Thursday, December 30, 2021

Take This Snapshot

We approach the turn of the year, and I have resolved not to make this post about New Year’s Resolutions.  How boring that would be anyway.  Losing weight and personal finances seem to be the most popular topics for such resolutions, and the media are already rife with suggestions along those lines.

No, instead I will just urge you to take a single action this week.  It need not be something you do throughout the year.  It will only require a few minutes of your time; and if you’ve had to cancel your holiday plans thanks to the pandemic, this is a great way to fill up some of the newly unoccupied time.

Figure out your net worth.

That’s it.  Essentially, and figuratively, just take a snapshot of your financial situation.  It’s as simple as:

                Assets (cash, bank accounts, 401k balance, value of house/belongings, etc.)                       Minus-Liabilities (car loans, mortgage balance, school loans, etc.)                                                       Equals= Net Worth

Instead of waiting for a statement from the investment company or bank, I’ll go on their websites to obtain my current balances.  For my home’s value I’ll use the estimate from  Your creditors likely also have your current balance available to you online.

The bottom line might be discouraging or surprisingly encouraging, but it will always be informative.  And taking this snapshot once a year—ideally at the same time of year—gives you a sense of the direction of your financial life.  Are you doing better than last year (i.e. higher net worth)?  Worse (lower net worth)?

It is not uncommon for people well into their forties or fifties to have a negative net worth.  Large mortgage balances and leftover school loans or new ones taken on behalf of a child in college are the usual culprits for that situation.  Unfortunately, many people carry this situation well into their later years and on into retirement.  That doesn’t necessarily spell financial doom, but it’s not ideal.  If the negative value is not decreasing steadily year by year, it should serve as a call to action.

Of course, sometimes even a financially responsible person sees his net worth decline in any given year.  For instance, I’m in my first year of retirement, no longer have an income, and have started drawing down my savings.  I may well show a decline in my net worth, although I still have some aggressive investments that grew during the year, and Zillow has vastly increased its estimate of my home’s value; so I will be curious exactly where I stand when I do my next calculation.  So you see that sometimes the bottom line is affected by the current market and other factors out of your control.  Take that into account before you panic or perhaps get overly optimistic over your results.

I’ve begun going through this exercise December 31 of each year.  I don’t necessarily decide on a specific course of action or make a New Year’s resolution based on the outcome, but it is interesting to see how my life has (hopefully) progressed financially over the last 12 months.

Or maybe I’m just a personal finance nerd.  Nonetheless, I hope you will try this, at least once.

Thank you for checking my website and reading my blog.  I plan to make some improvements to the site in 2022.

Happy New Year!  God bless you.

Until next time,


“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.” Proverbs 27:23, 24 NIV*

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973,   1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Monday, November 29, 2021

Please, Thank You, I'm Sorry

I was speaking with someone the other day who was bemoaning the use of guns and how quickly people resort to violence when they have disagreements or feel slighted or insulted in some way.  Then he very unexpectedly said, “If only people would learn to say ‘I’m sorry’”.

That brought to mind an article I read a dozen years ago or more in Hospitals and Health Networks, a publication of the American Hospital Association.  The author of the article cited a study that showed hospitals that had implemented an “accept the responsibility” policy in the face of potential malpractice or personal injury lawsuits suffered less financially than those that vigorously fought such lawsuits.  The former had adopted the practice of openly acknowledging mistakes they made and then apologizing to the victims.  This seemed to have the effect of forestalling lawsuits and/or making the victims willing to settle for much less in damages.

As you might imagine, there were those—mostly lawyers, but many others, too—who railed against the idea of acknowledging mistakes as a guaranteed way to go broke with the sure-to-follow multi-million dollar damages awards in the courts.  It didn’t happen that way.  Instead, by owning up to their real mistakes (the hospitals did continue to fight what they considered frivolous lawsuits) and showing compassion for the victims and their families, the would-be litigants felt like their loss was acknowledged and their worth recognized.  They either dropped their lawsuit, never brought one at all, or settled out of court for a modest payment.

What’s true in the healthcare-legal environment is true in our everyday interactions with others.  Who of us would not respond positively to a sincere “I’m sorry”?  It’s disarming, it’s affirming, and it can reverse the downward spiral of an emotional situation; and in that sense it is empowering.  Not to turn it into a dollars-and-cents matter, but (after all, this is a blog about personal finances) the emotional well-being and healing that that empowerment generates goes a long way to promoting overall health—saving money in health care expenses.  Depression, anxiety, and other conditions of poor mental health are more widespread than most people realize.  I saw that every day as an insurance company representative working on patients’ claims.

Those other magical words, “please” and “thank you”, should often flavor our conversations, too.  In an ever more coarsening society where the art of talking to one another is lost in the noise of electronics, the kindness of a smile and an expression of gratitude to another person are priceless.

This Thanksgiving season and on through Christmas and beyond, express gratitude…to others, to God.  You likely also have reason to say “I’m sorry” to at least one person, and certainly to God.  Just say it…and mean it.

Until next time,


“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 New King James Version

Thursday, November 4, 2021

A Safe Way to Earn 7% on Your Savings


Kiplinger magazine runs a feature each month to name the highest yielding savings accounts and certificates of deposit in the country.  It would be comical if it weren’t so sad.  The “high yields” are often just half of one percent, rarely over 1% these days.  That’s not to fault Kiplinger.  They are just reporting what we already know: it’s nearly impossible to make any money on your money these days outside the stock market.  (Incidentally, Kiplinger cannot possibly check out every national, regional, and local bank in the country, so there are surely some better deals out there somewhere.  I’ve found them locally, in fact.  It pays to shop!)

But this week the U.S. Treasury announced its new interest rates for savings bonds.  In light of the recent inflationary outlook for our economy (which led to the biggest cost of living increase in decades for Social Security recipients come 2022) I had expected the rate to go up.  I certainly didn’t expect this though: from November 1, 2021, to April 30, 2022, Series I U.S. savings bonds will pay 7.12% interest.  The previous six months’ rate of 3.54% was already a standout figure, but to see it doubled literally overnight was a pleasant surprise for anyone searching for more money on their savings.

