Hope for your financial life and beyond

Barriers to Entry: The Ongoing Battle With Exercise

“Barriers to entry” is an economic term that describes the challenges a company or individual might face when entering any competitive marketplace. Starting a blog has few roadblocks. In 30 minutes max you could have your own site up and running.

barricades by a fenceStarting your own oil refinery…well, that has a few more.

So many areas of my life have no barriers to entry. Nothing stops me from eating three meals a day (plus snacks). If I need to spend money on something I easily can. Watching a movie with the kids doesn’t require checking in with the IRS.

But when it comes to exercise it seems the path is always blocked. That activity which benefits my life so much I can hardly get to.

And it’s ALWAYS something.

[Read more…]

Signs It’s Time for a New Doctor And What to Do Before You Switch

Whenever you’re sick, or simply seeking routine preventive care, you trust your doctor to provide good medical care. Most people trust their doctors implicitly. After all, they went through years of training and have to know their stuff in order to practice medicine.

doctor and patientBut just because a doctor has the knowledge required to diagnose and treat patients doesn’t mean that they are good at their jobs. They may lack bedside manner or time management skills, which can lead to long waits and frustration. Other doctors aren’t willing to explore alternative treatment options, or can’t clearly explain their diagnoses and treatment plans.

With health care costs on the rise, there’s a renewed focus on quality in health care and ensuring that patients receive the care they deserve without wasting time and money.

However, as a patient, you hold a certain level of responsibility for the quality you receive as well. You have the right to seek other options when you aren’t happy with your care, not to mention that staying with a doctor who isn’t meeting your needs can be harmful to your health — and your wallet.

So when is it time to switch providers? There are some clear signs.

Sign #1: Your Doctor Doesn’t Listen

[Read more…]

Does My Health Insurance Cover Dental Work?

As a follow up to my health insurance post last week, here’s a look at a some issues surrounding one big health topic – taking care of your teeth.

alligator with mouth openFor millions of citizens, public or private health insurance provides reliable access to core health services, providing resources for a range of facilities, treatments and other medical care. Holding insurance coverage can provide significant peace of mind in most scenarios, but there are a few limitations to standard policies that should be considered when determining the appropriate level of coverage for your lifestyle.

Dental: A Common Exclusion

Standard health insurance policies only provide for what insurers define as necessary treatments (or benefits), which do not include dentistry for individuals aged 18 and older, chiefly because of the expense typically involved with dental care.

[Read more…]

A Beginner’s Guide to Health Insurance and the Affordable Care Act

If you are wondering about the basics of health insurance you’ve come to the right place. Today I’m going to try an exhaust and consolidate all the knowledge I know about health insurance into one post. Yes, it’s going to be long, so if you don’t have time now you may want to bookmark it for later reading.

health insurance claim formOf all the insurances out there, health insurance has become the most highly sought after type of insurance based on its direct application to something very important to us – our health. Nothing gives us more cause for attention than when our bodies are not working properly. The kind of health insurance policy we are able to secure can go a long way in determining what type of care we get and what drugs we are able to get our hands on. Those factors consequently then can have an impact on how healthy we are able to maintain our own bodies.

In recent years health insurance has also been hotly debated within society and government. It’s even found it’s way to the highest court in the land in a landmark decision handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. The Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare) has changed the very structure of the health insurance industry – some would say for good, others would say for bad.

This post is going to outline for you the basics of health insurance. I’ll explain what it is and why it’s a good idea for you to have some form of coverage. I’ll address some terms you need to know when researching plans, what types of plans are out there and how to decide which one is right for you.

For those who are looking for ways to save money on healthcare, good luck. Premiums have increased dramatically and health insurance isn’t as affordable as it used to be. However, there are ways you can reduce the overall cost of the plans and I’ll address some helpful tips in that regard.

This post will conclude with a look at health care reform, how it impacts you and what alternatives are available to traditional healthcare as we know it.

What Is Health Insurance?

[Read more…]

Why My Kids Love That We Are Not Buying Christmas Presents This Year

I love Christmas! Giving and receiving gifts is one of the highlights of our family’s year. In my mind nothing beats it for family togetherness and sharing expressions of love.

no Christmas presents As a parent though, I’m often hit with a January hangover. My headache comes from watching the majority of the presents I bought for my children lie dormant in a corner of their room. I would say that over 80% of the toys my wife and I purchase the kids each Christmas are played with a couple of times and then left to collect dust. That’s frustrating considering the money we shell out for them.

So last year we asked them to make a list of the items they wanted. They did. We bought them. Same issue occurred.

I’m not mad at the kids. I guess we just have trouble hitting their toy sweet spot.

So just the other week my wife and I decided to do something different this year. We aren’t buying any Christmas presents. To our surprise, when we told the kids what we were doing, they were 100% enthusiastically behind it.

Our Alternative to Christmas Presents

[Read more…]

Reasons I’m Thankful to Be a Stay at Home Dad

Six months ago I announced that I was quitting my job to become a stay at home dad. That decision was the culmination of a four-year life transition that saw my wife begin a new career so we could become a one-parent-stay-at-home family. We didn’t know at the time how it would turn out but were willing to give it a shot.

So far it’s been spectacular!

