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Finding more ways to save.

January 23rd, 2008 at 06:05 pm

I happened to mention to my chiropractor that I am no longer covered under insurance and that now I am paying out of pocket. Her response was that once I get on a maintenance plan (right now I'm on a plan to fix something specific) that they will give me a discounted rate so long as I commit to coming in once a month. I was planning on doing so anyway so that's good. Plus they have like a punch card, come in for 12 months consecutively and get a free massage or something like that. I won't complain!

I also got an email from a friend who can get half price bus passes from her work. She doesn't need hers for Feb so she offered to buy it for me instead. I think it will work since right now I tell work how much to take out for my transportation costs and then just turn in a receipt showing I paid that amount. I sent in the slip today to lower the amount I'm having them take out and since she buys the pass at a store there will be an accompanying receipt that I can turn in. Even if for some reason they don't accept it, it's still a worthy savings. I don't know how many months I will be able to do that but I can change how much they take out from my pay as often as I want. It's way more flexible than my flexible spending account. Smile

No more chiropractor coverage.

January 5th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

I found out yesterday while looking over all my paperwork to become a permanent employee that chiropractic care is not covered under my new insurance. This is sad because I am under treatment right now once a week. Because it is needed, not just wanted, I will continue it to the tune of $60/visit and save my receipts for 2008 taxes. My new work has an FSA that I could load up with money to cover the expenses but I'm a little leary of doing so with the whole spend it or loose it philosophy. I will send $50/mo into the FSA to cover my prescriptions at least. Who knows, I may wind up spending it all after all.

This month I don't need to buy any meds so I will use the $180 I budget for medical on the chiro that way I avoid charging it. I'm still doing well in the savings arena too so I may make it out unscathed when all is said and done. We'll see.

I think I can pull this off.

September 18th, 2007 at 08:54 am

I debated about asking my dad for help with insurance. I still might but its hard to ask him for anything even though he tells me to if I need it.

This morning I got another bt offer for 0% until 4/2008 and a 3% fee with a max of $75. That got me thinking along the lines of, should I request a check just to have as backup funds and not cash it if I don't need it?

Here's how it breaks down...

By the end of this month I will have at least $1,000 in savings. Probably more but I won't know til I get paid. Add to that $200/mo repayments from my brothers guaranteed ($100 is via allotment straight to my bank account and the other I have access to his accounts so he is sure to pay me regularly). Over the course of the next 4 months that makes an additional $800. Plus there's the kicker check I'll be getting in December. They say the median amount is $260 or so, I plugged in numbers at a website and it showed more like $500 for me but I'm not 100% sure since I can't find my state tax forms.

I know I'll have other extra cash I'm just plotting worst case scenario. I'm also making the assumption that I can pay all my regular bills with whatever pay I get.

Ok so I will have to pay for COBRA in November and December. October should be covered by what I've already paid since we pay for the next month. January I'm going to go without and just get meds at Costco. That will satisfy the continuous coverage with less than 63 days of non coverage thing so I don't have to worry about pre-existing condition stuff. That's assuming I get hired on in January as benefits would start in February. Total costs for COBRA will be about $840 for the two months.

All told, even with not getting paid for holidays since I'll be contract, and with my first month once I get hired on, having to live on a smaller paycheck as I transition from every other week to once a month, I think I'll be ok.

My student loan that I've been working like crazy to pay off tells me I don't have to make a payment til January. So I think I'm going to take them up on it. I will make monthly payments of $20 + whatever interest has accrued but not my usual $60 plus whatever extra I can scrounge up. That will help. Hopefully I won't have to resort to using my cc to pay bills. But at least I have that option.

All told, I think I'm going to hold off on the bt offer. If I can make it through this and still have $500 in my EF, I will be a happy camper. If I can make it through this without having to charge anything, even if it means draining my EF completely, I will be fine with that too.

Short term insurance options?

September 13th, 2007 at 05:35 pm

I'm jumping the gun here but I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with getting short term health insurance to bridge the gap between jobs? I'm anticipating a job offer soon and since I take medications regularly I'll want something to defray the costs and ensure that I don't have a lapse of more than 63 days of insurance coverage.

