HSA’s Are Great Until You Get Sick

I’ve been a huge fan of Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) since I started working full time 5 years ago.  It didn’t take me long to realize that the HSA/HDHP combo is a great plan for young and healthy people like myself who rarely visit a doctor.  Over the years, my HSA balance has grown to about $15,000 with the help of employer contributions, premium savings and my own contributions.

During that time, I’ve racked up a couple thousand in various reimbursable expenses (acupuncture, massage, OTC meds, contacts stuff, etc) and since I paid for it all in cash I’ll be able to re-imburse myself at any point in the future.  Meanwhile, I’ve got my HSA fully invested in an aggressive mix of stocks and bonds that will one day come back to me triple-tax free.   [Continue reading]

Is Our Gift Giving Culture Out of Control?

gift giving cultureBoth my sister-in-law and nephew have birthdays at the end of July. My nephew had his first birthday last summer, and I could not believe the amount of crap presents he was given from friends and family members.

I’m not trying to be a big old Scrooge. He’s a cute kid and obviously well-loved by many. As he should be! But before his birthday party, he already had a room full of toys to play with — and this collection provided more than enough stuff to engage and entertain him.

Plus, he turned one. He won’t remember anything about the party or who gave him what. But everyone showed up with huge bags of plastic toys anyway. Why?

Why did everyone feel obligated to spend $25 to $50 on unnecessary items?

And why did everyone feel obligated to do it all over again, a year later, when all the same conditions apply? My nephew still has more toys than he knows what to do with and he’ll have no idea if he did or did not receive birthday presents from distant relations this year.

Because our gift giving culture is out of control and completely unreasonable, that’s why. [Continue reading]