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How to Get Paid Early: Earned-Wage Access Pays You on Your Terms MAKING MONEY

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Just over half of U.S. adults are living paycheck to paycheck, at best. That means the margin between keeping it together and falling apart is only a few days wide, at most.

So many of us stand to lose everything we’ve built financially due to a late check, a lost shift or an emergency expense. Without an emergency fund, the only other option is to figure out how to get paid early.

A concept called earned-wage access can offer one last line of defense for those without emergency savings. And we like how favorably it compares to alternatives to getting your paycheck early, such as costly payday lenders.

DailyPay: It’s Your Own Money

It’d make a great question for Family Feud if you surveyed HR departments about why they make you wait a week, two weeks, a month or more for your paycheck. The reasons are many, but they often don’t add up for employees.

A company called DailyPay thinks it shouldn’t take so long to pay employees what they’ve already earned. They work with employers to give employees the option to get paid faster, using a benefit known as earned-wage access.

With DailyPay, you don’t even have to wait until you’ve completed a pay period to get your money into your bank account. After each shift, your earnings will be added to your available balance in your DailyPay account. You can draw from your available funds when you need to do so.

Staring down an unforeseen emergency? You can get your funds via direct deposit as soon as the next day, for free, or you can pay the equivalent of an ATM charge for an even faster turnaround.

It’s a life-changing concept. About 97% DailyPay users find that they no longer need to turn to payday lenders after taking advantage of earned wage access.

DailyPay is a financial technology company, not a bank. And the money you access is not a loan — it’s your own money.

The Good:

This isn’t a loan. With DailyPay, you access money you’ve already earned. And there are no monthly service fees or hidden costs. If you need your money as soon as possible, you can opt to pay a small fee that’s about the size of a typical ATM charge.

The Bad:

As with the other options for getting your paycheck early on this list, your next check will be smaller any time you take from it early.  Your paycheck on payday will be reduced by any amount that you have drawn prior.

Comparison of Early Pay Options

Getting your paycheck early can help you triage your finances to keep late fees, overdrafts, interest charges and legal action from bleeding your budget dry. It can also help you pay bills and address unforeseen circumstances.

However, how you get paid early matters a lot.

Payday Loans

Most people tend to have a negative perception of payday loans, but that doesn’t stop millions of Americans from borrowing money from them every year. That’s because payday loans are one of the easiest ways to get cash in a hurry.

Got a job? Got an address? Can you prove when your next payday is? Great; you qualify for a loan from most payday lenders.

However, these lenders set the bar for loans so low because the returns for them are so high. Many states have sought to put a ceiling on the interest rates of payday loans, yet you’ll still find repayment terms charging as much as 200% in interest — or even as much as 400%.

One false step, and your next few paychecks could be gobbled up by late fees and ballooning payments.

The Good:

It doesn’t take much to qualify for a payday loan. You just need to be gainfully employed and usually a bank account to receive a direct deposit.

The Bad:

The interest rates you pay in some states are criminal in others. No matter which state you’re in, the interest rates for payday loans are usually much higher than every other type of loan.

Short repayment terms are common, making these loans difficult to pay back.

Cash-Advance Apps

Apps make things more accessible and convenient. But whether initiated through an app, a website or a brick and mortar location, a cash advance is still a cash advance.

However, payday lending companies have improved their lending practices in response to the poor reputation they’ve earned and the state-level legislation that has been enacted to rein in some of their more predatory practices.

Popular cash advance apps tend to have more reasonable terms than conventional payday loans, but their formula still makes it difficult for people living check to check to rebound from an unexpected expense.

With DailyPay, for example, the money you take comes from your next paycheck. With cash advances apps, they debit your account when payment is due — and this is where people tend to stumble.

If your money’s a little short when payment is due, you face overdraft fees and potentially steep penalties if your bank rejects the debit due to insufficient funds.

The Good: 

Cash advance apps are much more convenient than conventional brick-and-mortar payday lenders. And you can access your loan within a day or two.

The Bad:

There’s a much higher risk of having to make a payment before your finances have recovered, which could leave you in worse shape or in need of another cash advance. There may also be monthly service fees attached to using the service.

Credit Cards

While maybe not the dictionary definition of earned-wage access, credit cards essentially let you borrow from your future earnings, too. But unlike the other options for getting paid early, you don’t have to repay what you borrow over a short period of time.

Far fewer people would use payday loans if they had access to a good credit card. However, the credit score requirements can rule out this option for many people.

And for those who qualify for a basic credit card, the credit line extended to them may not be enough to bail them out of whatever financial emergency they’re facing.

The Good

While you should always try to pay down your credit cards quickly, you have the ability to spread out a major credit card purchase by only paying the monthly minimum while your finances recover.

The Bad

You need a credit score that’s at least in the fair range to qualify for a credit line big enough to bail you out of tight spots. Millions of people turn to cash advance lenders because this isn’t an option for them.

And if you need cash, the cash advance fees and interest rates for credit cards can act as a heavy tax for doing so.

A Checking Account with Early Direct Deposits

Banking services may offer certain checking accounts that allow you to get your direct deposit two days earlier. Early direct deposit is a perk that can help you avoid overdraft fees when your bills and your paycheck are misaligned by a day or two.

If you’re on a tight budget, having your check hit your checking account two days early may not be an impactful enough solution to help you overcome moderate or major expenses you weren’t expecting.

The Good:

Early direct deposit through a checking or savings account is an ace up your sleeve that could help you avoid overdrawing your checking account in certain situations.

The Bad: 

Getting early direct deposits is useless to you if you need to get your hands on money three or more days before your scheduled pay date.

Final Word

It’s nearly impossible to save money and improve your financial situation if you have to borrow against an upcoming paycheck.

When considering all of the options for getting paid early, DailyPay seems to offer the most consumer-friendly borrowing options. It can get you money just as fast as any of the other options, while eliminating the possibility of late fees and overdrawing your checking account.

Check with your human resources department to find out if your company offers DailyPay or to request it if it isn’t currently available.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Best Pet Insurance Companies 2022 MAKING MONEY

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Unexpected vet bills can be the most expensive part of welcoming a dog or cat into your family.

For many pet owners, pet insurance for their dogs, cats and even birds can keep the costs of pet care reasonable. While the monthly premiums are an additional expense on top of food, toys, treats and grooming, pet insurance is worth it for medical emergencies, especially serious illnesses or injuries.

With the cost of treating chronic illnesses so high, pet health insurance can mean being able to afford an improved quality of life for your companion and avoiding the tough decision of saying goodbye because you don’t have the money for a $5,000 procedure.

Like all insurance, it’s a gamble. You will likely spend more over the course of your animal’s life on monthly premiums than the cost of regular veterinary care if your pet is healthy. But if your best friend is dealt a bad hand, it’s reassuring to know you have insurance to take care of the problems.

In most cases, pet insurance is worth the cost but if you still need more information, we’ve gone into detail about how to decide if pet insurance is worth buying.

The Best Pet Insurance Companies, Ranked

Which pet insurance plan has the perfect combination of coverage, flexibility, benefits and positive reviews? The six companies below represent the very best of pet insurance in 2022, starting with our top pick.

Methodology: To determine the best pet insurance companies listed below, we examined and rated them across these criteria: best value (most coverage at a reasonable premium), flexibility in plans and deductibles, the highest benefits and the best consumer reviews.

To be included on our list, pet insurance companies had to achieve at least a 7 out of 10 with Pet Insurance Review and offer, at a minimum, dog insurance and cat insurance.

1. Trupanion

What we love about Trupanion:

One-time deductible: Trupanion’s biggest differentiator is its one-time per-condition deductible. If your dog develops diabetes at a young age, once you’ve paid off your deductible, you’ll only pay coinsurance for the rest of his life for that issue.
Flexibility: Speaking of deductibles and coinsurance, Trupanion offers flexible deductibles ($0 to $1,000) and a single reimbursement option: 90%.
Coverage: The range of what is covered is wide. It includes the basics like accidents, illnesses, medications, hereditary conditions and surgeries, but it also covers supplements and even prosthetic devices. Large-breed issues like hip dysplasia are also covered.
Quick (or immediate) payouts: Trupanion is the only pet insurance provider that offers direct vet payments. That means, at the vet or hospital, Trupanion’s software can quickly review the bill and determine what portion it will cover. Unlike with other pet insurance policies, you won’t have to pay out of pocket. Most vets and animal hospitals are set up to accept this process, but if your specific vet is not, Trupanion is still one of the fastest pet insurance providers when it comes to claim reimbursement. Claims are paid out quickly (80% within seven days).
Annual premium increases: Trupanion’s annual premium increases are small compared to competitors.
Consumer reviews: Finally, Trupanion holds a 9.8 out of 10 on Pet Insurance Review.

