Spend Wisely http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/9362/all en-US Ingenuity: The Ultimate Frugal Skill http://www.wisebread.com/ingenuity-the-ultimate-frugal-skill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ingenuity-the-ultimate-frugal-skill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/wisebreadingenuity.jpg" alt="Lemonade Stand" title="Lemonade Stand" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In our modern world, we&rsquo;re often hand-fed information and ideas. We&rsquo;re plugged in, tuned in, and logged on in unprecedented ways. It can be both liberating and limiting. As I see kids growing up in this new reality, I worry about their ability to see the interplay between information and ideas, understand the big picture, creatively problem-solve, and negotiate the curve balls that life will inevitably throw their way. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-frugal-skills-and-how-to-get-them">20 Great Frugal&nbsp;Skills &mdash; and How to Get Them</a>)</p> <p>More specifically, I wonder how the gadgets of our lives &mdash; and the overwhelming volume of pre-packaged information that our culture delivers &mdash; will affect the next generation&rsquo;s financial health. In short, I wonder if we&rsquo;re risking the loss of our ingenuity. After all, ingenuity is what frugality is all about. If our economy continues to be challenged in the way it has been in recent years, will the next crop of young adults have the skills to succeed?</p> <p>Ingenuity, in all its forms, drives frugality, and it&rsquo;s the skill that underwrites our ability to live fully with less. In the game of simple living, ingenuity gives us a strategic advantage. Here&rsquo;s why.</p> <h3>Ingenuity Helps Us Save Money</h3> <p>My grandmother always said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not how much you make; it&rsquo;s how much you save.&rdquo; And while I agree with the spirit of this sentiment, I also realize that making more means being able to save more. But at root, her phrase illustrates ingenuity's proper place in the skill set of frugality. Ingenuity is the force behind creative reuse, bartering, identifying opportunities for friendly negotiation, and stretching ingredients in the kitchen. Ingenuity helps us save &mdash; and maximize what we save. It has the power transform scarcity into satiety and make limits&hellip;.well, not quite so limiting.</p> <h3>Ingenuity Helps Us Make Money</h3> <p>I&rsquo;ve always believed that there are two separate but equally important ways to successfully manage life on a limited budget. You can either learn to spend less money or figure out how to make more of it. Of course, to get ahead of the game, the most powerful approach is double down and do both at the same time. Again, a little ingenuity can make all the difference. Ingenuity inspired my mom and dad to turn our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-garden-as-classroom">family garden</a> into an income-producing machine. My brother and I became door-to-door fresh produce salesmen in our small-town neighborhood and earned enough money from our little business to live large at the state fair each year. Ingenuity helps enterprising kids across the country turn overgrown lawns and un-shoveled sidewalks into extra pocket cash (although I fear this particular breed of kid may be an endangered species). Ingenuity has the power to turn a surplus of anything &mdash; time, materials, skills, labor, or knowledge into a product or service. It gives shape and form to our ideas and turns opportunities into cash.</p> <h3>Ingenuity Helps Us Spend Money (Wisely)</h3> <p>Less obvious, but no less important, ingenuity helps us to make smart spending decisions too. Frugal folks tend to choose <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/quality-over-price-15-items-to-spend-more-on">quality over quantity</a>, picking products that are multi-purpose, versatile, and able to be easily repaired. Knowing how to spend your money wisely is just like saving money &mdash; the two are shades of the same color. Wise spending means understanding when and how to invest, what products will appreciate in value, and what products should be purchased now to save money later.</p> <p>Saving money, making money, and spending money are the three essential silos of frugal living. And ingenuity is the universal skill that gives practical use to each. It&rsquo;s a way of thinking that saw our grandparents and great-grandparents through the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/survival-basics-for-depression-era-kids">Great Depression</a> and helped families adjust to rationing during World War II. If our modern devices will enhance or detract from our innate ingenuity remains to be seen. I hope as our young people become more deeply plugged in to the Information Age, they don&rsquo;t unplug from their history and the generations of ingenuity that helped secure their wired lives.