Buying savings bonds is not for everyone.  First, it must be done online through and requires setting up an account with the Department of Treasury.  That’s not an obstacle for most people.  But Series I bonds are like a certificate of deposit in that you may not withdraw any money for the first twelve months; and there is a penalty of three months’ interest if the bond is cashed before five years.  So money put into a savings bond would best not be needed for any expenses in the near-term.  Moreover, there is a $10,000 purchase limit per calendar year, although a taxpayer could purchase up to another $5000 of I bonds with his tax refund.

The rate on a Series I bond readjusts every six months, so it could go down on May 1.  Or it could go up, depending on what’s happening with the economy and inflation.  It is even possible the rate could drop to 0%, though I find that unlikely in the next year or two, at least.  But even if it did, getting 7% interest for even just six months then getting 0% for the next six months beats getting 0.01% for twelve months.  Even if you cash in after that time and forfeit three months’ interest, according to the Treasury website the interest penalty would be the most recent three months’ interest.  If you weren’t getting any interest those last three months, then the penalty is $0, if I understand that correctly.

Savings bonds might seem a little old fashioned, but they look like a solid investment to me.  They are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government (as good as an FDIC-insured account at the bank) and the interest is not subject to state and local taxes, making the effective after-tax yield even higher.  If used for qualified educational purposes, the interest can even be exempt from federal taxes.  I used that benefit for my sons’ college education with Series EE bonds.  See the website for full details.

If you have some cash you don’t need for a few years but would like to see it grow in a safe account with an above average interest rate, Series I savings bonds might be for you.

Until next time,



“Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” Ecclesiastes 11:1 NIV*

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973,   1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Price of My Vice Just Went Up

You know the “five and dime store” and the “dollar store”; but the “buck fifty-nine store”?

I read a week or two ago that Dollar Tree, the franchise that sells “everything for a dollar”, will be introducing a “Dollar Tree Plus” section in its stores where they will sell merchandise that will cost more than a dollar—typically about $1.59.

I have to confess that I was disappointed, albeit not shocked.  I love going into the local Dollar Tree to see what they can still sell for a dollar.  If you’ve never gone into one of their stores, you’ve missed a treat.  Tubes of toothpaste, toys, candles, gift bags, boxes of cookies, gallon jugs of spring water—every trip there is an adventure as they roll out new or seasonal merchandise on a regular basis.  My grandson bought a toy police kit there, complete with badge, night stick, and gun.   And he used his own dollar from grandpa.  He was thrilled.

But a dollar for everything?  C’mon, how long can that business model last?  As a boy I bought my favorite candy bar for a nickel and was outraged when it went up to a dime.  I’m lucky to find it now for 89 cents….AND it’s smaller.  And if you’re old enough, you will recall how putting a penny into a gumball machine got you two pieces of gum.  Those machines won’t even recognize anything less than a quarter nowadays.  So how long did Dollar Tree think they could continue to price everything according to their name?  But ten years from now what would you find for a buck in Dollar Tree?  A glass of spring water?  One small chocolate chip cookie?  Sample-size tubes of toothpaste?

I suppose this could be a lesson to entrepreneurs in what to name their business.  Don’t box yourself into a corner, for example, with a name like “Main Street Toys”, then move the business to Cary Street.   I have to say, though, that Dollar Tree did an admirable job with the “Dollar Tree Plus” concept.  Like you are getting more for the same dollar.

But let’s get to the heart of the matter.  What will this change mean for you and me?  In the classes I teach on personal finance, we talk about “leaks” in our budgets, the little (or sometimes big) extravagances that scuttle our plans to save and which leave us little or nothing in our bank accounts at month’s end.  We typically cite the $4 cup of coffee people buy each day before work, thinking it’s really nothing when in fact it costs over $800 a year that they could have saved.  (A cup brewed at home: about 8 cents a cup.)  My budget leak is Dollar Tree.  I get so intrigued by what they are able to sell so cheaply that I will almost always buy something I don’t really need when I go in there.  And since I don’t want to look like a cheapskate spending just a dollar, I’ll tack on a bag of chips, a packet of trail mix—something to make it worth standing in the checkout line.  My financial vice, as it were.

Little things add up.  Where is your budget leak?  Try tracking your money—every cent, as nearly as possible—and see where your money is actually going.  You will likely be surprised and maybe even shocked into taking action to save yourself some money.  A buck fifty-nine, or just the threat of it, little as it is, has me on the reform wagon.  Not going to Dollar Tree today, thank you.

Until next time,


“Money wrongly gotten will disappear bit by bit; money earned little by little will grow and grow.” Proverbs 13:11 CEV

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Prophets of Prosperity


If you were uncertain where the economy is heading and what to do with your investments, Barron’s has settled that for you.  Reporter Carleton English, writing last week under the headline “Nothing Can Take the Stock Market Off Its Record Run”, cited several recent incidents of bad news (U.S. landfall of a category 4 hurricane, dismal August jobs report, COVID hospitalizations rising) and pointed out that the markets shook them off with barely a pause and barreled on to record highs.  He goes on to project the run to continue into the foreseeable future.

So “nothing” can rattle the stock market now?   He’s got some chutzpah.  The crazy thing about economic recessions is that they come from unexpected directions.  Did anyone see the oil embargo coming in the 1970’s?  Did anyone foresee the “dot com” bust in 2000-2001?  How about the sub-prime lending crisis that led to the Great Recession in 2008?  Or the pandemic in 2020?  Actually, there were voices in the wilderness warning about all those things before they happened, but it’s not until they actually occur that everyone else sits up and pays attention.  But by then, the majority of people has lost a lot of money in the stock market. 

And that’s when Congress and regulators step in.  They institute safeguards against poor lending practices.  They start pouring crude oil into the strategic reserve.  They beef up spending on research and development for vaccines and vaccine technology.  As someone has said, we are great at fixing the cause for the last recession, but it usually does little or no good in preventing the next one.  Yet it’s precisely because of the prophets of prosperity like Mr. English that we become overconfident and set ourselves up for the next downturn.  Irrational exuberance, I think it has been called.

