34 Replies Latest reply on Jun 2, 2015 8:35 AM by kymahn214

    "A penny saved is a penny earned"

    JerryD

      At the request of a member, I am starting this as a thread.


      When you are retired, income is mostly something in the past, but there is a very important twist to that and it is "earnings" in the sense of Ben Franklin's "a penny saved is a penny earned". One of my favorite ways of motivating myself to seek lower costs and/or savings is to think about the activity as "work" and to compute how much and hour I am "earning" by doing it. This even works with pursuing tax reductions and/or fighting off the IRS. And when buying things doing the research, especially on the Internet, and taking on the seller can result in significant "earnings".


      Here are just a few things that I have done in the last week or so:


      • Asked my Medicare supplement provider to switch me to an equally good but current Plan - potential savings may be $3-400/year on-going.
      • Checked my Part D drug plan at Medicare.gov and again confirmed that using their mail order there are no additional charges beyond the minimal monthly premium - worth over $100/year.
      • Bought some new appliances and gave the old ones to a kid who is striking out on his own and then days after installing them found a significant price reduction on upgraded units and called for a price match - That saved over $200 for looking in the paper, calling the store and receiving the upgrades.
      • I ordered some expensive pen refills from the BIG Internet seller and chose the expensive option because I had trouble in the past when the product did not work in my name-brand pen. I passed on the choice that was less than half the cost and research on the seller was that they are in India and I figured that any more problems would be very hard to fix. I picked the color and point size but when the order was fulfilled it was wrong on both cases. It was the weekend so I left a voice mail and then sent an email notifying them about the order and the sent difference. - Monday got an email saying that they were sending what I ordered with no charge - the result is more pen refills than I can imagine at half the price.

      My eyes twinkle when I mentally calculate the hourly rate that these "earnings" provide. The rate is frequently way beyond my not-insignificant earnings when I worked after I figure the minimal time spent and the money saved. Part of the cost is just sucking up the aggravation of pursuing the task and of course always looking for "opportunities". Doesn't sound much different than working to me.   :-)))))


      Your thoughts and successes are welcome!!!

        • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
          BoBraxton

          I had never considered having (two) books shipped to Nairobi, Kenya, due to the expense. When I checked shipping options by big retailer, it looked like about $100 shipping (trackable), half that (about $50) with no explicit tracking.

          I placed the order early August (about a third of the way into the month). When nothing had been delivered by a week (or more) after the September mid-month estimated, I was able (it took me three or four layers) to contact first the shipping company I thought the retailer would contract for international shipping, then from that to another part of that company, then finally from that other part to an actual representative of the big retailer. This final person apologized and asked whether I would like the company to "replace" the order (two books) and the company would ship it highest priority (trackable) with no additional charge (for the replacement books or for the highest-level shipping). Within less than one week the trackable shipping delivered to the residence (up one flight). The reason for the books is that our friend (retired) in Kenya is working on two Master's degrees: one in translation (her career), the other in Interpretation. I have a lot of patience to wait and "never" pay for expediting shipping - except in this case, a positive outcome depended on the generous response of the retailer.

          • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
            Chrysalis

            Jerry, I agree that using some of our time in retirement to save ourselves money is a lot like paid "work" and it can really make a difference in our finances. I like the idea of sharing some money-saving tips and tricks.

             

            My goal is to shave 10% off our annual expenses. Some expenses are fixed so I'm trying to save 20% where I can. I'm not willing to run all over town to save a dollar or two here or there. I'm not willing to spend a lot of time reading and clipping coupons (which I usually forget to use). But there are some things where I find that the time I put in is not loathsome and the results are worth it. Here are some of the things I do to save money:

             

            1. I live in a condo and can't buy in bulk so warehouse stores are not for me. However, I have learned that grocery stores charge at least 10% more for all non-food items than do local discount stores like Target and Walmart. So now I purchase only consumables at the grocery store. Everything else (paper towels, laundry soap, cat food, bug spray, etc) I get at a discount store.

