Category Archives: Family Finance

If you’re paying for health insurance anyways, make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Here are five surprising things your health insurance may cover.  Plans and coverage vary, but it’s worth investigating to find out.

How to Get $30 (or more!) Off Your Internet Bill

Father with two children on his lap looking at a laptop/tablet

Have you heard of the Affordable Connectivity Program?

If not, you might be missing out! This government program can help you save $30 or more on your internet bill every month.

Is the Affordable Connectivity Program legit?

One hundred percent yes. The Affordable Connectivity Program is legit and can help you save money on your internet bill.

How much money can I save with the Affordable Connectivity Program?

Most people will get a $30 credit on their internet bill per month.

If you live on Tribal lands, you can qualify for a $75 credit per month.

PLUS, regardless of where you live, you may be eligible for $100 off a laptop, desktop or tablet. You will have to contribute between $10 and $50 towards the purchase of your device to qualify for the $100 discount.

Your internet service provider must participate in the discounted device program to qualify for that extra $100 benefit. Here are the ones that do.

How do I qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

There are three ways to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program:

  • Household income.
  • If anyone in your household uses certain government programs.
  • Meet special requirements for those who live on Tribal Lands.

Qualifying for ACP based on income

Income limits are higher than you might think — especially if you have a family! Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t consider yourself ‘low-income.’

Income limits are based on your household size and where you live.

Income Limits for Contiguous U.S and Territories

  • Single person: $27,180
  • Two-person household: $36,620
  • Three-person household: $46,060
  • Four-person household: $55,500
  • Five-person household: $64,940
  • Six-person household: $74,380
  • Seven-person household: $83,820
  • Eight-person household: $93,260

For each additional person in your household, add $9,440 to the income limit.

Income Limits for Alaska

  • Single person: $33,980
  • Two-person household: $45,780
  • Three-person household: $57,580
  • Four-person household: $69,380
  • Five-person household: $81,180
  • Six-person household: $92,980
  • Seven-person household: $104,780
  • Eight-person household: $116,580

For each additional person in your household, add $11,800 to the income limit.

Income Limits for Hawaii

  • Single person: $31,260
  • Two-person household: $42,120
  • Three-person household: $52,980
  • Four-person household: $63,840
  • Five-person household: $74,700
  • Six-person household: $85,560
  • Seven-person household: $96,420
  • Eight-person household: $107,280

For each additional person in your household, add $10,860 to the income limit.

Qualifying for ACP based on government programs

You can totally qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program even if you’re beyond the income limits.

For example, multiple members of the Mom Autism Money community have qualified because most of their children are on Medicaid regardless of household income.

Here’s how it works:

If you or any of your dependents are on one of the following programs, you automatically qualify for the ACP. They won’t even ask for your income on the application:

  • Medicaid
  • SNAP
  • WIC
  • SSI
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program
  • Lifeline benefits
  • Received a Pell Grant in the current award year

That’s right: You can qualify based on something as simple as a PELL GRANT!

The ACP website says you might have to provide paperwork supporting your enrollment in any one of these programs, but so far none of the members of our Facebook community have had to provide anything beyond the last four of the eligible person’s SSN.

Qualifying for the ACP on Tribal Lands

If you live on Tribal lands, you may qualify for a juiced up version of the ACP, which gives you a $75 credit rather than the standard $30.

First, make sure you live on qualified Tribal lands.

Then, see if you qualify based on income or participation in certain federal or Tribal programs.

Income limits on Tribal lands are 200% of of the federal poverty line. To figure out this number, check the household size for where you live here. Then, multiply that number by two.

Regardless of income, you can still qualify if you participate in any of these programs:

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • SNAP
  • Medicaid
  • SSI
  • Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program (can be any time since 2019)
  • WIC
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Pell Grant
  • Lifeline benefits

How do I apply for the Affordable Connectivity Program?

To start the application process online, visit the ACP application landing page.

You’ll fill out a quick application that will let you know whether or not you qualify.

Then, find your internet service provider’s ACP landing page via this list from the FCC. You’ll have to fill out a very basic form verifying that you’ve applied for the ACP. Then your ISP will vet you by checking for the approved application and giving you the discount.

How long does it take to get your Affordable Connectivity Program credit?

If you’ve ever interacted with a government program, you’re probably used to it taking weeks, months, or even years before you can access your benefits.

