Tag Archives: general finance

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Are you Prepared?

So, I’ve been reading Suze Orman’s The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom and there was one thing that really hit home: DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE (aka – Advance Health Care Directive – this link is specifically for California. Please look at your state’s government page for the correct forms).

My first thoughts:

  • Why don’t our physicians bring this up for discussion before something could happen?
  • Financial Education should be a prereq in college!
  • This could be devestating if I don’t file one of these!
  • This is something I can take care of right now
  • And you, too, need to take care of this right now!

    What is an Advance Health Care Directive?

    According to the Office of the Attorney General, “An advance health care directive lets your physician, family and friends know your health care preferences, including the types of special treatment you want or don’t want at the end of life, your desire for diagnostic testing, surgical procedures, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ donation.”

    So, you think, “Why do I need one? I am not at the end-of-life?” I thought the same thing. But what if you get in an accident and don’t die right away? What if you are on life support? Do you trust just anyone to take care of you end-of-life issues, both emotional and financial? Do you feel okay putting the emotional burden on someone to take care of your affairs? You might think that your spouse would immediately get the rights to make those decisions for you, but that may not always be the case.

    Read the excerpts of this story from Suze’s book:

    That was my promise. I don’t even know why the subject came up. We had just come home from Dennis’s fourty-fifth birthday party…and I guess he was thinking about getting older, but nothing was wrong.

    Three months later I came home to find a message on our answering machine, to get down to the hospital as soon as possible…

    Dennis had been in an accident at work…tubes in and out of his body. …They were acting as if he were already dead. There was little hope that Dennis would ever come off those machines.

    I kept screaming over and over, “But I promised! No machines!”

    The Doctor said in order for us to disconnect him, I needed to have a something or other for health care. I didn’t have it in writing…I kept telling them that.

    …when Dennis’s siter stepped in. She said it would be over her dead body that they would disconnect these machines.

    That was 8 years ago… Dennis is still on the machines

    Crazy, huh? A wife having to watch her husband on the machine for 8 years! Unable to keep her promise.

    For the sake of every one of you reading this book, I hope that you won’t ever be incapacitated or hospitalized, and that a long healthy life awaits you. But in case it doesn’t, I urge you to make the simple arrangements for durable power of attorney for health care, for yourself and for the people you love. It might be one of the most important documents you’ll ever sign!

    The first part of putting durable power of attorney for health care in place is deciding what you would want to have happen to you if you were in a situation like Dennis’s. You must decide in whose hands you want to put your life-who, that is, will make the final decision to take you off life support, if the decision ever has to be made. This person is known as your agent, and it is best to have two alternatives, or coagents, in case the person you have chosen is not available.

    How do you set up a durable power of attorney for health care?

    The form is free of charge, at every hospital. Or check your state’s Attorney General’s website. Just make sure you get the form that is valid in your state (if you have trouble finding one for your state, please email me and I will be happy to find the form for you). Then file copies of the filled out form to your doctor, agents, and coagents. That is it.

    Make sure and take care of YOU!

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    How to Prepare for Layoff

    Today it was reported that the company my husband works for is laying-off all employees from its Mississippi plant and will now outsource their workers. Also, this includes laying-off 2 of its 5 managers. The date this will take place: December 19th (unfortunately, right before Christmas).

    Now, we heard this would be happening but didn’t know when and if it was actually set in stone. Now we know it is true. The dominos are falling in effect. The word is out that my husband’s place of employment at the California plant is next. When? Do not know yet.

    Fortunately, (we think) we hear that my husband’s stature with the company and its representatives are telling him he will not be let go when all this happens, here in California. But, we are not for sure. Luckily, my husband is in the guidelines to start receiving his retirement, if necessary. Of course, he will not reap the max benefits at this time, but it is there should we need to use it.

    I know that we will be okay. But, I feel very sad for the people who are not okay. Many are friends of ours. It is very unfortunate.

    So, I told Mr. SeaDog that it is time to buckle down ship and plan for a potential rough ride. We need to plan for a possible disruption in our financial flow. So, we know it’s always a good idea to plan ahead for potential financial emergencies before they strike. I wanted to share with you, my fellow readers, some tips to consider when you need to tie down the ship:

    1. Establish an emergency fund. Set aside enough money to cover your basic living expenses for three to six months. This should give you the ability to pay your rent or mortgage, buy food and repay debts. Consider socking this money away in an online-only, high-yield money market account or a short-term certificate of deposit.

    2. Live within your means. Try hard not to spend excessively on items and services you don’t truly need. This will make it even easier to build up that emergency fund once and for all.

    3. Use credit cards with great caution. Especially if you have a hunch that a layoff might be looming, be extra careful with credit. A credit card can keep you in denial about your true financial situation. Accumulating debt will only add to your stress – and you don’t need any more stress, whether you lose your job or not.

