Monday, February 28, 2011

25 Ways to Save Money on Healthcare

This article first published in Parents Mag, has some great information about healthcare savings! While this "Healthcare Bill" may or may not be coming through soon, may or may not be a good thing and may or may not break the bank all at the same time...  Get discounts on prescriptions, negotiate with your doctor, bargain-shop for a health plan. In this economy, you need to take more control over your family's medical bills.

Find the Best Plan  
1. Shop for the Best Plan
When selecting a health plan, don't just choose the one with the lowest monthly premium or the one you used before. Benefits can change significantly every year -- as can your family's health needs. The best way to bargain-shop: Jot down your family's average number of doctor visits per year, routine prescriptions, dental cleanings, and other services. Compare what you'd pay over an entire year for these items on each plan. Don't forget to include monthly premiums and deductibles.

2. Consider an HD Plan It might feel like a big switch if you're used to paying $20 office co-pays. But a high-deductible (HD) health plan can save you hundreds of dollars per month in lower premiums. These plans (which have an annual deductible of at least $1,100 for individuals; $2,200 for families) are great if your family is healthy and doesn't usually visit the doctor too often. Another benefit: Most HD plans qualify you to open a health savings account (HSA), where you can sock away (on a pretax basis) money to pay your insurance premiums and out-of-pocket health expenses. Better yet, unused HSA money continues to grow tax-deferred, year after year. An HD plan might not be right for you, though, if family members have chronic (and costly) health conditions, you're not disciplined about saving money in your HSA, or if having such a high deductible makes you uneasy.

3. Join a Discount Club If you don't have dental insurance, look into plans like AmeriPlan (, Careington International (, or's dental-discount cards. Participants in these plans agree to give members up to a 60 percent discount. You'll pay a monthly membership fee (ranging from about $12 to $30), and you'll probably need to pay cash at the time of service. Check each plan's coverage in your area -- some regions have fewer participating providers than others.

4. Join the Farm Bureau Believe it or not, you don't need to be a farmer to join your state's farm bureau. Simply by paying an annual membership fee (usually less than $50) you're eligible for all sorts of benefits -- including discounted group health insurance in some states. If you or your spouse are self-employed, this might work for you. For more information, type "farm bureau" and your state's name into your Internet search engine.

5. Always Have a Safety Net If you or your spouse are switching jobs and have to wait for your new health insurance to kick in, ask whether you can extend your policy from your old employer. (The COBRA law requires some, but not all, companies to let you.) If it's not possible to keep your old plan, buy a short-term family insurance plan so you're never without coverage. These policies are relatively inexpensive and can usually be activated within a day or two. Compare plans online at

Know Your Coverage 
6. Take Advantage of Extras
Your health plan may offer valuable services you don't hear much about, so poke around its Web site to learn what's available, says reader Kimberly Hoody, of Phoenix. Some carriers, for example, have nurses on call 24/7. They can tell you how to safely remove a splinter or whether or not your child's cold symptoms warrant an immediate doctor visit (and another co-pay, ka-ching!). Some plans also offer discounts on acupuncture, gym memberships, massage treatments, and weight-loss programs.

7. Get Regular Checkups Don't skimp on well-child checkups just to save money, says Jessica Banthin, a healthcare expert at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These exams are usually inexpensive or are fully covered by insurance, and they help your doctor detect health problems early. Routine vaccines will also lower your child's risk of illness -- and your risk of facing high medical bills.

8. Look for Special Services Many health plans have programs for patients with ongoing conditions like asthma or allergies, including discounts on preventive care, helpful newsletters, and more. Reader Jaimee Starr's son Austin, 8, has asthma and gets chronic bronchitis in the winter months. After talking with her health-plan representatives, the Springfield, Ohio, mom learned she could buy a home nebulizer from them for just $55 instead of renting one from her pharmacy for $180. Health-plan reps also steered her to a drugstore that offered lower prices on her son's asthma medication.