What we don’t love about Trupanion:

Price: Trupanion isn’t the most expensive insurance option, but it is in the higher tier. However, you can potentially save a lot of money with its per-condition deductible.
Designed for younger pets: The per-condition deductible is designed for puppies and kittens. Older dogs and cats won’t benefit as much from a lifetime deductible.
Mobile app: When we reviewed Trupanion in 2019, we lamented that it did not have a mobile app. Trupanion has gotten with the times and now offers an app. However, it has lukewarm ratings from actual customers (3.7 stars on the App Store and 3.6 on Google Play). These are, however, based on fewer than 100 reviews at the time of publication.
Waiting period: Trupanion has a 30-day waiting period before coverage for illnesses kicks in. (It’s just five days for injuries.)
Examination fees not covered: Because Trupanion is meant for emergencies, it does not cover exam fees, which are typically billed when you bring your dog or cat in for accident or illness care. This may surprise some customers, who assume all costs related to accident and illness are covered.

2. Lemonade

What we love about Lemonade:

Price: Lemonade is one of the most affordable dog insurance and cat insurance options. Policies start at just $10 a month. While these are basic plans and additional customization could add to the monthly premium, we still find Lemonade to be among the most affordable options even when you opt in to more comprehensive coverage. Plus, Lemonade offers 5% multi-pet discounts, as well as a 5% annual discount and 10% bundle discount.
Mobile app: Lemonade is among the most technologically advanced insurance providers on our list. It uses AI to review and approve claims in seconds, and its mobile app carries amazing scores on the App Store and Google Play.
Customization: Lemonade is truly customizable. The base plan includes accident and illness coverage for just $10, but you can add on preventative wellness packages that cover things like blood tests, vaccinations, annual exams and even flea or heartworm meds. You can also opt for more comprehensive illness packages.
Charitable giving: To operate as a business, Lemonade claims a portion of your monthly premium, but most of it is donated to a charity of your choice. In 2021, Lemonade donated over $2.3 million to nonprofits and $365,000 to animal rights organizations.
Quick payouts: Lemonade promises quick payouts; 30% of claims are paid in a matter of seconds.
Waiting period: Lemonade has one of the shortest waiting periods for new cats and dogs — just two days for accidents and 14 days for illnesses. Preventative benefits kick in immediately.

What we don’t love about Lemonade:

Customization: That’s right — customization can also be a confusing thing. If you’re new to pet insurance policies and aren’t quite sure what you’re doing, you may do better with a company that has one simple policy that gives you just a few options, like deductible and copay. Lemonade may be overwhelming for first-time pet owners seeking insurance.
Limited availability: Lemonade is only available in 36 states. Find out if your state is on the list.
Experience: Lemonade is the youngest pet insurance provider on the list. While this isn’t inherently bad, some might prefer to go with a company that has been in the business longer.

3. Healthy Paws

What we love about Healthy Paws:

Consumer reviews: Healthy Paws has fantastic customer service and a high score on Pet Insurance Review: a 9.7 out of 10. Based on reviews on petinsurancequotes.com, Healthy Paws has been the number one rated pet health insurance company for more than a decade.
Flexibility: Deductibles and reimbursement percentages are flexible; you can choose 70%, 80% or 90% for reimbursements after you’ve hit your deductible, which you can set at $100, $250 or $500.
Coverage: Coverage is comprehensive. All the basics are covered, but the plan also includes alternative treatment methods like hydrotherapy, acupuncture and chiropractic services. There are no per-incident, annual or lifetime caps on coverage for accident and illness.
Quick payouts: Claims are paid out lightning fast: 99% of Healthy Paws claims are reimbursed within just two business days.

What we don’t love about Healthy Paws:

Price: Like Trupanion, Healthy Paws can be on the more expensive side. Monthly premiums for dogs start at more than $30, and premiums for cats are almost $20; these are likely to be much higher if you pick the top benefits and depending on the age and size of your pet.
Hip dysplasia: Treatment for hip dysplasia can only be covered if you enroll while your pet is 6 or under. HealthyPaws also has a 12-month waiting period for hip dysplasia coverage on large breeds.
Mobile app: While building profiles for individual pets and submitting claims online is super easy with the Healthy Paws platform, its mobile app leaves a lot to be desired and has low scores on both the App Store (2.0 stars) and Google Play (2.5 stars).
Examination fees not covered: Because Healthy Paws is meant for emergencies, it does not cover exam fees, which are typically billed when you bring your dog or cat in for accident or illness care. This may surprise some customers, who assume all costs related to accident and illness are covered.
Waiting period: Healthy Paws has a moderate waiting period for illness and injury coverage to kick in: 15 days. Competitors are much faster, especially for injuries.

4. Embrace Pet Insurance

What we love about Embrace:

Consumer reviews: Embrace fetched a 9.3 rating on Pet Insurance Review.
Coverage: Embrace’s accident and illness coverage is extensive. It covers all illnesses and injuries and related expenses, including breed-specific and hereditary conditions, hospitalization and surgery, behavioral therapy, prescription drugs, cancer treatment, rehabilitation and more. It even includes the exam fee for accident and illness visits. You can spring for the optional Wellness Rewards plan as well.
Flexibility: With Embrace, you can choose an annual reimbursement limit ($5,000 to $30,000), annual deductible ($200 to $1,000) and reimbursement percentage (70%, 80% or 90%).
Price: Compared to our top two options, Embrace is pretty affordable. If you’re looking for a moderate cost plan with great benefits, this just may be it. You can also get a 10% multi-pet discount.
Mobile app: The Embrace mobile app is easy to use and has top ratings on the App Store (4.8 stars) and Google Play (also 4.8 stars) at the time of publication.
Waiting periods: The 48-hour waiting period for accidents is nice, as is the 14 days for illnesses. The orthopedic waiting period on dog insurance, however, is six months.

What we don’t love about Embrace:

Fine print: Don’t get us wrong — Embrace has great coverage. But just a little digging reveals that, for example, the all-inclusive injury and illness coverage, even with a max cap of $30,000 a year, only allows up to $1,000 for dental issues. When at first glance the coverage seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Payouts: If you go with direct deposit, you can get your reimbursement in two days. That’s not bad, but other companies at similar price points are paying out faster (i.e., immediately). Embrace offers top-tier coverage, but slow processes hold it back.
Annual limits: We prefer plans with unlimited coverage; while the $30,000 annual limit is affordable and you’re not likely to ever reach that, it would still be nice for an unlimited option.

5. Figo

What we love about Figo:

Technology: Figo is one of the younger pet insurance providers on this list, but its association with Google’s Tech Hub Network means advanced technology (paperless claims process through online portal and mobile app) as part of the claims process. This technology also includes the Pet Cloud for easy records access, lost pet finder with geolocation, vaccine reminders and more.
Unlimited benefits: You can choose unlimited annual benefits, but for a cheaper premium, you can also opt for $5,000 or $10,000 of coverage. While those will cover most medical expenses in a year, they might not cover full cancer treatment. If you are using your pet’s health insurance as a just-in-case option for big things like cancer, we recommend unlimited benefits. Another plus: There are no lifetime maximums.
Flexibility: Deductibles and reimbursement are flexible. Choose from $100 to $750 for your annual deductible, and select 70%, 80%, 90% or even 100% for claims reimbursement.
Coverage: In addition to typical coverage, Figo covers exam fees related to illnesses and accidents for an added fee (called a Powerup). Other Powerups include wellness coverage and the Extra Care Pack. There are no exclusions for hip dysplasia.
Waiting period: The waiting period for the policy to kick in is generally short, though it does vary by state.
Live vet access: Figo customers get 24/7 access to licensed veterinarians, whom they can contact for questions during emergencies.

What we don’t love about Figo:

Too new: The company is young, so we still need some time to determine how reliable it is. For instance, a few years back, Twitter users raged when premiums grew by 50% year over year.
Price: Speaking of premiums, they tend to be high for Figo.
Waning features: Figo used to offer more features for a set price; these are now no longer offered or have been baked into the Powerups.

6. MetLife Pet Insurance (formerly known as PetFirst)

What we love about MetLife:

Waiting period: MetLife has one of the shortest waiting periods in the industry. Accident coverage kicks in at midnight EST (less than 24 hours after enacting the policy); illness coverage does, however, take 14 days. A unique coverage offered by MetLife Pet Insurance is for periodontal disease. Here’s why taking care of your pet’s teeth is important.
Coverage: Policy limits range from $2,000 to $10,000 per year, but even with cancer, it is unlikely you will reach the higher end. Chronic issues, like cancer and hip dysplasia, are covered for a lifetime, as long as you are under your annual maximum.
Flexibility: Deductibles and reimbursements are flexible. Choose from $50 to $500 for your annual deductible and 70%, 80% or 90% for claims reimbursement.
Price: Though premiums are higher now under the MetLife umbrella than when the company was known as PetFirst, they’re still lower than competitors like Healthy Pets and Trupanion. The cheapest plans ($2,000 annual limit) are not helpful in true emergencies, however, which quickly surpass $2,000.

What we don’t love about MetLife:

Consumer reviews: MetLife Pet Insurance scores lower with consumers than others on our list.
Slow payouts: Claims can take longer to be paid out; approximately 80% are paid out within 10 days. Compared to others on our list, this is an unreasonably long payout. You can receive the reimbursement by check or direct deposit.
Low annual limits: That MetLife Pet Insurance even offers a $2,000 annual limit is frustrating. That is not likely to help those who truly need insurance in true emergencies. There’s not a lot of value there for someone who may struggle to pay the monthly premium as it is.

