New Year Resolutions

New year resolutions. I’ve never been a fan. I don’t keep them because I don’t make them. I don’t make them because I don’t keep them either.

New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

Most new year resolutions are about how to loose weight and how to manage your money. Why is that? Probably because Americans and Brittans spend and eat too much.

We all need improvement and a new year is a great chance to make these changes.

Make Goals for the New Year

2014 is almost over and you want to change. You want 2015 to better than 2014. Twenty Fourteen has been a tough year for many of you economically, relationally, spiritually…in short its be hard and you’re tired of crying, going backwards, and being hurt. It can be a better year.

This year make goals instead of resolutions. You might have heard this before, but have you actually done it? Have you taken the time to sit down and actually write down goals?

If you choose not to make goals, then you are actually choosing not to achieve and be better. Not deciding is a decision.

5 Easy Steps for Goal Setting

  1. Get away to to a quiet place with a pen and paper or use your I-pad if you are techie for a few hours.
  2. Reflect on the past year. Read a journal (aka your Facebook page), look at your pictures, and journal about the past years pain and triumphs.
  3. Pray (talking and listening) and think about what you need to change. This might included adding or subtracting things, people, or activities.
  4. Write down those things that you are going to change. Yes, write them down and put them in a place where you’ll see them every day. *Bonus Make your Goals SMART
  5. Tell a friend who’ll keep you accountable and help you reach that goal.


S- Specific 


A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Time Bound

Action: Write your goals and share with a friend or you can share below in the comments. Happy New Year!

(Photo by Rob & Jules)

Does Warby Parker Accept VSP?

I’ve been a secret fanboy of Warby Parker glasses. I dig that they are helping others by providing glasses….The “Buy a pair, give a pair.” has a very TOMSesque appeal.

So hey, I’d like support their mission and look hip at the same time. Then my frugal side wakes up and remembers that I actually pay for vision insurance.

VSP to be exact–the #2 vision insurance provider in the country (54 million) behind #1 Eye Med Vision Care (159 million) according to an study from

So Does Warby Parker Accept VSP?

I started out by searching and found this video:

I was disappointed that Warby Parker doesn’t work directly with insurance providers and I’d have to request a receipt to submit to VSP and wait to get reimbursed.

My motivation for jumping through multiple hoops is generally fairly low–I’m sure i’m not alone.

I’m glad they responded and cleverly with a video too, but it’s the same answer and doesn’t tell me HOW to go through this seemingly complicated insurance process.

It seems overly complex, so I thought I’d help others who also have VSP Insurance and want to wear Warby Parker glasses.

How to Request a Receipt from Warby Parker for Insurance Purposes

You can call Warby Parker at 888.492.7297 (Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. ET) or you can email them for a receipt at

I called up a friendly WP rep and they said they are able to create a special receipt that has lenses and frames on the same line for the $95.00 price, but they don’t break down the lenses and frames into separate line items.

Of course she recommend that I speak with VSP to ensure my plan will cover out of network–which Warby Parker is.

How to Submit an out of Network Receipt to VSP?

You have 12 months to submit an out of network claim if your plan allows.

Login or call to ensure your VSP plan will reimburse you before you go all Warby Parker hipster crazy. Below is my plan provided through my employer.

VSP Out of Network example


You’ll need need to log on to the VSP platform. On the left click on Claims and Reinbursement and then you’ll be directed to start a new claim.


Start an out of network claim on VSP

Why Does VSP Hate Warby Parker and other Online Retailers?

I get the impression from this string of comments on the VSP site, that they dislike hate Warby Parker and other online retailers.

1. VSP and Warby Parker are competitors:

“Unfortunately, we can’t add WP to the network because they are a competitor, but we are hoping to have new online solutions soon.” –David, VSP from here.

2. VSP also thinks online retailers have inferior products and “minimal quality standards.”

They even quote statistics from this study in the comments when people asked VSP to add Warby Parker to their preferred vendors:

“Nearly half of prescription spectacles delivered directly by online vendors did not meet either the optical requirements of the patient’s visual needs or the physical requirements for the patient’s safety.”

Just a little about this study…it’s horse poop. How did they determine the top 12 online retailers to test the prescriptions?

“In early 2010, we identified 12 of the most visited Web sites for ordering prescription spectacles online, based on rankings provided by Alexa® Traffic Rank service7 (San Francisco, California) and Google PageRank™ checker8 (Mountain View, California).”

