Frugal Priorities!

Postponing medical care. Cutting back on prescriptions. Foregoing medical coverage all together. These trends are part of today’s economic crisis. But, they aren’t frugal, they’re foolish! Without health, you can’t:

1) Work (at all)

2) Better yourself financially

3) Care for and enjoy your children

4) Experience life

Ask anyone dying or seriously ill what they’d give to have their health back, and I guarantee the answer would be anything. They’d forego houses, savings accounts, 401k’s, cars, presents under the tree, clothes, trips – anything, just for the opportunity to spend more/better time with their kids, spouses, families, and friends.

47 million Americans have no health insurance. 47 million Americans risk death daily. 47 million Americans will find their life expectancy decreasing at a time when medical science is extending lives. Choosing to be part of that 47 million Americans isn’t frugal. As the old car repair ad aptly stated, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.” But you’re not a car. You’re not replaceable, nor are many of your parts. And, even if the parts can be replaced, without insurance, you won’t be able to pay for the repairs.

If you’re part of that 47 million Americans because you are opting out by choice, that head-in-the-sand-it-won’t-happen-to-me mentality could have deadly consequences. If you’re not part of that 47 million Americans by choice, I hope these tips offer some relief:

Save Thousands on Medical Bills

A Survival Guide for the Uninsured

Help A Budding Doctor & Save

10 Immunity Boosters

Medical and dental care

In “A survival guide for the uninsured,” I list a variety of organizations and agencies that provide medical and dental care to the poor, including:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Insure Kids Now, which helps families making up to $34,100 a year to get health insurance for their children.

The Health Resources and Services Administration, which can help you find federally funded, low-cost clinics.

State health departments that provide additional clinics and resources

 

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which can help women find low-cost mammograms and Pap smears.

 

NeedyMeds and the Partnership for Prescription Assistance, which can help people without insurance get low-costs meds.

 

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, can help you find low-cost dental care.

 

Other resources to consider include:

 

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation, which helps pay for medically necessary treatments or services not fully covered by insurance.

 

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which provides free pharmacy services to the poor.

 

Bottom line: Being uninsured increases your risk of dying prematurely and can affect your ability to earn a living. Take the help that’s offered.

Vote November 4th. 

(Or just keep quiet for the next four years) 

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Wacky Ways to Save Moolah

After 50 Ways to Trim Your Budget didn’t give me a whole lot of new ideas, I decided it was time to think outside the box – way outside the box…

1) Get a hair cut

My hair hangs to mid-back. Even with coupons I spend probably $10 – $15 a month on conditioner. A few snips and I’ll be able to cut that cost in half. Just think: less mousse, shampoo, hairspray, more time…

2) Speaking of hair, cut the kids’ hair yourself

A few months and you’ll probably get okay at it. It’s winter. They’ll be wearing hats, scarves, hoodies anyway.

3) Go on a diet

No, not Jenny or NutriSystem or whoever. I mean, an honest-to-god, eat-less diet. Smaller portions, less cost, teenier waistline…

4) Wear fewer clothes

Yes, I know it’s winter. I mean change into the same outfit every night for a week when you get home from work – same ol’ sweats.  Remember, it’s winter. You’re not stinking them up. Less clothes = less laundry. That’s less detergent, water, electricity, fabric sheets, bleach. Savings could be big. Let’s face it, the TV doesn’t care what you’re wearing. Neither do the kids. If the spousal unit does, lucky you!!

5) Eat out

I know, I know, this goes against every frugal tip. They’re just not looking at things correctly. Hit the happy hour buffet. Fill up. Leave immediately. (This is totally negated if you order a drink.) If you have kids, visit people at dinner time. Parents and grandparents are great options. If you try this with friends, you better have a lot of them and quit answering your own doorbell around sunset.

6) Clean less often

Truly, you don’t like to do it anyway. Let the kids draw in the dust. Saves on paper and crayons, too.

7) Bonfire!

Extend the shredder’s life and save electricity. Everyone can warm up around the fire place, fire pit, whatever when you ignite your weekly junk mail. Given my pile, that’s good for 30 minutes of heat. Add the week’s papers and you’ve got an hour. Not so environmentally correct, but hey, what ya gonna save first – your money or the planet?

8) Burn candles

This is a triple woohoo! Provides light and romance (that comes after you’re done using the melted wax to clear your upper lip or do a Brazilian bikini thing.)

9)  Family won’t eat leftovers? Good. Quit buying dog food. Pups prefer table scraps anyhow.

10) Exercise

Twenty jumping jacks per commercial break. Fifteen squat thrusts between shows. (Fifty pushups can be substituted, twenty-five at each) You’ll be warm and have the buffest family on the block.

11) Don’t floss.

It’s not the cost of floss – it’s the cost of visiting the dentist when that crown falls off… No gum either. Same issue.

12) Skip the dry cleaner

Do you really think most guys dry clean a suit after one use? Pfffft. Skip the Dryel sheets, too. Toss everything in the dryer for a few minutes with a regular ol’ dryer sheet to freshen it up. Good for most of the season unless you’re sloppy. If you are, stick the outfit in the back of the closet. May not fit next year anyhow.

