Establishing A Car Fund

Copyright: myndziakvideo

Since getting a car, whether new or used, is a major purchase, it makes sense to anticipate the financial outlay well in advance by setting funds aside. If you have a plan of attack, you can either put away enough money for a down payment on a vehicle, or even amass enough cash to purchase a car outright with no financing. I was so determined to pay cash for my next set of wheels that when I purchased my current car in April of 2017 after the 24-month lease ended, I began saving up for the next car by earmarking contributions in a specially designated car fund. I now have enough set aside to purchase a moderately priced new or gently used vehicle when the time comes. Granted, I was extremely aggressive and determined when I began saving up, but I now know that it is indeed possible to self-finance a car purchase.

Copyright: 3rus

Even if you can’t save up enough money for a cash purchase, a chunk of change could nicely cover a down payment, thus lowering the total amount which ends up being financed. I ended up intuitively setting up a high yield savings account and have been making monthly investments for the past five years, a technique which is actually recommended by financial experts. The other thing I kept in mind when figuring out how much to set aside each month was the value of the vehicle which I would most likely purchase in the future. When I got any additional small windfalls, I would add those monies to the fund. Lastly, another thing which I made sure to do was to set up a car repairs fund in high yield savings so that I would be prepared if I ran into any unexpected repair bills on my current ride.

For more detailed information on whether to buy new or used, or to buy versus lease (though I NEVER advise anyone to lease a vehicle), you can check out this article:

https://www.investopedia.com/how-to-save-for-a-car-5184740

Financial Wellness

Copyright: tzido

*Note: This is an updated version of an article which I had posted back in September of 2020, entitled Do Your Finances Need A Tune-Up?

Now that restrictions are lifting after the COVID pandemic and lockdown from 2020, we are now in an especially critical situation due to the financial beating and recession which has negatively impacted the majority of the population. Whether you are someone who already had emergency funds and retirement savings in place before the pandemic hit, or you are hoping to finally start setting aside those funds for the future, it is important for you to review your financial health on a regular basis and to find ways to protect yourself so that you are prepared for any potential financial emergency. What if you don’t know where to start? The most important principles to follow in the quest for financial health include paying down debt, establishing an emergency fund, finding other means to generate income, and continuing to contribute to retirement accounts.  Another vital component in good financial health is establishing a budget and really examining your spending habits.  Almost invariably, people find out after they create a budget that they are spending money needlessly on frills that they don’t need.  By eliminating those hidden money drains, it becomes easier to cover living expenses, thus reducing some of the stress involved in getting by financially.

I have had a budget in place for over 30 years, and I have seen the power it wields.  By following a budget, I was able to pay down all credit card debt, pay off a car, establish an emergency fund, and put money aside for retirement, so I know it can all be done.  I have lived without credit card debt or a car note for almost a decade now, and I will never fall back into the debt trap ever again. I am also acutely aware of my budget at all times, and I review it on an almost weekly basis to make sure I am on track. The emergency financial cushions which I have established give me peace of mind, because I have successfully created and maintained my own safety nets. By no means am I wealthy, but I know that I am not in any precarious financial waters either.

Source: pigly.com

If you need help in establishing a budget, you can use a budget calculator. I found a wonderful budget calculator on Pigly.com which is very easy to use, and extremely thorough.  It helps you break down all expenses, from the essentials to debts and savings so you can target all your goals and ensure that your income is allocated optimally. All you have to do is plug in your income, and the calculator will automatically generate a low end and high end for all the categories.  So even if you have never established a budget before, you can set one up instantly.

When budgeting, don’t be afraid to contribute to your retirement accounts right now, as long as you have your debts paid down and you have an emergency fund in place.  I am a big proponent of Dave Ramsey’s investing philosophy, and I am grateful that I educated myself on financial wellness and dug myself out of what once seemed like a desperate situation.  It was only after I had paid off all of my credit cards and established an emergency fund back in 2013 that I began aggressively started putting money aside for retirement.