But there ARE other voices.  I’ve believed for a while now that the markets are overheated and primed for a big drop.   A well-known economist has parked the majority of his money in cash equivalents.  I’ve done the same.  I’ve definitely missed out on some growth of my nest egg over the last year, but not altogether.  I’ve got some money aggressively invested and it has paid off.  But I don’t want everything at risk.  My thinking is much like a teacher I read about a couple of years ago.  She had invested well and built a modestly sizable retirement account over the years.  When she retired, instead of keeping her money in the stock market where she worried about it constantly, she figured she had enough to live on for the rest of her life and put it into insured bank accounts (savings, CD’s, etc.).  I wouldn’t go that far, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to others because inflation can eat away the value of that account or she may unexpectedly outlive the balance in her accounts.  But I can understand her reasoning.

So use common sense.  Don’t believe all the hype about the markets going ever upward.  The experts don’t know everything.  As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Until next time,


“For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”  I Thessalonians 5:2,3 32 NIV*

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973,   1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

One Hundred Days


This is the one-hundredth posting to my blog, and not coincidentally I’m writing it on the one-hundredth day of my retirement.

Since we measure U.S. presidents by the accomplishments of their first one hundred days in office, I thought it fair to assess myself by the same standard.  What have I accomplished in all that time now that an employer isn’t taking 8+ hours of each day, Monday through Friday, not to mention a hefty portion of my emotional energy?

And right away you capture a glimpse of how I’ve been treating retirement: I measure it in “accomplishments”.  Is that fair?  Should retirement be the final goal, the crowning achievement, the culmination of all you’ve done previously, so now you can relax and do as you please since there is nothing left to accomplish?

Just from the way I phrased that question I think you can guess my answer. 

Perhaps I’ve not read the right journals or online magazines, but it seems that for every 40 or 50 articles about how to save and prepare financially for retirement, there’s only one addressing the emotional aspects of retirement; how to replace the fulfillment achieved at work (assuming you felt fulfilled!); how to maintain friendships outside the work world; how not to fall victim to gray divorce, i.e. divorce after age 55 which is happening to more and more people as they struggle to cope with the post-work world, perhaps complicated by spending more time with their spouse than they ever have before.  While financial preparation for retirement is crucial, money does not equal happiness.  Money does help to facilitate experiences and provide for our basic comfort, and those do offer a measure of happiness.  But money without relationships and life purpose will not be worth much.

The single best retirement advice I read was “You should retire TO something and not FROM something.”  In other words, there needs to be a new purpose, a new organizing principle to the retiree’s life (if it wasn’t there already).  As beings in God’s image, we should be growing and learning and serving constantly.  Think back to your last big vacation.  Didn’t you find that the anticipation was as exciting or even more so than the vacation itself?  If we treat retirement as “the end”, think that there’s nothing more to accomplish or learn, we will stagnate and even die before our time.

That is not to say you do not deserve some leisure time, some relaxation.  You earned it.  But your purpose might be discovered and fulfilled in volunteering, giving, helping neighbors, church work, even hobbies.  There are as many paths to fulfillment as there are retirees.  We were made that way.

Until next time,


“Here and now, my dear friends, we are God’s children.  We don’t know what we shall become in the future.  We only know that when He appears we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is!”   I John 3:2 (Phillips)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Used Car, New Car, or Same Car?


I’m afraid my car is about to go on life support.  Purchased used in 2004 with about 75,000 miles already on it, my 1999 V6 Toyota Solara SLE, made in Georgetown, Kentucky, and with the odometer currently sitting at 325,330, is starting to show its age.  It has the original engine, original exhaust system, original air conditioner compressor, original fuel pump, original just-about-everything-but-tires-and-battery, in fact.  It has been a remarkably trouble-free car.  It has never stranded me.

But last week the “check engine” light lit up—and this time stayed on.  Not coincidentally, I suspect, the air conditioner that had been blowing icy refreshment since the day I rode out of the used car lot was suddenly giving me a face-full of warm air.  And I’ve noticed the gas mileage is dropping.  I have to keep an eye on the tire pressure because the wheels have apparently worn to the point that the tires don’t fit as snugly as they should and lose pressure ever so slowly.  There’s a rattle in the back of the vehicle that no one seems able to diagnose or fix.

Is it the last gasp of a dying car?

That’s a question that plagues lots of people as their automobile starts giving them trouble.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who hates the car-buying experience, so like me they will try to make their car last as long as possible to put off that dreaded day they have to hunt for a new ride.  But how long is too long?  At what point should we stop trying to repair a car and just replace it?

Take my Solara for example.  I put on two new tires a few months back and have sunk about $500 into it over the last six months.  That is a likely a lot cheaper than six months of car payments would have been if I’d bought a replacement used car.  But how long do I do that?  Do I invest another $500 now to fix what’s wrong?  If it’s just the air conditioner, I can survive a few more weeks of hot weather then won’t have to worry about it until spring, thus putting off a car purchase even longer.  But just diagnosing the problem might cost a hundred dollars or more.  And if it’s something other than the air conditioner, do I draw the line now?  Should I have drawn it back in February? 

Here’s what I decided, and how I arrived at the decision.  If you are struggling with a similar dilemma, I hope this helps you.

For now I am going to do…nothing.  The car still drives smoothly, if a little hot and noisy.  It’s a runaround car that I use when the main family vehicle is unavailable or when I just want to get it out for a drive to church or any excursion less than 100 miles round-trip.  Gas mileage is not so critical then, just as long as I’m measuring it by miles per gallon and not gallons per mile.  If the car just suddenly dies on me I will not have lost much; I can’t get much for it in a resale.  And I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth out of this vehicle.  By not having a car payment, I’ve been able to save up to purchase another runaround car with cash.

