February, 2019
Archive

By In Around the Web, Money-Saving Tips, Savings and Budgets, Student Loan Debt

How to Graduate from College Debt-Free, or, It’s Never Too Early to Live the FI Life

A lot of you were initially attracted to the FI movement by a need to change your situation, and most frequently that “situation” was student loan debt. As we all know, and as Hasan Minaj so brilliantly covered on his show (linked here), student loan debt is a national crisis and it’s really, really rare for anyone to come out of college and not have at least a little bit of debt.

That’s why when I saw a post on Twitter about a woman who graduated debt-free, and then I saw her tremendously useful recap of how she did it, I just had to share it. The main takeaway is that you CAN avoid debt before you even get it. There are major tradeoffs but I guarantee they’re worth it.

Read on for the tweet and the tips.

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By In Budgeting, Do the Math, General Benefits Knowledge, Money-Saving Tips, Savings, Savings and Budgets, Student Loan Debt, Taxes

How to Identify Your Scarcities and Use Them to Your FI Advantage

Recently, at a PTA meeting for my daughter’s school, the school’s two parent-volunteer yoga instructors gave a short presentation (with student participation) on the easy yoga and meditation techniques they practiced with our kids. It was fun, funny and heartwarming to see the kids really get into their practice. It was also illuminating for us as parents to try it ourselves. When it got to the mindful meditation part, one of the instructors mentioned how focusing on your breath opened a path to the amygdala, which “will get you off of the treadmill of worry and into relaxing mindfulness.” I used to find these types of descriptions a little silly, but the more I’ve tried to be more mindful in my own daily life, the more I can buy into this idea of needing a real shift in mindset to get from worry to deeper conscience.

It reminded me of a book I read last year called Scarcity: The New Science of Having Less and How It Defines Our Lives. It’s a wonderful book that can impact the way you approach both personal and professional challenges. It’s more of a research-oriented book than self-help, so don’t go into it expecting to get a blueprint for finding mindfulness. It’s more about the research the authors did on how scarcity impacts how we think and make decisions — and it really does.

As you seek financial independence, chances are you are making plans that are deeply impactful to the two most common forms of scarcity: money and time. You’ll want and need to ensure that you’re making the most of both to reach your FIRE goals. But you’ll also want to make sure that you understand when you’re making decisions based on a scarcity of one or the other, or both, and what you can do to work against making bad decisions.

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By In Do the Math, Money-Saving Tips, Prescription Drugs

Do Prescription Discount Cards Work? It Depends

I recently rolled off of my previous employer’s health insurance plan and bought an individual ACA plan for the first time. As a result, our prescription drug coverage changed as well and when I went to renew a prescription, I was asked to wait until Monday to get a reply. I couldn’t wait until Monday (it was Friday afternoon) for these two scripts, so I asked my options. Without coverage, they would cost $1,000 and $259, respectively, for a full order of each. Zoinks!

That’s when I remembered that I had gotten a prescription discount card at a healthcare conference I attended. I pulled the card from my wallet and asked the pharmacist if this would bring the cost down any. She looked at the card, smiled and said “This might actually make it cost more.” Ugh!

“The only discount card that usually works with us is GoodRx,” she said. I asked why and she didn’t seem to know the answer. So, I searched and found a bit…

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By In Health Financial Accounts, Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), Individual Health Insurance

High Deductible ≠ HSA-Eligible

I saw an interesting question posted on Twitter this weekend that got me thinking about HSA eligibility. The question was about whether the new short-term, limited duration health plans being offered under a new expansion by the Trump Administration qualify as high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) and, as such, also qualify for health savings accounts (HSAs). I didn’t see that an answer was tracked down yet but the gist of the argument is that since HSAs are governed by the IRS and not Health and Human Services, which approves health insurance plan designs, then an STLD plan could also be an HDHP.

Why should this wonky distinction matter to you? Two reasons:

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By In Health Insurance Utilization, Medicare, Retirement

New Medicare App Helps You Figure Out ‘What’s Covered’

Whether you have regular health insurance or you are of the age/eligibility to receive Medicare coverage, one of the trickiest things to have to deal with is whether the service you need is covered. I have heard many stories about people who have gone into a doctor’s appointment thinking that Medicare will cover their needs and found out later, via a huge bill, that they did not. My mother spent more than a year reconciling a bill that my stepdad received and she would have loved to have easy access to coverage information on her smartphone while the doctors appointment was happening.

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