    4. Talk about money with your partner. Even when things are going well, it’s common for one partner to be completely unaware that the other partner has different financial priorities and goals. A layoff – or the specter of a layoff – can put the spotlight on such differences and lead to terrible fights. To avoid this, talk honestly and set goals together about how to cope in the coming weeks and months.

    5. Tackle high-interest debt. Before a layoff ever strikes, make sure you’re not letting debt hang around for months on a high-interest credit card. Transfer that debt to cards with lower interest rates, or consider paying it off with money from a small closed-end loan from your bank or credit union. Then over the next three months or so, you can concentrate on paying back that lower-interest loan.

    6. Network, network, network. Always make a point of getting to know as many people as you can in your line of work. By having plenty of friends and contacts in your industry, you’ll stand a better chance of finding work quickly if you lose your job.

    7. Line up a line of credit while you’re still employed. If you own a home and you can see that a job loss might be coming, consider opening a home-equity line of credit and keeping it open. Don’t tap into the line of credit at all; just know that it’s there in case a real emergency hits. Some lenders – but not all – charge an annual maintenance fee in the $75 to $100 range for keeping a line of credit open, but that can be worth it for the peace-of-mind factor.

    8. Pursue disability coverage before you lose your job. Personal disability coverage is an important thing to have – and it’s also important to secure coverage based on your current level of income. Apply for such coverage while your income is at its highest. This would involve supplementing the group coverage you may have through your job with individual coverage. If you buy additional coverage on your own, you can take it with you when you change jobs, and it will be tax-free. Comprehensive disability coverage can be very costly, but you can find accident-only disability policies for as little as $25 a month. At least you’d have that much coverage during a bout of unemployment; once you get back on your feet, you could make sure you have disability insurance that covers both accidents and illnesses.

    9. Pursue higher education while you can. Do you work for a large company that offers a “Corporate U,” or for an employer that helps cover education costs at schools in your area? Tap into that resource so you can improve your skills and bolster your resume. Hundreds of corporate university classes have been accredited, meaning you could get college credit for them if you ever enroll in a degree program.

    10. Investigate your health insurance policy. Be clear on what your health plan covers, and figure out how much it would cost to extend your employer’s group insurance coverage through the federal program COBRA. Be aware that you would have to pay both the employer and employee shares of the premiums – ouch – but at least you’d get to keep the same coverage.

    11. Stay away from your 401(k). The possibility of losing your job is an excellent reason never to take out a 401(k) loan. You’ll need to pay it back before your last day at work. And don’t even think about tapping retirement savings if things get tough. Find another way to shore up your cash flow.

    Well hopefully, no one will need to face such turmoil especially in times of such economical turmoil. But if you do, this list provides valuable tips in keeping your family afloat.

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    Even as the Market Crashes… I feel HAPPY!

    The Dow Jones was down 770 points yesterday. The Asian Stock Market is falling like a house made of timber being blown away by the wolf. Today, the Bulgarian Stock Exchange is being jackhammered into the ground. It’s massive financial market Pandemonium… and I feel HAPPY. 🙂

    Why? Because I am gaining personal financial control of my money. Because today I have $600+ in my savings account that I didn’t have 1 month ago. Because today, I am starting to feel financial security for my family. My goals are coming to realization and TODAY, I feel it. It’s very inspiring.

    And its funny to note that CNNmoney.com came out with an article today called, “Save for Tomorrow, be Happy Today”. Ironic that it would come out on the very same day I feel elated. Coincidence???? Kissmet????

    Happy Tuesday, fellow bloggers! Enjoy today.

    Contracts & Credit Reports – A Tale of a Girl who Learned the Hard Way

    Why it is important to check your credit report once a year and read fine print on contracts.

    A Good thing happened to me this month…

    When I was young(er)… exactly 10 years ago… this boy lived with this girl. They moved into an apartment, got a roommate and lived like that for a while. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out between the boy and girl. The girl split to a new place leaving the boy and his roommate.

    She thought she played it correct when she sent a letter to her landlord, with the key, stating she moved out. Sent it by certified mail and kept the reciept for 2 years. After 2 years, she shredded the document when cleaning out her files.

    Well, when the girl tried to move into a new apartment a credit report was pulled up and it had a civil judgment on her credit report for $2500! What?!?!

    What happened? When the girl left and a few months passed by the boy and the roommate defaulted on the rent and got ‘evicted’. The girl assumed she was safe because she filed the paperwork, returned the key and never looked back.

    Unfortunately, the civil judgment was found after the girl shredded the documents. She also found out that apparently the certified letter would not of officially taken her name of the lease. She was still liable for the rent.

    Moral of the story: Read the full contract before you sign and check your credit report annually for potential discrepancies.

    Oh ya, the good thing that happened to me this month? That civil judgment reported on my credit report for the last 10 years finally has been removed. 🙂

    Cut your Grocery Bill in Half!

    Happy Tuesday, fellow bloggers.