I looked at www.ehealthinsurance.com and scoped out a few plans. But all of them seem to have pre-existing condition clauses. I found this on another web site about Oregon specific health insurance: All health plans in Oregon must limit exclusion of pre-existing conditions. There are rules about what counts as a pre-existing condition and how long you must wait before a new health plan will begin to pay for care for that condition. Generally, if you join a new plan, your old coverage will be credited toward the pre-existing condition exclusion period, provided you did not have a long break in coverage.

I suppose the best thing to do would be to call. The plans I was looking at considered anything diagnosed in the past 5 years to be pre-existing but I've had health insurance/coverage for the past 9 so does that mean it doesn't count as pre-existing? Yeah, lots of questions.

I did find out that I can get COBRA to the tune of $420/mo. It's spendy but if it would be less hassle I'm almost tempted to do it. However the short-term Regency policy I was looking at was only $220 for 3 months if I paid all at once. Of course then there's a $250 deductible and then after that I pay 20% of all costs.

Ugh. I hate trying to figure this stuff out.

Edited to add: Well its not an option for me. I just called their info line and was told that if a short term insurance plan were to accept me, then yes I would be covered and the pre-existing condition thing wouldn't be an issue. However, because of my pre-existing condition they will not accept me. So that means COBRA for at least one month.

Suckered into it? Job change?

August 31st, 2007 at 05:07 pm

I pre-ordered Harry Potter 7 not knowing it would result in a $5 gc from Amazon. But it had a catch, it had to be used by the end of August and it had to be used on a purchase of $20 or more.

I had plans to buy a new dvd player and had scoped one out on Amazon for $55. I had one $20 gc from July and was anticipating another from August that never showed up. Since today's the last day I can use the $5 I went ahead and purchased the dvd player, $49.99 - $25.00 in gc plus free shipping making the cost to me $24.99. Not a bad price for an anticipated purchase. I did receive $20 for September via PayPal (the place I was getting the gc's from monthly always had issues actually getting the gc's to me hence the reason I still don't have August's yet so starting for September we switched to PayPal payments) so I did transfer that to my bank account making my total purchase really only $4.99. I'm just annoyed because when the gc for August does finally arrive I'm going to have to find something to put it towards. (what they do is send me a code to log into 800giftcertificates and order a gift card, I just always chose Amazon because I figure there's always something smallish I'd like but can't justify.)

Now that I've made the purchase though I'm wondering if I wasn't suckered into using that $5 off since I could have waited til my gc came through and just let the $5 off expire. But I've been waiting all month to order this and I'm done waiting. It could be another month before the gc for August get straightened out.

-----

In other news...I may be changing jobs. I had a very promising screening interview yesterday and I should find out more next week. Their high end of the starting pay is about what I'm making now. Their benefits are just about fully funded, which is a big plus. They are in downtown and offer mass transit pass purchase with pre-tax dollars. (my roommate works about 5 blocks away and has free parking through work so carpool options abound) They have breakfast for the whole crew of 85 every Friday morning. Drinks and snacks are provided in the break room. And it would actually be using the second degree I acquired a few years ago along with my current skill set.

Downside...

Because of how I applied, through a middle company, I would be a contract employee for 3 months (unless they bought my contract out early) and that would mean no health insurance in the interim. I've looked into a couple of things, COBRA is $420/mo and I found a short term plan on eHealthInsurance for just $220/92 days with a $250 deductible and after that I'd only have to pay 20% of my prescriptions. It would probably cost me more than if I just like went to Costco for prescriptions but I don't know what the new company's 'pre existing condition' policy is so I'd prefer to stay insured as long as possible. I know my current one would still be active for a bit after I quit just not sure how far ahead we actually pay.

So lots of potential changes. I'm not sure how this would affect my budget. I'd be back to hourly for a time. At least that would mean I would get overtime if it happened. And no more on call/weekend work. More potential for advancement. Etc. Lots of plusses but the minuses must be weighed in as well.

