No Health Insurance? Save Money On Doctor Visits Using These New Health Clinics

As many of my long-time readers may remember, I no longer have health insurance. Since my divorce was finalized back in November, I have been unable to get private health insurance due to dealing with cancer back in 2008. Not a single insurance company will take me on as a customer, even though I am seemingly healthy today.

Starting in August I will hopefully have access to a new “pre-existing condition” insurance plan that will be provided either by an overall plan through the government or companies in individual states (here in CO it is by the state/private company). Since November I have been doing my best to keep my costs down while still being able to see a doctor when I needed to – and I needed to a few weeks ago. After traveling to Massachusetts for a wedding, I started feeling severe headaches on one side of my head, accompanied by a loss of hearing in my left ear. Sounds serious, right? I thought so too! But without insurance, I couldn’t just walk into any doctor’s office or hospital without leaving with an overwhelming bill to pay. So I did what I did when I had the flu a few months ago – I walked into a health clinic in CVS called Minute Clinic. A $69 medical bill later, an issue in my inner ear was taken care of and I was back to normal.

These small health clinics are popping up all over the place – CVS, Walgreens, Target, Walmart, etc. and for good reason. More and more people are without health insurance (either because they cannot afford it or they cannot get it), and these clinics offer a lot of different services for a relatively small amount money. While they do take insurance as well, they are really great for those of us who are without insurance, enabling us to still get healthcare at reasonable rates when we need it. In fact, I had a doctor in California that didn’t take anyone without insurance, so these clinics should be able to find plenty of customers if that trend continues. The clinics see people for things like vaccinations, minor injury exams, allergies, earaches, flu-like symptoms, pink eye, physicals, lacerations, sprains, suture removal, acne, sunburn, rashes, etc. – ranging in price from $19 – $102. They are open 7 days a week and I never waited more than 10 minutes to see the practitioner at the one I went to at CVS.

OK, so when I had two small surgeries on my back last month, I went to a local doctor since the clinics don’t do surgery. But without insurance, I was required to give them a 50% downpayment before the doctor would even start cutting. I felt like a deadbeat! They are so used to getting paid by insurance companies that they are wary of those of us without insurance. That’s why these clinics are so useful for smaller medical issues – they are affordable, take people without health insurance, and can usually see you in just a few minutes. Just don’t go in looking for cheaper surgery at your local CVS!

Here are the websites of the Top 4 most common health clinics in business right now that can be found in most towns or at least nearby to your town:

The issue I was having back east took THREE visits to the clinic to clear up – but they only charged me the $69 fee once. If I had gone to a doctor 3 times, without insurance, it would have cost me a fortune! I am very glad that these clinics are showing up in communities around the country, and I highly recommend you check one out if you either don’t have insurance or have an urgent issue your doctor can’t see you right away for. Even when (if) I am finally able to get health insurance again, I will still use these clinics for less urgent medical issues.


10 Ways To Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

You know that expression, right? This pretty famous saying is in the fable “The Milkmaid and Her Pail” where Patty, a farmer’s daughter, is daydreaming as she walks to town with a pail of milk balanced on her head. “The milk in this pail will provide me with cream, which I will make into butter, which I will sell in the market, and buy a dozen eggs, which will hatch into chickens, which will lay more eggs, and soon I shall have a large poultry yard. I’ll sell some of the fowls and buy myself a handsome new gown and go to the fair, and when the young fellows try to make love to me, I’ll toss my head and pass them by.” At that moment, Patty tossed her head and lost the pailful of milk. Her mother said, “Do not count your chickens before they are hatched.” The same expression fits perfectly here in the world of personal finances, where many of us spend our money either before we have it or above and beyond our means. Well, here are 10 ways that some people do count their chickens before they hatch, putting their financial security at risk.

1. Get yourself either an interest-only or a variable interest mortgage. Sure, everyone had them a few years back when the housing market started collapsing, but that was then – this is now! There is nothing like getting a mortgage you can definitely only afford for 5 years and hope that you make more money later on.

2. Buy yourself a car – and spread those affordable monthly payments out over an 84 month period. While there is no way you could afford the monthly payments on a new BMW with your $20,000 per year job if you got a 4 year loan, you could most surely afford it over 7 years or longer!

3. Take cash advances on your credit cards to buy random unnecessary crap with. Nothing says “I will be able to pay that back eventually” like borrowing money from your credit card at 11% interest (or more) plus applicable fees.

4. Go out to eat at expensive restaurants every night of the week because “you deserve it”. Someday, when you finally have a lot of money, you will be known as a regular… or you will just be in debt. It could go either way, really.

5. Throw away your perfectly good iPhone that you got 4 months ago. Sure, you will have to pay the full upgrade price on the brand new one ($600, I think?) but you might be getting a bonus in 6 months, and that would more than pay for it. Right?

6. Buy your fiancee an engagement ring that is way out of your comfortable price range. Nothing says LOVE like giving a ring to a woman you went into debt for and will eventually make your wife help pay for.

7. Live paycheck to paycheck, with hopes that eventually you will be paid so much that you can finally save a few bucks. I mean, someone has to recognize just how great you really are eventually, right?

