Kristin Wong's Articles

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Billshit: A line-by-line look at your bloated, horrible cable bill

by Kristin Wong on January 08, 2014

Paying too much for cable stinksI know. Here I am, a person who writes about living frugally and saving money and all that, and I still subscribe to one of the biggest rip-offs of all time: Cable TV. I’m not proud of it, and I blame Breaking Bad. I couldn’t exactly get rid of cable when Walt went on the lam, and, ever since then, well, I’ve just been lazy.

Despite the variety of alternatives that now exist, lots of people still have cable. So in this edition of Billshit, I thought I’d run down my bill, call my cable company and get the details of every single line item. It was pure hell, but hopefully reading about it won’t be.
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How to make the clothes you got for Christmas last at least until next year

by Kristin Wong on December 27, 2013

Hopefully these storm troopers studied up on these ways to make your clothing last longer.It’s a good bet you ended up with some new threads under the tree this year. Clothing was the fifth most popular Christmas gift this holiday season, ahead of video games, jewelry and even alcohol, according to  a report by Nielsen.

And while you’ll probably end up in the return lines like everyone else, at least some of the clothes you got were probably serviceable enough to hold on to. Here are some tips to help it last at least until you can re-up next year.


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5 steps to punch a denied health insurance claim in the face

by Kristin Wong on December 16, 2013

Health insurers are in business to make money, and one way they can increase profits is denying claims. And they do. A lot.

About 200 million health insurance claims are denied annually, according to the AARP. While that might be great for insurers’ shareholders, it sucks for patients.

The good news is, when a consumer appeals their insurance company’s decision, the denial is reversed about half the time. It’s worth it to appeal a denial, but it’s not typically easy. Here’s what you can do to fight back against a denied health insurance claim.
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What to do when you realize there’s no way in hell you can pay your student loans

by Kristin Wong on December 12, 2013

What to do if you realize there's no way in hell you can pay back your student loan debtEver feel like there’s no way you’ll ever pay back your student loans, even if you work 80 hours a week and never paid a dime to anyone but Sallie Mae? Or sell off your organs one-by-one on the black market? Or … well you get the idea.

According to the Federal Reserve, there are more than 500,000 Americans walking around these days with $150,000 or more in student loan debt. Assuming typical terms, they’re probably looking at a monthly payment of more than $1,500 a month.
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Work from home? 5 free ways to beat the stir crazy

by Kristin Wong on December 02, 2013

Stir crazy cat is stir crazyMake no mistake, I love working from home. The freedom and flexibility are awesome.

Maybe that’s why so many people are doing it. According to a 2012 U.S. Census report, 13.4 million Americans work from home, up 41 percent since 1999.

But there are days that I find myself having conversations with my cats while I’m still in my coffee-stained pajamas at noon. I could stand to have less of those days.
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5 ways we waste money on the holidays

by Kristin Wong on November 28, 2013

Just say no to these ways you waste money on the holidaysBetween gifts, food, travel and parties, we spend hundreds of dollars on the holidays each year. The most recent Gallup holiday poll estimates the average American consumer plans to spend $704 this year.

While that number is down from last year, it’s still a heck of a lot, and it leaves many Americans much worse off financially after the holidays. Here are some costs that may feel a little Scrooge-esque to cut, but will actually hurt no one and leave you better off on Dec. 26.
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Is renters insurance worth it?

by Kristin Wong on November 13, 2013

Is renters insurance worth it?Lots of insurance is mandatory these days: Homeowners insurance is required for anyone who doesn’t own their home free and clear, drivers in most states have to have some form of car insurance and pretty soon we’ll all have to carry some kind of health insurance or pay a fine because of the Affordable Care Act.

But renters are still free to skip renters insurance and the monthly premiums that go with it — and most do. According to a recent poll, only 34 percent of renters in the United States carry insurance.

But if so many choose to go without, is renters insurance worth it?


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How to use up Flexible Spending Account money by the end of the year

by Kristin Wong on November 12, 2013

You don't have to buy medicine to use up Flexible Spending Account money.If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you’re probably familiar with the dreaded “use it or lose it” rule. If unused by the end of the year, any money that remains in your account could be forfeited. So if you need to use up Flexible Spending Account money before the end of the year, what are your options?
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