Sunday, May 13, 2018

Shop for Best Medical Prices and Insurance!

I find exorbitant medical costs to be a particularly disturbing thing, especially when it's difficult to price check, comparison shop and that the government wants to cover everyone all at the same time. This looks to me like a recipe for disaster for a number of reasons. 

Thankfully, there are other people who are also disturbed by the lack of being able to price check, and they have put together a couple of websites where you can do some price checking and comparison shopping. I have not used these extensively myself but I wanted to pass them on because I think we should all be empowered to compare medical costs!

These websites offer the chance to learn about medical pricing and can give you the opportunity to "shop" for services.

healthcarebluebook.com

hospitalcostcompare.com

Remember too that stand alone clinics like a medical imaging center can be far less expensive than hospitals. When patients are not allowed to shop or even question prices, hospitals have no reason to keep prices low. We should all expect that we have the right to know prices and comparison shop.

There is also something people are now doing called medical tourism. Again, I can't personally speak to this, as I have not done it, but there are many resources out there by people who have done it with success. Medical tourism sounds scary but some assure us that it is not scary if you do your research first.

Here are a couple of books and there are many more out there!

https://www.amazon.com/Medical-Tourism-Travel-Guide-Top-Quality/dp/1934716006

https://www.alibris.com/Patients-Beyond-Borders-Everybodys-Guide-to-Affordable-World-Class-Medical-Travel-Josef-Woodman/book/28905363

Here is a group called the Medical Tourism Association:

http://www.medicaltourismassociation.com

There are also medical sharing groups that people can join instead of using regular insurance. Here are a couple of those groups:

http://www.chministries.org/

https://www.libertyhealthshare.org/

There are other groups online that you can find. They all have their own rules and guidelines.

Together, when we make it known that we care what is being offered to us and that we will comparison shop and expect good and decent prices, we can make a difference and expect the medical community to compete for our business just like any other business.

Happy Savings! ~


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Scratch and Dent Gluten Free Haul!


I am very thrilled with this scratch and dent mostly gluten free haul my husband and I came upon the other day. We were in Amish country and happened upon a little scratch and dent store. I went gluten free last year and gluten free items are very pricey. This is just some of what I got. 



Look at these prices! 

Croutons for .35!
GF flour for $1.25 a bag!
Chocolate wafers for .50!
GF Vanilla Creme Cake for .85!
Breakfast Bars for $1.00!
Cereal for $1.00!
And on and on!

I wish I lived closer to this store! I hope to be in that area a couple of times a year to stock up. Some of their items are out of date but many are just dented boxes etc. I will be in stock for quite a while!

If you have an Amish or Mennonite area close to you, it pays to check out their bulk food store where things are usually less than store prices and their scratch and dent places are often pennies on the dollar. 

Happy Savings!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Change Your Think into a Thunk: Stop Giving Your Money to the Rich-Part 2

Yesterday kind of got me on a roll so I decided to make another installment on this topic. Yesterday I demonstrated how most people willingly give their money to the rich every day through interest payments by choosing to buy an everyday coffee or other somewhat frivolous item rather than paying down their debt. In doing so, they are voluntarily giving their money to the rich in interest payments every month rather than choosing to pay down debt. Not only does this make that coffee cost that much more but the money goes to the rich.


But there is another whole aspect to this which is the use of credit cards. I am not talking about credit card debt this time. I am talking about the tiny percentage that goes to the rich every single time you use your credit card. That’s right! Even if you have a 0% interest card and pay it off at the end of every month, the simple fact that Americans use credit cards takes thousands and thousands of dollars out of our communities and puts that money into the hands of the rich every single day.