But a new car?  Nope.  I’ve been eying a used Solara or two online.  Toyota stopped making them with the 2008 model year, so they are all high-mileage.  But I might consider one with 125,000 to 150,000 miles on it, given how long my Solara lasted.  Moreover, Money reported last week that the average cost of driving a new car is $9666.  That includes depreciation, insurance, gas, maintenance, and finance charges on a loan for the car.  Take a hint from the “666” in that number, because the average price of a new vehicle hit $32,903 last year.

And you?  What about your vehicle?  If your main vehicle is acting like my Solara is now, then you likely do need to repair or replace it.  Selecting between those two options should be guided by the car’s maintenance history, the seriousness and potential repair cost of the current mechanical problems, how many miles it has on it, and your ability to buy a replacement (your cash/savings and budget situation) or pay for a repair.  There may be other factors in your particular case, but try not to let emotions be one of them.  If you have to part ways with the car, take some pictures of it, go on a fun (but short) trip in it—maybe to the ice cream hut—to seal a final good memory, then let it go.

If I can only do that for my Solara.  The places it has been, the people who’ve ridden in it with me….

Until next time,


“Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal.  That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.”  2 Corinthians 4:18 CEV

Friday, August 20, 2021

"Do You Have a Receipt for That?"


I was cutting the grass yesterday when my neighbor motioned me to her deck.  I stopped the mower and went to see what she wanted.  First she told me it was too hot to be outside pushing a lawn mower.  But then she said her freezer wasn’t working.  I probed for more details, and it turned out that it was really just the icemaker; it was producing few, if any, cubes.

That was a problem I knew something about, or at least one with which I had some experience.  A couple of years ago our new refrigerator had the exact same problem, so I told her what I thought she should do.

“Get the owner’s manual and call the manufacturer help line.  You just got the appliance; it will be under warranty.  When I had the same problem the manufacturer sent a local repairman.  He had to make two trips and order a new part, but we didn’t pay a penny.”

I saw her face drop, and I knew it had happened again: she had thrown away all her paperwork, including the owner’s manual.  She is elderly and tends to do that with everything.  She doesn’t want papers lying around.

I relate this story because it illustrates how a little organization can simplify life and save you money.  In her case, if she had kept the papers she could quickly have arranged a repairman to come diagnose and fix the problem.  Now she will have to search for the right number to call.  (It’s only been 24 hours since our conversation, and I’m still expecting her to call me for help with that.)  But manuals can also be a great aid in diagnosing problems and doing your own repairs when the fix is easy.

More than owner’s manuals, though, retaining receipts is a good idea, too.  It facilitates product returns in the short-term and can be proof of warranty coverage in the longer term.  And don’t forget that if you charged the purchase on a credit card, you might qualify for an extended warranty.  Some credit card companies will double the manufacturer’s warranty period up to one or two years. 

I’ve had that conversation with my neighbor, too.  I told her that she could get rebates from the electric company for having installed more energy efficient appliances.   For the multiple kitchen appliances she bought she could get back around $200.   I told her what she needed to do and even offered to help, but she didn’t want to pursue it.  She said she’d already gotten a good buy with the store’s sale/rebate program.  She’s not really rich and could use the rebate from the utility, but I knew the real problem: she didn’t keep the receipts and other information she would have needed to apply for the rebates.

I hope you are better at keeping your paperwork.  It can seem like a small matter—until you need it.  You don’t have to have papers “lying around”.  My wife bought an expandable folder to file all the appliance manuals, and I have a separate folder with all the home improvement receipts (which can come in handy if and when I sell the house).  I looked in the manuals folder the other day and we still had one for a ceiling fan I installed at our previous house.  So it makes sense to go through your folder occasionally to weed it out.

While we’re on the topic of record-keeping, I hope you also have a “grab and go” folder/box for all your other important papers.  Flash floods, wild fires, house fires, tornados, and even domestic violence scenarios…they are all good reasons to have a single place to go to pick up all your important papers and run, in a hurry if needed.  This might include passports, inventory of household goods, credit cards, licenses, etc.  Nowadays, a cell phone can be a great place to store information electronically or have a video record of the contents of your house for insurance replacement purposes.  You could even send all that electronically to a trusted relative that doesn’t live in the same area of the country as a sort of safe deposit box.  The important thing is to get yourself organized.  It can save (or make you) money and certainly make life easier, whether in a crisis or not.

Until next time,


“That night the king could not sleep, and he had a servant read him the records of what had happened since he had been king.” Esther 6:1 CEV

Monday, August 9, 2021

Appealing an Insurance Claim (Part Three)


In the last couple of posts we have been exploring ways to effectively appeal a medical insurance claim that has been denied.  I will offer one more scenario and then some general advice.

Payment of pharmacy benefits—prescription drugs—typically represents the largest benefits expenditure by insurance companies.  So, of course, they will take whatever steps they can to limit their exposure.  This will almost always take two forms: imposition of a formulary (a list of approved drugs they will pay for) and step therapy.

Formularies are not new.  Hospitals use them, too, to limit the drugs stocked in their in-house pharmacy and which doctors may order for inpatients.  The formulary is not arbitrary, being composed by, and subject to review by, a committee of doctors and pharmacists to ensure all therapeutic categories are adequately covered with a range of drugs but without unnecessary duplication or inclusion of unproven medicines.

It can be easy to run afoul of an insurance company’s formulary and have your prescription drug denied (or covered but with a huge co-pay from you) as not being on the formulary; or if it is on the formulary then it may not be covered until you try alternative medications first—the so-called “step therapy” approach.  In this scenario, the insurance company may cover the particular drug your doctor ordered but only after older (and cheaper) alternatives were tried and proved to be ineffective.