            2. Buy gift cards on sale FOR YOURSELF. A lot of stores periodically put their gift cards on sale for 10% or 15% off. So I buy a big gift card ($100-$200) and use it myself. My local grocery store just had a 10% off gift card promotion. I bought a couple of them and "poof" I saved 10% on my food bill for the whole month. And since I shopped on a Wednesday, I saved another 5% (see below) for a total of 15%. Target had a 10% off gift card promo last week so I bought one. Now when I shop at Target for paper products and sundries I save not only the 10% cost compared my grocery store, I save another 10% by paying for it with the gift card.

            3. There is a web site (of course) that alerts you to gift cards on sale. I'm not sure how it works but you could check it out: www.cardpool.com

            4. Many stores have a regular "Senior Discount" day. Often, they are not advertised. Our local grocery stores all offer a 5% senior discount every Wednesday but you usually have to ask for it. Walgreens has a corporate policy of  senior days with 20% off all non-sale items. Some stores do it once a month, some twice a month. Ours is the first Tuesday. Again, they don't  advertise it. Our local Walgreens is basically a general store that sells everything from food and wine to vitamins and small appliances so once a month I get 20% off on soap, vitamins, bandaids, paper plates, coffee, etc.

              • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                JerryD

                GREAT IDEAS!

                 

                I know of a number of people that buy Walmart gift cards for the significant discount on their gas. Too bad I can't convince myself to buy their gas brand based on a decades old prejudice gained in my college days.

                 

                I am saying more and more these days that I don't know how I had the time to work. Thinking about it, I believe that I am saying that we spend more time researching and price-shopping for things and the growth of the Internet makes it so much easier (it would be interesting to hear from others on how much the Internet saves them and/or improves their purchase choices). That is very difficult to optimize except for more infrequent and major purchases when working. But then again, there is also a component of  just avoiding the extra effort that could bring significant benefits to0 even those who are still working.

                • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                  DRJJG

                  My wife is an extreme couponer. She could have her own show. You can start with coupon.com and get on the coupon lists of all major stores. They will email you daily sales not listed in the news paper or on the shelves of the stores. Get to know all the  store mangers by name and shop only when they are working. If you have a problem with any checkout person just have the manager called. If you don't get what you want then tell them you will call corporate. office. All managers of large companies are graded on customer satisfaction. They will give you whatever you want and additional sales that just came up. Use your store credit and rewards cards. Shop only at stores that will take other stores coupons. Have a filling cabinet for all stores with separate files for the last date each sale. Never pay full price for anything. Save your coupons and shop the last day they are still good. Rotate your credit cards so you never have to pay for anything till 30 days of purchase. Buy only house hold, yard items, clothes etc only during closeout sales. Today I bought 6- $35 to $45 high quality golf shirts on closeout at Kohls. Each was on sale for 6 to 9$. My wife had additional coupons and Kohl's cash. We paid nothing for all of them and that is with the draconian 9% sales taxes in Alabama. Other times we go to CVS with at least 5 coupons, some from other stores, when the items were already on sale at buy one get 1 to 2 free. The person at the counter will say that you can not use the coupons for sale items or from other stores. My wife then calls in the store manger and she gets the sale price and uses the coupons. We use that plus the rewards dollars and the $100 bill will end up as zero with $5 still remaining on the reward card. If she does not like something that she bought on sale she brings it back to the same store and gets back the original full price from the manager. If the store runs out of something that was at full price she gets a rain check and buys it again at the reduced price. She knows the store mangers so no receipt needed. My wife worked 30 years in Manhattan negotiating multimillion dollar contracts with fortune 500 companies. She says that everything is negotiable. She negotiates our monthly cell phone, cable tv, and power bills, as well as home repair bills, and yard work fees. I could never do what she does. I just pay what the bill says. She stays up after midnight sometimes to get the best deals on travel and knows how and when to buy the lowest fares for travel. She uses the travel people like her personal stock broker. She tells them to contact her when the prices that she will pay are available. She is a true New Yorker, so if you want her to pay more money than she is willing to pay, than "forget about it". What she does may not be totally kosher, but it works for her and to her that is everything. She lives for outsmarting the companies. I just go along for the ride and pay the bills. 

