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Fiery Millennials by Gwen [fiery Millennials] - 6d ago

The question everyone asked me before I left my job. And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Family, friends, coworkers, fellow bloggers, and readers.

“What are you going to do about healthcare?!”

I did some research into the options and it turns out Liberty Healthshare was the best option for me.

I had 4 options: keep my Cadillac health insurance plan from my former employer on COBRA, get a plan on the Exchange, go with Liberty, or self-insure. Self insurance was out. I don’t have $10 million, so I can’t afford to self-insure. COBRA was tempting — after all, I’d been on that plan for 5 years and knew what it covered. It was also an incredibly robust insurance plan that covered a lot of expenses, a definite rarity these days. However, it was going to cost me $450 a month plus medical copays and whatnot, so I said no thanks.

That left a plan on the Exchange or Liberty. I looked into going with a plan on the Exchange. Leaving my job was a qualifying event so I had something like 90 days to sign up with the Exchange before I had to wait until Open Enrollment in December. Turns out it’s a good thing I had so long as the first 45 days post-job were pretty crazy. I did my due diligence and looked at the various plans. I had budgeted $250 a month for health insurance and saw plenty of plans under that. Unfortunately, none of them had very good coverage options or were incredibly limited on who you could see or where you could go for care.

That left Liberty Healthshare.

What is Liberty Healthshare?

Liberty Healthshare is not an insurance plan. Liberty HealthShare is a healthcare sharing ministry whose members share medical expenses. Did I mention it’s not health insurance as defined by the ACA?  Its members pay for medical expenses by sharing the costs. Members pay a monthly “sharing” contribution which, pooled together, pays for the medical expenses of other members. Before you’re eligible to have your expenses shared you have to meet an annual unshared amount, similar to a deductible.

Since it’s not an Exchange plan, I won’t get a form for my taxes this year that says I have health insurance. However, it’s considered exempt for the purposes of the mandate, so I won’t have to pay the penalty on my 2018 taxes. In 2019, there’s no mandate so it’ll be interesting to see how things change there.

Liberty Healthshare Cost

I went with Liberty for two main reasons. The first reason is supposed ease of use. You get care, you had the office your member card, and the bill gets sent off to Liberty to review. No fussing with insurance and making countless calls to get care codes fixed. I am trying to make my life easier, so this seems to be a good start to reducing unnecessary complications.

The second reason I went with Liberty is the cost. Compared to the Exchange where decent plans started at $250 and went up from there, Liberty is a steal at only $125 a month.

That’s right, $125 a month. 

Pretty great, eh? And unlike the time I went with the lowest price option on fixing my house, I am confident I made a good choice.

I have a few friends who went with Liberty so I called them up and asked them what they thought. None of them had anything bad to say about the care, and actually raved about it. When’s the last time you can remember someone raving about the quality of their health insurance? Probably never ha!

Since I am a single healthy female under the age of 30, I qualified for one of the lowest price tiers. Since they aren’t governed by the ACA, Liberty does a bit more screening up front with potential members. They asked me if I drank, smoked, did illegal drugs like marijuana and other illicit substances, and a few other lifestyle questions. Fortunately, the only drug I’m addicted to is sugar and that’s not illegal (although maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing). They also ask you about pre-existing conditions. Can’t say that I blame them for asking. They have to evaluate the impact to their bottom line and make sure they can cover everyone’s costs.

They also ask you about your religious habits as they are a Christian based ministry. I didn’t find any evidence they kicked people out for not being Christian, but I played it safe anyways. I’m a religious attendant of the Church of St Mattress when I’m not at Mass with my boyfriend’s family. (And no, I didn’t put that on the form. Yeesh.)

Liberty Healthshare Quality

I have had Liberty for a little over a month now. Thankfully, I’ve yet to need to see a doctor so I can’t comment on the quality of care or ease of paying for said care. However, I will be sure to update this post after that happens (which will hopefully take a while).

I can say, though, I have heard nothing but good things, even from my friend that had a baby while with Liberty. I think it will be great. I don’t just have this hunch — no no. When I was filling out the application form (which is like, 8 pages so be ready) Liberty CALLED MY PHONE and asked if I needed any help.

They have someone monitoring the forms and can tell when someone is in the process of filling it out. So they called me and wanted to make sure everything was going ok. How is that for customer service?? I was incredibly impressed. No one called me when I was struggling to fill out the application for the Exchange, that’s for sure.

