Cancer Costs

2370840181_18b8af1f50_t[1]A childhood cancer diagnosis creates high anxiety within the entire family. There are many costs – social, emotional, spiritual, and financial.

Loss of income occurs as parents take time off from their jobs to be available for their child during hospital stays, for frequent out-patient clinic appointments, and a demanding at home medications schedule. Children also have compromised immune systems and many times cannot attend school or daycare. This can require that one parent quit their job. While income is lost, costs increase because of medical expenses.

Increased costs come from out-of-pocket medical expenses and non-medical expenses such as transportation, food, lodging, family care, and other miscellaneous items. Financial pressures can persist long after active treatment has ended. It can take many years for families to recover. Many families face long-term costly follow-up care and sometimes life-long medications for their child. Families who subsequently experience the loss of their child face even greater financial problems.

Thankfully, there are ways you can help. Kids Cancer Fund is a volunteer run 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that provides financial assistance to families in need and funds promising research. Check out the website at and visit

Money Secrets from Jim Cramer

3765088669_bfdfb3a956_t[1]Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money has a net worth of $100 million. He developed his investment strategy while homeless and living out of his car. Very interesting article.

Only in San Francisco

220 square-foot micro apartments for rent for $1,500 per month. San Francisco has long been one of the most expensive cities to live but this is getting ridiculous. What do you think? Click to read

Kids Get Cancer, Too

Imagine enduring months of chemotherapy, countless needle sticks, endless nausea, fevers and infections. Imagine going through this. Now imagine watching your child go through this. Unfortunately, there are many children and families that are experiencing this nightmare right now.

Cancer is a horrific disease and is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 14. Did you know that more than 50% of the children who are diagnosed with cancer are ages 2 and under? This is why I’m asking you to support Kids Cancer Fund.

Kid’s Cancer Fund is a volunteer run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the survival rate and quality of care for children with cancer. Programs are funded solely by donors and I need your help to keep them running. A few examples of services are:

· Providing financial help to families of children undergoing treatment

· Purchasing a special toy or gift that a sick child will find comforting during their chemo or radiation therapy

· Providing grants to promising pediatric cancer research programs

I need your help and kindly ask that you join me today and support this important cause. Please give $25, $50, $100 or whatever your budget will allow. Your donation will make a difference in the life of a child and is tax deductible. You can donate online by visiting

Please donate today. Thank you for supporting the fight against childhood cancer. Together, we can make a difference.

Sincerely yours,
Jackson Rodgers
Kids Cancer Fund

Don’t Teach Your Kids How to be Poor

Times are difficult for many but they don’t have to be. Parents are the most important teachers their kids will ever have. If you want your kids to grow up to be financially independent, then be a good role model for them.

  • Tell your kids school is important. Although a college degree is no guarantee of financial success, those with a college degree tend to make more money than those without. Graduate and professional degree earners tend to make more than those with a baccalaureate.
  • Don’t display wealth. If you look rich (drive an expensive car, own a huge house, wear expensive clothes/jewelry), most likely you are not wealthy. You are probably living in debt. Be a good role model to your children and let them know that having money in the bank is more important than trying to impress their friends. To achieve financial stability, you must save more than you spend – it’s as simple as that.
  • Compounding for decades. When your children are young, open a 529 College Saving Plan for them and set up automatic monthly deposits. I opened 529 College Saving accounts for my kids when they were born. Currently there is about $40,000 in my nine-year olds account and about $34,000 in my seven-year olds account. It’s easy if you start when they are young and make it automatic.
  • Teach your kids how to live on a budget, balance a checkbook and to save. When my kids receive money for their birthday or for Christmas, some of the money can be spent but some must be saved for a “rainy day.” Discuss money and bills with your kids in an age appropriate way.
  • Teaching personal responsibility. Hard work over time is the only way to succeed for most people. Teach that success and wealth are not entitlements. No one is entitled to a “free lunch.” I don’t believe in allowances. Kids shouldn’t get paid for doing nothing. It’s not that way in the real world. If you want your kids to have spending money, tie the money to the amount of age appropriate chores that they do.
  • Don’t bail out your kids too easily. Let them experience the consequences of their actions while they are still living under your roof.

Many parents need to do a better job teaching their children about money. Kids want to learn about money and it is up to parents to successfully nurture their thirst for knowledge. By doing so, you help make sure your kids will have a financially bright future.