                   

                  Happy sales to you.

                   

                  Joe   

                    • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                      Chrysalis

                      Wow! Combining your post with Jerry's original post it sounds like your wife is not retired-- she now has a part-time job that she loves that brings in good money. Good for her! Thanks for the tips. I'm going to try some of them.

                        • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                          DRJJG

                          Yes yesterday she just bought the new Taylor Swift 1989 CD. Sells for $13, but she downloaded a coupon from Kroger and got the CD for $8 with a 12 pack of coke. Now I have to watch her dance and sing "Shake it Off" all day. That is what I get for marring a younger woman. I would rather watch reruns of Mister Ed and Green Achers on METV. Yesterday Mr Ed called his bookie to bet on his cousin running in the 8th race, and then Arnold the pig watched Lassie on Mr. Douglas's TV. Forget Manhatten and give me the country side. I prefer those shows to Christmas TV reruns and searching the computer for coupons. A new showing of lost episodes  of "I Love Lucy" shows will be coming on this weekend. The best show was when she and Ethel were working on the chocolate conveyer belt. It was maybe the best TV comedy stunt of all time. Bets the "Big Bang Theory" all day long.

                           

                           

                          Joe

                    • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                      gba

                      My wife and I were fortunate to be employed with private  non profit organizations (educational and medical) that provided defined pensions.  In addition I had a smaller TIAA-CREF account.  Along with Social Security payments for both of us we are be at about 77% of our working incomes in retirement.  We do have some added savings in Roth and Traditional IRA's with TIAA CREF and some property outside of our home.    I am on Medicare with a supplement and my wife will be on Medicare this summer.  I was able to retire at 63 & 1/2 and my wife will retire at 64 & 1/2.  California living isn't cheap (taxes) but we feel blessed in our small town community.

                        • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                          DRJJG

                          gba;

                           

                          Sound like you had a plan. 50% or more of the people in the US think that social security is the plan. The average SS payment in the US is $1,000/month X 2 people is $2,000/month. That is $24,000/ year. which is below poverty level even if you have not debt, which most of them have. I need $2,000/week to keep the life style I am accustom too. This is not beyond reach if the couple had a plan and stuck to it for 35 years. If each couple saved 10% of their income for 35 years and placed it in a diversified mutual fund IRA, the dollar cost averaging could be anywhere from 1 to 2 million dollars. However, if you spent your money on the latest toys and expensive vacations you would have had lots of yards sales that if you were lucky would have generated you $500/sale/6 months and a number of filled photo books.

                           

                           

                          Too each his own:

                           

                           

                          Joe

                            • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                              Chrysalis

                              Joe, I am happy for anyone who accumulated 1 to 2 million dollars in their retirement account. And your advice to everyone to save 10% their whole lives is good advice. If they can. But in reality, most people will not be able to save that much money for very many years.

                               

                              You said that you need >$100,000/yr to keep your accustomed lifestyle. Based on that, I assume that you earned at least $100,000/yr while you were working; probably considerably more if you were contributing the max to your retirement funds all those years. You may not think so, but $100,000 is considered to be a princely sum by most people. Someone who earns $40-$50,000/yr (a more typical income) is hard-pressed to pay taxes, living expenses, child rearing, church tithes, school and college costs, and occasional cars and vacations. They're lucky if they can save 3 months' income for an emergency fund, much less an additional 10% every year towards retirement.

                               

                              I remember reading Jean Chatsky's book on happiness a few years ago where she said that a family of 4 needs about $50-$55,000/yr to meet their basic expenses. So I conclude that only people who make more than that can put much away for retirement. After the kids are up and out, yes, but while they are dependents, no. However, people who make more than $100,000/yr essentially have $50,000 "extra" each year for fun and for savings. They can and do invest quite a bit in retirement for most of their working careers and end up being financially comfortable in their later years.

                               

                              I'm glad that you were able to retire comfortably. But it's not fair to expect everybody to be able to save 10% of their income in a retirement fund every year throughout their lives. It really is easier to save that amount when you have plenty of "extra" income.

