Oct 22 2012

Miscellany: Home updates, health insurance, exercise, Green BEAN coupon code

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Fall in a jar

Maybe I should say “autumn in a jar” instead, because the alternative sounds dangerous.

I had a gallon-sized glass jar already, put some pine cones and maple leaves in it. Added some dried vanilla beans for scent and I called it done. It lives on my mantel but I put it elsewhere for the photo.

Home improvements

We finally got around to making some updates to our laundry room. We’ve painted the walls and installed a cabinet. We still need to find a rug and some wall art (I’d like to try to capture an autumn landscape if I can snap something decent enough), and possibly add a shelf. The biggest part is done, anyway. Pictures to come!

YMCA

I had visited a few area fitness clubs and had a 7-day trial of one club to see how I liked it, and how often I went. I liked it quite a bit —  no pressure, just a low-key place to exercise. It was affordable, and they offered short-term commitments if I wanted to go that route.

I went three times during the trial, and thought I’d join. In the end, I delayed it a little and I’m glad I did. The area YMCA has a lot more amenities for roughly the same price as I’d pay for the short-term option at that other gym.

The YMCA is farther from me by about 5 minutes, but I think the extra perks should outweigh it. Recently, the YMCA ran a promo with $0 sign-up fees. I joined during that window and it saved me something like $75. Now, I just need to make sure I go often enough to make it worth the money :).

Health insurance

Our health insurance situation has been driving me bananas for the past few months. When Shane left his job a few months ago, he switched to a company small enough that they didn’t already have a group policy in place. Before Shane even met with the owner of the company, the owner assured him health insurance would be in place sometime in the 4th quarter of the year.

We had the option to elect COBRA for $1,107/month for our entire family, or for $456/month for one person. This COBRA thing is a law that enables qualifying former employees/eligible family to continue their group health insurance plan at full cost to them. Usually, the employer pays a big chunk of the premium. During COBRA, you’re paying it all yourself. The benefit to COBRA is it is your old insurance policy…and if you don’t have a new group plan or you can’t get individual coverage, then you can at least have something.

My eyes bugged out at the thought of paying $1100/month for insurance, but it turns out that is on the low end. Some people’s COBRA premiums are $1500-$3000/month! What.

I opted to stay on COBRA individually, for a few reasons. One, I was denied from the private individual policy we applied for through ehealthinsurance. Two, individual health insurance policies in my state aren’t required to offer maternity coverage. There is ONE policy, but it’s expensive and requires a long waiting period and doesn’t even cover that much, so I’m not interested in that.

I don’t know for sure about a third baby, but I know that with my previous pregnancy complications, I’d want to be insured rather than risk the unlimited possibilities. The $456/month is spendy, but it gives us options and I’m thankful for that, and that we can swing it.

Shane and the kids are on a private policy for $189/month. They will switch to a different private policy offered through an insurance broker through Shane’s employer (they are not going the group route to save costs, ugh). For now, they’ll stay on this current private policy so that there are no gaps. You don’t want a gap of more than 63 days between your health insurance policies, because if so, the new insurance will likely require a waiting period, or will exclude preexisting conditions. It could be a nightmare, so I’m glad we can avoid that headache.

I believe Shane’s boss is going to cover at least part of the cost of their new policy, so in theory the $189/month we’re paying now for them will go away. I don’t know those details yet, but I do know it could be worse — we could pay $1100/month (or higher!) or have no insurance at all.

As of now, our health insurance is $645/month and that should go down. It’s our second-highest monthly expense (first being our mortgage).

Hail

We had a hailstorm at the end of September. A doozy of a storm, one that at its worst looked like a blizzard. The hailstones were (only) around 1.25 – 1.5″ in size and they violently beat our house. It was scary and loud, but it could have been worse. Our insurance adjuster came out and we’ll be getting a new roof, gutters and downspouts. We knew when we bought the house that the 13-year-old roof was going to need replaced sometime soon (it’s a low-grade quality) so we’re thankful for the hailstorm’s timing.

There’s more I’d like to share about this whole roofing bit later on.

Green BEAN Delivery coupon code

If you live in the Indianapolis, Muncie, Fort Wayne, Louisville, Dayton, Cincinnati, or Columbus metros and would like to check out Green BEAN Delivery, I have a coupon code for you:

15STSml

It is good for $15 off your first order and expires exactly one week from today. It is for new members and reactivations only.

[Note: I’m not getting compensation or personal discounts for sharing this promo. I’m passing it along because I like this service and use it myself, and some of you on Facebook mentioned you’d be interested in the coupon :)]


Oct 08 2012

Saving money with a grocery delivery service?

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I’ve bought certain grocery items in bulk online, from Amazon and smaller retailers. Some of the products are either hard to find in stores near me, or way more expensive.

But shopping for day-to-day food online? Really?

My friend posted on her Facebook page a deal (no longer active) about joining Green B.E.A.N. Delivery. This company serves parts of Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.

They source local produce, meats, dairy, honey, etc. and distribute it directly to their customers’ doorsteps. They also distribute national and global (tropical) produce at times.

I’d heard of the company before, but at the time the price just seemed too much. The recent promo and my friend’s raving about it made me give it another look.

I’d just need to buy any of their produce bins (ranging from $28-$49) and make sure I had a $35 minimum order for the week. The bins come pre-populated with food items for the week, but you can make substitutions.

The first week, I went with the $42 fruit bin and whoa, we had a lot of fruit. I swapped out all of the apples since we already had a bunch, and added some vegetables. I also added some more veggies a la carte, and some meat, local honey, and dried fruit. My total was around $102 (I saved $21 from the promo).

I needed a few other things from Kroger to supplement the week.

I’m really tired of going to the grocery lately and this time of year, it’s harder for me to find good produce. Kroger usually is my best bet, but it can be iffy and expensive at times.

My second order from Green Bean arrived last week and I continue to be pleased. The produce is excellent, mostly organic, and local where possible. What’s more — if I’m physically staying out of the grocery store, I will spend less. I make plenty of impulse purchases at the grocery anymore, and making my list online seems to help me curb that. It’s also much easier for us to eat more produce.

Ideally, I’d like to get to a point where I’m making a big monthly shopping trip for certain dry goods and maybe some meat, and then doing the weekly delivery service so I don’t have to go shopping nearly as often. Especially in winter, when the weather is so gross and I’d rather not push a shopping cart through a skating rink parking lot.

If the service were prohibitively expensive, I wouldn’t do it. But the price seems reasonable to me for what I’m getting. Price isn’t my sole consideration. I do like the convenience factor, and also I like to support local businesses with our grocery dollars.

Do you do a food delivery service? Would you consider it?

Note: This is NOT a sponsored or paid post. I received no incentive from anyone to post about this company. I just really like it :)


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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (8), Vivienne (6) and Amelia (3) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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