We all have things that we do in our lives that make our day to day easier, more enjoyable and hopefully more affordable. Here are a few of the things we do in our home that make our lives easier, more enjoyable and have resulted in a more affordable way of life.
An HSA account is a Health Savings Account. The purpose of this checking/savings account is for us to deposit funds monthly into this account to spend only on qualified medical expenses. The IRS has a list of what those are here https://www.irs.gov/publications/p969. Each year the types of things that qualify as well as how much you are able to deposit into the account may change. It’s always important to speak with your Tax Professional each year if you plan to use an HSA.
Why do we choose an HSA? The reason we use an HSA is because it has three benefits for us. The first one is the money can go into the account tax free. The second benefit is that those dollars we deposit into the account are from our business account. We are able to expense the HSA deposit as a business deduction which ends up being a write off for us at the time of filing our taxes. The third benefit is the dollars, if not spent, can grow tax free in the account. If we need to pay for a qualified medical expense, we can use these dollars and they can be withdrawn tax free. This works for us because of how we have our household and business setup. To choose an HSA is not as simple as saying, well that sounds wise, I am now going to do an HSA account. All the ducks need to align. What I mean by that is our business is structured in a way that personal medical expenses can be reimbursed to us as owners. Second, our health insurance is a high deductible HSA insurance plan and third we know we have the funds to be able to contribute into the account to reach the max amount to get the greatest tax benefit. Speak with your Tax Professional and your Financial Advisor be certain this would be a good idea for you.
CREDIT CARD REWARDS: CHRISTMAS
As a household, we have three credits cards. All three are through chase.com. We utilize our credit cards as if they are debit cards. 1 for Spencer's business, 1 for my business and 1 for our household. It is essential to have three separate bank accounts and cards for each individual entity, so we do not co-mingle expenses. This is essential to have for accurate accounting (more on that in a future post).
Why do we choose Chase credit cards? The reason we use Chase is because they give us cash back. Throughout the year, we allow each card to earn rewards. Then in November, I log into our account and funnel all the reward points to our personal card and cash them out. Once the funds deposit into our checking account then I begin our Christmas shopping for the year. It is essential I wait till the funds are in our account and not just to a credit to our card. I want to be able to see the deposit as income on our budget so I can designate a line item as an expense in our zero-based budget. We use www.everydollar.com for budgeting and LOVE IT! Unless I budget additional dollars for Christmas presents, our cash reward dollars are our cap to what we will spend. Each year thus far it has been just what we have wanted to spend. How great is that, our spending throughout the year pays for our Christmas and due to paying the cards off each month we NEVER accrue interest on the cards, so the cash back is 100% free money.
Subscription Services-we have access to Hulu, Disney +. Dish TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube Music, Netflix, Audible, Blue Apron, Melaleuca, Amazon Fire Freetime, Google Storage, Gopher Magazine, EveryDollar, Apple Music, Voxer Premium, Apple TV+, Moshi Premium, NHRA TV, Aptive Environmental, Dry Cleaning and Happy House Cleaners. Each of these subscriptions are either paid for by us, our business or a family member. We have decided among our family that we will share our logins where we are able. For example, my sister pays for Hulu and we pay for Disney+ and my mom pays for Dish TV. Due to our trust level, we feel comfortable sharing our logins with one another. This opens our viewing options greatly.
ALL our subscriptions are for personal enjoyment and ease of life:
Amazon Prime- As an introvert during a global pandemic I love this-yes please, ship everything to me so I do not need to leave my house!
YouTube Music- Spencer loves the spontaneous worship he can get on YouTube Music. You can only have 1 user for this platform so when he is listening to music I cannot, so I have my own music platform I prefer which is Apple Music. I love being able to have access to full CD's at the time of their new release.
Audible- My preferred way of reading is through Audiobooks. I paid for 1 month of the membership and each time I finish a book, I simply return it and my credit is reimbursed to me. Then I select a new book and enjoy. The only downfall of this method is I am not able to highlight or save content for future reference.
Blue Apron- For two years we used HelloFresh meals and LOVED them, but then we needed to make some dietary adjustments to a Mediterranean based diet. HelloFresh unfortunately did not have this option, so we made the switch. Having a meal delivery service is perfect for our family. I can whip together an amazing breakfast, lunch and snack platter, but ask me to come up with a dinner plan and I freeze. Spencer on the other hand loves to cook but does not have the time to do the grocery shopping and meal planning. Blue Apron and HelloFresh have done the heavy lifting for us. I am able to grocery shop for the essentials, and Blue Apron delivers us the meal idea and ingredients perfect to size. Then Spencer cooks them. It has been a game changer for our family. It also eliminates food waste and follows Spencer's needed diet restrictions without us having to think about it.
Melaleuca-Another benefit to not have to go to a store. Shopping for household cleaners and everyday soaps is not something that excites me. They are necessities of life, but truly are annoyances for me. 6+ years ago we signed up for Melaleuca to have a semi cleaner option for our household products. We ended up having a few friends decide they wanted the same for their homes. Now I spend around $70 a month on cleaners and I make a commission of around $70 a month. This was an easy way to improve our household products and not have to pay for them. Over the course of 6 years we have saved around $5000 by using this system. No, I do not sell the products or recruit people to join my MLM. We simply use them because we believe they are a better option then some mainstream products on the market.
Amazon Fire Freetime Unlimited- We sometimes need a break as parents and that can look like allowing our kids to read books, play games and watch shows on their Amazon Fires. The reason we love our Amazon Fires for the kids is because we can set their profiles to only allow for them to have access to age appropriate content. All the games, books and shows are preloaded, so we do not have to be constantly asked to download something new. If the kids want to exchange a game, they know how to eliminate it from their home screen and choose a new one. The best part, in my opinion, is they do not have access to YouTube Kids. There is something with YouTube Kids that does not bring out the best in our kids. Anyone else with me?
Google Storage- This is simply to have a place to backup all our digital content. It is linked to all our phones, and computers. I have had moments where I have accidently deleted something very important and I am so grateful we have this setup to be able to recover what was or could be lost.
Gopher Magazine, Moshi Premium, Voxer Premium, EveryDollar Premium- These are all just great because they all allow us to utilize more features of the applications that make our lives easier. Gopher-Spencer gets more content and can interact with the content, Moshi-Payton loves the stories at bedtime to listen to, Voxer-well sometimes I need to recall a message! EveryDollar-I love that it links to our bank accounts.
Aptive Environmental, Dry Cleaning & Happy House Cleaners-I do not have time to spray for bugs, iron Spencer's shirts or to deep clean our house. As a result, quarterly we have hired Aptive to treat our house for bugs. We pay to have Dry Cleaning done as needed and have house cleaners come every 3 weeks.
It really is well worth the investment to keep the pests from getting into our house, having nicely pressed shirts for Spencer and a clean home. My time is better spent with my family or earning money doing what I love to do. It is not that I feel I cannot do these things, I just would rather not.
Bottom line with all of these items listed above that we have implemented in our family is that they help us to be more present with one another. They help us stay in our own lanes of what we are good at. Our family believes that we have skills that brings out the best in us. To do those things with excellence we choose to do those things and not try to do everything else on our own. We have identified our best yes's and have said no to the rest. When we say no, that means we must delegate and hire if we want to keep to the cultures and standards of our family.
Although these are not necessarily Hacks by the traditional definition, they are Hutton Hacks. The things that make our life more enjoyable, easier and more affordable.