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 129764462
Copyright : Romolo Tavani

The fact is, we are living in uncertain times, and need to be prepared for whatever hits.  By buttressing our financial health, getting creative with income streams, and following a budget, we will be better equipped to survive the ebb and flow of the current economy.

Goals to Give You the Confidence to Return to the World

Image: Pixabay

Check out this inspiring and motivating article written by Camille Johnson on how to get back in gear after being on lockdown for so long.

Do you lack the confidence to re-enter the world after being indoors for an extended period of time? Maybe you lost your job due to the pandemic and are just now going back to work. Or maybe you were affected by lockdowns and are just now finding it safe to socialize again. Whatever the reason, it’s important to make sure you are confident enough to get back into the swing of things. Employ the tips below to help you build the confidence you need to overcome your fears.

Build your confidence and fitness with customized nutrition and fitness programs from Stacey Naito!

The Importance of Setting Goals

Setting goals is one of the most important parts of any lifestyle change. With just a few small changes, it’s possible to dramatically improve your life.

Many people have trouble setting and achieving their goals. This is because they don’t have a clear idea of what they want or need in their lives.

To avoid this, create a list of goals to give yourself the confidence you need to take on the world again. You could create lists with short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal: happiness!

Reduce Debt, Reduce Stress

Debt is a major source of stress for many people, with 47% of Americans feeling overwhelmed by their debt. While there are a number of factors contributing to the level of debt Americans hold, one major factor is student loans.

Some people might believe that they are not able to take on more debt as they try to pay off existing balances. However, there are ways you can reduce your debt while still saving money, such as refinancing your home.

Refinancing allows qualified homeowners to decrease the equity in their homes and free up cash or reduce their monthly mortgage payments. Additionally, refinancing can be beneficial if you’re looking to take out a different type of loan. For instance, some people refinance a low-interest mortgage for one with an even lower rate.

Go Back to School

Oftentimes, people stop going to school when they get married and have children or they simply start to feel overwhelmed with life. But if you’re interested in progressing in your career, then why not consider going back to school?

Back in the day, it was common for people to care for their kids as a stay-at-home mom. In today’s society, women and men work outside the home. That said, being a working parent can be extremely difficult, and sometimes it might seem like there isn’t an alternative.

Fortunately, there is hope! Going back for an online degree in business, criminal justice, or nursing allows you to complete your education in a more flexible way. It also offers a lot of perks, such as:

  • The ability to balance work, family, and school
  • Not having to commute every day
  • Learning at your own pace
  • No dorm fees

If you’re considering going back to school for a degree or certificate program, now is the perfect time. It’s an investment that can pay off for years to come in higher wages and better job prospects.

In Closing

Setting goals, both short and long term, is not only a great way to stay on track, but it gives you the confidence to return to the world. When you are clear about what you are trying to accomplish, it’s easier to plan a course of action.

Design A Budget Which Works For You

Copyright: akkamulator

Not too long ago, I went shopping at a retail home goods store with a good friend. When we approached the checkstand, my friend experienced a bit of sticker shock, because she kept adding things to her cart and hadn’t kept track of how much she was spending. When I suggested that she might want to review what she had in her cart and perhaps pare down, she responded with, “Well, it will somehow work out. I still have some room on my credit card.” We kept chatting as the sales clerk rang up my friend’s items, and she continued with, “I never know how much I have in my checking account, and I don’t keep a budget, so I always hope and pray that I make it each month.” By this time I was cringing at what my friend was saying, and I also became very concerned for her financial health.

If you are like my friend and choose to throw caution to the wind by refusing to follow a structured budget, you have signed up for a rocky financial future. You may argue that you have the same fixed expenses each month, such as mortgage/rent, cell phone, and your car payment, and that you somehow always know approximately how much you spend on groceries and fuel for your car, but if I challenged you and asked you to itemize those expenses, I would bet that there is some overspending occurring. If you are also forgetting about discretionary expenses like a regular Starbuck’s habit, or even worse, you are neglecting retirement savings or contributions to an emergency fund, then you are skating on very thin ice indeed.

