A Financial Education Event
 

Driving Cars for Free

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In our Heroes at Home Financial Event Tour, one of the most popular segments deals with “how to drive a car for free.” The concept is fairly simple, but less than 10% of Americans actually follow the steps to experience debt free living when it comes to transportation. We love our military audiences because even though some military members are “ordered” to attend our show, by the time it is over, they are laughing, they’ve learned something and they realize how much fellow Americans loves them.

So how do you do it? Just follow three steps:

  1. Start with a Debt Free Car – This is usually going to be the car you just paid off. Or, it might be a vehicle a parent or someone else gave you (it might even have seen better days). In our lives, we were “given” one car and we gave away 8 cars. It might be that you agree to be a one-car family for 18 months instead of a two-car family. This is how the Kays did it to start with. If you don’t absolutely have to drive a car (you are a one car family, public transportation, driving someone else’s car, etc.), then you can go to step #2.
  1. Pay Yourself – The monthly payment for your car that you used to pay before it was paid off is a payment you will now pay to yourself instead of to the lienholder. So let’s say your car payment was $300. You will pay yourself $300 every month for 18 months. At the end of that time, you take the $5400 you have saved and then sell your existing vehicle for as much as you can get for it. You will get more money for your vehicle if you detail it, get everything running as well as possible (without a huge investment) and then sell it yourself. Go to KBB for 10 steps on how to sell your car yourself.  Let’s say you sell it for $8000. Now you have $13,400 to work with.
  1. Pay Cash for Your Next Car – Follow my steps from my previous blog on How to Buy A Car 101 – Even if you aren’t a USAA member (for an additional military discount), you can still follow the steps listed to pay the least price possible for your next vehicle. Make a special note: You cannot do this with a new car! It has to be a used car. The average new car depreciates $8000 in 8 seconds (when you drive it off the lot). So you have to buy a car that is slightly used (or real used until you trade up). The example in my blog shows how I traded up consistently until I was driving a modest Mercedes. (Is there such a thing as a modest Mercedes? I believe there is).
  1. Trade Up Until You’re Satisfied – After you’re in a new-to-you “paid for” car, then start with step number two all over again and start paying yourself. Let’s say you bought a car for $13,400 and you got into it low (as I showed you how to do in my previous blog), then in only 18 months a used car won’t depreciate that much (if you take care of it and try to keep low mileage on it) and you can sell it for close to what you paid for it. You sell it after 18 months for $13,000 and add the additional $5400 that you have saved by paying yourself every month. Now you have $18,400 going into step #3 and you can trade up your vehicle.

Does this work? It absolutely does. Not only do I do this in my own family, but I have children who do it as well. When my kids ask for my advice (sometimes it’s nice having a mom who is America’s Family Financial Expert ®), I advise them to not be wasting money on expensive car interest payments or crazy expensive leases. The difference is enough money saved over the course of five years to be able to put money down on a house instead of having to rent. It truly adds up!

Keep trading up until you are satisfied with your car and you can trade up into a car with a substantial manufacturer’s warranty (or negotiate that warranty). I do practice what I preach, and I did this to get my 2014 Mercedes, which is under mfg warranty until 2022. The only perceived downside is that my dream car is red and I thought that red cars get more speeding tickets than other colors. But good news! That’s a myth. Pedal to the metal!

What can you do today to drive your cars for free tomorrow? Let me hear from you!

Ellie Kay

Your Money Buddy

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As we are on our Heroes at Home Financial Event tour (at 17 bases in 5 countries) we often talk about how to follow through on our good intentions when it comes to money matters. The best way to do this is to have a regular money workout with an accountability partner.

A great example of this is these Newlyweds, who just finished their first Sixty Minute Money Workout and they loved it!

They did the “Money Personality” workout and discovered what personality each of them has and how they relate to money.

The number one reason marriages fail is because of arguments about money so if you can learn how to have a good workout, then you can get fiscally fit. You don’t have to be married either, you can have a “money buddy” just as you have a workout partner to help spot you when it comes to lifting weights or kicking it in cross fit.

But it begins with setting proper boundaries, so you can learn to get along and not digress into arguments. This is the same technique I shared on Nightline as I coached a couple on how to fight fair.