                                • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                  DRJJG

                                  Chrylsalis:

                                   

                                  Yes my family and I and our parents all made well over $100,000/year. Yes we were lucky. We stayed in school for many years accumulating degrees on tuition scholarships when yearly tuition was $3,000/year. Now college tuition is anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000/year. My son went to law school and daughter medical school and they have each have about $100,000 in school loans and that is with me paying their room and board. I look at this is importation or well needed debt like having a home mortgage. They budget their money for living, paying off school debt and home mortgage, which will  probably be for 35 years of working. The baby boomers can retire at 55 and live to 82. My kids will have to work until 70, but will probably live to 95 or so. My father is 91 and still plays golf. Look at is this way you will have to stay in school longer and work longer, but you will live longer to enjoy your retirement. I feel your pain and am in no way putting you down for the decisions you made in your life. There is no right or wrong, but like I said with my sister, who has a masters degree in english and taught grade school for 30 years. She is 63 and has to still work part time in a grocery store to make ends meet. She was never able to give her kids any money for their schooling. I spent 9 years in college and have been working for 38 years as a college professor and will probably stop at 40. I go to my GP every 6 months for a full health screening, full blood work and all. I do not want to be blind sided with cancer or some other life threatening disease. I have 70 year old retired  colleagues, some who are overweight, some smoke, others who are in great shape that have not been to a Dr in 10 years. Occasionally after 1 year of constant pain they go to their Dr and find out that they have heart disease or stage 4 cancer, etc.and they may die in 1 to 2 years. I feel bad for them, but they could have prevented all of that if they had got regular checkups.     

                                   

                                  Joe

                                    • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                      Chrysalis

                                      Joe, I'm not sure I understand your point or, rather, what advice you are trying to convey to younger people. Working hard is no guarantee of a 6-figure income. Lots of people work very hard and put in lots of hours for many years and don't bring in a 6-figure income. Staying in school through a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD is no guarantee of a 6-figure income, either. Especially when they graduate with student loan debt almost as large as a mortgage. Depending on your professional field, the difference in your lifetime earnings might not be more than your student loan total payoff amount. (By the way, with big student loans how are your kids managing to put aside 10% in a retirement fund every year? Don't answer that-- just a hypothetical.)

                                       

                                      The key to earning a high income is shown by the contrast between you and your sister. In this country, it is relatively easy to make a good income (say >$100,000) if money is what makes you happy. All you have to do is decide early on in life that you want a job with a good income. Every choice you make after that-- from choosing a college major to choosing to relocate wherever the job takes you to agreeing to work long hours for years even if you miss family time-- is targeted towards making money. But if money is NOT a source of happiness for you (as apparently it is not for your sister) then you make your choices and put your energies and passion someplace else. Maybe even an English major (God forbid!).

                                       

                                      Unfortunately, our society only praises people for their wealth, not for their character,their contributions or their other accomplishments. Anyone with a big house, a fancy car (and a fat retirement account) is a "success". Everyone else is a failure. I doubt that your sister is regretting her life and career choices. I doubt that she now wishes that she had sacrificed the good things in her life so that she could have as much money as you do. She may wish she had more money, she may wish she could retire now, but that doesn't mean that she regrets her choices. We all have to make trade-offs in life.

                                       

                                      You don't have to feel sorry for us mid-range earners. I chose a path in life that made me and my husband happy and I am glad I did. Yes, I have a modest lifestyle and will have to cut back on some expenses when we retire. So what? I may worry and wonder and scheme about retirement, but that does not mean that I am complaining or jealous of people with more or that I would have done things any differently in my younger years. It just is what it is.

                                        • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                          DRJJG

                                          Chrysalis:

                                           

                                          I am happy that you are happy and yes money will not make you happy and sometimes it only complicates matters. The more things you have the more things are broke and can drive you crazy trying to get them fixed. My kids can't save 10% of their income at his point, and maybe only when their out of dept, and that may depend on other things like marriage, kids, health, spending, investments, etc. I guess that is why they are in their mid 30's and have not gotten married yet? I suppose they may wait until their 40 or so and may or may not choose to have children? My sister, parents, and grandparents have always liked to work and we are thrifty. My grandparents came from Italy with their parents at the turn of the century. They had only a small bag of clothes with them as they past through Ellis Island and never learned to speak english or drive a car. However, they did well for themselves and family values were the most important things in their lives. When they died they had no will caused they had no material possessions. But they left a legacy that will live forever.

