Is My Modded Ride Insurable?

Jeff’s Note: Personally, I think anything beyond gas & insurance is a waste of money for your car. Never throw money into a depreciating asset. 

The world of car enthusiasts is filled with true individuals who pride themselves on expressing their personalities through their distinctive and eye-catching vehicles. Some modify their cars for performance, others for aesthetics, but many drivers who make extensive modifications to their vehicles may wonder if their auto insurance policy even covers the monster their humble set of stock wheels has become.


For insurance purposes, a “modified vehicle” is one that has undergone significant improvements in its manufacturer specified performance potential or structural alterations to the body of the vehicle that may impact the way it behaves on the road. Replica vehicles also fall under this standard, as they are not officially manufactured or endorsed by the automaker.

A premium custom paint job may also qualify as a significant modification is the value of the service totaled $10,000 or more, as the entire vehicle usually requires professional repainting if just one flaw develops.


Most motorheads are totally unaware of their responsibility to report any substantial modifications to their insurance provider immediately. You can contact the HBF car insurance department directly on this link.

Failure to report modifications to your vehicle in a timely fashion could result in the voiding of the policy as a whole, as the insurer can justifiably claim that the vehicle involved in an incident is not the same as that insured by the policy. The vast majority of vehicles an insurance companies are standard factory products with reliable values and attributes, making it easy for them to determine your suitability for coverage.

In the case of modified vehicles, the practical effects of their uniqueness is far more difficult to quantify, and if there’s anything an insurance company cannot stand, it’s unpredictability. The fact is that most insurance companies are ill-equipped to address the needs of custom car enthusiasts, and typically do not respond well to being asked to do so unexpectedly.

For this reason, all modifications to your vehicle should be listed and submitted for the review of your insurer before the alterations take place if at all possible. This will allow you to determine whether a modification poses a risk to the validity of your current coverage, and if so, find an insurer more amenable to your automotive passions.

A custom car can be an unmistakable statement of personal style, but their total uniqueness can make finding effective insurance for these pieces of art a challenge. Check with your insurer to verify your current automotive coverage supports any planned modifications made to your vehicle and if your ride already features heavy modifications, be sure your insurance policy is made to be as one-of-a-kind as it is.

Finally Home!

I know that posting has been sparse lately, and those of you who subscribe to my newsletter know why. We have finally brought our daughter home from the hospital! It has been a long time coming, but true to their word, she was sent home on the first of may (her original due date) and did not even have to come home on oxygen. My wife and I are very excited, and it is good to have our family back at home.

Right now, we are currently adjusting to life with a newborn. She sleeps fairly well most nights, thankfully, and my wife is enjoying staying home with her during the day time (she has been off work since the week after she was born). She is still really small (under 7lbs) and still dealing with being a preemie, but she is gaining weight slowly and surely. From what the nurses said, she will begin getting huge in no time!

I do have some posts about the financial aspect of all this, as it turned out much different for us than I had initially imagined the whole having children thing would have. I’m working on a few different posts about that, because there are a few moving parts to the situation that most people dont even know about (or at least I didnt before this started).

My wife and I have also come to the realization that no one that comes to visit us anymore wants to hang out with us – they just want to see the baby. That being said, here’s a picture that my wife took of her the other day.


New Plans

As all you readers know, my wife is pregnant. Her pregnancy hasn’t been going the best but we were just taking it a day at a time, and hoping for no more complications after losing one of the twins in late december. Things had been progressing just fine, and I had moved on  to trying to figure out how I could get more useful articles out of our baby to be.

I had started making a schedule of the DIY Projects that I was planning on doing before the baby came and how those projects were going to help save us money and use less resources. I was planning on DIY baby wipes, and a whole bunch of other projects. I was going to make them and then write about how to do it and why we made them. Since my wife was just 7 months pregnant, I figured we’d have plenty of time to get all that done.

Well, Eleanor decided differently, and decided that right after the baby shower she was done hanging out in my wifes belly, and decided to come 10 weeks early. Since she is so early, they have her at a hospital in colorado in the NICU (Neo-natal intensive care unit), and she will likely remain there until her due date (which was supposed to be in early may).


So that’s her, being handled by the flight for life team, less than 2 minutes after she was born. Oddly enough, one of my good friends from denver works at flight for life (though not in that group) and recognized their uniforms when I put this picture on facebook (yes, I know you can just see the sleeves). He looked a day later and saw they made the trip to wyoming where H and I live, and easily connected the dots.

Now that we have her, it’s time for us to look into life insurance and other ways to protect her (and each other) in case one of use meets an untimely demise. I’ve looked at life insurance, but I’ve heard there’s couples life insurance that also may be an option.

