Author Archives: femmefrugality

It’s launch day!

Picture of a man (Paul Curley) speaking at a conference podium. Text reads: "The very basis of ABLE accounts was to allow people to have assets and actually control them. This is a population where historically they weren't allowed to have any type of access or training on this topic. I think it's to be celebrated, to actually let them have more than $2,000 and then manage their own money. That was the inner brilliance of it. -Paul Curley, CFA on the Mom Autism Money Podcast, Episode One MomAutismMoney.com"

Today’s the day!

The very first episode of Mom Autism Money launched today! In it, we sit down with Paul Curley, CFA to discuss ABLE Accounts. We cover things like:

  • Using an ABLE account to shelter your savings from asset tests.
  • Tax benefits to opening an ABLE account.
  • The ABLE to Work Act.
  • 529 rollovers.
  • Addition of debit cards, which make account access easier.
  • How to support the ABLE Age Adjustment Act at the federal level.
  • How to support the removal of Medicaid clawback provisions at the state level.

Here’s where you can currently listen to Episode One:

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast on your platform of choice!

In the coming weeks, we’ll be covering Special Needs Trusts, teaching boundaries to Autistic children and pattern recognition strategies for financial scams.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

10 Years & An Announcement

birthday cake with star sprinkles sitting in a library with a sparkler candle

In June, I got an email from Google.

They were wishing me a happy birthday.

My first thought?

WHOA. Google got dumb. It’s not my birthday.

Then I realized that while it wasn’t my birthday, it was Femme Frugality’s birthday. A few months ago, this little blog turned 10 years old.

The Past Year-ish.

It’s been quite the ten years. I almost feel like claiming 10 years is cheating as I didn’t post here at all over the summer.

Part of that was because my life responsibilities have ballooned so much since the pandemic hit. I’ve still been working, but to my chagrin I haven’t been able to put in as many hours as I did before.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on any endeavors. In fact, there’s one project I’m almost ready to launch.

An exciting one.

The next big thing I’ve been working on behind the scenes.

The Next Big Thing.

This Spring, my colleague Joyce and I spoke at an event together. As we were preparing, we caught up with each other on pandemic life.

What was working for us.

What wasn’t.

And what madness the world had fallen into.

During those discussions, we came to a realization: We had financial experiences we needed to share with others. Because of our jobs, we also know people who are sources of immense financial knowledge.

With our experiences and access, Joyce and I decided we needed to start a podcast. And so we shall.

Mom. Autism. Money.

Silohette art of a group of women. Beneath reads 'Mom Autism Money: Growing Wealth and Family'

As I write, we’re editing Season 1 of Mom. Autism. Money. On the new podcast, Joyce and I sit down with experts in the fields of finance, education, law, autistic self-advocacy, parenting and more.

We’re delving into topics like:

And all the other things that make managing your finances different as the parent of an Autistic child.

How to Support

Whether you’ve been here for 10 years or 10 seconds, I greatly appreciate you. Your support over the years is what has made my career possible, and I never take that for granted.

If you’d like to support this next big effort moving forward, here are some ways you can help:

If you subscribe to the Femme Frugality email list, you’ll also receive updates — at least about the initial launch!

We’re planning to bring the podcast to all the listening platforms in about a month. Stay tuned for the latest details.

Thank you for the past 10 years!

If they’ve taught me anything, it’s that you never know what the next 10 may bring.

 

Financial Pitfalls Aren’t Always About Money

Today’s piece is contributed by Robyn of A Dime Saved.

A photo where it looks like a woman is falling to the ground on her back from the top of some springtime trees

At first glance, it appears financial problems are primarily about money. But in my experience, most financial mistakes often point to other obstacles. It is usually not about the money.

We all have our experiences and frameworks that have gotten us to where we are. Sometimes our choices are from ignorance. Other times, the reasons behind our behavior may not be as apparent.

How we spend and interact with money is often a symptom of more significant issues. These problems can either lead us to make sound financial decisions or lead us to make terrible choices with our money.

For example, maybe we struggle with talking about money with our partner, or we find that when we get stressed, we eat out more, or, conversely, we struggle with spending money on anything.

To tackle our money problems, we have to get behind the behavior to see what is going on. Creating a budget and living frugally can only get you so far: you must get to the root of the issues.

Behavior Management

Most people can change their money habits temporarily, but the focus should not be on only doing what we think we should be doing.  Soon things settle down, and when the original motivation wains, we will revert to what comes more naturally to us.

True change can only come when we understand the reasons for our behavior. Merely changing our actions will not lead to lasting change.

This is why figuring out the reasons behind our behavior can help us change our actions permanently.