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ingenuity-the-ultimate-frugal-skill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-ways-to-save-money-during-your-pregnancy">5 Surprising Ways to Save Money During Your Pregnancy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-healthy-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Healthy Changes You Can Make Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-can-do-today-to-be-happy">10 Things You Can Do Today to Be Happy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-reasons-alone-time-is-good-for-your-soul">9 Reasons Alone Time Is Good For Your Soul</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle ingenuity skills Spend Wisely Tue, 04 Sep 2012 10:00:42 +0000 Kentin Waits 952406 at http://www.wisebread.com 50 Ways To Squeeze Value From Your Healthcare Dollar Without Killing Yourself http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stethoscope.jpg" alt="stethoscope" title="stethoscope" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Healthcare will most likely be my family&#39;s largest expense in a couple of years, when we&#39;ve finished paying our home mortgage. We&#39;re not heavy users of the healthcare system: to take care of my own needs, for example, I have seen my family physician for a non-routine visit just 3 times in the last 15 years. Just one family member takes a prescription medicine on a regular basis. What have we done to incur such high costs? We&#39;re Americans who want to protect our family from a medically-induced financial disaster. We&#39;re not alone. </p> <p>According to Davis Liu, M.D. and author of &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0979351200/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20" title="http://www.amazon.com/dp/0979351200/ref=nosim/?tag=wwwwisebreadc-20">Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America&#39;s Healthcare System</a>&quot; health insurance premiums grew 73% compared to wage increases of 15% from 2000 to 2005. Dr. Liu doesn&#39;t have a well-crafted plan to solve the national healthcare crisis but he does offer practical ideas for getting the most out of your healthcare dollar. Here are 50-plus ways to save money without compromising your well-being, drawn mostly from Dr. Liu&#39;s book but supplemented by my experience, research, and wisdom of the Wise Bread community.  </p> <ol> <li>Skip the annual physical but get <a href="http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/USpstfix.htm#Recommendations" title="http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/USpstfix.htm#Recommendations">specific screening tests recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)</a>.</li> <li>Save on prescription medications if you meet certain eligibility guidelines found at <a href="http://www.togetherrxaccess.com/Tx/jsp/about.jsp" title="http://www.togetherrxaccess.com/Tx/jsp/about.jsp">Together Rx Access</a>.</li> <li>Review all medical bills and question anything that doesn&#39;t seem right, especially services that should be covered under your insurance plan; talk to your insurance agent, employee benefits counselor, and/or insurance company representative to make sure that covered items are paid correctly.  </li> <li>Call your physician’s office to ask about a non-urgent problem (or to see if a symptom requires immediate treatment) rather than scheduling an appointment.</li> <li>Ask your pharmacist about medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and behind-the-counter remedies; you&#39;ll get free, valuable advice from a healthcare professional who has spent many years studying medicines. </li> <li>Compare your physician’s recommendations with clinical guidelines (e.g., <a href="http://www.aap.org/" title="http://www.aap.org/">pediatrics</a>, <a href="http://www.acog.org/" title="http://www.acog.org/">obstetrics/gynecology</a>, <a href="http://www.auanet.org/" title="http://www.auanet.org/">urology</a>); ask about anything that you don&#39;t understand or seems to be unusual care. </li> <li>Do self exams (see techniques for <a href="http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/self_exam/bse_steps.jsp" title="http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/self_exam/bse_steps.jsp">women</a> and <a href="http://www.acor.org/TCRC/tcexam.html" title="http://www.acor.org/TCRC/tcexam.html">men</a>).</li> <li>Get high-deductible healthcare insurance rather than forgoing insurance because the uninsured have higher death rates from <a href="http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/7451.pdf" title="http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/7451.pdf">chronic disease</a> and <a href="http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/2003-doyle.php" title="http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/2003-doyle.php">accidents</a>. </li> <li>Carry continuous coverage so that <a href="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html" title="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/faqs/faq_consumer_hipaa.html">exclusions for preexisting conditions will be limited</a> according to federal law associated with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).</li> <li>If you may lose your job or already have lost your job, compare the cost of <a href="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/cobraemployee.pdf" title="http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/pdf/cobraemployee.pdf">COBRA coverage</a> (extended to displaced employees but includes the employer’s <em>and</em> employee’s cost) to other options such as purchasing insurance on your own (either a comprehensive or high-deductible plan) or getting coverage on a spouse’s plan. </li> <li>Open a <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/index.html" title="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p969/index.html">HSA (Health Savings Account</a>) linked to a high-deductible insurance plan and take a tax deduction for your contributions, subject to limitations as stated in the federal tax law.   </li> <li>If your insurance company doesn’t cover USPSTF-recommended tests, question why it doesn’t cover expenses proven to prevent disease and start a letter-writing campaign asking for coverage; write your insurance company and your <a href="http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm" title="http://www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm">state’s insurance commissioner</a>. </li> <li>Take a<a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html" title="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502.html"> tax deduction for medical expenses</a> that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).</li> <li>Go to a provider (physician, physician extender, or hospital) that is in your insurance company’s network so that you can take advantage of discounted rates already negotiated by your insurance company. </li> <li>If the provider that you prefer is not in your insurance company’s network, ask the provider to join so that you can get discounted rates. </li> <li>Choose a high-performing healthcare plan by checking out plan ratings by the <a href="http://www.ncqa.org/" title="http://www.ncqa.org/">National Commission on Quality Assurance</a>.</li> <li>Select a physician who follows standards of care according to evidence-based medicine; find those who meet the NCQA criteria in its <a href="http://recognition.ncqa.org/" title="http://recognition.ncqa.org/">searchable physician directory</a>. </li> <li>Get free blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol checks at health fairs. Take the results to your physician for discussion and further testing if needed. </li> <li>Wait at least 24 hours after the onset of a fever (with no other worrisome symptoms) before making a doctor’s appointment.</li> <li>Take free or nominal-fee health classes on topics such as childbirth preparation and diabetes prevention; beware that some of these classes are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. </li> <li>Find <a href="/love-your-skin-with-free-health-screenings" title="http://www.wisebread.com/love-your-skin-with-free-health-screenings">free skin cancer screenings</a> but don’t wait to find a free check if you think you may have a problem.</li> <li>If there is a competitive market for healthcare services (e.g., more than one maternity hospital in your town), <a href="http://www.stretcher.com/stories/980923c.cfm" title="http://www.stretcher.com/stories/980923c.cfm">negotiate prices</a>, preferably before you receive services.</li> <li>Check out the safety, effectiveness, and clinical soundness of home remedies, herbs, and supplements at <a href="http://peoplespharmacy.com/index.asp" title="http://peoplespharmacy.com/index.asp">The People’s Pharmacy</a> and <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/natural-health.htm" title="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/natural-health.htm">Consumer Reports-Health</a>.  </li> <li>Evaluate hospitals using <a href="http://www.leapfroggroup.org/home" title="http://www.leapfroggroup.org/home">The Leapfrog Group&#39;s ratings</a>.  </li> <li>Donate blood and receive free blood pressure, iron-level, and temperature checks. </li> <li>Establish a relationship with a primary care physician through an “establish visit.”</li> <li>Get better, more informed, and quicker medical advice by preparing a written summary of your medical history (should include surgeries, medical conditions, medications, allergies, family history, and social history).</li> <li>Communicate priorities during the initial part of the physician visit, rather than waiting until the very end of the visit to express your concerns about an important matter.</li> <li>Help your physician arrive at a diagnosis with a minimum of tests by discussing your symptoms in terms of <strong><em>when</em></strong> you first noticed the problem and <strong><em>when</em></strong> it occurs; <strong><em>what</em></strong> it feels like (sharp or dull, constant or intermittent) and <strong><em>what</em></strong> seems to make the problem better or worse; <strong><em>where</em></strong> in the body it occurs; and <strong><em>why</em></strong> you are concerned. </li> <li>Make sure you understand any diagnosis, additional testing requirements, treatment plan, and further assessments recommended by your physician before you leave the office.</li> <li>Before allowing medical treatment (giving informed consent), determine the benefits, risks or complications, and alternatives to treatment plans. </li> <li>Don&#39;t hesitate to get a second opinion not only on the diagnosis but also for the treatment plan, if you feel uncomfortable with your physician&#39;s plan and especially if you have a rare disease. </li> <li>If you are waiting on test results, “Never accept the phrase, ‘we’ll only contact you if the results are bad.’” Ask for a call back or, preferably, written documentation of your test results.</li> <li>Get immunizations to prevent certain diseases (see <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm" title="http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm">Center for Disease Control’s recommendations</a>).</li> <li>Ask your primary care physician what type of specialist treats the problems you are concerned about to avoid paying for a visit to the wrong type of specialist.</li> <li>Make sure your physician is <a href="http://www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html" title="http://www.fsmb.org/directory_smb.html">licensed</a> by checking with state boards. </li> <li>Don’t be overly influenced by ads for prescription medicine: ask about symptoms mentioned in commercials or ads rather than requesting specific medications; stick with your current regimen if it is working without complications. Heavily advertised medications are almost always more expensive than non-promoted ones. </li> <li>Consider generic drugs to replace name-brand drugs; for a list of generic drugs with their equivalents, check out the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/default.htm" title="http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/default.htm">Electronic Orange Book</a>.  </li> <li>Compare drugs in the same class by price using <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/index.htm" title="http://www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/index.htm">Consumer Reports-Health</a> website.</li> <li>Cut costs on prescriptions through patient assistance programs; learn more at <a href="http://www.rxassist.org/" title="http://www.rxassist.org/">Rx Assist</a> or <a href="https://www.pparx.org/Intro.php" title="https://www.pparx.org/Intro.php">Partnership for Prescription Assistance</a>. </li> <li>Ask for free samples of medication from your physician. </li> <li>Tell your physician about cost concerns and see if there is a less expensive but just as effective alternative treatment. </li> <li>Read the <a href="http://www.fda.gov/CDER/drug/default.htm" title="http://www.fda.gov/CDER/drug/default.htm">labels and ingredient lists of over-the-counter medicines</a> to make sure that you are not overdosing on certain active ingredients. </li> <li>To get more face time with your physician, schedule multiple visits rather than signing up for <a href="http://www.physiciansnews.com/business/204.kalogredis.html" title="http://www.physiciansnews.com/business/204.kalogredis.html">concierge care</a> (flat fee for dedicated service).</li> <li>Say &quot;no&quot; to <a href="http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/ct/" title="http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/ct/">body scans</a> that are more likely to lead to unnecessary testing and cause harm via radiation rather than detect deadly disease. </li> <li>Take part in group visits with your physician or support groups for those with similar diseases.</li> <li>Exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and don’t smoke.</li> <li>Research medical issues using reliable sources such as the <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/" title="http://www.mayoclinic.com/">Mayo Clinic</a>. </li> <li>Sign up for discount programs with non-insurance companies such as <a href="http://www.merck.com/merckhelps/uninsured/about.html" title="http://www.merck.com/merckhelps/uninsured/about.html">Merck’s Prescription Discount Program</a> (available to those who do not have prescription coverage) and <a href="http://www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com/pages/Find/findall.aspx" title="http://www.pfizerhelpfulanswers.com/pages/Find/findall.aspx">Pfizer&#39;s program</a>.</li> <li>Visit a dental clinic associated with a dental or dental hygiene training program to save on fees (see health reasons for <a href="http://www.perio.org/consumer/exams.htm" title="http://www.perio.org/consumer/exams.htm">proper dental care</a>).</li> <li>Tap into hospital <a href="/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt" title="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-erase-your-medical-debt">programs that offer aid for low-income, low-resource patients</a>.</li> <li>Take a <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/rx-stressed-workers-take-two/story.aspx?guid=%7B6C508B2E-D695-4AEC-8C0E-5DA10A802657%7D" title="http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/rx-stressed-workers-take-two/story.aspx?guid=%7B6C508B2E-D695-4AEC-8C0E-5DA10A802657%7D">vacation</a>.</li> <li>Leave the country to receive quality healthcare often at heavily discounted prices (see <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/09/medtravel.html" title="http://www.kiplinger.com/magazine/archives/2007/09/medtravel.html">Adventures in Medical Travel</a> article from Kiplinger and read about <a href="http://healthcarehacks.com/" title="http://healthcarehacks.com/ ">Amy&#39;s journey to wellness in India</a>).</li> </ol> <p>If you&#39;ve saved money on healthcare <em><strong>and</strong></em> improved your health, tell me about it. </p> <p><em>Note: I received a copy of</em> Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely <em>in exchange for a book review. Disclaimer: This book and my post are intended to provide readers with a general understanding of healthcare issues rather than provide personalized medical, financial, or legal advice. Please consult your physician, CPA, attorney or other advisors for help with specific situations.</em> </p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-squeeze-value-from-your-healthcare-dollar-without-killing-yourself">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stay-healthy-live-longer-spend-wisely-making-intelligent-choices-in-americas-healthcare-system">Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely: Making Intelligent Choices in America&#039;s Healthcare System</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/avoid-big-dental-bills-with-safe-and-inexpensive-products">Avoid Big Dental Bills with Safe and Inexpensive Products</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-about-a-price-list-at-the-hospital-or-doctor-s-office">How About a Price List at the Hospital or Doctor’s Office?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-your-fsa">What You Need to Know About Your FSA</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living General Tips Health and Beauty Davis Liu healthcare high-deductible healthcare plans HSA Live Longer M.D. prescription savings Spend Wisely Stay Healthy Thu, 26 Jun 2008 03:00:00 +0000 Julie Rains 2197 at http://www.wisebread.com