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Friday, August 21, 2009

Back To School Shopping And Tax Free Weekend

It is time for back to school shopping and one of my wife's least favorite times to shop, luckily she is not big on shopping. School starts next week and this weekend is "tax free" weekend in Texas. Most of the time we do not bother with the tax free sales simply due to the crowds are worse than the last minute Christmas shopping crowds. However, this year we have put school shopping off due to being unemployed and our youngest will be wearing uniforms this year.

Texas has had tax free weekend for several years now and have made changes over the years. In general you have to spend over $100 to get the savings, easy to do when shopping for school supplies and clothes. Here is a link to the tax free list. For the most part the list makes sense but, there is part of the list that is a bit like the old Texas Blue Law. You may ask what is a Blue Law? Today, it is directed at alcohol sales. However, as many many years ago it was expanded to things like; you could buy nails but not a hammer, ammunition but not a gun, a camera but not film, etc. Now on the tax free holiday list here are some "blue law" type of gaffs; backpacks (only for elementary and secondary students - are the cashiers the backpack police?), golf hats but not golf gloves, diapers (baby and adult), pajamas and robes?, swimsuits but not other athletic type clothing.

Anyway, off to fight the tax free shopping crowds. I will post later on how much money if any we saved.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Health Care And Medical Insurance What To Do?

After having medical insurance through my employer for over 25 years, I am soon approaching either not having health insurance or paying outrageous premiums. Now, since I was employed for over 20 years, I qualify for "retiree" rates if I want to keep the insurance coverage (medical & dental) that we have had minus vision. Back in February, my wife called and got the following rates for "retiree" medical and dental insurance... For myself, my wife and dependents the medical is $10,323 per year and dental is $1,366 per year. Why we don't have the option for vision is beyond me? I can do without the vision, my wife qualifies for eye exams through the medical but our youngest needs glasses and does not qualify under medical. Back to the cost, the medical and dental comes out to $11,689/year or $974.08/month! At this point, I am not sure where the money to cover this is going to come from and we can live without it either? I recently went to eHI (e Health Insurance), plugged in our information and was shocked at the figures that I found and did not find. For years, we have paid a little extra to get a lower deductible and co-pay ($300/per person or $600/family, 10% copay for doctors and 20% for hospital or non-doctor office), a PPO plan (through Blue Cross Blue Shield) that allowed us to not have to deal with typical HMO problems. Back to the quotes from eHI, the top 3 least expensive and the top 2 most expensive plans:

Plan Type
Office Visit
Monthly Payment
BCBS TX (Hospital Only)
Not covered
United Health One
Not covered
BCBS TX (Select Saver)
25% after deductible
United Health One
20% after deductible

I don't think that either my wife or myself would ever be picked up with any of the companies that I have listed or the rest that I did not list. Even though I had cancer over 16 years ago and am considered "cured" most insurance companies would consider it a "pre-existing" condition. Then there is my wife, she has numerous pre-existing conditions. Several years ago she had one of the "most treatable" Thyroid cancer's and has a 5 year cure rate(she is 1 year short), Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Anemia (they have still not found the cause of), Pre-Diabetes due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Hypocalcemia due to surgery for the thyroid cancer. With all of that I doubt that anyone would write a health insurance policy for her. With my wife, she has three doctors that she has to see every three month which winds up being average once per month. Then during the school year when our youngest is in school she is at the primary care doctor every month to every other month. Most of her medications are fairly inexpensive but, there are so many the cost will add up without any type of insurance.

No matter what your views are on President Obama's health care reform, something desperately needs to be done with the US health care system! The way that the system is currently set up is not working. Our oldest child is married and her and our son-in-law both have good jobs with health insurance. But, their problem is that for the most part they don't get sick very often and never seem to make their yearly deductible. So, most of the time they wind up not going to the doctor unless they can not get rid of their cold or virus and then pay 100% out of pocket since the deductible has not been met. At this point I am just completely disgusted with all of it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Resume What Do You Really Need? Part III

Format is yet another part of the resume. What format is best Chronological, Functional or Combined? Many word processing programs have resume templates, which are good but don't really help you with questions that you may have about what to put in your resume. We found a resume program at Half Price Books called Resume Works Pro for less than $10, you can also find a copy on from $15-19. It is easy to use and has a lot of helpful features.

  • Resume samples
  • You can convert the resume that you create in Resume Works Pro to MS Word, PDF and text files
  • Tons of sample cover letters
  • Contact manager
  • The ability to easily edit the look and content of your resume after you finish to change the style or add/delete sections.
  • A walk through much like many Income Tax programs.
Formats, Chronological is the most common but may not be for you. I found a good explanation of the three types here it is for Psychology but much of it applies to everyone. I found that the Combined format works best for me, due to the complexity of my job field. Next, is the different sections within your resume. Which ones to use is up to you but, I have the following; Name and contact information, Job Title, Summary, Work Experience, Designs, Skills, Patents, Security Clearance, Education and References.

  • Name and contact information - Pretty self explanatory (Name, Address, Phone numbers & Email). If you have an online resume on Monster or one of the others, I suggest that you only put your name and maybe the area in which you live (Dallas, TX or San Diego, CA) and leave off the rest of the information.
  • Job Title - I use the industry standard job title for my profession "IC Mask Designer"
  • Summary - I use Summary as opposed to Objective just because one it tells someone exactly what you do and two if you are sending a resume "duh, you are looking for a job." This is just my opinion.
  • Experience - For my situation, since I worked for the same company but several groups within the company, I chose to use the following format for my experience. Company Name - Group Name, Location (Dallas, TX), Dates and Title. Then used bullet points for each detail of my job, this comes in to the keyword searches from employers.
  • Skills - I have all of my programming languages, programs (MS Office, AutoCAD, Photo Shop, etc.), operating systems (Mac, PC, Linux, Sun workstations, etc.)
  • Designs - A list of all of the designs that I worked on.
  • Patents - A list of my patent number's and what they are used in.
  • Security Clearance - This helps if you wind up applying for a company that contracts with the government, even if it is not currently active.
  • Education - I only have use my college education. Most people say not to use your high school since it dates you if you are "cough cough" a middle aged to older person. In my case though my college eduction still dates me.
  • References - I put "Available upon request" for one references will extend your resume. Always ask before you put someone as a reference.
This software has tons of resume examples from Account Executive to Worldwide Procurement Director. Although, I did not find exact matches for my field, I did find a lot of examples that I could adapt to fit my resume. I wound up with a great resume that is also pleasing to the eye that will hopefully help get me a new job.