Here’s how it works. Businesses know that customers want to use credit cards for convenience. This means that businesses pay the credit card companies processing fees and costs. Depending on the credit card company, the cost for processing will be about 1.95%-2.50%. According to instoredoes.com Although all credit card processors are subject to the same interchange and assessment rates for their issuing bank, the merchant services provider you select can change your costs by thousands each year. On average, however, credit card transaction fees on a $100 charge would amount to between$2.50 and $3.” This is from a 2013 article. http://instoredoes.com/making-cents-of-credit-card-processing-fees/ Credit card processing fees can be very complicated so it’s hard to know actual costs. However, because of the high demand for credit card use among consumers, businesses know that their sales will go up if they take credit cards even though they have to pay these fees to do so but what it means is that thousands and thousands of dollars leave every single community in the Unites States every single day by the choices everyone makes. Even though these fees seem invisible to the consumer, prices rise on everything because of them and so consumers end up paying the costs even though they are not seen. 

Many people complain about the shrinking middle class and so much money going into the pockets of the rich. Especially those who complain about and are concerned about the shrinking middle class should consider controlling what we can control.

Now I am going to be honest. I do use credit cards and I use them to my advantage. Credit card companies pay me to use their credit cards. Why? Because we either pay 0% or pay the cards off at the end of every month. Still, credit card companies want us to use their cards even though they give us rewards like airline miles and cash back. Why would they do this? Because of transaction fees they get from the businesses. However, sometimes I pay in cash because I know that this money goes out of our communities and I just hate that. If we all started paying more often in cash, we would keep a lot more money in our communities.

Have you ever read articles about how only criminals need cash? Boy would credit card companies love for us all to think that! If we all used cash everywhere, it would cause a revolution. A real revolution! We would have thousands more dollars to invest in our communities every single month.
So, my opinion is this: If you want to support your communities pay off consumer debt, car loans and student loans before you support your community by buying from them. After that, you will have much more money to support your communities with. And, when you buy, don’t use credit cards as often or maybe not at all. (There are no hard and fast rules to this-we each need to tailor make how we apply these principles and there is no judgment here!)

But we have so much more power than we think. We are not powerless. We can make a difference.

Stop giving your money to the rich!

Happy Savings!


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Change Your Think into a Thunk: Stop Giving Your Money to the Rich!


 We hear a lot these days about the rich and how horrible they are and how they get all the breaks. But today, I want to let you in on a little secret. Most Americans voluntarily give their money to the rich every day. “What???” You might say? “No way! People do not voluntarily give their money to the rich! People struggle! People suffer financially! They don’t choose to do this!” To this I say “Yeah way. Every. Single. Day. People line up and voluntarily give their money to the richest among us.”

“How can this be?” you might ask. First, let me tell you a little about myself. My husband and I got married very young, had a baby right away, had no college educations (still don’t-although I am working to change that) and were dirt poor. We did not rely on our parents to help us out and it was tough. Over thirty years later, after many bumps in the road (lost jobs, cancer etc.), we own a thriving business and are doing well. If we had listened to the people who claimed we were victims of circumstance, with no hope, we never could have gotten to where we are now. Through hard work, smarts, force of will and the blessings of God, we have what we have now.

It is true that you can’t control everything and sometimes things are beyond your control. But there are things you can control and that is what I want to talk about now. What you can control is this: Stop feeling like a victim and stop giving your money to the rich.

Step one: Stop throwing your money away on things that are not necessary. Let’s pretend that you don’t spend $5.00 (Starbucks) a day on coffee but just $1.00 a day. You might even think you are being frugal! That $1.00 cup of coffee you get from the convenience store every morning is unnecessary. ($30.00 a month! Brew your own at home!) That $5.00 lunch you get 6 times a month is unnecessary. ($30.00 a month! Pack it from home) Whatever and wherever you spend money on unnecessary things, figure it out and change your routine. Then comes step two.

Step two: So, let’s say you didn’t buy that coffee or that lunch this month. You just saved $60.00 a month! Now, let’s say you have a credit card balance. 