You might be thinking, “But I don’t know how to make a budget!” The whole idea of sitting down and creating a budget may sound daunting, but all it entails is writing down all of your income sources for each month, then creating a separate list of all of your monthly expenses. Once you have the basic framework of your regular expenses, you can add in your occasional expenses, such as personal care items (haircuts, etc.), auto insurance, upcoming vacations, etc. so that you are aware of the need to cover them. If you really dig deep, you will probably encounter hidden expenditures you weren’t completely aware of, such as streaming movie rentals, outdoor dining, or even online subscriptions which you might have forgotten about.

Once you have determined how much money is coming in each month, and how much money must be spent on fixed and variable expenses, you can see which expenses are unnecessary or frivolous, and you can also determine what other financial goals for which you can earmark part of your income. Examples of good financial goals are the following:

  • Paying off credit card debt (make sure that you add your monthly payments into your monthly budget!)
  • Vacation plans
  • Retirement planning
  • Adding to an emergency fund

Once your budget is completed, make sure to refer to it at least once a month, and as you reach certain financial goals (especially paying off credit card debt), you can make adjustments to your budget. Funds which were previously being funneled in one direction can be redirected to another goal, such as cushioning your retirement accounts or emergency fund. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on eliminating any credit card debt, because nothing erodes financial security more than this type of debt. Think about it: if you are paying 19.9% APR on a credit card balance of $2,000, that means that the credit card company is making an extra $400 in a year (this is a very rough estimate, since you would be making payments each month on that original balance). The other problem is that most people will add to a credit card balance, which pushes you into deeper debt. With credit card debt, it’s like taking one step forward and two steps back, so if you have credit card debt, HELOC’s, or another high interest debt, your primary focus should always be on aggressively paying those balances down. Once you are free from credit card debt, I strongly recommend that you curtail usage of any credit cards and use cash or a debit card instead.

When you stick to your budget, you may be surprised by how much it will improve your financial picture. A budget establishes a framework which enables you to move towards financial goals you might never have thought you could ever reach. Another great thing about an effective budget is that it doesn’t have to be static, so as your goals change and you reach certain markers, you can make adjustments to further fortify your financial position.

Do Your Finances Need A Tune-Up?

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 111332213
Copyright : Tom Baker

 

This year has certainly been full of surprises, partially from the fear surrounding COVID-19, and partially from the economic upturns which have wracked the entire globe. From long furloughs to unemployment, people everywhere are feeling the financial effects.  We are officially in a recession, which makes it even more important for everyone to review their finances and find ways to protect themselves during the financial downturn.

There are general financial guidelines which should always be followed, such as paying down debt, establishing an emergency fund, finding other means to generate income, and continuing to contribute to retirement accounts.  Another vital component in good financial health is establishing a budget and really examining your spending habits.  Almost invariably, people find out after they create a budget that they are spending money needlessly on frills that they don’t need.  By eliminating those hidden money drains, it becomes easier to cover living expenses, thus reducing some of the stress involved in getting by financially.

I have had a budget in place for over 30 years, and I have seen the power it wields.  By following a budget, I was able to pay down all credit card debt, pay off a car, establish an emergency fund, and put money aside for retirement, so I know it can all be done.  Even at this point, with zero debt, I am acutely aware of my budget, and I review it on an almost weekly basis to make sure I am on track.

Source: pigly.com

 

If you need help in establishing a budget, you can use a budget calculator. I found a wonderful budget calculator on Pigly.com which is very easy to use, and extremely thorough.  It helps you break down all expenses, from the essentials to debts and savings so you can target all your goals and ensure that your income is allocated optimally. All you have to do is plug in your income, and the calculator will automatically generate a low end and high end for all the categories.  So even if you have never established a budget before, you can set one up instantly.

When budgeting, don’t be afraid to contribute to your retirement accounts right now, as long as you have your debts paid down and you have an emergency fund in place.  I am a big proponent of Dave Ramsey’s investing philosophy, and I am grateful that I educated myself on financial wellness and dug myself out of what once seemed like a desperate situation.  It was only after I had paid off all of my credit cards and established an emergency fund back in 2013 that I began aggressively started putting money aside for retirement.

