I couldn't believe the cost increase in our health insurance premiums when open enrollment came around this year. Our costs had jumped $23.80 a week, and with two kids and a type 1 diabetic in the family, there's not much we can do to directly affect the price by going up. And since we keep our budget pretty tight to begin with, we really can't make up for the full $23.80 a week increase through other cuts, but we can at least minimize the increase's effects upon our budget by reducing other costs.
While we now have $1.237.60 a year in extra insurance costs to make up, even the little things can make a difference. Therefore, here are a few of the expenses that we've targeted to put on the chopping block in an effort to help make up for this hefty increase in health insurance costs.
One Less Dinner out a Month
We aren't what you might call "regulars" when it comes to going out to eat. We try to go out several times a month, sometimes as many as three, maybe even four times a month, but we keep our costs for such outings to a minimum. Our average dinner bill totals somewhere right around $30. However, to make up for our increased health insurance premiums, we're looking to cut one such outing a month from our regular budget. By eliminating just of these meals out every month, we stand to save somewhere in the area of $360 a year.
Ditch that Weekly Pizza
Lately, we've gotten into kind of a bad habit. The store at which we do most of our regular grocery shopping offers huge take-and-bake pizzas for a great price. We can get a 16-inch, five-cheese pizza, for just $5. However, we end up putting extra cheese on it when baking, which adds about another dollar in extra costs. It's awesomely delicious, and it's not really the cost that puts us off since it's such a good deal, but I can't say it's the healthiest meal for us to be eating…especially on a regular basis.
Therefore, I think that our health insurance premiums going up is a great excuse for us to cut down our weekly pizzas, maybe making them a bi-weekly meal instead. Cutting out this extra $6 weekly cost -- 26 times throughout the year -- will not only help keep us a bit healthier, but save us around $156.
(H)ealth (R)eimbursement (A)ccount
Thankfully, there is one positive about our health insurance plan for the new year. Our plan offers a HRA (health reimbursement account) that helps cover the cost of our deductible and out-of-pocket costs. This year, the amount that this account covers goes up by $425. And since we typically use all of this account and more, it's like we're cutting our costs by this amount.
So, when all is said and done, while our health plan costs are going up by $1,236.70 a year, by cutting $516 a year in food and entertainment costs off our budget, and by utilizing the $425 HRA increase to our plan, we're able to diminish the overall affects of this increase, keeping it closer to $295, which while not making us completely happy, at least reduces the impact of such an increase.
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