Boundaries:

First of all, people need to understand that you don’t have to be a couple in order to do the workout. You can do it by yourself, or with a trusted friend, or even a family member who isn’t your spouse if you are single. But whoever you do the workout with, it’s important to set some boundaries to prepare:
• no condescension or negativity
• no interrupting your workout partner when they are talking
• no name calling
• no throwing food –
• start by saying one positive thing to each other
• end by saying one positive thing to each other
• create an environment that encourages comfort and success
• have a timer on hand (the one on your phone works well)

Step 1 – 5 Minutes – Make Up Your Mind Warm-Up
Here is where you set your timer for each section. When the timer goes off, then move on! In this section, you set the topic for the hour and begin with a “can do” attitude. It’s important to begin by saying or doing something positive. If you’re working out with a spouse, then begin by taking your spouses hands, looking into their eyes and saying something affirming.

Step 2 – 10 minutes – Strength Training
While step one was to start with affirming words and decide on your money topic, this next section is a time to write down goals on paper so that you will have a tangible and objective standard to work toward. Decide how you would like to see the topic resolved today, in six months and what the outcome of your goals will be in the long run. For example, if your topic is setting up a spend plan, you can also access tools like Mint that will help you in the workout.

Discuss obstacles that have kept you from reaching your goals in the past. If spending too much money on Amazon is slipping you up, then regulate that habit. Or if eating out too often gets you offline, then discuss ways to eliminate that obstacle.

Step 3 – 20 Minutes – Cardio Burn

In this step, you give feet to your goals. If you’re setting up a budget, then you write down the specifics and course of action for your topic of the day. This may not seem like a lot of time on this section, but realize that you may not get it resolved during the first workout. The key is to keep the discussion moving and work on what you can, whatever you missed, you can get the next time around. For example, if you’re looking to pay down debt, then go to Annual Credit Report to order free copies of your credit report. If your topic is improving your credit score, then go to Credit.com to discover where your score is weak and how to improve it. Or listen to a Periscope #CreditChat from@Experian_US. This show is hosted by Rod Griffin, our credit speaker on the Heroes at Home Financial Event tour.
Step 4 – 20 Minutes – Taking Your Heart Rate

If you are making progress on your goal, then continue to do the work. If you have gotten bogged down or you’ve reached a standstill, then use this time to redirect.

For example, if you’re developing a spend plan, and realize you are spending too much in an area, then you could redirect at this time to review this blog and learn quick ways that will help you save money in a variety of categories.
For instance, how to save on groceries.  We’ve saved over $160,000 in the last 20 years by employing a variety of tips I discuss in my books and blog.

Step 5 – 5 Minutes – Congratulations Cool Down
The workout has gone by quickly and now the last 5 minutes are dedicated to the “Congratulations Cool Down.” End your workout and sit back, grab a glass of something cool to drink and reflect on all you’ve accomplished in just one hour! You started on a positive note and you’re going to end positive as well. Take this time to tell your partner one thing that you appreciate about today’s workout in order to end the discussion well.

Keep in mind that just as you don’t get physically buff in just one workout, your finances aren’t going to get in shape after the first try either. But after you and your mate have exercised with this money workout a half a dozen times you’ll find you are making progress that can revolutionize your finances in only an hour a week!

For a free “Sixty Money Workout” review sheet, just email assistant@elliekay.com and ask for this resource.

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

I Do Not Hate You

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Technology–you gotta love it, and hate it, too.

On Jan 1, I published a very fun blog, that my readers loved. Then we transferred over to a new platform and it was forever lost.

So I’ve revived it, now that we are a few months into 2017 to remind us that this is going to be a good year!

********

My daughter, Bethany, and I have a close relationship that often baffles the unassuming bystander. While we have been known to have a hearty row every now and then, we prefer to laugh early and often. One of our shticks is performed when we try to call or text each other and the recipient fails to answer. Our ever-mature response is to call and leave voice mail saying,

“Why do you hate me?”

The other party is to respond as soon as possible with assurances that you are not nearly as hated as you think.

We have variations of this hilarity and while it seems unhealthy from the outside looking in, it works for us.

At the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 we hear a lot about how eager some are to release 2016 to the dregs of a year gone sour: a year of political strife, unequalled loss and anguished setbacks. In short, they hated 2016.

But I have to say to 2016—I do not hate you.

In 2015 my Marine son was in a combat zone in Iraq, in 2014 he was in regular firefights in Afghanistan as an infantry platoon commander.  Had I been prone to hate a year, it would have been 2014.

