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This Week In Your Wallet: Hot Coals Or Health Care?

It’s no secret that college tuition is expensive. But what you probably didn’t know is that daycare now often costs even more, according to a report from the think tank New America. Yes, you read that right. The average cost of in-state college tuition is about $9,410. And the average cost of full-time daycare for kids ages four and under? About $9,589. That translates to 18 percent of the U.S. median household income.

And don’t even get us started on nannies — their average cost is 53 percent of that income, or 188 percent of income for someone earning minimum wage, according to MONEY. What can you do? Shop around — and when you’re totally exhausted, give this rap song about paying student loans back a listen. It won’t solve your problem. But it might make you feel a little bit better.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Hot Coals Or Health Care?

The results are in — 48 percent of people would rather talk to their ex or walk across hot coals than pick a health plan, according to Aflac’s new Open Enrollment Survey. Employees think the process is long, complicated and stressful, and it usually ends with 93 percent of them opting for the same medical, dental and vision benefits each year. If that sounds familiar, it’s time to be careful.

With the rise of high-deductible plans, the cost of making the wrong choice could be about $750. In case you weren’t aware, open enrollment period at most companies starts soon (and November 1 on Healthcare.gov). So, block out some time on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of red and look over your plan options — you could save yourself hundreds of dollars.

Stay In The Slow Lane To Riches

Saving money by doing things like, say, shopping around for airfares or picking the right health insurance plan isn’t always too good to be true, but getting rich quick usually is. This is not news. (Hands in the air if you already know you’re not going to win the lottery but buy Powerball tickets anyway.) So why is it that we fall for the idea that getting rich quick is, in fact, possible, over and over and over again? Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Zweig weighed in on this recently, as well as get-rich-quick red flags to watch out for. He focused on the recent Securities and Exchange Commission announcement that trading newsletter company Wealthpire and its owner agreed to pay a settlement of nearly $1.5 million for allegations they had defrauded subscribers (without admitting or denying).

As Zweig reported, Wealthpire advertised fast, risk-free returns and “1,483% gains.” That consistent message (the “1,483% gains” stat was oft repeated) adds credibility. Similarly, the company used scarcity (“only 500 spots available,” act “right now”) to increase consumers’ fears of missing out. Bottom line: Any time you feel pressured to make an on-the-spot decision or feel FOMO take hold, run, don’t walk, in the other direction.

Have a great week,

Jean

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