13) Dry cleaning part II

Another way to take out the whiff-factor? Wear the outfit while you’re using air freshener in a room.

14) And another freshening idea

Put your cologne/perfume on in the car. No more of those little smell good, hangy things necessary.

15) Rub-a-dub-dub

Think community tub. Jacuzzis are great for this. Kids think they’re having fun, not bathing. Every few days a lack of soap won’t kill ’em. Their skin won’t dry out, which means less lotion, too. No Jacuzzi? Joint baths. Just make sure you separate by sex. Don’t want Child Protective Services knocking on the door.

16) Speaking of lotion…

Skip it. Scaley works. No one’s gonna see those legs again until spring unless you’re a lucky you (see #3).  However, that’s only if the lights are on. Turn ’em off – you’re conserving, remember!

17) No more breath mints

Go to the bank. Grab ’em off the counter. Same at restaurants – take handfuls. If you’re running low, don’t invade anyone’s space. Talk behind your hand because, “I think I’m catching something and don’t want to expose you,” cough, cough.

18) Stuffed up?

Forget the decongestants. Anything they use to make meth can’t be good for you. Think hot – sauce, soup, chili. Think vigorous exercise. Try a good cry. All of ’em make your nose run. 

19) Take a page from your kids’ playbook

Wear headphones – ALOT! If you don’t hear it, no response required, ie. no cash outlay. This is especially successful with teenagers when their friends are around.  Show enthusiasm for the tunes by boogeying down  – The Swim, Twist, Mashed Potato. Mortified teens don’t stick around.

20) Invite yourself

Everywhere! Neighbor mentions they’re running to the store? Respond, “Oh, can I join you? I just need to pick up a few things,” as you drag out your three page list. Saves gas & vehicle wear & tear. Co-worker’s chatting about the potluck they have planned? You say, “Sounds wonderful. What can I bring? Is there anything you think I should avoid for the children’s sake?” That last part gets the info on whether this is a free family feed or just a night out for you & the spousal unit. If kids are out, invite them to sleepover – at someone else’s house. No babysitting costs and you still get everyone fed for the price of a dish.

21) Borrow stuff

The more expensive, the better. Baking makes great holiday gifts, but spices, molasses, vanilla – those things are expensive and you’ll use like one teaspoon or whatever. Suggest you and a friend/neighbor bake together (their house, of course.) Take only the essentials. Saves you all that high-dollar stuff. Need a holiday outfit? Pfffft. You gotta tap a lot of sources, but you can end up with the dress, shoes, earrings, purse, shawl that you need and spend zippo. (unless you’re sloppy. May require one dry-cleaning bill. Be neat & it’s just a dryer sheet.)

22) Give the fridge a break

More stuff in it means it works harder.  That’s a shorter lifespan. That’s more electricity. It’s winter in some places. Store stuff in the garage. Let nature keep it cold.

And, the 23rd wacky idea for saving money is…

23) Accept your age

Martina McBride had it right. You earned every one of those lines. Quit letting people tell you to slap on all that gooey stuff to get rid of ’em!

Laugh more. Check the stock market less. Know that you’re not alone in this financial fiasco.  

And, Vote November 4th!

Let’s Start Trimming… The Budget!

Yes, I’m in holiday mode already. But even after I Let Santa Help, I need less month or more cash if I’m going to survive the upcoming season. This article offered me 50 ways to trim the budget. I was ecstatic. FIFTY!! Wow! Must offer some new crevices to pull cash from; some new nooks and crannies to wrestle back a few bucks.

And, it did. Air dry clothes, open/shut blinds to regulate temperature, wash only full loads of clothes/dishes, raise your home/auto deductibles – easy fixes I don’t think we’ve discussed. Under food and transportation, we’ve covered most of those. Healthcare and Clothing offered some new insights. Personal insurance and retirement? I’d love to be worrying about saving $ there.

But it disappointed to. The 2006 stats show annual household expenditures of $62k with average income at $82k (gross.) 2006 stats also say 50% of Americans make less than $32k a year.  That’s AGI folks, income tax $. That’s joint-return bucks. And, yes, I know all about deduction and shelters etc. that make Rich Robby look poor. But the reality is, the average American is strapped! He’s making $62k, which he doesn’t bring home, and living on $62k. No wonder we’re spending 120% of our income. No wonder the next crisis coming is credit card debt.

Gain what you can from this article, but if you’re drowning in debt, perhaps a free evaluation will be more useful. Debt counselors field questions from 9 – 9 ET Monday thru Friday. Post your question or learn from what others have asked. You might also want to check out this article on budgeting. Getting a handle on your financial crisis requires a multi-pronged approach:

 – Know what you make

 – Know where you spend it

 – Slice and dice expenditures like a world-class chef does onions (yeah, it’s gonna bring some tears)

Until you match dollars out with dollars in, no fix will be long-term. Using credit cards for monthly expenses or 401k loans to pay off the credit cards you’re using for monthly expenses is simply a hiatus from facing the truth: You aren’t rich. You can’t live like you are.  This holiday season is a good time to start putting that reality into action.