                                           

                                           

                                          As you said it is what is.

                                           

                                          Joe.

                                      • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                        BoBraxton

                                        We are a couple - first priority, tithe to the church; second (my) priority, after paying income taxes and such, investing (for retirement). Frugal living (sometimes called non-discretionary) is third in line for us. It is true that eventually we got into the stratospheric pay grades. When we moved (from NJ) to Virginia, my spouse was earning $20,000 and I was earning at least about $45,000 per year - computer programming). She took a slight cut in pay for the move but over 27 years as senior pastor her compensation was increased to five-fold her starting, perhaps the highest in the Presbytery. In my case, over almost thirty years my pay was essentially flat, never reaching $50,000 per year. We did always have two incomes (hers being about double mine by the end).

                                        • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                          JerryD

                                          Not criticizing your thoughts on who can save and accumulate, Chrysalis, but over the years I have more and more stated that "you makes your choices and you pays the price". I really don't know the answer, but I have seen so many people, some very close to me, start making poor choices when young and then get too tired to keep running to catch up. Not valuing education. Not taking the risk to get the benefit. Getting married and having babies when one doesn't have enough income to support yourself. Not buying those big, expensive toys that have no place in one's current income. Not deferring gratification in general. Buying something cheap and having it wear out before you get it paid for. Etc. 

                                           

                                          If we could figure out how to instill the right choices in the ones we love, their lives (and ours too) would be so much better and happier.   :-)))

                                          • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                            Susanna144
                                            1. Ditch the TV.   No cable bill, no advertising and much much less spending as a result.  People are influenced by advertising.  It makes you unhappy because it keeps showing you the fancy new car, the huge house, etc. 
                                            2. Don't pay for a contract cell phone.  I have a TracFone which costs me about 10 cents a minute, or $7 a month
                                            3. Pay cash for your automobiles.  If you have to borrow the money, you cannot afford it.
                                            4. Pay off all your debts.  I realize that this may seem impossible to some people, and might be too hard if you are young and live in a place with a high cost of living, but it can be done.  A big part of it is deciding you don't need a big fancy house.  See point 1 above.  There is no tax benefit to debts for us.  We are moderate income and live in a low tax state so we have not itemized deductions in many years.
                                            5. Cook all your meals.  I don't eat out except on rare occasions.  I enjoy my own cooking very much, and my husband has become an excellent cook also.  I bring a sandwich to work for lunch.  We share those duties.
                                            6. Conserve fuel, natural gas, and electricity.  My utility bill in town is about $50/month.  Our place in the country has no utility bills at all.  We generate all our own electricity with solar panels, have solar hot water, and use solar heat.

                                            I don't think it's at all impossible to save money on a $40K/year income.  Presently my part time salary is $44K/yr and I have saved approximately 30% of income the last few decades.   I think my primary point is, there isn't some fixed cost to living.  We all need shelter, food, and some kind of entertainment, but our individual choices decide how expensive those things are.   Housing and entertainment don't have to be expensive, those are choices we make.

                                              • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                JerryD

                                                Wow! Thank you for those specific comments, Susanna.

                                                 

                                                Just one tweak to your comment: "Pay cash for your automobiles.  If you have to borrow the money, you cannot afford it." We bought a Subaru last year in late Spring (OK, OK. No more tree-hugger comments! Love this car!). They must have wanted to push sales because the dealer knocked off $3,000 from the list price for just walking in the door. Then they asked if I wanted to finance it at 0%! I was very skeptical since I haven't financed a car in decades, but I never remember any 0% deals. Then I started mumbling to the spouse that we were probably going to see well over $1,000 to pay the sales tax and state fees/license. The nice sales lady asked if I would like to finance that too, at 0%! I was still looking for the gotcha right up until I multiplied the monthly payment times 48 payments and it was the exact price we agreed to! Now that beats trying to figure out if you can sell something to pay more than we paid for our first place.   :-)))