Honorable Mentions

While these didn’t make our top picks, we tip our hat to other leading insurance providers:

Nationwide Pet Insurance: Best pet insurance for birds and lizards
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance: Best for multi-pet discounts
Pet Assure: Best for pet owners on a budget

How to Choose a Pet Insurance Plan

With so many options on the market nowadays, choosing insurance for your furry (or feathery, or scaly) friend can be stressful. In the past, I have insured multiple dogs with ASPCA Pet Health Insurance (and have been very satisfied), and my two dogs now are covered by Healthy Paws (still satisfied). Choosing these plans was no easy task; to do my due diligence, I read multiple pet insurance reviews and got multiple quotes..

When choosing your policy, identify multiple options that have the coverage, flexibility and other benefits suited to your pet’s needs and then request quotes from all of them. Compare these to find the option with the lowest premium that meets your needs.

Pro Tip

Don’t forget to check with your employer about employee discounts. Many employers now offer discounts on pet insurance as part of their benefits packages.

So what should you look for in a pet insurance company? Here’s what the best policies offer:

Coverage

What does the best pet insurance cover? Choose only from plans that offer comprehensive coverage, and find an insurer that covers specific conditions that are common in your pet’s breed. A good, comprehensive insurance plan should meet all the requirements listed below:

Find a plan that broadly covers accidents and illnesses. This includes injuries like a fractured leg and illnesses like bronchitis.
Find pet insurance coverage that includes chronic conditions (like diabetes or hypothyroidism), congenital conditions (birth defects) and hereditary conditions (genetic disorders).
Because the true value of insurance lies in its capacity to make expensive treatments for life-threatening illnesses affordable, find a policy that covers cancer treatment.
The best pet insurance companies will also cover lab tests and blood work; surgery; prescription medications; X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other imaging services; and even rehabilitation, like after a broken leg.
Animal hospitals tend to be more expensive than a regular veterinary office (much like an emergency room compared to the doctor’s office). Only consider pet insurance plans that cover emergency visits.
Look for plans with high maximum annual limits or, preferably, no annual limits.

If you have an elderly dog or cat who has already developed serious issues, you may want to decline pet insurance. Unfortunately, the older cats and dogs get, the less sense it makes to purchase insurance for them, as costs will be too high and you will likely not see a positive return on investment.

A Note on Pre-Existing Conditions

No pet insurance policies currently offer support for preexisting conditions. That is why it is crucial that you insure your pet as early as possible. If you rescue a puppy or kitten, make insurance for your new family member a top priority in the first few days you bring them home.

Pro Tip

If you’re thinking of covering a pet with a host of health problems, consider saving the money you would spend on insurance, and instead putting that into savings for future care.

If you already have a pet insured with one plan and she’s developed a number of issues, stick with it. A new pet insurance policy will likely see those as preexisting conditions, making it challenging to switch.

Coverage You May Be Able to Skip

One area of coverage that might not be worth it? Wellness coverage. Wellness coverage typically includes dental cleaning, vaccines and regular check-ups.

Many policies allow you to elect for wellness coverage for an additional monthly fee. Instead, put the $20-ish a month you’d spend on that coverage into savings, then draw from that to pay for annual wellness visits.

Deductibles

The best pet insurance plans have flexible deductible options, typically between $0 and $1,000. Like human health insurance, high-deductible plans are cheaper.

Most plans have an annual deductible; Trupanion breaks from the pack with a one-time per-incident/per-condition deductible, meaning if your dog has a chronic issue, you’ll only have to meet the deductible once over the course of his life before the insurance benefits kick in. This would be a great solution for dogs famous for contracting specific illnesses, like hypothyroidism, which requires regular blood work and medication.

On the flip side, this solution would not be ideal for a dog or cat that requires lots of veterinary care for a wide range of unrelated issues, as you’d have to meet a deductible for each.

Some insurance plans have fixed deductibles. While that’s not necessarily a red flag, it’s nice to be able to choose the option that best suits your needs.

To save on monthly premiums, choose the highest deductible you’re comfortable paying. View your pet’s insurance as that “just-in-case” crutch to lean on if your dogs need emergency surgery or cancer treatment. If you can afford a $500 vet bill from time to time, save on the monthly payments and fork over $500 a year before the benefits kick in, but rest easy knowing you have support if disaster strikes and you’re faced with much larger vet bills.

Benefits

As with deductibles, the best pet insurance companies will let you select the reimbursement option that fits your needs. Reimbursement is the amount insurance will pay after you have met your deductible. You are still financially responsible for the remaining percentage, called coinsurance.

The lower the reimbursement, the lower the monthly premium. Leaders in the pet insurance industry typically offer options for 70%, 80%, 90% and even 100% reimbursement (though the cost for the latter can be exorbitant). We only considered pet insurance companies that reimburse 70% at a minimum.

For example, let’s assume your plan has a deductible of $500, $300 of which you have already met. It also has a 70% reimbursement. You take your dog in for a stomach issue that, after testing and treatment, costs you $400. You will pay $200 toward your deductible.

Of the remaining $200 owed, your insurance will cover $140 (70%), leaving you with a $60 bill. Any future illnesses or injuries that year should also be covered at 70% because your deductible has been met.

Premiums

So how much does pet insurance cost? It’s difficult to pinpoint which insurance company offers the best premium, because quotes depend on variables such as your pet’s age, breed, size, location and more. Dogs are 50% to 60% more expensive to insure than cats because they are more susceptible to injury and illness.

For reference, the current average monthly premium for accident and illness pet health insurance is $50 for dogs and $28 for cats.

Premiums will also depend on the coverage you elect and the deductible and reimbursement amounts you select. Still, we’ve examined typical premiums across the top rated pet insurance policies and used those to influence our list of the best pet insurance companies.

Some pet insurers, like ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, offer multi-pet discounts to help you save on premiums.

Consumer Reviews

While you should take reviews with a grain of salt, consumer reviews of insurance companies can be extremely helpful. Pet Insurance Review’s website scores companies out of 10 based on customer ratings, while Consumer Affairs and similar sites let you browse hundreds of reviews of policies.

Plans for Lizards, Birds and More

A final consideration: What animal are you hoping to insure? While most pet insurance companies provide coverage for dogs and cats, only Nationwide includes policies for animals like birds, lizards and rodents.

While Nationwide is not the strongest insurer across the other criteria, it stands out as a winner for the range of animals covered.

One Alternative to Pet Health Insurance

If pet insurance seems like a financial burden, consider starting a savings account for pet emergencies and putting away the equivalent of a premium each month.

When an emergency does happen, you will have that money to rely on, but you’ll have been earning interest on it (check out one of these high-yield online savings accounts).

One caveat: If you have a pet for just a couple months and she develops a serious issue or gets injured, you likely won’t have much saved up and you’ll need savings on hand to cover the cost. If you do have to pay for emergency vet care and don’t have pet health insurance, there are several options for pet parents to choose from.

Timothy Moore covers banking and investing for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He covers a variety of other topics, including pets, insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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5 Unwelcome Financial Surprises to Watch Out for in 2022 MAKING MONEY

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Maybe you’d rather forget 2021 — we get it.

But before getting too far into 2022, it’s a good idea to take stock of how your finances may have changed during the last 12 months and make any needed adjustments.

Here are five areas of your finances to check on so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises this year.

5 Financial Surprises (the Bad Kind) to Avoid in 2022

Missed Student Loan Payments

If you’ve been taking advantage of student loan forbearance since March 2020 — when all payments and interest on federally held student loans were suspended — it’s time to resurrect those payments.

Forbearance ends April 30, 2022, at which point you start owing and accruing interest on your student loans. Don’t delay reaching out to your student loan servicer.

If you’re on the standard repayment plan and are unable to make the payments, apply for an income-driven repayment plan, which could substantially reduce your monthly payments when the forbearance period ends. If you’re already on an income-driven plan, update your income to modify your monthly payment.

Overdraft Fees

Overdraft fees are among the most criticized fees assessed by banks, since those who live paycheck to paycheck are the ones likely to accidentally overdraft.

The goods is that in 2021, a number of institutions eliminated their overdraft fees, including Ally Bank, Alliant Credit Union and Capital One.

Since the new year, Bank of America announced it’s slashing overdraft fees from $35 to $10 and intends to drop bounced check fees. Wells Fargo said that it will give customers 24 hours to make good on overdrafts, although it hasn’t budged on the $35 overdraft penalty.

What does that mean for you? If you’re banking at a place that’s socking you with fees, then maybe 2022 should be the year you find a new bank — here’s a rundown of those fee changes, plus a list of banks that don’t charge overdraft fees at all.

Social Security Changes

Whether you’re already retired or years away, Social Security affects your finances, and there are some major shakeups to the system this year.

For retirees, first some good news: Social Security payments are getting their biggest cost of living increase since 1982. But don’t expect a much fatter monthly check — most of that increase will be eaten up by rising Medicare premiums.

