I have so many thoughts swimming in my head these days and seem to find so little time to type them into my computer. As I mentioned a few weeks ago I’ve been struggling with medical problems that resulted from antibiotics. I won’t lie. The condition is painful and I’m having a difficult time concentrating on anything other than not feeling well.
I have a lot of pain in my legs and feet while I’m sleeping and I typically wake up quite grumpy and blah. For the first four or five minutes I think “Why me?”, “Why am I stuck with another medical problem?”, “Why am I the 1% for anything that can go wrong in the human body.” By the time I step into the shower I start counting the reasons I feel grateful. “At least this won’t kill me.”, “I’ve dealt with more painful problems.”, “At least I’m the one suffering, not my son.”
The rest of my day has it’s ups and downs depending on my level of pain. Sometimes I cry for absolutely no reason. Other times I turn up the music, chase my son around the house and do my best to forget all my troubles. I waver back and forth between feeling grateful and pitying myself. I am hoping and praying that my condition is temporary. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m only thirty-six and that my body has plenty of time to bounce back from this. Somedays I’m more successful than others.
Medicine and medical care are unbelievably expensive. The vitamin prescription my neurologist called in cost $168 for a thirty day supply. I was in such shock at the pharmacy that I had to ask the clerk to repeat the number. Luckily there is a cheaper option through Brand Direct. They charged me $175 for a three month supply. That adds up to $58 a month, which is still a lot of money, but much easier to swallow.
My visit to the general practitioner ended up costing me $177. The blood work was an additional $23. The bill before insurance paid was $690. Nearly $700 for a small vial of blood and six different tests. I haven’t received the bill from my neurologist and need an expensive test performed a week from now. I would guess it will cost around $1000.
The doctor prescribed a medication for pain, but I am reluctant to take it. After all drugs got me into this predicament in the first place. Instead I’ve been researching alternative treatments. Everything from TENS machines to acupuncturists. I found a few promising studies about deep laser therapy and hope to give that a try as well.
Medication would certainly be the cheaper option, but medicine won’t cure me, at this point it will only mask the pain. I’m hopeful there is an alternative solution that might actually mend my nerves. Otherwise I’m looking at a lifetime of prescriptions.
Acupuncture sessions cost $110 each. Deep laser therapy can cost upwards of $200. I’m glad that my finances are stable, because when you are sick you don’t want to worry about money.
I’m definitely willing to throw money at this problem. Every time I come across a possible home solution I click on Amazon and begin searching.
I’ve been in this predicament before. This is not the first time I’ve experienced a painful condition, which is crazy because these two issues are completely unrelated. The last time I was ill I wasted money on things that weren’t working. I spent thousands of dollars on a physical therapist that wasn’t helping.
Eventually I gave up on him and went in search of other alternatives. A few months later I found an amazing massage therapist who is worth more than double the $45 she charges. In the beginning I visited her two to three times a week, but after weeks of amazing work I was able to cut back to just once a month and then went two years without requiring a single visit.
I’m hopeful that I will find a similar solution this time around. The key is to find an expert. I have my hopes set on a former neurologist turned acupuncturist. I’m praying to God that she can help me.
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.
I started this blog in 2006. In fact, next week marks the anniversary of it’s creation; eight years since I created my very first post! There weren’t a ton of personal finance blogs in existence back then, but I’ve always been interested in the topic and decided to distract myself from physical ailments by blogging about money and my relationship with it.
At some point along the way I began adding advertisements to the sidebar and attempting to gain referral money from a number of different websites. Eventually I permitted sponsored posts, which I was adamantly opposed to back in 2006.
I’m not as dedicated to this site as I should be. I also don’t like to push products or advertising. As a result I have earned a pitiful amount from maintaining this site. Here is a snapshot of the money I earned in 2013.
Can you make money from blogging? Of course you can. JD Roth is a perfect example. He sold GetRichSlowly for some undisclosed amount of money that was large enough to allow him to move into semi-retirement. Will that be me. Probably not. At least not with this website.
I have found other ways to make small chunks of change here and there on the Internet. I’ve written about many of these before. I complete online surveys, enter giveaways, sell unwanted items on eBay and cash in on used books. I also sign up for programs that offer rewards for frequent purchases like Pampers, Coke and Disney Movie Rewards.
