Archive for the ‘Credit, Debt, Personal Finance, Budget’ Category

5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Shopping Hassle

Holiday shopping can really be a hassle. Not only are you dealing with all the rushing around, bargain hunting, last minute plans, crowds and traffic, but there’s also safety issues, budget concerns, and how to make sure you’re getting the most value for your money.

Here are 5 short videos that give strategies for shopping in stores and online that will work for you – not only during the holiday shopping season, but throughout the year – with tips on when, where, and how to shop to receive the most bang for your buck with the least amount of hassle.

Hassle-Free Holiday Shopping - Personal finance expert Carmen Wong Ulrich gives tips to stretch your holiday shopping dollars & get the most bang for your buck. Discounted gift cards, price matching, Black Friday, and online shopping tips.

Holiday Shopping Survival Tips - Between overcrowded malls and strict return policies, the shopping season can be stressful. Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen gives CBS’s Rebecca Jarvis her smart shopping survival tips for the holidays.

Pay with Paper or Plastic for Gifts? - It is better to pay with cash, credit card, open new accounts, lay-a-way? Wall Street Journal Columnist, Wendy Bounds gives tips on best ways to pay for holiday purchases from gift cards to electronics to apparel and pitfalls to watch out for.

Scouring for Holiday Sales -CBS business and economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis, gives her top Web sites & mobile apps to find the best bargain-basement holiday shopping deals.

Saving on Holiday Shopping - Holiday shopping? Some creative and easy tips to, stretch your dollar, stay in control of your spending & save money while enjoying holiday gift-giving from MoneyTalksNews.com’s Stacy Johnson.

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8 Earth Saving and Money Saving Household Tips

Earth Day: April 22

We’ve been eco-conscious for decades (more decades than we care to mention.) We consider ourselves to be fairly eco-friendly, and are happy to do our bit in terms of recycling, reusing, repurposing, shopping eco-friendly whenever possible, planting trees over and above our carbon footprint; and we do know that being green also adds up to some real decent money savings, which makes us even happier… and even still, while grocery shopping recently, we came across one astonishing little fact that really took us back. Printed on the front of a plastic bag of brown rice was the following fact:

Removing the plastic re-sealable zipper on our packages saves over 30,000 tons of waste in landfills per month.

Woa! Thirty-thousand tons of garbage per month saved by eliminating one little zipper on a package of rice. This is astonishing proof positive that doing one little thing does really add up to make a big difference.

Here are some ultra-easy ideas that you can use inside and outside your home every day that will add up to a substantial benefit for the earth, the environment and your health, and in addition, will quickly add up to some solid savings in your wallet:

Ceiling Fans: You can use ceiling fans to help save on both cooling and heating.   According to Progress-Energy, an energy provider in the U.S. Carolinas and Florida, a 48″, 75-watt fan used 10 hours a day at half speed or less would cost $.50 to $.90 a month to operate. For a 1,500-square-foot house with air conditioning using two ceiling fans and raising the thermostat setting could save about $140 to $400 a year, and possibly even more in areas where energy rates are higher.

  • More keeping cool tips in this video: Beat the Heat Green Tips - Tips to beat the heat with fans and AC while saving money and the planet from green advocate, Umbra.

Cutting back on eating meat from every day to every other day would save you approximately $37 a month. Going completely vegetarian could add up to about $600 a year according to the Frugally Green blog.  And this figure does not include the added money savings you could receive from eating a healthier diet, by saving on possible reduced hospital, surgery, and medication expenses.

  • This clip gives a simple, budget-friendly vegetarian recipe: Spice Crusted Tofu Sandwiches - A money saving, healthy sandwich idea from Mollie Katzen, author ofGet Cooking cookbook.

Simple household changes can make our homes more eco-efficient, even older homes. We’ve all heard this thousands of times. But sometimes it comes down to real dollar savings to make us finally take action.  One example:  according to the host of Renovation Nation TV show, Steve Thomas, sealing and insulating your home could save you 30% of your heating and cooling bills.  If everyone did this, it would be equal to shutting down 90 power plants!

  • In this video, Easy Green Money Saving, Steve Thomas shows more easy everyday eco-ideas, and how much money savings they add up to.

Not everyone can line-dry their laundry. Energy Miser 101 blog figures that using a gas clothes dryer for 40 min. a day equals close to $100 a year. Using dryer balls can save 25 to 40% on your clothes dryer energy use and they are a great alternative to chemical fabric softeners. Dryer balls are easy to use; you simply place them right along with your wet clothes into the clothes dryer.

  • There are many types of dryer balls available, but here in this video, Save Energy & Money on Clothes Drying, Steffany Boldrini of ecobold.com shows these made of wool, the only natural ones we’ve found.

