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Open Enrollment 2016 dates and how to shop for health insurance

healthInsThe dead line to get new health insurance or to change an existing plan for the year 2016 is fast approaching. With so many options to consider and a mountain of data to look through, don’t wait until the last minute.  It could take you a week just to look at all the plans available. This quick guide will help you get through the high level details. Here’s what to consider when looking for insurance for individual or family plans.

Employer Insurance

Employer insurance should be looked at carefully. Plans change all the time and not just the cost. Make sure you look at the out-of-pocket expenses like copay’s, deductibles and coinsurance. Also look at your provider list to see if you Doctors are still included. These factors can affect you decision on renewing your Employer Insurance.

Think about prescription coverage. Always look at your current needs and try and plan out what you will need for the year. Prescription coverage’s change too, so don’t be left without a covered drug.

Pay attention to wellness programs offered. Employers are caring more about their employees and making sure they are healthy and fit, as this affects their bottom line as well. Programs like stop smoking, weight loss and lifestyle changes can help you live a better and healthier lifestyle. So take advantage of these programs.

 

Important Dates and Deadlines

December 15, 2015 – Last day to enroll in or change coverage that will start on January 1st, 2016.

January 15, 2016 – Last day to enroll in or change coverage that will start February 1st 2016.

January 31,2016 – Open Enrollment Ends.

 

Marketplace Health insurance

Understand your tiers. There are four tiers to choose from and each offer different levels of out of pocket expense and percentage of coverage. As a rule of thumb, Bronze covers 60 percent of you care, Silver 70%, Gold 80% and Platinum 90%. All plans cover the 10 essential medical care requirements; Emergency Services, Hospitalization, Maternity and newborn care, Mental Health and substance-use services, Prescription drugs, physical and occupational therapy, lab tests, preventive care services and Pediatric services which include dental and vision.

Get Help if you need it. The government pays people to help consumers select the insurance they need. Trained assisters can be found in almost every city and town.

Understanding your options and subsidies can reduce your overall premiums. Make sure you fill out your application with as much accurate information as possible. People earning income between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level get help for paying for their insurance as long as it is an eligible plan purchased through the marketplace.

Understand the penalties of not having insurance. Depending on your income, you could be paying 2.5% of your income or $695 per adult not insured. There are options for young healthy individuals such as the catastrophic plan. These include very low premiums but very large out of pocket expenses for health care.

With the deadline just around the corner, don’t wait and risk not getting insurance. There are a lot of options to consider, research that needs to be done on your part and possibly arranging a sit down with an official assister.

Black Friday Starts Early for Some Retailers

bl1Sam’s Club is getting into the game earlier this Christmas season. Starting November 14th, you can get on the great deals that normally come on the Friday after Thanksgiving and more frequently on Thanksgiving day.

The leaked list posted to several BlackFirday news sites show the deep discounts being offered early. Sam’s Club has several large flat screen TV’s on sale including the A 65-inch Vizio D65u-D2 4K UHD Smart TV coming in under a thousand dollars.

Other discounts appear to mostly target popular electronics. Everything from speakers to the Playstation 4 is listed. Apple products including the iPad and iPhone are listed as well. bestblackfriday.com has the current Sam’s Club flyer for the November 14th event.

There are other small retailers putting on sales before Thanksgiving. So are we seeing a new trend? Retailers will always being thinking of ways to get you shopping for Christmas. We expect Black Friday to still be the busiest shopping day of the year. Either way, it’s a good time to get some good deals and start your Christmas shopping early this year.

Don’t fall for this chip credit card scam

chip-credit-card-scamRecently, the Credit Card industry went through a huge change as they switch to chip cards cards and scammers are taking advantage of the changes.

All major credit card companies were to ship out new chip credit cards to replace your old cards by October 1st. However only 60% of cards have been issued. This leaves room for scammers to come in.

