Homeownership Guidance, Advice and Blogs

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Health Savings Accounts: Easy money you could be missing out on

It’s a fact that health care is expensive in America. It’s expensive even for those in great shape who rarely go to the doctor. They are required to pay as much as a co-worker who has an illness which requires ongoing medical care.  This has caused many people to drop their health plan entirely.

Unfortunately, we can’t control or predict the future.  Should one random accident occur that requires surgery or long-term care, it can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to remedy. And since you can’t get health insurance as you’re about to be wheeled into surgery, not having it can bankrupt, or worse, harm you irreparably. This is critical!

So, if you’re low on money, rarely get sick, hate Western Medicine and prefer holistic options, and/or don’t think that random things requiring medical attention can happen to you, you’re in luck!

A few years ago, Congress created Health Savings Accounts (HSA), which allow you to cut the amount you’re paying insurance companies while still maintaining coverage. Here’s what you need to know:

• According to healthcare.gov, a HSA is a type of savings account that allows you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses.

• A HSA can be used only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). The monthly premium is usually lower on these plans, because you pay more yourself if and when an incident actually occurs. The insurance company will still kick in its share (your deductible).

• A HDHP can be combined with the HSA, allowing you to pay for certain medical expenses with money free from federal taxes.

• Several banks offer HSA Savings and Investment Accounts. The easiest way to start your search is to Google 'HSA Accounts’.

• An individual can contribute up to $3,400 per year into the HSA, and a family can contribute up to $6,750.

• HSA’s do typically charge a monthly or annual fee, but it’s nominal.

• Depending on your insurer, the HSA funds can likely be used towards holistic healing or naturopathic doctors. Some allow you to use the funds for personal trainers, while others will allow alternative health purchases such as medical marijuana. Check with your insurer for additional coverage details.

• There is no requirement for regular contributions to your HSA. You can add as much as you’d like (up to the max stated above), but you can only remove that money for qualifying medical purposes.

• This is not use or lose: whatever you don’t withdraw will continue to remain in the account year over year.

• Let me reiterate: this money grows tax free. With typical health insurance, if you don’t use it the coverage is gone. But with an HSA the money continues to grow with no penalty. Even a regular savings account doesn’t do that.

For more information on Health Savings Accounts and qualifying withdrawals, check out the IRS requirements here

And so it is.