Choosing to plant native perennials and evergreens can be a real money-saver. Not only are they more pest-resistant, but they also have adapted to the local climate range and conditions, which could lead to a savings in your water bill alone of up to 50%.

  • Enjoy a healthier enviornment right in your own backyard with the tips in this video: Backyard Eco Tips – Here are simple tips you can use to make your yard more user & eco-friendly.

Petroleum and synthetic chemical based pesticides can be quite costly.  And hiring a service to come spray and treat your yard and garden can also be expensive. Try using your own simple, more natural spray first, you could save thousands of dollars. Well worth a try.

  • Easy inexpensive  DIY natural insecticide for garden pests in this video: Homemade Natural Insecticide from Tips.net’s Kaylee Thurman.

Reuse what you already have on hand as pet care items. Pet toys and cleaning products can be expensive. You can save some money while keeping some of your trash out of the landfill for a little longer by reusing worn items like cotton towels and rubber gloves to make toys and cleaning products for your pets.

  • Reuse some common household items to create easy pet toys and cleaning products. Jane Monzures gives tips in this video: DIY Recycled Pet Care Products.

Your Entertainment can take its toll on the environment and your wallet. Consumer advocate, Stacy Johnson, reports that over 100,000 DVDs are thrown away each month at an average cost of $16 each! That’s a lot for a landfill and for your wallet. There are alternatives to keep you entertained and cost you less.

  • Save money on entertainment and also be eco-friendly.  This clip, Green Saving: Entertainment gives tips from Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News.

More Eco and Money Saving Tips in our Previous Posts:

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Obamacare: What It Means For You

Health care costs from drugstore items, insurance premiums and co-payments, to emergency room and hospital visits are one of the largest expenses American’s face, and picking up the tab for the uninsured results in a considerable financial drain on everyone and the government. Today marks the start of The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, which hopes to aleviate much of that financial burden.

Despite the government shutdown, one of the most critical elements of the health care law, open enrollment, begins on 51 different state-based, online insurance marketplaces.

How will this affect you and your family and/or your business? What should you do? What paperwork, forms, proof of income, etc. will you need to sign up? What is covered, what isn’t?  How much will it cost me? Where do you go to find out more?

In brief:

You don’t have to do anything right now if:

  • You already have insurance
  • You have insurance through your employer
  • You are on Medicare, Medicaid
  • Your child is covered by CHIP
  • You are on COBRA

If you do NOT have coverage of any kind right now – this IS for you. You can begin shopping for health care coverage plans on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 ONLY through HealthCare.gov. This is where you can compare costs and choose the coverage plan you want. 

This is the portal through which you will be directed to your state’s listing of available plans. Each state has something different. For those who live in states that are not offering plans, you will be directed to a federal government site for coverage options. In either case, you’re going to see different types of coverage plans — say like covering 60 percent to 90 percent of your health care costs. You can choose the plan that you prefer.

There are subsidies and tax credits available for those with qualifying income levels.

You have from October 1, 2013 until March 21, 2014 to enroll in a plan during this first enrollment phase.

January 1, 2014 – health coverage starts.

This Open Enrollment period closes, March 21, 2014.

There are penalties for those who do not enroll in a plan by March 21, 2014. The fines will go up over time, so should you choose to not enroll, you should know an estimate ahead of time as to what penalties you’ll be facing now and in the future.

Here are five videos that explain and clarify in more detail.

UPDATE: Medical Insurance Shopping Site That Works - With the Obamacare website (healthcare.gov) non-functioning, these three San Francisco techies in their 20′s created a site in one weekend that brings you all the comparison insurance shopping you need, and it’s free. 

5 Things About Obamacare’s Open Enrollment -  What you should know about the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance coverage and open enrollment (aka: Obamacare) and what will be available to you.

Obamacare Insurance Enrollments – Open enrollment in the health insurance exchanges begin October 1st and it is the first opportunity to shop for comprehensive health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. More about  what this mean for you in this clip.

 Obamacare Starts: What It Means For You - Starting Oct. 1, Americans looking for health coverage are able to enroll in a private insurance plan through a state-based exchange – online marketplaces where consumers can comparison shop for health coverage, “Just like you would for cell phone plans or plane tickets.” President Obama said. What you need to know about Obamacare  and where you go to find out more in this clip.
What You Need to Know About Obamacare Scams - The launch of the Affordable Care Act begins on October 1. PROTECT YOURSELF AND WATCH OUT FOR SCAMS… Get important details to protect yourself in this clip.
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Top Ten Money Saving Videos of 2012 on SpendLessTV

 

The Top Ten Videos of 2012 on SpendLessTV.com

As we welcome the start of a new year, we reflect on the one just completed and realize how incredibly grateful we are to be able to feature helpful material from insightful money-savers, creative crafters, entrepreneurs and personal finance advisors from all over the world who are committed to helping you achieve your personal finance, money management and creative success.

