Monday Night Finance- Volume 96

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How to Find an Affordable Family Health Insurance Plan

For many people, October marks the beginning of “open season”, the time where your company allows you to switch insurance plans. While many simply opt for the same plan they had last year, this might not always be the best financial decision. On the other hand, trying to sift through and compare all of the different health insurance plans can be a giant headache. It can be super confusing to compare deductibles vs. premiums and look at which drugs and services are covered under different plans. Evaluating health insurance plans becomes even more important as you have major life changes such as the birth of a child. If you have access to an open season, you may want to check out this recent article on Couple Money that offers a comprehensive guide on navigating the complex landscape of health insurance.

Last year when we reviewed the health plan options, we found out that premiums were going up. again. No surprise there, but the amount did catch us off guard. If we were to stay with the ‘basic’ family plan we had, our monthly premiums would be almost the same as our mortgage payment! 

~Elle Martinez, Couple Money

The recent article by Elle Martinez of Couple Money focuses on identifying the best and most affordable health insurance plan tailored for families. The article underscores the importance of comprehensively understanding one’s family health needs before venturing into the selection process. It offers a systematic approach to comparing various health insurance plans, ensuring that readers are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to make informed decisions. Notably, the piece also presents valuable insights into potential cost-saving measures. For those navigating the often complex terrain of health insurance, this article serves as a crucial guide, detailing each step to secure the most suitable coverage at an optimal cost.

Renting Advantages: Why Renting is the Superior Choice

Do you own or rent your current home? How did you come to that decision? And if you currently rent, do you dream of one day owning your home? These are questions many grapple with as they navigate their personal and financial lives. While the societal narrative has often championed homeownership as the ultimate goal, a closer examination reveals that renting can offer numerous advantages, sometimes overshadowing the benefits of buying. If you’ve ever heard that renting is “throwing your money away”, you should definitely check out this article by Physician On Fire that states that renting is the far superior strategy.

That evening, after discussing the toll the commute was taking on both my wife and me, we realized the need to relocate closer to her workplace. Although I’m now retired, the strain of the commute makes me feel like I am post-call. Later that night we pulled our phones and looked at Zillow and after a few minutes of searching realized that selling our home and then buying to relocate  was going to be costly. There were very few homes available so moving into a new home that was equivalent to what we had would cost more.

~Physician On Fire

While homeownership has been historically championed as the hallmark of financial success and stability, the article sheds light on the myriad advantages of renting. Renting provides significant long-term benefits such as stability, often accompanied by the potential for negotiating lower rental rates. Financially, it offers flexibility by eliminating hefty upfront costs and ongoing property expenses like taxes and maintenance. Renters enjoy the freedom to easily relocate, steering clear of real estate market fluctuations, while also having access to posh neighborhoods that might be out of reach to purchase in. The rental market caters to diverse lifestyles, from downtown lofts to pet-friendly communities, all while offering tenants the luxury of minimal responsibility for property upkeep. Those prioritizing career flexibility, aspiring for diverse investment avenues, or aiming for a smaller carbon footprint might find renting especially appealing. The article compellingly argues that renting isn’t just a temporary phase but can be a strategic, long-term decision tailored to one’s evolving lifestyle and financial aspirations.

Trick or…Trick? Expect Less Halloween Candy as Inflation Bites Parents’ Wallets

Halloween is great as a kid. You get to walk around the neighborhood in darkness with your friends and get free candy from strangers. Sadly, as an adult, we learned that Halloween candy is not actually free. This year, financial realities are casting a shadow over the beloved tradition. A recent study indicates that inflation might be playing the role of the Halloween villain, potentially making those treat bags a bit lighter than usual.

“Nine in 10 grocery shoppers will buy Halloween candy and nearly three-fourths of them will walk into stores during the last two weeks of October looking for their favorite treats at a perceived value,” says Andy Keenan, executive vice president of retail services at Advantage Solutions.

~Liam Gibson, The Frugal Expat

This article by the Frugal Expat shares some “scary” data on Halloween candy. This Halloween, a survey by Advantage Solutions indicates that inflation may leave American households with fewer sweets to hand out to trick-or-treaters. After polling 1,000 primary household shoppers, the findings showed that inflation is impacting almost half of the nation’s Halloween budgets, with 40% of candy buyers suggesting it will affect their purchasing decisions. Despite these financial challenges, candy remains a top priority. Around 90% of respondents plan to purchase candy for the holiday, with chocolate being a predominant choice. In contrast, only 60% intend to buy decorations and costumes, and a mere 30% will acquire non-candy foods. Additionally, the article highlights potential investment opportunities in major candy companies like The Hershey Company, Mondelez International, and Tootsie Roll Industries, offering insights into their recent stock performances and future prospects.