Wall Street Insider Secrets: Learn How to Negotiate Your Healthcare Costs To Save Yourself Over $10,000+ In Only A Few Minutes

Are you happy paying thousands of dollars in healthcare costs you don't use? Are you angry at the medical bills you incur for services that should cost a fraction of that amount? Are you looking for answers?

This week we interview a healthcare industry insider, Scott Heiser. He spills the secrets on what is actually causing the problems in our system. He also gives us some simple tips and tricks to save yourself thousands of dollars with only a few minutes of your time.

healthcare costs

Wall Street Insider Secrets: How to Negotiate Your Healthcare Costs To Save Yourself Over $10,000+ In Only A Few Minutes

By Scott Heiser

If you’re not unhappy with the escalating costs of healthcare, you should be. You are paying for all the increases, whether it’s through your premium (which usually goes up every year), or increased out-of-pocket costs through deductibles, coinsurance, or co-pays. If it were any other consumer good, people would be boycotting or buying alternatives. Yeah, yeah…I know what you’re saying, “My healthcare is not a 12-pack of beer, a TV, or a car. I’m not willing to challenge individuals entrusted with my care.”

That’s one of the main reasons we are where we are! If you’re like most, you’re a passive participant in the system. Third parties, insurance carriers, the government, your employer, hospitals, and doctors have been making the decisions for you.

That’s about to change. The revolution is going to start with you. I’m not suggesting storming the ramparts and single-handedly taking on the healthcare industrial complex. What I’m talking about is taking an active role—one you’re entitled to—in the purchasing of your healthcare at the point of service. We’ll start small and work on areas that you’re comfortable working with and in which you can make a difference.

As your confidence grows through knowledge and practice, you will grow into a healthcare consumer and that will impact your life. The more knowledgeable you are, the more confident you’ll be. Better communication and mutual respect flow out of that confidence, which allows you to start negotiating prices with your healthcare provider.

Before we become healthcare negotiation gurus, let’s answer an important question.

Why is Healthcare Consumption Treated Differently?

Common reasons include the following: it’s too complicated! Doctors spend years studying, so how can I begin to understand or second-guess them?

My insurance company takes care of all that. I don’t want to mix money discussions with my health situation; I’m sick and want to get better—that’s it! I’m not qualified.

I don’t know what it costs until after I receive the bill. Doctors never talk about the cost. What if I make a mistake and offend my doctor, my caregiver?

A faculty radiologist at one of the top thirty medical schools in the country said it this way, “Since the 1950’s, medicine had made spectacular advancements: antibiotics, organ transplants, vaccines, birth control in a pill. Medicine became transformative. They were miracle workers. The generations growing up in the fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties grew to expect miracles from their doctors. You don’t question miracles.”

A new report in JAMA published in March of 2018 comparing the US with the highest income countries in the world, points out the US spends far more per capita on healthcare when compared to other countries but has less in healthcare outcomes to show for it. In defense of the US, there are mitigating factors including a more diverse population, freer, quicker access to care, and a litigious environment—but we still spend more on healthcare. We don’t ration our healthcare like other nations.

Fortunately, the environment is changing in the US. Transparency is driving options and causing the system to reevaluate the efficacy of the treatments being performed. Options are beginning to exist, and it’s our job to find them when they do and when they are appropriate, partnering with our providers to find the most cost-effective solutions.

President Clinton appointed a commission in 1997 to draft a “consumer bill of rights” for the healthcare industry. Although never fully adopted and subsequently watered down by the American Hospital Association, it directed healthcare professionals to provide consumers with easily understood information and the opportunity to decide among treatment options with an informed consent process.

Specifically, with regard to treatment and costs, it stated:

Discuss all risks, benefits, and consequences to treatment or non-treatment.

Give patients the opportunity to refuse treatment and to express preferences about future treatment decisions.

Disclose to consumers factors—such as methods of compensation, ownership of or interest in healthcare facilities, or matters of conscience—that could influence advice or treatment decisions.

The good news is the budding transparency movement offers the meat to enact those initiatives highlighted in 1997. So, let’s get going.

Basic Concepts of Healthcare Consumerism

Let’s start with the basics on how to become an involved consumer of healthcare.

  • Know your objective. Why are you seeing the doctor? Why did you pick that doctor? What do you want to get out of the appointment?
  • Be prepared. Do your homework. Who is the right provider to address your issues? Bring your health record. Identify your symptoms in detail.
  • Develop questions. Write them down in a checklist.
  • Communicate efficiently and on a factual basis. Listen with an open mind.
  • Ask about treatment plan options and cost. Tell them you are paying for the care.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about second opinions or seeking alternative cost solutions or cash flow options. Understand how they’re paid, by whom, and for how much.
  • Research alternatives and search for the most cost-effective care.
  • Re-consult with your caregiver regarding your findings. Solidify an action plan.
  • Seek out advocates who can help you organize, listen to, and speak with your caregivers. Look to family, friends, even concierge case managers provided by your health insurance carrier.

Questions to Ask When Negotiating

As you begin to think about trying to negotiate with providers on cost, remember one key factor: doctors are people, too. They know the pain of paying for healthcare. They are trained to recognize and understand when patients need financial help.