With appreciation and thanks we acknowledge all of the creators of the amazing video content featured on the SpendLessTV.com site, but in particular, as the new year begins, we recognize the video contributors who made SpendLessTV.com’s  Top Ten List of Most Viewed Videos for 2012: Ramit SethiGarrett B. Gunderson,  Daniel Delaney, Julia Scott,  Rick Bayless, Brad Stroh, Suzanne RielleMarie Forleo, the Saturday Night Live team of  Steve Martin, Amy Poehler and Chris Parnell, and independent crafter Corinne Bradd.

Here is the SpendLessTV.com List of  The Top Ten Videos of 2012:

10. Busting Money Myths: Willpower - Ranking in the Top Ten List for the second year this video busts the money myth that growing wealth is all about needing more willpower. This is one of three videos in an Original series created for SpendLessTV from Ramit Sethi, personal finance blogger and author of  I Will Teach You To Be Rich.  Ramit is known for his straight forward, unconventional approach to helping people succeed with personal finance, money saving and business growth and entrepreneurship.

9. Your Credit Score: Stay on Top - This is Garrett B. Gunderson’s third appearance in the annual SpendLessTV.com Top Ten List, but the first for this particular video. Garrett created this video as an Original for SpendLessTV. He discloses a wealth of information about how your credit score influences everything from your insurance rates to your mortgage rates, car loans and more – and what you can do about it. Don’t miss the invaluable insight from the author of the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows.

8. Street Food Smart - This Original video created for SpendLessTV.com from Vendor.tv creator, restaurateur and food culinary cart curbbside cuisine expert, Daniel Delaney  makes it’s second appearance in the yearly SpentLessTV Top Ten List. Daniel sheds light on the age-old question: to taste or not to taste? Catch Daniel’s wisdom on how to get the most quality and enjoyment for your vendor buck.

7. Coupon Stacking Explained - We all know how using coupons can save money, but in this clip Julia Scott, CEO of BargainBabe.com, shows exactly how easy it is to save big every time and  how one simple couponing tip can add up to considerable savings at the cash register.

6. Guacamole - Frontera Grill founder and TV personality, Chef Rick Bayless, gives his famous recipe for a slightly unconventional guacamole. We’re not surprised this rates in the top-viewed; it’s a free recipe for an inexpensive, yet rich and indulgent dish which is, of course, THE perfect food for just about any occasion and an easy side dish that enhances any meal!

5. 5 Simple Ways to Save Money - Saving money is always a good idea, but often we end up over-complicating the  how, when, where, and what regarding what really works. In this video the CEO of bills.com, Brad Stroh, takes the guess work out of the equation by providing 5 basic never-fail ways to grow your savings every day.

4. How to Spend Less on Kids Clothing -”Buy Right and Sell Right” is the secret many parents are using to dress kids in high style, quality clothing for less-than or equal-to superstore offerings. Suzanne Rielle, co-founder of the resale site, LoobaLee.com, explains how it works and why and how purchasing quality clothing can actually be a real money-saver.

3Maintain a Mindset of Abundance - Best-selling author, speaker and one of the most diversely successful entrepreneurs and business development coaches today, Marie Forleo, shares 3 easy things you can do to feel abundant, attract success, avoid money stress and feel great about your potential in this Original video created especially for SpendLessTV.com which deservedly has ranked in the yearly Top Ten for the past three years.

2. Don’t Buy Stuff You Can’t Afford! - Making the Top Ten List for the third year running, is this classic comedy sketch from Saturday Night Live which features Steve Martin and Amy Poehler, who play a couple needing personal finance budgeting help, which they find with Chris Parnell’s unique approach to debt & money-management. Timeless advice presented in a way that always brings a smile.

1.  DIY Paper Photo Wallet - Everything you need to know to create a paper crafted tri-fold wallet to display your favorite pictures, recipes, notes, clippings – you name it – in style. Crafter Corinne Bradd shows how to create a brag book using only paper & a few simple creases. This project requires no glue, no scissors, and no tape. It makes a fantastic craft project for the kids, is a great greeting card alternative and makes a super thank-you or hostess gift.  No wonder it topped the SpendLessTV.com List as the Number One Top-Viewed Video of 2012!

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11 Tips for Entrepreneurs & Independent Businesses

We’ve gathered up some of the best tips for business owners and entrepreneurs, of all varieties.  Just starting out? Looking to increase your product reach or your circulation? Looking for marketing pointers? Could you use a little practical inspiration?  We’ve got the inside info. in these audios, videos and articles from the experts!

