Episode 58: Money! – Show Notes

This particular Femoir: The Podcast is one that took me a little while to get together. Mostly because it took me a little while to get myself together after the hit that taxes took this year. money

So click here to listen to the latest episode (and click here to subscribe on iTunes for free!)

Learn about the history of money.

I talk about the fabulous podcast, Snap Judgment.

I also discuss Marianne Williamson.

I mention my father.

And of course the IRS, that pesky tax man.

How do you feel about money, friends? I’d love to hear from you.

Happy spending/saving/sobbing,

Briana

Advertisements

Healthcare

This is not a political post. This is just a factual experience.

I was paying an expensive health insurance premium for basic healthcare. It was your basic plan. It was a little expensive, but I could choose my own doctor (PPO) and I loved her and saw her once a year for basic lady check up.

Then I got a letter that I had to switch plans because mine was being cancelled due to the new Healthcare law.

Fine. Cool. Whatever. I’ll opt in.

I researched plans based on my income level. It was a bit confusing because my income can fluctuate, but I went with a reasonable average and I chose something that seemed fine. It actually saved me $10/month and was a “better” plan! Only catch (I thought) was that it’s an HMO. Which means I have to choose in a specific network. Fine. I have so few doctor needs at this point in my life (thank goodness) that I didn’t think it was a big deal. When I was accepted into the plan, I researched doctors in my network who would be good for Primary Care doctors. They all got pretty terrible reviews, so I let my plan pick one for me. Again, I rarely go (thank goodness) so I didn’t see it as a big deal.

About two months after being covered by my new plan (and three premiums already paid), I had a minor medical issue that wouldn’t go away. It wasn’t a big deal, so I figured I’d check out my new doctor since office visits were cheap and just have him look me over. I’m going to use his real name because these are facts, not opinions, so people can hopefully learn from my experience.

I went to Dr. Mohammad Resvani on Motor Avenue in Los Angeles, CA. It seemed fine enough. I filled out a form and waited about 15-20 minutes before I was taken to my room. I wanted another maybe 10 before the doctor saw me. When he came in, here’s what happened:

He asked what was going on. I explained it to him. I also explained I had something similar before and what it was. I told him I thought it might be that thing again and mentioned it. He looked at me and said he had never heard of that thing. It’s a really common thing, so I was confused. Then I guess he figured it out. He then motioned for me to move from my chair onto the table. He asked me a couple more questions and started pretending to get out stuff to check me then his phone rang. He answered it. He turned his back to me and talked on the phone for a while. Probably around 3-5 minutes. I just sat there. Then he turned right back around, didn’t apologize or explain why he answered the phone mid-sentence and proceeded to put his stethoscope on top of my jacket and talk to me while I assume he was attempting to listen to my heart. The times I’ve been to my primary care doctor before, they put the stethoscope directly on my skin and have me quiet and breathe so they can actually hear my heart. Putting it on top of my jacket (which was on top of two more layers of clothing- shirt and bra) seemed ineffective. Especially since he continued to ask me questions while he did it. He then said he’d give me a prescription for what might be wrong with me and walked out. He told me he’d give me a referral to a specific doctor to help me with my needs. He said it could take a week or so.

Before I left, confused as to whether or not we were done since I had already paid my copay in advance, I stood at the attendantless office for a few minutes. He happen to walk by. I asked if I was done. He said they needed a urine sample. I didn’t know what that had to do with anything, but I said ok. And I went back to the office and waited for them to bring me a cup. Then I did it.

Fast forward- my problem seemed to take care of itself so I never used my prescription. I then get a bill from my health insurance that they only covered most of the mystery urine sample, so I’d need to cover the rest. So I paid $3 to pee in a cup.

I go to fill my regular monthly prescription a few days after that  (which was prescribed by my wonderful former doctor) and it turns out my health insurance doesn’t cover it anymore. I have to use their mail-in service. I was unaware of this. The Walgreens lady and I had a long discussion about it. She was nice and she explained to me the situation. So I coughed up the $45 for that month while I figured out what to do. I tried calling my insurance provider but got in an endless loop, unable to actually get a hold of anyone. I tried looking online and couldn’t figure out how to do it. When I tried calling general customer service, I was told by the machine that the estimated wait time was 2 hours and 45 minutes. Of waiting. To talk to a customer service representative. Who would probably transfer me back over to the prescription people. For more waiting.

A couple weeks later, I see that there has been a claim denied twice by my health insurance. Lo and behold, I get a bill from Dr. Rezvani for $250 saying my insurance didn’t cover a basic office visit. Had I wanted to pay $250 out of pocket, I would have gone to my old wonderful doctor and she could have actually helped me and maybe not answered the phone mid-conversation. And maybe she’ll actually give me a referral when promised.

