- Have a Good Insurance Plan with a Low Co-Pays – It’s not easy, but any complete article would have to include some mention of insurance and co-pays.
- Pick the Right Store
- Buy at Wal-Mart – Wal-Mart has some great prices on medications. They’ve been pushing their $4 a month (or $10 for 90-day) prescription program. It obviously can’t cover any drug, but with hundreds of options there’s a good chance your prescription is covered. Wal-Mart also has some of the best prices on over-the-counter drugs I’ve seen
- Buy at Costco – I don’t know if it’s true of only Costco, but I’ve read that the big warehouse stores
- Buy Generic – I had a friend who was big on “not skimping on medication.” In theory that sounds fine, brilliant even. However, generic and brand name drugs are one in the same. As the FDA says, “A generic drug is the same as a brand name drug in dosage, safety, strength, how it is taken, quality, performance, and intended use. Before approving a generic drug product, FDA requires many rigorous tests and procedures to assure that the generic drug can be substituted for the brand name drug. The FDA bases evaluations of substitutability, or “therapeutic equivalence,” of generic drugs on scientific evaluations. By law, a generic drug product must contain the identical amounts of the same active ingredient(s) as the brand name product. Drug products evaluated as “therapeutically equivalent” can be expected to have equal effect and no difference when substituted for the brand name product.”
That said, I read last year that some generic drugs from China and India may not be safe. Looking at this article, it seems like the FDA might not even allow any generic drugs from China at this time. In looking into this more, it seems like it might be years before the US gets any significant part of it’s generic drugs from China. (Note: I don’t mean to pick on China, it’s just where I could find an authoritative source… plus the lead toy scare is still in people’s minds.)
- Buy in Bulk – I buy acetaminophen (Tylenol) in very large quantities. The problem with this is expiration dates. Confession time: I sometimes take expired over-the-counter medication when it’s to fix a sudden sympton: i.e. cold, headache, etc. I would never take an expired prescribed drug. However, please don’t follow my example on expired medication blindly. This is a case where there’s a large distinction between me saying what I do and saying you should do. It is my belief that some of those medications have half-lives and if I’m taking something expired by a little bit, I might not be getting the full dose. I’m okay with that in the case of acetaminophen. However, again, I may be very wrong on this. I don’t know if I could put more disclaimers on this.
- Ask Your Doctor if a Generic Drug Would Suffice – I think there are new laws to limit how doctors get kickbacks from drug manufacturers, but it wasn’t always this way. For years, doctors would get taken out to sporting events and the like. That may not happen any more, but I’m not sure the doctor is always looking out for the patients’ wallet (or pocketbook). Another idea is to again look towards the FDA for equivalent drugs. Of course, if there’s a good reason for the brand name, then go with that. Health comes first, right?
- If you are low-income, look into Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs) – These programs can be a life-saver (literally) for those who qualify. One place to learn more is at the the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
- Buy Online from Canada? – This would be a very last option for me. For one thing, it strikes me as likely illegal (though I’m no lawyer and I haven’t done research into this). For another thing, I don’t know how much I can trust a company in another country that I only have an online relationship with. If you can deal with that it seems like the savings are there to be had.
- Exercise, Eat Well, and Take Care of Yourself – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?
Archives for March 2009
I knew that training a dog was a lot of work. However, with the help of Will Farrell, Jake is behaving fantastically. You didn’t know that Will Farrell was good with dogs? Check it out:
Now for some personal finance links:
- Brip Blap wonders internet job boards – wasted effort?
- Frugal Dad offers these seven powerful steps that you can use to save $14,341 in the next 6 months. Sounds good to me!
- Generation X Finance writes getting off the debt treadmill – stop running in place and start making progress.
- Irrational pessimism asks Million Dollar Journey.
- Digerati Life presents the Dave Ramsey Budget: budgeting tips for successful savers.
- Here are some Alternative minimum tax and federal income tax withholding changes posted at Money Smart Life.
- Tax deductions for the self employed written up at My Dollar Plan.
- The Sun’s Financial Diary looks into what you need to know about early withdrawal from retirement accounts.
More financial posts:
- Don’t turn down a promotion, but feel free to dis your third cousin says Mighty Bargain Hunter.
- Free Money Finance blogs negotiation made simple: a 7-word weapon of your own!
- Here are some reasons we fail to stick to our budget – with twitter input over at No Credit Needed.