Your primary care doctor needs to be involved in your financial well-being, and many of them will be—if you ask. Here’s a list of questions to begin asking your caregivers:

  • If your diagnosis is complex and treatment is extensive and/or invasive, ask for all available options, their outcomes, and their cost. Ask for referrals of those they successfully treated. Ask for referrals for second opinions.
    • When shopping for alternative care, tap into the transparency tools. Costs can vary wildly even in the same city (MRIs from $650 to $1,350 in the same town). Look also regionally and nationally for the best costs and outcomes. For example, if the average cost for knee replacements in San Francisco is $61,817 versus $27,674 in Detroit, it may be worth traveling.
  • If you’re challenged by deductibles, co-pays, or out-of-pocket costs, ask providers (hospitals/physicians) for payment plans and discounts for paying up front.
    • For example, an individual opted for a High-Deductible Health Plan with an HSA. She had a chronic condition requiring costly monthly medication, which caused short-term cash flow challenges. Her physician agreed to a monthly payment plan that stretched her deductible payment over twelve months instead of her having to pay all at once. She was even granted a discount on the amount owed if she paid the last three months at once!
  • Ask out-of-network providers if they’ll offset increased out-of-pocket charges.
    • Doctors and hospitals generally reduce their retail rates by 45 to 50 percent for major health insurance companies. Ask what they’ll do for you.
    • Ask if there is a further discount if you pay cash.
  • Check the place in which a treatment or procedure is being performed.
    • Outpatient services aren’t always less expensive.
    • Diagnostic testing services performed by the same provider are convenient but often more expensive.
    • Scrutinize freestanding health facilities. You may think you are at an urgent care facility, but it may be an emergency room extension of a hospital. Charges are significantly different!
  • Ask for detailed hospital invoices listing all services upon checkout and look for duplicate charges and services not performed.
    • If you end up reducing the bill, share your story with your HR department.  
    • If you used an “in-network” hospital and doctor, make sure all the hospital charges are “in-network.” Oftentimes, certain medical practices at an “in-network” hospital are actually out-of-network. Thus, they’ll cost you significantly more in deductible costs and non-discounted rates.
    • Try to clarify with the hospital how all the charges will be assessed before the treatment. A perfect example is the anesthesiologist. They are often not covered as “in-network” providers and are expensive. Your approach should be that you have complied with the insurance plan and attended an in-network facility that does not make all services available on an in-network basis. How can you be liable for that?
    • Question them: should you have gone to another hospital to have the anesthesiologist perform their service before your surgery at their hospital? Stand your ground with the hospital and insurance carrier.
    • If you have already received care and are now facing unmanageable medical costs, you may want to hire a billing advocate. This type of advocate will normally charge for their services but may be able to save you thousands. They can either charge an hourly rate, generally $100–$200 per hour, or a percentage of the savings from your bill, usually 25–35 percent. You can find patient and medical billing advocates through the National Association of Healthcare Advocacy Consultants or the Alliance of Claims Assistance Professionals.
  • Ask for charity care if you’re uninsured and at a nonprofit hospital.
    • ACA mandates all nonprofit hospitals have a written charity care policy.
    • Individually, you may qualify for discounted or waived charges.
    • Regardless, no uninsured individual may be billed for more than the discounted insured rates accepted by the nonprofit hospital.

Negotiating is About Relationships

Again, you don’t want to walk into your doctor or hospital and be a belligerent jerk. You are all looking for the best outcome. You have the right to ask questions, and, as you can see, there isn’t just one simple, cast-in-stone fee for every service.

There is, like any other service industry, a range of options and costs. Remember this and this alone: cash is king. By reducing billing and collection issues, streamlining payments to providers, knowing that discounts are available, and confirming the services billed were performed, you may be able to receive discounts or more favorable treatment. You must ask, research, and audit to achieve.

**

For more advice on negotiating your healthcare costs, you can find the book Healthcare is Making Me Sick on Amazon.

Scott Heiser has more than twenty years’ experience as a consultant for clients in the insurance and healthcare system. Scott was a partner and owner of a commercial insurance brokerage, in which he led and developed an employee benefit practice that managed more than half a billion dollars in health benefits. Scott is a strategic innovator who knows the ins and outs of what can feel like the overwhelming world of healthcare and insurance. Today, he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge to help educate and empower his readers. His goal is to improve your health outcomes while lowering your costs. To get started, visit www.UncoveredHC.com

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It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.


Today's Guest:  Scott Heiser

Scott Heiser has more than twenty years’ experience as a consultant for clients in the insurance and healthcare system. Scott was a partner and owner of a commercial insurance brokerage, in which he led and developed an employee benefit practice that managed more than half a billion dollars in health benefits. 


Scott is a strategic innovator who knows the ins and outs of what can feel like the overwhelming world of healthcare and insurance. Today, he is dedicated to sharing his knowledge to help educate and empower his readers. His goal is to improve your health outcomes while lowering your costs. To get started, visit www.UncoveredH​​C.com .


Book References:


Today's Panelists

The Importance of Employee Benefits and Why You Need To Look Beyond Your Salary

What you don't know about your employee benefits could be costing you $100,000 or more. We discuss the important of employee benefits with Natalie Pine. She tells us how some obscure parts of the tax code can save you a lot of money in taxes and why if you don't talk to your employer about a "total compensation statement", you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. Do you have a total compensation statement for your job?


importance of employee benefits


The Importance of Employee Benefits

I hope you enjoyed my interview on Money Tree Investing podcast about something that is a daily part of our planning at Briaud Financial Advisors: The importance of employee benefits and how they can improve your financial standing.

importance of employee benefits

Employee benefits significantly impact our client base made up largely of university professors (our town is home to Texas A & M University) who have excellent benefits. Sometimes it is easy to gloss over the importance of employee benefits and not pay much attention to them because we do not see a tangible connection to our paychecks or automatic deposit slips.

In reality, benefits are worth thousands of dollars annually, and it would be beneficial to examine them in order to see how they can benefit your retirement and other financial goals, especially as many of them can help you save taxes. Here are some points I raised about the importance of employee benefits that might help you evaluate what you are receiving and how it impacts your financial health:

  1. Get a full understanding of your benefits
  2. Consider the importance of employee benefits before making a job move
  3. Avoid (or defer) taxes in order to save more for retirement
  4. Create a total compensation statement
  5. Strategies to consider as an entrepreneur or small business

Get a full understanding of your benefits

As mentioned, you may have some hidden gems accessible with a little bit of research. At some public universities in Texas for example, professors can earn free health care for life after teaching 10 years. With health care costs skyrocketing all the time, how much is that benefit worth to you?