If this is the first time you will have used the drug (e.g. for a new diagnosis), you should consult with your doctor about the insurance coverage and see if she will prescribe one of the alternatives that is on the formulary.  This can benefit you since the alternative will not only be cheaper for the insurance company but for you. If the alternative(s) are not acceptable to her, then the burden should shift to her to justify to the insurance company why it should be covered.  This would ordinarily involve providing some clinical documentation to the insurer to demonstrate why the non-formulary drug is superior to the cheaper alternatives.  Don’t expect success here.  That information was likely already reviewed when the formulary was composed and was deemed inadequate to justify inclusion on the formulary.  In that case, you are left with having to try the cheaper drugs first.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But suppose the cheaper drugs don’t work.  Or suppose you have been on this prescribed, non-formulary medicine for years and it’s just that you have a new insurance company you are dealing with that insists you go through step therapy.  Here is where you may have some success.  You need to give the insurer an account of your having tried the cheaper alternatives and their failure to cure or control the condition for which they were prescribed.  Your doctor can assist with this, and it is usually adequate to get the initial rejection from the insurance company overturned. 

I’ve been on the other side of the fence, having worked for an insurance company (although they like to use terms that don’t carry a negative connotation—like “managed care organization”), and despite the perceptions to the contrary, there are people working at these places that really do care about the health of their customers.  Don’t get me wrong; there are “cost containment” people there, too, that are trying to find every reason they can to limit payments or deny claims.  But customer service reps, provider service reps, case managers, and nurses employed by the insurers are of a different mindset and are often frustrated by the cost controls that they see as interfering with care or confusing the customers.  In my experience (on both sides of the fence) they will do whatever they can to assist a customer to get appropriate care and claims paid.

I read an article this week about customer service reps at Cigna protesting their work conditions, lack of training, no raises, etc.  This kind of dissatisfaction and lack of training can come across during their interactions with customers as their not caring about helping resolve complaints.  But believe me, lack of training is a killer of good customer service, even if the employee has the desire to help.  I’ve worked with Cigna as my insurer, and what I had to do is what I recommend YOU do whenever you contact your insurer: take precise notes of when you called, to whom you spoke, what they committed to do, and any case or call reference numbers they give you.  Get a commitment of when the situation will be resolved, and if they miss that deadline, call again and have all those notes handy.

As I’ve said before, one of the keys in appealing is demonstrating how an adverse decision from the insurance company will actually cost them more money in the long-run than just paying the claim, etc.  But an equally important best practice: BE NICE.  I’m afraid civility is becoming a rarer commodity these days; but if you talk calmly and don’t shout, treat the insurance rep respectively, and make a reasonable and coherent case for your request, you will stand out in the crowd, believe me.  And this should make the other party more willing to help.  No guarantee here; some people only respond to threats, unfortunately.  But for the conscientious ones—and they do exist—this is a great tool.  Plus, it keeps your blood pressure down, which might keep you from having to visit the doctor, which in turn keeps you from having to submit another claim to the insurer that might get denied and which you’ll have to appeal.

For help with Medicare claims, you may contact your state health insurance assistance program (find it at or Medicare Rights Center, an advocacy group for Medicare beneficiaries, at 800-333-4114.  For commercial insurance, be acquainted with your insurer’s various levels of appeal, but also know that you can take your complaint to the insurance commissioner or other regulatory body in your state.

Until next time,


“The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver.” Proverbs 25:11 CEV

“A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.” Proverbs 15:1 CEV

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Appealing an Insurance Claim (Part Two)


Given the dollars at stake, correctly appealing the denial of an insurance claim is a valuable skill, especially in light of the figures we quoted last time about the high percentage of Medicare Advantage claim denials that are overturned upon appeal.  It does take a bit of your time to do it right, but I think it’s worth it.  You’ve paid your premiums faithfully and on time; you deserve to get what you paid for.

First, let me say that my own experience comports with the figures I quoted about appeal outcomes.  Whether appealing denial of coverage for a drug or a procedure, I only failed once to get the initial adverse decision reversed.  And on that one occasion where I failed, I was eventually reimbursed $1100 by the insurance company for the claim because of a class action suit filed by another aggrieved party.  Follow these guidelines and you will have a better chance of success.

1.       Denied for provider being out of network.  This is one of the more common denials you are likely to encounter.  Insurance companies contract with hospitals and doctors to treat the people enrolled in their health plan(s).  In exchange for the privilege of being an in-network provider to whom the insurance company directs potential patients, the providers agree to pre-negotiated rates for their services.  That’s why you will see huge sums charged by the provider but be amazed at how little they accept in the end for their payment as they write off the rest.  So if you go outside the network of approved providers, you understand why the insurance company is not going to cover the entire billed amount, and you end up on the hook for much—or all—of the bill.  The best defense against this is to do your homework beforehand.  Make sure before you enroll in an insurance company’s plan that your doctors, the local hospital to which you are likely to be admitted, and the nearest major medical center are all in network with the plan.  (And if you call the doctor’s office to ask if they are in network, talk to the person there who files their claims and ask, “Are you in network with XYZ Insurance”.  Don’t ask if they “accept” the insurance; a provider will bill most any insurance and “accept” whatever payment it sends.  But whether it will cover your bill and not leave you holding the bag for the balance is another matter.  Phrase your question correctly.)  You will also want to ensure there is a robust and varied network of providers near your home, from physical therapists to oncologists, because you never know when you will need their services and you don’t want to have to travel an hour or more to get to a provider.  But sometimes you need emergency care and don’t have time to check whether the facility/doctor to which you are going (or being taken) is in network.  If this leads to a denied claim, appeal on the basis of the circumstances—it was an emergency and if life or limb were endangered if treatment was delayed, say so.  A related “gotcha” from the insurance company is when you have surgery or other treatment by an in network provider at an in network facility, but then get a bill from a radiologist or anesthesiologist that you didn’t know would be involved in your care and he is not in network, leaving you with a rather large bill to pay on your own.  This scenario is becoming less frequent as patient advocacy groups and legislators fight back against it or even make laws against the practice.  If it still happens to you, explain to the insurance company how you carefully picked in network providers for your treatment but had no say in the choice of these other caregivers, sometimes called “blind providers” (a term you can drop on the insurance company to perhaps impress them that you know what you’re talking about).  Encourage the insurer to work with the non-network provider (and vice versa) to come to terms so you are not left with a bill, or at least not a very large one.