Liberty Healthshare Review

So far, so good! Everything was easy to understand, the process to sign up was a breeze, and the customer service excellent. I sleep better at night knowing I’m covered if something happens and I have to go see a doctor. Considering I like to do things like hike through the woods and play softball, this makes me feel a lot better. (Especially since I got hurt for the first time ever in adult softball last month with a very mild concussion).

No fear, Mom. Liberty Healthshare has my back

Thanks for reading! Do you have any experience with Liberty? Do you like it? If you’re still working, what are you going to do for health care when you quit?

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Fiery Millennials by Gwen [fiery Millennials] - 1M ago

Welcome to the new monthly status report! Now that I am no longer employed by anyone, I figured it was time to change up the format of the status reports. I didn’t want to get rid of them entirely as I feel it’s important to share what transitioning to self-employment/Financial Independence looks like.

Also, I super apologize for publishing this two weeks (plus) late. It turns out personal development and coming to grips with a new identity takes a lot of time and mental effort! I should be back to a more regular schedule after this. 

I’m going to break out my personal spending still, but it’s going to be on a higher level than I had been doing considering I split some expenses with my boyfriend now.

Other sections include expenses and income for various endeavors, like separate sections for blog spending, rental expenses and income, and any other side hustles I have.

Disclaimer: some links may be affiliate links. They help offset the cost of keeping this blog running!

Why do I do a monthly status report?

I find it best to do a monthly status report for a few reasons.

  • It helps me evaluate how I did the previous month. Did I spend a lot of money on something? Why? Did I earn a bunch of money on something? Can I do that again?
  • It helps keep me accountable. How can I make an extra purchase knowing I’ll have to explain myself to all of you? Talk about awkward when the blogger can’t walk the walk and talk the talk.
  • I want to prove this crazy thing called financial independence works!
  • It provides an example of real world budgeting and expenses. Some of the people I talk to haven’t ever seen a proper budget or seen one put into action, and part of the purpose of this blog is to lead by example!

I use Mint to help me track my spending and keep an eye on my accounts. I also use a really awesome and super in-depth spreadsheet. So many formulas….. Some people use Personal Capital and others use You Need a Budget (YNAB). Whatever tool (or combination thereof) works best for you and your needs is the best one for you, since everyone and their budgets are different.

April 2018 Personal Statement:

Expenses:

Housing:$700
Phone:0
Food:$167
Auto:$130
Pet:$20
Health/Fitness:$124
Shopping:$42
Travel:$943
Gifts:$32
Support:$150
Total:$2,308

Notes: Phone was zero thanks to Google Fi and their generous referral program. If you use my link to sign up for their plans (which I HIGHLY recommend!), you’ll get $20 and I’ll get $20. Other expenses were higher than I wanted with little to no income coming in, but it went towards necessary things like a new shelf and contacts.

April 2018 Blog Statement:

Expenses: $159

Income: $58.64

April 2018 Rental Statement:

Expenses: $10,302

Income: $1,000

April 2018 Money Makin’ Endeavors Statement:

Expenses: -

Income:

  • Etsy: $7.16
Combine it all together and.…

Expenses: $12,769

Income: $3,580.38

Net worth: $200,327

Thanks for reading! What did your month look like? Did you stick to your budget?

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Fiery Millennials by Gwen [fiery Millennials] - 2M ago

You’ve (probably) heard of the 80’s movie The Neverending Story.

Well I am here to introduce a new concept: The Neverending Vacation.

It’s now been a little over 2 weeks since I quit my job and moved up north to be with my boyfriend, and I thought a recap of my first few weeks would be useful for everyone.

So far, it doesn’t really feel like I quit yet. It feels more like a vacation in a super nice Airbnb. I still get calls from my former coworkers telling me they miss me. I even had my first dream about work. I suspect as I settle in the house it will stop feeling like an Airbnb and more like home. I am really loving living in Minneapolis despite the 20″+ (IN APRIL) of snow that has fallen. I was able to reconnect with a childhood friend of mine for drinks, and start to deepen my connection to the local FI bloggers. (shoutout to Apathy Ends!)

It’s really quite impressive I’ve managed to do that with only leaving the house 4 times in 17ish days.