An Interview with Stacey Ross - Stacy is an entrepreneur and founder of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. In this is MP3 downloadable she is interviewed by Debra Simpson of North San Diego Business at Large. Stacey shares the evolution of San Diego Bargain Mama and it’s offline social network, sdIRL (San Diego In Real Life Connections).Debra has a background in multimedia and Web publishing and digital media development and she is an entrepreneur who developes and implements internet marketing strategies for the small business community.

Money Map for Entrepreneurial Success - Alexis Neely, author, entrepreneur, founder of the New Law Business Model.

6 Counterintuitive Business Tips - Garrett B. Gunderson, personal finance advisor, founder of FreedomFast Track wealth building program, and author of Killing Sacred Cows.

Entrepreneur Tips - Jen Groover, entrepreneur, inventor, media lifestyle contributor and author.

60 Seconds to Business Success in Economic Slowdown - Dr. Patrick Dixon, author of, Futurewise.

Build Your Business, Brand & Passion – Gary Vaynerchuk (contains strong language), entrepreneur, founder of WineLibraryTV.com, co-founder VaynerMedia, speaker, author of Crush it! and The Thank You Economy.

How to Stand Out From The Crowd - Marie Forleo, multi-passionate entrepreneur, business and marketing advisor, founder of Rich, Happy & Hot B-school giving tips to grow your online business.

Increasing Your Income 1,000% – Brian Tracy legendary leader and advisor in personal development, sales, business, time management and leadership.

The Small Business Bible - Steven Strauss, author of  The Small Business Bible, and senior USA Today Small Business Columnist.

Turn Your Ideas Into Income - Ramit Sethi, co-founder of PBwiki, author of the best-seller, I Will Teach You to Be Rich, creator of the blog of the same name, and personal finance and marketing advisor.

Running Your Business on a Shoestring - article with practical pointers from our affiliate partner, CareOne Debt Relief.

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8 Tremendous Tips for Small Businesses

 

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner, entrepreneur,  just beginning, or considering starting your own business, the tips in these videos from business and marketing experts on starting, financing, managing, and marketing a small business will take you even further.

4 Online Marketing Mistakes Local Businesses Make - Business coach Marie Forleo gives 4 of the biggest mistakes local businesses make in online marketing. Four simple solutions that will bring in results!

Start Your Own Business Questions Answered - Susan Solovic, Small Business Contributor and CEO of SBTV.com, appears on ABC’s Good Money and answers questions about beginning your own small business start-up.

Using Credit Cards for Business - Know the ins and outs of using business credit cards before you decide to get one for your business. Here are pointers from Sandra Block, personal finance reporter for USA Today .

Should Family & Friends Fund Your  Business Startup? - ABC News Money Matters -Funding the start of your own business can be a challenge. If you’re considering borrowing from family or friends, you can minimize potential problems if you plan properly. Here are tips from Susan Solovic, ABC News small business contributor.

How to Approach New Business & Financing - How to finance a new business venture and keep a positive creative approach are always challenging questions for entrepreneurs.  Here are pointers on avoiding costly mistakes from Andre Taylor, small business expert and author of You Can Still Win!

Keep Your Customers! - Entrepreneur and business and marketing expert Ryan Lee reveals one of the biggest mistakes business owners make, and gives valuable pointers on how to keep your biggest asset – your customers – coming back for more. These pointers are great for any business!

Cost Effective Marketing for Small Business - The President of Piranha Marketing, Joe Polish, reveals three invaluable top techniques to market your business more effectively and efficiently.

Entertaining clients on a budget –  One of the most common questions that businesses today are facing – how to approach entertaining clients while needing to stick to a budget.  This article from our affiliate partner, CareOne Debt Relief, gives some simple and sensible answers to this timely problem.

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Reduce Your Medical & Hospital Bills – Don’t Get Taken!

My first experience with a medical billing error was quite frightening. My son had some health issues which were not too serious, but required him to remain in the hospital for about a week after his birth. Treating his condition meant the possibility of his needing a blood transfusion. As it turned out, he did not require a transfusion, but the bill I received from the hospital about a month after he came home showed a transfusion, which we were being charged for. This, of course, was quite alarming distressing to see. It was absolutely imperative for my son’s health, and my peace of mind, that I find out if the bill was indeed correct or not. After some pressing and investigating, it was eventually confirmed that he had not received a transfusion. But this had not simply been an error in billing; I had been sent a completely wrong bill – someone else’s bill. I wonder whose bill the other party received?

As you will see in the stories below, these types of medical billing errors are not an uncommon occurrence.  If time permits, gathering as much information as possible on the costs before treatment or procedures is always preferred, and often it is possible to pre-negotiate for fixed costs, but perhaps even more critically important is double-checking your bills afterwards, not only for your budget, but for the proper understanding of your health status.

We may not be able to scrutinize for every bandage or cotton ball we are billed for, but not noticing sizeable mistakes can add up to a heavy tab. Here are some tips with experts giving important information and suggestions to help guide you in navigating, managing, questioning, and hopefully reducing your medical bills.