A time ago, when I was researching job changes, my step-mom said they would help me out with my medical stuff should I run into any trouble with pre-existing condition clauses. Especially if that was the only thing keeping me from accepting a new position. I might actually bring it up with them again. It's not that I don't think I could cover it, I do have emergency savings, just I don't want to spend a lot right away since I don't know really how long between paychecks once I change jobs. If I get the offer that is.

few things

July 24th, 2007 at 10:20 am

I am on vacation this week. I'm pretty much just hanging out at home and visiting people that I don't see regularly that are also at home during the week and finding places for the items I'm pulling out of my storage unit that will close on the 31st. I'm trying hard to make that not mean more spending since I have the opportunity to go out more. We'll see.

I called my dr's office and asked if I could pay half of my bill this month and the other half next month. They looked at my account and didn't have a problem with it. While I technically have the money to pay it all right now I'm trying to stick with only using money set aside for medical to pay medical. And I know I can pay the rest of it next month.

I will be co-leading a 2 hour class on Basic Finance Skills in Oct/Nov. I met last night with the gal I'll be leading with and need to come up with a good outline soon. I'm really excited and super nervous. I talk about this stuff all the time but not in this sort of setting. So I'll be rummaging around the 'net so I can have stuff down on paper that way I don't forget my speaking points. Smile

I'm babysitting tonight, probably for about 3 hours so that should mean about $30. I haven't bought a gift for the wedding I'm going to this weekend so I think I'll set whatever I get from babysitting as my limit since I wasn't sure where I was going to pull the money from and the credit card had been calling my name but I've been working hard to silence it. Smile

Where did it all go?

July 18th, 2007 at 01:49 pm

I really wish I knew where my money went this last pay period. I have no good answers for it. I took some from my gas money to pay for groceries and a small meal out. But then I got $15 from winning a pool as to when my friend's baby would be born. Sorta evens out.

Ok so here's where the confusing stuff comes in.

- I do have a roommate moving in sometime after the 21st. She will be giving me money for August rent so I don't have to hold onto money to cover it but I'm doing so anyway because I just want to have all my bases covered. Right now I have $50 in an 'Unknown' category. I'll be adding $60 from my check on the 20th plus $45 from childcare (maybe more if i do any other babysitting, a friend just called to see if i could sit but we haven't finalized that I actually will be doing it). So that's at least $155 not counting any extra in my check on the 5th or the $100 that's auto deposited on the 1st from my step-brother. I need $287.50 for her half of rent.

- I have two medical bills due on the 31st. One from my clinic for $160 and one from my dentist for $28. There's $93 in my medical savings account and there'll be $15 left from my medical savings budget on the 20th. Still a tad short of the total due but I may just pay the dentist and call the clinic to see if I can pay half now and half next month.

- I owe my team captain $114 for my part of the van rental, my part of gas, and my part of water for the relay. It's not due really until August 24th but it's something I need to remember I have to pay. He figured high on the gas money so I might even get some back but it won't really be much.

- My brother has not been fully processed yet so his signing bonus won't arrive until at least 10 days after he is fully processed. I have a feeling that may not actually show up in his bank account until after rent is due. Which means he may need my help to pay for rent ($250+). Though he did just call and said that his recruiter told him today that his packet had left his hands and is at the state office. Once he's in the computer his signing bonus should come pretty quick.

- I need to get my oil changed. I actually have enough in the budget to cover it but it's an added thing that I need to keep reminding myself to do before my trip to Seattle.

- I have almost $70 for my trip to Seattle. That should be enough to cover gas and ferry fare but probably not eating out depending on how much I do and where. Friend that I'm visiting knows how budget conscious I am but she's planning something special for Friday night.

- I have another trip to Seattle planned for in August and I'm hoping I can just tell my friend that's going with me that she doesn't have to pay for the concert ticket in exchange for her paying for gas and taking care of our lodging on Saturday night. We'll see how that goes.

- I bought concert tickets for my brother for his birthday only to find out his friend bought him a ticket and got slightly better seats. I'm debating about using the tickets (I wouldn't mind going but I wouldn't have bought them for me) or selling them since the concert is sure to sell out (Smashing Pumpkins, my brother's favorite band that he never saw live). I could make a tidy profit off them.

- I have two extra tickets for the concert in Seattle, I may be selling them to other friends in the area or just selling them period. I'm waiting til it gets closer and the show sells out.

