Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Frugal Living ~ Direct Primary Care

We gave up on traditional health care insurance in 2016 by switching to Samaritan Ministries for myself and husband.  It was an easy decision for us because we paid $450 per month plus we saved $200 per month to cover routine doctor visits and at the end of the year we usually had $1,000 left over to put into savings. 

This year we had to add the kids on the Samaritan program when they lost MCHP.  I made a spreadsheet of four kids routine doctor/dental/eye doctor visits and it came out about equal to a bronze insurance plan offered through Maryland Health Connection but the deductible was so high that we'd end up paying more.

Samaritan Ministries wrote about Direct Primary Care in their January monthly newsletter.  DPC is a network of doctors who have decided to offer a flat monthly fee for routine and sick doctor visits.  There is no third party billing so the cost is lower than having traditional insurance.  We found a provider in our area, Franklin Family Medicine, and have spent the past two months getting integrated into their system.

We pay $70 per month for adults and $10 per month for each child.  They require at least one adult in the system to help defer the costs of offering such a low price for children.  I updated my spreadsheet and remarkably we are only paying $500 more than our total medical in 2018. 

Our constant goal with Frugal Living is to find a balance between living frugally and a quality of life that doesn't sacrifice family needs.  I feel so much better having found Franklin Family Medicine because now we don't need to ask ourselves, is this illness serious enough to pay urgent care or doctor visit of $200?  Our DPR has told us to call or text any time of the day or night if we have any serious issue, seriously, who does that anymore? 

In summary, we have Samaritan Ministries who will cover any illness or injury that exceeds $300.  We have the DPC for all routine and sick needs.  We pay out of pocket for dental and vision. Our estimated annual total is $10,498.00. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Duck Yoga at the Hagerstown City Park

I just love how ducks can stand so easily on one leg, every time I try it, I wobble and I'm fairly slim so they must have amazing balance.  I walked around this guy and he didn't budge.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Frugal Living ~ Pet Care

Is there no end to the things in our lives that we can reduce our cost on?  I don't think so.  This year we are tackling vet care.  We've used Petsmart for almost 18 years, this is partly due to the fact that my husband worked there for 10 years so I guess you might say we're brand loyal.  The last few years our pets have aged or we've gotten new ones, we've had to go more frequently and I've really started to chaff at their prices.

Three years ago we got a new dog named Penny and to get her spayed cost just over $1,000.00!  I was really confused by that and super frustrated.  Sadly she dog passed away from a fast moving cancer so we got another dog in the fall of 2017.  Scared from that experience I held off on neutering until he was over a year old and it became extremely necessary due to his behavior when walking.

First I started with a local clinic that never returned my calls.  Then I started calling vets in the area to get a range.  I was shocked at the wide range.  One vet quoted in the $300 range, and the other was $100 + shots of $20 each and he needed two shots.  Both significantly lower than Petsmart.

Today we needed to get our 18 year old cat to the vet as she stumbled while walking and her hip seems to be in bad shape on one side.  I called our new vet and they had an opening today at 4:30, they basically told us the same thing the Petsmart vet told us a year ago but also gave us a supplement to help her discomfort and shaved a matted spot that might be causing trouble, total bill $66.  The bill from Petsmart last year $196.74.

I'm so in love with our new vet!

I think vet care is something that I was reluctant to switch because our entire cats history is with Petsmart, we really like them and I guess I just assumed pet care was probably similar cost everywhere.  Boy was I wrong on that regard!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine Scones

This is the same recipe I've shared before, but with some minor changes. 

  • 3 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup non-salted butter cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink food coloring (I'm partial to the fuschia pink gel from Michaels)
Use a food processor to chop the white chocolate chips into tiny bits. Next, put one cup of flour into the same food processor with butter and pulse until combined.  I then move the mixture into a Kitchen Aid mixer and add remaining dry ingredients.  

Mix egg, vanilla, and buttermilk in a 1 cup container and add to the dry ingredients.

Add all ingredients together and mix on high until well blended.  It will be very thick, you may need to dig the mixture off the whip and then continue mixing to get everything blended.

On a floured surface, roll the dough 3/4" - 1" thick.  I used a small heart cutter for each scone.  I continue rolling until all dough is used up; there is no such thing as wasted dough in this house.  The last scone is usually hand balled and flattened into a scone patty, much like you would make a hamburger.

Place the cut scones onto a cookie sheet and bake for 14 minutes at 325.  


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

February - back to back snow days!

We've had crazy weather lately, the last week of January was 0 digits with school closed on the 31st due to the extreme weather, then it shot up to the 50's the first week of February, and now this week school was closed Monday - Tuesday for snow days!  Tomorrow's productivity will be wreaked by Valentines day parties, our school is off Friday's for home school day and next Monday they are off for Presidents Day.  I feel bad for the teachers who are trying to make progress.  It has to be daunting.  I personally would be fine with a full day of home school work on Friday to help make up the lost time, it seems they usually get done in a few hours.

Below photos are right after the freeze, we had some ice on the pond at the City Park and the birds were treating it as their own personal island.  

My poor dog begged for a walk but seemed rather sad about the ongoing snow, or he just really hates his coat.  

Friday, February 08, 2019

Back to Florida

I did a trip to Florida last week to get caught up with my colleagues at the home office since I work from home most of the year in Maryland.  It had been 14 months since my last trip, which is the longest stretch I've been apart from Florida in many years.

I wasn't able to visit the beach so I wandered around Coral Springs where I was staying and visited all our old haunts.  I went to the Barnes & Noble three times and didn't buy anything but took lots of notes, love B&N but not the prices.  

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed being in the company of my co-workers.  

I’ve heard my boss say this for years, we need to have face time with each other and with our clients.  I usually ignore him because it’s like listening to mom and dad give the same advice day in and day out, until you experience the gap in not spending time with someone, you might think it’s an overblown concept as well.  

Last year when I went to Asia in October, it had been 18 months since my last visit.  There had also been a large gap in seeing our biggest client of about 6 months. 

2018 was a hard year, my mom's husband passed away in April, we found, bought and moved into a house within 6 months and moved mom as well.  Along with our annual trip to Texas and packing, I don't see how we could have squeezed any work trips into that time frame.

I’m very thankful my job was understanding and not pushy, but when I did finally arrive at each location – Asia, client, Florida – I could see how my absence had created gaps.  It’s hard to explain but being in person with others creates comfort level that can’t be replicated in phone calls.  I will not admit this in person though, my boss will have to track down my blog to ever see that I might acknowledge he’s right in this case. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Jet Lag and Sickness

I don't get jet lag during my trips to Asia, somehow my body acclimates easily and I don't have any pain, headaches or nausea.   I take a sleep med to make sure I sleep through the night but otherwise I don't really have any issues.

The return is quite painful though.  Even if I sleep the entire night, I'm still exausted by 3pm and it's a struggle to get through the remainder of the day for the first week.  This time I got a severe sinus cold two days after getting home and I stayed in bed for two days straight.

As soon as I was feeling better enough to get back to a normal cleaning routine, my oldest got a stomach bug that kept her home from church on Sunday.  The next morning my husband got it and was out for the entire day!  I think I got in 2 hours of work that day as I had to do his job of taking care of the kids; so thankful it's Chinese New Year and almost no new projects or emails.

We've had some minor snow and a few two hour delays but overall our weather hasn't been too bad.  I'm just glad work is slow so I can keep up with all the illnesses, doctor's visits and minor school issues.

It's January, I guess it's all to be expected!