2.       Denied for not a covered service.  Insurance plans don’t automatically cover every conceivable medical procedure or drug.  They have limits to their coverage like excluding experimental therapies, limiting the number of treatments, putting age restrictions on certain therapies, etc.  Again, researching ahead of time will pay dividends here.  Make sure a planned procedure is actually covered by the insurer.  Enlist the aid of the provider, if needed.  If it appears that it will not be covered, then talk with the provider to understand why the procedure is needed.  If there is a valid clinical reason for the therapy/test/procedure, then compose a letter or have the provider write a letter to the insurer to explain the rationale for it.  A good example might be one in which I played a part, explaining to an insurer that the family medical history of the insured justified waiving the age limit they had imposed on a screening test.  The trick here is to imply or even flatly state that the insurer risks incurring even steeper costs down the road if the insured does not get the test, causing a medical condition to go undiagnosed and leading to expensive treatments that the insurer will have to pay for later.  Of course, if you failed to do this homework first and had the procedure done then received a denied claim, you will have to do all this retroactively, but making the same arguments as above.  It might diminish your chances of success to be doing this after the fact, but it’s not necessarily a lost cause.  No harm in trying.


I’ll offer some concluding remarks on this subject in my next post.  Until then,


“The plans of the diligent lead to profit, as surely as haste leads to poverty.”  Proverbs 21:5

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Appealing an Insurance Claim (Part One)


One of my current favorite TV commercials is one advertising the services of a local personal injury law firm.  The actors in it depict insurance adjusters who are trying to minimize their financial loss in a personal injury claim by using the “three D’s”: Delay, Deny, and Devalue.  (My wife can always tell what my favorite commercials are; I go around the house mimicking the actors and their lines: “No, DEE-ny.  I was going to delay but then decided, ‘No, I’ll DEE-ny that claim’”.)

Of course, insurance companies make great villains.  They are always portrayed negatively, giving more attention to their bottom line than to the insured’s interests, and in my opinion they don’t do much to dispel the image.

By coincidence, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report a couple of months ago ran a piece titled “Fight a Denied Advantage Claim” that cited some interesting statistics from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Let’s explore it a bit.

Medicare Advantage plans are operated by insurance companies under contract with Medicare.  You may hear them advertising that they offer you benefits above and beyond what regular Medicare covers—things like dental, vision, and hearing benefits.  And they offer these benefits at little or no additional cost to the Part B premium, and sometimes they even rebate all or part of the Part B premium that is deducted from the insured’s Social Security check.  But they can afford to do this by limiting their provider network (fewer doctors and hospitals to choose from), requiring pre-authorization for many services, strict application of rules for proper coding of claims by the providers, enforcing a primary care provider gatekeeper model, and other means.  It spells more work for providers’ offices and many denied claims.

The OIG found that between 2014 and 2016 75% of denied Medicare Advantage claims were overturned upon appeal.  That is an astounding figure and points to some very real problems with how these Advantage plans process claims.  But even more disturbing, when coupled with that statistic, is the finding that only 1% of claims denied by Advantage plans were appealed by either the enrollee or the providers.  What must these Advantage plans be saving through incorrectly denied claims that no one challenges?  Little wonder they can offer more benefits…especially if they find a way not to pay for them.

Perhaps there’s some truth to the insurance company negative stereotype, particularly in the personal injury field.  But I can speak from experience with Medicaid and Medicare insurance, that it is not typically the case in medical insurance.  No, the denied (or underpaid) claims are less about bad intentions and more about bad processes.  So much of the processing of medical claims is automated now; rarely, if ever, will there be a manager at the insurance company saying “Dee-ny this claim!  Dee-value that claim!”.  Here is what is probably at the heart of your improperly denied medical claim:

1.       Someone mis-programmed the automated claims processing software.

2.       Someone misunderstood or misinterpreted a rule for payment of certain types of claims.

3.       A provider was improperly set up in the insurance company’s database and was wrongly disqualified for payment.

4.       Someone failed to recognize the unintended consequences of a certain action, leading to incorrect claim denials.


Do you notice a common theme?  It’s incompetence.  Someone made a mistake.  An occasional mistake is understandable, especially considering the complexity of the rules and requirements of government insurance programs and of the software programs designed to automatically adjudicate medical claims.  But I would expect better testing, more double-checking before a change or new process is implemented.  That would reduce errors and inappropriately denied claims.  But you, as the enrollee, are on the hook for unpaid medical claims (at least non-Medicaid claims).  The provider often doesn’t have the time and personnel to go to bat for you.

So allow me to put it this way:  “To err is human, to forgive is divine, and to appeal a denied medical claim is genius.”

In my next post I will offer ideas for how best to appeal a denied or underpaid claim or other adverse determination by an insurance company.

Until next time,


“Don’t withhold repayment of your debts.  Don’t say ‘some other time,’ if you can pay now.” Proverbs 3:28 The Living Bible

Friday, June 25, 2021

Here We Go Again: “Tax the Rich”


ProPublica, which describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force”, recently published findings—gleaned from confidential IRS data it obtained—showing that some billionaires have paid (relatively) little to no income tax in recent years.  The names include Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon; Tesla CEO Elon Musk; Democrat presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg; investor and liberal champion George Soros; and the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett.

Naturally, this caused an uproar and the usual call to tax the rich more.  Senator Elizabeth Warren urged Congress to take up her idea of charging billionaires a tax of 2% annually of their net worth.  Indeed, a “millionaires surtax” was proposed in legislation introduced by a couple of other Democrats shortly thereafter.

Let’s be plain though.  None of these men is accused of doing anything illegal.  Yes, their net worth grew by billions of dollars during the years for which ProPublica reviewed their tax data.  But actual income?  That was relatively little; it was mostly appreciation of the value of their stock holdings that accounted for the increase, and that is not immediately taxable.  And by using write-offs, deductions, and other legitimate means, actual income was reduced or offset to the point that taxation was minimal.

Allow me a few thoughts on this….