9. Flex Your Spending If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA), you'd be nuts not to use it. FSAs are tax-sheltered accounts that you can use to pay for out-of-pocket medical costs such as office and prescription co-pays. Reader Lisa Chavez-Melo, a human-resources professional in Albuquerque, New Mexico, suggests "guesstimating" what you'll spend on medical expenses each year and putting about 20 percent less into your account so you don't have to worry about scrambling to find last-minute ways to spend it before it disappears. (FSAs are a "use it or lose it" plan and the money must be used within the year.) Some good ways to spend that last bit of FSA money: replacement glasses or contacts, dental cleanings, and even certain over-the-counter items like bandages, infant pain reliever, and contact-lens solutions.

10. Read Bills Carefully Up to 50 percent of your doctor or hospital bills may contain mistakes that end up costing you money, says Jane Cooper, president of Patient Care, a consumer-advocacy group in Milwaukee. Something as simple as an incorrect billing code could prompt your insurance to pay less than expected or even reject your claim. Other common errors: mistakes in an account number, claims with incomplete information -- even claims sent to the wrong insurance-company address by a doctor. Read your benefits booklet carefully to make sure your plan is paying all it should. If you catch an error, send a certified letter to your insurer. Follow up in a few weeks to make sure the mistake is corrected.

11. Don't Accept "No" If your insurance company won't pay for a service you think you deserve, don't just give up. Appeal the decision. If you're denied again, contact your state insurance commission. That agency can mediate a dispute between you and your insurance company. If you win, you could save yourself hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

12. Remember to Network When making an appointment, always double-check that the doctor is still in your insurance plan's network. (Many come and go.) And ask to see in-network providers when you go to the hospital or an urgent-care center. Just because a facility participates in your plan doesn't mean every professional (the nurse-practitioner or radiologist, for instance) does. Also, if you need to see a doctor when you're out of town, call your insurance provider's toll-free phone number to find out the best way to get services that will be covered.

13. Split the Cost If you need extensive dental services, ask your dentist about starting the work in December and finishing it in January. Depending on your dental-plan benefits, you may get better coverage by splitting the cost between the two plan years.

 Discuss Options with Your Doctor 
14. Bring a List
Get a copy of your insurance company's list of covered prescription medications (a "formulary") and share it with your doctor. Many insurers separate drugs into several pricing "tiers," so some medicines cost you more than others. If your doctor knows what's on your insurer's list, he can select the best medication for you at the lowest price. Also, if your plan requires you to get a referral to a specialist, take your insurance plan's preferred-provider list to your primary-care appointment. Your doctor can easily pick out the best specialist who participates in your plan.

15. Be Upfront About Finances
Are you short on cash? Do you have a high insurance deductible? Don't be embarrassed to tell your doctor or dentist. He may be able to suggest less-costly treatment options or even agree to lower fees. In fact, a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive poll found that three out of five people who negotiated with their doctors received discounts.

16. Slice Your Pills
Believe it or not, many high-dose prescription pills, from allergy meds to antidepressants, require exactly the same co-pay as their lower-dose counterparts. Ask your doctor whether you can safely split a higher-dosage pill in half, and cut your costs too. (You can't do this with controlled-release medications.)

17. Ask to Sample It
Your doctor's cupboards are full of free drug samples, courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry. If your child is getting shots, ask for a trial-size pain reliever in case he needs it later. If you're trying a new antibiotic or rash cream, your physician may even have enough samples to cover your course of treatment. Also, check out the drug company's Web site, which sometimes offers coupons or free samples.

Take Preventative Measures  
18. Watch Your Head
Make sure you and your kids wear helmets when you ride a bike, a scooter, or a skateboard, since most serious injuries are the result of falls.

19. Get in a Lather
Americans plunk down big bucks every year on cold remedies and flu treatments when the best preventive medicine is plain old soap and water. Teach everyone in the family to scrub their hands for about 20 seconds before eating, after playing outside, or after being in contact with someone who's already sick.

