Friday Odds and Ends

Because I didn’t want to make anyone sit through yet another post about my health insurance decision, it’s in here with a bunch of other stuff 🙂

Articles I Loved This Week

I don’t usually do a roundup of great articles, but there were a few this week I really want to highlight.

One is actually from two weeks ago, but I somehow missed it totally when it went live. Holly from Club Thrifty interviewed me for an article she wrote on living on 50% of one’s income, which was published at The Simple Dollar. I really enjoyed the questions she asked, and I liked the final article a lot — I especially appreciated that she put in my quote about the financial picture of the last few decades. It was funny giving her a monthly budget; it made me realize how rarely I hit my monthly targets for various things, even though the overall picture is right about where it should be. I just tend to go in cycles, not spending on something for months and then having a big charge. Anyone finding me from that article: I do not normally spend $200 on clothes or $300 on car repairs!

Probably not coincidentally, my two other most loved posts this week are from my fellow single lady academic bloggers (represent!) Amanda at Dream Beyond Debt wrote about exactly that: the financial and social challenges that single women often face. She takes two real-life anecdotes and elegantly connects them to bigger concepts.

And Sarah at The Yachtless, a new blog that I really like, wrote a post I (unfortunately) could have written myself: is it true that student loans are for “living expenses”? Or are they just thinly disguised consumer debt? Mea culpa! I specifically remember buying a computer with student loan money, and I also used some of it to fund a major research trip. But the vast majority of my $19K in graduate loans went to generally shoring up my bank account so I didn’t have to either (a) put random dinners out and coffees out and tickets to shows and etc on a credit card or (b) work out an actual budget that allowed me to live entirely within my income. Oh well. (My undergraduate loans, long since paid off, were different; they went directly to tuition.)

My Health Care Decision

So, I almost threw my back out a few nights ago, performing the exotic task of bending over to get something from below the sink. Did someone mention that everything goes off a cliff in one’s late 30s? Hmm. As a matter of fact, I’ve had back issues for several years now; they are mostly very minor these days, but crop up now and again. This incident, which happened the night before I was going to do open enrollment, almost made me go for the PPO, on the grounds that I was obviously going to totally break and need ALL the physical therapy. But then I paused and thought about what I really wanted to do for my back. Answer: I want to go back to doing yoga. I don’t need medical care nearly as much as I need overall strengthening and flexibility. But I’ve resisted doing it for over a year now because I just didn’t want to spend $10-12 a class. So: I enrolled in the high deductible plan, and intend to funnel the premium savings into yoga. Hopefully this will not turn out to be a totally dumb decision; I’m sure I’ll revisit it next year as open enrollment approaches again, and I’ll see then if I’ve felt comfortable or if I want to make a change. (And as Sarah said in a comment to my last post about this, it’s probably best to acknowledge that “picking a health care plan is basically equivalent to gambling.”)

My Emergency Fund Investing Decision

Not very dramatic: I decided to leave the $4000 (now somewhat increased) where it is. If I wait until at least next September to sell, I can pay long-term capital gains tax instead of short-term, which isn’t going to let me retire ten years early or anything but is a factor. And while the investment might, of course, lose some value during that time if we go into a bear market, it probably won’t decline by such a crazy amount that I’d regret having to sell in case of a major emergency. Also, it occurred to me that if I leave it in there I won’t be tempted to use it as part of a house down payment 🙂

Speaking of the market

Who knows what’ll happen next, but it is awfully nice to see that things are back up enough that my October net worth update won’t be too shabby. Stay tuned for that on Monday!

8 thoughts on “Friday Odds and Ends

  1. I’m fully on board with both of those decisions — yoga + HDP insurance, and leaving your emergency fund invested! And oof — definitely feeling the late 30s everything-is-falling-apart thing. My exotic new thing is this constant need to pop my SI joint, because it never feels ‘right.’ Yes, getting older means learning that “back pain” can mean about a thousand different things. And I bet it keeps getting better! 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      I’m not sure what the SI joint is, but I have a strong feeling I’m going to find out in the next couple of years 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for the shout-out! And wow, it sounds like you had some real-life insights regarding your health insurance decisions. I fully support the decision to pay for yoga — I don’t know about you, but my academic lifestyle involves sitting still in a chair basically all day long, so I figure that actually moving my actual muscles in a yoga class once in a while *has* to have some sort of benefit.

    1. thesingledollar says:

      My academic lifestyle used to be more active — teaching, research involving going to actual places and poking around — but it sure has been sedentary lately, sigh. That’s been good for the back in some ways (it’s been fragile for a while partly because I majorly overused it for a year or so, and things have really calmed down since I quit lifting and hauling so much) but bad for the overall general health. 🙂

  3. Autumn says:

    I think yoga is always a good decision. I was with a HDP plan the last couple of years and it worked out well for me, but mostly because I didn’t have to use it at all and was able to sock away a little money in an HSA. Now I’m back to a PPO and hopefully can just stay healthy and not have to use this plan either. That’s how you really beat the system 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Yeah, my basic hope is that I never have to use it either 🙂 On top of not liking illness and pain, I just hate dealing with the medical system so I resist doing it as much as possible (good think I’m mostly healthy.)

  4. I started hearing my knee and shoulder creak when I was in my mid-thirties. It’s painless, but kind of creepy. And now that I’m 40, my formerly pretty oily face is almost always dry. Yep, old age is rough on our bodies. 🙂

    1. thesingledollar says:

      Oh, I know exactly what you mean about painless but creepy! Eek!

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