And if retirement is still in your future, you’ll have to wait longer to reach it — as of 2002, full retirement age is now 67 years old.

End to Child Tax Credits

If you’re a parent of a kid under 18, you likely received an extra monthly payment courtesy of the temporary child tax credit boost — but that source of extra income came to an end in 2021.

Starting in July 2021, parents who qualified received up to $250 a month for each child between 6 and 17, and up to $300 a month for each child younger than 6. The last payment was Dec. 15, and the remaining half of the credit — $1,500 to $1,800, depending on the child’s age — will be disbursed this year when parents file their taxes for 2021.

The only way to get the remaining half of the credit is to file your 2021 tax return — the earlier the better, if last year’s refund delays are any indication.

The quickest way to receive your additional child tax credit money is to file a return online. There are plenty of free tax filing software programs that simplify the process.

Credit Card Debt

Don’t let the ghost of credit card purchases past haunt you in 2022.

If you want to start putting a dent in your credit card debt, we have plenty of options, including the debt avalanche, debt snowball, debt snowflake and debt lasso payoff methods.

However, if you’re having problems making payments, you should reach out to your lender to ask them about assistance or hardship programs.

Start by looking for a customer service number on a copy of your bill for your mortgage, credit card, auto loan or other loan. When you call, have your account number and a clear explanation about why you’re unable to pay the bill. Be sure to ask about all your options as well as how your payments, balance, interest rate and credit score could be affected.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Is Pet Insurance Worth It? Our Pros & Cons For 2022 MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:11 Minute, 42 Second
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You have insurance for your health, your car, your house — but what about your pets? Do they have pet insurance coverage?

If you don’t currently have pet insurance, you’re not alone. While more than 70% of U.S. households have pets, just 26% of those American pet parents have actually purchased insurance for their pets, according to a 2021 study from Liberty Mutual.

But given the price of vet care, it’s worth looking into. The ASPCA estimates the annual cost of routine vet visits is $225 for dogs and $160 for cats, depending on your pet’s age. Emergency vet visits can cost from $800-$2,500, and sometimes more. And if your pet develops cancer and you choose to treat it, you might spend $10,000 or more.

If you’ve ever found yourself at the animal hospital at 3 a.m. with a beloved pet in distress, you know what it’s like to be willing to shell out pretty much anything to make your pal feel better, no matter the cost. But that dedication to our pets can also lead to financial ruin, which is why pet insurance is worth the cost for many pet owners.

Lemonade insurance provider, which offers pet insurance, says that pet insurance provides peace of mind and allows the insured to save on routine care with preventative plans.

We’ve put together this breakdown to help you decide: Is pet insurance worth it for you and your pets?

How Does Pet Insurance Work?

Like with human health insurance, pet insurance providers alleviate some of the costs of keeping your pet healthy. You can choose from different levels of coverage, with each plan costing a monthly or annual premium based on how much coverage you choose.

Some plans cover basic scenarios like accidents and injuries, some only cover accidents, and others include injury, accident and illness, as well as genetic/hereditary conditions.

Accident-only coverage is the most affordable; accident and illness coverage is more expensive; and the most expensive plans include wellness care and even death-related expenses. In general, the more comprehensive the coverage, the higher you can expect the monthly premium to be.

Pro Tip

Whether or not you opt for pet insurance, start an emergency fund now for vet care to make sure you can handle unexpected out-of-pocket costs. 

Many plans have a deductible, a certain amount you must pay out of pocket before coverage kicks in. Depending on your policy, this could be anywhere from $0 to $2,500 in a plan year. Typically, higher-deductible plans will yield lower monthly premiums.

While human health insurance works on a copay basis (you pay a certain percentage when you see the doctor and the insurance covers the rest), pet insurance is largely a matter of reimbursement.

You pay the full amount due when you take your pet in for care, then submit a claim to the insurance company afterwards. Depending on your policy, they’ll pay you back anywhere from 20% to 100% of covered costs. This means you might have to put the cost of emergency vet care on a credit card temporarily, if you can’t pay out of pocket.

Rates are calculated based on your pet’s age and breed, as well as your location (vet costs are higher in some areas than others).

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

While individual costs will vary based on your pet’s breed, age, health and the tier you opt for, the average cost for accident and illness dog insurance is $49.50/month (or $594/year), while the same level of pet insurance for cats is about 40% less, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).

Remember, pet insurance costs largely depend on the deductible you choose, the age of your pet, any preexisting conditions and the type and amount of coverage you ask for. That said, we have compiled a list of the best pet insurance companies in the U.S., factoring in cost, types of coverage offered, reimbursement speed, mobile app and website ease of use and more. Among our favorites are Trupanion, Healthy Paws, Lemonade and Figo.

Have an exotic pet (i.e. anything other than a dog or cat)? Your options are a bit more limited, but you can still find coverage. Check out Pet Assure and Nationwide for plans for birds, rabbits, reptiles and other members of the animal kingdom.

A dog receives cancer treatment at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. Tina Russell / The Penny Hoarder

The 5 Pros of Pet Insurance

So is pet insurance worth it? There certainly are a lot of reasons to get your pet covered:

1. It’s Easy to Compare Options

Unlike human health insurance, which can be a labyrinth of plans and riders you need a pro to help decode, pet insurance is relatively straightforward. Policies are simple, tiers are easy to compare, and you can get a no-commitment quote from different companies within minutes, making price shopping a breeze.

2. Premiums Can Be Low for Young Pets

If your pet is young or healthy, or you choose a lower tier, you can get coverage for less than the cost of your Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. Such a low monthly premium is not a huge price to pay for the security of knowing your pet can get the help they need.

3. Deductibles Are Reasonable

Compared to the cost of one late-night animal ER visit, most plans’ deductibles are affordable. If, heaven forbid, your pet is seriously injured or ill, you could wind up paying at least the cost of the deductible anyway — but with insurance, you can get your pet the extra care and piece of mind toward vet bills that you may not have been able to afford on your own.

4. You Get to Choose Your Vet

There are no “out-of-network” provider headaches when it comes to pet insurance. As long as your vet is licensed, eligible expenses should be covered and there’s no need to worry if your vet “accepts” your plan. Since you pay for the cost out of pocket and then submit a claim to the company for reimbursement, all you need from your vet is a copy of their invoice and for them to fill out a section of the claim form (or to send along your pet’s records).

5. You Can Do More for Your Pet

According to a recent joint analysis by Nationwide and VetSuccess, owners with pet insurance are more likely to seek medical care for their pets than those without. Parents of insured dogs visit 73% more often while cat parents with insurance take their feline friends into the vet 43% more often.

No one wants to have to choose between a sick pet and a mountain of debt. Too many pet owners, faced with a catastrophic medical crisis they hadn’t prepared for, are forced to make the heartbreaking decision to elect for “economic euthanasia,” according to the University of Melbourne in Australia. If you invest in pet insurance, you could save yourself — and your pet — from ever facing such a decision.

The 4 Cons of Pet Insurance

But for some, the cons of pet insurance outweigh the pros. Here are a few of the biggest problems with pet insurance policies:

1. Premiums Can Be High for Older Pets

If your pet is older or has a pre-existing condition or you choose a high tier, you could be looking at monthly premiums of $50 or more. You’ll want to carefully weigh whether the annual cost makes sense for you. The more customized coverage you require (like if you want a specific chronic or behavior condition covered), the higher you can expect to pay.

2. You Still Have to Pay Up Front

Having pet insurance won’t save you from having to shell out big bucks if your pet needs a costly procedure. Whether you have coverage or not, it’s wise to have a separate savings fund for vet emergencies to ensure you can handle upfront charges until your claims are processed.

3. It Doesn’t Cover Everything

On average, a pet owner with insurance still pays around 20% of their pets’ medical expenses, according to a report by the New York Times. Routine wellness checkups usually aren’t covered (unless you pay extra for that), so you’ll still pay for those out of pocket. Certain hereditary/genetic conditions may also not be covered; be sure to check each policy’s specifics carefully.

4. The Coverage has Limitations

Many plans also limit the amount you can claim, either annually or over your pet’s lifetime. If your pet is unfortunate enough to suffer a major medical problem, you could max out your plan’s limit quickly and find yourself paying the difference.

5. You Could Even Spend More

If your pet only needs routine vet care, you won’t save much. And pet owners with insurance spend an average of $324 out of pocket on a dog and $264 out of pocket on a cat, according to the zoology and veterinary sciences journal, Animals, compared to $251 for an uninsured dog and $146 for an uninsured cat.

Yep, pet parents with insurance spend more on veterinary care than those without.

This is largely because, unsurprisingly, owners with pet insurance take their animals to the vet more often than those who don’t have insurance. This is a good thing, as our animals age more quickly than humans and do deserve the kind of care vets can provide. It’s just something to be aware of if you’re already struggling to pay your vet bills.

And these numbers don’t include the annual price of pet insurance premiums. With an average cost of $49.50 a month for dogs and $29.70 a month for cats, insuring your pet could mean your total costs hit $918 for a dog or $620.40 for a cat (barring catastrophic expenses of unexpected vet bills). If your pet is fortunate enough to avoid any big issues, the cost of pet health insurance could outweigh the savings.