- I need to have an extra $60 to pay the gas for someone to pick me up from the relay so I don't have to pay $196 to stay one night in a hotel at the finish line. Again, don't need it until August 24th but still need to keep it in mind.

I think that September will be a better month for me. Just because once September hits all the big stuff I have going on should be over and I can be back on a more even keel. Except for the whole going to my current roommate's wedding which is 4 hours away but I'm already planning on car-pooling with at least one other person and sharing a hotel room.

bits and pieces.

June 28th, 2007 at 02:45 pm

I'm a little annoyed with myself. But before I get to that, I've decided to not do the 0% BT. It's not worth it right now as it's too short of time for something to go wrong.

~ The $400 that I had planned on paying off of CC2 before interest started accruing, may not be going anywhere right away and that makes me sad.

~ If I choose to stay in my apartment I will owe my roommate $200-$300 since she paid the deposit but is leaving. I think it was $200 but since I didn't pay it I don't remember exactly. I told her to take it off of July's rent so thats part of why I can't pay off CC2 right away.

~ If I choose to move (I finally heard back from a house I had inquired after beginning of the month) my housing costs will go up slightly. Rent and utilities combined are only $12 more per month and if the house is where I think it is gas usage won't go up that much but I may not be able to walk to work/gym as often. Depending on the new living situation I may still have to have a storage unit but I've spoken with another friend about 'renting' space in her garage for the same price I was paying before.

~ I have to pay $196 for two nights at a motel after the walking relay I'm doing. It's annoying because all hotel/motels in the area require a 2 night stay for that particular weekend and that is literally the cheapest out there. The next cheapest is three times the rate. The money is due before August 1st and is the second reason I won't be paying off the CC before interest accrues. Though I could take money out of savings but I'm trying to not do that I want to build savings not take away from it.

~ If I don't move and I can de-clutter enough to store it all at the apt I currently live in that will save me $60/month.

~ I'm slightly splurging and getting a massage this weekend but it's for medical reasons so I'll take the money out of my medical funds. I think I have/had a pinched nerve. I had tingling sensations in my legs but when I'd shift how I was sitting it would go away. After the first visit to the chiro it went from both legs to just my left leg. After the second visit to the chiro it's lessened even more but now the muscle that feels like it goes from about mid butt to past the knee is irritated by about mid-day which makes sitting in any position un-bearable. My friend is a massage therapist and sometimes gives me discounts because I do computer work for her. I'm planning on paying full price though until she tells me otherwise.

~ I got the explanation of benefits from my last Echo, they remembered to bill my insurance this time. It's $159 that I'll owe and I'm hoping that it'll be on the next billing cycle. If it is, then there's a good chance I can pay it all when I get it. My medical savings is currently at $57.

~ My brother is getting a signing bonus, I just don't know when yet. When he does he'll be paying off the money he owes me (I'm assuming based on how much money he'll be getting). Right now his outstanding balance with me is at about $3,600. But it'll be 10 - 30 days before he gets his bonus and he says knowing his luck it'll be 30 days.

~ I had three no drive days but was hoping for five. Today the weather wasn't right to walk to work though I did get in a 5.8 mile walk before work. But I did drive into work and I now have plans for after that may entail driving straight from work (ie no time to walk home and get the car). But I did bring lunch and dinner to work with me so I won't be tempted to go out for either.

Finding my way back.

June 14th, 2007 at 03:58 pm

In my head it made perfect sense. I was paying more than the minimum on my 10.9% loan because that was the amount already in the budget from when it was a credit card with a higher minimum. Recent changes in required minimums have forced me to rethink things. And considering I'm training for a walking relay, and walking about 6 miles three times a week, I have LOTS of time to rethink things.

This is what I have come up with:
Priority 1: Pay off CC2
Priority 2: EF up to goal
Priority 3: 13.25% personal (not federal) student loan
Priority 4: 10.9% loan and back on track with my Three Phase plan

Priority 1... well you see it went something like this. I had CC2 all paid off. A couple months ago I remembered that CC1 was still the billing card for my website (annual automatic charge) so I changed it to be CC2 since CC2 was paid off and it would be more motivation to pay it off before interest accrued. Only I thought the website renewal was in July and it's really in June so it's been charged already and I have yet to pay it off.