In 2016 that Marine married his true love and I gained a daughter. I know it’s a cliché, most mother-in-laws have to say that, right? But in my case, I really expanded the tent pegs of my heart to let another inside. This young lady read my books before she met me, she knows my son better than I, and she works kindly and lovingly behind the scenes to foster our family’s unity. She calls me “mama” and she calls me regularly.  She gives me gifts (my love language is gift giving) and she makes me laugh. Yeah, I hear you “Ellie, you are painting this girl in shades of YOU—what she does for YOUR son, how she makes YOU feel, and the value she brings to YOUR family.” You are right. I am.

In 2013 my daughter Bethany, a recent college graduate, left the good old US of A and moved to England to serve at a non-profit that benefitted children. She mended hearts of kids who needed to hear about hope. She got to see a number of countries and experience other cultures and that was good. But the non-profit organization broke her heart. Amidst poor leadership, false accusation and territorial dogmas my daughter lost her joy. The “bouncing Bunny” came back shattered and in need of healing. If I could have hated a year, it could have been 2013.

In 2016 that daughter married her true love and I gained a son. Yes, here we go with the cliché’s again. But if you’ve never enlarged your heart to let someone who is not your own child in, then you don’t know what I’m talking about, so don’t judge me. This young man is guileless. Truly, he knows no guile. I don’t know if he’s a good poker player because he just doesn’t lie very well. My daughter had mended from her terrible-no-good-very-bad-year and was able to present him with a whole, healthy heart to have and to hold forevermore.  He calls me “mama” even though he has a great family of his own and they are part of the assets he brings to our lives. He adores my daughter. He gets her. She chose well and they gained a “happily ever after.”  Of course they’ll have challenges, loss and heartache. But they’ll have each other and that does a mama’s heart good.

In 2016, our family saw other great gains—my grandson’s 2nd birthday party with doting parents, Army beat Navy after 14 years, a son started pilot training, another son began his senior year at West Point, my children gathered from far away places for the weddings & holidays, and we welcomed our first grandfurbaby named Schmidt (yep, from New Girl, but the dog is better behaved.) My conference team successfully completed 15 events at 10 bases with Heroes at Home, providing financial literacy education to service members thanks to USAA.  I have a passion for these people and I got to live out that in my work this past year. The last part of 2016 had us planning 2017 with 25 events at 17 different bases in five countries—a success by any standard.

In 2016 had my focus been on politics, social justice or mortality, I would have hated this past year. Had I chosen to look at the family drama, broken friendships, missing family & friends associated with the two Kay family weddings—I would have hated 2016. There was plenty of negativity to focus on this past year both in our family and in our world, but I chose to focus on what went right, not what went wrong. I chose (not based on feeling, but based on a decision of the will) to focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. I tried to choose wisely.

No, 2016, I do not hate you.

As I’m writing this blog on January 1st, I turned off my phone to concentrate on the task at hand. I missed a few texts, a call goes to voice mail. I proof and edit my work, choose the photos to accompany the blog and populate it for the appropriate day.  Then I listen to my voice mail. I have a “Happy New Year” message from my daughter that begins with,

“Why do you hate me?”

I smile to myself. Hello, 2017, I think we’re going to have a good year.

Valentines Day

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Even after 29 years of marriage, Valentines Day is still consider a “high holy day” in the Kay house! If Bob ever lived in a world where he thought he could skip over the day in an effort to “save money” he would end up spending Valentines with Buddy, our mini schnauzer in his dog house! But you don’t have to spend a lot for your gift to mean a lot, here are some ideas that may help.

Is it OK to Scrimp on Valentine’s Day?

For Valentine’s Day, you might feel the need to pull out all the stops, but it’s not necessary. Sure, some people want to celebrate the holiday in a lavish way, but others prefer to go the low-key route. Whether you fit into these descriptions or fall somewhere in the middle, there are a romantic date ideas for Valentine’s Day or the weekend before that suit every budget.

The Least Expensive Way to Spend Feb 14th

After a home-cooked meal, snuggle up with your honey and enjoy a movie night on the cheap. Look for specials at Redbox and get a romantic dramedy plus an action movie to keep both of you happy. Or get both action and romance by renting a flick like “Knight and Day” with Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise. If you are an amazon prime member then you have access through your computer or TV to free movies that are not available for free to non-members. You may not even be aware of the freebies offered, so be sure to check them out.

Flower Power

When it comes to flowers, you usually get what you pay for and one way to cut costs is to hand deliver, this can save anywhere from $8 to $20. You could look at grouponLocal Living, Living Social or SeizeTheDeal for offers such as $20 for $40 worth of flowers with FTD.