I haven’t earned a ton of money from any of these items individually, but each task takes very little time or effort. Last year I earned nearly $7,000 and my 2014 total recently hit the $1,500 mark.
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.
My previous profession provided a lot of work-life flexibility. We had a set of core hours when we were expected to work, but I could start the work day any time between seven and ten. At the time my husband and I were both late risers, preferring to stay up late at night and wake up later in the morning.
My boss permitted teleworking a year after I started and I worked from home one to three days a week for the remainder of my time there. For the most part I arrived when I wanted and left whenever it was convenient for me. If I wasn’t finished with my work I could open my laptop and complete my assignments in the evening. When I was motivated I worked very long hours, often until one or two o’clock in the morning.
I worked from home, but I did not slack off there. In fact, I was much more productive at home where coworkers could not distract me from my tasks. During those twelve years I earned higher ratings than coworkers who stepped into the office day after day.
After we purchased our beach house my husband and I would often drive down south late on a Thursday evening. On Friday morning I would sit at the kitchen table and work while my husband completed projects around the house. Around six or seven in the evening my husband would tell me to close my laptop so we could eat dinner on the deck or watch the evening sunset.
I was lucky. As a software developer I had a lot of flexibility in how and when I wanted to complete my assignments. This provided an amazing work-life balance and I would urge all women to consider technical careers that provide for such flexibility.
Life moves quickly. I knew this long before my son was born, but since his arrival the evidence is much more apparent. My walls are covered with photographs that include my son’s first day in the hospital, the day we brought him home, crawling around the front yard on a warm autumn day, learning to walk, reading stories, playing with toys, running and dancing. There are hugs with grandparents and special adventures and vacations with my husband and I.
For the time being I have decided to leave the workforce and stay home with my son, but for the most part I do believe that a career in software would still provide a great deal of flexibility. The problem with software is that it requires a great deal of concentration and a small child vying for attention makes it extremely difficult to focus intensely on one task. I would imagine most moms would still need to hire in-home childcare so they could focus while their children play.
Honestly, I don’t know how people juggle careers with work once their children arrive. A few months ago I started taking over simple tasks for my husband’s business. I handle invoices, monthly statements, some recruiting tasks and a couple of other odds and ends. Although my son is two I still find it difficult to focus on a task while he is in the same room with me.
For the first two years of his life he watched almost no television. I would allow him to play on an iPad for thirty minutes from time to time, but his screen time was largely limited. Now if I need to get something done I pop in a thirty minute movie and rush to complete my tasks. To be honest I feel quite stressed as I try to cram everything into this thirty minutes or push my tasks off until nap time when I also attempt to make dinner, complete the laundry and take a few minutes just for myself. I’m certainly not complaining. I consider myself extremely lucky to stay home, but I do wonder how full time working parents get everything done.
I don’t think I’m the kind of woman who could have it all. I can have a career at one point in my life and a young child at another, but I don’t think I could perform both roles well simultaneously.
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.
For twelve years I worked as a software developer for a large financial corporation. When I became pregnant with my son there was no doubt in mind about working: I would continue receiving a paycheck and hire a nanny to watch over my son.
A few months before his birth my company decided to decrease the head count of my department. After twelve loyal years I sat in my manager’s office and learned of my fate. Two hundred employees were getting the boot and my name was included in that list.
Most people wouldn’t consider getting laid off the luckiest of days, but unlike previous cuts this one wasn’t immediate. Over the years I witnessed downsized employees being escorted from the premises by stern looking security guards. This time management decided to keep us on board a few months to wrap up our tasks, document everything we knew and pass on information to the contractors who would take over our jobs.
As luck would have it my last day on the job coincided with the birth of my first child. In fact, he was due just eight days before my scheduled termination date. My company offered a decent severance package, which included employer sponsored health care and two weeks of pay for every year of employment. If I stayed on board until my scheduled termination date I would receive the equivalent of twenty-four weeks of pay.
I wasted no time to updating my resume. I applied to a number of different positions and received requests for interviews quite quickly. Within a matter of weeks I was offered a higher paying job.
I spoke candidly to the recruiter. I let her know that I was pregnant and that I needed to stay on board for another few months. Surprisingly she agreed to the arrangement and delayed my start date until six months after my son’s due date.