Negotiating Medical Bills and Billing Errors:

  • Negotiating Medical BillsYou’re not alone if you find medical and hospital bills a confusing mess. CBS reporter Wyatt Andrews reports on how it’s an absolute must for everyone to do a little investigating and how it may also save you some money.
  • Reduce Your Medical Costs - Derek Fitteron, CEO of Medical Cost Advocates, discusses the high cost of medical bills and what you need to to know to manage your insurance prices, medical service costs, the importance of reviewing your bill and how to negotiate your medical bills
  • How to Spot Medical Billing Errors - Jody Rohlena, Senior Editor for ShopSmart Magazine, shares how to spot errors on your medical bills.They are more frequent than you might imagine. It’s well worth double checking and could save you a lot of money.

Ask and Shop Around.  There’s a reason that “Ask”  is our all-time top money-saving tip, and that is because it works. As every one of the above videos mention, asking is not only necessary to be certain you have been charged accurately, but it is an invaluable tool for potentially reducing the initial cost of services too. Ask your doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, and any and all service providers if they can beat prices, match prices, or if there is any way they could help you save or receive a discount. They may have free samples to provide, they may have suggestions on creative billing, timing, or they may be able to offer a discount if you pre-pay in cash..there are many more possibilities, but they will not offer this upfront, you must ask.

  • You Can Lower Your Medical Bills - Yes, you can negotiate medical fees.  It never hurts to ask says Angie Hicks, founder of angieslist.com in this interview by Dr. Manny Alvarez on Fox.

Shop Ahead. If you have the time, shopping ahead on prices for medical procedures can be a huge money-saver. There may be a wide variation in the cost of medical procedures from provider to provider, even if their practices are in the same building.  The Healthcare Blue Book is a free consumer guide to help you determine fair prices in your area for healthcare services like surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical tests and much more.

Use a Flexible Spending Account.  If you know in advance approximately how much you typically spend during the year on everyday healthcare needs, this may save you some money. This is an account set up by your employer where you designate how much money from your salary you want to automatically be deposited into this account. The money is placed pre-tax into the account, and is only to be used as reimbursement to yourself for health-related expenses you have incurred. You must submit requests for reimbursement. Ask your employer for a list of which items qualify for reimbursement and which do not. Some items which are covered typically are prescriptions, some drugstore items, eye care such as exams, glasses or contact lenses, dental expenses, nursing care, day care, and some co-pays and deductibles. You MUST use up ALL of the money by the end of the year — any money that is left in the account at the end of the year is forfeited.

Claiming medical deductions on your tax return for yourself and any of your dependents. You may be able to deduct standard medical deductions such as hospital expenses, doctor visits, and health insurance premiums that are not paid pre-tax, but there are many other not so common deductions such as: artificial limbs or teeth, chiropractor fees, hearing aids, Alcoholics Anonymous club meetings, the purchase and care of a guide dog, transportation services to appointments, home modifications for medical reason, sterilization, television or phone equipment for hearing impaired, laboratory fees, and eyeglasses. Because there are very specific guidelines as to exactly which expenses qualify and how much expense you need to incur before you are able to deduct them, we suggest checking with a professional tax preparer to see if you qualify.

  • Healthcare Costs Too High? - Pointers to avoid being taken by unnecessary hospital and healthcare costs from the author of “Fight For Your Money”, David Bach.

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Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

Urrg! The rising cost of health care and health insurance is distressing and aggravating, to put it mildly. In November, I received notice that my health insurance premiums are going up. As of January 1  they are increasing a whopping 24% – that’s an increase of $198.44 per month!!  Yes, per month, bringing my yearly premium total to $12,279.72. I guess this was an early “Happy New Year” greeting.

I am not currently employed, do not seem to qualify to join a “group” for group rates, and I do not yet qualify for Medicare (and I’m not sure if I actually will qualify for it when I do reach the qualifying age), which means I either go without insurance, or I carry private independent insurance. So once again, I need to do some thorough investigating to compare the dozens of policies and options.