One kind of fun option reminds me of one of my favorite romantic comedies, “Kate and Leopold” and that is to give flowers with specific meanings. Go to TheFlowerExpert.com to find out the meaning of different flowers. For example, red roses mean romantic love while a bouquet of mixed roses means “I don’t know my feelings about you yet, but I’m sending you roses anyway.” Carnations are a less expensive option and a red carnation conveys love pride, beauty and admiration. Daisys are also inexpensive and convey “loyal love.” A sunflower symbolizes pure thoughts. So you can select a cheaper flower if, and only if, you write a note explaining the meaning of the flower and why you chose it for your true love.

Dinner and a Show

Going out for dinner seems to be a Valentine’s Day mainstay and dinner for two can range anywhere from $20 to $200 or more. How to you have a nice meal without sending a signal to your mate that you want to spend as little as possible? After all, aren’t they worth a splurge on Valentine’s Day?

There are quite a few ways to save a lot in this area and still have a nice time together. Lunch or brunch can be half the price of dinner and you could go on the Sunday before the big day. In fact, some restaurants are offering prix fix menus for the weekend or entire Valentine week. Go to your favorite restaurant’s twitter or facebook page and see what specials they are offering to get the best value. Some of these values are only offered to social media friends.

You can also go to restaurant.com where gift certificates have gone on sale this week. You can get a $25 gift certificate for your favorite restaurant for as little as $6 by entering the coupon code found at RetailMeNot. Check community billboards at your local chamber of commerce website. For example, in our area, a local Greek center is offering a romantic, candlelight dinner for two with champagne, flowers, dinner and dancing for $50 a person. While this may not seem like a bargain at first, when you add up the cost of the individual items like the food, flowers, bottle of bubbly and a cover charge you would have to pay to dance, it’s an all inclusive deal that is sure to please. Plus, you can learn how to dance the Kalamatianos, a traditional Greek dance. Can you say, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding!”?

Great Dates that Double As A Great Gift

Right now, there are some great deals to be had at Travelzoo such as a quick, 2 night getaway on a $299 cruise, with an oceanview room. Bob and I took a cruise this way and really loved it. This week, there are also really nice hotels from Orlando to Seattle that range from $49 to $99 a night. Or, if you want to get up, up and away, there’s a $125 two hour helicopter ride featured.

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

I Do Not Hate You

BGadmin

My daughter, Bethany, and I have a close relationship that often baffles the unassuming bystander. While we have been known to have a hearty row every now and then, we prefer to laugh early and often. One of our shticks is performed when we try to call or text each other and the recipient fails to answer. Our ever-mature response is to call and leave voice mail saying,

“Why do you hate me?”

The other party is to respond as soon as possible with assurances that you are not nearly as hated as you think.

We have variations of this hilarity and while it seems unhealthy from the outside looking in, it works for us.

At the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 we hear a lot about how eager some are to release 2016 to the dregs of a year gone sour: a year of political strife, unequalled loss and anguished setbacks. In short, they hated 2016.

But I have to say to 2016—I do not hate you.

In 2015 my Marine son was in a combat zone in Iraq, in 2014 he was in regular firefights in Afghanistan as an infantry platoon commander. Had I been prone to hate a year, it would have been 2014.

In 2016 that Marine married his true love and I gained a daughter. I know it’s a cliché, most mother-in-laws have to say that, right? But in my case, I really expanded the tent pegs of my heart to let another inside. This young lady read my books before she met me, she knows my son better than I, and she works kindly and lovingly behind the scenes to foster our family’s unity. She calls me “mama” and she calls me regularly. She gives me gifts (my love language is gift giving) and she makes me laugh. Yeah, I hear you “Ellie, you are painting this girl in shades of YOU—what she does for YOUR son, how she makes YOU feel, and the value she brings to YOUR family.” You are right. I am.