Sounds fancy, but Internet saavy folk know that Alexa can easily be gamed (I’ve done it) and that the PR checker does not determine the amount of traffic, popularity of brands, nor the amount of online orders.

AND this study was in 2010–that’s 60 internet years by my calculations. They also don’t identify the 12 which they drew samples from in this study, so it just seems like a bit of self-serving pseudo science based off old outdated metrics.

Warby Parker Vs. VSP Conclusion

I started out this journey a little disappointed in Warby Parker, but in the end I have a bitter taste in my mouth for VSP.

May upstart companies like Warby Parker continue to disrupt the marketplace. WP, I’ll have to save up for your cool hip glasses since it seems I’ll have to float some out of pocket costs until/if I can get reimbursed. *Update I couldn’t contain myself any longer and plucked down the $95 in cash for my new WP. I’m saving my VSP this go round for prescription sunglasses.

I’ll also keep my cheap VSP plan and squeeze every dime I can out of it–at least another year until Open Enrollment starts again.

Anyone had success or tips reimbursing your out of network Warby Parker glasses from VSP? Please share below! 

In honor of Halloween, I’ve made a top ten list of the Scariest Financial Products. Mind you this is my list and using these products could be dangerous to your financial health.

Coffee Art: Skull

Are you scared yet?

  1. Viatical Settlement– Care to make some money on someone’s death? Buy a viatical and you get the leftovers from their life insurance policy. Basically you get more money if they die early. How morbid!
  2. Gold Futures– Want to loose sleep for 3 months and become a walking zombie? Investing in gold isn’t a great idea, but gold futures are one the riskiest investments around. Play this game and you could loose your sleep and your shirt!
  3. Zombie Insurance– Need protection against the undead? Look no further…ok this one is a gag, but great idea!
  4. A.R.M.- Want to loose your arm, a leg, and your house? Well, these Adjustable Rate Mortgages will scare the life out of you when the interest rate adjusts beyond your paycheck. Be sure to get a fixed rate mortgage and avoid loosing your body parts.
  5. Post Apocalyptic Insurance– Think you’ll need to eat after the apocalypse happens? There is a solution: Food insurance.  I find it funny that all the pictures on the website are of smiling people.Wipe that smile off your face! The earth is destroyed and almost everyone is dead, but smile because you bought food insurance and you’ll live to see another day.
  6. Whole Life Insurance– This product is scary indeed, especially with all the low cost of term life insurance. You might roll over in your grave when you realize your whole life insurance policy was terrible and you could have bought much better coverage for a cheaper price.
  7. Pay Day Loans– The interest rates you’ll be charged will make you think they are bleeding you to death.
  8. 401K Debit Card– You’ve been saving for retirement for years now. Great….now can I get a card that lets me spend all that money I’ve been saving and investing? What? I have to pay it back with interest? When I leave my job I have to pay it back in full ASAP or I’ll get charged huge tax fees? Yes! This little piece of plastic could make your retirement years a living hell. You’ve been warned.
  9. Any insurance company whose main mascot is a lizard or duck….these talking animals just creep me out. (Some of their products are legit and some are unnecessary)
  10. Tax rates when I “retire“- O.K. this isn’t a financial product, but who knows how high our tax rates will be in 30 years? This one is the most frightening of them all, especially since our national debt keeps growing.
(Photo by Alice Carrier )

Previously I wrote how investing a little each month will make you rich [What is Dollar Cost Averaging? Drip Your Way to Millions]. The question remains of where should you place this money each month?

I have an idea, though it is rather boring–yet it can make you rich. Gather around home plate and I”ll tell how investing in boring index mutual funds can make you more money than a minor league pitcher.

Boring Index Funds Can Make You Rich: Being Above Average is Tough Stuff

I love to be above average, don’t you? Here is a little secret I learned–all the above average people from around the world move to cities like New York and Los Angeles. Thus to be above average in such a world class city, you must be in the top percentage of the U.S. and maybe even the world to stand out.

To be above average in the investing world year in and year out is nearly impossible. Yet, millions of investors are following fund managers who are trying to be better than average.

Some years they succeed and some years they fail. What results are higher fees and taxes associated with the mutual fund due to buying and selling seeking gains.

