Approaching the Limit

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. There are still times when I can still be surprised by my finances; such was the case recently when I reviewed my credit card charges.  There was a time when I would check my charges on a daily basis, but that has changed recently, probably over the last 6-9 months.  I still check them at least once a week, but I don’t watch them like a hawk. So, it was a surprise when I looked at my account online and saw that I was only about $900 away from my credit limit.  Since the limit on my card is $10,000, I was caught a little off guard.  When I looked into the details, there was nothing amiss and my finances were completely fine. How I Got There Not since I dug out of my financial hole have I been that close to my limit.  There are probably two main reasons why I was that close … Read more

HSA Check-In

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Since open-enrollments may be around the corner for most folks, I thought I should write an update on how my year has been going with my HSA. Quick Summary A quick refresher on the choices I made for my medical insurance this year…I opted to continue with my HSA-eligible plan, but opted for the highest deductible. The plan had two main components for me to be concerned about, a deductible and out-of-pocket maximums. The deductible is $7,000 and means that I cover all expenses (both doctor visits and prescriptions) until the deductible is met. The second, the out-of-pocket maximum, has an individual level, $6,450 and a family cap of $12,900. Overall, I had calculated that I was better off financially, so long as my claims did not go much above the $6,000 range. So, how am I doing? HSA Update As always, the little guy is leading the pack with medical expenses. For those not … Read more

Savings Struggles

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. I’ll admit it, I fall for click bait all the time, especially when it comes to personal finance articles.  My latest trap came from the following article.  The headline about the real reason Americans struggle to save made me curious.  My first reaction was people can’t save because they spend beyond their means.  Was there another underlying factor I hadn’t heard of?  Turns out, no it was exactly what I thought.  There was some other interesting or scary depending upon your perspective, information from the survey conducted by the Federal Reserve. Savings Struggles The survey revealed that 47% of those surveyed would not be able to handle a $400 emergency expense.  That really blew my mind, that something as small as $400 would cause people to have to borrow money.  That even isn’t that big of a surprise expense.  Simple car repairs anymore seem to run in the hundreds of dollars.  Most car or homeowners … Read more

Middle Class

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. When it comes to financial articles, I usually fall for click-bait. Such was the case when I came across this article a while back.  The article discusses seven things that the middle class can no longer afford.  I consider myself middle class.  I am probably upper-middle class with and annual income around $100K.  So, naturally I was curious about the things I was supposedly unable to afford. Vacations This first item listed is vacations. This is not something that I have given up.  Granted I don’t take an expensive vacation every year, but my wife and I still get away for a few days.  I am saving for two big vacations.  One is a family vacation to Disney World.  I am expecting the cost to be about $10,000.  The trip is planned for roughly 3 years from now.  I have been saving for it for the last couple years and should easily have the money … Read more

Open Enrollment, Take 2

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. Once again, it’s Open Enrollment time for my employee benefits.  As I discussed last year, there were some pretty big changes to my choices.  This year will be no different, but I am happy about the changes.  Naturally, there were calculations involved and of course I’ll share.  The changes are only occurring with the health insurance options, so thankfully there was only one moving part to worry about. Current Plan This was the first year of being enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP) with a corresponding health-care savings account (HSA).  I personally did not feel like the deductible ($2,500) was all that high.  I was rethinking that slightly after the first month, but things settled down for the most part.  I also knew that we would hit the deductible without question given my son’s condition.  His annual check-up with his cardiologist is about $2,500.  Still, the premium was a reasonable $184 a paycheck … Read more

Financial Creativity

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. My wife and I are on the same page when it comes to our financial goals.  We both realize the importance of a strong emergency fund, as well as, saving for retirement.  This is driven by solid communication between the two of us.  I am the numbers guy in our household.  I know all of the ins and outs of our financial house.  My wife understands it all, but isn’t into the details like I am.  Given that we are on more of a solid financial footing now, than we were a few years ago, it is starting to become harder to increase our savings rate.  Life has a way gobbling up any money that is lying around.  That’s why I have begun to get creative in how I go about increasing our savings.  Take my recent opening of an HSA as an example. Stealth Savings Increase When we enrolled in the high-deductible healthcare plan, … Read more

Not Quite the January I Was Expecting

The following is a staff writer post from MikeS.  He is a married father of 2.  So, with the cat, he ranks number 5 in the house.  He loves numbers and helping people. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Mike or Crystal. I must admit.  By the end of January, I was beginning to get a little worried.  I was worried that I might have made a mistake in choosing my health plan for the year.  With the high-deductible plan (HDP), I am responsible for all charges until I hit my deductible.  I knew that I would hit the deductible during the year due to my son’s condition.  His annual visit to the cardiologist usually satisfies whatever the deductible is for the year.  I had done an analysis on our 2013 medical expenses and determined that we actually would have saved a few hundred dollars by having the HDP in 2013.  That was why I felt ok in going with that plan for 2014. The Month So Far January turned out to be an active month for doctors’ visits.  Every single person in our house ended up seeing a doctor in January.  I was actually quite surprised.  … Read more