I know there are thousands of others out there facing similar situations. Here are some options that might be helpful when looking for resources to save on, or secure, general medical health insurance:

Resources for finding “Group” Medical Insurance coverage:

If you are not employed by an organization or business that provides “group” insurance, you still may be able to become a member of a group, organization or union and receive insurance coverage at better rates than if you are being covered as an individual, with the added potential benefit of more leniency on issues like pre-existing conditions. Consider anything and everything, from organizations like AARP to whatever your hobby might be, as potential to finding a “group” to join. Do online searches to see if any may be offering health insurance. Try using search terms like:

  • “Boat Owners of America” medical insurance group benefits (insert your own term, hobby, fraternity, profession, etc.. between the “….”).
  • Group medical insurance coverage
  • Where to find group health insurance coverage “insert your state”

Here are just a few groups we found who do offer health insurance coverage to anyone who qualifies for membership in their group:

Additional ideas for example:

  • Alumni Associations
  • Local Chambers of Commerce
  • The Elks Club
  • A sport enthusiasts club or league
  • Previous military service
  • Trade association
  • Craft guild
  • Religious organizations
  • Educational organizations
  • Ethnic organizations

Insurance “Alternatives”

Group Health Expenses Sharing Plan: This is not insurance but works in a similar way. A group of people pool their money together and pay each other’s health expenses. They sort of become their own insurance company. The member contributions are pooled together and usually invested in order to accrue interest on the pooled funds. These work best when there are a lot of people contributing and everyone only uses the money for major medical expenses. Many religious groups have used this model, like mychristiancare.org’s Medi-Share. If you are considering this as an option, choose a group that has been around for a long time with a good track record.

Clubs: Here’s one example of an insurance club: The No Insurance Club which offers a no-frills option to health insurance for people who want basic, preventative health care. It launched in 2009 and is now available in 12 states. Annual fees: $480 for an individual membership, and $680 for family membership, no matter what the size of the family. For that yearly fee, individual members receive 12 doctor visits, families receive 16 visits, services such as flu shots, discount generic prescriptions, physical exams, blood tests, and other preventive testing. There are no co-pays for doctor visits,  no physical is required before enrolling, and there are no exclusions for pre-existing conditions.

It is important to note however, that the No Insurance Club does not cover emergency room visits, catastrophic illnesses, hospitalizations, visits to specialists, surgery, brand name prescriptions, and rehabilitation, among other services. But for some people who cannot afford the high premiums of most health insurance plans on the market, but who believe they will utilize the services offered by the Club, this may be an option – if even temporarily. This may also be a good option for those who only have major or catastrophic medical insurance policy coverage to be able to receive general care at reasonable rates.

Two other similar, though not identical, medical discount clubs are AmeriPlan.com and Careington.com.

Amend your current insurance policy: Carrying a higher deductible or limiting your coverage to major, catastrophic, or emergency-only coverage are ways to keep your insurance premium rates lower.  The higher the deductible, the lower your monthly premium will be, but you will also pay more out of pocket when you do go to the doctor or hospital. If you elect to do this, you should consider creating a health savings account for smaller health issues.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): Don’t automatically think that since you have a job you won’t qualify for Medicaid. Medicaid will pay health care expenses for low-income families, individuals, and children. Eligibility requirements differ from state to state. It costs you nothing to see if you or your children qualify for Medicaid so check that first before moving on to other options.

Medicare: Medicare is provided by the U.S. government and administered by the Social Security Administration. If you are 65 years old or older, or under 65 years old and disabled,  you might qualify for Medicare. You may also qualify if you are getting Social Security disability benefits.

Look Ahead: In 2014, Direct Primary Care practices will be allowed to compete within state-based insurance exchanges. By eliminating insurance companies from the health care equation, these practices promise to lower the cost of medical care by up to 40 percent. You pay every month whether you go or not, go as often and whenever you want. They accept no insurance, there are no deductibles, there is no paperwork and no bill. The cost? $50 – $150 per month. This would also be a good option to combine with a catastrophic or major medical only insurance policy.

Additional information from experts on more ways to save on health insurance in these videos: 

More health savings ideas:

  • Ways to Cut Everyday Health Care Costs -  An SLTV blog post giving ways to reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality on everything from dental floss to prescription eye care.
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Ways to Cut Everyday Health Care Costs

I know I am not alone in feeling a little panic when facing the skyrocketing costs of health care in the U.S. on everything from an aspirin to surgery to insurance premiums. It seems everyone is looking for ways to combat the rising cost of medical care.

Here are a few pointers and resources with tips that may help reduce your everyday health care costs, without compromising quality:

Always ask. Ask your doctor, hospital, lab, pharmacy, etc. if there is anything they might suggest that would lower the cost of treatment. You’d be surprised at what they might be able to do for you.

  • Ask if discounts are offered to members of groups like AAA, AARP, veterans, government employees, professional or trade unions, or any any other organization or profession you can think of which may qualify you for an affiliated discount, don’t be afraid to ask!
    • Prescription Drug Discount with AAA - This short video explains the AAA prescription drug discount program. But additionally, AAA members also may receive 15 % discount on nutritional products at GNC stores, reduced membership fees at Gold’s Gym and 30% off on regularly priced items at Reebok Outlet Stores.
  • Ask your physician if generic medicines would work for you.
  • Many pharmacies have a list of flat rate $4 or $5 generic prescription medicines available. Ask at the pharmacy for a list of those medications and bring that list to your doctors. Ask your doctors if they might be able to prescribe medications for you from those on the list.
  • Ask your pharmacist if there might be other prescription options that would cost less, and if so, they can call your doctors for approval.

