When January rolls around I do two things: I look for deals on natural and healthy foods as I mentioned in my last post, and I log in to our health insurance to see what financial incentives are available when we make healthy lifestyle changes.
It took me no more than 30 minutes to:
- Take their Wellness Assessment questionnaire for which they deposited $50.00 into a debit card I can use to pay for co-pays and other medical expenses. My wellness score was higher/better than last year, so that was a nice surprise! My buds and can also earn $ 50.00.
- Review other computer-based health coaching opportunities that pay $30-40.00. These are online check-in programs for things like asthma, high blood pressure, etc.
- Take note that this year they have offered each family member 2 free “tele doc” visits (online medical consultations) for things such as dermatology, allergy, mental health, nutritional counseling, and general medical concerns. I definitely will take advantage of this because it saves a $ 30-40.00 copay, plus the stress of trying to get out of work and get to the doctor for an appointment.
- Quickly check to make sure that our prescription prices haven’t changed in the new benefit year.
It’s kind of amusing to me how my husband and I both have money-saving areas where we excel… for him it is getting the best price on cable/streaming TV, taking surveys, and maximizing Amazon subscribe and save prices. Utilizing our wellness benefits is one of my specialties!
Does your health insurance have wellness benefits?
Before I delve into all the budget planning for the coming year, I want to tell you about a special family day we had this month. For me, wealth is being able to have family experiences that can be enjoyed without fear of a credit card bill the next month. I will gladly go without a fancy car or designer purse to save for special outings. My part-time job provides funds for our “wants.”
Every Christmas season we try to have a family day, such as going to the Nutcracker. My husband is a peach about going where his girls want to go. This year we went to Chicago for the all-out American Girl experience and holiday tea at The Peninsula Hotel. My daughter had intended to get the doll Molly as a Christmas present, but she was retired and sold out! We were stunned but ‘Saige’ was the choice after a LOT of deliberation.
The Peninsula Hotel is very walkable from American Girl place. We tried to make a reservation in early October and they were already booked! They added another seating and we lucked into a reservation. The Peninsula is elegant, yet comfortable. They offer a children’s tea along with the regular tea menu. Gluten-free is also an option. A wonderful thing about afternoon tea is the relaxed pace, which is usually elusive when you are used to dining with children.
Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hotel Chicago
Saige Living it Up at the Peninsula
When you walk the streets of Chicago with a doll, you meet other doll lovers of all ages, races, and walks of life. They all are eager to get a closer look, and know the doll’s name. I tried to savor the experience, knowing that in the US, American Girl dolls are kind of the last stop in girlhood before the pre-teen years come knocking. Three years from now American Girl will seem as far away as the days of Elmo and Cookie Monster do now.
If you are up for a little humor, see what happened when Conan O’Brien visited American Girl Place!
Picture this: it’s a lazy Sunday morning and my husband is relaxing with his weekly Best Buy ad. But wait, he has an tablet nearby to “do more research.” And even more troubling, now he is walking around with a ruler! The last time he did that an XBOX Kinect showed up!
When the slight chill in the air arrives heralding autumn, Mr. Saver’s thoughts turn to NFL Football and questions about the adequacy of the televisions in the house. If it were me, I would still have the tiny T.V. my Dad bought me in college which didn’t even have a remote control! How to address this pending conflict? Mad Money.
In our written budget both my husband and I have a ‘mad money’ category. This is money each of us can spend as we wish – no questions asked about whether the purchase is worthwhile, and you know I am talking about that XBOX! Having a mad money fund is also important to prevent what I call ‘tit-for-tat’ spending. You know, ‘He bought a T.V. so I am going to go have a shopping spree at Williams-Sonoma.’ This kind of thinking will completely unravel your budget and possibly your marriage too. We add some funds to our mad money category periodically when we have a budget surplus, or when we get gift money. Single people on a budget need mad money too, to keep their budgeting efforts from going bust.
Oh, and that American Girl warehouse sale… mad money all the way. It was very enjoyable to buy the doll clothes knowing that we would still maintain our weekly budget.
How do you budget for occasional indulgences?