                                                  • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                    TroutBum

                                                    I experienced a similar situation when I bought my last truck. While calculating the cost, the salesman asked if I was willing to finance through Ford. When I said I'd be paying cash he explained the Ford offered an additional $1,000 discount if I would finance, then went on to say that there was no limit as to how long I had to keep the loan and could close it out the same day I received loan papers if I chose. In the end, I did finance the truck and pay the loan off about one week after the papers arrived. Loan costs and interest totaled about $115 so we saved $885 by taking half an hour to process the papers. I'll be happy to work for $1,770 per hour anytime!

                                            • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                              BoBraxton

                                              the best to you both

                                            • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                              JerryD

                                              i would like to update my efforts to switch Medicare supplement plans within the same company in order to save significant money. The main purpose is to emphasize how very important it is to make the right choices when starting Medicare.

                                               

                                              Initially, I was really hot to get an Advantage plan because of the benefits and only the basic Medicare premium due. Heck I was very healthy. Fortunately, my clinic at the time refused to accept Advantage. Boy, was I mad. The best supplement route looked like well over $1,000 more per year. It took some time for me to realize that the price looked good because I was healthy. Should I get sick in any serious way, I would be stuck with this choice unless the insurer dropped the plan due to Medicare rules.  That was unlikely since I was looking at BCBS.

                                               

                                              We later heard a very disturbing story of a younger couple that developed several serious conditions, one of them was effectively treated almost exclusively by a provider NOT on their provider list. It was truly scary and sad. They were within their 1st year options and though we were sitting accidentally in this Advantage presentation, we quietly suggested to them to GET OUT and go with a supplement while they still could to guarantee access to any provider that they need and accepts Medicare.

                                               

                                              So, that is some background on how I got into a Medicare supplement. Whew! Wait! Even though I picked the very best Medigap plan by BCBS, that plan after a year or two was discontinued! You might think not a problem since the insurer must continue to offer it to you. But! Since no new people can enter that plan, the population ages and fees will increase, sometimes significantly. This tip was relayed to us by a contractor at a BCBS seminar that had been an independent agent before retiring. He provided this advice when I asked why one plan was so much more expensive for very similar coverage.

                                               

                                              Now finally to my "savings" item I described at the start of this thread. I am currently in a plan that seems to provide exactly the same coverage as a new Plan G that costs literally $480/year less. Even when you consider that you must pay the Medicare deductible of around $150/year, it is still quite a bargain and it accumulates every year after the first. This would also get me out of an aging population.

                                               

                                              But there is a hitch. I had a serious medical condition a few years ago. Gosh! I guess I am not Superman (neither is almost anybody else, we are just deluding ourselves). I was a good boy and waited the 2+ years before applying for the switch as required by the insurer. Now the catch. Any plan change after the first year Medicare options flexibility requires that your application go through the insurer's underwriting. Whereas I had my condition fixed by IMHO the very best medical organization in the US, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, I am now on only yearly reviews by specialists, sophisticated tests indicate remarkable progress and I faithfully take medications that they require, I consider myself corrected. Too bad! It appears that underwriting can look at only your clinical claims history, state that you have had such-and-such condition and can just deny your switch. They are NOT required to refer to your physicians evaluations. So far even an appeal has failed. I have now contacted AARP for advice (doesn't look good) and have complained to the state insurance commission (not likely to provide anything except a more detailed explanation for rejection).

                                               

                                              The bottom line, folks, appears to be unlike the Affordable Care Act that guarantees no rejections due to pre-existing conditions, it is looking more and more like Medicare recipients have NO SUCH GUARANTEE.

                                               

                                              So, I am back to my warning earned by real experiences that one's choice of Medicare or Advantage coverage and getting into the very best supplement plan is a decision that will probably mean many $1,000's to you over your lifetime. Good Luck!!!!    :-((((

                                               

                                              PS: It appears that the last option on this matter is to write and complain vigorously to all of my representatives in Washington. Maybe if many do this something will happen for us, but it certainly will not be immediate.

