March 2010 Monthly Archive
Posted by Cap in Finance Hack
on March 31, 2010 | 4 Comments
Every week, StopBuyingCrap.com will show you nifty financial tricks you can do online that will hopefully make your life a little bit easier. From reviewing the latest personal finance apps and websites, to tools that can help you save money and shop savvier, we’ll cover as many of them as possible. If you have or know about a tool/website that you feel should be highlighted, please feel free drop us a note!
Useful Answer Engine That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of
Wolfram Alpha has been out for almost a year now, but unless you’re a geek, you probably haven’t heard of the website. If you don’t know about it, Wolfram Alpha is an “answer engine,” and it does this job fairly well — especially if you know the proper query to input. For example, you can quickly search for “earthquake in Haiti since January 12, 2010” and Wolfram Alpha will spit out an epicenter location chart, timeline of quakes/aftershocks, and their magnitude level.
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Posted by Cap in Personal Finance
on March 22, 2010 | 19 Comments
Regardless of how you feel about the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the United States, there are some important changes in this health care bill that directly impacts you, especially if you are of certain demographic. Here’s a brief run-down and summary on the changes:
Changes That Will Happen Right Away
- Help for the uninsured with pre-existing condition. Amongst the many provision in the bill, $5 billion will be set aside to provide temporary coverage to uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions. The funding will help those qualified until the new health care exchanges are put into final effect in 2014.
- Coverage for young adults and older children. Health care insurers will be required by law to provide coverage options for non-dependent children up to the age of 26. This will especially be beneficial to recent college graduates who may be taking on a job without proper health care coverage, and many other young adults who are between jobs and students without coverage provided from their university or college.
- Drug discount and assistance for seniors. For those people that aren’t covered by Medicare Part D Drug Benefit due to gap in coverages, they will receive $250 to help pay for prescriptions. The coverage gap is expected to be closed in 2011 as drug manufacturers will discount brand-name drugs by 50 percent, and subsequently another discounted by another 75% in 2020.
- Pre-existing condition no longer subject to being denied coverage. Effective six months after passage, insurers are prevented from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and from charging increased rates on policies for children with preexisting conditions.
- No more annual or lifetime caps. If you buy a health insurance policy, the provider will no longer be allowed to place a cap on how much it will cover. This change will be especially important for those diagnosed with terminal and serious illnesses that may face heavy medical bills.
Changes You Should See By 2014
- Expansion to Medicaid. Not to be confused with medicare, medicaid is health care assistance for individuals and families with low incomes and resources — by 2014, Medicaid will be expanded to include childless adults living near poverty. A new program will also allow states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.
- Health insurance exchanges. Exchanges will be created to make it easier for small businesses, the self-employed and the unemployed to pool resources and buy less expensive coverage.
- Tax break for families. Tax credits will be offered to families to offset the costs of health care premiums. Amount of tax credits will be based on annual household income. A tax credit also becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.
- Mandated health care coverage. If approved by Senate, individuals would be required to buy coverage in 2014 or face a fine of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. The fine increases in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of income, and increases again in 2016 to $695 or 2.5 percent of income. There is an exemption clause for poorer Americans, and subsidies will be provided to assist family of four that makes up to $88,000 annually.
Posted by Jeff Bogle in Personal Finance
on March 10, 2010 | 13 Comments
This is a post from Jeff Bogle, one of our first contributing blogger here at StopBuyingCrap. Back in 2008, Jeff left his steady corporate job at Vanguard to be a stay-at-home dad. Jeff writes regularly at Out With The Kids, a daddy blog, and you may also find his work on iVillage, Time Out New York Kids, and Curious Parents Magazine.
A One-Salary Household
Hemorrhaging debt isn’t typically how a family moves to a one-salary household.
The corporate goodbye plan was hatched poolside during the summer of 2007, and began with my wife and I deciding to give our house a not-quite-extreme-but-still-impressive makeover, taking on massive debt in the process. We knew that the move to one reliable salary would mean hitting the pause button on any major home projects, so we prioritized the most needed upgrades, those deserving immediate attention and anything else that could become a problem in the near future, and came up with the following big three:
- Convert the sunroom & one car garage into livable space for our expanding family.
- Replace the vinyl siding.
- Replace the 20+ year-old old roof.
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Posted by Cap in Stop Buying Crap!
on March 6, 2010 | 18 Comments
Or in this case, a butcher knife.
I swear to Xenu, lord and dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, that if I ever encounter another packaging that requires stabbing motion to open, I’m going to send Tom Cruise and his Scientology pals after the person responsible.
In all seriousness, from today forward, I’m genuinely going to make a conscious effort to avoid purchasing poorly-designed packaging that’s hard to open.
And don’t even get me started about the cost of printer ink.