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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok. I'm a single mom, I get no child support. I'm having a hard time making ends meet; I got a better job 4 months ago, but was underemployed for a year before that, and was out of work for 8 months before that. My rent was raised in September by almost 25%, which I can't afford, but at the same time, I don't have money for a deposit to move into a cheaper place. I've got a couple hundred dollars a month in CC debt (but have not added to my debt in nearly 2 years), have my son in in-home daycare...Get the picture? Every month, I slide by, a little behind, nothing extra.

Ok, I'm now eligible for my company's health insurance. I'd have to pay out $274/month for my son and me. There's a $1500 deductible per calendar year. Co-pays for regular office visits, anything having to do with hospitals I'd pay 40% after deductible.

Paying out that much for premiums, I cannot make my rent/childcare/utilities, etc. No matter how many times I add it up, I come up short. I'm already thinking of possible solutions for my overall financial situation, but I've cut out everything I can think of other than a minimal cell phone plan and broadband at my house, both of which together are less than the health insurance premiums, so wouldn't make enough of a difference (and anyway, my phone service is through broadband--very cheap--but couldn't get rid of both). I'm considering getting rid of my car, since I take public transit to work, and have been taking the bike to get my son to daycare and me to the train...but car-free would be very difficult here in general.

My son is healthy (knock wood), I have asthma which is not severe, but colds hit me hard, and knee issues from an old injury. I have considered getting the coverage only for myself (~$60/month premium/$500/year ded.), but then, Sprogly's an active little boy. It's really a crapshoot.

Oh, and I make too much to qualify for any assistance whatsoever. (Go figure.)

WWYD?
 

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Couple of things...

Are you sure about assistance? Your son at least should qualify for OHP, and if not, Oregon has a program to help pay the costs of health insurance through an employer. I assume you are not over the income limit if you are that hard pressed. The income limit for that program is at pretty decent amount.

As for the car, if you are paying a car payment, sell it and pay cash for a older car. Heck, I've got family over there who could help you get a good car (family of mechanics).
 

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we've been there. we're just barely on the cusp of actually being able to afford coverage for all three of us at the same time.
we went without.
and i prayed alot.
and cursed our government for not doing better by working families...
there's always a chance something could go wrong, yes, and you'd be strapped with medical debt. we're have 1500.00 right now from when we were uninsured. but the way i see it, that 1500 is doable, being homeless was not.
don't beat yourself up, k?
you'll get insured when you can.
xoxox
 

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There's a children's health care plan where I live that costs $15 a month for a child. Income requirements for a single mother with one child are less than $33,000. It's run by the city. It does not cover the parent, just the kid. If your city has something similiar, than you'd only need to use your work health insurance for yourself.

There's also a public hospital in my city that has a low cost health plan, but you can only get care in that hospital. The income requirements are a bit higher than a lot of the other programs, but you're limited to that one hospital. Maybe your city also has something similiar?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Synthea™ View Post
Couple of things...

Are you sure about assistance? Your son at least should qualify for OHP, and if not, Oregon has a program to help pay the costs of health insurance through an employer. I assume you are not over the income limit if you are that hard pressed. The income limit for that program is at pretty decent amount.

As for the car, if you are paying a car payment, sell it and pay cash for a older car. Heck, I've got family over there who could help you get a good car (family of mechanics).
I'm sure I don't qualify for coverage under OHP. I had OHP coverage when I was out of work. I make $20 an hour. The income limits are lower than that. (Frustratingly--a couple with a child could probably live better on my income than we do, because they wouldn't have to pay for child care, and could take the time to be frugal in ways that I just can't.)

My rent is now $890 (that's up from $695--I can't believe that's legal here!), child care is $500, car insurance is $125 (less than 3 yrs driving record), CC payments $180 (that's with a payment plan), $80 electric (average for the year, higher in winter), $45 water/sewer/trash, $85 Cable/broadband/phone, $74 transit pass, $30 cell phone. Haven't been tracking my spending on food lately, but I don't buy convenience foods, I pack my lunch for work.