Rather than returning to work twelve weeks after my son was born I would take on a new job after six months. My story hadn’t changed that much. I still planned to hold down a job.
But months after giving birth I had a complete change of heart. I decided I wasn’t ready to hand my son over to a nanny. I spoke candidly to my husband and we jointly decided that I would not return to work.
Luckily my husband and I saved a significant amount of money in those first twelve years out of college. We maximized our retirement accounts, we paid down our mortgage, we spent very little on groceries and entertainment, which made the financial decision to stay home less worrisome.
Still it wasn’t an easy decision to make. As much as I wanted to be home with my son I mourned the decision to leave the workforce. I left behind a piece of myself. I also walked away from a six figure salary.
I still wonder when I will return to work and how hard it will be to find a job when I’m ready, but I do not regret my decision. I experienced the most magical year of my life during that first year out of the workforce.
I think many women have thought long and hard about this decision. Some of my friends knew they wanted to work, others have known they wanted to stay home, but there are a few like myself who have reversed their decisions.
My best advice to those considering having children is to set yourself up financially. You may have every intention of returning to work after the birth of your child, (I know I did), but sometimes your heart pushes you in a different direction. Try to arrange your finances so that you can stay home if you desire.
There have been a few occasions when I have nearly given up hope. When I have cried more tears than I believed my body could produce. In those most desperate hours my aches, (both emotional and physical), have always managed to heal. This time will be no different.
In 2006 new management took over the company where I worked. Within a few short months the HR department was handed a big fat check and directed to spend it on sensitivity training. I welcomed the excuse to miss work for two days. I was a shell of an employee. I had just returned to my job after a five month absence. Five long, torturous months after surgery I walked into the building a shadow of my former self. I felt broken. My twenty-seven year old body had betrayed me and I was struggling to come to terms with my health and my future.
Five months is a long time to be away from work. During my absence my manager was replaced, members of my team moved on to other projects and my cubicle was occupied by a new employee. On my first day back I had no where to sit. My stuff sat in boxes in the corner of a coworker’s cube.
When a friend stopped by to say hello an employee on the other side of my cubicle shushed me. I was telling a very emotional story about my first trip to the emergency room. I was already on the verge of tears and just wanted to shrink into a little ball and disappear.
I don’t remember much about those training sessions. I remember that it occurred offsite. I remember that my arm still ached and my heart throbbed. I remember that I fought to hold back tears as we listened to guided meditation and my thoughts began to run amok in my mind, but I don’t remember much about what I learned or how it was supposed to make me a better employee.
Most of my coworkers didn’t want to be there, but they really didn’t want to be attending to their weekly tasks either. Who wants to sit in a cubicle all day? Who wants to stare at a computer screen? Who wants to sit through endless meetings? Not many.
The majority of participants went through the motions of listening and responding, but I remember being fully awake and alive during those sessions. It was there that I learned about the pause button. In essence, the need to halt your words and emotions. We learned how to quiet our minds and hearts to be fully present in the moment; to reflect on what was being said by someone else and how those words made us feel before reacting to them.
It has been a long time since I attended those training sessions, but I still employ this technique whenever I feel overwhelmed. I try my best to quiet my mind and my mouth before reacting; sometimes I am more successful than other times.
A week and a half ago I suffered unexpected effects from a course of antibiotics. The side effects of the medication left my body aching and my heart quite pained. It’s one of those side effects that is only supposed to happen to 1% of the population and I happen to be in that lucky 1%. I have dealt with my fair share of medical complications before and do not wish to relive any of it. I wanted to scream and cry. I’ll be honest I did a lot of both of things, but ultimately I hit the pause button and reflected on the situation.
I am still alive. Although this is extremely painful it will not kill me. I am ill but still able to care for my son. I am still capable of walking and talking even if it pains me. I am grateful for all that I have. I am thankful for a husband that will support me through these medical complications just as he supported me through my previous medical hurdles. Did I mention that I am thankful and grateful?
I still want to curse and scream and say why me, but there are many worse things that could happen and in the big scheme of medical conditions this is certainly not the worst to have. I can choose to continue on with life. To find things to be happy about and to hope that this too shall pass. My neurologist seems quite hopeful that the side effects are temporary.
