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3 Tips for Buying Health Insurance

memories.jpgToday we want to talk about insurance … just for the health of it!

Health insurance is a significant expense. If you’re fortunate enough to be part of a group, your company is probably paying a good portion of the cost. However, companies are increasingly asking their employees to bear a bigger share of the total cost.

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Of course, if you’re self-employed, you have to pay it all. This really hits your budget in either case and, as we look to the future, it appears it will occupy an ever larger share.

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georgeI used to sell insurance years ago so I’m familiar with that side of it. I also approved our group plans when I was in business before Bigg Success.

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marylynnWhen we started Bigg Success, it was an eye opener for me. I went from being an employee with group insurance to being self-employed buying individual coverage. I saw the full cost, not just my share of it. I was amazed at the array of choices. And I couldn’t get some of the coverage I really liked under my group plan.

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Obviously, your age and your health are two major factors in the cost. The other key factors are:

Your deductible. This is the first money that will be paid out. You pay it up to the deductible you choose.

Your co-pay percentage. Once the deductible is satisfied, you begin sharing the cost with your insurance provider. You may split it down the middle or some other arrangement.

Your stop loss. You don’t have to share costs forever. At a certain point, your insurance company will pay 100% of the covered costs.

Your maximum coverage. It will look like a large number (e.g. $2 million) but it can be used up fairly quickly if there’s a serious health problem.

Your maximum out-of-pocket. This compiles the first three factors. Your maximum out-of-pocket equals your deductible plus your maximum co-pay amount. It only considers covered costs so just be aware that your actual out-of-pocket could be higher.

So now we want to talk about three mistakes that people often make when buying health insurance.

Pushing too much risk onto the insurance company. Being too conservative is very costly. For example, the higher your deductible, the less you’ll pay.

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marylynnBut George, I know when I’ve been light on money, it’s scary to think about a large hospital bill. Even a doctor’s bill of $300 – $500 can be a burden when you’re really strapped for cash.

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georgeI understand that, Mary-Lynn. But I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. A couple we know has over $50,000 in the bank, yet they insist on having a deductible of $500. They could save a lot of money by being a little less risk averse.

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Not shopping around. As we’ve said, this is a major expense. Like most major expenses, it’s worth your time to try to save some money. So get two, or even better three, quotes.

Make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples. The plans from two different insurance companies probably won’t be exactly alike.

Settling in. Shop carriers at least every other year. You may be surprised at how much you can save by switching plans.

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georgeThis is something I learned the hard way. I liked my insurance company, but when I finally shopped coverage, I was astounded at how much I could save.

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marylynnThis really boils down to personal preferences. It’s nice to only pay a small amount of money when you go to the doctor. But make sure you’re weighing that convenience against the actual cost.

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The key question to ask yourself is, “How much risk can I afford?

The general rule, in a financial sense, is to assume risks that are small, frequent, and inexpensive. You cover large, infrequent and expensive costs.

But also consider the emotional costs. If it’s going to keep you up at night knowing that you’re bearing a larger share of the burden, then push more risk off on the insurance company.

Think about the impact on your finances and your personal preferences to help you make this bigg decision.

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Please join us next time when we talk about bright, shiny objects.

Thanks so much for reading our post today. Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

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Strapped for Cash?

money-in-handA recent trend report from TrendWatching highlighted the increasing number of people who are supplementing their income with a part-time business. This report is full of resources that will help you find your opportunity for some spare cash.

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It’s no wonder that so many people are jumping on this bandwagon. We’ve seen increases in our health insurance, our property taxes, and more. It sounds like there’s more to come.

The three-income family

Isn’t it interesting, though, that just a few generations ago, most families got by on one income? Then we added a second one in the household with more and more women joining the workforce.

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marylynnI don’t think it was purely a financial decision. It was also about fulfillment for many women, but it certainly helped the family’s income.

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Now a number of people can’t get by on two incomes. They need three or maybe more. If you find yourself in this position, it may be good to ask if all the obligations are really worth it.

Is that life on your own terms – being weighted down by the cost of things you thought you wanted? With careful analysis, you may realize they’re not so important – especially if you find you can’t enjoy life because you’re working so much.

So if you feeling that you need a third income, it might pay to look at your obligations to see if there are areas where you can cut. Spending time finding ways to reduce your obligations might get you further faster than spending that same time trying to make some extra money.

This new trend is about something more important than income.