While free health insurance is a big deal, there are also other benefits that might fall under the radar. For instance, at Texas A&M, if you and your covered spouse take a wellness exam, then each of you will save $30 a month on health insurance for a total of $720 a year. That’s money that can help eliminate debt or be invested for the future.

And, let us not forget about employers who match 401(k) or 403(b) contributions. This is real money that will be in your retirement account when you are fully vested.

One additional point to make for those working for a public company with publicly traded stock is pay attention to what you have in your 401(k) before you sell any of it. You should be eligible for Net Unrealized Appreciation (NUA) treatment on that stock. This means your company stock can be distributed for cost basis when you retire, and then sold for capital gains on the difference between cost basis and current price.

Example: If you bought 100 shares of Exxon at $10 a share, and they are now at $70 a share, you can distribute the 100 shares in your 401k and pay $1,000 of ordinary income. If you sell at $70 a share in the future, you then pay $6,000 of capital gains. Keep in mind that holding on to stock in the same company that employs you can be risky and may not be advised.

Consider the importance of employee benefits before making a job move

If you are in a position where you might be able to lock in stellar benefits in just a few years, then you will want to carefully weigh what happens if you were to leave for another job. You might make some more money on the front end, but over time is it worth it? How much more can you invest for retirement if you do not have to pay for health insurance?

I realize there might be quality of life concerns or other compelling reasons to move; however, all things being equal, pay attention to the benefits package. It would be wise to understand how much these employee benefits are adding to your bottom line. For many of the professors benefits are a significant part of the total package. Please do not overlook them.

Also consider how far away you might be from being fully vested in your retirement plan or that free health care for life. In Texas, professors need to be in the Teachers Retirement System for five years in order to qualify for a pension. The longer they (and their institution) contribute into the system, the greater the benefit.

As you evaluate the overall importance of employee benefits, ask yourself whether this position is a long-term one or if you are just here for the short haul. If the position you are in is just a landing spot to gain more experience, then you might not want to factor the long-term benefits into the grand scheme of things.

Pay less taxes today in order to save more for retirement

IRAs, 403(b)s, 401(k)s, or 457s allow you to save for retirement with pre-tax dollars. These are considered tax-deferred accounts because taxes on the money are paid when it is withdrawn. Professors who earn a decent consulting income have a lot of options, including a SEP IRA, that allow them to take advantage of deferring taxes on potentially all of that consulting income. Another great option is making Roth IRA, Roth 403(b), or Roth 401(k) contributions. These contributions are made with after-tax dollars, so they are not taxed when money is taken out.

Both tax-deferred and Roth contributions play a role. With proper planning, you can make Roth contributions when you are young and in a low tax bracket, and then defer taxes when you are older, wiser and making a higher income.

Another topic we like to discuss is supercharging your retirement income. If you work a job where you receive bonuses or significant raises, then consider putting that extra money into retirement savings ... you will defer taxes, and you will have more money invested that has the potential to earn greater interest income. In addition, you will need less in retirement as your spending will not increase the amount you need for spending later on.

Create a total compensation statement

It would be nice if more employers put together a total compensation statement that includes wages and benefits. Some companies are paying $10,000-$15,000 a year just on health care premiums per employee. For someone making $50,000 a year, $15,000 for health insurance premiums amounts to an additional 30 percent of total compensation. Those who are self-employed, are paying every cent of their premiums so this is a huge benefit. How about getting paid while on vacation. This seems like such standard fare these days, but the self-employed do not get paid if they do not work.

Remember, the little things add up. Just one example is an organization that pays for meals, professional licenses and continuing education or other fringe benefits. These extra benefits can add up to $1,000s per year, and while these benefits aren’t paid directly to you, they help you avoid costs you would pay otherwise.

Strategies to consider as an entrepreneur or small business

Entrepreneurs, while they have a lot of freedom, do not have all the perks of someone who is employed at a university or publicly traded company. However, there are some options. They can open a solo 401(k) and contribute up to $19,000 a year tax-deferred. If they are over 50 years old, then they can put in an extra $6,000 to help them "catch up."

For small businesses, there is the new comparability plan that is designed to allow the owners or highly compensated employees to maximize their contributions, while the staff also receives a healthy contribution from the employer. We’ve seen this work well for physicians and their staffs. There is some mandatory testing to make sure the plan does not discriminate against the staff, so you may wish to work with an advisor and a tax professional.

I hope I was able to help you understand the importance of employee benefits a little better. They really do add up and contribute a lot to the financial stability of a household, even if you cannot see the true value on a paycheck or a direct deposit slip. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me through the Briaud Financial Advisors website.

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Listen on
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Spotify
Follow us on
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Sign up to be one of our Money Tree Ultimate Insiders. You will have instant access to new episodes, automatically have access to our monthly giveaways, and the potential to be a guest panelist on our show


Looking for a better way to invest? 

Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.


Today's Guest:  Natalie Pine

Natalie joined Briaud Financial Advisors in 2007 as an Investment Analyst. After completing her CFP®, she expanded her role to that of Financial Advisor, including both financial planning and wealth management. Natalie became a partner in the firm in 2011.

Before joining Briaud Financial Advisors, Natalie worked for New York-based distressed debt hedge fund Davidson Kempner in London. When she joined in 2004, she was one of only three investment analysts in Europe working on analyzing struggling companies in all industries from automobiles to reinsurance. During her three years with the company, she monitored investment opportunities in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. Before joining Davidson Kempner, Natalie spent two years with Goldman Sachs in London working in the Mergers and Acquisitions department analyzing companies and opportunities for these companies in the debt, equity or leveraged buyout markets.