Your county may be providing free prescription Rx discounts cards.

Shop around. Pharmacies vary on the prices they charge for prescription medications just as they do for everything else on their shelves, so shop around to find the lowest prices. Don’t overlook ”big box” stores and membership discount stores like Costco and Sam’s Club for rock-bottom prices, on prescriptions and eye care. The price of membership may end up being worth the savings offered.

Keep a look out for free samples and ASK for free samples, from your physician and pharmacy, not only for prescriptions but on a variety of drug store items, too. In addition to asking, there are many websites like our partner,  ShopAtHome.com, that offer special promotions, discounts, giveaways, free shipping, and free samples – for in-store and online shopping.

Use coupons and loyalty programs, and combine the discounts you receive from those with store promotions or sales whenever possible.

  • Coupon Stacking Explained - How coupon stacking works, how easy it is, and a simple tip that adds up to big savings at the cash register from Julia Scott, CEO, BargainBabe.com

Amazon has a “subscribe and save” service that can help cut the cost of anything you buy on a regular interval and offers free shipping with sign up, which can often bring down the cost of regularly used items, like razor blades, toothpaste and tooth brushes, and shampoo at prices well below many big-box discount stores.

Opt for longer lasting items. When you shop for sundries, opt for the items that will last longer, like toothpaste from a tube instead of a pump, or bar soap instead of liquid.

Use less and use it all up. You may be using far more than you need to. Advertisements show us toothbrushes loaded with toothpaste, and luscious streaming waterfalls of shampoo, conditioners, and lotions, but in reality, most often all that is required is a tiny dab. Cut open the tubes when you think they are empty, you’ll be surprised at how much is actually left.

Consider a little do-it-yourself. Several renowned beauty experts have all relied on natural items that you probably already have on hand in your kitchen to achieve the same, if not better, beautiful results as expensive cosmetic treatments, lotions, scrubs, moisturizers, hair conditioners, teeth brighteners, and bath spas. And there are several at-home products that may be effective in treating minor itches and sunburns, too.

Eyeglasses: Register for email notifications from websites like Coastal.com, to receive notice of their deeply discounted sale promotions, as well as their free eyeglass events. An example of a recent sale: 11 eyeglass styles for $11 each. You can even “try on” eyeglass frames online!  I have personally ordered contact lenses from them and was very pleased with their service.

AAA members may receive 30% discounts on eyeglasses, and 10% discounts on contact lenses at Lenscrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical.

Consider Bartering –  Bartering is once again emerging as a popular viable option for receiving goods and services, and many medical practices are participating. There are several online bartering sites where you “bank” your skill and/or time for points, and then “swap” your points for medical services.

  • Time Swap – The New BarterConsumer advocate Stacy Johnson from MoneyTalksNews.com explains one online bartering site in this video.
  • Bartering for Health Care – The story of one medical center in Maine that is participating in a barter bank to help make health care more accessible.

Here, from one of our favorite resources, Bottom Line Personal newsletter, from their interview with Clark Howard, host of The Clark Howard Show on CNN’s HLN network.(Volume 32, Number 21, November, 1, 2011), are tips for those not covered by health insurance to receive lower prices on services, prescription medications and eyeglasses:

  • Get health-care providers and pharmacies to bid for your business online. If you requrie a medical, dental or vision procedure that is not covered by your insurance, enter it into the free website PriceDoc.com (registration required). Health-care professionals offer lower-than-normal prices through this site to bring in new clients.  This site tends to be most useful for finding low prices for dental and cosmetic procedures. It’s sometimes possible to obtain discounts of 25% to 30% or more.
  • For prescription medications, check out the free website BidRx.com (registration required). Enter your prescription medications into their site, and pharmacies will offer your their lowest prices. Only reputable U.S. pharmacies are allowed to participate.  If you cannot wait for a medication to arrive by mail, the site can restrict the search to local pharmacies.  Savings of as much as 50% are possible.
  • An online site for eyeglasses at very low prices is Zenni Optical. They offer prescription eyeglasses online for less than $20 — lenses, frames and shipping included. Eyeglasses with special features such as lenses can cost $50 or more. The lenses are ground in China and theframes are not brand names, but the product is good quality. You can upload a picture of yourself to the site and “try on” frames. One downside is there is no post-purchase care or adjustments. You’ll have to bring them to a local optician to adjust fitting issues.  To help ensure a proper fit, make sure your eye doctor checks and records on your prescription your pupillary distance (PD) — the distance between the centers of your pupils.

More from experts on health care savings:

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Is a Debt Relief Service For You?

