How are you feeling about the state of healthcare? It’s not a political question — at least, it’s not meant to be one. Rather, it’s meant to nudge you into realizing that with all the uncertainty swirling, the very best thing you can do for your financial health is to take a few preparatory steps right now. First, do your best to add some wiggle room in your budget for potential changes in healthcare costs down the line, reports CNBC. (A medical emergency is the thing that throws more budgets for a loop than any other; it’s a good reason to make sure your cash cushion is at least a few thousand dollars flush, preferably more.)
Next, take a good look at the the healthcare options currently available to you. For most Americans, that means evaluating the choices on your employer’s benefits menu. If you’re faced with the option of a Health Savings Account, or HSA, one might be a good fit — especially if you’re young, healthy and set up automatic contributions. (HSAs are “triple tax-free,” which means you get a tax deduction for making your contribution, the money grows tax-free and when you pull it out, no additional taxes are owed as long as you use it for qualified medical expenses.)
If your employer doesn’t offer coverage, you may qualify for a subsidy to purchase care via one of the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). (You’ll likely qualify if your total income is between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty threshold for your family size. For an individual, maximum income is $47,520, reports NerdWallet. For income limits for other family sizes, head here.) As for changes to the ACA coming down the pike? We’re watching them for you. Stay tuned.
Selling Extra Clothes For Extra Cash
On another note… I’ve written about thredUP a few times before — it’s a fashion resale website that allows users to shop for and sell secondhand clothing. If you plan to sell, here’s how it works: You order a “Clean Out Kit” (a big bag with a shipping label) from thredUP, fill it with your clothing (they prefer items in very good condition) and send it back. It can be a good option if you’d just like to get extra clothes off your hands with minimal effort — and the added perk of some sort of payout. While in the past, the company has mostly dealt with mass-market brands, it recently started a new platform, thredUP Luxe, for luxury sellers and consumers.
But here’s what we’ve noticed recently: In past years, the amounts we received for the clothing we sent in were more substantial than as of late. My team member Hayden sent in as many items as she could pack into the bag, and thredUP accepted 11 items for a total of $28.95 in earnings — but, minus their $8.99 shipping and handling fee, she only received $19.96. My other colleague, Kelly, had a similar experience in that the payout was less than expected. So if your primary motivation is earning as much as you can, it’s probably a better idea to sell your clothes on a site like eBay or an app like Poshmark (which takes 20 percent of earnings for sales above $15 but lets sellers set their own prices and engage with potential buyers).
Student Loan Respite?
There’s some good news in the offing for tens of thousands of student loan holders. Billions of dollars in private student loan debt are likely going to be erased because of missing paperwork, reports The New York Times. That’s right — billions. The loans are the subject of a legal dispute between student borrowers who fell behind on payments and a group of creditors that pursued them in court (specifically the National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, a group of 15 trusts that holds 800,000 student loans). Sounds great, right? It could be, but only if it applies to you.
First, know that if you’re currently in good standing on your loans, they won’t be erased. But if you’re a few months overdue on payments and have already been sued for nonpayment by National Collegiate, there’s a chance that insufficient documentation could result in your loans being wiped out, reports MONEY. Note, though, that there’s no guarantee. And if you’re not sure? That’s understandable. Since National Collegiate is a group of trusts, that means you may not have heard its name even if it does own your loan. Try reaching out to your loan servicer to ask for a copy of the promissory note proving who owns the loans (they’re not legally required to provide it, but they might oblige). Another clue could be if the collections company contacting you is one that National Collegiate usually uses — Transworld Systems or American Education Services (AES). If you’ve already been served with a lawsuit, it’s a good idea to find a lawyer who specializes in debt collection and credit reporting issues. The National Association of Consumer Advocates has a search tool to help you find one.
How do you market yourself for a job you know you’re perfect for when you have limited professional experience? Tough question, right? Millennial blogger Chelsea Krost weighs in. She suggests focusing on the unique skill set you bring to the table and using it. Do you have theatre experience that makes you more of a people person? Do you manage a viral food Instagram account that proves you know about social media marketing? Use what makes you different to set yourself apart — and, when pitching yourself, show how those skills apply directly to the position you’re up for.
Finally, if you’re fuming because the cable company is charging you for boxes you no longer have, you were ripped off on a rental car or some other consumer wrong, let us try to get your moolah back. Our Hayden Field is taking on the big guys — and winning! She’d love to work on it on your behalf. Give us a shout at Jean@JeanChatzky.com.
Have a great week,