My rent is obviously too high, and I'm looking into shared housing, but nothing has worked out so far. I'd have trouble paying deposits on a different, cheaper apartment. The car needed a $700 repair in July (when I was still at my old job and had to have it). That took me three months to pay off. I put about $1200 into the car last winter to keep it running. It is an older car. If anything else major happens to it, I'll give it up and just not have a car, because a car payment is out of the question.

My main trouble with this health insurance is that it's so sucky! Even if I came up with the money, there's still the $1500 deductible, and the fact that it only pays 60% (AFTER deductible!) if God forbid one of us had to be in the hospital. So after somehow squeezing out the money to pay for the insurance, deductibles out of pocket, I'd still be stuck with bills/debt if anything actually happened. I had primo health insurance at my old job in NYC, and the company paid almost all of it (I paid an extra 60 buck a month for my son's coverage). It sticks in my craw. I look at the numbers, and I wonder how we'll be better off. If we don't get sick/have an accident, we lose, if we do get sick/have an accident, we're not really completely covered. We'd have a ton of debt with insurance versus an absurd amount of debt without it.

If I'd known how tough things would be, I'd never have left that job and NYC, because it's not cheaper to live in Oregon! Once you factor in having a car, it cost more, and I make less. Well, no point in my revisiting that, I'm here, and I'm not really sorry to be here. I just keep thinking that I'm missing something.

Thanks for the replies. I appreciate any and all ideas.
 

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you make around 40k year.... something is wrong if you are short every month... you gross about 800/week or 3200/month...
check your tax with holding... you should have the most decuctions possible (8) so that would mean almost nothing taken from your check...

also shop around for auto insurance... 125/month is way too high...no matter what your years of driving are...
125/week for daycare is reasonable and quite affordable in most areas....

is there any chance of going for child support? that would be the best solution for your child... can you petition the court to have the babys father provide medical insurance and be responsible for the medical bills...

check into the urgrent care... we have a 'nextcare' group out here with an annual fee then they see you for a few bucks.. the annual fee is like $150/person... while they are not ap etc that would help with your medical..

that medical plan sounds awful... were you not aware of the health benefits before you accepted the postion.. many times benefits are negotiable before hiring...
 

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ok i just did some math
assuming you work 160 hrs a month at 20/hr you gross that $3200.00
your bills listed above add up to
$2019.00
so you still have 1k left over??
from that 1k is groceries and medical insurance...clothes etc....

look at your paystub... you should have $$$ left over based on the ##"s you gave me...
 

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You should definitely have a lot left over - are you taxed as Head of Household or Single? Your food bill shouldn't be over oh, say, $400 max for 2 people (eating very healthy with that to boot)....are you spending a lot on clothes or toys or anything hidden?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by 1growingsprout View Post
ok i just did some math
assuming you work 160 hrs a month at 20/hr you gross that $3200.00
your bills listed above add up to
$2019.00
so you still have 1k left over??
from that 1k is groceries and medical insurance...clothes etc....

look at your paystub... you should have $$$ left over based on the ##"s you gave me...
Assuming she takes a standard deduction, she's still going to be in the 25% marginal tax bracket. After taxes, she is bringing home about $2400/month.

Her expenses above are over $2000. Even assuming she is frugal with food and clothing, etc., that additional $350 - $400 is going to be gone in a flash just by feeding and clothing them. That's not including gas for the car or incidentals.

OP- I definitely see how tight your numbers are. Your net pay IS barely making ends meet.

I'd look at your withholdings to see if you can squeeze out any more $$ to increase your net income. Talk to an accountant if you can... usually they will give you a consultation for free and you can get some info that way.

If you will get a deposit back on your current rental, I'd shop around and find a cheaper place.

I hate seeing you pay car insurance AND the transit pass both. Do you have any friends or relatives that would loan you a car when you absolutely need it? At a minimum, try to find cheaper insurance... and remember that if you own your car, you need only minimum coverage (liability).