8. Go on yearly “all expenses paid” vacations that you can’t afford. Head to exotic countries that you charge to your credit card, accrue interest on all year, and then take another trip the following year while still paying off the trips from all previous years.

9. Pay an investment advisor to manage your $5,000 retirement portfolio that you contribute $25 a month to. Service fees and percentages will eliminate any chance of making any gains, but since you plan on eventually having a lot of money, you need an advisor today.

10. Care too damn much about what other people think of you, and spend enough to change their minds. Self-confidence doesn’t come from inside, it comes from just how cool you can make yourself feel by spending all your money on things you cannot afford today. Monthly payments on a balance that never goes down is a small price to pay to boost your own ego.

Ever count your own chickens before they hatch? I know I certainly have over the years, whether it be for a car I couldn’t afford or a girl I dated who wanted to live way out of my price range. Please share if you have your own stories!


How To Get Out Of Jury Duty Summons – 16 Fool-Proof Excuses

You will be called for jury duty one day – I guarantee it. If the state, city, or county knows that you exist, you will get a summons to appear for jury duty at least several times in your life. And while we really should all be willing to do our civic duty when called upon, sometimes the timing or location of said duty doesn’t work for us at all. So instead of just ignoring the summons as inconvenient and throwing it in the trash (which can land you in contempt of court), you should try to reschedule or get out of jury duty this time, and hope it’s a while before you are asked again. But how do you get out of your civic duty of being a jury for one of your peers? Try on some of these excuses for size. While some are entirely legal and legit, and some are just plain silly (and possibly illegal), it may be worth the effort to give some of them a try if the timing of your jury duty doesn’t fit in your schedule.

1. Request a date change – You can probably safely get a date of service change just by asking the court.

2. Dress horribly inappropriate for your age/gender – I want you to think “Mid-80’s Madonna Attending A Circus” for this. The other jurors will be scared of you, the lawyers will be afraid to ask you any questions, and the judge won’t want Madonna or a circus in his courtroom.

3. Mention you are a felon – Of course, you have to actually be one to do this, but if you get selected for jury duty and they didn’t know you were a felon, make sure to tell them.

4. Have a baby or an elderly person at home – The primary caregiver for either a baby or an elderly person can usually get out of jury duty pretty easily.

5. Sold your car AND your bike? – Back when I lived in California, I got my jury duty summons moved to both a closer court and a different date because I had no way of getting to the courthouse they wanted me to come to. I didn’t own a car and public transportation didn’t go where I would have needed it to go!

6. Be away from home – If you aren’t home and on an extended vacation in Europe or even the next state over, they can’t expect you to cut short a trip just for jury duty. Ask for a date change.

7. Talk in circles when questioned by lawyers – Believe me, if I was on trial for something, the last thing I would want was a crazy person on the jury deciding my fate… and your defense attorney wouldn’t want it either.

8. Get a note from your doctor – Notes from your doctor can get you out of all sorts of appointments and commitments. You pay for insurance or doctor visits, so be sure to use them to your advantage.

9. Is your long-lost Uncle a cop? – Be sure to somehow slip that in when being questioned. Some lawyers may not want someone close to law enforcement to sit on their jury.

10. Get drunk before you show up – Risky? Yep. But alcoholics who are drunk at 8am will probably be sent home early.

11. Be biased – Be biased against the crime, the location, the race of the perp, the color of the rug in the courtroom. Admittedly biased people have no place on a jury.

12. Spill your darkest secrets to the lawyers – Ever been the victim of a crime that could sway your opinion of the case at hand? Be sure to let them know about it.

13. Buddhists get off jury duty – My friend, a Buddhist, has gotten off jury duty 3 times just by being Buddhists. It’s against his religion to pass judgement on others. I am sure there are clauses in other religions that could also be used.

14. Be a student – If jury duty could affect your grades or your chance at graduation, you can probably get out of serving just by asking. Although, now that I think about it, my college professor didn’t care that I missed a mid-term because my dad died, so maybe some judges don’t care either.

15. Moved out of the county asking you to serve lately? – Let them know – Instant removal from service.

16. And finally, a last ditch effort? – Use a George Carlin line and tell the judge you can tell if someone is guilty just by looking at them. That should do the trick if all else fails.

Have you gotten out of jury duty before? Care to share? While we should all be willing to do our duty and serve if we can, sometimes you just need a way out.

*Disclaimer – I am not responsible if you end up in jail and on trial by a jury of your peers should you attempt any and/or all of the items listed above and get busted!


2010 Federal Income Tax Brackets & IRS Tax Rates

Since we are half way through 2010, I figured now was a good time to check out what the 2010 Federal tax rates were so you still had 6 months to make any changes to your withholdings if necessary. Every year there are always small changes to the absurdly wordy tax code, and 2010 is no different. (Good thing I have my brother, an accountant, to keep track of this stuff for me!) So if you were wondering, here are the marginal Federal tax rates for 2010, along with some other small changes that you may not have even noticed.

