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Archive for July, 2013

$394 Acne cream!

July 27th, 2013 at 04:43 pm

One of the "benefits" of giving up my apartment is that I am finally able to afford health insurance. I don't believe that a person should have to make this kind of choice. Unfortunately, NY is the most expensive state to retain coverage and there are thousands of temporary workers who forgo coverage.

I had gone for years without coverage. Occasionally I went to doctors for check ups and paid hundreds of dollars for diagnostic tests and exam fees. My health care has gotten much better with coverage that it was without. For one thing, before, doctors would not order follow ups, since they knew most likely I would not be able to afford it. Now they order follow ups and the standard of care is much better. There may be skeptics out there who think that the doctors are just ordering more exams because of insurance coverage, however I can attest that I have a condition that necessitates follow up, and this follow up did not happen when I was not covered.

I had been plagued by acne for a while now, and tried every over the counter remedy to no avail. My internist recommended that I see a dermatologist for my acne. Years ago, my general physician wrote out my acne prescriptions, now it seems that doctors want you to see another doctor.

So I went to the dermatologist and she gave me a few samples of Ziana. Ziana is a combination clindamycin phosphate 1.2% and tretinoin 0.025% gel. She told me to try it out and if it worked to ask the office for a prescription. I used it for a month and saw improvement in acne reduction and skin tone and subsequently requested a prescription. After the request, I received a call from the pharmacy asking if I wanted to fill the prescription, because the total would be $394 and I did not have Rx coverage. I told them not to fill it and contacted the office for a generic prescription. They changed my prescription to two creams: one tretinoin and the other clindamycin. These two creams totaled about $90 at my pharmacy.

$90 is a lot, but it is a lot better than $394. However I would like to know what insurance company would even cover a $394 acne cream? This drug is not some new breakthrough; it's a combination of two products that have been on the market for years. It just irks me when I think about how expensive insurance coverage is, and how many of these topical creams are found overseas for $10 a tube...

I still have an unopened sample tube of Ziana, which should last a week and a half. If any of you know of a decent online pharmacy, let me know. I've never purchased drugs online except through my insurance company.

My Kindle is the Biggest Money Burner!

July 25th, 2013 at 01:43 pm

For years I've wanted a Kindle but I put off buying one because of fear that a newer model would come out. I am a huge Amazon customer and purchased about 20 used books a year. I also like going to the library and taking out books as well.

Anyway, I asked my boyfriend to buy me a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday and he did! Now I spend way too much money on books that I would have taken out of the library before. Not to mention that one click purchasing makes it easy to spend lots of money within a few seconds.

I lost almost all of my books in hurricane Sandy. In a way, it was good that G_d downsized my possessions because my basic expenses decreased after I lost my car (no insurance or gas.) I still miss my books and it seems that there are hardly any e-books in the public library that are available for me to take out.

So today I was replenishing my Hermann Hesse library and within 4 clicks I racked up over $40 on my credit card. Good news is that when I went to my credit card's site, I saw that I had points and that I could use them for my purchases!

So I'm pretty happy and the lesson is that if you have points sitting on your credit card, to learn about how to use them to your advantage.

Also any suggestions about places where a person can borrow books on their Kindle would help. I didn't choose Amazon prime because my Kindle is fairly basic and you can only borrow one book per month.

Overall my Kindle is great! E-books cost less than regular books and there are many free classic titles.

Retirement Choices

July 24th, 2013 at 03:28 pm

Temporary employees lack the savings resources available to permanent employees such as 401(k) programs and company sponsored medical plans. This year, I was fortunate enough to have worked enough for an employer to participate in its 401(k) plan [no matching contribution]. Within a few weeks, I had painlessly contributed $2,000 in pretax earnings to the plan before the project ended. Now I am back to square one in establishing enough working hours to become eligible for an agency's 401(k) plan.

Watching that little bit of money accumulate had encouraged me to start contributing to a plan of my own. Many advisors insist that all credit card debt needs to be paid off before saving for retirement. My stance is that it could take years to pay off debt, yet there are only a finite number of years that someone has to save for retirement and money needs time to grow.

I view my debt as a long term situation and the best way for me to deal with it and take control of it is to learn how to live with and manage it. I feel more in control when I acknowledge my debt and continue living my life.

I decided to open an account with an online brokerage (E-Trade) and made small weekly post tax contributions to it. Choosing between a Roth IRA and a regular IRA was difficult and I decided to go with the Roth IRA. At this point in time, I am eligible to contribute to a Roth. I am optimistic that one day I will make enough money that I will not be eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA, and I imagined my rich self would look at my poor self in consternation over the decision to forgo complete ownership of the proceeds of a Roth IRA for a tax deduction that would result in a $100-200 more return from the Federal government.

I chose an index fund that permitted an initial IRA investment of $250. This was a no load, no fee fund with a 0.19 expense ratio (SVSPX- SSGA S&P 500 Index). I felt that it would be better that I get my small contributions working for me as soon as possible. Most of the Vanguard and Fidelity funds require $3,000 initial investment or $1,500 initial IRA investment. Maybe some people here can advise whether it would have been better to wait longer to accumulate more money and invest in a Vanguard/Fidelity fund.

I still have credit card debt and student loans that I am very slowly chipping away at. Maybe I should have contributed to my credit cards/loans as opposed to retirement, however I feel a little more secure and happier when I look at my little account.It's a step towards a brighter future.

---Edited to add fund and online brokerage specifics--- Thanks Petunia


July 24th, 2013 at 01:18 pm

I am new to blogging and am still playing around with the format. I ran numerous searches online and was unable to find positive financial resources for temporary employees. There are many of us out there who have huge student loans and face a job market that offers very little in way of stability. I hope to provide and elicit support and suggestions from those in similar situations on how to save for retirement and deal with medical expenses without the support of a permanent employer.

There are many blogs that depict the horrors of document review and burdens of student loans. I prefer to take a positive view of my situation and try to better myself within the constraints of my circumstances. Complaining will not make life easier or lighten my load.

My law loans came out to a little over $127,000 when I graduated 7 years ago. They are currently at $101,000. Medical bills for my pets and myself, and periods of unemployment have swelled my credit cards to $22,000.

Last year I made a decision to give up my apartment and make a serious attempt to get my finances in order. My goal is to pay off my credit cards and to start putting money away for retirement. Eventually I would like to pay off the private portion of my student loans so I can have more options in my career. Document review is lucrative enough that it pays my bills however there is very little career growth.