Many of us now realize more than ever how much we want to be in charge of our own lives. The TrendWatching report mentions that people fantasize about being their own boss, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.

Bigg success is life on your own terms. You’re the entrepreneur of your life whether or not you’re an entrepreneur in the traditional sense.

Some people want to be the boss all the time. According to this new report, that trend is still alive and well. But more and more people are finding ways to be the boss at least part of the time.

They have the security of a full-time job along with the freedom that being in charge gives you part of the time. Freedom with security … what a great combination!

When you find fulfilling ways to make extra money in your spare time, you’re getting synergy working in the five elements of bigg success. If you make the right moves with that extra money, you can accelerate your journey to bigg success, to life on your own terms.

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Turning $3 into a multi-billion dollar business

One way that people are making extra money is by selling their expertise. Another way is by selling, or renting, assets. One clever example of this is ParkingSpots.com, which helps people rent their extra off-street parking spaces.

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georgeI heard Michael Krasny tell his story of the founding of what became CDW. Most of us have probably done business with them. They do a great job. Back in 1982, Michael had a used computer he wanted to sell. The Chicago Sun Times was running a special on classified ads – 3 lines for 3 days for $3. He ran an ad and his phone started ringing off the hook. He realized he had a business here. He was right – within about ten years, the business he started from that classified ad became a Fortune 500 company. Michael Krasny became a multi-billionaire, recognized on the Forbes 400 as one of the richest people in the world! Now that’s bigg success!

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You never know … your idea for making a little extra money may turn into the next Fortune 500 company!

What do you do for extra money?

Share that with all of us by leaving a comment below. You never know … you might earn a little spare cash!

Thank you so much for reading our post today.

Do you think you don’t have enough spare time to make any spare cash? Please join us next time to see how one group people found the time.

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00366-040609.mp3

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I Just Got Laid Off – Part 1

work This is the start of a three-part series on what to do if you get laid off. On the show today, we discuss what to do today before you leave the building. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll discuss Part 2 – what to do in the next couple of days and then move to Part 3: moving on – going for your next job. So please check back in!

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Getting laid off is one of the most stressful events anyone goes through. So before we get into details, take a deep breath. You can expect to feel a whole range of emotions, even if you weren’t completely surprised. It’s a grieving process. Psychologists have identified five stages that we go through when we lose something or someone:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

These stages don’t necessarily happen in sequence. You may feel more than one at the same time. You may jump around. You will feel it how you feel it. What’s important is to understand what’s going on within you. It’s only natural.

Your job may have been taken from you, but your talents haven’t been

Your unique skills are still yours. You still have that great personality. You’re still an incredible person. And you know it!

With that mindset, and knowing that you will bounce back, here are some things to do, and things not to do, before you leave the building today.

Don’t burn bridges

Life is funny. Things change quickly. If you show class, it will be remembered. So filter what you say.

There may be a temptation to lash out. Resist that urge, because nothing good can come from it. Sure, you may feel better at the moment, but that feeling will quickly fade into regret. It’s much better to conduct yourself very professionally.

COBRA

You will have to decide whether or not to extend your health insurance with the company. But you have 60 days to make this decision so don’t make it today. Talk to two or three insurance brokers who sell individual insurance. In almost all cases, you will find that you can get similar coverage for less money.

If you have one or more pre-existing conditions, it might make sense to sign up through COBRA. But first, check out comparable policies with several insurance brokers and get their advice.

Your 401(k)

Here’s another decision you don’t have to make today. In fact, there really isn’t much of a time limit on making this decision. A lot of people still have money in an account through an employer they haven’t worked for in seven years!

Resist the urge to cash out. You may feel stressed about money. We’ll talk about that more in an upcoming show. The Wall Street Journal reported that 40% of workers in their 20s and 30s cashed out their 401(k) when they changed jobs. As we discussed this on a previous Bigg Success Show, this may be a costly decision.

Before you decide what to do with your 401(k), you’ll want to investigate your options. Find a plan that offers the right combination of options and low fees. One thing you should find out, when the subject of your 401(k) comes up, is if there are any exit fees. This will be useful in your decision making process.

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Your final paycheck

If you get your final check today, be sure to verify everything. For example:

  • Were you paid the correct amount for the time you’ve worked since your last check?
  • Did you get the severance pay that you should have?
  • Were you paid for the vacation days you haven’t used?
  • Is everything in accordance with your agreement with your employer?