In 2013 my daughter Bethany, a recent college graduate, left the good old US of A and moved to England to serve at a non-profit that benefitted children. She mended hearts of kids who needed to hear about hope. She got to see a number of countries and experience other cultures and that was good. But the non-profit organization broke her heart. Amidst poor leadership, false accusation and territorial dogmas my daughter lost her joy. The “bouncing Bunny” came back shattered and in need of healing. If I could have hated a year, it could have been 2013.
In 2016 that daughter married her true love and I gained a son. Yes, here we go with the cliché’s again. But if you’ve never enlarged your heart to let someone who is not your own child in, then you don’t know what I’m talking about, so don’t judge me. This young man is guileless. Truly, he knows no guile. I don’t know if he’s a good poker player because he just doesn’t lie very well. My daughter had mended from her terrible-no-good-very-bad-year and was able to present him with a whole, healthy heart to have and to hold forevermore. He calls me “mama” even though he has a great family of his own and they are part of the assets he brings to our lives. He adores my daughter. He gets her. She chose well and they gained a “happily ever after.” Of course they’ll have challenges, loss and heartache. But they’ll have each other and that does a mama’s heart good.

In 2016, our family saw other great gains—my grandson’s 2nd birthday party with doting parents, Army beat Navy after 14 years, a son started pilot training, another son began his senior year at West Point, my children gathered from far away places for the weddings & holidays, and we welcomed our first grandfurbaby named Schmidt (yep, from New Girl, but the dog is better behaved.) My conference team successfully completed 15 events at 10 bases with Heroes at Home, providing financial literacy education to service members thanks to USAA. I have a passion for these people and I got to live that in my work this past year. The last part of 2016 had us planning 2017 with 25 events at 17 different bases in five countries—a success by any standard.

In 2016 had my focus been on politics, social justice or mortality, I would have hated this past year. Had I chosen to look at the family drama, broken friendships, missing family & friends associated with the two Kay family weddings—I would have hated 2016. There was plenty of negativity to focus on this past year both in our family and in our world, but I chose to focus on what went right, not what went wrong. I chose (not based on feeling, but based on a decision of the will) to focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have. I tried to choose wisely.

No, 2016, I do not hate you.

As I’m writing this blog on January 1st, I turned off my phone to concentrate on the task at hand. I missed a few texts, a call goes to voice mail. I proof and edit my work, choose the photos to accompany the blog and populate it for the appropriate day. Then I listen to my voice mail. I have a “Happy New Year” message from my daughter that begins with,

“Why do you hate me?”

I smile to myself.

Hello, 2017, I think we’re going to have a good year.

Tis The Season For The End Of Year Bargains

BGadmin

I don’t stress during the holidays anymore. About a decade ago, I started participating in year round buying for those Christmas gifts and I start working on my cards in early November. So I’m usually ahead of schedule and all I have to do is cook for my kids who come home and go drink some eggnog at holiday parties!

But the buying season for 2017 starts now. Here are ways to save money now that can pay off later, if you can set aside some funds to take advantage of these super deals.

Outlet Malls – I’ve told my adult children that there are real outlet malls and pseudo outlets. The best ones were reviewed by Consumer Reports and the chains that received the highest scores take into consideration value, quality, selection and customer service. These chain stores that are highest rank include Cartr’s, BonWorth, L.L. Bean and Haggar. If you can shop on Dec 26th, then you’ll get an even greater bargain. Go to Premium Outlets or Tanger Outlets online to find the best location nearest you and to see what kind of after Christmas specials you can expect.

Clothing – The day after Christmas is better than Black Friday (when you can expect 40% off) when it comes to clothing deals especially in the area of jackets, sweaters and robes (as much as 70% off.)  Look online to see when the stores open as some are offering Black Friday type hours so people can come in and shop til they drop.

Last Minute Bundles – There is still time to get bundle deals this time of year. For example, a free case and flash drive for your tablet or laptop or a free gift card or extra games with your gaming system. Go to Amazon to comparison shop bundle deals and while you are there, look for “Today’s Deals” tab to check out daily specials. Target is stepping up the game this year when it comes to bundling and you can always find an extensive list of codes for other deals as well as sales at RetailMeNot.

Donations – How can the timing on a donation make a difference?  If you were going to make a holiday donation and believe you’ll have enough in donations to itemize in 2016, then go ahead and make that donation to make a difference in someone else’s life in a significant way. But if you weren’t as generous as you would have liked and you won’t be able to itemize, then wait until Jan 1st, 2017 to make that donation so that you can make it a goal to donate enough in 2017 in order to itemize.

Be sure to consider donating to Heroes at Home and all the fine work we are doing in teaching our military members financial literacy.

What are your favorite end of the year savings tips? Let me hear from you!

Before You Push “Send”

BGadmin

In the movie “Father of the Bride” Steve Martin’s character, George Banks, announces to Brian, the groom-to-be, “We come from a long line of major over reactors. Me. I can definitely lose it. My mother… a nut. My grandfather… stories about him are legendary. The good news, however, is that this overreacting tends to get proportionately less by generation, so your kids could be normal.”