Amazingly, this is not the case with the ACP.

All of the members of the Mom Autism Money community who have applied have seen the credit reflected on their internet bill within 24-48 hours of their initial application on the ACP website.

So in our experience, it’s worked at lightning speed! But if you have circumstances that require extra paperwork, it may or may not take a little longer to process the application and get your credit reflected on your internet bill.

Is the ACP program permanent?

Yes, the intent of the ACP program is for it to be permanent. It’s a replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB,) which was a temporary COVID-19 response.

That being said, final regulations on the ACP will be decided upon in November of 2022. So while the Affordable Connectivity Program is scheduled to be permanent for now, we will see how things pan out in the Fall. It may end up being capped to four or five years.

In the meantime, start saving on your internet bill today. Taking a few minutes out of your time to apply could get your bill down by $30-$75 within a day or two.

Plutus Season

It’s that time of year! Plutus Award nominations are open!

The Plutus Awards are industry awards for creators who work in independent financial media. In years past, you guys have helped nominate me for so many different categories — some nominations were a surprise even to me!

Thank you for that. Times a million. Getting nominated for these awards have really helped my career, in addition to being a great honor.

This year, if I could ask you for one more favor, it would be to nominate Mom Autism Money for Best Personal Finance Content for Underserved Communities.

How to Nominate

To nominate Mom Autism Money, you would use this form.

At the top, you’ll fill out some very basic info about yourself.

Then, if you scroll down to ‘Best Personal Finance Content for Underserved Communities,’ you should see the Mom Autism Money URL already entered.

If for some reason it isn’t, simply type this in the box: https://momautismmoney.com

If you crush on content from other PF creators, you can enter them in the form for the remaining categories, too. But if you don’t, it’s okay to leave the rest of them blank before you hit ‘Submit.’

Catch Up on Mom Autism Money

Want to check out some of the latest episodes? Here are a bunch of our faves from Season Two! Be sure to follow or subscribe to Mom Autism Money on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, etc. so you’ll be notified each time a new episode goes live.

How to Successfully Apply to SSI

So far, this is our most popular episode this season! Brought to you by CalABLE, in this episode we speak with Dena Gassner about her proven strategy for successfully making it through the SSI/SSDI application process.

It’s centered around Autism, but her framework can be applied to any disability.

 

Autism in the Latino Community

This one just went live today!

Brought to you by ABLE United, it’s part one of an engaging, two-part discussion about Autism in the Latino community with self-advocate and editor Arianne Garcia and researcher Dr. Kristina Lopez. I learned a TON from this one, personally.

 

Retirement Planning

OMGosh, retirement planning when you have a disabled child is OVERWHELMING. Luckily, Joe Saul-Sehy and Brenton Harrison joined us to break everything down. So much great info that we broke it down into two episodes!

TBH, there are large chunks of these episodes that are great for anyone to listen to — whether or not you have an Autistic child.

More Mom Autism Money

We’ve covered a lot this season, and we’re excited to cover a lot more, too. Here are some of our other Season Two episodes:

Thank you!

Thank you all so much for your support over the years. When I started writing online, I never thought it would replace my day job. But it did. And you all made that happen. I am eternally grateful.

And thank you for taking a couple minutes to nominate today. Your continued support truly means the world.

Lovepop Cards for Mother’s Day

For International Women’s Day, Lovepop reached out to me to see if I’d like some cards on the house. I was thrilled to take the opportunity — Lovepop cards are so beautiful, unique and fun!

The problem? Well, this International Women’s Day, this is what we had to celebrate:

Bummer. I know.

And to a certain degree, I’ve been one of those women. With truncated work hours, I had a hard time getting my order in in time for the celebration.

The good news? A lot of Lovepop’s cards for International Women’s Day can double for Mother’s Day Cards. So I’m here today to share my haul with you. Be forewarned: Everything is super cute!

Savings Tip: Give Lovepop your email address to get 10% off your first order. Also keep an eye out for sale items and 5 for $50 deals. All of the cards listed below fall into one of those two categories.

Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Card

Pop up card of pink cherry blossom tree

Saw this card and fell in love! Which should be no surprise for those of you who remember my love of Japan. The magic of cherry blossom season is real, and I love how it’s captured in this card.

Mother’s Day Dragonfly Pop-Up Card

Dragonfly popup card on watercolor background

This card is specifically for moms! The dragonfly’s wings are so intricate, and the watercolor background is gorgeous.