But that’s insurance in a nutshell: Most of us will spend more on monthly premiums to cover those rare but expensive calamities, but those of us who do encounter such tragedy will be grateful for having the insurance.

Should You Get Pet Insurance?

Like property insurance (car, home, etc.), you won’t necessarily “save” or “make” money in an average scenario, but in the event of a catastrophe, you may find it’s worth the investment.

While you may not get the most bang for your buck with a relatively healthy pet, there’s no way to predict what illnesses or injuries might occur, and for many pet owners, knowing they have a safety net in place is value enough. And because pre existing conditions generally aren’t covered, it’s wise to start your pet insurance policy when your pet is young and healthy, meaning the first few years you can certainly expect to spend more than you save.

“Pet insurance can help offset routine medical expenses and can be especially helpful for the unknown. Keeping the coverage may give you the freedom to make medical decisions for your beloved pets based on quality of life, not finances,” Dr. Jennifer Welser, former chief medical officer of BluePearl Veterinary partners in Tampa, Florida and now with Mars Veterinary Health in Vancouver, Washington, told The Penny Hoarder.

Pro Tip

To get the most benefit from pet insurance, enroll your pet when they’re young for maximum savings. 

Talk to your vet to get an idea of your pet’s potential breed-specific health problems, and ask them which insurance they’d recommend. If you decide to choose catastrophic coverage (generally the best cost-to-savings option), spring for the highest deductible you can afford.

How to Get Pet Health Insurance

To sign up for pet health insurance, you’ll need the following information for your pet:

Name
Breed
Age
Pre-existing conditions (if any)
Vet’s name and contact information

Have your pet seen by a vet if you haven’t done so within the past year.

Most pet insurance providers have waiting periods, which means you can’t get coverage immediately following an accident or illness. (This ensures people don’t sign up for pet insurance plans only when they know they need to cover a big bill.) So if you think you’d be interested in pet insurance, apply now before you end up needing it.

Choosing the Best Pet Insurance Plan for Your Needs

Ready to move forward with a pet insurance policy but unsure which company to go with? We recommend getting quotes from a few top companies; our list of the best pet insurance companies is a good place to start.

While there are some niche companies on the list (Nationwide covers lizards and birds, Trupanion has lifetime deductibles and Lemonade prides itself on super-affordable premiums and its charitable giving), we find that any of the insurers included in our list are well worth consideration.

Timothy Moore covers banking and investing for The Penny Hoarder from his home base in Cincinnati. He covers a variety of other topics, including pets, insurance, taxes, retirement and budgeting and has worked in the field since 2012. Reporting from contributors Kelly Gurnett and Olivia Snow Smith is included in this report. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Pretected Could Add $500/Year to Your Budget MAKING MONEY

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So you’ve achieved the American Dream. You’re married and you own a house and cars. Congrats!

Problem is, the American Dream is so expensive. You’ve got to pay so many bills to keep the whole thing going.

Here’s an easy way to lower one of those pesky bills: When’s the last time you compared car insurance rates? If it’s been more than six months, you should look again. Chances are you’re seriously overpaying.

If you look through a website called Pretected, you could save yourself up to $500 a year* in the time it takes to brush your teeth.

No matter where you live, what your credit score is or what kind of coverage you need, Pretected’s smart matching technology can match you with the right insurance provider — and make sure you stop wasting money every month.

It takes just a couple of minutes to answer some questions. Then the website will show you options that could work for you. You have the freedom to choose whatever policy you think suits you most. You’re certainly not obligated to buy, so you have nothing to lose by checking.

The website is free to use and can even save you up to an additional 20% if you add another vehicle to your policy. You could be paying as little as $19 a month* for car insurance.

More than 10 million Americans have already used Pretected to save money on their car insurance. And don’t worry — Pretected uses advanced data security and encryption technology, so all your personal info is safe.

Answer a few questions here to see how much money you could save with a new policy.

Mike Brassfield (mike@thepennyhoarder.com) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

*average expenditure $88/mo. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Dear Penny: Will Getting a Job Cost Me My Social Security Disability? MAKING MONEY

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Dear Penny,

I receive full disability from Social Security. I am 64 and went out on disability at 48 years old. (I was born in 1957.) 

Since there is now a shortage of labor, I thought I might like to try going back to work. Social Security has a Ticket to Work program, which gives you a limited time to try working without losing your benefits. Is there a downside in trying to go back to an office job? I believe I can work part time and earn less than $1,000 a month without disturbing my benefits. 

Also, right now, I do not pay any income tax. Would I really be gaining anything if I went back to work just to have a tax bill wipe out my earnings?

-L.

Dear L.,

Getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is such a long and complex process, so I understand why you wouldn’t want to put your benefits at risk. But I don’t see much downside to what you’re proposing.

The Ticket to Work program provides training, career counseling and help with finding a job for people who receive disability and want to work again. You can find out more about the services the programs offered at choosework.ssa.gov.


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But you don’t need to use Ticket to Work’s services to qualify for a trial work period. Basically, as long as you still have a disability, Social Security lets you test out a new job for up to nine months without affecting your benefits. There’s no limit on how much you can earn during these nine months.

As of 2022, any month you earn above $970 or work at least 80 hours if you’re self-employed would count as one of your trial months. Social Security would only consider your disability to have ended if you used up nine trial months during a 60-month period. But as long as you kept your income below $970 for any month you work, it wouldn’t count as a trial month.

Once you’ve completed a nine-month trial period, you can keep your disability for any month in which you don’t earn enough to have what Social Security calls substantial gainful activity for the next 36 months. In 2022, you can earn up to $1,350 a month, or $2,260 per month if you’re blind. There’s no middle ground here, though. If you’re not blind and you make $1,351 in a month, you wouldn’t get your disability for that month.

Even if you’d use up nine trial months, you’re not putting your long-term benefits at risk because of your age. You’re about two years away from full retirement age, at which point your disability benefit will convert to your retirement benefit. After that, you can work as much as you want without impacting your Social Security. You also wouldn’t risk your Medicare, since you’ll be 65 this year.

A couple of other benefits to consider: By working, you’d be paying into Social Security, which could increase your retirement benefit. Also, when you earn money from a job, you can contribute to a retirement account, like a 401(k) or IRA.

The tax part of the equation complicates things a bit. While you’d likely wind up paying some taxes, I don’t think Uncle Sam would take too big of a bite. We have a progressive tax system that gradually increases tax rates according to income.

Suppose you have $20,000 of income from Social Security disability, plus $10,000 in wages for the year, bringing your income to $30,000 for the year. Between federal taxes (which would apply to both your earnings and part of your Social Security) and payroll taxes (which would only apply to your earnings), you’d wind up paying a little over $1,500.

Ultimately, it’s your call whether getting a job is worth owing a bit in taxes. The point is, you don’t have to worry about taxes eliminating the benefits of working.

As long as you feel like you can work without risking your health, I’d vote for at least applying for a few jobs to explore your options. Along with office jobs, you may also want to look at work-from-home jobs since remote work is the new normal for so many companies.

The current job market presents so many opportunities, particularly for older workers or those with a disability who often face a lot of barriers when they seek employment. Since you have options for working without risking your benefits, why not take advantage?

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to AskPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Save on Medicare With SHIP — State Health Insurance Assistance Programs MAKING MONEY

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Contrary to popular belief, Medicare isn’t free.

Monthly premiums, copays and yearly deductibles add up quickly — not to mention out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs.

Navigating Medicare’s complex system by yourself can be overwhelming. It feels easier to just stick with your current plan and hope for the best.

But staying put can mean losing out on huge savings — potentially thousands of dollars a year.

If you want to explore your Medicare options but don’t know where to start, a network of free federally-funded programs can help.

What Is the State Health Insurance Assistance Program?

The State Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, is a national network of trained volunteers who provide one-on-one assistance, counseling and education to Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers.

SHIP was created more than 30 years ago under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990. Each state uses federal grant money to administer its own SHIP.

Your state’s program may go by a slightly different name, such as SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) in Massachusetts or SHIBA (Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) in Washington and Idaho.

SHIP by the Numbers

Nearly 2.7 million Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers received one-on-one health insurance counseling in 2018, including 330,737 adults under 65 with disabilities.
SHIP provided outreach to more than 4.2 million people at public presentations, enrollment events, health fairs and other community events in 2018.
There are more than 2,200 local SHIP sites nationwide and over 12,500 team members.
SHIP received $65.1 million in federal funding in fiscal year 2020 to carry out its mission.

SHIP counselors are certified to provide free, in-depth and personalized health insurance counseling to Medicare beneficiaries.

And because counselors don’t work for an insurance company, their advice is truly unbiased.

A SHIP volunteer will never try to sell you anything. There’s no income or wealth restrictions either. Anyone can use the program, free of charge.

How Can SHIP Counselors Help Me?

SHIP counselors can assist with numerous Medicare-related needs, including:

Reviewing your health insurance coverage and prescription drug plan options.
Assistance programs for people with low incomes.
Open enrollment questions.
Billing problems.
Navigating late enrollment penalties.
Filing an appeal or complaint.
Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap), long-term care insurance and managed care options.