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 129764462
Copyright : Romolo Tavani

 

The fact is, we are living in uncertain times and need to be prepared for whatever hits.  By buttressing our financial health, getting creative with income streams, and following a budget, we will be better equipped to survive the ebb and flow of the current economy.

A True Survivor

Source: 123rf.com
Image ID : 27613551
Copyright : guita22

Now that we are all settling into a new normal with the global COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, I’m almost thankful that I grew up in a poor household.  Because I saw my mom struggle to make ends meet as a single mother, I learned some valuable lessons about how to brave any storm.

As soon as the wave of panic and dread began to sweep across the globe amid COVID-19 concerns, my survival instinct kicked up big time. I began hunkering down, planning a strategy, a game plan.  I turned to my childhood comfort food, white rice (I limit my current consumption to a small amount of jasmine rice) to stretch out my meals, a trick I knew all too well from my childhood.

What really surprised me was how a number of extremely wealthy people I know completely buckled under the pressure, lost all their coping mechanisms, and allowed their businesses to evaporate because they didn’t want to think outside the box and re-strategize.  It was astonishing how the same people who used to intimidate me and make me feel inadequate were so quick to give up.  All the shiny things don’t matter when one suddenly has to think about how to keep a roof over one’s head and put food on the table.  Food, shelter, and essential items will always be more important than driving a fancy car or buying designer clothing.

Everything has shifted profoundly, permanently on this planet, and we are all being forced to pay attention and shift our priorities.  We miss the people we cannot see in person, which hopefully means that we will hold higher value for those friendships and bonds.  If mankind is being forced to reinvent itself, then let’s get this done!

Enough With The Retirement Talk!

Copyright: pinkomelet

Almost every time I look at my computer these days, I’ll see at least one featured article on Yahoo! which discusses retirement.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it happens almost daily, and it’s making me mental.  

I know the population is aging, and that baby boomers and GenX’ers are trying to prepare and plan for their golden years, but this is getting ridiculous.  The media and the internet have unabashedly latched onto the subject, and now there is a constant barrage of anxiety-provoking articles with headlines and titles such as: 

Do you have what you will need to retire?

Are you prepared for your golden years? 

Beware of the pitfalls of investing in an IRA

Watch out for these “retirement killers” 

I’ll read one article which sets me at ease, because I am on track with what it says I need to do.  Then the next day I’ll read an article which either contradicts what I read the previous day, or which has such a doomsday vibe that it basically states that almost everyone is in danger of not having enough money to ever retire.  Does this mean that we will all be living under freeway overpasses, eating dog food?  

Honestly, all these articles seem to do is to stir up worry which affects how I function throughout the day.  And though I can try to let it go, the next day another article will appear which will wash away my feelings of security and accomplishment regarding my retirement portfolio.   

Who else has noticed this trend?

Understanding The Costs Of Diabetes Treatment And Planning For The Future

Original post can be found at:
https://www.thesimpledollar.com/understanding-the-costs-of-diabetes-treatment-and-planning-for-the-future/


by DeVonne Goode
Updated on 06.05.18

Diabetes is a prevalent disease. However, it can still take many by surprise, and leave them struggling to pay medical bills.
With the complexities of the condition and the wide range of costs involved with treatment, having a financing plan is necessary. Health insurance is obviously one of the primary methods of assistance. But not everyone has the adequate coverage to cover
the costs – let alone the out-of-pocket cash to put on the counter every time out.

Opening a savings account, particularly one with high interest, could be a worthwhile investment toward consistently managing the disease today and into the future.

Diabetes at a glance
Type 1 Diabetes

A condition that keeps the body from producing enough insulin. Insulin shots are used to control blood glucose levels. Most diagnosis occur among children and young adults, which is why it is also referred to as juvenile diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

The most common form of the condition where the body doesn’t properly use insulin to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy.

Gestational Diabetes

Occurs when women experience high blood glucose levels during pregnancy. It’s usually easily managed and goes away after pregnancy.
Prediabetes

When blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes. A large number of Americans are living with prediabetes (1 out of 3 adults). But taking early action to manage glucose levels can prevent diabetes from forming.

