Tag: family (Page 1 of 3)

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

I know you’ve probably read a million posts on this topic lately since the future of healthcare in the United States is so uncertain, but healthcare is a big topic in the preparation for retirement, so let’s look at our situation:

Retirement Healthcare Cost Estimates

A recent Fidelity analysis estimates that healthcare will cost $275,000 per couple. This estimate only includes ages 65-88 at the latest. That averages out to $11,957 a year! Say you retire at 40 and live until 100 and spend the same amount of money annually, you’re looking at a whopping estimate of $717,420! Do I think this is reality? No idea. The answer is that we have LITERALLY NO IDEA what healthcare will look like in the United States until we die. That makes planning for it in calculations really, really hard.

Healthcare Matters

It’s my theory that by 35 or 40 everyone has some weird health thing they have to deal with. Health is up there with money in the “Don’t Talk About in Public” list of topics in our society. We need to talk about it. In our house, I’m the sick one. In February, doctors finally figured out that I have Supercolon (pretty cool diagnosis, amiright?). Basically, this means that I have one of the longest, twistiest colons of all time. Food gets caught in the folds and ferments and that leads to bloating. Painful, “are you pregnant?,” can’t stand up or walk type of bloating. I am lucky that I don’t have to put on work clothes and sit at a desk every day pretending I’m fine when I’m not. In fact, on one work trip, I couldn’t even make it 3 days sitting at a desk. I had to duck out early and go work from my hotel bed. Many, many people don’t have that option. They are stuck at work with any number of terrible symptoms and have to pretend they are fine.

When we talk about health insurance, sure we’re talking about the people that “did this to themselves,” but more importantly (and WAY more abundantly), we’re talking about your friends and relatives and co-workers that are struggling with IBS, fibromyalgia, cancer, supercolon, etc. When we talk about healthcare, we’re also talking about the family that just lost their daughter to juvenile cancer and now are faced with hundreds of thousands of dollars of healthcare bills. Instead of having time to grieve, they have to buck up and figure out how to bail themselves out financially from their daughter’s death.

Estimating Our Family’s Healthcare Costs

If Mr. T leaves his job (or gets laid-off), we would be out of his sweet, sweet employer-based healthcare plan and be left to fend for ourselves out in the uncertain healthcare world. Alaska is one of the 5 states that only has one insurer on the health insurance exchange. We also have 3 kids to cover. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s insurance marketplace calculator, in the current Obamacare environment, we’re looking at $36,584 for a silver plan without subsidies. If the subsidies also remain, that plan would cost us $3,000-$11,000 per year for our family depending on income ($11,000 with current income, $3,000 if we cut our income in half). Also, keep in mind these are just insurance costs. Actual out-of-pocket healthcare costs will be added on top of this!

Now, if Obamacare goes away, we could be on the hook for that full $36,584. Even worse, we could have to start worrying about whether or not we could get insurance at all depending on what pre-existing conditions we have by then (supercolon? check. Others? undetermined).

Healthcare in Later Years

Now, adding to all that uncertainty is the uncertainty of healthcare as old people. Sure, the kids will be on their own for healthcare by that point, but Mr. T and I will be aging and that raises costs significantly. The future is so uncertain!

Honestly, healthcare is one of the main reasons Mr. T is sticking with his job. Leaving with 3 kids and having to navigate the uncertain healthcare waters with dependent children scares us. If this was no longer a fear, I think we would be working toward him leaving his job a whole lot sooner!

Coming Wednesday: Ways to Save Money on Healthcare now.

What are your healthcare calculations for the future?

