Obamacare Humana Medicare Advantage for 2013 vs 2014 Item 2013 2014 % Change Catastropic Coverage (copay) $5500 $6700 21.8 % Specialist (copay) $40 $45 12.5 % Ambulance (copay) $200 $275 37.5 % Hospitalisation/Day (copay) $223 $260 16.6% Outpatient Surgery/Hospital (copay) … Continue reading
Several people have asked me to explain my economic philosophy.
I am a –NON-Keynesian. I don’t believe the B.S. that Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, or Paul Krugman, espouse. Simply, you must view money creation in the U.S. as debt. So if people are NOT borrowing, the economy is NOT expanding. This is why the Federal Reserve (about as Federal as Federal Express! A privately held institution, run by and for, bankers) has kept the prime rate artificially low. Trying to entice people into borrowing money, so the economy will grow. So far in 4 years, this hasn’t worked. In the meantime, those of us who save money, are being punished with historically low rate of returns and interest rates. This is why most corporations are sitting on trillions in cash. It makes sense to keep it in the bank, rather then invest and get virtually nothing in return. Chris Martenson said it best: “You have an economy which MUST grow, versus natural resources which CAN’T grow.”
Bonds work the opposite of the stock market. As demand goes up, the interest rate (also discount rate) goes down. As demand for bonds soften, the interest rate goes up. 10 year treasury bonds are trading at about 1.82 %. That means, that you have to loan the government, $10,000 dollars, for 10 years, to get $1820 back. A $10,000 investment tied up for 10 years, for $182/year? No! That is reality in today’s economy.
Ever hear of Quantitative Easing? That amounts to the Fed, running the printing presses, printing more money, then using that money to buy back it’s own debt. What that does is inflate the money supply, (devalues the currency). I don’t have any debt. Something breaks? It pretty much stays broken, until I save up the cash to buy a new one. I have an older car, simply because there are no car payments, and I am happy with what I have. I do not have all I want, but God promised me, all that I would need.
I am what I call an armchair economist. Simply that means that “people respond to incentives.” (Steven Landsburg coined the phrase in 1993). For example: I have a friend, who with a banquet of food spread before him, would starve if he did NOT have a coupon. Makes you think.
That’s my economic philosophy in 4 paragraphs.
I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.
~ President Woodrow Wilson, AFTER signing the Federal Reserve Act
“Fiscal Cliff” in plain English
Lesson # 1:
* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000
Now, let’s remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts so far: $385.00
Got It ? ….. OK now,
Lesson # 2:
Here’s another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:
Let’s say, you come home from work and find
there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood
and your home has sewage all the way up to the ceilings.
What do you think you should do …..
Raise the ceilings, or remove the sh*t?
Tucson, Az 85745
October 20, 2012
General Joe Robles, CEO
9800 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, TX 78288
Dear General Joe:
I had an experience with an insurance company, Foremost Insurance, recommended by USAA for my manufactured home. The experience is so grievous, I felt it necessary to bring it to your attention. Reference, Foremost policy number:
Kudos to both of the USAA employees (one in the banking department, and the other in the insurance department) that assisted me on Friday, October 19, 2012. They both provided customer service par excellence.
As to Foremost Insurance. This company was recommended by USAA to insure my manufactured home. Since it was recommended by USAA, I expected the same level of excellent Customer Service, I have always enjoyed with USAA.
That was not the case. A little background is necessary. I am disabled, and I am on Social Security Disability. I receive Social Security Checks on the 3rd of every month. However, the only payment option offered to me by Foremost, was 10 payments/year, (instead of 12 monthly payments/year,) and payment due dates of the 29, 30, or 31st of the month.
My only option then was to pay this out of my USAA Savings Account in advance, (Automatic Clearing House transfers are the ONLY payment option they would accept for automatic payment.) then transfer money from checking to savings, AFTER I get paid every month. The insurance is paid 10 times a year (instead of monthly, like I get paid, and is due BEFORE I get paid.) For those of us on Social Security or a fixed income, this is quite a budgeting challenge and hardship.