Both new and existing Medicare beneficiaries can utilize SHIP. Counselors also help adults under 65 who qualify for Medicare due to a disability, as well as dual-eligible beneficiaries enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.

Reviewing Your Medicare Coverage Can Save You Thousands

Beneficiaries get an annual opportunity to review and change their Medicare coverage during open enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

It’s a great time to compare plans and make sure you’re not overpaying for health care.

Yet seven in 10 Medicare beneficiaries didn’t compare plans during the 2018 open enrollment period, according to a recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The rate was even higher among Black and Hispanic beneficiaries, those 85 and older and those with low incomes.

Pro Tip

In 2022, the average Medicare beneficiary has access to 39 private Medicare Advantage plans — the most options in more than a decade — along with an average of 23 Part D drug plans to choose from. 

Not shopping around at least once a year can mean overspending on Medicare, experts say.

“In addition to potentially better meeting their health care needs, reviewing plans annually can help save money as plan costs fluctuate regularly,” said Rebecca Kinney, director of the Office of Healthcare Information and Counseling for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living.

How much can you really save using SHIP?

Kinney told The Penny Hoarder about a married couple in Ohio who hadn’t compared their Part D plans in nine years.

“They will save almost $4,000 in 2022 by changing plans after researching their options with the Ohio SHIP,” Kinney said. “The wife was almost in tears, she was so happy.”

Need a refresher on Medicare? Check out these seven FAQs about Medicare and open enrollment.

What Else Does SHIP Do?

A SHIP counselor can assist you in many ways, whether that’s helping you compare drug plans, screening you for money-saving benefits or answering enrollment questions.

They can also offer guidance on navigating unique situations, like how Medicare interacts with Medicaid, or what happens to your TRICARE coverage when you turn 65.

SHIPs generally offer a mix of in-person and over-the-phone assistance.

Many SHIPs also give webinars and education fairs, like the SHIP in Indiana, which hosted four virtual Medicare events on its Facebook page in September. Members of the public could interact with experts and get their Medicare questions answered in real-time.

SHIPs rely heavily on the Medicare Plan Finder tool and other information on Medicare’s website to sort through available options for beneficiaries.

Pro Tip

If you want to use the Medicare Plan Finder on your own, volunteers are happy to answer any questions you have along the way. (And they can train you to use the Plan Finder tool, too.)

Or, with your permission, a counselor can log into your MyMedicare.gov account, review your recent drug claims and determine your most affordable Part D plan option.

Get Extra Help Paying for Medicare With Savings Programs

SHIP counselors can also help lower-income beneficiaries navigate Medicare Savings Programs, which can cover Part B premiums, deductibles and copayments.

There’s also the Extra Help program, which helps substantially lower prescription drug costs. In 2022, Extra Help enrollees spend no more than $3.95 for each generic prescription and $9.85 for each brand-name covered drug.

These savings programs are available to beneficiaries who may not qualify for full Medicaid benefits, but still meet certain income limits and struggle to cover health care costs.

Medicare Savings Programs are administered by the states, so SHIP counselors can give you the specific eligibility and enrollment requirements in your area.

They can even help you with the application process.

These tiny tweaks to your Medicare insurance can add up to hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars in out-of-pocket savings each year, experts say.

How to Find Your Local SHIP

You can find your SHIP by using the online SHIP Regional Locator tool. Or you can call the national network hotline at 1-877-839-2675.

You can speak with a representative and book an appointment with a counselor.

Some states may offer in-person counseling while others offer only over-the-phone or online counseling, so check to see what’s available in your state.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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9 Tips on How to Rent an Apartment in a Hot Market MAKING MONEY

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Read Time:9 Minute, 3 Second

The blistering 2022 real estate market has extended to apartment shopping and how to rent an apartment has now become a test of research and will. Oh, and also your credit score and employment history.

Renting an apartment with all of the comforts and amenities you want, at a price you can afford, has become challenging, especially in the nation’s most popular urban areas.

Yes, the usual markets of New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles remain pricey but joining the high rent district for a dream apartment are the Tampa Bay area and Jacksonville in Florida, plus Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina and San Antonio, Texas. House prices are soaring there along with the cost of a month’s rent.

People — and Renters — Are on the Move

More than a decade removed from the Great Recession, and two years into an historic life-altering pandemic, people are relocating at an astounding rate. Some are downsizing, some are moving out. Some are relocating for a particular job, and others are relocating because they can live anywhere they want and maintain their job remotely. And the monthly rent payment is moving, too. Mostly up.

Homes are selling fast and at top prices. That trend is then reflected in the popularity of apartments as many younger people find themselves priced out of the market for a house.

The competition for apartments in hot urban areas is the strongest it has ever been, and potential renters are paying the price in higher rent payments, plus possibly bigger deposits. They are paying more for every square inch and they are being required to jump on properties as soon as they become available in just about every apartment complex with openings.

Renters are also being required to sell themselves to landlords and the property management company.

9 Tips on How to Rent an Apartment in a Hot Market

Here are nine tips on how to rent an apartment by gathering as much information about your finances and your potential new apartment before you apply. To start, get those personal references ready along with contact information of previous landlords.

1. Know What You Can Afford for Monthly Rent

While you may get to haggle over some amenities, you are not likely going to be able to negotiate your monthly rent. (Before the pandemic, what you paid for a rental unit could be negotiated but that’s before the markets were so hot.) Landlords and the property management company likely know they can get what they are asking from someone and that someone does not need to be you.

Therefore, it is necessary to know what you are willing to spend in terms of rent payments. There are myriad online tools that can help you decide what you can afford in terms of the month’s rent and utilities. Consider any new expenses that will come as a result of your move, as well as any potential savings (transportation being tops on the list in either case). But know your rent budget so that you can enter the process with confidence.

2. Have Money on Hand for Security Deposit and More

You should not be fully dependent on your salary to pay rent, plus security deposit, plus moving expenses. You want to have enough cash on hand for the first month’s rent and beyond, as well as a month or two in security deposit, without stretching your budget. You don’t want to get into an argument with the property manager over when rent is due or being able to offer the deposit immediately.

You have expenses to consider (moving costs, new furniture, etc.) and you want to be able to make the move without extending your credit. In  layman’s terms, you need to have extra money to be attractive to landlords.

3. Clean Up Your Credit

Landlords are going to check your credit history, and may go back as far as 10 years. They are looking for missed or late loan payments, credit card balances, and any other loans or financial obligations you have. They won’t so much look at the amounts as they will your consistency in paying your bills on time. Your credit score, specifically a low credit score, might come into play.

The three best-known credit reporting services — Experian, Equifax and Transunion — will work with you to eliminate incorrect information on your credit report and may remove old past-due information from your account. This will make your credit history look more appealing when it is time for the landlord or rental agency to consider you.

4. Have Your References Ready

In today’s apartment market, you are being interviewed for the position of tenant. As such, you are going to need to provide references. Your landlord is going to want to get references from you to determine what kind of tenant you are going to be. This can be a landlord from a previous apartment, or an employer if this is your first apartment. If you have a rental history that you are proud of, make sure to get references from your previous landlord for that time period. The management company may do both a background and credit check.

But this is a two-sided topic. You are going to want to know your landlord as well as possible. If you find a building or complex that you particularly like, there is nothing wrong with sitting outside on a bench near the building and asking current tenants if the landlord is responsive and fair.

5. Survey the Neighborhood

So, you know what you want in the space where you will live, but do you know where you want that space to be? An apartment search is in order but so is a look at the neighborhood surrounding the complex.

Often, in urban settings, any location will serve your needs in getting to your office if you happen to be working in one. Public transportation can get you from Point A to Point B. Therefore, you want to do some shopping for a neighborhood that offers the amenities you seek. Ask yourself these questions:

Is there grocery shopping in the neighborhood?
Do you want a quiet neighborhood or an active one?
Do you require a park or other outside location from recreation?
Are you a walker or a biker?
Do you need a parking spot or maybe two? Depending on where you are, the parking spot could be an additional cost and the leasing office can help with this information.

You will likely need to have a couple of neighborhoods in mind to compare and contrast costs and apartment size against the amenities the neighborhoods offer.

6. Do Research Online

In order to find the apartment you want and be able to respond to sudden availability, you need to use online search platforms that update frequently. Many of the factors you are using to determine which apartments you want to look at can be input into the search parameters on these sites so you can whittle down your list.

Sites better known for home sales, such as Trulia and Zillow, also offer information on available apartments. Apartments.com is specifically structured for people who are shopping around for the best apartment deal. Craigslist is an option as well, although it has little in the way of oversight or verification and ads on that site need to be considered with a large grain of salt.

Check out our renter’s insurance guide to learn what is available and what you might need to protect your belongings.

7. Submitting an Advance Application

Unfortunately, the best apartments go quickly and there is a race between potential tenants to get their application in and approved ahead of others. One way to facilitate your hunting process for the ideal apartment is to apply in advance to an apartment complex manager or rental agency you are working with.