I have to now spend more of my own precious time and energy (not to mention likely money) to cover a very basic, very unsatisfactory office visit that is supposed to the easiest, most basic form of healthcare. And because March 31 is the last day to “Opt In” to the new healthcare system, it is nearly impossible to get through anywhere without insane wait times.

I tweeted about it. And to be fair, I got a response. It basically said “Sorry you’re having trouble! We’re here for you anytime.” And I asked if we could just fix this over Twitter, since that seemed to be the most efficient way of getting through to anyone. I did not get help on that front.

I’m an intelligent, healthy, 20-something. I’m willing to pay for healthcare- I was doing so before it was a federal mandate. I understand healthcare. I understand the internet. I’m ideal for this new system. But it’s deeply flawed. If I can’t even figure out how to navigate it- and I desperately want to- there is something really wrong here. To the point where I’m going to have to take dramatic measures to get change my coverage and go back to other options that make more sense for my situation.

It’s no wonder that everything about this is messed up. If I’m actively trying to do the “right” thing and “save money” and have “better health coverage” and I have to pay significantly more money, what happens to the people who don’t have the tech savvy or intelligence or education or even desire to learn that I do? What happens to them when they get big bills they thought were covered that they simply can’t pay? They’re screwed. That’s what. Which isn’t the intention of the system, but seems to currently be the outcome.

I’m paying $10 less per month that I was before for a coverage that doesn’t actually cover anything my older “more expensive” plan did. And on top of it all- I don’t need that much coverage. I just don’t want to have to pay out of pocket for a doctor to answer his phone while in the room with me not answering my health questions. Money is tight. I have to be smart with it. And this healthcare choice, so far, has not been a good financial investment for me.

I take care of myself. I constantly write blogs about happiness, health and fitness. I want to thrive. And I want to be healthy. And I want a reasonable heathcare arrangement that everyone can be satisfied with.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

That’s been my experience so far. I apologize for the tirade and the general lack of hilariousness in this post. But I needed to put it out there.

Now back to your regularly scheduled poop jokes.

Making Dreams Come True

I don’t have a fairy godmother. Because I don’t need one. I’m lucky enough to have amazing people around me who can make magic.

I’ve mentioned a few times I’m currently producing a web series called The Other Client List. This basically came out of the fact that my friend Arye and I had kept in touch from our Groundlings Basic class for several months. One day, we’re sitting at a lunch and mention we should just produce our own work. We should do a web series.

And from that, an exciting partnership and adventure was born.

I spent a couple months writing it. I’d never written screenplay scripts before. I’d always done sketch which is much more lackadaisical in formatting. And easy to fix as you rehearse. But screenplays follow a distinct format because they’re the foundation upon which so many other creative brains are going to build. So I did my best. It’s not perfect… but it’s close. And I certainly learned while doing it. And after a couple months, we had 10 scripts.

Then we were lucky enough to find a creative, focused, hard-working, and hilarious director/DP, Erik Boccio. Who has a great team of people who can help it all become real. We asked for money from friends and family, raised over $4,000 and are currently in the process of filming it every time we can get everyone together.

It’s wonderful. And magical. And I’m learning so so so much. Because this is what I want to do. And the best way to learn how to do it- how to really do it- is just by going for it.

So many extremely talented friends of mine are joining in for roles in the process. And Arye and I are turning out to be quite the complementary team.

And it’s fun. God it’s fun. Did I mention it’s fun? We’re all working our butts off and spending money and time we don’t have… but it is so much friggin’ fun.

And it’s good. It’s going to be so funny. It’s absolutely invigorating to get to see the words I pulled out of nowhere and gave to characters that I made up in my head actually come to life and tell a cohesive (and hilarious) story.

It’s magic. And I’m loving it.

And I’m so grateful to every person who’s helped make it a reality so far. I know it’ll be successful. It’s going to be such a good product- I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t be.

IMG_0037 IMG_0038

Ticket perspective

Last night, I came out to my car from an open mic in Santa Monica only to find I had a $53 ticket waiting for me. I made a mistake. I thought my meter had an hour more than it did. It was just an honest mistake. But it didn’t make the ticket suck any less.

I’m not exactly swimming in extra cash right now. I’m strapping up for an intense summer of car payments, credit card payments,  and a few weeks missing work to go home and visit. A ticket is not something I have in the budget right now.

I could choose to be very worried or upset and let the whole thing ruin my mood/day/week.

Or I could choose to have a little perspective on the situation.