- We must pay them on a date which THEY specify, NOT what is convenient for us, or other recipients BEFORE we receive our Social Security Checks.
- We must pay this 10 times/year, NOT monthly which is how we are paid from Social, Security. It adds an un-necessary level of complexity and difficulty that should not be present.
- The company (NOT the person who helped me there) has a take or leave it attitude. I would have NEVER chosen this company, had I known about these payment options in advance.
Since this company was recommended by USAA, I expect the same level of Customer Service as I have with USAA itself. As you can see, this is NOT the case.
I WILL be changing to a different provider after the first of the year, and telling people NOT to use this company, ever. Customer Service at Foremost Insurance, does not command the same level of attention or priority, as it does with USAA.
I would reconsider USAA’s association with a company that steadfastly provides an inferior level of Customer Care. This is NOT a flagship association for the Customer Service USAA provides.
Okay I have received some questions regarding my mythical $1000/month budget.
The most questions I received are: “Why are food and gasoline variable expenses?” It is because I can directly control how much I spend on these items. I can choose to drive less. I can choose to eat less.
One of the keys to successful budgeting, is predicting the cost. Which means you probably need to make grocery shopping lists, BEFORE you go to the grocery store. Another tip: eat BEFORE you go to the grocery store. You will buy less impulse items, which can wreak havoc on budget.
Let’s talk a bit about unit pricing. It is NOT always the lowest price you are looking for, you are looking for the BEST value. Unit pricing allows us to compare apples to apples sort of speak. What is it?
For example. A dozen (12) eggs might cost $1.86. So the unit cost would be $1.86/12 = .155 — or 15 1/2 cents a piece.
18 eggs might cost $2.25. Okay the dozen eggs DO have a cheaper price. But what about our 18 eggs?
Well, $2.25/18 = .125 or 12 1/2 cents per egg. So, buying 18 eggs, instead of a dozen eggs, saves 3 cents/egg. I know this may seems trivial, but like my Dad always said:
Worry about the nickels and dimes. The dollars will take care of themselves.
It’s about value. And that is NOT always the lowest price. You can compare 2 boxes of cereal, (cost/ounces) or milk (cost/ounces). Sometimes it is cheaper to buy 2 half gallons of milk, then to buy a whole gallon. Do super markets do this? YUP!
So let’s talk about stretching those dollars. What to buy? Staple food items:
Some fresh fruit you like: (Apples, bananas, whatever)
ALWAYS check unit price, to make sure you are getting a good value, and you are on budget.
One of the biggest complaints I hear is: well I can’t do long division in my head. Bring a calculator. I am getting older, and can not always figure it out either. Using a calculator makes it easy. Yup, some people use pen and paper to figure unit cost. Whatever works — DO IT! I usually estimate my bill in my head, and I am usually within a few dollars of the budgeted amount.
This does require pre-planning, and the D word: Discipline.
In the next post, I will talk about some of the other items in our budget.
Living on a budget is NOT just knowing your bank account balance at any one point in time. It requires the dreaded “D” word: DISCIPLINE. No one wants that! Study this. I will have more to say as I pass on tips I have learned, and mistakes to avoid.
NOTE: There is absolutely NO room for credit card or ANY debt in this budget.
This is where you get started. Dave Ramsey’s Quickie Budget form. (PDF)
Disclaimer: I am NOT certified in anything, except for the school of hard knocks and mistakes. I am NOT a Financial Planner. Nor do I have wealth beyond imagine. But I know how to live within my income. Everything I have, I own. No one else.
The tips I will give in this series, are things I learned over time from family, Biblical principles and perspectives, and especially from my friend, Brad B. I use Dave Ramsey a lot. Simple. Easy. Free. Accessible. It works.
What are your questions or observations?