The scam: Scammers will send you an email pretending to be a credit card company. They will claim that they need to verify personal information before issuing new chip cards. Scammers will then use this information to steal your identity.

The FTC has issued a warning and reminding people that credit card companies will never ask for personal information in an email. Only ever provide personal information through the actual company’s website or by directly calling them through the number found on the back of your current credit card.

You can read more about the scam from the FTC’s website.

Are You Ready for the New Computer Chip Credit Cards?

chip-credit-cardsOctober 1st is the deadline for merchants to have the technology to accept computer chip embedded credit and debit cards. But don’t worry if you don’t have a chip card yet, your current card will still be accepted.

Chip embedded card requires the user to place the card in the reader, the action is called “Dip The Card”. You wait for it to authorize and you sign as usual. In the coming years you will have to enter a 4 digit pin as well, like the rest of the world has been doing for years.

The new chip cards are supposed to offer more security and are harder to counterfeit. The chips generate a new transaction code every time it’s used, so even if a thief were to gain access to it, it cannot be used a second time. And just like your old swipe card, you are not liable for fraud.

Online shopping will be the same since it does not require a card to be present. So security still will be an issue that’s talked about.

Read more from the Original article at Today.com

20 Money Tips To Make This Year

With the year coming to an end, it’s time to look over your finances and goal that you had set at the beginning of the year. Listed below of 20 money moves that you should consider.

  1.  Add More to your Retirement Savings – Its not too late to start making those full contributions. You can contribute up to $18,000 this year.
  2. Check Your Accounts – Since your retirement accounts are usually housed with a separate institute than your bank, you may forget to login and check to see that you are getting the most from your account.
  3. Consider a Conversion – Do you hold a regular IRA? Look into converting it to a Roth IRA for extra benefits.
  4. Think Big – The middle of the year is the perfect time to step back and look at your financial goals for the year and your life financial goals.
  5. Give yourself Chores – Stay on track with your finances by doing a simple task once a week for the rest of the year. Could be something simple like adjusting your budget.
  6. Change Up Your goals – If you are not hitting your goals or life circumstances change, now is the perfect time to adjust those financial goals.
  7. Re-balance Accounts – Middle of the year is also time to loko at your investments and see what is not performing and selling them off for something better.
  8.  Go Back Through Spending – Go back through your spending to see where your money is going.
  9. Divert Funds to College Savings – Do you spend money on toys for kids fairly often? Try adjusting the amount you spend and divert it to a college fund for them.
  10. Watch Your Budget – It’s always a good idea to look at your budget regularly to make sure you are staying on track.
  11. Next Summers’ Vacation – Want to go on vacation next year? Now’s the time to start planning and saving money.
  12. Save Any Surplus – Got a winning lottery ticket or sold something out of your garage? Stash that money away.
  13. 529 College Account Contributions – Similar to a retirement account, you can pay into a college fund every month.
  14. Emergency Fund Check – Remember stashing that money away from number 12 on the list? This is where it should go until you reached your goal.
  15. Beneficiaries – Really only applies if you got married or divorced. Don’t overlook this important item.
  16. Get More Insurance – Got a better job this year? Take a look at insurance types that you do not have, renters insurance, life insurance etc.
  17. Are Your Ready for Taxes – It’s never too early to take a look at your taxes for the year. Especially if you are a business owner.
  18. Look at Your Tax Credits – Tax laws are always changing, and with the new Health Care program in place, you should double check what tax credits you can get back.
  19. Make Donations – Donations not only help others but helps your bottom line when it comes to taxes.
  20. Make Preventive Care Appointments – Staying healthy in priority number one. Got to the dentist, get your eyes checked and get your yearly checkup.

You can read the full original article here.

Stores Starting Christmas Shopping Season Already

Can you believe that stores are trying to get your money already for this Christmas shopping season? Kmart just launched their new Layaway plan last week. Allowing customers to put items on layaway with no money down. Other retailers have already started grabbing early holiday shoppers.

