The Department of Justice spent $4000 for 250 muffins. Doesn’t it seem sort of extravagant when you do the math? They also spent $121 million on conferences in a two year period including $600,000 on event planning. Now our cash strapped country has to pay the piper for such lavish spending. So what can you learn from such wasteful spending? Accountability and fiscal responsibility come to mind.
As we headed into a recession the government kept spending and spending. Soon we found ourselves deeper and deeper in debt. Rather than cutting back or at least try to control spending by purchasing cheaper muffins, getting competitive bids or hiring a full time staff member they continued down a path of irresponsibility. Obviously now drastic measures need to be taken to reduce spending, cutting costs and reducing debt; all this while trying to stimulate our troubled economy. Or they will need to come up with more money, aka raising taxes.
So what exactly does this have to do with you? While it is really quite simple, when times are tough it make sense to cut back on the little things to reduce spending rather than continuing on a path of debt and self-destruction. Things like skipping the mani-pedi, brewing your own coffee, bringing a bagged lunch or working a second job are small sacrifices you could easily do to save money and fund your emergency fund. By having such a fund, if something happens like your car breaks down or your roof leaks you will have the money to repair it. You wouldn’t have to incur debt or make drastic financial decisions.
Obviously there will always be the individual who continues to spend $300 on a pair of shoes so people won’t think they are hurting financially. But the truth is that you can only do that for so long before you get in over your head. At some point it isn’t about brewing your own coffee, it becomes about selling your assets such as your annuity, your car or your home just to survive. No one likes bill collectors and being in debt isn’t a picnic either therefore wouldn’t it make sense to live within your means and create a budget you can stick to?
Rescue Capital has a few tools on their website that can help you to reach your goal of financial responsibility. We are also looking into developing other tools too so if you have any suggestions on new tools or ways we can improve the ones we have just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are plenty of survival guides to natural disasters so we put together a list of our 5 favorite items for keeping you comfortable and safe during the storm.
- Food Rules - Rules about what to keep or toss from your fridge.
- No Cook Recipes - Because no one wants to eat Peanut Butter sandwiches for 3 days straight.
- Alternative Power Chargers - Handcrack chargers, solar powered chargers and more to help you keep your cellphone and other gagdets charged.
- Coffee Break - For those of you who can't function without fresh brewed coffee, a 12-volt coffee maker.
- Let there be light - Indoor/outdoor battery operated table lamp.
With a weak economy and high unemployment levels, it should come as no surprise that approximately 50 Million American Adults went without health insurance at some point during the past year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). While some Americans opt out of care altogether others have incurred huge debt in order to get the care they needed.
Without a doubt, for the millions of Americans without health insurance, going to the doctor can be a painful experience to your wallet. You can ease the pain by taking some proactive steps when it comes to your medical care. Many of these tips can be applied to the uninsured as well as the insured.
How to Save Money on Medical Bills
For the insured/employed:
Insurance companies negotiate discounted rates with providers in their network. If your provider is not in your network, you will pay higher co-pays and deductibles. Don't take the doctor's word for it; call your insurance company to make sure. Remember taking your insurance is not the same thing as being in your network.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA):
Open a FSA to cover out of pocket medical expenses. These employer based accounts allow you to set aside money on a pretax basis as a payroll deduction. You can use it for items that you medical insurance doesn't cover such as co-pays, deductibles and over the counter medications.
For the uninsured:
Negotiate your medical bills:
According to HealthcareSurvivalGuide.com 61% of patients who asked for a discount from their doctor received one. In a recent article, personal finance author Liz Pulliam Weston stated that people without insurance are initially charged two or three times more than individuals who have insurance. Medical providers are often willing to accept a lower discount payment but you have to ask.
Go to school:
Many medical and dental schools offer low cost clinics staffed with interns that are supervised by medical and dental professionals. If you have a child in college, some college health insurance plans allow an unemployed parent to piggyback on their child's plan.
Purchase generic drugs whenever possible. Prescriptions tend to be cheaper at supermarkets compared to local pharmacies so it pays to comparison shop. Mail order services offer discounts for 90 day supplies.
As said by Healthcare Survival Guide Co-Author Martin Rosen, "Things like flu shots, physicals and cholesterol and blood tests are usually cheaper at walk-in retail clinics rather than your doctor's office." Many clinics take insurance as well as offer a variety of services including vaccinations, physicals and diagnostic testing. Avoid the high deductibles and long waits at the emergency room by using your local urgent care center. Just make sure that they are in your network otherwise you could be hit with an unexpected bill.
Get Helping Paying:
Sell your future annuity payments:
If you are receiving payments from a structured settlement annuity, a divorce settlement, a single premium immediate annuity or even a pension, you can sell your future payments for a cash lump sum. You are free to use the money any way you want including paying medical bills or health insurance premiums. According to John Zepeda at Rescue Capital, "we see individuals tapping into their annuity payments in order to pay down outstanding medical bills. As a result of being uninsured many of these annuitants dug themselves into a financial hole that is very difficult to get out of, fortunately, they can use their annuity which is an asset to get the money they need and not have to incur more debt."
For low income individuals, many hospitals have charity programs that may pay a portion, if not all, of your bill depending upon your income.
The Veterans Administration also offers hardship programs for Veterans who need assistance with their medical bills.
Prescription Drug Programs:
Many pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, offer discounted and free prescriptions for those who can't afford them. In addition, many states offer similar programs as well.
Don't forget the Three R's: reading, writing and arithmetic:
According to a recent article in the New York Times, roughly 14 million Americans are struggling with medical bills that they believe were sent in error to collection agencies. So it is important for you to read all your statements when they come in to ensure that you know what is being paid by your insurer and how much you owe. If you negotiate a settlement offer with your medical provider, get it in writing and make sure that you know what they are going to report back to the credit reporting agencies. Also don't forget to do the arithmetic. Check your hospital bills to make sure that they aren't overbilling you or charging you for services you did not receive.
Many of these tips and more can be found in the Healthcare Survival Guide, a free book written by the founders of consumer advocacy company Health Advocate. The company has a division for consumers called Health Proponent that can help individuals negotiate medical bills, find billing mistakes and more.