You are not applying for a specific apartment in this case; you are just allowing the agency to put your application through the credit check process in advance of finding the apartment in the ideal location. Then, when you find that perfect space, you will be preapproved and a  more likely choice for the landlord or agency to select.

8. Renting When You Have a Pet

If you are bringing a pet with you, that will certainly limit the apartment complexes or buildings you can choose from. But, you need to know that your pet is going to undergo a background check of sorts as well.

You need to ensure that your pet has all of its shots and treatments required to live in a building with others. Your veterinarian can tell you what shots rental agencies look for when they check pet medical records.

There will be details spelled out on the rental agreement.

9. Be Flexible

Someone else already has your perfect apartment, so you need to be flexible in terms of your needs and wants if it is your first apartment or you have already rented multiple apartments. You should prioritize what you want, but know that you may be required to make some hard choices about those amenities farther down on your list.

Is the fact that there’s no wash and dryer in the unit a deal breaker? Then move on if the complex doesn’t offer that. However, if the apartment is in a great location and the communal laundry facilities are clean and well-lit, you might want to sign on the dotted line.

This is also true about neighborhoods. It is likely the top two neighborhoods on your list are going to be pricey, and you should consider a third or fourth neighborhood that is not exactly what you want, but will perhaps offer you a larger living space in return for fewer shopping or recreational opportunities. You can always walk, bike or take public transportation to those other neighborhoods when you need to.

The Final Assessment

If you do this advance work, you will be able to snag that new apartment more easily than if you take your time to collect this information after you find the listing. Remember, there are plenty of people like you who want an apartment in the city center and within walking distance of work or your favorite coffee joint. They will be ready and so should you.

Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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Are Those Antique Dishes Worth Something? Here’s How to Know MAKING MONEY

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It’s always the season to clean out closets, basements and attics and cash in on some of that stuff that doesn’t “spark joy” as organizing guru Marie Kondo would say.

Believe it or not, your grandmother’s World War II antique china collections with the floral patterns may well spark joy for someone else even if you can’t get your kids to take it. Or it could mean money in your pocket — there are antique dishes worth something.

Depending on the pattern, condition and current supply and demand, you can make a few hundred dollars when you sell Nana’s china plates collection. But, unless you have some of the more rare patterns that can fetch $1,000 a plate, don’t expect to get rich. What was sentimentally valuable china to your family may not be worth thousands of dollars.

“The question I hear most often when I give somebody a quote for what we’ll pay is ‘is that for all of it?’ ” said Larry Weitkemper, one of the owners of China Finders in St. Petersburg, Florida. “The demand is less. Prices are down.”

Someone with a five-piece place setting (dinner, salad and bread plates with cup and saucer) of Wedgewood may get around $40, Lennox about $25 and Mikasa around $20. Resellers and dealers, however, may pay up to $1,000 for a Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica dinner plate, the golden ticket of pre-owned china.

China Finders, which stocks thousands of pieces of china and crystal in its 4,900-square-foot store, is one of about 50 independent resellers across the country. A decade ago it had 14 employees buying and selling china, crystal and other collectibles. Today, four employees buy in person (by appointment only) then sell on their eBay store. For people on the hunt for rare patterns, an internet search is likely the best way to find valued old dishes.

Pattern Prices at a Glance from Replacements

Maker
Pattern
Item
Price

Franciscan

Desert Rose

Dinner plate

$39.99

Fiesta

Forest Green ‘51-’59

Dinner plate

$99.95

Lenox

Poppies on Blue

Dinner plate

$29.99

Royal Copenhagen

Flora Danica

Salad serving bowl

$2,549

Portmeirion

Botanic Garden

Crescent salad plate

$39.99

Wedgewood

Runnymede Blue

Rim soup bowl

$99.95

Herend

Chinese Bouquet (rust)

Salad plate

$79.95

Dansk

Christianshavn Blue

Dinner plate (Portugal)

$43.99

Dansk

Christianshavn Blue

Dinner plate (Thailand)

$15.99

Noritake

Royal Orchard

Mug

$43.99

Dish Habits of Modern Newlyweds

For well over 10 years, people getting married or stocking their kitchens and dining rooms have been straying from traditional fine porcelain dishes and opting for mass produced dinnerware from retailers like Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel and Target.

Also, it’s gotten much easier for anyone looking to buy previously owned traditional china on the Internet with just a few clicks, so the services and inventory of stores like China Finders aren’t as in demand, Weitkemper said.

Replacements Ltd., in McLeansville, North Carolina, is the largest buyer and seller of previously owned china, crystal and flatware with 450,000 different patterns listed in its database from antique china with floral patterns to highly valuable dessert plates. It stocks new and preowned products in 500,000 square feet of warehouse space.

Keith Winkler, media relations manager for the 40-year-old company, said while prices fluctuate greatly, fine china and crystal are still popular with a wide range of customers.

Again, many variables go into placing a value on it.

“It’s all about whether we stock that pattern or not and how easy it is to find it,” he said. “Some of it is also how popular it was when the pattern was introduced. Was it successful and continues to be sold in stores or was it extremely popular for a 10-year period of time and now it’s gone?”

He said they are are seeing an increase in business from a younger demographic.

“A lot of them might have received their grandmother’s set and they are building on that for their bridal registry,” Winkler added.

Others are looking for their own china. In fact so many couples getting married were registering on Replacements’ website through Myregistry, that they came to the china dealer five years ago and asked to join forces on gift registries.

10 Things to Know If You’re Selling Nana’s Antique China

First you need to know if it’s antique and just because it’s old to you, doesn’t mean it’s a legit antique or has a lot of value. Antiques are generally at least 100 years old; newer older items are considered vintage. Look to a professional for help. The market determines the prices so your dream of getting rich off a single item for thousands of dollars is likely just that. Still, there’s money to be had.

Our vintage china and glassware experts have done their research and here is their best advice for those of us surveying Nana’s china cabinet and trying to get past the floral bouquet in the middle of the plates. These 10 tips can help you find the best value hiding on the shelves.

1. Patterns Don’t Gain Value With Age

“We have to buy something people are still using,” Weitkemper said. Now, that doesn’t mean old patterns are necessarily not worth good money as long as they are still popular with current consumers. But they are just not like other collectibles such as coins that gain value as they age.

2. Make Sure You Get Top Dollar for These

Herend

“Most patterns from Herend sell well,” Winkler said.  A platter recently sold for $200 on eBay while a salad plate went for $100. Herend originated in Hungary in 1839 and its pieces are typified by fine floral patterns. The history of the manufacturer and the fine craftsmanship overrules the fact that many younger people don’t want fussy porcelain pieces.

Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted

A cup and saucer recently sold on eBay for $100 and  a salad plate fetched the same price.

“It’s a very high quality brand and it’s in high demand. It’s made really well,” according to Larry Weitkemper.

Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica

This is about the most expensive player in the fine china reselling market. Two salad plates sold on eBay recently for $375 while a pickle dish sold for $500.

3. Know Other Popular Patterns

Replacements lists its top selling patterns, which is a good indicator the valuable china is selling well on other sites, with dealers and individually. But that doesn’t mean they will always command top dollar.

“We may have a piece retailing for $50 but have a 10-year supply on hand  and therefore we may not be purchasing it at all or would offer a nominal amount for the piece,” said Winkler.

Here are the links for:

China
Crystal
Sterling flatware
Stainless flatware
Collectibles

4. Extra Pieces Vary in Demand

Butter dishes and salt and pepper sets are more sought after than spoon rests and coffee pots. The current values reflect modern cooking habits, and the selling price and pattern don’t much matter. Many companies have produced these pieces and they can be found online and in antiques shops in abundance.

“Teapots hold their values better than coffee pots,” said Noah Weitkemper, one of the China Finders partners.

5. Wine Glasses are Out, Goblets Are In

“Wine glasses are going out of style because they are too small in older patterns. (Consumers) use water goblets for wine,” Noah Weitkemper said.

Even baby boomers are likely to want glasses that can hold a larger pour. These days, a standard wine glass holds about 12 ounces and vintage wine glassware  might be half of that. The green-stemmed German wine glasses used for white wine are a good example of smaller capacity bowls, especially the older vintages.

6. Gold Trim Can Kill the Sale

The 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds — heck almost everyone — buying china today want to put their dishes in the microwave or dishwasher. Washing individual pieces by hand isn’t going to fly no matter if the current value is affordable and even if they like the pattern. And reheating ramen in the microwave is standard these days. The dishes have to fit the job, and just being valuable doesn’t cut it.

“Anything with gold trim can’t go in the dishwasher and it can’t go in the microwave. So they don’t want it,” Larry Weitkemper said. Sorry, Nana. The Noritake vintage china is a no-go even though there’s enough old dishes to serve 12. That’s just more washing.

7. Shipping Is Costly

If selling to Replacements, you will pay for packing and shipping your china. That can cancel out or at least heavily cut into whatever profit you expect to make. Consider this if you purchased good-condition china to resell. Always do your research first.

“A person really needs to consider all of that when they are wanting to sell. it’s going to be so expensive to ship,” Winkler said. “It might be better to donate it.” Do some internet research or head to your local library to look for organizations that take donations of dishes, glassware and other pieces.