Our family loves that movie; it’s a Kay cult classic amongst our family movies and quotable movie lines.

Like George Banks, the Kay bunch tends to be over reactors at times—especially under the pressure of the holidays. But we have hopes that our grandchildren may be normal.

In fact, if you ask my kids what I’m like when I’m upset, they will say that they hate my Texas accent, because it comes out with a flourish and generally not in their favor. Add to that fact that I’m ½ Latina and no one wants to be around me when I lose it.  The good news is that I have been working on this issue for years. I don’t like to say I’m an “over reactor.” Instead, I call myself “passionate.” This passion can be a “strength” at times but it sometimes becomes a “weakness” when it serves to miscommunicate my heart or intent.

One of the ways I advise all families, especially military families is to caution them to think before they push “send,” or before they tweet, or post something on Facebook and Instagram. This is especially important when it can come back to haunt you or your military member in a negative way. I know this is hard because I tend to process things by writing them down, but before I hit “send” I do three things:

1)  Sit On It—Because I know that when I write in a passion (anger, hurt, indignation) my EQ and IQ go down about 20 points (and I can’t afford to lose any of those points), I wait a few hours or overnight. Then I reread it, edit it and send.

2)  Share it with Fresh Eyes—My professional mentor who is a wise and wealthy literary agent, once said, “Ellie, less is more.” I have him, my assistant, or my hubby look at my message with fresh eyes to make sure I’m communicating in the most effective manner. My assistant will often be lovingly blunt, “You sound like a diva” or “Do you REALLY want to say that? You are coming across as too direct and even as cruel.” I don’t have to take every edit, but at least I have the perspective of someone who cares about me and desires me to be reflected in a positive light. They often save me from myself.

3)  Scrutinize it—After I’ve had some distance from the passion, I reread it to make sure I’m not hurting someone’s feelings or taking on an unnecessary fight. If I find that I’m more concerned with “the principle” rather than “the person,” then I have to take another look at my motives. If I err, I’d rather err on the side of kindness. My agent’s words, “Less is more” is my guiding grace. After all this, I’ll select send.

 

Do I always follow my own advice? No, to my great discredit I do not.

 

Do I regret it when I fail to vet my passionate emails before I send them? Yes, it has cost me friendships, business relationships and even contracts.

So, if you are experiencing the stress of the holidays (or any time of year) and you are tempted to vent via an email or other written communication. I encourage you to take that passion and follow the steps outlined in order to have the best possible outcome for all involved.

I’d like to hear from you. How do you process your passion in the written word?

Time for a Health Care Checkup

BGadmin

Lean Body, Fat Wallet, the Health Wealth connection!

As a mom of many, we had our five youngest children in seven years. This not only meant a lot of trips to the hospital to welcome a new family member, but it also meant countless trips to the doctor for checkups, aches and pains, and even an occasional accident. We couldn’t afford to be without health insurance.

 

Now that my kids are young adults, they still need their own health insurance and need to navigate the options, which can be confusing in the current healthcare system. But with open enrollment season upon us, now is the time when you can pick a new health insurance plan, and it’s time to make that topic part of your family meetings so you can be prepared for the New Year. Here are some areas to consider as you make these critical decisions:

Mama and her boys

Financial Impact: We raised four rowdy, active sons, and while they turned out to be great young adults, making it through their childhood was not incident free. We discovered one broken leg can cost $7,500 or more. Since most American families don’t have that amount of money saved in the bank, this one incident could wipe them out financially. So the main question isn’t just, “How much will insurance cost me?” but it’s also, “How much will not having insurance cost me?”

 

Freedom of Choice: During open enrollment, now is the time you will need to choose, and there are a number of things to consider in this decision making process. Whether you are purchasing your own plan, have options provided by an employer, or are eligible for Medicare, there are a lot of factors involved. First of all, take an honest look at your budget and at the insurance plan’s premium, deductible and out of pocket expenses.

