Category Archives: Family Finance

Children, Medicaid & Autism: State-by-State Guide

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, Femme Frugality will be hosting a series of Wednesday articles that focus on the financial challenges and triumphs that people with autism face and achieve. When they are children, these things also tend to affect their family’s finances, as well.

Pinning for my nephew. They don't have Medicaid coverge in his state and it's really hard because of the services he needs with autism. Maybe another state could help them out better.

When you’re raising an autistic child, the largest expense you shoulder is healthcare. You learn that “healthcare” isn’t just doctor’s visits and the occasional dramatic visit to the ER. It’s therapy. Adaptive equipment. Communication devices. And more.

None of it’s cheap, and if you don’t have a good healthcare plan, a lot of it’s not going to be covered.

Even if you do have a good healthcare plan, some benefits will still not be covered. In many states, the most comprehensive way to get your child the services and equipment they need is through Medicaid, and many states allow disabled children access to Medicaid even if their parents’ income exceeds eligibility limits.

Want to find out how to shelter some of your savings from asset tests? Check out ABLE accounts.

Medicaid Coverage Saves Everyone Money

Medicaid coverage keeps kids out of institutions. Until the 1980’s, one of the only ways to get children with complex needs the services they required was through an institution. Whether a parent wanted to part with their child or not, they were often forced to.

This was also extremely expensive. Providing a child Medicaid benefits so they are able to live and thrive at home is far less costly than having them live in an intermediate care facility or nursing home.

Luckily, things have changed, but not all states are equal. Today we’ll be looking at Medicaid coverage options for children with autism across all fifty states–and Washington, D.C.

Before we get started, let’s review some vocab.

What is the State Plan?

“State Plan” simply refers to the Medicaid coverage that anyone gets if they apply for benefits with their state. Eligibility is dependent on income limits–not disability or lack thereof.

What is ABA Therapy?

ABA therapy, or Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, is the most proven method for successful early intervention for children with autism. There’s just one problem: it’s insanely expensive.

Until recently, most insurers denied the evidence in favor of this therapy. Some still do because of its cost. But most states have enacted laws recognizing, and forcing insurers to recognize, it as an evidence-based therapy.

That doesn’t mean all states provide coverage. In 2014, the Federal government issued a mandate that arguably requires its coverage under Medicaid, but some states have interpreted this mandate differently.

I want to take a minute here to acknowledge that not everyone is behind ABA–even within the autistic community. There are some autistic adults who are opposed to ABA therapy when it’s practiced with extreme rigor. However, there is also a general acknowledgement that there are ethical and non-ethical ways to practice ABA from the autistic perspective. You can get both sides of the argument here.

What is Level of Care?

Required “level of care” indicates where a child would have been cared for prior to our culture’s shift towards keeping autistic children with their families. In most states, three levels are commonly recognized. In order from the least care needed to the most:

  • Intermediate Care Facility– Many parents may be surprised to learn that their child would have been institutionalized not so long ago. This level of care can, in some cases, be equivalent to the child who goes to outpatient therapy several times a week and has behavioral therapists in their home or community setting.
  • Nursing Home– This level of care would require skilled nursing/medical care on a regular basis. Today, you may have a nurse come into your child’s home and/or school to help provide these services.
  • Hospital– This level of care is required when you need more than a nurse. There may be monitoring of a condition or simply more advanced care needed on a regular basis.

In this guide, the lowest level of care required is listed. For example, if a state lists the required level of care as an intermediate facility, that will typically mean that those at a nursing home or hospital level of care are eligible, too.

Conversely, if the listed level of care is “nursing home,” those who are at an intermediate care facility level of care would not qualify for the listed program.

What is a waiver?

A Medicaid waiver is simply a program that grants specific services to those who do not typically qualify for the State Plan. There are also waivers that provide services in addition to and including what’s available on the State Plan.

Wait List

You may notice that for most states, there is no reference to the wait list. This is done for two reasons.

  1. Medicaid programs are in flux at the moment. A wait list–or even a waiver–could change suddenly. It’s information we don’t have the capacity to update continuously.
  2. We want you to get in touch with the agencies that provide these waivers. Even if the wait list is too long for your child, state agencies may know of other programs or community organizations that could help in your unique situation.