We are very happy she’s here and are looking forward to taking her home with us.

Should I Study Abroad? The Pros and Cons of Studying in Another Country

A university abroad that has study abroad programs

Studying abroad is increasingly popular among students, with tens of thousands of high school and college students going abroad for their education each year. In today’s globalized society, we’re no longer limited to a single institution for higher education, and new study-abroad opportunities are popping up all the time.

When I was in school, study abroad was just becoming very popular. From what I understand now, it has become sort of an expectation of many upon graduation that you study abroad. Unfortunately, I didnt quite have the money to do so, and still kind of regret not doing it. I did have a lot of friends that went abroad for a semester and they all really enjoyed themselves and got a lot out of it.

The Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Pros and Cons of Studying Abroad

Deciding whether or not to study abroad is a very difficult decision, and there are many different things that you need to take into account when you are deciding if studying abroad is right for you. There are multiple personal things that you need to consider if you’re going to study abroad, and many people are unsure if they should go or stay. There is a lot to consider, and one of the best things that you can do if you’re unsure whether studying abroad is right for you is to go through the pros and cons of studying abroad before making your decision.

Studying Abroad: The Pros

1. You’re education will be more meaningful. It’s one thing to read about distant places in a textbook. It’s something else entirely to actually go there and learn about them in person. For instance, learning about the construction of the Great Wall of China from a history textbook simply can’t compare to walking along the wall with a knowledgeable tour guide. To fully understand why other cultures are different, study abroad programs allow you to go beyond the classroom and discover the context for yourself.

2. Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. College only lasts four years or so. After that, you’ll likely get a job, and traveling abroad for an extended period of time will become much more difficult (This has been true for me, the most we got to spend abroad was 2.5 weeks when we were on our honeymoon). One of the biggest incentives of study abroad programs is that you can travel for a summer, semester, or academic year without compromising your path to a degree.

3. You don’t need to know a foreign language. Although you may be studying in a country where English isn’t the native language, most foreign universities with ties to American study abroad programs offer an ample selection of courses taught in English. To get the full “living abroad” experience, however, you should still take a language class before or during your stay (if your course load allows for it).

4. You’ll go beyond your comfort zone. Even if you go out of state for college, you’re still immersed in many familiar aspects of American culture. Studying abroad offers you the chance to leave behind your usual way of life and experience a culture quite unlike your own. Every country has different social rules and customs—for instance, Europeans eat their largest meal in the afternoon, rather than in the evening—and temporarily taking on a new lifestyle will not only expand your horizons but also heighten your appreciation for other cultures.

5. You’ll make new friends from different backgrounds. There may be a few international students at your university, but students tend to stay within their established social circles for the majority of their college careers. Studying abroad takes you beyond your usual group of friends and gives you the opportunity to make friends from all over the world.

6. It looks good on a resume. In today’s hypercompetitive job market, people are doing whatever they can to convince employers to hire them. Adding “study abroad” to your educational experience sets you apart from the other applicants and shows potential employers that you’re worldly, well-rounded, and willing to go beyond your comfort zone.

7. You will grow as a person. When you are studying in another country, you have a very unique situation. You’re in an unfamiliar place that does things completely differently than you are used to. You will be able to experience a culture very different from your own, and you will be exposed to more different people and different ways of doing things in the 4 months that you are studying abroad than your other three and a half years at your university. You will test habits and preconceived notions that you have held all your life that you did not even know existed before you saw a whole group of people doing something totally different than what you were used to.

8. Opportunity for Internships. Many study abroad programs will allow you to do an internship while abroad, and this is typically a great way to get some job experience under your belt while abroad. Many students that did perform an internship as part of their study abroad program found that it ignited their career in ways that they had not anticipated when they signed up to study abroad.

Studying Abroad: The Cons

1. It’s usually more expensive than your regular tuition. Study abroad programs offer many amenities to students, such as travel assistance and cultural excursions to local landmarks and museums. Unfortunately, these added benefits come with a hefty price tag. While some universities offer scholarships and other forms of financial aid, many students have to take out loans in order to cover the added costs of studying abroad. This article from the wall street journal describes it perfectly: Pricey and priceless.

2. The cost of living may be higher. If you’re studying in a major city, in Western Europe, or in a country where the currency exchange rate is unfavorable to the dollar, the cost of living will be relatively high. Things such as food, rent, and internet will cost more than they do at home, which means you’ll be paying even more out of pocket just by living overseas. You can find coupons through sites like SumoCoupon and other deals at your home-away-from-home, but be sure to overestimate your study abroad budget to make sure you’ll have enough money to get by.