For most investors, being average combined with dollar cost averaging is good enough to reach millionaire status.

Boring Index Funds Can Make You Rich: An Average Batting Average Makes Millions

Lego batter

Baseball players only have to be average when batting. Credit  eva.pébar.

If you know anything about baseball, you’ll recognize that professional baseball players can make a lot of money.

Let’s take Aubrey Huff, 1st baseman for the 2012 World Series winning S.F. Giants, as an example. He made a cool 10 million and batted .207 in regular season play. (The best 2012 batting average was Buster Posey at .336)

While batting average isn’t the only value Mr. Huff brought to his team, he was in fact average–hitting about 2/10 pitches, yet he makes millions.

Index funds can help you do the same.

Why Boring Index Funds Can Make You Rich: Be the Benchmark

What is an index fund? An index fund is formed from a major measure of the stock market, like the S&P 500 Index or the Russell 2000 Index.

An index fund is a mirror of these measurements. Thus an S&P 500 Index Fund is a combination of the largest 500 companies as reflected by the S&P’s rules of inclusion for their index.

Here’s where it becomes ironic. These measures on which index funds are based are the benchmarks in which managed funds are trying to beat.

Why not become the benchmark and be average. Sure, you might not strike it big some years, but you won’t also hit as low of bottoms either.

Index funds have:

  • Lower expense ratios and fees than managed funds.
  • Less ‘turnover’– buying and selling of stocks through the year resulting in more taxes.
  • Index funds outperform most managed funds over the long term.  Need proof? #1 #2 #3
It is very difficult to predict which funds, the small percentage that do exists, will beat the benchmarks over the long term. Can you find a needle in a haystack? Index funds are one of the few places where being average and boring isn’t a bad thing. In fact index funds could make you rich.


*As always consult an investment professional before beginning investing or changing your investing strategy.


What are your thoughts or questions about investing in index funds? 

Did you know there is a ‘secret’ way to pay off your mortgage early? No doubt you’ve heard ads on the radio willing to sell you this secret for only thousands of dollars.

Guess what? I like you, so I’ll tell you for free.

Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Before you start paying extra on your mortgage, make sure you’ve 1) paid off all other consumer debt, 2) have at least a 3-6 month emergency fund, 3) begun investing in your retirement, and 4) saving for your children’s college

Yes, you do want to pay off your home early, this is a key to wealth building. You’ll loose your tax deduction, but it’s not worth staying in debt and paying interest to get a tax deduction.

If you have a paid for house, just think of what you can do with all that money! You can pay it off early with a simple little trick.

I’ll assume that you already have a fixed mortgage of 15 or 30 years that is around 25% of your take home pay.

Also, if you have an ARM and plan to stay in your home for another few years–Now is the time to refinance and get a lower %–even if you have to pay 1 or 2 points

Bi-weekly Payments

This is the ‘secret’ that you hear many ads on the radio about. They’ll try to sell you software that magically helps you pay off your mortgage early. Bi-weekly mortgage payments.

It’s not magic, it’s math. If you pay bi-weekly, you’ll end up making an extra payment per year and thus paying off your mortgage early. You’ll also be knocking out interest, so more money goes towards the principal balance.

You could end up paying a 30 year loan off  years faster with this method? Sounds crazy right? Let’s look at an example below. If you want to figure your own bi-weekly amortization schedule try

Bi-weekly Payment 30 Year Mortgage Year Example

In our 30 year example at 5% you’d save $44.417.33 and end up paying off your mortgage about 4 years early.

Mortgage comparison

Monthly payment:


Biweekly payment:


Total interest:


Total interest:


Avg interest each month:


Avg interest each biweekly period:



 Tips for Setting Up a Bi-weekly Payment Schedule

  • Make sure you don’t have a penalty for paying off your mortgage early. If you do, you’ll have to crunch some numbers and see what your break even point is.
  • Be certain the extra payment goes to principal and not to future interest. Your goal is to take a chunk out the principal with this method. The banks want you to keep paying.
  • Check with your specific bank or lending agency to see if they use a 3rd party to administer their bi-weekly payments. There is sometimes a set-up fee to get on a bi-weekly schedule.
  • Monitor your mortgage to make sure they are applying your payments correctly.

Have you set up or thought about setting up a bi-weekly schedule? 

Photo Credit  j l t (Creative Commons)