Dragonfly popup card on watercolor background

Butterfly Basket Pop-Up Card

Popup card of weaved basket filled with flowers and butterflies

Give mom a bouquet of flowers and butterflies with this butterfly basket card! This card is particularly full and has so many tiny details that make it just perfect.

Popup card of weaved basket filled with flowers and butterflies

Mom & Baby Elephant Pop-Up Card

Pop up card with mom and baby elephant. Background popup of horizon line with trees and a watering hole on the ground.

I love these next two for new moms especially. The mom & baby elephant in this card are so cute, and the added horizon line in the background really makes it.

Mom & Baby Bunny Pop-Up Card

Baby white bunny riding on mom brown bunny's back in a popup card. Background popup is a grassy knoll with painted bunnies peeking out of their holes.

Another adorable card for new moms! Again, the background adds a lot, with bunnies peeking out of their holes and bunny ears peeking out from behind the hills. Baby white bunny riding on mom brown bunny's back in a popup card. Background popup is a grassy knoll with painted bunnies peeking out of their holes.

Have you ever bought Lovepop cards before? Share your favorites in the comments!

The Economic Pressure of Being a Pandemic Mom

This has been a really hard pandemic, friends.

And I feel like it’s been particularly difficult for parents. Anyone with aging parents. And all others who are high-risk for other reasons.

As a mom, I often feel like all the responsibility — societal and familial — has been pushed onto my shoulders. It’s a crushing weight none of us mothers volunteered for. And while I keep hoping the burden will get lighter, over time it only seems to compound.

The first time we watched Encanto, I got chills when I heard this song.

Okay, fine, I got chills every subsequent time we watched Encanto, too.

I felt seen. I don’t often feel like I can talk to many people about this pressure, but here were all my emotions in animated form:

I mean, just look how she grabs Hercules’ sword midair without thinking. If that isn’t a metaphor for what mothers have been doing these past two years I dunno what is.

Talking Pandemic Motherhood on So Money

I’ve been toying with the idea of talking about this for a while. The truth is, it’s hard.

There are so many expectations on us as women. From the responsibilities we must shoulder to the degree to which we’re allowed to be angry and frustrated without social consequences. I mean, in some work environments I worry that even just talking about the fact that I’m a mother at all will negatively impact my opportunities.

Because these expectations are widespread, though, I know I’m not alone. So I decided to start talking about the past couple years, as scary as that may be.

I recently sat down with Farnoosh Torabi for an episode of her podcast, So Money. We got real  about the past two years, how that has impacted my career as a working mom, and solutions we could explore in an effort to make a better tomorrow for everyone.

Be sure to give it a listen.

Too Ambitious

Farnoosh and I initially got to talking because of an article I wrote for Stefanie O’Connell Rodriguez’s Too Ambitious bulletin. You can check it out here.

Too Ambitious is a phenomenal, thought-provoking read each and every time. Here are some other features you should check out:

 

Latest Episode of Mom Autism Money


Okay, so this might not necessarily be related to motherhood for everyone.

But it is an important listen for just about everyone.

For the latest episode of Mom Autism Money, Joyce and I sat down with social work expert Dena Gassner to learn the best ways to successfully apply for SSI or SSDI.

One of the reasons you may apply for SSI or SSDI is when your disability impacts your ability to work a full-time job.

Having SSI or SSDI isn’t only a matter of cash payments. Sometimes receiving SSI or SSDI is a necessary step before you can get health insurance that will fully cover your needs, or other related programs you may need to get by.

The process of securing SSI/SSDI isn’t transparent and can take years. In fact, Dena thinks they do it that way on purpose.

But she has created a system that has helped countless families successfully work through the application process. And she shares it with us this week.

We obviously talk about it in context of Autism, but this overarching framework applies to all kinds of disabilities, including those who now find themselves with Long COVID.

Give it a listen. If you don’t need this information in the near future, there’s a high likelihood you’ll know someone who will. Whether that’s your aging parents or your bestie who ‘only’ had a ‘mild’ case of Omicron.

COVID Numbers

I want this pandemic to be over.

So.

So.

Badly.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned over the course of my life, it’s that just because I want something to be true doesn’t mean it is. Optimism can be a good thing, but only when it’s buffered by some somber realism.