 

This is a good time to think about what you expect the next 12 months to hold for you and your family. Ask yourself the following questions so you can make a better choice:

 

  • What is coming up? Are there big expenses coming up like childbirth or knee replacement surgery? If so, you might want to invest in a plan with a lower deductible.
  • What are my out of pocket expenses? When you visit your doctor, the amount you are responsible for paying is considered your co-payment. If you have imaging tests, like an MRI, you may have to pay a percent of those costs, which is called co-insurance. Again, if you think you’re going to visit the doctor a lot next year, these are things to consider.
  • What medications will we need? In addition to visiting the doctor, you should think about what kind of medication you and your family need. There are typically co-pays and separate deductibles for prescription drugs. If you’re already taking medication to maintain your cholesterol or blood pressure, you might want to check to see if there are ways to save money, like taking advantage of mail order pharmacy programs.

Future Options on My Plan: The main choice you have during open enrollment is which plan you will choose, but once you’ve selected a plan, make sure you’re visiting doctors and hospitals that are in your network. The network is made up of the doctors contracted with your insurance company to provide care for you. If you go out of that network, you will typically have to pay more. In some cases, you may sometimes have to cover the entire bill depending on what kind of plan you have. Because of that, it’s critical you stick with the plan you’ve chosen, or it could ruin your family’s finances.

Final Financial Considerations: When you are looking at this significant expenditure, it’s important to consider a number of factors and compare plans while understanding your options. You may want to go through this list to make sure you’ve considered everything in order to make an informed decision:

  • I have partnered with other resources available to help you better understand your options. Health insurers such as Anthem, Application Assistors, Navigators, and brokers in your local communities are available to help you navigate your options during open enrollment season and find a plan that is a good fit for you. For more info go to Anthem or gov
  • Are you about to turn 65 and will be eligible for Medicare? If so, you will have new options to consider.
  • Are your kids under age 26 and unemployed or don’t have a great plan through their employer? They can remain on your plan until they turn 26.
  • If you’re buying insurance on your own, you may qualify for financial help to pay for your monthly premium.

 

No matter what you decide, if you’ve followed the outline in this article, then you will be far less likely to have confusion and doubt when you are set up in your new healthcare plan and can no longer make decisions until next year’s open enrollment. As I tell my young adult children, the only failure when it comes to your finances is to do nothing at all and thereby lose out on an opportunity to improve your family’s financial future. I’m grateful Anthem has provided this information in our partnership so I can spread the word to American families as they navigate the sometimes confusing road to financial wellness in regards to healthcare options.

Giving Tuesday – As a Family, Honor Our Heroes

BGadmin

Parents want their kids to learn how to give back to others, but sometimes it’s a challenge to know how to do that effectively.

The Kay Family Christmas Card – 1996

When my kids were growing up, from the time they were toddlers, they worked alongside us to gather groceries for the local food pantry, they were with us as a family when we collected used coats from the neighborhood for the homeless shelter and they helped us buy toys for the Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” program, handing them off to a handsome Marine in the store. The result is that they grew up thinking of others during the holidays and today, they give back in proactive ways to communities both home and abroad.

Those children are now young adults and they still give back in amazing ways. Three of them serve in the Army, Air Force and Marines and the others help support Heroes at Home, a 501 (c) (3) that provides financial education for military members.

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is “Giving Tuesday” when there is an effort across the nation to give back to our communities. In 2017, the Heroes at Home Financial Eventwill provide 25 presentations at 17 bases around the world including:

  • Joint Base San Antonio Randolph AFB – San Antonio, TX
  • Sheppard AFB – Wichita Falls, TX
  • Peterson AFB – Colorado Springs, CO
  • Joint Base Charleston – Charleston, SC
  • Shaw AFB – Sumter, SC
  • Wright Patterson AFB – Dayton, OH
  • Hanscom AFB – Bedford, Mass
  • Malmstrom AFB – Great Falls, Montana
  • Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson – Anchorage, Alaska
  •  RAF Alconbury – Huntington, England
  • RAF Mildenhall – Suffolk, England
  • Spangdalem AFB – Germany
  • AWAG -American Workers Around the Globe – Edleweiss Resort -Garmisch-Partenkirchen
  • Aviano AFB – Italy
  • Offut AFB – Omaha, NE
  •  Joint Base Andrews – Prince George’s County, Maryland
  • Ramstein AFB – Germany

These events feature four top level financial speakers, a live twitter party (with prizes for the best tweets) and thanks to our non-profit’s presenting sponsor, USAA, we are able to give away over 100 door prizes, including copies of my financial books.

When our service members learn how to manage their money, then it helps with military readiness because these members are less likely to lose security clearances due to financial problems. This allows them to do their jobs.