3. You might get homesick. Being away from friends and family, coping with culture shock, missing your favorite foods, and experiencing weather conditions you aren’t used to…all of these factors contribute to homesickness. Yes, you can adapt to new places and make new friends, but longing for your favorite people and familiar lifestyle is an unfortunate part of the study abroad experience.

4. Language barriers might limit socializing opportunities. Many countries require that students in their educational systems learn English as a second language, but even if your non-American classmates know English, they may not always be inclined to speak it. This makes going out to restaurants/bars/clubs/etc. with friends difficult, because they may revert to their native language in a social setting.

How to Pay for a Study Abroad Semester

On our list of cons for study abroad programs, half of them deal with one thing – the cost of studying abroad. Not only do you need to pay for flights/lodging, etc on your way to the country of your chosen program, but you are also still responsible for paying tuition at your university, as well as food costs while you are abroad. You will also want to have extra cash for tourist activities in your new country (Who wants to spend 4 months in France and not see the Eiffel Tower or the Champs-Elysees). It would be a shame and probably a waste of a trip if you went all that way and were unable to see some of your adopted country’s most treasured places.

Even though the costs are high, there are plenty of ways that you can make your dream of studying abroad a reality if you really are interested. We mentioned in our pros of studying abroad list that one great thing about studying abroad was that you could get an internship abroad that will provide you with a bit of spending money when you’re abroad and could really jump-start your career. You’ll be able to make valuable connections, as well as look at work from a different perspective that you will be able to take with you when you go back to your home town and finish your study at university.

I’m Ready to Learn More About Getting an Internship Abroad

If you’re interested in getting an internship as a part of your study abroad semester to help defray some of the costs of studying abroad, there are a ton of things that you need to consider. You’ll be leaving the country and you are trying to get a company to hire you to sight unseen, so you need to make sure that you know how to put your best foot forward. Unfortunately, most of this will have to be your best “online” foot forward. There are multiple pitfalls that could stop you from getting the internship of your dreams while you’re studying abroad, such as:

  • A Poor or Non-Existent Online Presence. Companies are going to search for you online before they want to interview you. Will they be able to find anything at all? If they do find anything, will it be reflective of the person you are, or will it be a bunch of photos of you partying with friends? You want to make sure to put your best foot forward
  • Navigate a Skype Interview. Have you ever had a job interview over skype? If you answered no, you’re not alone – many people have not. Unfortunately for those of us used to in-person interviews, if a company abroad is going to give you an internship, you’re going to have to skype with them for your interview, and you need to make sure you don’t fall into any of the common video interview traps.
  • Prepare your finances. Studying abroad can be painful financially, and even though you’ll (hopefully) be getting an awesome job while you’re there to help offset those costs, you still need to learn how to prepare your finances for an upcoming move across the world.

We don’t want you to have to say no to your dream of studying abroad because of the high costs. We want you to go out and live your dream and enjoy the culture of the study abroad program that you picked. If you’re interested in getting help finding an internship while you study abroad that will help you offset your costs, don’t hesitate. Your dreams of living in another country await.

Click Here to Learn How to Get an Internship Abroad

So, have you thought about studying abroad? I thought about it but didn’t end up doing it because it was pretty expensive (compared to tuition) when I was in school. I had a lot of friends that really enjoyed it though.

Green Washer Fluid

A person using an eco-friendly washer fluid

green washer fluid

Today I was at Walmart searching for, among other things, some new eco-friendly washer fluid for my vehicle.  I typically don’t give much thought to purchasing washer fluid, but something struck me when I was looking at the 5 or so different choices.

There was an eco-friendly alternative for wiper fluids.

Of course, there was, why wouldn’t there be.  It seems that going eco-friendly or “green” is in vogue, and consumers will gladly pay a premium for eco-friendly products.  Such consumers typically buy and give little thought going into whether or not the product was actually produced as they claim. (I do this on occasion)  At first thought, I figured this was just a well-disguised attempt to separate me from my scarce financial resources.

Upon further investigation, wiper fluid is typically hefty stuff, as the majority of the wiper fluids have some sort of anti-freezing agent in them.  It used to be methanol, but due to its known harmful effects (blindness, among other things) now they typically use ethanol and ethylene glycol (more commonly known as antifreeze).

So, did getting the green washer fluid really matter in this case?  The antifreeze is a key ingredient in the fluid in the winter (quick tip: if there’s frost on the windshield in the morning and you don’t have time to wait for the defroster to heat up, spray some wiper fluid on it. will melt the frost), and removing the things that make the wiper fluid not freeze would drastically decrease performance, and ultimately, my satisfaction with the product.

So, what’s a green-conscious consumer to do?