There might be areas where we lack knowledge, and we should pursue educating ourselves on what we don’t know. However, most core money issues are not caused by what we don’t know.

  • Most of us know we should not spend more than we make, and yet on average most of us have large credit card balances, whether because of behavior or necessity.
  • We know that to retire, we need to start saving. However, few people are investing in their 401k’s.

How do people make healthy financial choices over the long term?

Maybe the best place to start is to “fake it until you make it.” But this will not last long-term if we don’t realize our actions result from other feelings/ideas/problems that we need to focus on to change our trajectory.

But to change our behavior permanently, we have to eventually move from the “fake it until you make it” mentality to a place where good money decisions result from a lasting change in our lives.

What Matters Most

There is always a reason behind our choices. We don’t live life doing random things for no reason.

One way to tackle money problems is to take a look at what we want. When we are old and wrinkled, what kind of choices will we be happy to have made?

Things that will matter the most:

  • Our relationships: How connected we are to the closest people in our lives.
  • What we accomplished: Have we worked as hard as possible to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish?
  • Enjoying life: Did our experiences cause us to enjoy life?
  • Memories: Having tons of great memories will help us have a positive perspective on our past.

Things that won’t matter as much:

  • Stuff we purchased: Material possessions we want and don’t “need” can only give us a certain amount of value.
  • The house we lived in: We often get used to the house we live in and learn to enjoy wherever we end up living.
  • How much we earned: How we use our money is more important than how much money we earned. Obviously, earning more money can give us more options, but only if we choose to exercise those options. Likewise, how you spend is more important than how much you spend.

Prioritizing

Looking at what we want to accomplish can help us determine what choices are not leading us down the right path and which choices lead us to what we truly want.

When I think purchasing an expensive TV that I can’t afford will make me happy, it becomes easier to justify spending more than I make and going into credit card debt.

But when I realize this item is not going to add much value to my life and limit my options, it can provide the power I need to make smarter financial decisions.

When I realize that spending money on certain aspects of my life- such as health, education, memories, and things that bring me joy — I can budget for those things appropriately and truly feel at peace with my spending.

Financial problems ultimately come down to us being confused about what we want in our lives and what is worth pursuing.

Weigh the Pros vs. Cons of Our Financial Choices

Asking ourselves this question will help us determine whether this financial decision is worth it:

Will I regret making this decision in the future?

We can’t 100% know for sure how our future self will feel about our present financial choices. But previous decisions can help us determine how repeating those choices will make us feel in the future.

So, in my opinion, this is the best option to figure out how we should move forward right now.

Another way to look at this is to make a document with two columns. In the first column, put the questionable things you want to buy right now.

Then, in the second column, describe things you could do with that money that push you towards your goals instead of purchasing the items in the first column.

By comparing and contrasting the choices directly, we encourage ourselves to think about these decisions from a more logical perspective.

Get Emotional About Your Dreams

Emotion often drives us to make decisions. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as having emotions is human.

The trick is to understand the emotions that we experience and how they push us to make certain decisions, and harness those emotions to help us achieve our goals.

We can tap into the power of emotion to push us towards what we really want by getting emotional about our dreams.

Often this is a matter of focusing our energy and time on what we want to achieve and where we want to go in the future.

But you have to know what those dreams are and envision yourself experiencing the emotion of achieving those dreams to tap into this power. This process does the following:

  • Focuses our time and energy on what we want.
  • It helps us make choices that we will not regret in the future.
  • Refills our “energy bar” in pursuing what matters most to us.

Once you truly understand WHY you are acting the way you are, you can change HOW you act. By understanding the emotions and feelings behind our money decisions and using them to make better money choices, we can truly feel happy with the financial decisions we are making.

 

What methods have you used to tackle your financial problems, and what you want to achieve?

Home Décor, Apple Products, Cybersecurity and Cyberprivacy

This piece is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

Woman's legs kicked up on a coffee table, with Netflix loading on a Smart TV

Home Décor and Cyber Connected Technologies

With the proliferation of IoT devices and their involvement with more facets of our lives than ever, and those Internet of Things devices also becoming decorative, it might be easy to overlook other aspects of these fancy technologies.

In reality be it a smart holiday ornament, a smart picture frame or digital art on the the wall, all of those devices are likely to be cyber connected and operated remotely.

Even a fancy coffee machine, refrigerator can fall into this category and can be easily overlooked in terms of its cyber connected nature and its related potential ramifications.

Cyber connected devices as fancy and innovative as they may be come with an additional aspect which is the inherent security and privacy risks which are synonymous with the internet and Cyberspace.

Apple Products

Apple product enthusiasts may look for a free VPN Mac or free VPN for iPhone solutions. Perhaps because Apple products are well-known for their superior security and scrutinizing application approval processes for their iOS devices, an Apple user may not think that it is worth while to purchasing the best VPN for Mac solution.