Download Your Free Copy of Children, Medicaid & Autism: State-by-State Guide

In an attempt to make this guide thorough for all 50 states plus D.C., it is much longer than typical Femme Frugality content — 11,000+ words. As such, we’ve turned it into a PDF for your browsing convenience. You’ll be able to find your state in our table of contents and easily jump to the appropriate page to get the information you need.

>>Click here to get your free copy of the PDF<<

This information in the above PDF is accurate to the best of our research as of April 15, 2020. It will be reviewed and updated annually. Intensive research was performed for each state program. The majority of states had a governmental agency or independent advocacy group provide information regarding their programs.

Get Free Stuff When You Sign Up for Soccer Summer Camp

This post is in collaboration with MomsConnect.

It’s great to get the kids to camp in the summer. It helps them continue their work on social skills throughout the break, and gives them the opportunity to explore their interests.

But summer camp can be expensive. That’s why I look so hard for the most fairly-priced programs that meet my children’s needs.

Challenger Sports Soccer Camp

This year, we’re sending one of our littles to Challenger Sports summer camp. Here’s a little info:

Challenger Sports, the largest soccer camp company in North America is coming to a community near you, and bringing over 30 years of coaching experience.

Our international staff will work with your players to teach a fun, technical and tactical curriculum that’s filled with training sessions from five of the world’s leading soccer nations. Challenger’s International Soccer Camp offers instructional camp programs for all age and ability levels!

The TinyTykes program, ages 2-5, provides fundamental soccer activities, games, and stories; designed to enhance technical skills along with physical and social development.

The Half-Day Camp, ages 5-16, is the most popular program and will provide 3 hours of skill development, games, challenges and competitions each day.

The Full-Day Camp, ages 8-18, is a 6 hour program filled with developmental practices, games, competitions and challenges.

Pricing & Freebies

The prices aren’t crazy, but as with all summer camps, there is a fee. This fee is based on your child’s age and skill level; if they’re young and just exploring, you can score quite a deal!

On top of that, this year Challenger Sports is giving away primo freebies for those who sign up. The freebie list includes:

  • International soccer ball
  • T-shirt
  • Poster
  • Player evaluation

Summer may be a while away, but booking summer camp starts now. There are so many deadlines coming up around the corner.

To encourage you to sign up before the snow melts, Challenger is also giving free International game jerseys to those who sign up 30 days before camp starts.

If your kid’s into soccer and you’re all about a fairly-priced summer camp options, definitely check Challenger out for a good value!

Shopping for Life Insurance the Right Way

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

Life insurance can be confusing. It’s something you only do a couple of times. Because of this, it’s important to know how to do it correctly. Here’s everything you need to know about shopping for life insurance the right way. This not only makes the process easier, but it also helps to cut back on costs.

Work with an independent insurance agent.

There are two types of insurance agents: Those that work for a specific company and those who work independently. As you might be able to imagine, one that works for a specific company will be selling you a product with their company because they want you to choose their company. This is true whether or not the policy is the best choice for your needs.

An independent agent works individually and will give you a lot more options. As long as they’re operating ethically and not based on who offers the highest commission, they aren’t going to persuade you into choosing a specific company. They will help you find what’s best. This will save you money and you will get the best policy too.

Buy life insurance as soon as possible.

Now, life insurance is a big decision, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly. At the same time, you don’t want to wait too long. Life insurance costs increase as you age. Plus, your overall health status has an impact on the cost of your life insurance. As you age, you are more likely to develop a health issue. To save money, it’s a good idea to get life insurance as you can. Ideally, this would be when you’re young and before you develop any health issues.

Get term life insurance.

For the majority of people, term life insurance is the best option. It lasts for a specific term, such as 15 or 20 years. Many people choose to get a term for the amount of time they have kids relying on their income. Once your kids move out, you no longer need life insurance. You could also get a policy for the duration of your mortgage.

Whole life insurance ends up costing more and provides coverage beyond when you actually need it. The term makes a lot more sense for most people.

Take the medical exam.

When you are shopping for life insurance, you will find that most of the options require a medical exam. This shows the insurance company whether it’s risky to insure you. Depending on your health status, your quote may go up or down. You will also see a no exam option. This might sound convenient, but it actually costs you more money.