8. Country of Origin Counts

China and glassware made in America or England is more desirable. China produced after the Civil War often has identifying marks on the back of each piece indicating its country of origin. Bone china made in England usually has a crown stamp on the back. If the pieces are bright in color — lime green or purple even — they are likely not vintage.

In the table above, you can see how Dansk’s Christianshavn Blue is more valuable if it is manufactured in Portugal than when they are made in Thailand.

9. Christmas China Patterns

Many manufacturers have lines of Christmas china. It tends to sell well throughout the year, but especially in September and October. Some of the most popular Christmas china patterns are Spode’s Christmas Tree, which was first made in 1928; Lenox’s Holiday holly pattern (beware the gold leaf), and Johnson Brothers’ Merry Christmas, made from 1958 to 1995.

The Johnson pattern has a cozy Christmas scene on the middle of the plate, complete with a roaring fireplace.

If you find a set for 12 of any of these patterns, it’s still not likely you’ll bring in thousands of dollars, though a Johnson Merry Christmas dinner plate is fetching about $70 on Replacements. The current value of a dinner plate of Spode’s Christmas Tree with gold trim is about $40. And Lenox’s Holiday holly plate could get nearly $70 through an antique dealer but Replacements had the dinner plate on sale in January 2022 for $40.

10. To eBay or Not to eBay Those Porcelain Dishes

If you sell on eBay you may get more money for your china or crystal than selling to an antique dealer who is going to resell your King Louis XV antique furniture or valuable china. Obviously, you are then also the one who has to pack it (or pay someone else to pack it) and ship it so it arrives to the buyer in tip-top shape.

Customers buying on eBay have the right to refuse the product and ship it back at the seller’s expense if they say it arrived in worse condition than expected.

China Finders has been burned several times with eBay buyers who say the items they bought arrived chipped.

“We check it completely for chips when we buy it, when we sell it and when we ship it,” Larry Weitkemper said. But they still have to pay the cost to ship it back and refund the buyer’s money. Several times customers have shipped back different china, and once even a box of rocks instead of what they bought.

For China Finders, which sells hundreds of items on eBay each month, if a customer falsely claims the products weren’t in good condition once a month, it’s a cost of doing business.

But if you are selling a whole set of china or box of crystal goblets only once and a customer claims it arrived in poor condition then returns other items, your one shot at profiting off of Nana’s collection is shot.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance editor and reporter living in St. Petersburg, Florida. She’s the author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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4 Steps to Smart Financial Planning for Parents With Special Needs Kids MAKING MONEY

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Raising any child is expensive, but when you’re raising a child who has special needs, there are additional financial responsibilities to consider.

The cost of doctor’s visits, therapy appointments, medication and special equipment add up. The amount of time needed to provide care may restrict you or your partner from working outside the home — or even at all.

Depending on your child’s condition, you may need to provide them with lifetime support.

It can be overwhelming just dealing with the medical and emotional aspects of your child’s particular challenges. Here’s what to know so your finances don’t add to that stress.

4 Money Moves for Families of Children With Special Needs

1. Apply for Government Benefits

After your child is diagnosed, you’ll want to speak with a social worker who can help you understand what assistance may be available to your family and how to apply for that aid. Your child’s physician may be able to recommend a social worker, or you can contact your city or county department of social services.

A special needs attorney can also assist you. Robert Fechtman is a special needs attorney in Indiana and a former president of the Special Needs Alliance, a national organization made up of attorneys who specialize in disability and public benefits law. He helps families navigate the public benefits system and plan for their children’s futures.

Fechtman said families may qualify for financial assistance through Social Security.

The Social Security Administration gives out Supplemental Security Income, also referred to as SSI, to children with qualified medical conditions whose family’s income falls under a certain threshold. The amount of assistance, which is given out monthly, varies from state to state.

Once your child reaches adulthood, he or she may also be able to receive Social Security disability benefits, which provides income for an adult who isn’t able to work due to a medical condition.

Depending on your family’s income, your child may also qualify for free health insurance through Medicaid. Oftentimes if your child qualifies for SSI, he or she would also qualify for Medicaid. The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is available for families that make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but still can’t afford private health insurance.

Qualifying for Medicaid and SSI helped this family navigate the costs of raising a child with cerebral palsy.

Families that don’t qualify for publicly funded medical insurance might find an affordable health insurance provider via the Health Insurance Marketplace at HealthCare.gov. Outside of the annual open enrollment period, you can enroll if you have a qualifying life change, such as if you recently lost health insurance.

Fechtman also tells his clients to apply for Medicaid waivers, which allow those in need of long-term care to get free health care in home settings instead of a nursing facility. Children with special needs may qualify regardless of their parents’ income or assets. Each state operates its own Medicaid waiver program.

Fechtman said that many families aren’t aware of these waivers. There are often waitlists for applicants, so it’s generally one of the first things he brings up when meeting with new clients.

Families struggling with their finances should also check to see if they qualify for other public benefit programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). TANF provides monthly cash assistance for families, while SNAP provides money specifically for buying food. Both are income-based programs.

2. Set up a 529 ABLE Account or a Special Needs Trust

When you’re applying for government aid, the administering agency will typically have rules about how much income your family can earn and how many assets you can own. Money in a traditional checking or savings accounts could restrict a family from receiving public benefits.

However, Fechtman said parents can save money in a 529 ABLE account or a special needs trust, and those dollars won’t count toward a family’s assets.

ABLE accounts are tax-deferred similar to 529 college savings accounts. However, ABLE account funds can be used for more than just education. Fechtman said qualifying expenses also include health, wellness and transportation expenses for a child with a qualifying disability.

According to SavingforCollege.com, families can withdraw the money tax-free and can have up to $100,000 in the account without it affecting the child’s eligibility for SSI benefits.

The annual contribution limit for 2022 is $16,000.

Fechtman said it’s relatively inexpensive to open and maintain an ABLE account. However, one downside is if the child dies, the money in the account must go to reimburse thestate for Medicaid benefits that were provided to the child.

Families that save money for a child in a special needs trust don’t have to worry about those savings going to reimburse the state. A special needs trust is a legal arrangement set up to hold money for someone with a disability so that the person can continue to receive public benefits. The trustees — those who manage the trust — generally have few restrictions on how the money in the trust is used as long as they don’t interfere with the beneficiary receiving government assistance.

Another difference between the two money-saving vehicles is the cost, which varies depending on factors such as who sets up the account and what state you live in.

Fechtman told The Penny Hoarder in 2019 that an attorney might charge around $1,500 to draft a special needs trust. However, families can also join a pooled trust managed by a nonprofit organization, which could cost half that. Setting up an ABLE account could cost as little as $50, he said.

3. Look Into Assistance from Nonprofits

Government programs aren’t the only source of assistance. Nonprofit organizations also provide help to families struggling financially.

Here are just a few organizations that help families in need:

The HealthWell Pediatric Assistance Fund provides financial assistance for families whose health insurance doesn’t cover the critical medical treatments their children need.
The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation issues grants to help children get medical services that aren’t fully covered by their private health insurance.
The Different Needz Foundation provides grants for families so they can get medical equipment or services.
The M.O.R.G.A.N. Project has a pediatric disability equipment exchange program that lets families receive donated medical equipment for free.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides families with places to stay when they have to travel so that a child can receive extended treatment at a hospital away from home. Families may be asked to make a nominal donation, but no family is turned away if they can’t pay.

Organizations like United Way and the Salvation Army also help families struggling financially — not just those with special needs children.

4. Establish End-of-Life Plans

No parent wants to think about a situation where they aren’t alive to care for their child’s special needs, but it’s important to prepare for your child’s care once you’re gone.

“Every person who’s got a disabled child is horrified by the notion that they’re going to die before that child and that the child won’t have the care and support and everything that the parents provide,” Fechtman said.

Having a will is a must. Fechtman said the will should direct inheritance money to a special needs trust so that the child can continue to qualify for public benefits.

Designating who will become the child’s guardian is also key, he said. Parents should look for someone who would be able to provide proper care.

In addition, Fechtman said parents should have an adequate amount of life insurance to provide for their family in the event of their untimely death.

He recommends parents — specifically those in a two-parent household — get a survivorship life insurance policy, also known as a second-to-die life insurance policy. It covers both parents, but it doesn’t pay out until both parents are deceased.

One benefit of this type of policy is that premiums are generally much lower than for other policies. Another benefit is that coverage lasts until the policyholders die — unlike term life insurance, which ends after a certain number of years. This is especially important for parents who have special needs children, because those children may not be able to be independent and support themselves once they reach adulthood.

Of course, single parents wouldn’t be able to open this type of policy, and it may be insufficient if one parent is the household’s sole income earner.

“If you only have one breadwinner, you’d need to have individual insurance on that breadwinner,” Fechtman said. “Maybe you’re lucky enough that they have some kind of life insurance through work, so maybe you wouldn’t have to run out and get a seperate policy.”

The important thing is to have a plan in place so that your child is financially taken care of no matter what.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in Feb. 2019. Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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