2010 Federal Income Tax Brackets


  • 10% Tax Bracket – $0-$8,375
  • 15% Tax Bracket – $8,375-$34,000
  • 25% Tax Bracket – $34,000-$82,400
  • 28% Tax Bracket – $82,400-$171,850
  • 33% Tax Bracket – $171,850-$373,650
  • 35% Tax Bracket – $373,650+

Married Filing Jointly:

  • 10% Tax Bracket – $0-$16,750
  • 15% Tax Bracket – $16,750-$68,000
  • 25% Tax Bracket – $68,000-$137,300
  • 28% Tax Bracket – $137,300-$209,250
  • 33% Tax Bracket – $209,250-$373,650
  • 35% Tax Bracket – $373,650+

Married Filing Separately:

  • 10% Tax Bracket – $0-$8,375
  • 15% Tax Bracket – $8,375-$34,000
  • 25% Tax Bracket – $34,000-$68,650
  • 28% Tax Bracket – $68,650-$104,625
  • 33% Tax Bracket – $104,625-$186,825
  • 35% Tax Bracket – $186,825+

Head Of Household:

  • 10% Tax Bracket – $0-$11,950
  • 15% Tax Bracket – $11,950-$45,550
  • 25% Tax Bracket – $45,550-$117,650
  • 28% Tax Bracket – $117,650-$190,550
  • 33% Tax Bracket – $190,550-$373,650
  • 35% Tax Bracket – $373,650+

Please keep in mind that you don’t just pay the tax rate that matches your income. If you single file and your income is $40,000 per year (falling in the 25% tax bracket), you pay a 10% tax on the first $8,375 of income, 15% on $8,375-$34,000, and 25% on the final $34,000 – $40,000. You do not pay 25% on the entire $40,000 of income, a mistake many people make.

And here are a few more important pieces of information to keep in mind as we move forward in 2010:

Standard Deductions

  • $5,700 for single filers
  • $8,400 for head of household
  • $11,400 for married filers
  • $950 for dependents

Amount You Can Save In Your 401K Retirement Account

  • Under 50? You can contribute $16,500 each year.
  • Over 50? You can contribute $22,000 each year.

Amount You Can Save In A Traditional Or Roth IRA Account

  • Under 50? You can contribute $5,000 each year.
  • Over 50? You can contribute $6,000 each year.

The Mileage Deduction Has Decreased.

  • In 2009 you were able to deduct $.55 per mile, but in 2010 this is now $.50 per mile. Medical travel is at $.165 per mile, and charitable travel is $.14 per mile.

Gift Tax Exclusion

  • The gift tax exclusion stays the same at $13,000.This means you can give up to $13,000 tax free to anyone else, up to a maximum of $1 million in your life.

Best Companies to Work for in the US – Top Employers & Their Benefits

Think you have it good at your job? You might, but maybe not as good as some of these employees have it. (Then again, even having a job in this economy can be considered good – but I digress.) Fortune Magazine has released their annual Top 100 Employers To Work For List for 2010, and some of the companies on the list may surprise you (they did me, for sure). I remember back when I worked in the movie business and worked at Universal Studios in California, we were near the top of this list because of the solid perks, pay, and job security we had. Things have certainly changed due to different industries taking off and others faltering, but if you have a job at one of these Top 100 you probably have it pretty good right about now. So what kinds of things can put a company on this list? Let’s take a look at some of the perks that companies can provide which certainly help:

  • Paid healthcare for your family. I miss this one, for sure! Having a company pay for the majority of your health insurance takes a big burden off your shoulders.
  • On-site childcare center. Many families are dual-income earners, so they need childcare during the day. Being able to bring your kids with you to your place of work and visit them during the day can go a long way to making your time away from them more manageable.
  • Encouragement of a work/life balance. If you work for a company that actually tells you to “go home you are working too much”, you are in a good place.
  • Telecommuting is allowed. This would be a biggie for me, if I were to ever go back to a corporate day job. I cannot imagine myself having to commute to my job again!
  • Fully paid sabbaticals. A friend of mine gets a full month off paid for every 5 years he works at the company, which is in addition to his month of paid vacation he now gets each year.
  • Extra perks like gym memberships, referral bonuses, home-buying assistance, tuition reimbursement, same-sex partner benefits. These are a few of the things that made Universal Studios such a great place to work back in the 90’s. (Sadly, they are no longer on the list)

Sometimes, good perks make up for any bad stuff that may come alone with reporting to work every day. Here is the Top 10 companies from the full list of 100, and while I always knew Google was a great place to work, who knew Edward Jones or Qualcomm was? Seems some of the best companies to work for are often never mentioned in the same breath as Google when discussing the major perks, but that’s where lists like this come in handy – they can give you a new place to start looking for a job that you may not have thought of before!

1. SAS
2. Edward Jones
3. Wegmans Food Markets
4. Google
5. Nugget Market
6. DreamWorks Animation SKG
7. NetApp
8. Boston Consulting Group
9. Qualcomm
10. Camden Property Trust

What about where you work? Do you have any of these kind of perks/bonuses at your day job? Where do you work? Would you leave your job for a company providing perks like these? Please let us know in the comments!

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