People who have diabetes are at higher risk of developing the following health conditions:
Blindness
Heart disease
Stroke
Kidney failure
Blindness
Loss of lower appendages (toes, feet, or legs)

Keep in mind – these conditions occur in the case of severe complications with the disease. With consistent attention to diet and other medical treatments (like most living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes undergo), these conditions are avoidable.
Diabetes by the numbers

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Of that, only 12% were aware that they had it. And with approximately 1.5 million new cases being diagnosed every year, the need for education and financial support is clear.

Prevalence
Infogram

Rates of diagnosis for the following ethnic groups
7.4% of non-Hispanic whites
8.0% of Asian Americans
12.1% of Hispanics
12.7% of non-Hispanic blacks
15.1% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives
Breakdown among Asian Americans:
4.3% diagnosed were Chinese
8.9% diagnosed were Filipinos
11.2% diagnosed were Asian Indians
8.5% diagnosed were identified as other Asian Americans
Breakdown among Hispanic adults:
8.5% diagnosed were Central and South Americans
9.0% diagnosed were Cubans
13.8% diagnosed were Mexican Americans
12.0% diagnosed were Puerto Ricans

Underreported deaths due to diabetes

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the United States (seventh as of 2015). However, studies have found that it is also among the most underreported. According to the American Diabetes Association®, only 35% of people who died with diabetes had the disease listed on their death certificate. And of that number, only 10% had diabetes identified as the cause of death.

Underreported Deaths
Infogram

There are a number of possible reasons for the underreported rate. But a lot points to the lack of ability to pay for adequate diagnosis and proper medical treatment.

What specific costs will someone with diabetes have to address?

If you or your child are diagnosed with diabetes, or you’re told that you have prediabetes, management and prevention take center stage. While a lot involves diet and exercise, medication will inevitably have an effect on your finances as well.

According to the American Diabetes Association® (ADA), medical costs for a person with diabetes averages out to $16,750 per year (a total of $327 billion nationwide in 2017). Of that amount, $9,601 is attributed to treatment specifically for diabetes. That’s more than twice the medical cost for people without diabetes.

Of the $327 billion nationally, $237 billion was attributed to direct diabetes medical costs and $90 billion was attributed to indirect costs – absenteeism and reduced productivity at work. Understanding the different forms of diabetes treatment, as well as the direct and indirect costs, is important for wrapping your head around plans for financing.


Type
Treatments

Type 1 Diabetes
Diet
Exercise
Insulin therapy
Regular blood glucose tests/monitoring

Type 2 Diabetes
Diet
Exercise
Insulin therapy
Other medication
Gestational Diabetes
Diet
Exercise
Monitoring sugar intake
Monitoring the baby
Direct Medical Costs ($9,601/year)
Indirect Medical Costs ($90 billion nationally)
Prescription medication (30% of total cost)
Loss of productivity due to mortality ($20 billion nationally)
Hospital care (30% of total cost)
Inability to work as a result of diabetes ($40 billion nationally)
Routine doctor’s office visits (15% of total cost)
Reduced productivity while at work ($30 billion)
Other medications and supplies (25% of total cost)
Reduced productivity due to increased absences and loss of employment from diabetes ($6 billion)

Insulin

Insulin injections are one of the primary forms of medical treatment used to manage diabetes. Especially for those living with type 1 diabetes, who can’t produce insulin of their own, these types of injections are vital for survival. However, the cost for insulin has skyrocketed in recent years, leaving many in the position of having to choose between going into debt or cutting back on medication.