The insurance company has to guess how big of a risk it is to insure you. Because of this, rates are higher with no exam life insurance. If you have a health issue that would prevent you from getting insurance anyway, then it makes sense to go with no exam life insurance. But many people will benefit from going through with the exam and get a quote.

Life insurance is important for everyone with dependents.

Getting life insurance is an important part of protecting yourself and your family. There are many different life insurance options out there, so it’s a good idea to follow these guidelines. You will get the insurance you need and you will save money too.

Comparable Worth and Early Childhood Education

a bunch of toys lined up with a color scheme of green, orange blue and white.

Last Spring, I attended an event called Statement. The first day, a bunch of us money writers listened to panel after interesting panel, each taking on a different aspect of working within our field as women.

One of the panels in particular delved into economic inequality. The idea of comparable worth was brought up. It’s an argument that was made in the 80s that essentially says we should compensate those working in female-dominated fields the same as those working in male-dominated fields.

I was stunned. I’m too young to remember that argument in real time, and had been sheltered from it until Statement.

That doesn’t mean it’s not an argument I hadn’t considered before, though. So many excuses for the gender wage gap hinge on the fact that women tend to enter lower-paying fields than men. While we this is true, there are two contingencies we must consider alongside this argument:

  1. Even when we norm out for these differences in career choices, women still face a discriminatory pay gap.
  2. Why the hell do we pay those working in female-dominated fields less in the first place?

Historical Cultural Norms and the Gender Pay Gap

number one amazon new release womens money

I actually unknowingly made an argument for comparable worth in The Feminist Financial Handbook, which was published the October before I attended Statement. From Chapter VII: The Elephant in the Womb. Full sourcing available in the book:

It is true that women tend to go into less lucrative fields. Jobs in fields like education and domestic work pay far less than opportunities available in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM.) It is also true that we have a cultural tendency to encourage our daughters towards these lower-paying fields, failing to nurture and praise talents that could one day be used in the higher-paying fields. We tend to do the opposite with our sons.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t encourage your daughter towards STEM professions. If that is where their interests and talents lie, or it’s not and they simply want to get money out of their career rather than passion, I personally think it’s a good idea. I would say the same for our sons.

However, I also think we need to look at this issue on a deeper level. Why do fields like education and domestic work pay less? I’d argue that it’s less about the importance of the work and more about inherited cultural norms we don’t even think to question.

Teachers, for example, are in high demand in many parts of the United States. The profession requires a quality education, and skills beyond content knowledge. You have to actually be able to apply the concepts you learned about in school to your work and interactions with human beings. Those human beings will grow up to be taxpayers and hopefully innovators, pushing our societies to what we hope will be higher planes of moral and material comfort. We all want our children to have a better life than we did, and a huge part of making that happen is getting a good education from skilled teachers.

Yet, this profession notoriously pays low wages. Over the past year, there have been multiple teacher strikes across the country, often in some of the lowest-paid regions.

Another example is domestic work. In America, more than 90% of workers in this labor-intensive field are female, and immigrant populations are disproportionately represented. Keeping in mind that many workers in this industry have employers who illegally pay under the table—presumably at lower-than-legal wages–and therefore do not have their wages reported to the government, the average weekly wage of domestic workers in private households in the fourth quarter of 2017 was $398.72. Adding insult to injury, female domestic workers are often subjected to physical, sexual, emotional and/or verbal abuse within the households where they work .

Compare this to a field involving manual labor where men typically work: construction. Here, the average American weekly pay in that fourth quarter of 2017 was $977.99/week. That comes out to about $24.45/hour if you assume a 40-hour work week, and you may have benefits and protections as an employee, especially if you’re in a union. I don’t want to paint too rosy of a picture—this field has its problems, too. In particular, opioid addiction tends to be high, but that is another issue for another day.

The average domestic worker gets paid less than half that of the average construction worker, and neither job is great for your body long-term. One field is dominated by women, and the other by men.