20. Prevent Tooth Traumas
Starting around their first birthday, kids should get twice-yearly checkups from the dentist, says Keith Morley, DMD, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Preventive care nips problems in the bud before they become more costly. You should also talk to your dentist about getting sealants for your child's molars. (Sealants are a liquid plastic material applied to your child's back teeth to prevent them from decaying.) Many insurance companies cover the cost, but even if they don't, get them anyway: They'll probably save you money in the long run.

21. Steer Clear of the ER
Never use the emergency room as a substitute for your regular doctor. You'll pay much more, and you'll probably wait longer to be seen, says Parents advisor Alice Domar, PhD. If your child feels lousy on a Friday morning, make an appointment with the doctor for that day so you don't end up in the ER over the weekend.

22. Save on Supplements
Don't spend your hard-earned money on vitamins, mineral supplements, and herbs since there's not enough data to support their effectiveness, says Dr. Domar. Most vitamins and supplements will pass right through you, which means money down the toilet -- literally! The notable exceptions: calcium and vitamin D supplements, which have been proven effective.

Shop Around 
23. Pay Less for Prescriptions
Go generic, for starters. In almost every case, generics are just as good as name brands and are much cheaper, says Catherine Tom-Revzon, a pharmacist at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, in New York City. Second, compare costs since prices vary significantly from store to store. Your best bet may be a warehouse club like Costco or Sam's Club. (You don't even need to be a member.) Another option: If your plan has a mail-order pharmacy, you might be able to get 90 days' worth of prescriptions mailed to you for two co-pays.

24. Keep an Eye on Discounts
Remember that you don't have to buy glasses or contact lenses from your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Federal law requires them to give you a copy of your prescription so you can buy lenses anywhere you like. Even if you don't have vision coverage, insurance providers may offer discounts on glasses or contact lenses. If not, look elsewhere: Some Automobile Association of America policies include eyewear discounts. Warehouse clubs and online retailers also offer deals.

25. Go to Dental School
If you need expensive dental care, consider a clinic at a local dental school. Well-supervised students staff these clinics and charge between 20 and 50 percent less than what you'd pay at a professional dental office -- big bucks if you need a costly crown or implant. Search for dental-school programs in your area at

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ten Tips for Balancing Work And Family

There is no single formula for attaining a balanced life. It is a personal decision how one combines their career, spouse/significant other, children, friends and self into an integrated whole. The key is to develop creative solutions as you approach the challenges of balancing the responsibilities and joys of your multiple roles. Some of the same skills and strategies you use at work such as planning, organizing, communicating, setting limits and delegating can be used effectively on the home-front for achieving a satisfying, fulfilling and well-balanced life both personally and professionally.

1. Build a Support Network

Ask for help and allow yourself to be helped and contributed to. Get your children involved--work together as a team. Recruit friends, family, neighbors, bosses, work colleagues, etc. and ask for their support. Between work and family, surprises are inevitable. Be prepared by creating back-up and emergency plans; always have a contingency.

2. Let Go of Guilt

Guilt is one of the greatest wastes of emotional energy. It causes you to become immobilized in the present because you are dwelling on the past. Guilt can be very debilitating. By introducing logic to help counter-balance the guilt, you can avoid sabotaging your efforts toward work/family balance and stay better on course.

3. Establish Limits and Boundaries and Remember They are Necessary for Balancing Work and Family

Boundaries are an imaginary line of protection that you draw around yourself. They are about protecting you from other people's actions. Determine for yourself what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior from other people. Boundaries and limits define how you take charge of your time and space and get in touch with your feelings. They express the extent of your responsibilities and power and show others what you are willing to do or accept. Without limits it's difficult to say "no". Remind yourself often that your boundaries are necessary for balancing work and family.

4. Determine Your Own Standards

Get rid of the notion of being a perfectionist. Wean yourself off it by making compromises--figure out where the best places to make the compromises are without short-changing yourself, your spouse, your children, your boss, etc. Live by your own standards rather than someone else's. Standards are about YOU and refer to the behavior and actions you are willing to hold yourself to.