The CDC has been putting out some real surprising maps lately, showing the entire country is green or low-risk. But that’s incredibly misleading.

Less than two months ago, the CDC changed their metrics. This whole pandemic, we’ve been measuring risk by the amount of positive cases in our communities — or community transmission.

But less than two months ago, the CDC changed those metrics to something along the lines of ‘low-risk means we have enough beds for you to die in.’

That’s a problem. Because death and/or hospitalization is a lagging indicator. The people that are in those beds when we finally get to a ‘red’ zone under these metrics? They will have caught the virus weeks to a month ago ish.

I’m not an epidemiologist. Please do your own research and learn how to vet traditional or nontraditional media outlets for any biases they may hold. And for the love of Pete, do not listen to Leana Wen.

That means that for two weeks prior, when everything was supposedly ‘green’ and people were running around inside with no masks on, the virus was probably raging.

Spread of this thing works exponentially.

And by the time we arrive to the ‘red’ point, there would be a critical shortage of hospital beds for all those people who got infected when they  thought everything was ‘green.’

This is not a guaranteed outcome. I pray that’s not what happens.

But it is one very real possibility. Given our track record with mortality rates with this virus in our country, it’s one we should be preparing for.

The tiniest silver lining is, at least for the time being, the CDC does provide a map using the old metrics.

Reporting of positive cases is sorely lacking right now. But even so, you can see that there are parts of the country that are actually very, very red if we were to measure by the metrics we had been using from the beginning: Community transmission.

The metrics that they switched out on everyone two months ago.

Map of the US showing that small parts of the country in the midwest and Rocky mountain range may be lower risk, but New England, nearly all of the non-contiguous US, and parts of the Southwest may be very high-risk in terms of community transmission. Most of the rest of the country is a mixutre of county-to-county low, moderate or high risk. Case rates represented are for April 2-8, 2022.

 

Please be careful, everyone. Even if you’re up to date on boosters, there’s still a chance you could get Long COVID even after a ‘mild’ infection.

And there’s definitely the possibility that you could remain asymptomatic and spread this thing to someone who is immunocompromised or otherwise high-risk. Or to a parent of a kid under 5 who still can’t get vaccinated.

And their outcome might not be as good as yours.

So at the absolute least, please wear a mask. Even if you’re not ‘required’ to.

Because it’s not just about our own, individual personal risks. It’s about how our decisions affect the personal risk of others.

 

6 Ways to Save on Life Insurance for Women

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

woman holding up her infant/toddler son against a pink background

Men have more life insurance policies than women, which doesn’t make a whole lot of logical sense.

Life insurance is essential for anyone who has dependents, and women tend to have more people who rely on them. Life insurance is a critical ingredient in our world where women are often providers for their families, and simultaneously provide a larger share of caretaking responsibilities. Not only will your income be lost after your death, but all the free labor you provide as a caretaker will have to be replaced.

Buying life insurance as a woman is cheaper and cost-saving when compared to men, because women tend to live longer. That means the life insurance company is less likely to have to pay out, and if they do, you’re likely to have paid more in premiums as you’ve lived longer to do so.

Life Insurance For Women: What Does It Mean?

Life insurance is a form of insurance that covers the loss of life. After you pass away, the insurance company will pay money to your beneficiaries. It works as a contract between you (the insured) and an insurance company (the insurer). The insured pays a certain amount of money known as a premium to the insurer in exchange for claims known as death benefits.

Types of Life Insurance

Fundamentally, there are two types of life insurance: term and permanent. Term insurance covers the insured for specific periods, usually five to thirty years. On the other hand, permanent insurance is whole or universal as it covers the insured’s entire life. Aside from being different by nature, both also carry different premiums.

Since term insurance only covers the insured’s loss of life for a limited number of years, the premiums are affordable. On the other hand, permanent insurance costs more in premiums.

Women’s life insurance generally has the same coverage as men’s. Your beneficiaries can use the death benefit for anything, including:

  • Funeral costs.
  • Bills and expenses of loved ones.
  • End-of-life debt settlement.
  • Education for your child.
  • Medical expenses.
  • Care for your dependents.

The cost of women’s life insurance varies from one insurer to another. So, it’s usually wise you consider the type of insurance — whether permanent or term — and the insurance company you’ll be dealing with. You’ll also want to consider your age, health, and lifestyle.