When we look back on our liberation as women, we have to think about the work we used to do for free. Domestic labor and raising children was the work of women—and our society and cultural norms dictated that we did it all for free. Education was one of the first fields where women were able to find some equal footing, but again, the compensation in this field tends to be low. Men, on the other hand, had their value assessed by their ability to bring in an income and provide for their family.

So which is more true: women gravitate towards fields that pay less, or we as a society value the fields that women are traditionally encouraged towards at a lower dollar amount?

It’s probably a little bit of both. But when we recognize that the field has been devalued because of the gender that’s dominated it rather than the actual value of the work, we can take steps towards fixing the system rather than placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of young women as they choose their career paths.

Comparable Worth in the Real World

The gender pay gap doesn’t just affect womxn. It affects our entire society. I loved this thread by Piggy from Bitches Get Riches explaining how this plays out when it comes to child care decisions, and the fact that those actually doing the hard, on-the-ground work are often compensated pitifully despite the mind-boggling costs.

The Twitter Thread on the Pay Gap and Comparable Worth

Comparable Worth in the Early Childhood Education

So the wage gap is a problem, forcing parents to make hard decisions about child care vs career before baby even arrives.

But because of rising rent across the country and the fact that when you’re taking care of infants and young children, you need a seriously low adult-to-child ratio to do things legally and safely, the money parents are paying rarely trickles down into the pockets of the people actually taking care of their kids in the form of larger salaries. Childcare workers still routinely make less than $10/hour, with the average right above the double-digit mark.

What if we cut daycare and early childhood education centers tax breaks and offered them lucrative incentives to move into our neighborhoods and communities like we do for oil and gas companies? Or automakers?

Is it because historically, women have taken care of children for free? So paying them anything at all is a generosity in our collective, societal eyes? While male-dominated fields like oil, gas and the world of vehicle production tend to either pay well or offer fantastic long-term benefits to W-2 employees? While the companies at large receive not just subsidies, but incentives, from both state and local governments?

Like Piggy, I don’t have any concrete, actionable answers, but I do think these are questions we should be asking. Because we sure as hell need the solutions. We’re not going to find them by telling moms their only choice is to stay home and sacrifice their economic independence.

Money Questions to Ask Before Baby Comes

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

Every parent can attest that babies are expensive, but their cute smiles and big hugs make the money struggle all worth it. Whether you are a single-parent household or you have a partner, there are some questions you need to ask before welcoming a baby into the world. 

1. Who will take care of the baby? 

Childcare is very costly, especially in the US. According to experts, the cost surpasses that of housing, college tuition, and transportation annually.

In some homes, it is not uncommon to see a partner offering to stay at home and look after the kids as the other one works. This comes with its disadvantages, though, since the stay at home partner will miss out on an income reducing the money coming into the home.

They will also lose other benefits that employment brings, such as retirement accounts, healthcare, and the mental and social stimulation of a workplace. 

2. What insurance policies will we need? 

Talk to your employer about possible insurance options. A short-term disability policy would come in handy in case you are unable to continue working for some time. You could also look into writing a will and getting a life insurance policy for you as a parent. There are different types of life insurance policies, which can be valuable to your family in the future. Research about them on Money Monarch before you decide which one to buy.

3. What changes should we expect in our lifestyle? 

One thing that is a guarantee is that your lifestyle will change when you have a baby. Some of the changes you can plan for so they don’t throw you off the life plans you have. You can decide to move away from the city and raise your baby in a more child-friendly neighborhood, but if you prefer the upbeat lifestyle the city provides, then it is up to you. You might want to evaluate the kind of car you drive and if it will be suitable for a child. If not, consider looking into a bigger family car. 

4. How will you finance your child’s education? 

We all agree that it is every parent hopes to give their child the best education they can afford. But not everyone can manage to save for college. It is in your child’s benefit to decide in advance how his schooling will be taken care of. If you want to save due to the compound interest it will acquire, then it is best to start early so you can have enough to cover their college fees. 

It will come even handier for schools that are known to be expensive. It might mean having to channel a chunk of your savings to the education fund. Experts warn against diverting money involved for retirement to other avenues, including saving for education. If you are not sure of what course of action to take, it would be wise to engage a financial advisor to point you in the right direction. 

Before getting a baby to ensure your finances are in order or there are systems in place to safeguard both you and your children’s future.