Well, as mentioned before, the eco-friendly wiper fluid only went down to 32 degrees.  I bought two gallons of green washer fluid to use for the summertime, and when wintertime comes back (in 3 months) I’ll use the eco-unfriendly stuff unless I can find an alternative.  Not only did I get the eco-friendly product, but it was also 50 cents or so cheaper than the regular washer fluid.


  1. Have things gotten too “green”?  You can find green things everywhere these days, but who really cares if your wiper fluid is eco-friendly or your superman underwear contains 100% organic cotton
  2. Would you sacrifice performance to stay green?

The High Cost of Being a Moron

Yup, Im an Idiot.  It’s official Now.

Credit: Southsidetowing
Cars Impounded

Wow…..I never thought it would have happened, as I’ve been on quite a good streak with my finances and personal life lately.  By “good streak” I mean to say that I havent done anything that will knee-cap my chances of being successful in the future.  Some people call this “Staying out of your own way”.  As I mentioned, I have been quite good at getting out of my own way lately (I wasnt always this way, but that’s a topic for another post).  I was making good headway on my debt (I still am, sorta) and just really had not done anything that I could look back on in 5 minutes and say “What the hell was I thinking?!”

Well, as you can probably gather, this completely blew up in my face recently, and I’ve finally gotten around to writing about it.  You’ll probably say I was stupid as well, but at this point, I’ve put my moronic actions past me, and have updated my plan/situation to reflect that.

As I mentioned in a previous article (The cost of your car, Pt 2), I purchased a new car when my old one broke down on the way north, and because I got a fairly good deal on a not that old car, I figured that once I got my other car fixed, I could sell it for at least what I paid for it, or possibly a profit.  So, with the help of a great friend, I retrieve my car from its location, take it to the repair shop, and they tell me it will be about a week, because they were a bit behind.  (It was fine with me, as hunting season had just opened, and I know that my mechanic hunts frequently)  So I drive the newer car until the old one is fixed, and then list it on craigslist.  Within a few days, I had many promising responses, and set up a time to have someone look at the vehicle.  I had left room on the price to haggle a bit and still make some money, and the first person that looked at the car made me an offer that I accepted.   The buyer informed me that the transaction would take a while to complete, due to some funding issues, which I agreed to.  One of the reasons that I did this was to avoid having to pay insurance for the car – though I do think that insurance is important (such as Life Insurance, Health Insurance, etc)

Once that happened, I imagined all this progress I was going to make on my credit card debt with this money that I did not yet have.  I ran numbers over and over in my head, and I thought I would be able to hit my goal of being free of credit card debt by 1.1.2010.  I was ecstatic, and applauded myself on shrewed business skills.  All the while, I left the vehicle parked on the street in the city I work in (45 mins from the city I live in).  It was a couple blocks from my place of employment, and so I didnt really figure it to be that big of a deal, as it was parked on the street next to a vacant lot.  The plan was for the car to sit there for around 8 days, and I figured that no one would mind (or even notice, really) that the car had been parked there.

The problem with that situation was that there was an issue with the funding source of the buyer, and I figure that im in no hurry, and can wait for her to straighten everything out.  The car ends up sitting there for the better part of three weeks!  On the day of the sale, I go to retrieve it and ITS GONE!  Im thinking to myself, holy crap, where is it, what happened to it, etc.  I come to the conclusion that it got towed, and I need to find it and get it before I can sell it.  (I havent panicked yet, but im sure annoyed at this point).

I call the city, they tell me (after waiting a bit) that it was towed.  I call the towing company, and they say that have it, and that it’s going to cost $900 for me to get it out.  They had it for almost 2 weeks.  I was not happy that I was not notified, but right then, all the dreams I had of using that car money (and profit) to pay off my debts went out the window, and life gave me a well placed kick to the midsection.

I retrived the car, swallowing a $900 bill before hand, and thought, well, im glad this mess is over, sold the vehicle and wont really look back.  Except to weep continuously.

I learned the following lessons from this escapade:

  1. Keep track of your crap – This would not have happened had I not assumed that all was going to be hunky-dory with the world.  The car got towed, but it could have just as easily gotten stolen.
  2. Get out of your own damn way – Personal finance is difficult enough (so much so that many dont bother with it), and it’s even more difficult when you keep tripping over yourself.
  3. Dont count your chickens Dollars before you’ve got them –  This definitely didnt help either.  It just made me angrier at myself for being such an *idiot*
  4. Persevere – I think this is the most important take-away from this.   Although my Jan 1, 2010 goal for being credit card debt free is most likely unattainable at this point, this is no time for me to just give up.  I’ve gotten too far, enjoyed the successes that I have had too much to just quit now, even though I did take one on the chin pretty hard.

As they say on Intervention, Relapse is part of recovery.  You have to just keep plugging away, and eventually you’ll be where you wanted to be at the beginning.

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