitly indicate otherwise.

However, such schemes clearly can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Governments have a duty to ensure their citizens are protected from war, crime and penury, but should they also be protected from their own irrationality? Where would such discretion stop? If people make the wrong decisions on savings, or on organ donation, might they not make the wrong decision in the polling booth?

Notwithstanding these concerns, the field of economics has been transformed by behavioral insights, which have irrevocably undermined the assumption that humans always act rationally and in their own self-interest. The truth is that people are more complex. For the economics of tomorrow, the task is to find a way to integrate these two models.

Happynomics

stencil.blog-post-feature (1)

In the 1970s, in the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, the country’s economy was coming under major scrutiny. By most measures — gross domestic product, national income, employment and so on, it was growing sluggishly. So the King of Bhutan did something unusual. He decreed that from then on Bhutan’s progress would be measured not against these traditional economic yardsticks but against its Gross National Happiness.

It might have seemed an unconventional response to outside criticism, but the king had struck upon an idea that would grow into an important, increasingly respectable study — that of happiness economics. It is a subject most of us can relate to. As nations and individuals, almost all of us are richer and healthier than ever before. However, this wealth has gone hand in hand with a malaise of discontent. Those in rich nations have been getting less and less happy over the past 50 years.

The Pursuit of Happiness

Traditional economics does not have a satisfactory explanation for this. Since the time of Adam Smith, wealth has been assumed to be the key measure of a country’s progress. It is for this reason — and the fact that money is easy to measure — that economists have tended to concentrate on measures such as gross domestic product, unemployment and a handful of other social measures such as life expectancy and inequality. But not, until recently, happiness, which, given how much importance philosophers have placed on contentedness since the earliest days of humanity, is somewhat surprising.

The idea that a country’s progress should be measured against its happiness did not, in fact, begin in Bhutan twenty or so years ago. In 1776 Thomas Jefferson laid down that Americans should be entitled not just to life and liberty but to ‘the pursuit of happiness’. Jeremy Bentham, the 19th-century inventor of the philosophy of utilitarianism, said that humans should strive for the ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’.

Pursuing happiness seems to have yielded definite results in Bhutan. Since taking up the gross national happiness index, the country has grown at a remarkable rate by even conventional economic terms. In 2007 it was the second-fastest growing economy in the world, all the while managing to increase its gross national happiness. In an effort to sustain people’s contentedness, there have been decrees that 60 per cent of the country should remain covered in forest, while tourism, which apparently undermines happiness, is capped each year. Money is redistributed from rich to poor so as to help eliminate mass poverty.

Measuring happiness These efforts to make Bhutan happier seem to have borne rich fruit. According to a survey in 2005, only 3 per cent of people reported not being happy, while almost half the population said they were very happy. But such surveys can often be vague, unconvincing and difficult to compare empirically. Happiness is far more difficult to measure than, for instance, levels of wealth or life expectancy, and it is this that has caused its neglect in economics. However, recent advances in brain scans have helped neuroscientists identify which part of the central nervous system is most stimulated by happiness, and the findings have helped add a layer of scientific credibility to measures of happiness.

In recent decades, economists and psychologists have, for the first time, started measuring, in earnest, people’s happiness in long-term studies. The conclusion they have come to is that although one’s happiness increases as one goes from being poor to rich, the level of contentedness starts to drop off as one gets further from the poverty line. According to Richard Layard, a British economist who specializes in happiness economics, once a nation’s average salary goes beyond $20,000, income rises stop making people happier and gradually make them less content. In economic phraseology, there are diminishing returns of happiness beyond that point.

This is what Richard Easterlin, one of the pioneers of the study, calls a ‘hedonic cycle’ (from the ancient Greek word for pleasure): once you get rich you get accustomed to it very quickly, and soon take such a standard of life for granted. Moreover, research from the field of behavioral economics has shown that once one’s basic needs are fulfilled we start to measure our own contentedness based not on our absolute wealth or achievements, but in comparison to others. The old adage that one is happy with one’s salary provided it is higher than one’s wife’s sister’s husband’s has a definite basis in psychology. Such findings indicate that a 24-hour-news-and-celebrity culture, with the lifestyles of the rich, beautiful and famous constantly advertised, is likely to undermine people’s contentedness yet further.

Money isn’t everything Ministers everywhere from the UK, Australia, China and Thailand are engaged on a quest to determine an internationally comparable measure of gross national well-being. While some traditional economists deride such objectives, it would be wrong to assume that the current palette of measures on a country’s progress are definitive. One independent measure, devised by the New Economics Foundation, is the Happy Planet Index, which combines measures of a country’s life satisfaction, life expectancy and ecological footprint per capita. According to this, the best-scoring country in the world in 2006 was the Pacific island of Vanuatu, followed by Colombia and Costa Rica, while Burundi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe were the worst. The majority of the world’s richest countries, including the US and UK, came more than halfway down the list.

Happiness economics is increasingly influencing the way politicians in developed countries create policy. It has been suggested, for example, that higher taxes on big earners will make society as a whole happier, since they will reduce national levels of envy. Another idea is that companies should limit the extent to which workers’ pay is based on merit. Lord Layard has suggested funding mass programs of cognitive behavioral therapy for all members of the population. Although such ideas are controversial, they are rapidly gaining traction in the US, as politicians seek a way to inspire apathetic voters.

The growth of happiness economics has inspired a mild backlash. Some psychologists have argued that discontent and envy can play an important role in driving people to better themselves. And then there’s the question of whether pursuing a nation’s happiness is entirely morally sound. In 1990, Bhutan expelled 100,000 ethnic outsiders from the country. The move reportedly boosted national happiness but at the cost of undermining its human rights record. Wealth is clearly not everything, but then neither is happiness.

21st-Century Economics

stencil.blog-post-feature

Economists have been derided for failing to foresee major shifts in the financial landscape and missing clues that pointed to a sudden stock market catastrophe. But now, in the early years of the third millennium, more fundamental questions have been raised about the foundations of the subject — these ones too difficult to dismiss.

First is the fact that its key doctrines, laid down first by John Maynard Keynes and then Milton Friedman, were tried to destruction in the 20th century, often with unhappy results.

Second is a more fundamental failing. Since the subject’s very earliest days, economics has more or less relied on the idea that humans act rationally: that they always act in their own self-interest, and that such actions, in a fully functioning market, will make society better off.

However, this does not explain why people frequently take decisions that are ostensibly not in their own interests. It is in no one’s self-interest to send themselves to an early grave, but despite widespread knowledge about the dangers of lung cancer and obesity, people still smoke and eat fatty foods. Similar arguments have been levied against climate change and man-made pollution.

New disciplines such as behavioral economics have revealed that much of the time people take decisions based not on what would be best for them but on so-called heuristics — rules of thumb from their own experience — or by copying others.

A Pick and Mix Approach

In the light of the realization that people don’t always act rationally, regulators are likely to become more paternalistic in the future. There are, for example, already attempts to regulate the mortgage market more stringently so that it is less easy for consumers to make choices against their best long-term interest.

Economics is evolving from a subject that placed an almost limitless amount of faith in the ability of markets to determine outcomes to one that questions whether markets always come up with the preferred outcome. Rather like the modern novel, which picks and chooses from a variety of different styles instead of limiting itself to one discourse, 21st-century economics will pick and choose widely from Keynesianism, monetarism, rational market theory and behavioral economics to come up with a new fusion.