American Express Refund Settlement

American Express agreed to pay $112.5 million to resolve allegations that it charged unlawful late fees, discriminated against some card applicants and engaged in other illegal practices.

According to the Consumer financial Protection Bureau, American Express will pay $85 million to about 250,000 consumers – about $340 apiece. Payments will either be by check or a credit in their accounts by March 2013. In addition to paying customer refunds, American Express will pay $27.5 million in penalties plus numerous fines. The violations occurred between 2003 and 2012.

American Express plans to notify each affected customer due to receive a refund in the coming months.

What Happens to my Parents Debt When They Die?

Many people have the misconception that they are responsible for paying their parent’s debts, particularly when the parent dies with outstanding bills. Unless you co-signed for your parent’s loan or are the joint account holder with your parent, you are not legally responsible for paying the debt. Any outstanding debt your parents have upon their passing will go against their estate. The home may be sold to pay their debts and assets will be used to pay off creditors. If there is a positive net worth, the heirs will get an inheritance. If there is a negative net worth, the heirs will not get anything.

So how can parents maximize the amount of assets going to their heirs and not to creditors? You can either have no debt when you die or you can use probate avoidance tools while you are still living. When a person dies, their estate property is transferred to beneficiaries through a Will or intestate succession (if no Will). The result is probate. Many use the probate process but I recommend avoiding probate if possible because it is expensive (5-10% of gross estate value) and time-consuming (18-24 months on average). It is possible to transfer property outside of probate using probate avoidance tools such as Will substitutes like living trusts or payable on death accounts. This way, property goes directly and quickly to your heirs. So what are some of the valid ways to transfer property and avoid probate? Some include:

-Pay on death (POD) accounts can be created using a simple form at your bank. Simply choose a beneficiary to receive the money in your account when you die.

-Life insurance/retirement accounts avoid probate by designating a beneficiary. You should check your accounts annually to make sure you have the correct people selected as beneficiaries.

-Joint tenancy is a type of property ownership that when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse automatically gets ownership.

Note: This article was originally posted in February 2011 but because of its popularity, I am reposting.

Want a Promotion? Go Bald!

According to a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, men with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and may have greater leadership potential than those with longer or thinning hair. That may explain why the shaved head look has caught on in the corporate world lately. For example, Marc Andreessen (Netscape Founder), Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) and Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) all have shaved or closely cropped heads.

Many executives say the style makes them seem young or at least makes their age less evident and gives them more confidence. Steven Carley (Red Robin Gourmet Burgers CEO) said “shaving his head gave his confidence a boost when working with 20 plus year olds.”

Although I do believe personal grooming (neat appearance, dress, hygiene, etc) are an important part of success in the workplace, I’m not ready to pull out those clippers – at least not yet.

How to tell if the Economy is Improving

Beer sales! According to the Beer Institute, beer sales are rising for the first time since 2008. After falling three straight years, beer shipments have risen each month during 2012. Much of the rebound is being driven by small-batch “craft” brewers, reflecting shifting tastes among drinkers.

Beer sales have dropped from 2008 to 2011 partly because its key customers, blue-collar men in their 20’s, were hit particularly hard by the recession. Job numbers are still way down but improving. The unemployment rate for men 20 to 24 years old was 15.2% in August. As the unemployment rate improves, beer sales should continue to improve.

Drinkers are branching out from traditional American lager to ales, porters and wheat beers from fast-growing small brewers. The number of breweries in the U.S. topped 2,000 earlier this year for the first times since the late 19th century. Will this trend continue? I think so, but only time will tell.

Money, Debt, Waste

Is it better to earn a million dollars or save a million dollars? For me, the answer is simple. What good is making a million dollars, if I spend two million dollars? I would still be in debt.

The same holds true for governments. The U.S. government is more than $15 trillion in debt. What good is raising taxes to increase revenue if you don’t also cut spending?  You hear a lot of talk about taxes but the key to deficit reduction lies with reduced and more efficient (less wasteful) spending.

We all know the government is wasteful (and inefficient) with our tax dollars. Below are just a few examples of how your tax dollars were spent wastefully:

  • $592,000 on a study to figure out why chimpanzees throw poop.
  • $35 million allocated for political party conventions in 2012.
  • $475 million worth of oil for the Afghan army that just disappeared and the US can’t account for where it went.

If you want more detailed information, you can read U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. report on Government Waste

Instead of Democrats and Republicans arguing over taxes, shouldn’t the discussion be focused on how to cut wasteful and inefficient government spending?