General 
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New Years Eve Plans?

Is anyone doing anything special this New Year’s Eve? The last few years I’ve kept it pretty quiet, hanging out at small house parties to welcome the new year, but this year we’re going all out! Actually, we’re doing our first “all you can drink” sort of party/benefit at The Leukemia &
Lymphoma Society in Washington, D.C setup by friends of a friend.

So, anyone have any exciting New Year’s Eve plans?


 Credit 
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2007Q1 Discover Get More: 5% on Travel

If you’re a Discover card holder (the Miles card is excluded), the Get More program will apply for travel related services in the first quarter of next year (January through March).

The 5% cash back applies on these purchases (only on the first $1,000 in purchases):

  • Airlines
  • Cruises
  • Hotels
  • Car Rentals
  • Amtrak® Trains
  • Greyhound® Buses

Incidentally, you still have a few days to take advantage of a Discover mall spending promotion they have going on until December 31st. Spend $200 on your Discover card and bring the receipts to a Mall’s concierge/customer service desk for a $20 gift card.


 Health Care 
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Cut Health Care Costs: Check Who Takes What Insurance

Ever go to a store, pick up a whole bunch of stuff, and then find out they don’t take credit cards? Yeah, I think that’s ridiculous too (but entirely their right, I would just put the stuff back and leave) Well, at hospitals, some of the specialists won’t take some of the insurance types because insurance companies are a pain in the ass to deal with (imagine how hard it is to get insurance companies to pay the people who pay them, now imagine getting them to pay you when you don’t pay them… now imagine doing that all freaking day). So, the fifth tip in CNN Money’s Fifty Ways To Cut Your Health-Care Costs is to double check with all the specialists you’ll be working with do accept the insurance that you have and that they are in your network. It’s best to do this before you get treated but when that can’t be helped, you should ask when you’re there.

Source: CNN Money


 Health Care 
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Spend $200 in FSA in Two Days

When I signed up for my new health insurance with my new job near the end of August, I elected to put $200 into my flexible spending account. Without reading the fine print, I didn’t realize that the plan year was January to January and that my election wouldn’t be prorated for the remaining three months of the year. I also didn’t realize this whenever I reviewed by first paystub either. I did realize it about a week ago, which was not enough time to schedule any doctor’s appointments but was enough time for me to go on yet another medical supplies binge – something I did about three months ago before I quit.

I have more than enough standard medical supplies (pain relievers, hydrogen peroxide) as well as some of the more exotic non-OTC drug related products like an Omron blood pressure monitor and some electric heating pads. So, what is left?

Right now, my best bet is to get some more contact lens solution (despite having so many bottles already), some first aid kits (always good to have one in the car), and maybe some more NyQuil. Anyone have any good ideas?


 Health Care 
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Cut Health Care Costs: Check For Billing Errors

Ever go to the grocery store and get double billed on a box of macaroni and cheese? How about seeing an appetizer you never enjoyed on your restaurant bill? Those are like three dollar mistakes if you ever miss them. Now imagine if you missed a three hundred dollar procedure on a hospital bill (which are ridiculously obfuscated with codes and acronyms and written in some sort of alien shorthand), that’s a lot of missed appetizers and boxes of mac and cheese. Medical billing errors happen and they’re the subject of the fourth tip in CNN Money’s Fifty Ways To Cut Your Health-Care Costs.

(Click to continue reading…)


 Retirement 
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Is Your Retirement Investing Strategy Tax Efficient?

When it comes to retirement, I feel that even though I’ve saved quite a bit into 401k’s and Roth IRAs, I generally don’t have a clear sense of how I should be using these accounts and how much I will need in retirement. My personality is such that I generally try to focus on one area of my personal finances and try to put the others on autopilot until I can give them their due time and concentration. Retirement autopilot consisted of putting away as much as I could into my 401K and contributing the maximum to my Roth IRA, then selecting a nice mix of high growth funds and stocks in both. I thought I was being relatively tax efficient (and I am, relatively), but I wasn’t being the absolute most efficient.


(Click to continue reading…)


 Health Care 
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Cut Health Care Costs: Pay Now, Pay Cash

This is part of a series taking a look at CNN Money’s Fifty Ways To Cut Your Health-Care Costs and this is the third tip in the series. Again, related to the first tip of negotiating your health care bill, this tip recommends paying up front, in case in order to get them to slash the bill some more. Pam Deloney of the American Private Physicians Association believes that by paying in advance and in cash, you can usually negotiate your bill 10% lower because they won’t have to spend the time and the money on the collection side. They estimate that doctors lose thousands on unpaid bills and credit card processing fees – so cash can usually save you some money.

Source: CNN Money


 Health Care 
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Cut Health Care Costs: Know Real Costs

This is part of a series taking a look at CNN Money’s Fifty Ways To Cut Your Health-Care Costs and this is the second tip in the series. This one is related to the first tip of negotiating your health care bill, they recommend that you request the costs for some of the common medical procedures so that you have more ammunition when you go to bargain with your doctor. Shopping for health care is like shopping for groceries, you should have a general idea of how much a gallon of milk costs so that when you see it on sale for $10, you don’t get suckered in by the “sale.” The difficulty with medical costs is that it usually happens when you’re not well and you, hopefully, don’t buy much health care so you aren’t aware of how much a procedure should cost. Money recommends that you ask your insurance company as they will probably be able to help you the best.

Source: CNN Money


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