    I was viewing articles in CNN Money and came across a valuable article I wanted to share with you called, “Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half“. Of course, my curiosity was naturally peaked.

    The article directs you to Couponmom.com (I am sending you directly to the coupon page). It’s great! CouponMom saves you money and time by offering virtual coupons. There was a lot of coupons on products that I use every week, like kid’s lunch snack, sandwich meat, Cereal! We all know Cereal’s prices are climbing each and everyday (If you live near an Albertson’s, they always have awesome deals on cereal). In fact it was on CNN Money’s PF front page that I found cereal content is getting smaller, but they are charging you the same price. I was wondering why the cereal was diminishing faster than usual!

    Check it out!

    I printed $8.50 worth of coupons on products I use everyweek. So, its a start. I hope that you will all save, too.

    Small Changes, Big Savings

    My household recently took part in a small change that will incur big savings (and help the environment, too)! Yup, we switched from using many 16.9 oz water bottles to one 5 gallon bottle with sporty spout & stand. It fits nicely in my kitchen, too.

    So, this morning I wanted to figure the savings to see if its really worth it. I will show you the savings difference between Arrowhead vs. 5 gallon refillable bottle. Then, I will show the saving difference between our grocer’s brand water bottles vs. 5 gallon refillable bottle.

    5 gallon bottle = 640 ounces
    640 ounces / 20 ounce Arrowhead bottles = 32 20oz-bottles
    $0.29 cost per bottle * 32 20oz-bottles = $9.28

    I got the 0.29 cost per bottle by dividing the cost 1 case (24 bottles per case)$6.99 by 24 = 0.29125 costs per bottle

    Grocer’s Brand:
    5 gallon bottle = 640 ounces
    640 ounces / 16.9 ounce grocer’s brand bottles = 38 16.9 oz-bottles
    $0.125 cost per bottle * 38 16.9oz- bottles = 4.75

    I got 0.125 cost per bottle by dividing the cost 1 case (24 bottles per case) $3 by 24 = 0.125 costs per bottle

    We buy anywhere between 1-3 cases (24 bottles per case) biweekly – depending how hot the weather is outside. So, we will assume 32 20oz-bottles being consumed biweekly by my family (my son is a water bottle addict).

    Potential savings (Arrowhead):
    Costs $9.32 for 32 20oz-bottles biweekly. It only costs $1.00 to fill my 5-gallon bottle.
    9.32-1.00 = 8.32
    8.32 * 26 weeks per year (biweekly) = $216.32 savings per year

    Potential saving (grocer’s brand):
    Costs $4.75 for 38 16.9oz-bottles biweekly. It only costs $1.00 to fill my 5-gallon bottle.
    4.75 – 1.00 = 3.75
    3.75 * 26 weeks per year (biweekly) = $97.50 savings per year

    So, you decide if its worth it. What are your thoughts on it?

    My thoughts: I agree with my change. We were consuming the grocer’s brand of bottled water. It actually tasted better than any of the named brand water. Funny, huh?
    But, I believe that I am also installing in my kids the importance of helping the environment. Perhaps, they will not realize the importance right now, but will be helpful in their future.
    Plus, I am one finding small ways to help the environment. Sometimes, I think about all the small products that are making mass waste in the world. It drives me crazy! Like dental floss pics, plastic cups, kid’s super meal toys, food packaging, water bottles, etc… I constantly think of how I could do without all of consumer America’s products. How can I cut back. Are their companies who purposely reduce their packaging to be eco-friendly? Well, I am getting into a different subject. Another time. 😉

    $97 per year savings may not be much.

    But, let me tell you why this is a big savings. If I take this $100 and invest in with a return of 8%. Then, continually add $100 to it annually. In 25 years, I will have $8,580.29! Now tell me if it’s worth it? 😉

    ps – or that is $18, 560.88 dollars if you drink Arrowhead!

    You can calculate your own compounding interest at http://www.moneychimp.com/calculator/compound_interest_calculator.htm

    Is my family adapting: Yup, they each got to splurge on their own spiffy water bottle. 1 bottle and lots of water!

    Fellow bloggers, have a wonderful weekend!

    Have a Frugal Labor Day

    I wanted to wish all of you a Happy Labor Day weekend!

    As I start week two of Snowballing my Debt, I am pondering on what to do this weekend. I really want to go to Knott’s Berry Farm, but that will not fit in my budget. (thinking: try, try, try real hard to stick to budget).

    So, I googled and came across this article by http://www.wisebread.com/ that I thought would be handy: Back Yard Barbecues that won’t Break the Bank. This article offers frugal meals and activities for bbq family & friend fun. Anyone can benefit from the tips offered.

    Other things I can recommend to do this weekend: go to a local city sports game, go to the beach, take a nature hike, or have a family bike ride.

    What are some of your fun and frugal activities you have to share? Would love to hear of them!

    Fellow bloggers, have a safe, happy, and frugal weekend! I wish you well in sticking to your budget and erradicating your debt!