Here are some reasons Apple product users should consider purchasing a reputable high-quality VPN solution for their devices:

  • MacOS does not have the ability to stop your ISP or Internet Service Provider to track your online activities.
  • iOS does not have the ability to stop your ISP or Internet Service Provider to track your online activities.
  • MacOS or iOS do not encrypt all your traffic including on non-secure sites, a VPN solution will fill that gap.
  • VPN will enable you to mask you real IP address on the internet, providing increased security and privacy. MacOS and iOS devices do not have the capability.
  • Bypass geo-content restrictions by obtaining an IP address for another country. For example if you are in Canada and there is a show or movie on Netflix that is not available for Canadian Netflix users, simply get an U.S address and enjoy that show and movie. Once again, MacOS and iOS does not offer these capabilities.
  • MacOs or iOS will not protect you from open and unsecure public Wifi networks such as the ones in cafes, restaurants, hotels, airports, public transport and more. A VPN will ensure all your data is scrambled ensuring your privacy is not compromised in those public locations.

New Devices, Cybersecurity and Cybersecurity

PC monitors, and monitors used to extend laptop display are not typically viewed as a device that would require a security and privacy related solution such as a VPN. The recently launched device by major technology players such as Samsung’s Smart Monitor which is classified by some as part of their home décor changes that picture. This device has the same capabilities as a Smart TV and also connects directly to popular content services such as Netflix Disney+, HBO Max, AppleTV, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube. A VPN solution is relevant for such a device as not only it connects to your home WiFi network and may be used outside your home, removing geo-content restrictions is likely to be needed as some point.

Device Scrutiny

We all should scrutinize every device, appliance and home décor item as it may be cyber connected will need a security-solution such as VPN.

Smart Ways To Pay Less On Your Health Care Costs

This post is brought to you and contributed by an outside writer.

woman's hand holding a stack of cloth facemasks of various colors.

It’s no secret that health care costs can be astronomical. Whether you require chronic medications and treatments, have an upcoming major or minor surgery, or are only devoted to your annual check-up, health care is a concerning expense for just about everyone.

There are a few smart ways that you can effectively reduce your spending on health care needs.

Opt For The Right Health Insurance Plan

Your choice of health insurance plan will be one of the most significant factors in your overall health care costs.

Opting for just any plan may have you overspending on out-of-pocket expenses. For example, if the plan doesn’t adequately cover your medications, a plan with a lower premium could actually end up being more expensive as you shell money out of pocket every month.

Understand How Your Health Insurance Works

One of the biggest mistakes that most people make when using their health insurance to cover health care costs is not fully understanding how their plan works.

Visiting a healthcare practitioner outside of your provider network may cost you out of pocket, depending on the insurer.

Purchasing OTC medications at the checkout line instead of at the pharmacy can also sometimes cost you money. Yes, some health insurance plans cover specific OTCs when you have a prescription!

Instead of assuming what your health insurance policy does and doesn’t cover, you should assess how your insurance coverage works. You can find out more about health insurance –especially Medicare and Medicaid — at HelpAdvisor.

Update Your Info on Healthcare.gov

If you have an ACA — otherwise known as Obamacare — health insurance policy, it’s always a good idea to update income changes on Healthcare.gov or via your state’s official healthcare marketplace website.

It’s an especially great idea right now because the American Rescue Plan changed a lot about ACA plans in 2021. You might not even have to pay any premiums on certain plans, and almost everyone will experience a steep reduction in premium charges when they update their information.

Seek Out Financial Assistance Programs

If your medical provider is part of a nonprofit hospital system, they are legally required to offer financial assistance programs. These programs are available to the insured and uninsured.

While they do come with income limits, some programs are actually quite generous; even if you don’t consider yourself ‘poor,’ you may qualify under your hospital’s program, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in bills.

Never Skip Your Regular Checkup

Skipping your regular check-up or cancer screenings can be a massive healthcare mistake, as these check-ups give your doctor a baseline for healthy and can help them identify new problems early — before they get worse.

Even though you may sometimes feel as though a regular check-up is not essential as you don’t feel the signs of any ailments, it is best to devote yourself to these as allowing certain conditions to worsen will cost you more later down the line.

 

Health care is essential for everyone, even those who are considered to be in excellent health. When it comes to saving on your health care costs, it is essential to find ways to save without compromising your health.

Therefore, skipping check-ups or avoiding necessary medications is not the answer if you can at all help it, as these decisions will cost you more later on. Keeping yourself in good health and finding the right insurance plan while using your insurance correctly are the best ways to spend less on your health care costs without compromising your health and well-being.