Then as I was looking at something at Ticketmaster I saw that Stomp was coming to town. I have this friend, we've known each other a long time (since '94). Her birthday is coming up end of June and I haven't really ever gotten her something that's really special, something that she'd really appreciate. Usually it's just the token 'oh crap her birthday's coming up I need to do something' type gift. Granted, she doesn't expect anything from me and has told me that on numerous occasions. But, she also has come up with some pretty amazingly thoughtful wonderful gifts for me over the years. (like my justification bit here?) She also happens to Really like Stomp. So I decided to see what tickets were available and found some pretty decent seats. I went ahead and bought two tickets, thinking it was in July and she could just take whoever she wanted to. But after I bought them I realized the show is in June, just before her birthday. So I'm going to surprise her and take her to the show. She knows we're getting together that night for her birthday just the two of us but that's all she knows. I'm really excited about surprising her on the one hand and mildly kicking myself for charging it before knowing that I'll have the funds to pay it off before interest is charged.

And of course then there was my dentist visit on Wednesday. It wound up costing $448, a little more than expected but they did two fillings rather than just one so I knew it would be more. I have transferred money out of my Medical Savings to pay that part off.

Priority two... I just recently realized that I'm never going to get my EF to where it needs to be at the rate I'm going. Which right now is I have a small amount in the budget that goes to Savings but then I take all of the extra money and throw it at my 10.9% loan. It wouldn't take me all that long to make my goal if I'd just put the extra into Savings instead.

Priority three... This loan is the bane of my existence. The interest rate increased after I actually started paying on it and instead of being the $50/mo it claimed it would be, it actually wound up being more. I got sick of the fluctuations in how much to pay every month so I just started paying $60/mo. That at least made my budget simple and meant that I was paying a little extra on it. But I just want it to go away! So I've decided to focus on that soon.

Priority four... I really still want to have all of my consumer debt paid off by April 2010. I feel like I'm going to be behind in my goal if I put other things in front of it but my gut feeling is that this is the way it needs to happen. Besides, then I'll have an extra $60/mo to pay on things once I pay off the 13.25% loan.

Writing this all down is more for me than anything else. I seem to think of all this great stuff but never follow through. Perhaps with it written down perhaps I can actually stick to it.

Careful use of CC

May 31st, 2007 at 11:38 am

I was going to pull money out of my medical savings account today but decided against it. I really want it to be earning interest as long as possible so I think I'm just going to pay for my two dentist visits with my empty credit card and then pay it off after my second visit. Then I'll know exactly how much I'll really need instead of me guessing how much it'll be. I have the money to pay it off before interest is an issue so I'm not worried about that. I am being careful to not get in the habit of using it regularly though.

Sticking it out for three months.

May 24th, 2007 at 05:39 pm

Had a dr visit today. The most awesomest news I could ever hear, the meds are working and my heart is getting stronger! Strong enough to shift me out of the 'need to get an implantable defibrillator' category. That excites me to no end!

We discussed my meds and the controlled release I'm taking now she prefers me to take because it is a more even flow of medication than if I take it twice a day. It's $15 more per month but I think it's worth it. They are working on a generic for that same med (not the controlled release but the twice a day) and when it comes out I may switch back to that because it'd only be $10/mo vs $50/mo. My next appointment is in three months, or it will be when I make it. They generally don't have the schedule set up that far out so I'll call in two months. We'll discuss the medications then.

I'm also excited because the weather is going to be NICE this weekend and I'm going to the zoo TWICE. Getting use out of that zoo pass!

I'm annoyed because for the first time in a really really really REALLY long time I had an overdraft. I have a checking account that I don't use for much of anything linked to PayPal. When I buy something via PayPal I change the funding source to something else to pay with (unless I'm sending money to someone in general then I deposit it into the account and do a bank transfer). Apparently I forgot to change the funding source, either that or I answered No when they asked 'are you sure you want to pay with a credit card?'. So it tried to pull $7.80 from an account that had under $5. But it's all taken care of now so that's good. Thank God for my EF.