Average cost for insulin as of 2015: $100-$200 per month
Average cost for insulin as of 2018: $400-$500 per month

WIDELY USED INSULIN BRANDS AND INSULIN INJECTION TOOLS
Insulin
Apidra, Humulin, Lantuo, Lente, Levemin, Novolog, Novolin, NPH Insulin, Regular Iletin, Regular Insulin, Velosulin
Insulin Syringes
BD Ultrafine, Levemir®, Monoject, NovoFine®, Ulticare, UniFine, UltiGaurd
Insulin Pumps
Animas, Deltec, Medtronic

Diabetes screenings and other medications

Along with your normal doctor’s visits, diabetes screenings are an important part of the process for identifying the disease. Specifically, if you have been diagnosed, testing your blood glucose levels will become a regular part of your life. Much of the costs for medications involved should be covered by your health insurance. And there are a number of home testing devices you can invest in to help make things more convenient and cost-effective.


WIDELY USED DIABETES TESTING BRANDS AND OTHER MEDICATIONS

Blood Glucose Test Meters and Test Strips
Abbott Freestyle®, Abbott Flash, Accu-Chek Compact®, Ascensia Elite, Ascencia Breeze, Ascensia Contour, Lifescan One-Touch©, Prestige
Injectable Medications
Byetta (Exenatide) injection and Symlin (Pramlintide Acetate) injection, Victoza (lLiraglutide- rDNA origin) injection
Oral Medications
Acarbose, Avandia, Chlorpropamide, Diabinese, Glipizide, Glucophage, Glucotrol, Gylset, Meglitol, Metformin, Prandin, Precose, Repaglinide, Rosiglitazone (These drugs act in different ways to lower blood glucose levels and may be prescribed in combination with other medication.)


Diabetes health expenditures according to group

Depending on whether you or your child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, total expenditures can vary. Those who manage their condition at home, through diet, exercise, and home testing will have different averages than those needing regular appointments with specialists. According to the American Diabetes Association®, average total healthcare expenditures for diabetes treatment differ according to gender, race, and states with the highest populations of people diagnosed.

Gender
Men: $10,060
Women: $9,110

Race
Hispanics: $8,050
Non-hispanic Blacks: $10,470
Non-hispanic Whites: $9,800
States with highest population of people with diabetes
New York: $21 billion in healthcare expenditures
Florida: $24 billion in healthcare expenditures
Texas $25 billion in healthcare expenditures
California: $39 billion in healthcare expenditures

Options for diabetes treatment financing

In a recent online survey of 500 adults with diabetes, more than half of the participants acknowledged the medical costs involved has had a negative impact on their finances. Many also admitted to going to “extreme lengths” to cover the costs. These lengths include accruing credit card debt, borrowing money from family or friends, and tapping into a savings or retirement account. Many may feel the need to take some extra financial risks because they don’t feel as supported as they’d like. Understanding your options will help you make the most informed choices.

Insurance

Government insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid provides most of the financial assistance for diabetes care. The military also takes care of a good amount of costs for veterans. The remainder of the cost is covered by private insurance or out-of-pocket cash. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 states mandate that diabetes be covered under state insurance.

Diabetes Health Insurance Coverage
Infogram

These states require coverage for diabetes treatment as well as equipment and supplies for home use (insulin, pumps, syringes, test meters). Four states do not have that same insurance mandate, however – Ohio, Alabama, North Dakota, and Idaho. Anyone with diabetes who live in any of those four states will most likely need to deal with a private insurer or explore other methods of financing.

Coverage from private insurers usually come through employer-sponsored group plans or individual health plans. Advisors would suggest going with employer-sponsored plans, because they offer higher protections due to being subsidized. On the other hand, if you are unemployed and venturing into the individual market, it may be difficult to find affordable coverage. The reason is that diabetes is considered a “high risk” disease. Insurance companies anticipate a high amount of claims, especially from those with pre-existing conditions. So it will be reflected in the pricing.

HSA

People who have diabetes but don’t have coverage that’s comprehensible enough for their needs may utilize a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is primarily useful for people with high deductibles (at least $1,350 individually, or $2,700 for family). Also, those who are a part of low-income families or don’t live in a “mandate state” may see this as a helpful tool. One big benefit of an HSA is that you take the money with you. There’s no “use it or lose it” policy like some other savings plans. Being able to set aside pre-taxed dollars to help pay for medical expenses can go along way when trying to manage diabetes.

