Budgeting for Your Health Care

One of the most difficult things, well, really two of the most difficult things in setting my monthly budget is

  1. Being able to predict the costs of the health expenses of my family for the month/year
  2. Not putting the right priority on including health care in my budget.

Both of these things together have resulted in getting blindsided every year with unexpected medical bills.

Perhaps blindsided isn’t the correct term. I actually kept my eyes closed to the possibility that someone in the family would need to go to the doctor/get sick or injured/have surgery. Then getting that bill after the insurance covered its bit was like having a cold washcloth slap me in the face when I am sound asleep. Not pleasant and it tends to piss me off.

It really pissed me off this year when my family’s medical/dental expenses were just below the allowed deductible and I ended up paying more for my federal income tax. How stupid is that.

All because I did not know how to plan.

After reading today’s post at Quinn’s Commentary, I realized he hit the nail on the head when it comes to planning for health care costs. Folks, it’s more than just paying for health insurance.

Here is that post….

I began managing health benefits in 1961. I have done everything from process claims, design and communicate health benefits, negotiate insurance and TPA contracts to serving on boards of directors of health plans and negotiating physician contracts. I am convinced of one thing with absolute certainty. From the perspective of virtually all Americans health care […]

via Any scheme we contrive will not make health care “affordable.” — QUINNSCOMMENTARY 😇 the facts about lots of stuff

The author links to this post INSURE AGAINST DISASTER, PAY FOR WANTS OUT OF POCKET, SAVE FOR THE END GAME which is another essential read, imho.

After reading these and the linked Forbes article, it is no wonder that unexpected costs of illness or injury leads too many of us to bankruptcy.

To avoid being caught unprepared this year,  I am including fully funding my HSA into my monthly expenses. And eating rice and beans all year.

 

 

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Cash Only

Broke my beautiful budget plan because of poor planning. I budgeted $20 a day for food, fuel, household items and pet food.

But I did not go to the ATM and get $120 in cash on payday like I should have.Instead, I thought I could use  my debit card at the time of purchase and then track my spending with the spending tracker app.

Well, that doesn’t work for me. I blew my budget because I did not plan ahead.

I did not take the meat out of the freezer in time to thaw for dinner so we ended up eating take-out. Twice.

I did not stop at the gas station that offers a discount for paying cash on Tuesdays. So I ended up using my gas credit card to fill the tank.

I put on extra miles for an Easter gathering and to take my mother for appointments. That used an extra tank of gas.

I did not plan ahead for the Easter baskets so I ended up spending more money than I should to fill them.

The cat will need cat food and cat treats. Maybe it would be cheaper just to let her out to catch her own food!

I totally lost track of how much I spent in the last five days. Friday is payday and I WILL take  out the $120 in cash that I budgeted.

Finally Tracking Daily Spending

Spending TrackerI have a latent rebellious nature that likes to come out and sabotage some of my efforts to improve my life. One thing I have rebelled against is budgets and expense tracking. I hate it and I never do what I should do. And now I am sitting here mired in debt, wondering how the hell am I going to save the money I need to retire in 9 years?

Oh, what I do to myself!

Enough, I say. This weekend I sat down and put all I could on ‘auto-draft’, set up a budget and put an app on my phone to help me track my daily spending.

I am giving my household a $20 daily spending budget which includes groceries, gas and incidentals- actually, every thing that is not a bill.

So far, I am really liking that phone app Spending Tracker.  It’s free and easy.

Maybe this time I will stick with my budget.

 

 

I Will Not Commit

Ok, I will admit it. I am a very slow learner.

And I am very impulsive. I make rash decisions.

The combination of my slow learning and my impulsiveness have led me into a lot of trouble financially.

I need to stop making decisions. I need to stop and just think.

I think that a lot of my problem is the headfirst dive I take into the trapping of commitments.

I have trapped myself into apartment leases, cable subscriptions, Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions, cell phone contracts, iPhone leasing, credit card debt, and tuition payments. I also have a commitment to sponsor a child in Thailand at the tune of $38 per month.

Now that I finally realized this, I am making a commitment to no longer commit.

When my apartment lease is up, I am moving to a rental that will let me go month to month.

I cancelled my cable.

I am going to let my cell phone contract expire and I will find a much cheaper cell service that requires no commitment.

No further iPhone leasing.

No more charges to my credit cards. And that should translate into no more online ordering. Man, that is fast and dangerous!

Finish the tuition payments.

Cancel the Netflix and Amazon.

I will continue to sponsor the child because I do have a heart.

oh, yes, the internet. Unfortunately, I am committed to providing my own internet service so that I can have the honor of working for a multi-BILLION dollar company in this work at home position. Cheap bastard-corporation no longer provides the internet service.

 

 

What Do You Think of a Flat Tax?

This past week I started my income tax returns for 2015. I used TurboTax, as I have done in the previous years. It is pretty easy to use but I do find myself doing a lot of back and forth to make sure I entered everything I needed to.

Sadly, because my oldest daughter is now out of college, I can no longer claim her as a dependent. I dropped down to just 3 dependents now- me, my other daughter and my mother. Even though I completed the W4 last January 2015 to make the adjustment of having one less dependent, I ended up owing over $1,700 in federal taxes. Dang it.

If my ex-husband doesn’t claim our youngest this year, my tax liability will drop to $1.000. He is supposed to claim her in the odd tax years but, for some reason, didn’t  in 2013.

He doesn’t talk to me so I don’t know the reason why and I have no idea if he will or won’t this year. So, I am going to delay actually filing taxes until I get a copy of his return. Hopefully, he won’t file for an extension this year.

I need to adjust my W4 again, though with my daughter heading into college in the fall, my tax circumstances will once again change. I shouldn’t have to owe anything because I will be getting tax credits for the college education.

Good thing, because I really can’t afford to have less take home pay at this time because I am in dire straights financially. I really should get a second job but I find it very hard to do that with my 93 yr old mother here. It’s not that I have to really DO anything for her besides the meals and housework. It’s the social thing she needs- someone to talk to.

All of this, well, most of it, brings me to the question- why don’t we just have a flat tax, a certain percentage of our income that we pay out of every paycheck? No deductions, no credits. No stress of wondering if we are going to owe money at the end of the year!

 

Made Some Changes to Save $1176

To get out of debt I know I need to cut spending wherever I can. This week I made some changes and will save $1176 a year.

I cancelled the Y membership which was costing me $50 a month. I seldom used it and now that the weather is getting nicer, I can walk outside. $600 saved.

My daughter opted out of taking ASL this second semester and that saves the $34 a month cost for the semi-private sign language tutoring. $408 saved.

I moved this site from wordpress.org to wordpress.com. I then changed my Hostgator account from the reseller package to the hatchling package. That saves me about $14 a month. $168 saved.

Total saved = $1176

When the new webmaster takes the soccer site over, I will cancel the Hostgator completely to save another $120 per year.

I realize that one of the many mistakes I have made is signing up for monthly subscriptions- subscriptions like Hostgator, Dropbox, and Netflix. Each one of those can cost just about $10 a month so I think it’s not such a big deal. But really, it all adds up.

I still have the Netflix and will keep it for now.

Other areas I need to look at decrease spending: the cellphone bill and the groceries.