Natalie has a Bachelor of Arts in Managerial Studies, Economics, and Electrical Engineering from Rice University.

Her personal interests include spending time with her husband Roger Pine and two sons, Ryland and Royce, as well as playing tennis and soccer.  On occasion, you may even find Natalie at a CrossFit competition. In her younger years, Natalie was a national tennis player and played for the varsity team at Rice University.

Natalie's Online Presence:


Today's Panelists

Q&A: Financial Independence, FIRE, And Investing Like a Noob With Our Special Guest Shane Dillon

We have a special question and answer show this week with Shane Dillon as our guest to discuss financial independence and FIRE. Shane wrote a finance book while biking across Europe and lives a lifestyle most people dream of in an unconventional way.



The Five Transitions to Financial Independence

Guest post by Shane Dillon, Author of The Franklin Fi book series

Our life is a story filled with many chapters. Each chapter starts and ends with a transitional period that presents us with important decisions to make. These transitional periods are the key to unlock our personal legends.

If the story you want to tell is one of financial freedom, then look out for these five transitional periods and use them to write your story of success.

Transition 1: The Launch to Full-time

In our late teens and early twenties, we transition into the full-time labor force. No longer are we students who depend on others for advice. We are adults who make our own decisions and are responsible for those decisions.

As we become earners, bills somehow become more frequent. The more money we earn, the more we tend to owe. Before we know it, we have quite the collection of mortgages, car payments, student loan, and credit card debt.

For some, that first student loan bill may serve as a wake-up call to learn about personal finance. For others, unfortunately, that first student loan bill is simply the first payment in a long line to follow.

At this point in our lives, we face an important decision. We can either let our debts hold us back from enjoying what is important to us. Or, we can take responsibility for them and use it as motivation to learn more about how to avoid debt, spend within our limits, set financial goals, and develop a plan for the future.

The day we recognize our relationship with money is the day we get to merge onto the on-ramp to financial freedom.

Keys to Transition 1: finding a mentor, reading personal finance books and periodicals, learning to invest with a small amount of money, building your safety net, realizing that compounding interest is our friend!

Roadblocks: alcohol, new car loan, credit cards, spending outside of our budget.

Transition 2: Choosing Personal Finance

In our mid to late twenties, we tend to settle into the path we’ve chosen. It is during this period in life we start to learn about our relationship with money and how we can use our money to beat the system.

This is a vital phase in life. We can either choose to manage and resolve our past debts or we can choose to invite more debt into our lives in order to keep up with the Joneses.

Debt is not only money we owe but also represents the amount of time we have to work to pay off our debts. Think about it, a six-year new car loan requires working six years to pay it off. A thirty-year mortgage takes thirty years of work to pay for it. It’s all pretty obvious, but why do so many of us choose to sign up for years and years of debt?

The good news is, there are alternatives. The alternative to buying a new car is saving your money to accumulate more wealth over time. You can do this by cycling to work or just by driving your old beater. You make the choices.

The same goes for a 30-year mortgage. There are alternatives. The ambitious alternative is to invest in a duplex or triplex apartment complex that pays for itself. If investing in an apartment building sounds intimidating, then take the easy route and live at home or continue to live like the college kid with roommates. By renting a home, you save on the mortgage, the upkeep of your own home, the insurance, and likely, some of the utilities. You make the choices.  Live within your means or go into debt.

There are always alternatives!

Keys to Transition 2: first to work and last to leave, eliminate debt, go to the library, live like a college kid, start tracking your own personal profit and loss statement

Roadblocks: excessive spending on entertainment, comparing your lifestyle to others and working to keep up with the Joneses.

Transition 3: The Time to Bank Savings

In our thirties, if not before, it is really important to start saving as much as possible. The more we save during this phase, the sooner we get to break free from the grind. It’s going to take at least a solid stretch of ten to fifteen years to bank enough money to get ahead.

During this period, it is important to continually improve your savings rate. Set a savings rate goal of 10% or 20% of your paycheck, then each month try to beat the prior month’s goal. How high can you go? 50%, 60%, or higher.

Monthly savings rate = monthly savings/total monthly income

Also, during this period it is important to start collecting income streams like retirement accounts, real estate rental properties, or other forms of passive income.

Don’t be afraid to binge personal finance books, blogs, and podcasts - they are your guidance counselors.

Learn how to minimize your expenses while maximizing your savings rate.

The hope is to live a purpose-driven life that focuses on your passions and not money.

Keys to Transition 3: max out your savings in a retirement account, know your expenditures and try to reduce when possible, track and increase your savings rate, set annual financial goals, minimize your food bill, don’t buy things you don’t need, read financial books, blogs, and podcasts

Roadblocks: overspending on a 30-year mortgage, dining at restaurants too frequently, TV / electronic device time could be spent more productively.

Transition 4: Semi-retirement 

As you continue to save more and more money, the stress involved with money disappears. Your focus switches from having enough today, to making smart investments that will increase additional cash flow for the rest of your life.

The idea of living off of the 4% rule becomes reality.

At this point, some people might try to go full-on FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) but from a developmental standpoint, it is smart to ease into your new role by living the life of a semi-retiree.

During the transitional phase of semi-retirement, you can continue to work part-time or take advantage of the opportunity to travel the world. There are a lot of programs like Workaway or international teaching positions that will pay for all or part of your living expenses, provide a work visa, and health insurance. Of course, this depends on the program you choose and the country you end up in, so do your research! 

Semi-retirement is about working less in a corporate job and spending more time in your own personal development or on a life project.

It also gives you time to develop additional passive income streams like starting a blog, managing a real estate portfolio, or even creating your own products or books to sell.

Use this period to develop as an individual and tap into your creativity.