Perhaps as much as I am pressing the pause button on my own thoughts and fears a higher power is pushing the pause button for me. If nothing else being ill or caring for someone with an illness puts all of the little things back into perspective. All of those little piddly annoyances in life are no longer a big deal.
You can choose to mope about a situation or press on. Although the pause button was pressed for me it does not mean life will not carry on.
I don’t like debt. In my life I’ve signed for one car loan and two mortgages. In fact, I dislike debt so much that I paid off my car loan within a year of buying it. The mortgages, which are held on two separate properties, are my only outstanding liabilities.
I realize I’m unbelievably fortunate and I am grateful for all that I’ve been given. My parents paid for my college education and with my degree I was able to work my way up from a starting salary of $32,000 to a mind boggling six figure salary. When I unexpectedly fell ill I had amazing health insurance and great employee benefits including short term disability that enabled me to stay home and heal for nearly five months.
I know that my life could easily be very different. If you change just one key variable I could have ended up in quite a bit of debt. What if I had taken out student loans? What if I hadn’t found such a high-paying career or had the courage and conviction to live within my means? What if my employer didn’t have great health benefits and I did not receive short term disability?
While we often talk about debt associated with carelessness and overspending I know that there are also a lot of people in the world with unfortunate and uncontrollable circumstances that leave them without the money to pay necessary bills. Without short-term-disability and amazing health benefits I believe I would have been one of them.
If you find yourself in need of a life line what do you do? Many people turn to friends and family for money, but borrowing from relatives can be quite tricky. You never know how money can impact a relationship and a lot of people aren’t willing to risk the repercussions. You can use credit cards to pay your bills, but they often charge exorbitant interest rates. If you are a homeowner you can take out a home equity loan, but a lot of people fear putting the house up as collateral.
So if you don’t want to take out a new credit card, borrow money from your family or apply for a home equity loan, what can you do? You can apply for a personal loan. A personal loan works much like any other loan. You pay a fixed amount of money in equal installments over a period of months or years. Unlike other types of loans there is typically no collateral to secure the loan, so there is no fear that your car will be repossessed or your home foreclosed upon. Not sure how to get started with a personal loan, check out Lend Me to learn more.
The terms can vary widely for these types of loans so it’s best to compare rates to figure out if this is the best alternative for you.
Of course, you should make certain to consider all of the alternatives before entering into any financial agreement. Weigh your options, compare terms and determine which is the right solution for you.
The most important aspect of buying a new car is determining just how much you can afford to pay for one. Don’t let yourself walk through a car lot or peruse the automakers websites until you evaluate your finances.
The best plan of action is to create a budget. Write down how much income you bring in after taxes, how many recurring expenses you pay for on a monthly basis and the amount of money you have leftover after paying all of your current bills.
Some people are budgeters by nature. If this is the case you can determine how much you can afford rather quickly. If you don’t keep solid track of your finances you may need to pull out all of your household bills, credit card statements and pay-stubs.
When setting a figure don’t underestimate your discretionary expenses. Some people plan to cut back on these types of expenses in order to buy a more expensive vehicle. If you think this way I urge you to try cutting back before buying your car. Spend a few months foregoing those discretionary expenses and then decide if you are willing to continue going without them. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself if you can’t realistically cut back on these over the long haul.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of fuel and regularly scheduled maintenance. More expensive vehicles often cost more to fix.
If you need help determining how much car you can afford visit this site for a car finance calculator. You can enter your loan amount, interest rate and loan term to determine just how much you’ll need to pay each month.
If you don’t need a car right away, consider setting aside money each paycheck to pay for it. A significant down payment can greatly reduce those monthly payments.
Last January I sat on the couch with three large insurance documents spread out across my computer screen. Should I choose an HMO or PPO? Should I opt for a high deductible insurance plan or pay up front for everything in the form of higher premiums? I have to admit I was overwhelmed with details.
With a very complicated medical history I wanted to make certain my family and I have solid coverage. Illnesses can arise unexpectedly at any age. I was only twenty-seven when I was swiftly sidelined by rare medical complications.
One plan seemed to cover more treatments more than an other, but since we do not suffer from chronic conditions, (at least not ones that require medical supervision), it is unclear if we would ever need or use those services.
Ultimately it came down to a question of money. The high deductible plan was $760 less per month than the standard PPO and saving $760 a month seemed like a no-brainer.