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. We’re on the Moving Sidewalk – I’m (Rockstar Finance) famous for saying the path to Financial Independence is like a sprint followed by a rest on a moving sidewalk. When I originally penned that post, I assumed I was still a few years away from enjoying that moving sidewalk. In reality, we’ve done our version of sprinting for the past 2 years since starting this blog. We’ve hustled, cut costs, set up savings, and attacked our mortgage. We got tired. In reality, because we’ve done all that, we’re already enjoying that moving sidewalk when we take a break from actively caring. Our mortgage keeps going down and our investments keep going up. It’s brilliant!
  2. We’re Incredibly Lucky – Our situation is already fantastic. We really have a great set-up. I get to be home with the kids all day every day. I don’t have to force myself to sit up at a desk job when my chronic health issues kick in (a full post on this coming later). Mr. T has incredible flexibility and lots of vacation time. We are incredibly privileged.
  3. We’ve Already Learned So Much – We still love the idea of being self-employed and having total autonomy over our own schedules and we haven’t made much significant headway there, but we have learned a whole lot already. We’ve learned all sorts of random skills along the way and learned what we enjoy and what we don’t enjoy. I feel like this whole thing has been like going to college in entrepreneurship and we’re getting closer and closer to graduation.
  4. I Need to Spend More Money Now – We’re not that close to financial independence, but we’re on that moving sidewalk. My kids, however, get older every single day. I have so much I still want to do with them. Now is the time. If you’re on the email list, you already know we’re venturing to Europe with the kids next summer. We’re going to take them on a 3-week trip through the UK, Norway, and Iceland. I’m SO EXCITED. We spent this summer letting the kids pick castles in Wales they want to explore, museums they want to check out in Oslo, and reading histories and guidebooks together. Most people have to wait until financial independence to do this kind of thing, but we can do it now. Mr. T has the flexibility and vacation time. I’m a freelancer so can choose to take a month off whenever I choose. These are the kinds of experiences I plan to focus on in the next 9 years before Penny graduates.
  5. Maybe We Have Happiness All Wrong – We always think our lives would be so much better elsewhere or doing something else. We get frustrated and immediately declare something drastic: “We’re retiring early.” Now, if you’re as far away from that possibility as we are, long-term planning for it isn’t a bad idea (at this rate, we’ll retire long before 65 just plugging along as we currently are), but focusing all efforts towards it misses the point. Maybe changing just one thing in your life can make all the difference. What would being 20% happier do for you?
  6. I’m Not Going Away – For now, I have enough passion and stuff to say that I am resuming my previous Monday/Wednesday posting (with an occasional Friday image by Mr. T or guest post). I love this space. I love all of you. I truly, truly do. I have a plan for another website based on my survey, but I decided I don’t want to do that one alone, so it may not get up and running for awhile. So, I’ll start sharing some info from that awesome survey here as well.
  7. I’m Always Prepared to Mix Things Up – When I get in a funk, I reserve the right to mix up everything. A step away this summer was exactly what I needed. Sometimes we need to get out of the water to see how truly beautiful the lake is.

Have you learned lessons in living more in the present lately? I’d love to hear yours!

How I use Evernote for Everything

How I Use Evernote to Organize Everything

Evernote is another free tool that I use extensively every single day. While Evernote is free (in the basic versions), I do recommend purchasing the basic version of Evernote Essentials. I paid full price for this guide to Evernote and it was totally worth every penny.

An Introduction to Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking service that is SO. MUCH. MORE. When you open an account, you start with just a blank slate and the ability to write notes and create notebooks (notes in notebooks and notebooks in notebook stacks is the filing system of Evernote). It’s basic. It’s easy. Maybe TOO basic and easy. This is where Evernote Essentials comes in. Brett Kelly tells you all the ins and outs and cool things you can do and how to get started so you don’t regret your notebook structure later. (Evernote actually hired him to work for them after his first version of the book!) Evernote allows you to write notes, lock notes, make checklists, clip websites directly, link with Google Drive, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff!

My Recipe Book on Evernote

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How I use Google Calendar

How I Use Google Calendar To Stay Organized

Google calendar is a free tool available through your Google account. Maybe your Apple calendaring system can do the same things, but we’re a heavily Google-integrated family (our budget is on Google drive) and here’s how we use Google calendar to stay organized.

Keeping Two Adults in Sync

Mr. T and I have totally different things going on. He goes to work, I juggle all sorts of things during the daytime and we each have different responsibilities with work, etc. We keep it all in line by having synced Google calendars. I keep mine updated and so does Mr. T. As soon as I make an appointment, it’s in the calendar. This means that we both know what the other is doing. When Mr. T sees that I’ll be at a Church youth activity, he knows he has to be home during that time. When I see Mr. T is helping someone move on Saturday, I know that I’m home. It’s implied with 3 kids that we’re going to work together on taking care of them. If there’s a scheduling conflict, that’s when we have an actual face-to-face conversation about the calendar. “I just found out I have a work meeting the morning you scheduled to ride your bike to work. Is it possible to switch bike-commuting to the next day to help get the kids to school during my meeting?” Because we’re both awesome, these conversations are quick and solutions reached easily.

