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Reducing your car insurance rates

In a time when we’re all looking to cut expenses, here’s an interesting story about how some people are cutting their car insurance rates.

When Zshavina Meacher of Cleveland traded in her car for a new 2011 Chevy Malibu last summer, her insurance premium jumped to $510 every six months. Her insurer, Progressive Corp., asked her whether she wanted to cut her rate.

If Meacher agreed to install a device in her car that monitors how safely she drives and the results were good, her rates would go down. If the results weren’t so good, her rates would stay the same. She agreed.

During the first few weeks, the device told Meacher that she slammed on her brakes a lot. She stopped the hard braking.

In February, the 23-year-old’s insurance bill dropped by $120 per six months, or 24 percent.
Meacher is happy her rates went down. And Progressive is happy the risk of Meacher getting into an accident went down. Fewer claims will help keep Mayfield-based Progressive profitable.

If you haven’t heard of telematics — a device that monitors your driving — then get ready. While Progressive started dabbling in telematics in the 1990s, it started pushing it in 2010 with its “Snapshot” program, and other insurers have stepped up interest in the last year.

Telematics is changing car insurance, and who knows what else it might change. Of course this raises privacy issues, but for people who need to watch every penny, it can really be a helpful option to lower your car insurance costs.

Where are we spending our money?

With the Great Recession, the spending habits of Americans is changing. We’re spending more on things like fruits and vegetables, and less on vices like smoking. Here’s an interesting chart from The Economist on consumer spending.

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