Job Search Strategies: New financial planning

Aurora Donnelly is a solo practitioner always looking forward to the next exciting transition.

I met with a new financial planner last week to do a routine personal financial check and to set my financial position going forward.  After serious admonitions to immediately take my money out of stocks and never think of doing that again, the conversation with the financial guy turned, of course, to how to economize in daily living so as to leave more funds unspent.

We have all heard and read more than we needed to know about giving up the daily latte, walking or taking public transportation instead of cabbing it, keeping your aging car going a little longer.  All of these ideas make sense, but there is another level of thriftiness to consider.   Here are some cost cutting ideas pertaining to health care and household necessities that may be available in your neighborhood. And, of course, you can probably uncover myriad other opportunities to economize that fit your lifestyle.

Regarding health care, since my husband and I often work as independent contractors, we sometimes pay for our own health insurance.  Even during times when we were salaried employees, we noticed that the employee portion of the health cost tab was becoming larger and larger every year.  A couple of years ago, like thousands or millions of other people, we decided that the option of insuring ourselves was no longer reasonable.

I panicked, of course, and envisioned immediate catastrophic consequences to our decision.  But soon I discovered that St. Joseph’s Hospital offers extensive testing through a reduced-cost program available to everyone, regardless of income level. This type of testing is probably replicated in dozens of neighborhoods around the city.

The tests include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, arterial pressure and an electrocardiogram.  The service included a consultation with a cardiologist at the Hospital to discuss the results.  The cost of this set of tests was $40!  I signed up immediately.  The test day was easy, pleasant and took less than an hour.  For other tests, I contacted the City of Chicago and received thorough and professional tests and services at a beautiful, brand new neighborhood clinic for nothing, no cost to me at all.

Exploring neighborhoods in Chicago, we made another astonishing discovery.  Shopping at some neighborhood grocery stores reduces our grocery bill by 20to 30 percent over buying groceries at our local Jewel.  Not everything is less at Tony’s Finer Foods, but most of the food we purchase on a weekly basis is less.  The Entenmanns outlet store sells breads and pastries for at least 40 percent less than Jewel or Tony’s.  The rest of our groceries we pick up at Jewel, Dominick’s or Trader Joe’s.  Costco is probably also a good alternative for certain things.  You do have to allow a little extra time to go to the various stores.

We made these discoveries some time ago and have embraced this way of shopping.  Even when the economy bounces back and there is less angst about finances, we will continue with these good money habits.

Instead of paying for a personal trainer to examine my swimming and running issues I have an appointment at another health-care facility in a couple of weeks for a free screening of my sports form.

The new financial planner said we are not his first clients to tell this story and that one of the great benefits of this financial downturn is that people who have learned to overhaul their personal finances to live more frugally are likely to carry this on when times are flush.  A good thing, don’t you think?

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