I was taken aback by the apparent  hypocrisy of some of these uber-rich folks.  Warren Buffett was not the only one of the group to have said previously that the rich should pay more taxes.  We might rightly question their sincerity now.  But ignoring that, should we expect them to NOT take advantage of the tax laws to minimize their payouts to the government?  As the famous jurist Learned Hand wrote in a case back in the 1930’s:

Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.

So if people are offended by the avoidance (not the evasion) of taxes by the wealthy, then change the tax laws.  And that is what some are aiming to do.  But be careful what you ask for.  Some of the tax minimization schemes the rich use are also available to those in the lower income brackets.  “Oh, but we’ll make the changes apply only to those with a net worth over a certain amount.”  Fine, but now you’ve singled out a group of people for worse treatment than others.  That breeds class warfare, and we have too much of that already.

And the taxation on net worth (not income) that Senator Warren proposes for the rich?  Is that even constitutional?  And would you want such a law to apply to you someday?  What if you were taxed on your net worth: your retirement accounts, your house, your vacation property, your business, your car, your furniture?  Would you have to liquidate some of your retirement savings or sell property in order to pay the taxes on it? 

I don’t think it’s fair to (and I know this is a strong word) persecute the rich by making laws specifically to get more money from them.  One journalist, expressing his outrage over the ProPublica findings, said “there are not billions of billionaires.  Let’s come up with something for this small group.”  As if the small size of the group (a minority) justifies different treatment.  What about the charitable giving by this “small group”?  It’s in the billions of dollars.  Warren Buffett has given away more than half his wealth.  Have you done as much, Elizabeth Warren?  And you, indignant journalist…have you created as many jobs for Americans as Jeff Bezos?  While businesses were closing down and people losing their jobs during the pandemic, Amazon was hiring tens of thousands of people.

No, I’m not a fan of our national taxation system.  It’s too complex and probably unfair in some respects.   But will you pick on one group because you don’t like them, think they need to “give more”, or pay their fair share?  And I haven’t even addressed the fact that ProPublica came by the information illegally.  If the tax returns of someone who is not part of the wealthy class were scrutinized in the press, the cries about invasion of privacy would be deafening.  But it’s okay to do it to the rich?  Who’s the next group to fall out of favor and lose their rights?  Pray it’s not you.

Until next time,



“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”  Leviticus 19:15 NIV*

“And don’t favor the poor, simply because they are poor.” Exodus 23:3 CEV


*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™

Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Protect the Elderly from Fraud


“What is that on the mountain?” my granddaughter inquired as we were watering flowers together in my front yard.


“Up there,” she pointed.  “The red and white thing.”

I looked toward the mountain that dominates the eastern view from my yard.  Not seeing what might have caught her attention, I absent-mindedly said it was leaves on the trees.

“Now Pop Pop,” she began to lecture me, “have you EVER seen white leaves?”

I had to confess I had not, so I made an extra effort to determine what interested her so much.  I finally figured out she was looking at the radio towers—painted white and red—along the ridge of the mountain.

Don’t try to fool a six-year-old.

I wish I could as confidently offer the same caution about the elderly; but alas, that segment of our population makes a very vulnerable and juicy target for scammers.  They are more prone to answer their phone (when I was growing up before the age of caller ID, letting a phone ring more than three times at my house was very nearly a criminal act), are generally more trusting and polite (and thus less likely to abruptly hang up on a suspicious caller), are more likely to have a large savings (retirement) account, and may suffer from some degree of cognitive decline, rendering them less able to recognize a con.  The FBI estimates that last year the elderly lost $2.9 billion to financial scams.

Some of the more common scams are:

1.       Fake lotteries  A caller tells the potential victim they have won some lottery—often in another country—but must send a security deposit to have the funds released.

2.       Relative in trouble   The caller pretends to either be a relative (often a grandchild) or the friend of a relative who has found herself in trouble with the law in another state, due to no fault of her own, but needs bail money.

3.       Social Security at risk  The caller poses as a government agent, saying that the person on the other end of the call has had his Social Security number cancelled and he must pay a fine right away to restore it and ensure his benefits continue.

4.       Love  The proliferation of dating websites and social media in general offers unscrupulous people opportunity to pose as old friends or cultivate a fake love relationship—sometimes to the point of becoming potential marriage partners—but then ask for money to get out of some financial jam or just to buy an airplane ticket to come see the victim.

June 15, 2021 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  It is sad that we must have a day to bring attention to this shameful treatment of those we should respect most.  But take some time this week and every week to check on the welfare of your parents, aunts, uncles….anyone elderly and at risk of falling victim to fraud or physical or mental abuse.  Teach them to do what I did NOT do with my granddaughter in the story above:  Take time to understand what is being said, don’t make assumptions, pay close attention and ask questions.  And be a resource for them.  These scammers thrive on secrecy.  If everyone can learn to ask a trusted friend or relative about an abusive or potentially abusive situation before it goes too far, then we might be able to ensure a safer world for the vulnerable elderly.

Until next time,


“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.  I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32 NIV*

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973,   1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™  Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Does a Prenuptial Agreement Doom a Marriage?


I'm not one who fears that talking about something will “jinx” it, or make it more likely to happen.   Some folks will not prepare, or even talk about preparing, a will for fear that it will hasten their death.  I understand wanting to avoid unpleasant topics; but that can run afoul of the need to prepare for the future and (depending on your religious beliefs about death, rapture, or the Second Coming) the certainty of death. 

But that’s just one example.  How about divorce?  Talking about divorce—and divorce itself—were once taboo.  Now, with divorce sadly commonplace, it might make sense to openly discuss it and even prepare for it in the form of prenuptial agreements.

I have a strong reservation on my own part about having a prenuptial agreement.  That is likely because divorce has not hit close to home for me.  My parents did not divorce.  My children haven’t divorced.  My siblings haven’t divorced.  I’ve been married to the same woman for over 42 years.  With a family history like that (and I am EXTREMELY thankful for that history) I suppose it is natural to rebel against “preparing” for divorce by having a prenuptial contract.  And 42 years ago, having a prenuptial agreement was not common anyway—certainly in my economic stratum.