Other issues

You may be asked to sign releases and other documents. You don’t have to sign anything right away. Read the documents carefully. If you don’t understand something, ask. If you’re not satisfied with the answer, seek professional guidance from an attorney if need be.

Reach out

Finally, if you can muster the emotional strength, reach out to the people you worked with. Make sure you have their contact information. You never know when it might come in handy.

Thanks for reading our post today. We hope you’ll check in again tomorrow. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00324-020509.mp3

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These Forgotten Costs Often Sink Us

sunken_boat We try not to make financial decisions in a vacuum. We strive to factor in all the relevant pieces before making a major purchase. But there are some costs that we often fail to factor in that can make a significant difference.

We often fail to factor in future flows of money.

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We expect a certain percentage pay raise. So we spend money as if it has already happened. It’s especially important in times like these that we don’t spend money before we know we have it.

Another thing we often do is count on a bonus. If it doesn’t materialize, we’re in trouble as we learned from Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. We sure don’t want our brother tying up our boss!

What about increased insurance costs? Is it likely that you’ll pay more for health insurance next year? How about insurance for your house or car? Insurance costs can rise significantly from year to year.

Do you have a variable rate mortgage? Have you considered a projected increase in the rate and the associated increase in your mortgage payment?

Have you thought about what might happen with recurring expenses? Cable bills, power bills, and water bills all seem to rise from year to year.

Affording it now isn’t good enough

You may finance a major purchase. Sure it’s only $100 a month. You can cover it now. But if it stretches your budget to its limit, it’s likely you won’t be able to cover it next year. You’ll start sinking and soon end up underwater, in a financial sense. You’ll run out of money before you run out of month!

It’s important to have a safety net – spending less than what you make each month.

A tool businesses use

We often don’t think about it this way, but we all run an organization – our households. Just like any organization, we have inflows and outflows of money.

Reasonably sophisticated business people work from a budget. Yes, the “b” word. Many people do treat budgets like a dirty word. But they’re a great tool.

And they’re especially important if you don’t have any money left over at the end of the month. It’s important to understand why. You can use Quicken, Excel or any number of ways to create your budget.

Many business people don’t just budget for one year. They look at projections over three years or more. These budgets don’t have to be elaborate – just plot out your main sources of inflows and outflows.

The power of the tool

Once you have a budget set up, you can look at “what if” scenarios. For example, what if:

  • you don’t get a pay raise
  • you (or your spouse) lose a job
  • the cost of health insurance (or any other cost) rises more than you expect?
  • you make this major purchase?

When you create a budget, you’re applying Stephen Covey’s “begin with the end in mind” and “put first things first” (from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) to your finances. You’re considering all your costs – both now and in the future. Then you can see the impact of major purchases on your overall finances so you make the best decision going forward.

You can run your finances intentionally, rather than ad hoc. You can prepare for contingencies so you survive no matter what. Then you can shift your focus to thriving!

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Get the tips and tools you need to be a BIGG success!
Subscribe to the Bigg Success Weekly – it’s FREE!

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Thanks for stopping by today. Next time, we’ll discuss how assumptions we make about time leave us overextended. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00266-111708.mp3

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Who Should Stay-at-Home with the Kids – Dad or Mom?

By Bigg Success Staff
06-11-08

Work – Life Balance

dad

Young couples often both work to make ends meet. Once children enter the scene, many couples decide that one of them should stay-at-home and raise the kids.

More and more of these couples are bucking tradition. There’s an increasing trend toward "dad" being the one to stay-at-home rather than "mom". According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 143,000 stay-at-home dads in 2005 compared to 98,000 in 2003.

Assuming you decide that one of you should stay-at-home, how do you logically decide which one it should be? Here are 4 questions to ask:

Can either of you work from home?
If one of you can work from home, this makes the decision easier. That doesn’t necessarily make getting the work done easier! If you can work at home, you may be able to juggle family duties and work duties, particularly as your kids get older.

Who makes the most money now?

It makes sense for the person who is earning the most money to keep working while the other person stays at home. Don’t look at just actual pay, though. You should also consider health insurance, retirement plans, and other benefits.

Who has the best chance for advancement?

It’s possible that one of you makes more money now, but the other spouse is primed for take-off. You should consider the longer term in addition to today. If one spouse’s pay will greatly outpace the other, you should factor that into the equation.

Who will be affected least by an extended leave?

With some careers, you can pick up right where you left off. With others, you may practically have to start over. Look to other people who have reentered the work force in your career as models of what you might expect yourself.

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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