FSA

Another way to set aside dollars for medical expenses is through a flexible spending account (FSA). An FSA is provided through your employer with a $2,650 limit. You can also use it to cover medical expenses for your spouse and dependents. One thing to keep in mind with FSA’s is that they do have an expiration period. You’re generally required to use the funds within your plan year. But your employer may offer extensions at their choosing. The benefit is, it can be used with any type of health plan. And diabetic supplies are eligible to be paid through FSA’s.

High interest savings account

If you’re not interested in dealing with your employer for coverage or a flexible spending account, a high interest savings account could be a good option to explore. It’s just like any other savings account, only with fewer restrictions. Not only are you saving for your medical needs, but your money is also making money. High interest savings accounts are opened through online banks – which means they don’t have to worry about maintaining branches all over the country. They can offer you higher interest rates, with the benefit of accessing your money whenever you want.

Unlike an HSA, a high interest savings account isn’t tied to a high deductible health plan with a dollar limit. And unlike an FSA, there’s no expiration date on when you can use your money. It removes any additional stress so you can concentrate on managing your condition properly. And as you earn interest, you can still take advantage of a number of outreach resources available for people with diabetes.

This condition can be a tough one to get a handle on, but it’s not insurmountable. Let your understanding of diabetes, your knowledge of its treatments, and your strategy for tackling costs work in your favor.

Why Long-Term Care Coverage Is Vital

The chances of you being in a position in which you can no longer take care of yourself are staggering. Seventy percent of people over the age of 5 will need some type of long-term care at some point, with 20 percent of them requiring it for a period of more than five years. If you have disability insurance, that doesn’t cover long-term care. I have heard some people grumble about the cost of long-term care insurance, which averages about $2,000 for a healthy, single 55-year old. The policy I have had in place since 2004 has premiums which will total $2,700 for 2017, and the premiums will increase to almost $2,900 next year. However, that’s a fraction of what I would have to pay if I didn’t have the insurance. The Genworth (the company I have my policy under) 2016 Cost of Care Survey reported that median annual cost of an assisted living facility is almost $44,000, and the median monthly cost of a private nursing home room is over $90,000.

I signed up for my policy shortly after my mother suffered from, and survived, a brain aneurysm in 2004. She was in a skilled nursing facility from 2006 until 2013, then was transferred into an assisted living facility. In a way, luck was on her side, because she had no financial resources and qualified for Medicaid and Medicare. She is now a participant in the ALW program. However, the bulk of her monthly Social Security benefit (less than $1,200) goes to the facility in which she resides. In no way was I willing to take the chance of relying on a government agency to rescue me in my elderly years if I find myself in need of long-term care.

I HIGHLY recommend securing long-term care insurance if you are over the age of 30. You cannot rely on the government to come to your aid if you end up requiring long-term care, and it’s unfair of you to expect loved ones to carry the financial burden of your care.

Living Solely On Social Security

I just ran across an article which I was compelled to share. This should serve as a major wake-up call for those of you who assume that you will be able to support yourselves completely with Social Security benefits when you become old enough to draw those benefits. I have included the link to the article, as well as copied and pasted the body of Barbara Friedberg’s article here.

The sad reality is that though the person in this example is able to make ends meet with her Social Security check, people who live in cities like Los Angeles will probably spend the bulk of their Social Security check on rent alone, with very little money left for groceries and healthcare.

Regardless of where you live, put money aside for retirement so that you don’t find yourself in a precarious financial situation when you are older. Roth IRA’s are an excellent way to set aside funds for your retirement, and they grow tax-free over the years.

https://www.gobankingrates.com/retirement/buy-average-social-security-check/

By Barbara Friedberg | September 26, 2016

Somewhere, an older American — let’s call her Alison — is going to retire soon. She anticipates a Social Security check of $1,349.59, the national average as of July. She regrets not saving more for retirement, but has accepted the reality of her situation.

If you’re like Alison — facing retirement without a cash cushion — you’re in good company. In January, GOBankingRates.com surveyed a representative sample of Americans and found that among people 60 and older, just 26 percent felt they were financially on track for retirement. The remaining 74 percent within this age group lacked sufficient retirement savings. And among Americans of all age groups, a sobering 33 percent had nothing saved for retirement.