More than ever, people are feeling money-crunched. The holiday season brings additional challenges and stress, and the new year traditionally is a time to re-examine one’s financial situation and debts. Many people are, for the first time, facing difficulties in critical areas such as managing loan payments and dealing with home foreclosures and bankruptcy. A growing number of people are seeking professional help in navigating the management of their credit and debt. The decision to enter into a debt relief program can be a stressful one in itself. How do you decide if a debt relief program is the right solution for you? How do you decide where to go?

If you have been gathering advice and sifting through personal finance educational material, you know there are more points of view and theories on growing your savings, money-saving and managing credit and debt than one can count. You hear everything from… the ultra-frugal approach to take care of the pennies and the dollars will follow, cut back on everything, bypass that morning cup of coffee purchase, sweat over every penny at every turn, be vigilant with clipping coupons and bargain hunting, and whenever possible do-it-yourself…. to…  those who say forget the pennies; save on the big-ticket items like interest rates and insurance premiums… to.. focus on growing your income… to… recognize your motivations and plan your budget to include goal-related items that you consider to be fulfilling and enjoyable and saving will be practically effortless. How do you know which approach is right?

In addition to the multiple personal finance approaches, there is an onslaught of questions to navigate through, like… which credit cards should I pay off first? Should I act on a zero-interest credit card offer? Should I consolidate my debt? Close credit accounts? Re-finance my loan? How do I effectively negotiate with my debtors and get my credit rating back in good standing? What are the differences between the various debt relief options? What are the right answers?

The truth is, what will work for you is relative to your particular situation and your abilities at any given time. So, how do you know which answer is best for you, now?

The internet, television, radio, magazines and newspapers are full of resources that provide answers; advice is everywhere – including here. SpendLessTV.com has an inventory full of helpful videos with pointers from experts that address dozens of personal finance and budgeting questions. You may be able to tackle debt management and negotiation yourself. Many people have been able to achieve this. But, perhaps you have been utilizing the many available resources in an effort to self-manage your debt, and still you feel unsettled. How do you decide if the time is right to enroll in a debt relief program?

If you answer “yes” to the following questions, a debt relief program may be for you:

  • Is all the information you’ve gathered starting to seem contradictory?
  • Do you feel the need for more clarity and direction?
  • Even after trying, are you still living paycheck to paycheck?
  • Have your savings dwindled?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • Do you feel an urgent need for immediate assistance?

Should you determine that the time is right to consider a program, how do you choose where to go and who to listen to?

Here is important information from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that you can use to help you evaluate and choose a debt relief counseling service:

  • Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if the organization you are considering is positively rated or if there is a history of complaint against it.
  • Are they willing to provide informative insights and educational material up front, at no charge?
  • Are they willing to answer questions and discuss your personal situation with you, disclose what they might or might not be able to do for you, before you enroll?
  • Are they available in person or by phone, as well as online?
  • What services do they offer? Do they offer ongoing support?
  • What are the qualifications of their counselors? Are they accredited or certified? By whom? If not, how were they trained?
  • What are their fees?
  • How are their employees compensated? Are they paid more if you sign up? If so, consider this a red flag and look elsewhere.
  • How can you be assured your private information will be kept confidential and secure?
  • Read everything, and ask questions before signing anything or enrolling… even online.
  • More tips on selecting a credit or debt relief service at Federal Trade Commission.

There are many qualified and reputable debt relief agencies out there. While we cannot provide input on every one, we would like to draw your attention to one group we feel clearly meets this FTC criteria and more, CareOne Debt Relief. CareOne Debt Relief Services have helped over 5 million people, providing resources to help customers be financially fit. SpendLessTV.com often makes use of the CareOne Debt Relief’s easily accessible and valuable educational online resources.  Their budging tools, articles, forums and blog posts are free to everyone and require no sign-up to access. We’ve gained a lot of knowledge from reading their blog posts (which we share here from time to time), and we are impressed that their founder, Bernie Dancel, their own counselors, and many of their clients readily share their own personal stories of both the challenges and successes they’ve experienced in managing debt. Here are a few blog posts offered by CareOne Debt Relief which you may find helpful:

With any financial resource you work with, monitoring your account, staying up-to-date on the progress, and making sure any of your concerns are addressed as quickly as possible remains your responsibility. It’s important to stay in touch and stay connected with whatever resource you choose.

As with any challenge, the key is to take the first step. And in the case of searching for a debt relief program, that first step is just a simple online inquiry or phone call. If you are considering a professional debt counseling service, shop around and ask questions to find a program that you feel comfortable with, and step-by-step, you will succeed.

Link to this article:  http://is.gd/iFUPI6

We only recommend brands we respect, and we are proud to be a compensated affiliate of the CareOne brand of debt relief services.

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