2-28-2018   Blue Cross has a new benefit for 2018 if you have the Blue Cross Basic Plan and MediCare Part B they will pay members $600 each ($1200 for couples) toward their MediCare Part B premiums.  Those switching from the Standard Plan to the Basic Plan would have a net cost for Medicare Part B of about zero. Those with the higher priced Standard Plan, do not appear to be eligible for the rebate. Why??
Click here to view an excert from the Blue Cross brochure.

The purpose of this page is to highlight ways in which we retirees can economize in our daily living and household expenditures, and avoid those individuals and organizations who would separate us from our hard-earned income.

This page is a work in progress; its value may not be appreciated for some time to come, but we feel it will eventually be viewed by many as a useful adjunct to our Website. As always, your thoughts and suggestions will be appreciated.

Are you paying for two email services?
In a recent visit with one of our children, I noted he recently subscribed to a high-speed internet service called Road Runner. My son is a long-time AOL subscriber and continued his subscription even though his Road Runner service includes an email account.

After some discussion and research, however, he realized his AOL service had become redundant and an unnecessary expense, especially in light of AOL’s penchant for bombarding its subscribers with self-serving commercial advertisements.

Before canceling his AOL subscription, we followed Road Runner’s setup procedure for Internet Explorer and its email program, Outlook Express, to make sure his assigned email address did, in fact, work. Once that determination was made, my son cancelled his AOL subscription and uninstalled their software.

Probably the only inconvenience in the whole process is the fact that he lost the email list he had developed via AOL, but that might have been avoided with a bit more advance planning. Do you have a high-speed connection and a separate internet service? If so, you might want to examine the dollars and sense of it.

Free email accounts have been around for a while but most users continue to use the email accounts provided by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). While they are usually free, they will cause you, and those that send you emails, considerable inconvenience if you change your ISP.

The FREE email accounts are portable and usually come with an enormous amount of FREE storage. Portability means you do not have to change your email address when you change your ISP. That is a significant advantantage. Those sending the sending emails to you will not know or care that you have changed your ISP. They will also not have to update your email address on their machine. They will silently thank you.

The FREE storage is valuable you as you will never have a "mailbox full" message sent to the email sender. You will never lose an email because your ISP does not give you enough storage. AOL is the ISP that generates the most "mailbox full" messages. GMail.com currently provides users with 6GB of FREE storage. Yahoo.com advertises unlimited FREE storage.

There are many other free email account providers but GMail and Yahoo are the largest. They have spam blockers and can be used with MS Outlook and other email programs. Another advantage is you can view your messages while traveling (hotel public computers are common) and still have them available for downloading when you return home.

Thinking about taking a trip in the near future? Before you trot down to your local travel agent, check out the prices at www.expedia.com and www.travelocity.com, both of which offer discount prices on air travel, lodging, car rentals, cruises and guided tours. Obviously, there are other web sources for the same services but these are two of the more prominent. As always, the byword is caveat emptor; read the fine print before you commit and don't automatically rule out your local travel agent; a good one will also utilize the internet and is very adept at ferreting out the best deal for you, all things considered.

How many times each week do you receive a solicitation in the mail asking for your donation of $15, $25, $50 or more? If you're somewhere among the average, it's not an exaggeration to conclude that you receive several. Indeed, it is not all that uncommon to receive several in one day's mail alone.

Most of us have one or more favorite charities but many more are vying for our disposable income. How do you know the solicitation you receive bearing the picture of an emaciated child is from a legitimate charity and, if legitimate, from one which actually applies most of what it receives toward its advertised cause. Well, one way is to look the organization up and learn something about its structure and financial operations.

A good charity expends less than 20% of its revenue for administration; the lower the better. For example, the Fresh Air Fund (an independent, not-for-profit agency which has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million disadvantaged New York City children since 1877) expended just over 3% of its FY '98 income on Administration.

The next time you receive a solicitation you would like to know more about - including solicitations from charities you previously assumed were legitimate and highly efficient - go to http://www.guidestar.org and perform a search. You may be surprised, perhaps even shocked, at what you find.

Another good source for determining the legitimacy of specific charities is the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance which offers guidance to donors on making informed giving decisions through the BBB’s charity evaluations. Their website is http://www.give.org.