Here are the numbers that helped us choose the HSA plan. For the record as a result of ObamaCare we now pay a MUCH larger premium.
|Current Monthly Premium: $1525|
|New Monthly Premium: $765|
|Monthly Savings: $760|
|Yearly Premium: $18,300|
|New Yearly Premium: $9180|
|Yearly Savings: $9120|
At the time I wondered why I hadn’t switched over to a High Deductible, HSA plan sooner. We pay less in premiums and can set aside $6,550, (the maximum contribution permitted in 2014), to our HSA.
But now that I have a high deductible insurance plan I find myself less willing to go to the doctor. A few weeks ago I found myself feeling quite ill, but my first thought was “am I sick enough to go to the doctor?” In fact, I tried a number of alternative treatments before seeking professional help.
When I paid a higher monthly premium I thought nothing of going to the doctor. I didn’t visit a doctor frequently, but if I needed to go I made an appointment and didn’t think twice about it.
Now I immediately wonder how much that appointment might cost. What tests will they want to run? How much will each of those tests cost? Of course, no one can ever tell me in advance what I might expect to pay. Instead I have to wait for the insurance claim to be processed and then pay whatever amount has been negotiated between my insurance provider and my doctor.
It’s interesting how much my mind set has changed now that I have a high deductible plan. It’s silly really. It’s not that I can’t afford to go to the doctor. I also know deep down that I am still paying less than I did with a standard PPO plan and that I am still paying a ridiculous amount of money to remain insured. Yet I still find myself hesitating before calling the doctor and in the doctor’s office I wonder if the tests they run are really necessary. (That’s another hold over from my medical past. A lot of the expensive tests they ran on me were unwarranted.)
So I wonder. Is it just me or do high deductible insurance plans make people more hesitant to visit the doctor?
Are you having trouble deciding which health plan to choose? To compare health funds, click here.
A long time ago my husband and I consolidated all of our accounts into one bank. We rolled all of 401ks into IRAs and acquired access so that we can view each others retirement accounts. When we log into our bank account we can now see each and every dollar we’ve saved and just how much it’s increased or decreased as the days and months pass by.
After entering a user name and password we can see a total of our net worth minus the properties we own. For the record I don’t include cars, jewelry and other such things in my net worth. I include money in the bank and real estate; nothing else.
Having everything in one place certainly makes things easier, but could it also be saving me money? I hadn’t thought much about it until a friend forwarded me this link. I did not pay to read the entire study, but the abstract states:
The decision to save enhances well-being in the long-term but it conflicts with the desire to spend money to gain immediate gratification. In this research, we examine the influence of having single versus multiple accounts on individuals’ savings and spending decisions. We find that individuals save more with a single account than with multiple liquid accounts. Utilizing work on motivated reasoning and fuzzy-trace theory, we suggest that multiple accounts engender fuzzy gist representations, making it easier for people to generate justifications to support their desired spending decisions. However, a single account reduces the latitude for distortion and hinders generation of justifications to support desirable spending decisions. Across four studies that provide participants with the opportunity to earn, spend, and save money, we demonstrate the proposed effect and test the underlying process.
Perhaps it is easier to overstate your net worth when money is placed in multiple accounts. When money is not co-located you must add the funds from each account in order to decipher just how much money you have. If you don’t manually add the figures together you may create a fuzzy estimate of your overall worth.
I think this makes perfect sense. Without looking at a concrete figure you create a ballpark estimate in your mind and then decide whether or not you have enough money to spend on the items you want. I can see how it would be easier to spend money without that black and white figure staring back at you.
Over the years I’ve found that the more I save the more I have a desire to save. That’s because I can log into my bank and see the progress I’ve made to date. If you save $100 in one bank and $100 in another the numbers don’t look nearly as impressive as saving $200 all in one place. It seems silly, but it’s true.
Looking at that $200 number will provide the incentive to continue setting aside money. As the number grows so does your sense of achievement. The more money you save the more accomplished you feel.
I never thought about the correlation between consolidated bank accounts and saving money, but the more I think about the more it makes sense. For the record, sites that provide a snapshot of your bank accounts could probably provide the same value.
What do you think? Do you think consolidated bank accounts and snapshots of net worth would help you save money?