Keys to Transition 4: minimalism (how many things do you really need to live?), vacation in nature, explore your passions, create additional streams of passive income

Roadblocks: too much time (is that possible?), staying on your budget, making aggressive investments.

Transition 5: Financial Freedom

What does it mean to be free of money?

Debts will be a thing long forgotten. Work is what you choose to do to develop as a person or to help others.

The purpose of your life becomes clearer, life’s journey turns inward. You spend more time reflecting and working on your life project.

Most importantly, you become a non-believer in the religion of money! 

Keys to Transition 5: meditation, exercise, life project, building a social network, helping others, finding your happiness routine

Roadblocks: not applying yourself, alcohol, too much time spent on TV /  electronic devices, lack of social commitments

The journey to financial freedom is a long one, but obtainable. Remember, the joy is in the journey and not in the end destination. Make sure you live to learn and one day you will reach your goal of financial independence

You make your choices.

You write your own script.


financial independence

Why is personal finance not taught to young adults in high school and universities?

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Never miss out on a new episode! Subscribe using your favorite podcast app.

Listen on
Apple Podcasts​​​​
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Spotify
Follow us on
Stitcher Radio

Sign up to be one of our Money Tree Ultimate Insiders. You will have instant access to new episodes, automatically have access to our monthly giveaways, and the potential to be a guest panelist on our show


Looking for a better way to invest? 

Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.


Today's Guest:  Shane Dillon

Author Shane Dillon wrote The Franklin Fi Series while bicycling across Europe, laying the groundwork in Spain and reaching the conclusion near the Black Sea in Romania. Shane Dillon has a degree in finance from the University of Missouri, an MBA from Sonoma State University, specializing in the Wine Industry, and twenty years of stock market experience. He hopes this story of financial freedom will inspire the next generation of bike-riding, yoga-loving, world travelers to dive deeper into the world of investment leading to a future of financial freedom.



Today's Panelists

Student Loan Planning – Get Rid of The Anxiety and Quickly Pay Your Debt With This Alternative Strategy Interview with Travis Hornsby

Do you have massive student loans?

Do your loans make you anxious?

We interview Travis Hornsby at Student Loan Planner about some of his alternative student loan planning strategies and even some research that surprised him on how to quickly pay down student loan debt. Travis had extremely complex repayment decisions for him and his wife who is a physician. If you are burdened by student loans, you will not want to miss this episode.

 

student loan planner

Student Loan Planning: Why Most People Don’t Go After Loan Forgiveness

Maybe you’ve seen the reports on the news about the number of people who’ve been rejected for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). At first glance, it’s alarming. Especially if you’ve been thinking about, or in the middle of, pursuing loan forgiveness. 

But loan forgiveness has the potential to be a huge financial win for millions of people. As of March 2019, over one million borrowers have been certified for PSLF, with an average loan balance of almost $89K. Can you imagine wiping out that much student loan debt, tax-free? 

Why aren’t more people taking advantage of PSLF and other forgiveness options? Is this a mistake and if so, what’s the alternative? Let’s take a closer look at loan forgiveness to see why it might make sense for you.   

Why aren’t more people pursuing student loan forgiveness? 

As mentioned, tons of people are being rejected for PSLF. The Department of Education released its first PSLF report in September 2018. Of the 28,000 applicants, only 96 had been approved. This has many borrowers skeptical of the program. 

Can they trust the government to pay off their loans? What if they invest 10 years working for less money in a public sector job only to get rejected for loan forgiveness? For many, it’s a risk they aren’t willing to take. That says a lot considering there’s no cap on the amount you can have forgiven. 

The other issue with PSLF is the complexity of the program. As someone who deals with student loans daily, I can say the program is not easy to navigate. PSLF has specific regulations you need to follow. Plus, it requires 120 qualifying payments, which amounts to 10 years of your life. 

Even though the program has been around for a while, most people aren’t familiar with how it works or even what it does. This is partly because the first cohort of borrowers just hit the 120 payment mark. That’s why you’ve been hearing more about PSLF. Before this milestone, people have been making qualifying payments and turning in their Employment Certification Forms (ECF), but that’s it. Now that borrowers are being rejected or finally receiving forgiveness, people have become more interested. 

If you look beyond the headlines, the majority who were rejected for loan forgiveness were denied because they didn’t meet program requirements, which include:

  • Eligible loans
  • 120 qualifying payments
  • Eligible employment

Often, it’s a missing signature or another small mistake that kept someone from qualifying. That shouldn’t be enough to keep someone from pursuing loan forgiveness, though. 

Why more people should pursue student loan forgiveness 

The reality is that you should go after student loan forgiveness if it’s an option for you. First, it offers huge savings. One of the requirements for PSLF is being on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. This lowers your monthly student loan payments and leaves more debt to be forgiven later and more money in your pocket now. 

Want to lower your monthly IDR payments even more? The monthly payment you make is based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI). You can lower your AGI by contributing more to pre-tax retirement accounts, like a 401(k).

The other reason to pursue student loan forgiveness is that it frees up funds for your other financial goals. This could include a retirement fund or saving for a home, or maybe you want to start a family. Student loans shouldn’t get in the way of life. Scoring lower monthly payments and getting your debt forgiven years down the road could allow you the freedom to pursue such life goals. 

What if you took the money you saved by being on an IDR plan and invested it? Imagine being able to contribute more and build up retirement or investment accounts. Even throwing that money in a high-yield deposit account would earn you some extra money. 

The importance of your saving rate when you have debt

While debt repayment is important, so is making sure you’re prepared for retirement. The U.S. Department of Labor recommends that people save at least 20% of their income, annually, to fully prepare for retirement. 