5. Create Time for Yourself

Being a good parent, partner and professional means being good to yourself first. Use your mind to make some affirmations for yourself. Find ways to relax, relieve tension and minimize stress. Taking some time off for yourself will not only benefit you, but it will benefit your work and family tremendously, as well!

6. Get Organized

Set priorities, work smarter not harder, delegate (and really let go!). Create lists and save them for re-use. Keep a main calendar centrally located to post everyone's activities.

7. Balancing Work and Family Requires You to Be Flexible

Forgive yourself when things don't get done. Understand that with children things change at a moment's notice. Be ready and willing to assume responsibility for any of the tasks that need to get done at any time. Never get too comfortable, because as soon as you seem to get things under control, they change! Also, realize that in order to achieve success many women have had to give up their original goals and substitute new ones with different but equal challenges. Negotiate for what you need.

8. Enjoy Quality Family Time

Spend quality/focused time with your family. Give them your full attention. Develop rituals you can all look forward to. Create relationships with your spouse and children that are not incidental but rather instrumental to your success.

9. Find Reliable Child Care

Leave your kids in capable hands. Find someone you feel comfortable and confident in. If you're feeling ambivalent about working or about leaving your child, etc. do not show it--your child (at any age) will pick right up on it. Feel proud when you've found someone who fits into your needs. Get involved with your child's care providers by communicating frequently and observing interactions between caregiver and your child.

10. Achieve an Integrated Life

Keep things in perspective. Create harmony in your life--a mixture of work, family and friends. Remember, there is no single formula for balancing work and family. It is a personal decision how one combines spouse, children and career.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Answering Text Questions as a Home Job - No Phone Required

There are many Stay at Home Moms or Individuals out there that want to work from home with out phone work. Either if you work outside the home, stay at home with your children or just want a little something extra to do, these might be for you. As Home Jobs with no phone work are very difficult to find... there are a few out there. Most do not pay hourly or salary, they go by the work you do or are freelance writing which is similar to growing a Home Business as you have to grow your Articles. But I can say there are two companies that are legitimate and offer pay for simply answering text questions...

They are both Cha Cha and KGB. What they do is allow cell phone users to text to them a question on anything and get the answer. People can ask anything and everything they want and then as an Agent or Guide for those companies you will use the companies list of resources to find the answer and using your computer you will text it back to them. The way you get paid is by text and goes by how quick you answer, type, etc. They have a few other positions in this area that you can review on their websites.

Both of these companies only hire randomly and usually they only open up hiring over a 24 to 48 hour period of time and then close it. You can submit your application to be put on the waiting list. You must be accepted as an employee to work from them. Some are accepted, some are not. You are in competition with many others, so you will want to keep that in mind. As these are good for a little of extra spending money or small bills, it is not a full time or even part time job from home. It will bring in a little extra income but is not something to depend on.

You can work as much or as little as you want determining on how busy they are. When you log in as a Guide or Agent you will get notified through your computer when there is a question to answer you then take that question and use their resources to answer it. You can log out at anytime and do not have any certain hours to go by.

You must remember this is not a Home Job to replace your income but it can bring in a little extra income each month for you and your family. At this moment they may not be hiring but you can submit your application anytime to be put on the waiting list.

For more Information on becoming a Guide for Cha Cha go to
Review the different Guide Positions for Cha Cha ~

For more Information on becoming an Agent for KGB go to
Review the different Agent Positions for KGB ~

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why is Network Marketing a good fit for any home based business for Moms

Before I outline the reasons we should first define what a network marketing company is. Simply put, a network marketing company has a business model that bypasses the traditional means of bringing a product to market or the end consumer. From the time a product is manufactured to when it's received by the "end user" it travels through a number of different points. For example a traditional model will look something like this.... Manufacturer, Wholesaler, Distributor, Retailer etc... In a network marketing company you don't have to deal with all these steps which is oftentimes time consuming and cuts into the cost of doing business.