Keeping the Kids Organized

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Your Breakfast is Robbing You

Your Breakfast is Robbing You

If you haven’t yet calculated it, your breakfast is probably costing your family much more money than you think it is. Stop eating expensive breakfasts and switch to some cheap breakfast ideas. I’ll share the numbers of how much cereal could cost us and how much we actually spent last year on our inexpensive breakfast alternative (and how oatmeal can actually be yummy).

Cereal is Expensive

About once a month, we eat cereal for breakfast as a family. That’s right. Once a month. The last time we did this, I realized our family of five goes through the equivalent of one Costco box of cereal each time we eat cereal.

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A Day in the Life of a Work-at-Home-Mom

A Day in the Life of a Work-at-Home-Mom

If you know nothing about me, you need to know that I have three children (ages 3, 6, and 9) and that I work part-time from home for a behavioral economics firm in the Midwest (I live in Alaska… if that wasn’t abundantly clear). I am privileged to be able to be a stay-at-home mom for my kids, but also earn some income doing something I love. That does not mean my days are easy. Today, I’m going to give you a typical “day in the life of Maggie.” I bet you can’t wait!

The Life of a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and WAHM (work-at-home-mom):

5:45 AM – Get up, brush hair, throw on a sweater and set up my computer at the table for a 6AM work meeting. I keep my pajama pants on and have a heated blanket in my lap because the heat in the house doesn’t turn on until 7AM.

6:00 AM – Skype with a group in the conference room at the company’s office. (Until last week, I could just phone in to meetings and stay in my bed for them… but unfortunately, they just got Skype working and now I have to pretend I’m put together).

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Last Minute Frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas (for kids and spouses)

When is Valentine’s Day again? TOMORROW?! Don’t worry… I’ve got your back. I literally don’t do a THING until the day before to prepare and I don’t spend a penny on this holiday!

(Insert: rant about commercialization of a made-up holiday designed to make you spend money to prove your love…)

Valentine’s Day Decorations

Okay, fine. We planned a LITTLE bit ahead on this one, but I still had to share it because it is literally the GREATEST IDEA EVER (I can’t take credit… I found it on Pinterest years ago and I can’t find the original source…).

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: The Right Investments

Investments in marriage, family, and success at work are almost certain to pay off.

Happy Friday, friends!

Today’s Northern Expression comes from Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack in The Index Card:

Your time is valuable. Your happiness and economic security depend on your marriage, your family, your success at work and in your relationships. Investments in those areas are almost certain to pay off.

Every choice you make with your money or your time is an investment. If you invest too much time into something, you inevitably neglect another. Make sure your life asset allocations align with your priorities.

It’s possible to be economically secure AND happy. This balance requires prioritizing. You vote for your priorities with your time and your money. Vote wisely.

Love, Maggie

The Privilege of Being Santa

The Privilege of Being Santa

Thanksgiving has been devoured and that is the official start of the Christmas season in the Banks house. My kids are dancing to Christmas music and throwing stuffed snowmen back and forth as I type this. And they look forward to the coming of Santa Claus, as most children do.

Santa is Magic

As an adult, I tear up a bit when I’m talking about Santa Claus. For me, Santa is the embodiment of what I wish the world could do all the time. Santa is a worldwide agreement that for one night, everyone will help make the world a magical, wonderful place. When my kids ask me if Santa is real, my response will be: “We have the power to create magic and Santa is the perfect example. The actual person named Santa does not exist, but he exists everywhere and now you get to be a part of the surprise and help create that magic for your younger siblings and for others!”

In Alaska, Santa is VERY REAL. We have been to his house in North Pole (a pretty elaborate gift shop).

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Ways to so no to spending money

Ways to Say NO to Spending Money (and still be cool)

How to Avoid Spending Money:

What is the number one reason you can’t save money? You spend it!

It’s hard not to! Everyone wants a piece of it.

“We’re just going out to eat!”

“It only costs $15!”

“You don’t want to miss out!”

You want to say: “NO YOU DUMMY, I’M SAVING MY MONEY!” But you don’t. Because you’re nice. But don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. Today, I’m creating a handy-dandy list you can print off and keep in your wallet. Reference this the next time you get a proposal to spend that hard-earned cash!

There are three ways to successfully extricate yourself from a money-spending predicament: excuses, possibilities, and alternatives.

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