At Student Loan Planner, we surveyed our readers about their investment strategies. Only 10% of those surveyed had a savings rate above 20%. Most of them don’t know how to use a brokerage account. These are important topics to think about and, more importantly, learn about and implement.

Do you know where your saving rate is at right now? If you aren’t sure you’re putting enough away for retirement, now is a good time to analyze your finances. 

What good is killing yourself to pay back student loans if it’s going to put you being with your retirement goals? You could slowly pay your loans through an IDR plan and use the extra money to bump up your savings rate to where it should be. 

What student loan forgiveness options are available? 

PSLF isn’t the only federal loan forgiveness program. Borrowers with federal loan debt have a couple of options when it comes to student loan forgiveness. Each has its own rules and regulations. 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

PSLF is the loan forgiven option most talked about these days. It can be complicated, but here’s what you need to know:

  • Only Federal Direct Loans are eligible for PSLF
  • You must work for a qualifying employer. This includes government organizations and 503(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofits
  • You must be enrolled in an IDR plan. There are four of them to choose from. 
  • Make 120 qualifying on-time monthly payments. These don’t have to be consecutive.

To ensure your employer is eligible, take the time to fill out and submit the Employer Certification Form. Your specific job within the organization doesn’t matter, just the employer. 

You must be employed for a qualifying organization while making all 120 payments. Any payments made while working for a non-qualifying employer don’t count toward the total payments required. 

If you meet all the requirements and are approved, your loan debt will be forgiven tax-free. 

Income-Driven Replacement (IDR) Loan Forgiveness

This forgiveness plan isn’t well known but is still a viable option for borrowers with federal student loans. It’s especially helpful if you aren’t working in the public sector and don’t qualify for PSLF. How does it work? 

To qualify, you’ll need to get your student loans on one of the four available IDR plans. Depending on the specific plan, borrowers who make monthly payments on their IDR plan for 20 to 25 years will have the remaining loan debt forgiven after that time. 

IDR loan forgiveness, however, is not tax-free, unlike PSLF. There are tax implications for any amount that’s forgiven through this program, which could be huge. The nice thing is you have years to plan if you go this route. 

Whether IDR loan forgiveness is right for you depends on your career. If you are going to be in a high-paying career, like a doctor or lawyer, being on a repayment plan based on your income might not make sense. 

Next steps

It’s important to design a student loan repayment plan that fits your needs. Determine important to you going forward. Is it paying off your loans to get out from under your debt? Is it planning for retirement or setting up the life you’ve dreamed about living? Student loan forgiveness could be the path that leads to some freedom in those areas. 

Travis Hornsby founded Student Loan Planner after helping his physician wife navigate ridiculously complex student loan repayment decisions. To date, he’s consulted on over $650 million in student debt personally, more than anyone else in the country. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst and brings his background as a former bond trader trading billions of dollars.

He brings that same intensity to analyzing the best repayment paths for graduate degree professionals with six figures of student debt. He’s helped over 2,500 clients save over $120 million dollars on their student loans, and he’s been featured in U.S. News, Business Insider, Forbes, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, ChooseFi, Bigger Pockets Money, and more.

 

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

Today’s Guest, Travis Hornsby:

Travis Hornsby founded Student Loan Planner after helping his physician wife navigate ridiculously complex student loan repayment decisions. To date, he’s consulted on over $400 million in student debt personally, more than anyone else in the country. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst and brings his background as a former bond trader trading billions of dollars.

Travis’ online presence:

Student Loan Planner

Today’s Panelists

Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seed

Michelle Waymire | Liberty Advisor

 

This Stock Options Expert Shows You How He Makes 100% Gains With Options – Interview with Jeff Bishop

Multi-millionaire and stock options expert, Jeff Bishop, talks about how he makes over 100% gains by investing in options to boost his growth. Not familiar with options? You are not alone. Options are not for everyone, but he explains his philosophy and why he mixes his aggressive options strategies with conservative strategies to manage risk. Learn from an experienced professional how he grows his wealth.

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

Today’s Guest, Jeff Bishop:

Jeff is a multi-millionaire stock options trader and economist with nearly 20 years of experience under his belt. He failed building 4 businesses– even tried his hand as an online poker player, but learned each step of the way to becoming a multi-millionaire before the age of 35.  
Now he dabbles in virtually every aspect of the market, but has a special gift and passion for trading options and has become the #1 live-streaming stock options trainer in America. While he maintains a disciplined approach to the market, he’s also not afraid to make the big bets and swing for the fences when he thinks there’s an edge on a trade.
Raging Bull has a large following with over 2 million unique users on its website each month, a user base of over 500,000 paid and free members in their network and over 200,000 social media followers.

Jeff’s online presence:

RagingBull.com

 

Today’s Panelists

Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

Tim Picciott, CFP | Liberty Advisor

Barbara Friedberg  |  Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance

 

6 Pillars of Building Wealth Interview with Michael Zhuang

Learn more about the 6 Pillars of building wealth from Michael Zhuang

  1. wealth preservation
  2. Tax mitigation
  3. Asset protection
  4. …Listen to the show to learn the rest

building wealth

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

Today’s Guest, Michael Zhuang:

Michael Zhuang is founder and principal of MZ Capital Management, a wealth advisory with a wide range of clients. He holds dual master’s degrees in mathematics and quantitative finance from Carnegie Mellon University, and an EMBA from Oxford University. From 1999 to 2000, Michael was a financial engineer for Societe Generale, the largest French banking group.

In 2000, Michael was hired by PG&E National Energy Group to launch their weather derivatives trading business. Within two years, he became one of the top three traders in the field. In 2004, Michael started MZ Capital as a hedge fund management company, and in 2006, he changed the firm to a wealth management company specializing in helping physicians and entrepreneurs. He is also a bestselling author and acclaimed speaker. In 2017, he was named Top 100 Influential Advisor by Investopedia. 