Other retailers in the mix trying to get a jump start are Wal-Mart and HEB, both started their Layaway plans in late August. A recent survey showed an upward trend of Americans beginning their Christmas shopping earlier.

Kmart’s no money down Layaway plan will last every day until the end of November. Last year they limited the no money down promotion to certain weeks. This could help many consumers budget their holiday spending this year.

Read More of the original article at Yahoo Personal Finance.

Millennials Seek Retirement Savings and Paying Down Debt

It can be hard for Millennials to get out ahead with high student loan burdens. But once they get a steady well paying job, they are making the right choices with their priorities.

A recent survey by T. Rowe Price says that 27% of millennials contributed to a 401k plan at work and 28% started paying down debt as a priority.

Millennials are making the right choices at an earlier age and will benefit from these choices later in life. When deciding how much to invest in a 401k, more than half saved enough to take advantage of the full employer match.

Of course not all millennials are investing in 401ks. Among those workers, their median salary was lower, about $28,000 verses well paying jobs of $57,000. They also saw a higher student loan balance than others.

Original Article can be found at http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/yourmoney/sc-cons-0716-started-20150713-column.html

9 Money Saving Tips for Labor Day Travel

Do you have travel plans for Labor Day weekend? AAA Travel predicts more Americans will be traveling this Labor Day weekend since 2008. Here’s a list of some money saving ideas to keep the trip inexpensive from Forbes.com.

1. Don’t forget about last minute deals. Companies are always offering deals to fill up their empty seats, rooms or cars.

2. Use car rental aggregators to compare prices. Using sites like carrental.com to compare different companies can save you alot of money.

3. Camping is still popular. Nothing beats the price of admission to the great outdoors.

4. Map Apps can help you find the best route and avoid traffic during your trip to help you save on gas.

5. Gas Apps are a great tool to compare prices of gas near you. A gas station right off the highway will always cost more than a gas station a mile in from the highway.

6. Better Travel Times. By leaving a day early (Thursday) or early morning hours, you can beat the traffic of holiday travelers.

7. Packing Food and Drinks will help you avoid the costly restaurants on the highway.

8. Don’t be afraid to move to another hotel if you find a better deal mid vacation.

9. Nothing beats free attractions. Going to the beach can be an inexpensive day.

Read The Original Article at http://www.forbes.com/sites/kateashford/2015/08/31/labor-day/

FTC: Hang up on ‘Card Services’

Have you ever received a call from ? If you have, next time hang up says the FTC. Rachel from Card Services or any number of names such as Anne, Tiffany or Heather; have been calling households letting you know that you are eligible for lower interest rates.

The Robocalls are illegal and out to scam you. FTC has been trying to shut them down for years. .

So why won’t they stop?

New companies popup all the time, so even though the FTC has up rooted a dozen of these companies, they can’t keep up. Alot of these are now found overseas, making it harder to shut down.

If you do get a call, just hang up. Never push a button to connect to someone or ask to be taken off their list. And never give out your personal financial information to them.

Do they actually lower your interest rates? Nope. And they will want to charge you an up front fee to do it. Sometimes as high as $5,000. All of which is highly illegal to do.

So if a charming lady by the name of Rachel calls from “Card Services”, Hang Up the phone. You won’t be hurting anyone’s feelings.

Original Story Click Here

Fast Food? Not so fast…..

It’s official; the amount of time consumers are waiting for service in “drive thru” lanes is getting longer. It’s not just your imagination. The fast food industries trade magazine “QSR” released the latest findings of their 2014 study, and the numbers are not encouraging.

The study shows that the averages wait time in 2014 is nearly 240 seconds, that’s an increase of more than 22% in one year. Many major fast food restaurants rely heavily on drive thru sales, some as high as 70% of total sales volume is from drive thru lanes.

The cause of the increase according to QSR may be the ever-increasing amount of choices on the menu along with consumers wanting “custom” orders.

 

 

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