While I’m not going to pretend that I was jumping for joy when I saw the ticket sitting on my car, I took a breath and thought about it. I was mere feet away from the ocean (a place I love) in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet (that I have worked hard to get to and continue to work hard to stay in). I just spent the past couple hours hanging out with like-minded spirits (comedians) and got to do what I love most (perform). I’m currently driving someone else’s car ( a close friend while he’s in Japan because he knows my card needs some work I can’t afford at the moment). He even gave me his credit card to give it a tank of gas for the month, even though I would be the one driving it. I was heading to another open mic that night because I’m lucky enough to live in a world where the chances to perform are plentiful and the ceiling for what you can accomplish is limited only to your imagination. I’m young. I’m healthy. I’m free. I know what I love to do and I get to do it often. I am constantly meeting new and interesting people and learning more about them and myself daily. I’m extremely lucky to live the life that I live, and am grateful for the joy and energy that surrounds me. I have a job. I can pay bills. I can pick up more babysitting if push comes to shove. I’m lucky to know some great families out here and have worked for some awesome references in the past. I’m also lucky to love children and not mind taking care of them for a little extra cash to help me pursue my dreams. I get to laugh all the time. I live in a world filled with people who love laughter and love to make others laugh. I also have awesome friends and family are are hilarious in their own right and give me unwavering support.

A $53 is just a minor inconvenience in a world filled to the brim with positivity and magic.

I’m lucky. And I know it.

And one little ticket is not going to screw all that up.

Besides, as I took the ticket off my window, a guy with a sweet, friendly golden retriever came up and started a quick conversation. His dog attacked me with kisses and affection and I loved every moment of it.

So jokes on you, City of Santa Monica. Your ticket didn’t ruin my day  at all.

But let’s not make this a habit, ok?

Thanks.

Parents both excited and upset to learn that Santa is real

Upon seeing numerous pop culture movies in which Santa proves to be an actual entity, experts have agreed that there is no longer doubt as to whether or not the old man is real. Pop culture and popular opinion are never wrong, therefore Santa Claus-the famous and controversial leader of Christmas- is real.

The real shock factor for the legitimacy of Mr.Claus comes not so much in the fact that children were right all along, but the fact that many parents have been celebrating Christmas without any faith that a big fat man would come to their home late in the night and deliver presents to their children. In fact, for so many years, parents had so little faith in Mr. Claus, that they were buying, wrapping, and delivering presents to children themselves.

“I guess if you don’t have faith in Santa, he’s not going to show up,” explains Denise Winthrop, a parent of three young children who has acted as Santa Claus herself for the past several years. “I wish somebody had told me that he was real and would take care of all of this if I’d just left it alone,” she added. “It would have saved me a lot of money, a lot of time, and a lot of cookie-calories.”

Winthrop, like so many other parents, is relieved to learn that she doesn’t have to bear the burden of Christmas by herself this year. She will finally believe that everything will take care of itself because an old man in a red suit will come deliver everything her three kids want. She doesn’t even care that she’s passed Santa’s official child “cut-off” age of 18 years old. The fact that somebody else is taking care of Christmas is enough of a gift for her.

Many conspiracy theorists, who are adept at drawing out ridiculous conclusions to simple problems, have already come up with a theory as to why Mr. Claus was thought to be a mythical creature for so long. They claim that economists and many businesses who benefit from consumers going nuts at the holidays, kept Mr. Claus locked up and lied about his existence for many years, to make parents like Winthrop go out and buy frivolous things for their children rather than saving the money for more important ventures like healthcare or medicine.

Though their conclusion seems like a ridiculous one, there is some concern within American economists that too many parents will now rely on Mr. Claus and his band of merry elves to make all the products themselves and distribute them on Christmas eve. As a result, there could be a real surplus of expensive items and even less spending during a time that could hopefully help jump-start a flailing economy.

Winthrop isn’t concerned about any of that. She’s only concerned with allowing her already tight budget to stay on track, and to remain out of as much debt as possible while allowing her kids to have a great Christmas experience. For her, the reality of Santa Claus is a true Christmas miracle.

After days of mooching and feasting, woman on budget is thrown back into reality

For Rachel Krose, the holiday season means more than spending time with friends and family. It also means she will likely be given free food from her loved ones, a special treat she looks forward to every year.

As an actor who works paycheck to paycheck, Krose is constantly attempting to make ends meet and have all her bills paid. Often, the first thing that she neglects when her funds are especially low, is her food. “You’d be surprised how much better rice and beans are when you add a little salt, pepper, and cumin,” Krose explains. “It’s gourmet.”

That’s all forgotten, however, when it’s time for the holidays. The generosity of her friends and family leave her belly extremely full and her tongue feeling like it’s been attacked with a nuclear bomb of taste and excitement.

That is, until, she returns to her regular budget and regular food. In the three days of feasting that surround the holidays, Krose seemed to have forgotten what it’s like to eat the same foods every day and pretend they taste good.

“Maybe cumin doesn’t add as much as I thought it did…” Krose adds, with a touch of sadness in her voice.

The transition back to budget-based meals has been a difficult one, but Krose is optimistic, saying, “I just have to make it until the end of December. Then I get good food again!”

When asked what she was going to do after December, she looked off into the distance quietly for a moment. And then, as if convincing herself as much as anyone else, she said, “I’m going to love the —- out of my rice and beans.” She nodded furiously, repeating, “I love rice and beans.”