According to Money “On average, an American between the ages of 18 and 65 has $4,717 of credit card debt. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card’s interest rate is 15%. At the minimum payment of $189, it’ll take 10 years and a month to pay off that $4,717. The total payments would amount to $22,869. That’s a $18,155 cost for a very small loan.” http://time.com/money/4213757/average-american-credit-card-debt/This is talking about the average American. That is a singular person, not a family. According to CNN, the average American family owes $8377 in credit card debt alone. So, if you as a single person, had a credit card debt of $4717 at 15% interest rate and paid the minimum every month, you would pay an extra $18,155 for the privilege of having that debt. This is how millions of Americans give money to the rich every single day. By choice! “But it’s not a choice!” you say! And I say “It is a choice when you continue to buy that $1.00 coffee every day instead of brewing your own. Instead, you could be paying off that debt ahead of schedule and it is very important that you do not charge anything else!”

Americans give money to the rich every day with interest on house payments, car payments, student loan payments, credit card debt etc. etc. Admittedly *some* of that is necessary. But Americans give money away like floats throw candy away at parades and then complain about the rich having all the money.

The way to get ahead is to change your think into a thunk. Instead of *thinking* the way most Americans do, say “I thunk that”. Past tense.
Americans are rich beyond measure. We are rich beyond many societies of the past and present. Our problem is less one of not having enough than managing it well. Yes, there are some who truly struggle. I know. I did too. But giving your money to the rich is not a way to win this game. Once you tighten your belt and learn to stop giving your money away and get your debt paid down, you will see how fast it can grow. Then….
Step three: Once you stop giving your money away to the rich, you can invest your expendable income and your money can grow!
I hope with the new tax bill breaks coming up that people will not give their extra money to the rich and instead invest it into themselves. I hope instead of taking that extra vacation, buying those extra clothes, buying that TV etc. that Americans will instead to choose to get rid of debt and make wise choices for themselves.

Change your think into a thunk and stop giving to the rich!


Happy Savings!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Kitchen Facelift for $2.29!

I had these gray plastic handles on my kitchen cabinets. They were there when we moved in. Menards often has some awesome rebates and they had some oak/brass handles for free after rebate. 


Here is a "before" photo of my kitchen drawers:


I am very pleased with the "after" outcome! 


 My husband had to buy a few extra screws for the handles because the screws were too short. Those came to $2.29!


I am very pleased with the kitchen face lift for next to nothing! I wish I had a "before" snapshot of this view but you will have to use your imagination with the first photo. I love the nice face lift for next to free!

Happy Savings! 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pennies, Pennies Everywhere! Using Your Leftovers

Do you throw out your leftovers? If so, here is a great way to begin saving some money. You might look in the bottom of this pan at these few bits of rice and chicken and say "That's not enough for my family of four!" and dump it into the trash. Oh! It hurt me to even write that! The thought of people throwing out good food and wasting money gives me a pain in my heart. What can you do with what is in this pan? Read on!


I have used our leftovers for many years. For me, it was a necessity. But not only is it a necessity for many, it's very important that as a society we move to be less wasteful. This bit of food would make a great lunch for one. It could be eaten right away or put into a freezer container as an easy to grab lunch. 

Another option: Cook more rice and add it to the mix. You could add some more frozen broccoli and stretch it out for a full meal.

One of the greatest advantages to leftovers, besides saving money, is saving time. It's so easy to throw some leftovers on the table.

I read this article today and was shocked! The article is called "Why Americans Have Stopped Eating Leftovers". https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/10/31/why-americans-have-stopped-eating-leftovers/?utm_term=.a1739936bd7d People are throwing out so much food! People complain so often about not having enough money to go around but I see these pennies, pennies everywhere! 

I wonder how we have gone to being a frugal and thrifty people to being so wasteful? I don't want to sound moralizing here but our mantra should be Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do or Do Without. We used to be a country of immigrants who understood want. Now people complain about not having enough money while throwing good food in the trash. Inexcusable!

Okay. You got my feelings on that issue. ;) I feel really good when I save money. And eating leftovers and saving money and time makes me feel really good. Over the years, those pennies add up and they make a nice cushion so you don't have to live paycheck to paycheck. We can all be more free when we make freeing choices. 