I have absolutely no reason to go outside, so I don’t. I also have no desire to go outside when it’s cold and snowing tons. It’s pretty awesome to not get up at o’ dark thirty and suffer through the cold and gross, though! I do look forward to going outside more once the weather warms up so I can take walks around the lakes or nice long bike rides on the paths around here.

I have been SUPER PRODUCTIVE since I quit and moved. Lots of work has been done on the podcast, this blog, and on my blossoming Etsy shop. My Inkscape skills have improved a ton since we started our Mastermind course 6 weeks ago! I have plans to create several different bundles in the future: alphabets and the 50 state outlines. Check out this one I did of Nevada recently:

The lines are major roads!

And yet.… despite all the productive work I’ve done.…

I don’t think I can keep up this pace. I’m not going to lie, the first iteration of this post that I wrote made me break down into tears and put off writing for 4 days. All in all, the fact I made it that long without some sort of break is impressive.… I’d say.

I don’t want to admit this, but I think I took on too much at once.

I can deal with quitting my job and starting to hustle online full-time.
I can deal with packing up my entire life and moving to a different state.
I can deal with moving in with my boyfriend and figuring out our new lives together.

I could not and cannot handle all of those at the same time.  About the only thing I can say is I am incredibly grateful I don’t also have to deal with figuring out a new job and coworkers and everything that entails.

I was struggling hard core with burnout before I quit. I assumed being burnt out would magically stop once I wasn’t at work for 9+ hours a day.

Oh, how wrong I was.

If anything, I think I am even more burnt out than I was. I have worked harder after quitting. The pressure of losing my “guaranteed” income from work got to me. I am petrified of running out of money, or some major unplanned, expensive repair popping up on the rental.

Therefore, I am overcompensating and throwing myself into work in order to build that income back up.

I don’t regret quitting when I did. Despite the incredible mix of emotions swirling through me right now, I am happy I did. Having someone to give you a hug or be a shoulder to cry on is really, really nice to have around. Instead of seeing my boyfriend once a fortnight, I get to see him every single day! He is an incredibly wise person and has made a number of useful suggestions as we work through figuring out how to live together. Our relationship has moved relatively quickly so it’s really wonderful to get to step back and slow it down a bit.

He’s helped me realize I need to take time off even if my caveman brain is telling me I can’t afford it.

So.

I’m taking next week off.

I’ll be online as little as possible. The house is fully stocked with snacks. We’ve got like, 8 different video game systems I can play. There’s stacks of books calling my name. I used to be able to stretch out and read a book for hours at a time, and I would like to get back into that mode. (any entrepreneurial/finance book suggestions are more than welcome!)

Heck, I’ve even got some counted cross stitch I can work on if I so choose. (Pallet Town home sweet home design in case you were wondering).

This is an ideal time to take off. I don’t HAVE to post things here. We’ve got a hefty backlog of episodes for the podcast and as long as I get my share of the show notes done, I am clear on that for 3 weeks! Our Digital Download Etsy Mastermind groups ended this week. I literally have no reason to be on the computer next week.

The thought makes me giddy.

I was worried that I’d be seen as a slacker, or a hack, or weak but I honestly don’t care what conclusions people draw about me anymore. I need a break, I’ve got the time, so I’m going to take it.

Wish me luck!

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Fiery Millennials by Gwen [fiery Millennials] - 2M ago

I just paid off an $11k credit card bill.

It hurt.

Especially when said bill was about half the cash I have on hand.

Why did I have an $11k credit card bill? Excellent question.

My bill was only going to be about a thousand buckaroos, but then I put the $10k bill from my contractor on the credit card. (The new deck and stairs look amazing, btw. I wish I had a picture but I don’t live there so no updated pictures. Sorry!)

Why would I do that instead of just writing him a check?

Points.

I got 10,239 points for putting that bad boy on my credit card and paying it off 3 days later. Pretty sweet!

By the way, said credit card is my trusty Chase Sapphire Reserve card. (affiliate link, you get 50k signup bonus, I get 10k points).

Currently I have 165,873 points sitting around waiting for me to use them. This year, I have booked 3 flights. One completely with points (paid $11 in taxes and fees), one with cash, and another with cash. The first cash flight I bought was completely reimbursed thanks to the $300 travel credit the card offers. The second cash flight was partially refunded because the first one didn’t use up the entire $300 credit. I wish there were a way to see how many points I’ve ever earned, because I know it’s gotta be north of 300k at this point.