Last year, my family and I participated in a fundraiser to help  Walmart donate $1 million to Fisher House Foundation, which for the past 25 years has provided a home-away-from-home for military and veterans’ families whose loved ones are in a nearby military or veterans hospital. In my visits to Fisher House and my work with them, I’ve seen how important this is to military families.

Another way my family is giving back is through the Greenlight A Vet campaign to help create visible support for veterans nationwide. We can show support for veterans this season by changing one light bulb in our home to green, raising awareness on social media, volunteering and serving with veteran groups in their community, or starting a mentor/mentee relationship with a veteran.

How are you going to give on Giving Tuesday?

Ellie Kay

Time for a Health Care Checkup

BGadmin

Lean Body, Fat Wallet, the Health Wealth connection!

As a mom of many, we had our five youngest children in seven years. This not only meant a lot of trips to the hospital to welcome a new family member, but it also meant countless trips to the doctor for checkups, aches and pains, and even an occasional accident. We couldn’t afford to be without health insurance.

 

Now that my kids are young adults, they still need their own health insurance and need to navigate the options, which can be confusing in the current healthcare system. But with open enrollment season upon us, now is the time when you can pick a new health insurance plan, and it’s time to make that topic part of your family meetings so you can be prepared for the New Year. Here are some areas to consider as you make these critical decisions:

Mama and her boys

Financial Impact: We raised four rowdy, active sons, and while they turned out to be great young adults, making it through their childhood was not incident free. We discovered one broken leg can cost $7,500 or more. Since most American families don’t have that amount of money saved in the bank, this one incident could wipe them out financially. So the main question isn’t just, “How much will insurance cost me?” but it’s also, “How much will not having insurance cost me?”

 

Freedom of Choice: During open enrollment, now is the time you will need to choose, and there are a number of things to consider in this decision making process. Whether you are purchasing your own plan, have options provided by an employer, or are eligible for Medicare, there are a lot of factors involved. First of all, take an honest look at your budget and at the insurance plan’s premium, deductible and out of pocket expenses.

 

This is a good time to think about what you expect the next 12 months to hold for you and your family. Ask yourself the following questions so you can make a better choice:

 

  • What is coming up? Are there big expenses coming up like childbirth or knee replacement surgery? If so, you might want to invest in a plan with a lower deductible.
  • What are my out of pocket expenses? When you visit your doctor, the amount you are responsible for paying is considered your co-payment. If you have imaging tests, like an MRI, you may have to pay a percent of those costs, which is called co-insurance. Again, if you think you’re going to visit the doctor a lot next year, these are things to consider.
  • What medications will we need? In addition to visiting the doctor, you should think about what kind of medication you and your family need. There are typically co-pays and separate deductibles for prescription drugs. If you’re already taking medication to maintain your cholesterol or blood pressure, you might want to check to see if there are ways to save money, like taking advantage of mail order pharmacy programs.

Future Options on My Plan: The main choice you have during open enrollment is which plan you will choose, but once you’ve selected a plan, make sure you’re visiting doctors and hospitals that are in your network. The network is made up of the doctors contracted with your insurance company to provide care for you. If you go out of that network, you will typically have to pay more. In some cases, you may sometimes have to cover the entire bill depending on what kind of plan you have. Because of that, it’s critical you stick with the plan you’ve chosen, or it could ruin your family’s finances.

Final Financial Considerations: When you are looking at this significant expenditure, it’s important to consider a number of factors and compare plans while understanding your options. You may want to go through this list to make sure you’ve considered everything in order to make an informed decision:

  • I have partnered with other resources available to help you better understand your options. Health insurers such as Anthem, Application Assistors, Navigators, and brokers in your local communities are available to help you navigate your options during open enrollment season and find a plan that is a good fit for you. For more info go to Anthem or gov
  • Are you about to turn 65 and will be eligible for Medicare? If so, you will have new options to consider.
  • Are your kids under age 26 and unemployed or don’t have a great plan through their employer? They can remain on your plan until they turn 26.
  • If you’re buying insurance on your own, you may qualify for financial help to pay for your monthly premium.

 

No matter what you decide, if you’ve followed the outline in this article, then you will be far less likely to have confusion and doubt when you are set up in your new healthcare plan and can no longer make decisions until next year’s open enrollment. As I tell my young adult children, the only failure when it comes to your finances is to do nothing at all and thereby lose out on an opportunity to improve your family’s financial future. I’m grateful Anthem has provided this information in our partnership so I can spread the word to American families as they navigate the sometimes confusing road to financial wellness in regards to healthcare options.

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