Wish I had more ideas for you, but other than getting rid of cable/broadband/phone and getting a pre-paid cell, it looks like you're already at your minimum.

Best of luck!
 

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What about getting an independent, high deductible plan? Something that will limit your liability in the event of a big medical crisis, but otherwise you pay your own care out of pocket (maybe up to a $10k deductible per year).

We will be looking into such a plan after this baby is born, as insuring both of our children under dh's plan would cost us $9300/year
Impossible. We will probably look at a $5000 deductible plan.

You may be able to get a plan like that much cheaper. And it maybe worth it, since the company's plan already has a high ded (1500) and lousy coinsurance rate (60%). You may find that you never spend enough to meet that deductible anyway.
 

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Whew! You sure do have a tight budget! After taxes I can see how you are barely scraping by. But, I see hope!
It looks like the biggest impact you can make is with your rent. Since you can't currently afford a down payment on a new place I would recomend cutting your car insurance off. If you're mostly using public transit anyway what's a couple extra trips on the bus/train? I wouldn't recomend selling your car. If it runs, keep it! You may need it later, and in an emergency I'd rather have a car with no insurance to drive than nothing at all. Plus if you need the car in the future you can just have the insurance turned back on (safe auto will do it same day), and you're good to go!
Then, I'd take that $125 you're saving on insurance and be VERY strict with it and put it away to save for a down payment on a new apartment.
Once you have the cheaper rent you can turn your insurance back on, or take that money plus the money you are saving on rent and get health insurance with it.
Have you looked into a health savings plan? My husband company offers one that takes out money from your check (pre-tax) and keeps it in a savings account for you to use throughout the year, then you can be reimbursed for any medical expenses from that account. That may work better for you. Or, you could just take all that money and put it into a savings account for medical expenses.
I'm curious what the premiums would be like for the independent plan pp suggested, that might work well in conjunction with keeping a savings.
Keep us updated, and good luck!
 

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I didn't think about the 25% tax rate, it always boggles my mind in the ways the government sticks it to the families that need it most


Quote:
If you will get a deposit back on your current rental, I'd shop around and find a cheaper place.
Try that - Just call around! I've founds TONS of places on the PDX craiglist that say they will work with the deposit!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all the replies, lots of great ideas!

velochic, you're right on the money, I'm taking standard deductions as head of household, and my takehome pay is actually closer to $2500/mo, assuming I didn't have to miss any work.

I have looked into reducing my car insurance, but I'm basically paying as much as a teen-ager, since I've only been driving since May 05. I've been told that as long as my driving record stays good, it'll go down by quite a bit by May 08. It's illegal here to drive without insurance, but I think I have coverage over and above liability--I should look into that. I think that, as a novice driver, I wanted more coverage, but now that I'm (mostly) only using the car for shopping and whatnot on weekends, I should re-think that. I don't depend on the car, now, and lived without one for my entire adult life, which is why I'm even thinking about giving it up...most people here seem to think I'm crazy for that.


The rental market in the area is tight. Part of the trouble I had when I was actively looking for an apartment in September was that I've got to give 30 days notice, and demand was so high that if I found an apartment, there would have to be almost a month's overlap (or at least 2 weeks). Then, they'd want a deposit when I sign the lease, but I woudn't get the deposits for my current apartment back until well after I'd vacated (and this management company is notorious for not giving back deposits, and giving tenants a hard time when they leave). You know what I was wondering is whether a property mgmt company would take a CC payment for a deposit. I haven't added to my debt in nearly two years, and hate to do it, but I could pay that much off when (if?) I get deposits back.

High deductible, catastrophy-only health insurance is a good idea, assuming my asthma stays at its current level (i.e., don't need constant meds to manage it, just occasional Albuterol). I'll have to look into it, and figure out how much that would be, and how much I can expect to pay for the occasional office visits without insurance. With a $1500 deductible, it's very likely that I'd never meet that, since I'd only see a doctor if I absolutely had to.