Michael is married with two children. His favorite hobby is improv comedy and storytelling. He was a Top Shelf storyteller in DC and won the Best Storyteller Award in Philadelphia’s Story Slam. He performs clean, family-friendly comedy regularly at corporate, charity and association events.

Michael’s online presence:

MZ Capital

Books referenced:

Today’s Panelists

Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

Kara Perez | BravelyGo

Debbie Todd, CPA | 1 Hour Impact

Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seed

Essential Investor Mindset Tips for Real Estate Investors Interview with Steven Pesavento

Are you looking to invest in real estate? 

Sounds simple right? There are countless real estate courses out there telling you how to start investing in real estate. Then why are there not more real estate investors?

In this episode, we interview Steven Pesavento about the real estate investor mindset. Steven flipped 150 houses in his first two years as a real estate investor, when most real estate investors struggle with one. It takes more than just money to be a successful real estate investor. We discuss the importance of having a solid investor mindset. What it really takes to be successful investing in real estate.

Do you have limiting beliefs?

Have you burned your boats?

Who is your mentor?

The importance of having the right team

Why you are not succeeding yet, and more…

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

Today’s Guest, Steven Pesavento:

Steven Pesavento an investor and entrepreneur who has flipped 150 houses within his first two years in the business. Based out of Denver, he manages a team investing out of state in the Southeast and Midwest regions. Host of the Investor Mindset Podcast & Community, which has been skyrocketing up the charts – focused on Mindset, Strategy, and Success. He learned everything he knows by finding great mentors & partners to learn from and modeling their success. 

Learn more at TheInvestorMindset.com the tools and strategies of the nations top investors & subscribe on your favorite Podcast app today.

Steven’s online presence:

Personal Social Media

https://www.linkedin.com/in/stevenpesavento/

https://www.facebook.com/stevenpesavento

https://www.instagram.com/seenbysteven/

Twitter: @StevenPesavento

https://www.instagram.com/investormindset/

https://www.facebook.com/theinvestormindset

Books referenced:

 

Today’s Panelists

Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

Nichol Stohler | The Richer Geek

Mindy Jensen | Bigger Pockets

Michelle Waymire | Young and Scrappy

The Financial Matters of Losing Someone You Love – Interview with Jennifer Luzzatto

Jennifer has an important story to share about her experience with the loss of a loved one. She talks about why it is important to think about mortality, emotional balance, and advanced planning before losing someone you love. After the death of a loved one, there are so many decisions to be made, and our fear of making the wrong choices can be paralyzing. We find ourselves asking, What’s the next step? How will I do it? Will I do it right?

When we’re drowning in big emotions, managing the financial aftermath becomes a part-time job we don’t want.

If you are in this situation, you may feel there is a big mess in front of you right now. It can be organized. Even in chaos, you can figure out where you are financially, and where you can go from there. You can put the pieces together, organize the confusion, and create a financial plan that’s easily managed.

losing someone you love

Inheriting Chaos With Compassion – The Lessons Continue

Have you ever noticed that the old adage “bad things comes in threes” really does seem to true?  We go through seasons in our lives where we deal with multiple difficult issues.  Thankfully, for most of us, we also experience seasons of relative ease with less stress.  Since I finished my book, “Inheriting Chaos With Compassion” earlier this year, other complex family situations have become more intense.  As reflected in my book, I lost my husband to Leukemia four years ago and my sister to a heart attack a year and a half ago.

Working through my sister’s estate was complex and stressful, but it is wrapped up and settled.  However, her husband, who suffers from frontal lobe dementia has needs that are becoming more intense, and in the wake of her death, I am the person responsible for making sure that he gets the care he needs.

Simultaneously, my parents have made the decision to move into a continuing care community.  I think they believe they are mostly doing it for me, but I suspect they will find the simplicity of no longer taking care of their home will give them some unexpected freedom to enjoy more of their rich lives.  I can feel the stress of the looming move and downsizing whenever I think about what lays before us in the coming months.  With my sister’s death, I became an only child, and my parents need more of my help.  I am thankful that I can be present to help them.

I am also currently watching someone that I dearly love slowly lose his beloved mother to heart failure.  He and his sisters are working very hard to be as fully present as possible for their mother in this last phase of her life.  Mixed in with jobs, spouses, and children, they are all stretched very thin and exhausted.

All of this got me thinking about what further lessons I have learned as I have walked the path of change and loss with my loved ones.

Lessons learned with my brother-in-law:

Because he has frontal lobe dementia his behaviors have become more and more bizarre as his ability to reason and act rationally have declined.  In my effort to keep him in the assisted living facility he initially moved into after my sister died, chaos reigned. I hired a dog sitter to try to let him keep his dog.  I used two agencies to have sitters with him during the day to try to reduce his disruptive behaviors.  I fielded endless phone calls reporting on those behaviors, supplies needed, and problems to solve.  Supplies needed to be ordered.  Everyone had an opinion.  It all became very intrusive on my work and personal life, and none of it was alleviating the situation, and in fact, it was getting worse.

It would have been better for him, the dog and even myself if I had recognized sooner that a move was in order, as much as I hated to do that to him.  The only reasonable move from his assisted living facility was to a locked memory care unit, and it seemed like such a terrible thing to do to him.  Plus, it would require that I take his dog away.  I had his dog kenneled three days to see how both he and my brother would react.  It seemed to go OK and removing the very large yellow lab from the situation reduced the overall chaos for the caregivers and the assisted living facility.  Although it took a lot of effort and some trial and error, I was able to get the dog adopted by some lovely people who were happy to have a geriatric old dog.  He is receiving much better care and enjoying a much more stable situation.