Happy Savings!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gluten Free Mississippi Mud Cake: Guest Blog

This is a guest blog. I recently had a birthday and my daughter made me this gluten free cake! It tastes great. I have recently started eating gluten free and I feel much better. Eating gluten free is not cheap though, so we make a lot from scratch. Purchasing a gluten free cake like this would be very pricey!


Gluten Free Mississippi Mud Cake
16 servings
Begin making this cake early in the day, and allow plenty of time for cooling.

To make this cake, I merged two recipes together, and modified them a bit to suit the cake. The original Mississippi Mud cake recipe is found in The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts. (Their recipes are not even a little bit gluten free. Shame on them! :P)

Credit for the chocolate cake recipe goes to Sarah at www.sarahbakesgfree.com. Her blog is full of delicious looking gluten free recipes, so feel free to check them out too!

The recipe looks a bit intimidating, but don't let it fool you. Each step is quite easy, and there isn't a whole lot to mess up. Making this cake will take up a good chunk of your day, though. So make sure to budget some time. (I believe it took me about 3 hours the first time I made it, not counting cooling time.)

It's totally worth it though! This cake is super rich and can only be described as decadent. I've been making the gluten version of this cake for years, and it is always super popular wherever I take it. This gluten free version is actually better than the original in many ways!

Full Ingredient List:

* 1/2 cup butter, plus 3 tablespoons
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup oat flour
* 2 cups gluten free all purpose flour blend
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups pure dark cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk (or you can use 1 cup milk and mix with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Let stand for at least 5 minutes.)
* 1/2 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, plus another 1 1/2 teaspoons
* 2/3 cup hot water
* 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (check label to ensure it is gluten free)
* 8 oz semi-sweet melting chocolate (check label to ensure it is gluten free)
* 3 tablespoons water
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar (check label to ensure it is gluten free)

Step One: Walnut-Mixture

* 1/2 cup butter (save the extra 3 tablespoons for later)
* 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 cup oat flour

Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper.
Over low heat, melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat; stir in the walnuts, brown sugar, and oat flour.
Divide mixture evenly between your prepared cake pans and pat to evenly cover the bottom. Set aside.

Step Two: Chocolate cake

* 2 cups gluten free flour blend
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk (or you can use 1 cup milk and mix with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar. Let stand for at least 5 minutes before adding to the batter.)
* 1/2 cup oil
* 2 eggs
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Sift together the flour blend, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Drizzle in hot water slowly, scraping the bowl while beating on low. Batter will be thin.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and gently tap pans until the batter is evenly spread.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. [I did find that Sarah's estimate on baking in cake pans was a bit off. My cakes were in the oven for about 35 minutes. Just keep an eye on it, and remove when the toothpick comes out clean.]
Cool in pan until just cool enough to handle.

Step Three: Assembly


* 1 ½ cups mini marshmallows (I was out of mini marshmallows, so I sliced regular sized marshmallows into fourths.)

While still hot, carefully place one cake layer, with the walnut-mixture side up, on a cake plate.
Top with a single layer of marshmallows.
Immediately place second cake layer, walnut-mixture side down, on top of the marshmallows so they will melt. (I used a dinner plate to flip the cake out of the pan, and then flip again on top of the marshmallows.)
Insert long skewer in center of the cake to keep the top layer from sliding.
Allow cake to sit, or refrigerate, until completely cool.

Step Four: Glaze

* 8 oz semi-sweet melting chocolate
* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons water
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Once the cake has fully cooled, begin making the glaze. In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate, 3 tablespoons butter, and water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth.
Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.
Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature.
Add the powdered sugar, beating with a spoon until well blended and a thick spreading consistency. (If your mixture is a grainy texture, add a bit more water.)
Remove the skewer from the cake. Spread glaze over the top and allow it to drip down the sides of the cake.
Garnish as desired. (I used chocolate chips and dusted a bit of powdered sugar on top.)