Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Setting Up DRIPs with Fidelity

I checked one thing off the list below so far, so a quick update in case it can help anyone!

What is DRIP investing?

DRP stands for Dividend Reinvestment Plan, also known as Drip Investing, a very fitting name for what it is. When dividend stocks pay out dividends, a dividend reinvestment plan automatically reinvests the money paid out back into the stock. This allows you to take advantage of dollar cost averaging while increasing your holdings – automatically! And slowly but surely (drip, drip) your wealth hopefully increases.

How to set up dividend reinvesting in your Fidelity Account:

In my Schwab account, when I make a purchase I’m given the option of automatically reinvesting dividends or not when I set up the trade. It’s really easy. However, I couldn’t figure out how to do that with Fidelity and thought maybe it wasn’t an option. I realized this week that there must be a way, and used Fidelity’s handy chat tool to quickly ask a representative. They sent me nice easy instructions, and I’ve now set all my holdings to automatically reinvest. In case you too have been bashing your head against a wall looking for how to do this online, here’s quick and easy instructions:

  1. Hover over “Accounts & Trade” in the top menu bar on the far left.
  2. Select “Update Accounts / Features” from the drop down menu.
  3. Select “Dividends and Capital Gains”.
  4. There will be a list of all your securities. Some of them might already be set up to reinvest (for instance your Fidelity Cash Reserves). For those that aren’t, select “Update” under Action.
  5. Select “Reinvest in Security” instead of “Deposit Into Core Account”.
  6. Now you can also decide whether to apply this to all equity positions currently in the account, and/or future equity purchases.

Then click update and you’re done! Now you can feel like a dunce for not figuring this out sooner ;-)

Today I am…

Today I am…

  • Writing a quick and dirty post in the style of The Non-Consumer Advocate.
  • Taking advantage of my son’s impromptu nap (he fell asleep randomly on the couch next to me while I scratched his head) and hoping that means he’ll still nap for his usual 3 hours (yes, I know how lucky I am!)
  • Feeling exhausted as I officially cross over from the easy 2nd trimester to the not so fun 3rd trimester.
  • Really excited to finalize our new umbrella policy. We have to move from Progressive (whom I’ve loved) to Pemco to do this, as well as increase our regular coverage, but the rates from Pemco are so good that the whole thing is costing us only about $500 a year to do – and that gives us $1M in umbrella protection as well as much better insurance coverage overall!
  • Setting my husband’s 401K contribution to max out having realized this week how stupid it is that we weren’t doing that already. I’m also going to research how to set up an Individual IRA for myself since I’m an independent contractor (looks like I can contribute $17,500 AND a 25% employer match?!) which will put our savings goals on track to FIRE in about 10 years I think. Expect a post with much more math soon.
  • Calling Fidelity to figure out how to get some of my investments set to automatically reinvest the dividends. I’m not sure if they can do this since I haven’t seen an option through my online account, but it’s definitely worth a phone call.
  • Hoping I can get my husband to go over our construction budget which has so far involved him telling me we can do this project for a certain amount with zero facts to back up his claims.
  • Looking forward to a not so frugal date night tomorrow. My mom is taking my son overnight, we’re staying in a fancy hotel downtown (at a discounted rate!) and treating ourselves to a restaurant I’ve wanted to try forever! Since I was too sick to eat on our anniversary, this will make up for it.

Elaborations on some of the things mentioned above to come!

My Obamacare Experience So Far

Get Rich Slowly posted an “Ask the Reader” on Friday that had me looking at my health expenses so far this year. I was particularly interested since I’m the owner of a shiny new “Obamacare” plan.

After taking a brief foray into the normally employed, I went back to being an independent contractor as of January 1st this year. That meant that in December I was frantically refreshing the Washington Health Plan Finder site trying to purchase a plan so that my pregnant self and my baby son wouldn’t have any lapse in coverage. I had no problem getting a quote, but I did find that the website was a little buggy as I tried to buy. I’m sure this is because website traffic was incredibly high the day I purchased – the last day to get coverage by January 1st. It wasn’t that bad, I just had to resubmit a few pages a few times before everything actually went through.

The Nitty Gritty:

  • Coverage for me (almost 30, pregnant, non-smoker) and son (1.5 years old, includes dental)
  • $516.95 per month for a Premera Gold PPO Plan
  • Deductible is $1000 ($2000 total for both of us)
  • Out of Pocket Max is $4500 ($9000 total for both of us)
  • In-Network coinsurance is 20% (which includes maternity coverage after deductible)
  • $10 copay on Primary Care office visits/$30 copay for specialists
  • $200 copay for emergency room visits
  • No subsidy, we don’t qualify for any

Our other option was to go onto my husband’s plan. For comparison:

  • Add spouse and children $610/month (dental for both)
  • Premera PPO Plan
  • Deductible is $1500
  • Out of Pocket Max is $5000
  • 20% coinsurance
  • $35 copay for office visits
  • $250 copay for emergency room visits

So, as you can see we have nearly the same coverage, except a little better, and for almost $1200 less per year.

(The only thing that isn’t apples to apples in these plans is that I would have had dental coverage under my husband’s plan, but under the plan we went with I chose to only get my son dental because I never go to the dentist. It still would have been less expensive overall through the ACA, even if I had added dental for me.)

