I hate dealing with health insurance issues. Everything seems so confusing. Beyond the premiums, you have to deal with deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and networks. It feels like the whole system is stacked against the little guy. But there is one thing that is much worse than dealing with health insurance—not having health insurance. Modern medicine is amazing. And amazingly expensive. So if you go without insurance you are taking a giant risk. One bicycle accident or unhappy appendix can put you many thousands of dollars in the hole.
Because many students don’t have health insurance from another source, Penn State offers a student health insurance plan that provides great coverage. The enrollment period stays open until September 3, so you still have a week to get signed up if you need insurance. It’s not cheap. Few things that are actually good are also cheap. But we do have the flexibility to increase federal student loan eligibility to cover the cost of this important purchase. You just need to stop by the Law School’s Financial Aid Office (in suite 105) or send me an email (email@example.com) and I’ll help you through the process.
The right time to buy health insurance is right now. The wrong time to buy health insurance is when it’s too late and you need it.
Out of sight is out of mind. Sometimes this is a bad thing (like when you misplace the Mother’s Day card you bought and forget to mail it until Memorial Day). Sometimes this is a good thing (like when you don’t have any junk food in the house and you are forced to eat carrots instead).
Knowing that out of sight is out of mind can be a useful tool. For example, at the beginning of each semester many students receive a large refund of student loan money to use for living expenses for the whole semester. Getting that money out of your normal cash flow will make it easier to make it last the whole semester. One option some students use is to immediately pay rent ahead through the end of the year. Another option (and the one I prefer) is to build a monthly budget (taking into account the amount of money you have) and only allow yourself to use that much each month. Put most of it into a savings account. Preferably a savings account for which you don’t have an ATM card and transferring funds takes a couple of days—making it harder to cheat and withdraw funds early.
You should set up a designated “pay day” when your month’s funds transfer to your more accessible checking account so you have money for rent, food, laundry, and other living expenses. The key to this working is simple: DO NOT PAY YOURSELF EARLY! If you do, you may find yourself subsisting on Ramen and hot dogs during finals. Because money is a finite thing. Unexpected windfalls rarely happen. If you run out of funds and don’t have more coming for several weeks, you’ll be uncomfortable for a while.
Out of sight is out of mind. So put your case books in plain view and stash your money away where it’s harder to get to.