So, thanks to this credit card and it’s perks, I’ve gotten two flights effectively for free and one discounted flight. The discounted flight was purchased on Southwest through my frequent flyer number during a special, so that meant I got triple the Southwest points I’d normally get!

I’ve also gotten tons of other benefits through this card, like lounge access and Global Entry fee reimbursement. The lounge access comes through the Priority Pass perk. I’ve visited lounges in 5 countries on 3 different continents and they have saved my life. Comfy seating, free food, free alcohol, and free Wi-Fi are all lifesavers when you’re stressed out by traveling. (or like when, say, one misses their flight from London to Atlanta and suddenly has an extra 2 hours to spend at an airport and are all panicky and upset because they’ve never missed a flight before.)

Now that I am not working a 9–5 job and are living close to a Global Entry office, I can apply for Global Entry! There’s a $100 fee the card will cover, so getting GE will literally just be a matter of digging out my passport, filling out the application form, and going to the airport to get fingerprinted and such. Ironically, I’m not sure when I’ll be going overseas again, but I can attest at how awesome it is to have it when going through immigration. Well, I can attest to how much faster I would have gotten through immigration had I had it. Probably wouldn’t have missed my flight in London if I hadn’t had to wait so long in line.

So, even though I’m not taking the travel hacking thing very seriously, I’m still getting pretty awesome rewards, like a discounted flight that earned Chase points and triple Southwest points, free Global Entry and free stuff when I travel. Pretttttyyyyyy sweet!

Anyways, back to this $11k bill I paid off.

I was sorely tempted to not pay it off entirely for a few reasons. I would really feel better about having more liquid runway to sustain me until my side hustles start picking up steam. So I could either leave it on the card and pay a fair amount in interest each month, or I could try to open a 0% interest card and transfer the balance and pay it off later.

But, as my boyfriend pointed out, would a credit card company give me a 0% balance card? Technically I have no job and no verifiable income right now, so I’m not the most attractive of customers at the moment (despite having a premium card in my wallet as mentioned above). If I applied and didn’t get it, I’d have a hard hit on my credit and that might lower my score.

If they did give me a card, would it have a high enough limit on it? I wouldn’t want to get a card with a limit of say, $15k, and then put $11k on it. That would completely mess up my debt to credit ratio and potentially mess up my credit.

So, in the end, I just bit the bullet and paid it off. This eliminates a lot of hassle and potentially damaging my credit score, which is good because I am THIS close to hitting 800. I don’t particularly need the credit score for anything right now but you never know when that could change. In this case, better to be safe than sorry!

On a completely different note, I am so glad I have the time to figure all this stuff out and write about it for you guys! I’ve had the time to sit and think about all the various parts of the decision instead of quickly thinking about it and moving on to something else. $11,000 is a lot of money and I wanted to make sure I made the right decision. The transition to self-employment might be stressful, but I need the reminder sometimes that this lifestyle actually does come with some perks.

Like being able to write a post in the middle of the day, drop stuff off at the post office, and run a couple of other errands before it snows 8–12″ over the weekend!

Thanks for reading! What’s your biggest credit card bill ever? Have you done the 0% interest transfer? If so, how’d that work out?

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Fiery Millennials by Gwen [fiery Millennials] - 2M ago

Major brownie points if you read the title and immediately started singing the song by Reel 2 Real. You get even more brownie points if you actually knew who sang the song before reading this!

Despite that epic opening, I’m not the biggest fan of mid-90’s rap songs. shocker

Nope. Instead, I like to move. You know, the one where you decide to move to a different location so you have to box up all your crap and shove it in a truck to transport it to the new place so you can rearrange all your crap?

Yeah.…… that kind of move.

In the past 5 years, I’ve moved 6 times. That’s less than 12 months at each location, on average. (In all actuality, it goes 3 mos — 4 mos — 18 mos — 18 mos — 3 mos — 12 mos. Just in case you were curious!)

You’d think I’d be a pro at this by now with just a few backpacks full of essentials and the cat’s stuff. Again.….. nope. I’m attached to my stuff and have managed to accumulate several room’s worth of furniture and well.….. stuff.

All of this soon became VERY apparent as my boyfriend and I moved box after box after box down 3 flights of stairs and around numerous corners.