Why Do Women Need Life Insurance?

Dying means leaving several things behind. This could be a child whose education depends on you, or a loved one who’s been dependent on you over the years. Life for the people around you would be difficult without life insurance, especially if you’ve been the breadwinner. The best way to solve the financial mess of your absence is to get insured.

Whether you’re married, divorced, a single mother, or a stay-at-home mom, getting a life insurance policy would do you good. At the very least, the policy covers your burial costs, outstanding debts, and property administration. Other reasons you need life insurance include:

  • Long-term financial independence.
  • Coverage for critical illnesses.
  • Leaving a lasting legacy.
  • End-of-life saving for the future.
  • Potential tax benefits if you provide policies to your employees.
  • Whole life policies with cash benefits may make some of your death benefit available in retirement.

Investing in life insurance as a woman is a necessary form of financial protection. Beyond your dependents, life insurance can serve as a wealth buildup and backup for any post-retirement financial difficulties.

How Can Women Save On Life Insurance? 

Although life insurance is more affordable for women than men, affordability is subjective. Cost remains one of the key reasons women provide for not having a life insurance policy. If this is your situation, the following are ways you can wrangle a lower rate and save on your insurance policy:

Begin With Term

Term life insurance policies cover insurance risks and mitigate against loss until a specific date. They offer fixed death benefits at fixed premiums for a predetermined time, usually between five to thirty years. Since it’s partial and not whole, the premiums are generally lower than universal insurance. Buying term is one of the many ways to save money on your policy.

People take out term insurance policies with the perception that they may die within a given period. But when they don’t, the premiums paid to insurers turn out to be profit for them.

Compare Policies

Another way to save on insurance policies is to get quotes from many different insurers. There are several insurance companies, and you may get overwhelmed with the special offers and benefits. Your first instinct might be to stick with the first insurance brand that comes to you, but really you should shop around.

Comparison shopping allows you to see the ratings of each insurance company you’d be dealing with. Better ratings means the company is more reliable. Comparison shopping also provides you with the insight to choose the most cost-effective insurer and save on your policy.

Buy Your Policy Early

Factors such as age, health, and income inform the premium you’ll be paying under life insurance. Age is even more emphatic among these factors. The older you get, the more premiums you tend to pay. Therefore, it’s best to buy a life insurance policy early to secure lower premiums. The best period is between your 20s and 30s.

Being young when you get a policy also provides you with reasonable rates should you develop any health issues during the coverage. It’s a game of duration for insurance companies. The longer insurers expect you to live, the lower their chances of paying out. Thus, it’s best to get your plan early.

Pay Premiums Annually

Depending on the insurer you’re working with, you can pay premiums once or in installments. If in installments, you’re allowed to pay monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. However, each installment payment comes with charges.

If you want to save on your insurance policy, you can pay your premiums annually to avoid charges. Your annual payments often are your actual payments without any punitive fees. If this proves challenging due to financial difficulties, make sure you understand what the monthly payments would be.

Take Care Of Yourself 

Life insurance is intrinsically linked to age and health. Your lifestyle decisions inform your health and your insurance rates. So one of the easiest ways to keep your insurance costs low and save is to improve your wellbeing by doing things like quitting smoking.

Your overall health and wellbeing are how insurers base their premiums and claims. This means if you have a rough lifestyle, you may be grouped into a different rate class with high premiums. But if you maintain your health through a positive lifestyle, you may find yourself in a favorable rate class with fewer policy costs.

Look Into Your Buying Decisions

Budgeting is crucial regardless of your status — single, married, or divorced. Moreover, your budgeting skills should reflect your buying decisions and not the other way round. Insurance salespeople do everything to persuade you to buy more than you need. They make several assumptions about the whole life insurance concept and associate it with your life. While that’s their work to do, it’s your responsibility to remain focused on your budget.

How much insurance you need is up to you. You should make the assessment and decisions about how much coverage you need. Whether you need insurance for your child, loved ones, burial costs, or to cover outstanding debts, you shouldn’t leave the process to your insurer.

Life Insurance for women is essential

Life insurance for women is one of the most affordable, flexible, and essential insurance policies. It’s also one of the many policies you can save on. You can get premiums at reduced rates by being objective with the policy you want and the insurance company you’ll be dealing with. Most importantly, you can be intentional with yourself by taking care of your health and comparison shopping.