As soon as that issue was settled I began the process of getting my brother-in-law to a facility where he could get more hands-on care.  I worked with a specialist in matching people with the best facility for them, and it was priceless help.  I strongly recommend recruiting that kind of help, especially if the person needing help has complex medical or behavioral issues.  Now, he receives much more specialized care and detailed attention to his medications.  As guilty as I felt for moving him into a memory care unit, it really is best for him.  Guilt can be powerful, but I should not have let it stop me from implementing the changes that he really needed.

 

Lessons learned from my parent’s current situation:

As much as I felt that the move to a continuing care facility was the best move for my parents, they did not want me to “boss” them into it.  As my parents need more help with many things, despite their still being very involved in life, it is easy to slip into the role of directing them instead of supporting them.  But, they are still my parents and think they are the boss of me, so they resent the appearance of that dynamic being flipped on its head.  My parents take their perceived authority over me seriously.  My Mom still reminds me to wear a coat when it is cold outside and feels compelled to frequently tell me that I don’t eat enough and that I need more protein.  It flies in the face of all parental authority to have someone that they think needs coat wearing reminding to tell them what is best for them.  Thankfully, I realized that I needed to back off before they had dug their heels in too deeply, and they ultimately committed to making the move.  I am grateful for this, as I believe it will give us more time in the future to invest in our relationship versus caregiving arranging, etc.

 

Lesson’s learned from my dearly loved friend’s situation:

As difficult at this time in their life is, my friend and his sisters have received an unexpected gift.  It has been rare over the years to have time with just the four of them.  His father died when the three children were young, and their Mom built a tight family unit as a single mom.  But marriages, careers, and children made it more difficult for the core family unit to have time together, just the four of them.  Impressively, as spouses and children were added, they have been able to stay just as close, if not closer, as a bigger family.  As the “kids” have had to come together to make decisions for their mom and care for her, they have been able to sit, talk and reminisce as well.  I have an aunt who is currently in a similar situation, but she is dying from cancer.  My cousins have also been able to experience the old familiar closeness that was once routine.  My lesson here is as hard as those situations are, don’t forget to look for the hidden blessings.

As each life continues to move forward, the lessons will continue.  I want to be someone who looks for the best within the difficulties of life.

losing someone you love jennifer luzzatto

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

Today’s Guest, Jennifer Luzzatto:

Jennifer is a Chartered Financial Analyst®, a Certified Financial Planner®, and a NAPFA registered financial advisor. She began her career in financial services thirty years ago as a fixed-income trader in a regional brokerage firm and went on to manage personal trust accounts, institutional portfolios, and a municipal bond mutual fund at a commercial bank. In 1999, she founded Summit Financial Partners, transitioning from banking to financial planning and investment advisory services. Jennifer holds a BA in Psychology and an MBA from the University of Richmond. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her daughter and their dog.

Jennifer Luzzatto’s online presence:

Summit Financial Partners

@JenniferLuzzatt (Twitter)

Books referenced:

 

Today’s Panelists

Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

Megan Gorman | The Wealth Intersection

Valerie Rind | ValerieRind

Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seed

Day Trading Stocks for Profit and Financial Freedom Interview with Jason Bond

This former school teacher went from a -$250,000 negative net worth to a net worth of over 50 million dollars by day trading stocks. This week we interview Jason Bond about how he turned his financial life around by day trading stocks and teaching others his secrets.

day trading stocks jason bond

Jason talks about his mentors, his favorite investing styles, what he thinks about penny stocks and more.

  • Are you using Emotional Intelligence or “Emotional Fitness” in your investing?
  • How are fear and greed affecting your investing? Learn how you can control your emotions.
  • Learn about the trade opportunities, “Crashes” and “Rockets” can provide you with
  • How to deal with Risk Management and risk tolerance with your investments.
  • The benefits of investing in small cap stocks
  • Why you need to keep your main job, while you are day trading stocks.
  • What are your rules of trading stocks? If you don’t know, then you should not be investing in stocks.
  • Keep your losses small and let your winners run.
  • The golden secrets of his success: being “open-minded”, being willing to try new things, no sunk-cost mentality, transparency, and more.

Andy Wang, Kirk, and Miranda joins us this week on our panel to discuss the pros and cons of day trading stocks.

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

Today’s Guest, Jason Bond:

Jason Bond, founder, and CEO of JasonBondPicks.com is a self-made multi-millionaire trader who left the corporate grind to trade professionally. He went from being $250,000 in debt as a teacher with his Master’s Degree to teaching thousands how to make money trading. He’s trained well over 10,000 paid members and is the #1 stock trading stock advisory service on TrustPilot, which is the best member review site in the world. He’s a co-founder of the trading education powerhouse, Raging Bull, and he’s been featured on Forbes, The Street, Huffington Post, Investing.com, Seeking
Alpha as well as the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Jason Bond’s online presence:

www.jasonbondpicks.com

@JasonBondPicks (Twitter)

Books referenced:

Today’s Panelists

Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

Andy Wang | Runnymede Capital Investments

Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seed

Listener Questions: Investing with no money, when is the next stock market crash, extreme investing, emergency funds, and more

Back by popular demand, we are answering your questions.

Bill wants to know how to begin investing in crypto-currencies.

Will is wondering if a stock market crash is coming?

Anna is practically broke. How does she begin investing?

…and more.

Looking for a better way to invest? Consider Betterment.

It doesn’t cost much to start, and you get access to a portfolio built around your risk tolerance and your goals. Using Modern Portfolio Theory, pioneered by a Nobel laureate, Betterment can help you build wealth without getting caught up in the noise of the market.

Invest better with Betterment.

https://moneytreepodcast.com/betterment

 

Today’s Panelists

Miranda Marquit | Planting Money Seeds
Tim Picciott | The Liberty Advisor
Kirk Chisholm | Innovative Wealth

For a quick bio of each of our show participants, head on over to our panelists page.

Send us your questions for a future Listener Letters episode