Below is a guest post from LAL from LivingAlmostLarge and LAL Musings. I’ll let her introduce herself: “I’m a twenty-something DINK, living in the northeast searching for financial freedom. I hope to one day live large and be financially free, but it’ll only happen one step at a time. I admit to not being the most frugal or smartest financial blogger, but I think I’m giving a real perspective on the challenges faced by many other young adults. So please stop on by. I have a couple of giveaways going on including a 1 year subscription to Money Magazine if you subscribe to my RSS or Email feeds.”
This week I read this post called “Materialism breeds unhappiness, ” by Embrace Living. The writer suggests that as a society we use material possessions to value ourselves. Thus it breeds discontent and unhappiness because we are constantly wanting the newest fashions, etc.
She says that there is something within that is wrong with you that causes you to want material possessions. That we have to investigate what it is, work on it, and become happier. I guess she’s preaching the idiom “Money can’t buy happiness.”
Honestly do I think that? Well let me say this, money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly make you feel better. And anyone who says money can’t buy happiness hasn’t been poor. I am not knocking this chick, I don’t even read her blog. But BTDT [Editor’s note: is it a sign that I’m old that it took me three minutes to realize that this is “been there, done that”?] about being poor and HELL NO I’m not going back.
I believe money buys me freedom and peace of mind. It allows me the freedom to choose where I live, how I live, and what I buy. I honestly like having new clothes that fit instead of used hand-me downs. I like having better wine than $2 chuck. I like eating fresh fruits and veggies instead of canned. I enjoy playing my Nintendo Wii and having two dogs. Luxuries all of it. My DH definitely lusts after an iPhone or iTouch. Will it make him happy? Yes. Will he want something more? Doubtful, he’s been lusting after the iphone since it came out and still hasn’t gotten one. Think of it as delayed gratification
Are we materialistic? I guess so. Are we unhappy? Not really. Do we desire to earn more money? HELL YES. But I have very specific goals in mind. I want to be independently well off enough to quit my job if I hate it at the drop of a hat. I want to be able to pay for my children’s college, and maybe even a home down payment or wedding. I want to be able to drive a car without worry that it’ll break down all the time. I want to be able to provide for my parents (and in-laws) in case they need financial support.
So yes I’m materialistic. I’m also realistic. Money may not buy happiness, but it sure helps. Being poor doesn’t mean you are any happy. One could argue you are even more unhappy because you struggle to get out your circumstances. That you would love to new clothes, fresh food, etc.
So maybe over materialism breeds unhappiness. People who just spend for the sake of spending. People who are thousands of dollars in debt and need to go to debtor’s anonymous. Or perhaps those rich people who can spend money like water and never run out. Then perhaps materialism breeds unhappiness.
But to me it’s not materialism that breeds unhappiness. It’s the person themselves. It’s not about material goods. You can have no material goods and be unhappy. Happiness is from within and wanting material goods doesn’t make you a bad person.
Thanks to Lazy Man for allowing me to do this guest post. Please stop by my blog, I enjoy tons of feedback.
I’m reviewing Money Magazine’s 7 New Rules of Financial Security. You can read Part 1 here.
Old thinking: Borrowing sensibly is a good way to build wealth.
New rule: Borrow cautiously. You have to worry about the other guy’s debt too.
Money Summary: Credit was cheap and plentiful like food at Sizzler. Americans acted as expected and ate as much as they could. Now there’s lots of vomiting going on. Next time don’t eat so much. (Sorry, that might not have been Money’s exact point, but I couldn’t avoid the analogy.) Side point, you may be exposed to more leverage than you think. People paying you money may have been leveraged… their leverage becomes your problem when they can’t pay you.
Lazy Man’s Take: Sounds like money is saying that moderation is the key. Hmmm, I remain unconvinced that’s a new rule. I do like the side point though. It’s something that I hadn’t thought about. I had done a lot of investing with Prosper and have found the returns not very good (though my Lending Club returns have been great). Perhaps everyone else’s leverage became my leverage.
Old thinking: You can expect your house to appreciate handsomely over the long run.
New rule: Your home won’t make you rich. But it is an important savings tool.
Money Summary: Except for two decades where real estate had skyrocketed real estate has been in line with inflation. Real estate also has other issues when it comes to investing in it: maintenance costs, insurance, taxes, remodeling costs that rarely pay for themselves, and steep buying and selling costs. Still owning a home is a great “‘commitment device,’ or a tool that forces you to save.”
Lazy Man’s Take: There’s a great chart with the article. It’s well worth clicking over to. I’ll be here when you back. Done? Good. Back in May of 2007, I suggested the housing run up may be due to more people having dual incomes. Maybe I was wrong and it was government subsidies in the 1940s and easy credit and low interest in the 2000s. If that’s true, there’s going to be a lot of disappointed real estate investors.
