PERSONAL FINANCE: More hopes and resolutions – Insurance News Net

Daily Messenger (Canandaigua, NY)








I hope that everyone had a good New Year, and have mentally, physically, and financially prepared for what promises to be a better 2021.

Let’s finish up with some additional hopes and resolutions to consider for 2021, and then update a few other issues.

One thing that many Americans did during the shutdowns was to find creative and meaningful ways not only to keep busy, but also as a way to earn additional income. One example that comes to mind is the out-of-work actors and other performers giving virtual lessons and masterclasses, even to young people overseas, because we now realize that the reach is unlimited. Then there were cooks, whose establishments were closed, giving virtual cooking lessons, and college and graduate students doing virtual tutoring.

Something that we learned from the pandemic experience is that there are many jobs and careers that we thought were secure, that turned out not to be. Even some doctors and other medical staff were laid off at times, and then there are all the jobs in the travel and leisure industries that were lost.

With those things said, my first additional hope is that people will realize that it is always a good idea to have a means of earning additional income in life, and many of the new and creative directions people moved in will continue and benefit all parties concerned. My second hope is that many Americans will have realized that what they were doing for a living was not really their passion and fulfillment, and, if financially and otherwise possible, they will move in a different career direction as we get through this and the time is right.

A third additional hope for me, that everyone talks about, but I hope will actually happen, is that we build, and in some cases rebuild, deeper relationships with our friends and families. In some cases it may even be “moving back home” for some people who can do that, but we all need to stay closer, especially to our children and grandchildren, and to our elders, while we still have them. We all need to find the time to do this, which may mean for some of us, we have to work less, or for other families, they might consider cutting back on some of those “organized activities” that could also eliminate some of that crazy running from place to place and the related self-inflicted stress.

My last hopes for 2021 are that we will all make an effort to improve our physical health, cut out at least one bad habit, find a few more hours a month to volunteer in our community, and travel to one new place a year. Then, we will look back at 2020 and say, that wasn’t so bad in the whole scheme of things.

Let’s turn now to some other current issues.

As I write this column, The President has still not signed the roughly $900 billion COVID Relief Bill, which, for me, was unfortunately combined with the roughly $1.4 trillion federal government year-end funding bill. I say unfortunately, because the fact that the two were combined resulted in a lot of public confusion for a few days, and because those last minute funding bills are the ones that usually contain those “pork barrel” funding items that we have discussed in the past. As time goes on, I am sure that there will be more reporting on some of the “interesting” funding bill items, like those initially described as foreign aid, funding for the arts, and funding for climate change initiatives, which the President at first objected to. The problem for our younger generations is that we don’t have the money for all of this, so we will continue our deficits and borrowing, and at some point, some Americans will have to pay more taxes. I wonder how many Americans are thinking about the reality that they will be one of the ones paying those tax increases.

One thing that always fascinates me is the art of political semantics. For example, what is the difference between a COVID relief bill and a stimulus bill? I have to assume that the politicians think that there is a difference.

As for the COVID Relief Bill, some may think that an annual income of $75,000 per person, or $150,000 per couple, is not an insignificant amount of money, but my research indicates that in 2019, 53% of American households made $75,000 per year or less, and 82% of American households made $150,000 per year or less.

When it comes to the funding bill, there is some good news on an issue we recently discussed, which is those surprise medical bills that too many Americans have been faced with. According to npr.com, starting in 2022, when the law goes into effect, consumers won’t get balance bills when they seek emergency care, when they are transported by an air ambulance, or when they receive non-emergency care at an in-network hospital but are unknowingly treated by an out-of-network physician or laboratory.

Patients will pay only the deductibles and copayment amounts that they would under the in-network terms of their insurance plans.

Medical providers won’t be allowed to hold patients responsible for the difference between those amounts and the higher fees they might like to charge. Instead, those providers will have to work out acceptable payments with insurers. For the uninsured, for whom everything is out of network, the bill requires the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to create a provider-patient bill dispute resolution process.

Until then, ask before obtaining any medical services.

Finally for 2021, although shopping online can save you money, especially when you couple it with online savings codes, deals of the day, no-taxes-charged and free shipping offers, make sure that what you buy is within your spending budget, and avoid impulse buying “stuff,” even if you can afford it, just because it looks good or you get a deal.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo.

This article originally appeared on MPNnow: PERSONAL FINANCE: More hopes and resolutions

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