I Am Thankful written on chalkboard

Life has certainly changed and for that I’m very thankful. Not that life was so bad before. However, in the past six months I’ve witnessed multiple issues our family used to have melt away because of what I now do. Plus, I’ve seen new avenues open that could not have been pursued in our previous state of life.

What’s Changed That I’m Thankful For

[Read more…]

How Often Should You Change Your Mattress? Every 5-7 Years?

I don’t usually do rants. But today I’m all fired about a commercial I heard run on a local radio spot here in the Atlanta area. I won’t mention the national chains name because a) it’s irrelevant and b) the commercial was actually quite bad in my opinion. The commercial in question supposedly answered the question, “How often should you change your mattress?” I was shocked by the answer.

how often should you change your mattressThis commercial’s action message challenged consumers to replace their mattress every 8 years. I shouted “What?!” out loud when I heard that (and I never do that in the car). Think I actually scared myself…and the driver in the car next to me at the red light.

I thought to myself that there is no way this could possibly be true. Does the mattress industry really suggest that consumers replace their mattress every 8 years? Well, when I got home and started doing some research I realized it’s even worse than that.

Current industry suggestions are that consumers replace their mattress every 5-7 years.

Give me a break!

An Inconsistent Mattress Message

[Read more…]

Why a Travel Budget Should Be a Must For Everyone

travel budgetAh…the joys of having a travel budget. It’s 1:00 pm in the afternoon and I’m doing something so commonplace in today’s world it hardly seems extraordinary anymore, except maybe through the eyes of a child. I’m at an airport watching planes take off and land. Boring, huh?

Except this is no ordinary airport.

I’m standing on Maho Beach…in St. Maarten…with dozens of tourists…and a fenced in Princess Juliana International Airport just a few yards behind me.

Out over the water a tiny speck appears on the horizon. “Ahh…right on schedule,” the person next to me says. As it moves nearer, the onlookers at the beach scramble into position, iPhones in hand recording the moment. Closer and closer it comes. “Ooh this is a big one,” someone exclaims.

I dig my feet into the sand to sturdy myself. Right now, I’m realizing how exciting it is to have a travel budget.

[Read more…]

The Joys and Rewards of Whitewater Rafting

Hidden Nuggets Series #52“They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your pleasures; For with You is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” – Psalm 36:8-9

whitewater rafting As you read this today I’ll be floating…uh, white water rafting down the beautiful rivers of the Oconee in Tennessee. Depending on my luck, or more accurately the acumen of my raft mates, I’ll have hopefully not gone overboard yet. The last rafting trip on vacation this past summer – the first in probably five years – I deep-sixed on the first class three rapid we hit. Nailed it perfectly right on my side of the boat.

I love days like this, even if it’s only for a few hours. The chance to be on a river and let my senses drink in the sights and sounds of nature remains something I always look forward to. It brings me pleasure and peace even when bouncing out and into the drink – life preserver, oar and all.

We’ve been given so much that satisfies our desires to the fullest. This extraordinary world and all it contains can bring life to our soul as we enjoy and explore it. It’s rejuvenating, precious and thrilling all at once.

I believe there was purpose to that.

[Read more…]

Bad Personal Finance Habits Only Change When the Pain Spikes

frustrated, pain

Are your bad money habits causing pain?

All of us are a mixture of logic and emotion. We think and we feel. The two interact continuously with one another – mind acting upon the emotions and emotions acting upon the mind.

One of the toughest emotions we deal with is pain. We know it’s going to come from various sources and in varying intensities throughout our life. So we prepare for it as best we can, hoping we don’t have to endure great amounts of it along the way.

The personal finance portion of our lives can’t escape the issue of pain. In fact, our habits often facilitate the onset of pain because we make poor decisions with money. We spend too much, fail to pay off debts and don’t plan for what the future holds.

The problem is that we seem to be OK with certain levels of pain. We may get frustrated about it, but most pain is not powerful enough to force us to drastically change our patterns of behavior. Instead, we endure all kinds of abusive relationships, deplorable job situations, poor physical fitness levels and sinful behaviors until the pain engulfs us.

I believe for real change to happen we need to experience pain levels so severe they lead us to scream “I’ve had it!” At that moment, our mind is ready to make changes that will alter behavior and subsequently move us forward.

The “I’ve Had It!” Moment Visualized

[Read more…]

My Fight Against Bandwagon Consumer Syndrome

medical injectionDo you suffer from constant cravings or restlessness? Easily excitable…prone to follow the crowd…worried about being left out? Can you become quickly dissatisfied with your possessions?

Do you have an uncontrollable desire to buy what everyone else is buying? Is your time being spent in the activities of the masses just to feel connected and valued?

If any of the above descriptions sound familiar, you may have contracted BCS – Bandwagon Consumer Syndrome. Seek help immediately.

BCS is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide (note: statistic estimated, not actually calculated). It’s the tendency to spend excessive amounts of money or overly engage in activities that have become fashionable within culture. If not treated, it can sabotage budgets, wreck financial futures, waste time and ruin relationships.

Total immunity to this syndrome is rare, as anyone can develop a moment of weakness. However, with the proper medication you can ward off occurrences and resist the onset of BCS 90% of the time (non-calculated statistic #2).

My Personal Fight Against BCS

[Read more…]