I’m definitely happy with the plan we went with. When I was previously an independent contractor – back when Bush was president and I was a barely twenty year old something – I purchased a catastrophic plan through Regence Blue Shield for a little over $100 per month. The cost went up a bit every year, and I was paying about $150 per month by the time I was 27 with no dental. I believe the deductible was $10,000, so for a $1000 deductible and coverage for two (three if you count my pregnancy!) I think that $516.95 seems reasonable.

I typically would never go with a Gold level plan. I have a still practicing Dr. Mom who is always on call for me, and I’m a generally very healthy young(ish) person with very low health costs. This year I decided to splurge on Gold because of my pregnancy, but I will likely switch to a bronze level plan in the future, and put our children on my husband’s insurance, since once we have multiple kids this will likely make the most financial sense. In the case of the “condition” I’m currently in, I actually could plan for it and get the best possible insurance to cover my pregnancy. But in the face of some other kind of medical catastrophe that I can’t plan for, I’m prepared to pay higher out of pocket expenses. I’m not prepared to drown in hundreds of thousands of unexpected medical bills, but we are financially in a place that we could handle say $10,000 without being financially ruined, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

So far this year I’ve been billed $5,320.51 (about half of which was actually “allowed”) for pregnancy appointments and 3 prescription refills, and I’ve paid $381.11 total out of pocket. That’s three $10 prescription copays with the rest being my 20% coinsurance. Everything that I’ve paid so far has counted against my out of pocket expenses, but none has counted towards my deductible. I’m kind of at a loss as to what counts towards deductibles! And everything I read online seems to say that I should be paying for 100% of my charges until I meet my deductible, at which point the 20% coinsurance and OOP Max kick in, but clearly that’s not the way my insurance is actually working in practice. Feel free to educate me if you understand this stuff better than I do!

And feel free to leave a comment with your experience with health insurance this year. I’m very interested to see how the ACA is affecting different people.

The Awesome Way to Make Beef Stroganoff

The first two months of 2014 saw a lot of food waste in my house. It really pains me to say so. But in my defense, I was spending a lot of time throwing up. Oh, the joys of the first trimester of pregnancy! It hasn’t been as easy this time around as far as morning sickness goes.

I kept grocery shopping as normal at first, but then found myself totally incapable of cooking or eating. My hubby stepped in and kept himself alive for the most part, but we don’t necessarily shop/cook the same way, so the fridge still became a waste land of rotten food. And there was a lot of take out. One day, directly after throwing up, I had a sudden craving for Indian food. I sent my hubby and son on a walk to our local Indian restaurant to pick up curry, and proceeded to eat it for dinner that night, and breakfast and lunch the next morning. Since it was the only thing I kept down, I sent them back out for more. I’m terrified to look at the accounting for January and February.

Anyway, I’m almost back to normal and have been trying to get back into the habit of cooking dinner every night, but I haven’t really gotten back into the grocery shopping habit yet. For dinner tonight I had some leftover pot roast beef (leftover on my plate after eating leftover pot roast yesterday) and I was pretty sure there was a bag of mushrooms in the bottom drawer of the fridge that either desperately needed to be used or had gone bad long ago. I knew exactly what to make – beef stroganoff!

When I pulled the brown paper bag out, I found the mushrooms were totally dried and woody. It was like a visualization of what had happened to my culinary prowess over the past few months. But, they also looked a whole lot like the dried mushrooms being sold at the grocery store. What harm could it do to throw these in some water and see what happens? They perked right back up!

There’s probably a correct way to make stroganoff. I’m sure Cooks Illustrated has done extensive research. This is not the correct way to make stroganoff. It’s the awesomely cheap and easy way to make dinner with whatever you’ve got.

My philosophy regarding what cut of meat to use for beef stroganoff is use whatever leftover beef you have. Every time I make flank steak, pot roast, whatever, I chop up the leftovers for beef stroganoff. Come to think of it, chicken stroganoff doesn’t sound so bad either!

Then I chop up onion and mushrooms. To make stroganoff I need at least one of these “essential” ingredients. If I’m out of mushrooms, skip ‘em. Today I’m out of onions – so stroganoff without onions! I tossed this with powdered garlic instead of fresh just because it was easier. Saute it til soft in butter, then set aside.

While that sautes, dredge the meat in flour separately. I use a little bit more flour than is necessary so that it’ll make a decent gravy. I melt a couple more tablespoons of butter in the pan, and then throw in the meat and flour til I’ve got a nice roux. Toss the onions and mushrooms back in the pan, and make sure all of the flour is mixed up without clumps before adding broth. Or, if you’re out of broth, do what I do – water and MSG a bullion cube! I use about 2-3 cups of water, enough to make a fairly thin gravy. Let this simmer on low for a little while, occasionally stirring while it thickens a bit, and then stir in about half a cup of sour cream for some tangy deliciousness.

I usually serve this with frozen peas either cooked on the side, or stirred right into the stroganoff. Tonight I’m serving this over rice because we’re out of noodles and I didn’t feel like making mashed potatoes. I’m really the picture of domesticity right now. I cooked in my PJs. Because I didn’t get dressed today.

Cook a little extra to take to work for lunch, serve in a pasta bowl, and then glare at your husband until he says it’s delish! Voila, dinner is served.