Anyone who tries to get by on Social Security income faces a lean retirement lifestyle. Here are questions to ask yourself before trying to stretch benefits as far as possible — and what you’ll realistically be able to afford.

1. How Much Home Can You Afford on Social Security?

Your Social Security check will stretch further if you find a cheap place to retire. Housing is the biggest expense most Americans face, according to BLS statistics.

Sun-loving Alison hopes to retire to an apartment in Tucson, Ariz. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $575, according to Zillow. But let’s say Alison lucks out and finds an apartment for $540. She will spend 40 percent of her check on rent and will need to kick in a few extra bucks for utilities. So, rounding up, her monthly housing cost to $600 — leaving her with $749.59 of her Social Security check.

2. What Can You Eat on Social Security?

Dining at four-star restaurants is out if you’re living on Social Security. On average, roughly 12.5 percent of a consumer unit’s spending money goes toward food. In Phoenix — close enough to Tucson for our purposes — the average family spent $594 per month to eat in 2013-14, the most recent figures available from the BLS.

Phoenix averages 2.6 members per household, so we can estimate that the average person spends $228 per month to eat. Although Alison can splurge occasionally at a modest restaurant, living on Social Security means she will be eating at home most of the time.

Add up housing costs of $600 and $228 for food, and Alison is left with $521.59 of her Social Security check — a small sum for the remaining spending categories.

3. Can You Afford Healthcare on Social Security?

Alison might qualify for assistance in paying for her Medicare Part B premiums. Such aid would help her cover medical expenses, the No. 1 financial burden in the U.S. According to the government’s Medicare website, Alison’s monthly $1,349.59 check is beneath the income ceiling of $1,357 that qualifies her for assistance.

Medicare assistance benefits vary by state, so Alison should visit Medicare.gov and sign up for a conversation with someone from her state.

It will help if Alison can find ways to save on healthcare costs, such as purchasing generic drugs and using walk-in clinics instead of visiting emergency rooms. Assuming Alison qualifies for government help and is diligent about her medical spending, she can budget $150 per month toward medical costs. Alison now has $371.59 left in her budget.

4. What Type of Transportation Can You Afford While on Social Security?

Owning a car is expensive, especially on Social Security. The cost of operating a car can easily run into hundreds of dollars a month. With that price tag in mind, Alison has joined many other retirees by giving up her car.

Alison relies on public transportation services to get to doctor appointments. When going to the grocery store or meeting with friends, Alison uses the bus. On rare occasions, she splurges for a cab. She chose an apartment located near shops and restaurants. As long as her health holds out, she can walk to the grocery store and pharmacy.

Alison keeps transportation costs low at $100 per month. So, she’s now down to $271.59.

5. Can You Afford to Travel on Social Security?

After paying for necessities, Alison has $271.59 left for extras, which we describe in the next two categories. As you can already see, it is not easy to live on the average Social Security check.

With a tight budget, Alison and other retirees living on Social Security aren’t going on lavish vacations. Maybe Alison can afford a train or bus ticket to visit family, but cruises are out.

If travel is important to you, there are ways to squeeze it into the budget. Pairing up with family and friends can make travel a possibility. Camping vacations in state parks are economical. There are also many free events across the country.

6. Will You Earn Enough in Social Security to Cover Other Costs?

Remember, after spending for necessities, Alison was left with just $271.59 in her monthly budget. The amount of money she can spend in this final category — which includes entertainment — will largely depend on how much cash she earmarks for travel. She might be able to afford the occasional $1 movie at Redbox, but it’s unlikely she’ll be able to pay for the newest iPhone 7.

Finally, Alison will need a small cash cushion to cover emergencies. If she’s especially frugal, she might even have a little money left over to give to her favorite charity.

While Alison can make ends meet on her Social Security check, it won’t be easy. So, if you are a little younger than Alison, try to learn from her mistakes. Save a bit more today so you will have a greater sense of financial security in retirement.