In preparation for the move to my new city and state, I did a few things. I pared down my belongings and tried to sell some of my bigger stuff like my dresser and futon. I also researched moving companies to figure out what was the best way to transport my belongings 359 miles away.

Since I put in all that effort of researching, here are a few of my thoughts on how to move a 2 bedroom apartment. (or said equivalent of stuff)

I looked around for moving companies on the internet and was completely overwhelmed. Hello, analysis paralysis. As I started to get quotes, I realized I was looking at two classes of moving companies: DIY and Movers.

DIY

Companies like U-Haul, Budget, Enterprise, and Penske fit this bill. They are companies that rent you the stuff to do the move: trucks, blankets, boxes, and dollies. Everything else is up to you.

Since I was moving away AND NEVER COMING BACK, I had to figure out transportation. You can do round trip, but who really wants to drive 12 extra hours along the same stretch of boring highways if they don’t have to? Round trip gave me the cheapest option up front, but then sneakily added in mileage costs on the back end to make it deceptively expensive. One way trips don’t charge mileage.… but then what to do about my car? Some places had the option for towing it behind the truck, but that just seemed like a recipe for disaster. I have a lot more experience driving big trucks thanks to the military, but no way was I going to be responsible for hooking up the car behind the truck and then trying to maneuver in tight city streets with it.

Since I moved over Easter weekend, I drove up a few days before the move with my car. My boyfriend and I then headed back down in his car, and then caravaned back up in the truck and car. That was the best solution I came up with that didn’t involve paying a company $.68/mile.

The one way prices I got were actually pretty reasonable after doing some calculations on what a round trip rental would cost me (in both time and money). 

U-Haul: $369 (3 Days/421 miles allowed)

Budget: $295 (3 days/unlimited miles)

Penske: $539!?!?!

Enterprise: Strike out, only round trip.

Ryder: $425 round trip, no mileage restriction

Budget was the cheapest by far. This was all thanks to a 20% coupon I found on their site. U-Haul matched the pre-coupon price of Budget, so good going there, guys. Penske, really? $539? No way. Enterprise didn’t have a one way option, so that was out. Ryder would also only give me a round trip option, but they were nice enough to quote that out at $425, no mileage. If I had done a round trip, I probably would’ve gone with Ryder.

The other level of moving was full-service movers.

Full-Service

Full-service is exactly what it sounds like. A big truck comes up to your house, a crew of movers descends upon your house, packs up all your belongings, puts it in the truck, and then a few days to a week later shows up at the new place and does it all in reverse. This includes companies like 2 Men & a Truck, Zippy Shell, PODS, and Allied. I’m positive there are other companies out there, but these are the ones I got quotes from.

Allied: $2800 minimum as they charge by weight/mi with a 2500 lb minimum.

Zippy Shell: $1335

PODS: $1700

2 Men & a Truck: $2300

Zippy Shell and PODS work roughly the same way. A container shows up at your house, you or someone from their company fills it, they haul it away and a week later it’s delivered to your door. Someone told me PODS was reasonable but $1700? Not super reasonable. I guess it does seem better when you compare it to Allied, but yeesh.

I was tempted to do the 2 Men & a Truck option until I found out the bill for my back stairs was $10k. That’s when the decision to do it ourselves was made, a decision we both sincerely regretted after 200 trips down and up 3 flights of stairs. The other reason we didn’t go with the full-service moving company was the time. At the bare minimum, the earliest I would get my stuff was 4 days. I was operating on a more restricted timeline and couldn’t have my stuff be gone that long.

Final Thoughts

If a company wants my business, I will happily do so as long as 2 provisions are meant:

Easy quote process: Give me a box on the front page where I can put in the details and have it spit out a quote. Don’t make me give you my email. Don’t make me call you. Don’t make me wait 2 days for someone to call me. Allied and 2 Men & a Truck had the best UI websites. Very easy to navigate and get a quote.

Decent price: I understand they have to make money too but don’t rake me over the coals. Make pricing fair and transparent. No add-on fees at the last-minute.

My final costs for moving 359 miles to a location 2 states away ended up being $348 for a 16 ft rental truck and 12 blankets. I also paid $100 in gas to move the truck, so my final costs were $448, some smoothies, and about 40 hours of my boyfriend and I’s time/labor. Not too shabby!

Thanks for reading! Have you moved recently? What was your experience like? Any handy tips for soon-to-be-renters?

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