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Do I now have a great excuse to visit the bargain bins and get new unscratched discs? Or have I just regained several house a week in possible productivity, sleep, or spousal relationship building? Is that such a bad thing?
But this time was different. Why? Because I got to pay for it. You see, previously, I had insurance through either a government employer (like when I was a cop) or when my dad worked for a Big Company. This time it was just me... me and my extremely high deductible HSA plan, thanks to the IRS (PDF). Now I am not mad at the IRS, I am actually thanking them, I think.
Before having a state job I worked as a contractor for several years, and that means benefits like health care are FRIGGIN expensive, but they (meaning the contracting company) can shaft you because you can be fired at any time and they have no incentive to actually invest in you as an employee. So they charge $180 / month for a high deductible plan that covers hardly anything. And don't even think about getting their plans with a family ($300-500/month).
So back then, and being a single and fit guy, I did the sensible thing, I bought a HDHP, a high deductible health plan with a $2K deductible PPO for $110 / month with barely anything covered, just in case. It turns out that these plans don't even cover accidents (broken legs, etc). They only cover health related issues (cancer, asthma, or other diseases). And nothing preventative is even mentioned as possibly covered (until you meet your $2K deductible).
Back to the recent experience. ~2 months ago I got married, and we were both self employed (aka self-UNEMPLOYED). Getting your own health care is more expensive than buying the engagement ring (not that I have anything against rings). The only tangible benefit is the $75 / month premium.
Think that is low? It is. But consider that to step up to a non-HSA account with decent coverage ($1K deduct) might cost a perfectly healthy male age 28-30 about $130 / month. The difference over a year in premiums alone between the HSA account (900) and normal plan (1560) is $660, meaning that to switch to a higher plan will cost almost as much as another health plan coverage. And that is just in premium.
So here is where the HSA comes in handy. If you expect that you might spend about $1000 / yr in qualified expenses (glasses, dentist visits, etc) then you get the HDHP and put that $1000 into a HSA account, TAX FREE. So at the end of the year you fill out IRS form 8889 which is where you tell them how much you put into that HSA then that much is subtracted from taxable income. Not bad.
Except you still have to friggin HAVE the money in order to put it aside in the first place.
Enough rambling about the IRS code. I have allergies. Bad ones in fact. My recent move into a house with my wife confirmed it because my eyes swelled up for weeks. Yes weeks. Off an on they would get better then worse. This weekend, while away from home for 3 days, my eyes got better significantly. So it is official.... something in my house is trying to kill me.
I got an appointment with an allergist and she said "yep.... you got some bad infections in your eyes because the allergic reaction ran unchecked." Bummer. It could be dust mites, pet dander, or may be something else. My wife and I eliminated all smelly things that she wears, literally. They are all out in the garage in a bag. Once my allergy testing happens next week we may know if one of them was the culprit.
So here is where the rambling about HSAs and allergies intersect. The Dr office visit is not covered (naturally) with any co-pay so I get to pay the full amount ($170 cah-ching!). Then the 3 meds I am on cost $160 (cha-ching-ing-ing) and I go back next week for an actual allergy test (any time lab work is involved I assume the price will hit ~$200).
This isn't soo much of a post where I am soliciting input as it is a post where I am complaining about lacking money.
1) Honeymoon: Pack lots of clothes for the honeymoon. You never know what the weather will be like. Yes that means bring a jacket even when you think you are "mister cold weather" and don't' need one. Fortunately for me... I brought one.
2) Honeymoon: Stay in one place for more than one night in a row. Nothing adds complications and stress like trying to go to a new place each night.
3) Honeymoon: Don't plan to do a whole lot each day. Someone is sleeping in your bed and if you can manage to keep your hands off of her (him) long enough to sleep, you still have the novelty of them taking up your bed space. This means you will sleep like crap so plan accordingly.
4) Honeymoon: Various sex related fun bits that will not be mentioned here. The general opinion is that sex is great......... go get hitched to a wonderful person and have lots of sex.
5) Honeymoon: Stay an extra day (travel permitting). We lengthened our stay by one day just because we could. Not being rushed as soon as you return is a great stress reliever.
6) Honeymoon: Turn off the phones or don't answer them. No one is going to call with any significant news, so just don't answer your phones.
7) Honeymoon: Don't tell the in-laws & parents when you will return. They are just going to bug you with post-wedding related issues that are trivial and don't matter. Keep them guessing as long as possible.
8) Be prepared for drastic changes when returning from the honeymoon. There will be things to sort, pack, unpack, throw out, donate, etc. These things are the theoretical things belonging to your spouse. They are YOUR THINGS.... and you will have to let them go. Sniff sniff.... Besides, the wedding presents will replaces a lot of your old crap any way.
9) Gifts: Some people use you registry. Yes! Others do not (what the heck is this thing that [random distant friend of some aunt] gave us?). Just because someone gave you an ugly 60s color schemed painting and it was their dying wish that you have it hung on your bedroom wall.... doesn't mean you have to take their crappy painting and put it any where. The garage is just as good a location.
10) Thank you notes: get a process going and rip through them. Common decency seems to indicate that a hand written thank you be given for each present / cash / check. Don't get a spiffy mail merge all ready to go because these things are supposed to be hand written.
11) Thank You Notes: you can lie on a note and say you love the crock pot they gave you. It doesn't matter that you got several of the same thing
12) Thank You Notes: You can actually say the same thing on every note. "Thank you for coming to our wedding and for the [thing-a-ma-jig]. We will use the [thing-a-ma-jig] all the time with our friends and family. Thanks again." Just be sure that you do use / hang / frame / etc the thing if the note is written to someone that lives close by or that you expect might actually visit.
13) Gifts: don't worry about hurting someones feelings about returning their gift. It was the wrong color for the item you actually had on the registry and they knew it. That is what gift receipts are for.
14) Gifts: Gifts that do not come with a receipt are that way for one of three reasons: a) they forgot - not a problem... annoying, but not a big deal b) hand made item - big problem; this means there is emotional attachment to the item and in giving the gift that person has enslaved you to their need to see their gift in use / appreciation. c) too expensive / cheap and the giver doesn't' want to reveal the price - not a big deal just deal.
I am sure I'll have more witty remarks about weddings, but that is all I have for now. Discuss amongst yourselves. Let me know what are your rules for wedding gifts. Do you have rules for gift giving? Gift receiving? What problems do I have with my rules, if any?