                                                • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                  BoBraxton

                                                  Thank you very much. Our coverage is through PC(USA) Board of Pensions and the Supplement premiums (monthly fee) are quite substantial. We are covered this way because of my spouse serving long term (27 years in her most recent) as Presbyterian pastor. The combination of these plus our dental premiums plus what we pay in Medicare (basic) premiums plus all the other health care payments (deductibles, out-of-pocket) for tax year 2013 for the first time in our life we took a significant Income Tax deduction for all these medical. And I consider both of us to be healthy (ages 70 and 71). Your account presents a wake-up call and even though I may not understand completely every detail, it stands as fair warning.

                                                  • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                    Chrysalis

                                                    Jerry, thank you for this important, if somewhat hair-raising, message. The whole health care situation is a minefield and one false step could end up costing you thousands of dollars a year every year for the rest of your life. Thank heavens we have intelligent and generous people like you who share your knowledge and try to help us out. I really appreciate your advice and experience.

                                                  • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                    JerryD

                                                    Since I am revisiting some of the original "savings" at the start of this thread, I thought that it might be helpful to some coming on Medicare and even those already there to share some more detailed experiences with Medicare Part D drug coverage.

                                                     

                                                    Although I can have my numerous drug needs covered as generics, I would like to suggest an ANNUAL process that MAY (no guarantee) help you overcome at least some drug costs or at least to minimize them given the current year's costs.

                                                     

                                                    Part D came after Medicare, so the Washington types and Medicare learned some things. First they allow you to take your drug list each year and go shopping. Whereas this is frustrating it can provide some big savings. First, enter your drug list at medicare.gov and remember how to review and modify it annually. Next, do a search annually using your list to find the cheapest plan. They do change significantly every year as insurers change their drug coverage and tiers. As I have stated in other posts, I strongly feel based on my IT experience that even though a bit complex that the medicare.gov site is excellent for selecting both drug plans annually and also supplement plans initially.

                                                     

                                                    Another option which I never even thought of using is to go with mail order. The reason I switched from using the convenient box store we go to every week was that the mail order has absolutely no extra out-of-pocket costs beyond the monthly premium whereas the box store does charge some each time. Can't beat free, no? This has worked pretty well except when the new year started and I had to straighten out my doctors' prescriptions with their on-line prescription list.

                                                     

                                                    The medical environment is very complex and we can make unwitting mistakes that cost us BIG TIME. We all have an obligation to tell those that are following how to get-her-done.  GOOD LUCK!!!!   :-))))

                                                      • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                        BoBraxton

                                                        Personally I get mail order. My spouse gets hers at the local pharmacy (big box). One reason that pushed me to the other option is that the robo-call that came in to tell us a prescription was ready to be picked up did not specify the person (him or her) or the product and this drove me nuts. It seemed every time we turned around there was another call coming to say "pick it up" but we had no clue whose or which prescription. At least that is now cut in half, since spouse knows the call is for her and from the mail order it is for me (so far).

                                                          • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                            JerryD

                                                            I have had similar issues with automated calls. It is difficult to sort out what they are for and also confusing if one is using the Internet to do the ordering. I am now to the stage where I answer any such calls, listen in case there is anything of interest and mostly just hang up. I find that I can sort out all issues by going on-line, checking my prescriptions if necessary and then orders. A phone call to their 800 number can help too. Overall, the order process and delivery after these threshold periods is very, very smooth.

                                                             

                                                            One thing I wasn't aware of was that there are options in one's profile, at least on the mail order place I use, that allow you to tell them how to communicate. Easier to delete emails than running for the phone. I found that most of the confusion was when the mail order was pushing to get me re-enrolled with them and then getting the last orders in before the year expired. Like I said, ignore 'em and go on-line to resolve.   :-)))

                                                        • Re: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
                                                          kymahn214

                                                          Wow, lots of information to process. However, I glad to read the post and the various comments, it gives me a lot of idea and good points on ways to save money. I am about 20 year from retirement but i would love to put some things in place now for taking control of things in my life.