Another way of stating it would be, network marketing company cuts out the costs of dealing with the "middleman." Not only does network marketing bring increased profits to the company and the representative selling the product because of it's direct to market approach, but you are able to leverage time in ways you wouldn't in a traditional business model. How is this possible?

Because a large part of your success depends on sponsoring other people to be part of your business. And if you teach and train your "business builders" effectively you are able to share in a portion of their efforts.

For example, if you sponsored 10 individuals within your team, and those 10 individuals put in 10 hours of work a week, you would essentially be leveraging 100 hours worth or work every week. This presents an extremely attractive proposition to Moms who don't want to invest an inordinate amount of time in their businesses outside of raising their children.

In addition, a good network marketing company should be structured in such a way that you can make an unlimited amount of income without working a full 40 hour a week. I have met hundreds of successful woman within the industry who work no more than 20 hours a week.

If your sold on the benefits of starting a network marketing business, I encourage you to start a business within the exploding gourmet food industry with Wildtree...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Residual vs Flat Commission

When I first started my search for Work at Home I had NO CLUE what residual income was or what residual commission meant. Had I known then what I know now, things would have been so very different!

Generally most home business companies fall in to one of two commission categories, some have aspects of both, but most are one or the other. Those two types of commission are very simply a flat commission, where you earn a percentage of each sale, one time, and a residual commission, where you earn a commission over and over.

But how does it really work? It's fairly simple, yet seems to present itself as more complicated than it is. So, I will break it down for you here.

Flat Commission ~
A flat commission pays you a percentage of each sale made. So, if you work with a company that offers a 30% flat commission you will earn $30 out of every $100 in sales you bring in. However, you will have to continue to make the same number of sales PLUS additional sales each month in order to see your income climb. With a flat commission you will start every month (or sales period) off with an income of $0 and build your income on a basis of sales made during that month (or period.)

Example 1: During your first month with Company A you find 30 people interested in your new business and product. This earns you $300 in sales. If you are earning a commission of 30%, that would bring your commissions to a total of $90. However, in month two, you only find 25 people interested, which equals only $250 in sales and just $75 in commissions. Because you made less sales in month two you earn less income.

Residual Commission ~
In a nut shell residual commission is a payment structure that provides you a longer term income per sale. Usually this type of income is only available through companies that sell some type of membership or autoship plan where the customer has a monthly fee. The reason for this is simple, when you sell a "plan" of this type the customer promises to pay a monthly fee, your commission comes out of that payment. So, even though you are only making the "sale" one time, you are going to be paid month after month. The major benefit to this type of commission payment is that it's longer term than flat commission and allows you to build a larger income quickly!

Example 2: During your first month with Company B, you find 30 people interested in your business and make $300 in membership sales. With a commission of 30% you earn $90. However, when month two comes you find another 25 people interested and make $250 in sales, which equals $75 in commissions, in addition to the $90 in commissions from the previous month for a total of $165 in income for month two. You made less sales and earned more in month two because of the business you brought in during the previous month.

Recruiting Income ~
The second way that many companies allow you to earn income is through the recruitment process. This usually allows you to earn an income from bringing others in to the business. However, the two types of commission come in to play here as well. If you are with a company that pays a flat commission based on the sales your recruits make you will receive commissions only if and when they create business. If you, however earn a residual commission on recruits simply for having them on the team, you will earn regardless of their business success. SOME, companies combine the two and provide their recruiters with a residual commission simply for team building plus pay them additional commission based on the sales of those recruits, but most do not.

Prior to getting involved with ANY company it's best to completely investigate their commission plan. Many companies will start you out with a higher commission rate and then drop it after a few weeks of months. Others will have sales quotas or requirements in one way or another to earn higher levels of commission. Make sure you ask questions about commission of your enroller prior to enrolling! When it comes to your income you don't want surprises!
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