Making Ends Meet

In recent years you could say that I’ve become something of a cheap so-and-so. In reality though the economy has taken a big bite out of my available spending power. A buck just plain doesn’t go as far as it used to and that cold hard fact has forced me to be as frugal as I can be.

This means that I’m all the time looking for sales, specials and other ways to save money. I recently ran across a site that could very well end up being a part of that process. walmart coupons at dropdowndeals has coupons for all kinds of stuff at Walmart and since I live in a small town where the local supercenter is pretty much the main place to shop, I’m definitely going to be going over those coupons before I plan my next trip to Walmart.

Not only does a dollar not go as far as it used to, there aren’t nearly as many of them available either.

[tags]walmart, coupons, savings, saving money[/tags]

Dental?

I’ve got something of a difficulty. A lot of the medical problems that I’ve had in the last year or so are directly or indirectly related to some serious dental issues that have been getting worse over the last five years or more.

The problem is that, as many know, Medicare doesn’t cover dental. That I have been able to find out, neither do any Medicare part D plans that I’ve ever heard of and of course, medicaid doesn’t do anything useful in that regard either. This leaves me needing to come up with a general health insurance plan or dental insurance plan that covers the dental work that I need which is likely going to be a bunch of x-rays, extractions and eventually getting fitted for dentures.

I’ve never understood why Medicare doesn’t pay for this at all, teeth problems can become very serious issues and be the cause of a LOT of pain and suffering. I’m thinking that when they created Medicare part D they should also have created Part E which would take care of dental needs.

I’m not talking about having a mouthful of gold fillings or titanium dentures. I just want the problem teeth gone and a good serviceable set of dentures to replace ’em with.

Believe me, if I had the $10,000 that such a thing would cost to do right, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Profits Before Customers … DUH!

<sarcasm>
I’m sure you know the sad story, some unfortunate sap has a dreadful problem, his wallet is getting a tad heavy and he’s at a loss for a way to cure the problem before he develops a hernia trying to lug the thing around. Fortunately for him there’s an easy cure, better even than the very best diet pills that can shed that excess wallet weight in no time flat. All our unfortunate hero needs to do is buy a health insurance policy and before you know it, his wallet is once again fit and trim (emphasis on trim). No longer burdened with all that unsightly money.
</sarcasm>.

At least that’s how I’m sure that the insurance companies of the world view things. A story that’s going to be interesting to hear the details of as insurance company execs are hauled before congress to explain why it is that their premiums have gone up 131% in the last ten years.

That CBS article also notes that this rate of increase is actually three times the rate of wage increases over the same time. Why am I not surprised?

If you’ve ever had to fight insurance companies or needed medical attention when you were un-insured then this video from CBS New is definitely worth watching.

[Tags]insurance, greed, profit, uninsured, high premiums, rate increases[/tags]

Phone Spam

If you’re at all like me and most of the English speaking world, you hate telemarketer calls. They’re annoying in the extreme and almost always seem to be timed for when you REALLY don’t want to hear from some idiot selling something you don’t want in the first place.

Well, over the last six months or so I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of these calls in spite of the fact that I’m on the “do not call” list. Then there’s the latest craze.. robot callers that as soon as you answer the phone start up with an automated sales pitch. And of course, since it’s automated, there’s no way for you to talk back to them and tell ’em to stop calling you.

Another variation on this is automated calling systems being used by debt collection agencies. Many of them even have a bit in their automated spiel that says “If you are not {victim name}, please hang up. {pauses for a second} By staying on the line you are confirming that you are {victim name} … ” blah, blah, blah. What’s really cute is that it’ll do this even when it’s obviously talking to an answering machine.

Recently I heard about a neat little tech gadget that helps with this problem called the Telezaper. I did some looking around and managed to find it on sale for $8.97 which is a great deal compared to it’s normal $39.95 price tag.

This little gem plugs into the phone line between the wall jack and the phone, is battery powered so doesn’t need external power. on all incoming calls it emits tones that signal to the computerized dialer that the number they called doesn’t work. This causes the computer to hang up and drop your number from it’s list for that calling run.

The long and short of it is that I’m seriously wanting to lay hands on one of these while the sale price is still good. Ending, or even just cutting down on the number, of these calls is something I’d really like to see happen.

[Tags]telemarketers, debt collectors, unwanted calls, unsolicited sales calls[/tags]

Louisiana House Leads The Way Down Slippery Slope Of Internet Surcharge Tax

The Louisiana House has proven that it’s majority is composed of fatheads. I say this because the fifteen cents per month surcharge that they want to apply to Internet access in Louisiana is without doubt, a completely fatheaded idea. I think that what needs to be done is lay in a supply of nuphedra and get the fat burned out of their heads. Maybe then they’ll admit what this really is, just another excuse to tax something and use the money foolishly.

In their efforts to bull this thing through they’re waving that much overused flag of “protecting the children”. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of evil people doing some very evil things to children and they need to be stopped. However I also believe that this “problem” is being blown way out of proportion. Because it’s such an emotional issue it’s a banner that entirely too many have used to distract attention from things that would never have been allowed to pass if they’d been aired as separate issues of their own.

This “save the children” banner is being used to distract us from a lot of things that in the end add up to severing our basic rights like freedom of speech and privacy.

Fortunately it has not yet become law and there’s at least a decent chance that it won’t. WWLTV.com has an AP article that quotes Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans who opposes the surcharge:

While White called it a usage fee, opponents called the charge a tax on Internet access. They also have questioned whether it would violate a federal law that prohibits states from taxing Internet services and would be challenged in court.

“Today it’s Internet access. Tomorrow, what’s it going to be? A subscription to DirecTV?” said Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans.

All I can say is that I hope and pray that saner minds prevail and this tax is defeated. If not on the Louisiana Senate floor, then in the courts when it’s struck down by the courts as violating federal law.

[Tags]internet tax, internet surcharge, federal law, louisiana house, slippery slope[/tags]