I'm still focussed on the idea of shared housing. I'm paying too much for housing, but anything in my price range is pretty ghetto, and no place to store the bikes/trailers (not actually a luxury thing for me, I do not want to give up my bikes!). A couple hundred dollars more a month that what I'm paying would get a townhouse or even detached ranch house that's plenty roomy for 2 adults and 2/3 kids. I really really want to stay near my DCP (you have no idea how hard it was to find even acceptable child care in my price range, never mind great child care, which I'm lucky enough to have). That limits me. If I found cheaper rent too far away from her, then finding different child care would be yet another consideration.

So, I'm advertizing and looking for someone who'd want to rent a house/apartment with me, and nothing's panned out yet.

Meanwhile, I buy a lottery ticket once a month, so I can at least fantasize about winning.
Thanks again for all the ideas, keep them coming.
 

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I totally think you should opt out of your company's insurance policy. I'd totally go for a high deductable plan and open a HSA. You can put $$ into your HSA (pre-tax) up to your deductable. Good thing about it is you don't loose the money at the end of the year and the account accrues interest tax free.

Oh, and definitely drop your insurance coverage to liability only. That should drop the premiums considerably.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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Originally Posted by techno_dara View Post
I totally think you should opt out of your company's insurance policy. I'd totally go for a high deductable plan and open a HSA. You can put $$ into your HSA (pre-tax) up to your deductable. Good thing about it is you don't loose the money at the end of the year and the account accrues interest tax free.

Oh, and definitely drop your insurance coverage to liability only. That should drop the premiums considerably.
OK, I was just looking at the FSAs that I can opt into through my employer. The HSA is different? IOW, it's not use-it-or-lose it? Because, here's the thing: I can Flex $5000/year for child care. If I Flex/add to HSA an additional ~$3K/year, this brings my income down below the 28% mark ($33,950 for head of household). Is that how it works? Anyone know about this?

I feel kind of stupid, no knowing these things...but hopeful, maybe I can find a workable solution! Off to research HSAs! Keep it coming!
 

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I wouldn't worry about getting your tax rate down. Most people don't understand that you do not pay that percentage on ALL the income.

The way taxes work is:

for income from 0 - 7,550, you pay 10% taxes

for income from 7,550- 30,650, you pay 15% taxes

for income from 30,650 - 74,200, you pay 25% taxes

and so on.

So, if you earn 74,300, you are not paying 28% (the next tax bracket up) on the entire sum. You are paying 28% on only $100.

HOWEVER... this percentage is a quick and dirty way of calculating ALL of your deductions from your paycheck, including FICA, state tax, local tax, medicare, etc.

So, if you are in the 25% tax bracket, you are really not getting 25% of your entire income taken out for federal taxes... but it's a fair number to use to figure out how much TOTAL is being taken out.

I hope that makes sense. If not, let me know and I'll try to explain it better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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Originally Posted by velochic View Post
So, if you are in the 25% tax bracket, you are really not getting 25% of your entire income taken out for federal taxes... but it's a fair number to use to figure out how much TOTAL is being taken out.

I hope that makes sense. If not, let me know and I'll try to explain it better.
Well, it sort of makes sense. I just looked at a table on a random tax website, which had me in there as 28%.

But anyway, it's an income reduction, right? That changes my withholding as well, from the get-go? It looks like it would be feasible to reduce my income with pre-tax things so that it would reduce my tax rate, if that's the way it works...anyway, I'm still not quite getting exactly how the HSA/HDHP works, and how much I'd pay out up front, etc...I'm working on it. Any "for dummies" type resources/insights are appreciated.
 

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Regarding the car costs, is Flexcar an option for you? I don't know how convenient their available cars are to where you live, but they do seem to have some cars in the general vicinity of Beaverton. And of course, you could rent a car when you really need one -- car rental companies will often rent cars for a reduced weekend rate (Enterprise, in particular, since they cater heavily to businesses), so if you need to go out of town for the weekend, you can probably rent a car for $40 -- much less than what you're currently paying for auto insurance.

I definitely think trying to find a shared housing arrangement is a great idea in your situation!
 
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