As far a commitment device goes, it’s pretty easy to set up an account and automatically funnel money into it. You can invest your money in things with returns that not just in line with inflation, but actually exceed inflation.
Old thinking: A diversified portfolio lowers your risk.
New rule: Diversification won’t always save you – and you need more of it than you think.
Money Summary: Diversify even more. Get an international bond fund. Use Morningstar’s Internet X-Ray tool.
Lazy Man’s Take: I feel like I already wrote this rule. I love diversification, but I don’t think this is really new. The old thinking and new rule basically say the same thing to me. A lowered risk implies that it won’t always save you. Otherwise the old thinking would have been “diversification eliminates all risk.” I have been using Morningstar’s X-Ray Tool for years now.
Old thinking: Retiring early is a prize.
New rule: Retiring early is a problem.
Money Summary: With 401k accounts shrinking the odds of retiring early is much more unlikely than it was in the past… and it wasn’t very likely then. Staying at your job for another year could make a big difference in if your money lasts. Lastly, you have to consider that you might not be able to work if you want to – your health and the job market could push you out as you get older.
Lazy Man’s Take: Once again, all solid information, but I’m not sure it’s a new rule. We’ve known for a long time that working an extra year makes a huge difference in retirement income. It’s a year you aren’t withdrawing and are adding to the next egg.
I’m going to stick to the old thinking… The new rule isn’t very motivational.
Money Magazine’s big headline this month is the 7 New Rules of Financial Security… and Why You Need to Know Them. I have to admit it’s a pretty sweet headline – it certainly caught my eye. I flipped right to page 50 to see what I needed to know why. With that in mind, let’s take a look:
Old thinking: If you can stomach the ups and downs that come with risk, you’ll be rewarded.
New rule: Risk isn’t about your stomach. It’s about making or missing an important goal.
Money Summary: – Money notes that it becomes much more difficult to retire when you reach a bad stretch in the market. The money you have left over is not enough to build up to where it was. Since you aren’t likely adding new money in retirement, you can’t capitalize on cheap stocks. “This bear market’s lesson is… only risk how much you can lose and still meet your basic goals.”
Lazy Man’s Take:
I didn’t think it was new to only risk what you can lose. I thought that was a universal truth. I see people go into casinos with this mentality all the time (unfortunately not 100% of the time). I agree that it makes sense to bring down your risk exposure as you near retirement. However, the new question is how much? Previous philosophy said that even at age 65, you still may have 15-30 years left, so you need to make your money stretch that long. That requires risk exposure.
Perhaps part of that answer is diversified income streams? Don’t put all your eggs in the equity markets, but have a rental property as well? Perhaps build some businesses that deliver cash flow that can be used in retirement. I don’t know if this website will be around in 35 years (I hope so), but there’s a chance it could get me through some lean years. Just don’t look into selling MonaVie.
Old thinking: Keep enough money in ultrasafe accounts to cover life’s emergencies, but no more.
New rule: Relying more on cash can rescue you in an “asset emergency.”
Money Summary: – The old emergency fund needs to be re-evaluated. Instead you need to look at big potential future purchases in the next three years: “tuition, wedding, down payment on a house.”
Lazy Man’s Take:
I think this is fairly basic knowledge as well. That’s why they have 529 plans that re-adjust with the child’s age to reduce risk. It’s really not much different than the previous rule except it’s not focused on retirement. They could have just as easily said here, “don’t risk what you can’t lose.” I hate to be all bah humbug here, but in an emergency situation weddings can take a back seat. Also, I know few people who need to buy a house. Know what you are risking, and if you are risking too much than know you may have to cut back.
Old thinking: The longer your time horizon, the more stocks you should own.
New rule: Time isn’t everything. You must also consider your earnings potential.
Money Summary: – Think about your job security as part of your overall risk profile.
Lazy Man’s Take:
This is sound advice that I don’t often hear. My wife has the near equavalent of tenure at her job. It’s allowed us to be a little more risky than we might have been. I’ve been able to take some time off and work on building other businesses. Put another way, if you are going to be in a band and have a hit song, you might want to put a pile of that money in a safe place in case your the next Soft Cell.
Perhaps this goes back to Rule #1 and diversifying your income streams. You don’t want to be completely dependent on equity markets. In my personal life, I found that someone is willing to value my human capital more than my side businesses, so I switched back to take advantage of that situation. Six months from now, it may be different and I’ll go back to building out my side businesses more and more.