That said, I can make allowance for those who have experienced divorce either directly or indirectly who want a prenuptial before they “take the leap” again.  It’s scary.  One divorcee I know will not marry again unless there is a solid pre-nup in place to protect her financially.  (She is a high-earning professional.)  But are there limits?  Should there be limits?

A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted the trend among millennials to use pre-nuptial agreements for some unusual purposes.  Perhaps burned indirectly by divorce like no other generation, they are crafting agreements with their spouse-to-be that address not only financial arrangements but nearly everything else, from care of pets to ownership of embryos. 

I’m not an expert on marital relationships, but I want to comment on a couple of the more unusual provisions inserted into some of these marriage contracts.

First is many millennials’ desire, as one family law attorney quoted in the article put it, “to live like financial roommates”.  In other words, these couples-to-be want to lead separate financial lives.  Separate checking accounts?  Yeah, I get it.  But to lead separate lives financially?  I DON’T get that.  Aside from our sexual selves, finances might be the most intimate part of our lives.  I’ve written before in this forum about not keeping money secrets from our spouse.  It’s a trust thing to me.  We should know what’s going on in each other’s financial lives.  We are there to help each other in tough times; and some of the toughest times are when we are financially strained.  If we’ve led separate financial lives, if we are not intimately connected to our lover in this area of life, is not the marriage bond weakened?  Vulnerability to each other—emotionally, sexually, and financially—is critical to cementing a marriage.

Second—and this is just beyond the pale to me—is the wish by some to ensure that an ex-partner does not bad-mouth them on social media.  Again, maybe because I don’t use Facebook or some of the more popular apps for online interaction and thus not been exposed to harassment that way, I might lack some empathy for those who want to write such provisions into their pre-nup.  But do we really want people to put a muzzle on others?  I consider it a violation of the marriage vows and probably federal law to post intimate pictures of an ex-spouse on the internet.   But what about publicly talking trash about their former spouse?  A decent person wouldn’t do that anyway, but formally forbidding it sounds like a violation of the First Amendment protecting free speech.  Almost always there is a blame-game played in a divorce; there will naturally be some bitterness, some finger-pointing.  We’re going to end that with a prenuptial agreement?  I doubt it.  Try to enforce that in a court of law.

So does composing a prenuptial agreement make divorce more likely?  I doubt it.  If the couple didn’t trust each other with money and aren’t decent enough to respect their partner or ex-partner in social interactions, they  are already half-way to divorce court anyway.

Until next time,


“Honor Christ and put others first.  A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord….Wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first.  A husband should love his wife as much as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it….As the Scriptures say, ‘A man leaves his father and mother to get married, and he becomes like one person with his wife.’”  Ephesians 5:21, 22, 25, 31 CEV.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Crystal Balls Don't Work


Have you been worried by some of the financial gurus who are out there telling you that all that money you saved for retirement is not really yours?  That Uncle Sam is ready to take his share in taxes, so you are not going to be as well off as you think in your golden years?

I understand what they are saying; I just don’t buy into it—not for everybody’s situation, at least.  Let’s review the facts.

Most people save for retirement via a workplace plan like a 401(k) or through a personal account, like an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).  Most of those accounts are regular, or non-Roth accounts, meaning that money that is deposited is not taxed before it goes into the account.  This is a nice upfront tax savings.  But the money IS taxed—along with the years’ worth of growth in value—when it is withdrawn in retirement.  The usual pitch for these plans is that in retirement you are likely to be in a lower tax bracket, so it’s better to have it taxed then rather than in your peak earning, high-tax-rate years.

A Roth account (either a 401[k] or IRA), on the other hand, does not give a tax break at deposit.  The money going into the account has already been taxed, but when it is withdrawn in retirement both the initial deposits and the years’ of growth in value are NOT taxed.  The recent selling point for these accounts is that taxes now are at historic lows after the Trump tax cuts of 2017, and they have nowhere to go but up, especially in a Democrat-controlled government intent on rolling back Trump policies.  So you should—the logic goes—deposit money now into a Roth account or even switch money from a non-Roth account to a Roth account and pay the resulting tax bill while the rates are low.

Again, I understand the rationale, but two factors give me pause.  First, I don’t like the implicit message that people have been saving unwisely by investing in non-Roth accounts.  I salute anyone who has the foresight to save for retirement in any type of retirement account.  For some of us, when we first started saving there was no such thing as a Roth account.  And even now, not all employers offer Roth 401(k) accounts.  So should I direct my nest egg into a Roth IRA and give up the employer match I get when I deposit money into their sponsored 401(k)?  Give up an immediate 50% to 100%  return on my investment?  I don’t think so.  Besides, there are strategies for minimizing the tax burden in retirement.  All is not lost if you don’t have a Roth account.

But the second reason I don’t buy into the Roth hype is that I think part of the argument in ts favor is flawed.  Suppose, for example, I use some of those tax avoidance strategies I referred to and paid little or no taxes on the withdrawals from my non-Roth account?  Then I not only avoided taxes upfront but dramatically reduced my rate—maybe even to 0%--upon withdrawal and maybe end up not paying any taxes on the deposits.  (Of course, if I had a Roth account I wouldn’t have to jump through hoops to avoid taxes, so there IS that.)  And who is guaranteeing that tax rates are only going to go up?  The headlines yesterday quoted President Biden saying that under his tax plan, Americans earning less than $400,000 “wouldn’t pay a penny in taxes”.  I think that was a verbal slip-up on his part; he meant to say “a penny more in taxes”.  (What a difference a word makes!)  True or not, it shines a bright light on the uncertainty of the future.  Can you (or the talking heads on TV) guarantee that YOUR tax rate will go up in retirement?   Truth is, we don’t know the future, and each change in administration in Washington will push its own agenda and inject new elements of change. 

Financial professionals rightly urge you to plan ahead.  Save for retirement in whatever account you have at your disposal, given all the factors.  And if the rules of the game change, then adapt to those.  No one should ask more of you than that.

Until next time,



“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow….Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” James 4:13-15  NIV*


 *Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®

Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™

Used by permission.  All rights reserved worldwide.