All About Odd Jobs!
An odd job is basically any gig that you can get paid for yet you are not going to be doing it long term. The idea here that you are filling a temporary need. An odd job can sometimes be considered contract work. Other times, it’s just a job or chore you do once for someone. Odd jobs often can be hard but if you’re not doing anything else, they’re worth converting time you’re not doing anything with into money. Odd jobs are all over if you have some basic skills and know how!
There are many ways once can go about finding odd jobs. But the easiest and safest way to find one is to just ask! On your social media pages, you can simply reach out to your friends and family and see if there’s anything that they need done. I’ve found my most rewarding odd jobs are those that come from friends, we often get to work together, or it may be something you’re doing for them, so that they get to enjoy the results! And who doesn’t like to help their friends?
Facebook has recently implemented it’s use of Marketplace where you can post services offered under different criteria. Recently, I posted about some mobile mechanic work, and within the hour, I had at least 6 replies. I actually had to turn off my FB Messenger Notifications so that I could sleep! Be it baby sitting, lawn care, cleaning, or anything else, consider posting online. CraigsList is another great resource as well was NextDoor.com, ShiftGig.com, local Subreddits, and even local FB Groups!
While on the road, another way to find odd jobs is to just ask. By that I mean, asking an establishment (politely) if there’s anything that they could us assistance with! Often times you’re going to want to talk to the manager or someone who can make decisions. I often hear stories from friends who were backpacking where they were able to work and live in a hostel for free or at a discounted rate for helping out and working there for a period of time. Sometimes they’re able to find a restaurant nearby and do dishes or clean up, just basic things. There’s a handful of sites that work on the volunteering concept in exchange for free room and board such as HelpX, WorkAway, WWOOF, Servas, and many others! Google your local area to see if there’s anything specific to you!
Odd jobs I’ve done over the years;
As you can see, I’ve listed many odd jobs I’ve done. However, there are also many more I’ve not listed as it’s a very, very, long list! That being said, consider some skills you have or some things you know how to do, determine how much your time is worth, then go find some odd jobs.
Whelp, that’s about all I can think of. Odd jobs are an easy way to make a living or a few extra bucks! Be sure to check out www.Facebook.com/BobbyTaylorAdventures to keep up with blog posts, pictures, and what I’m up to! If you want to check out some pictures, head on over to www.instagram.com/BobbyTaylorAdventures There’s a few shots of some odd jobs on there as well as the Facebook. And as always, if you have any questions, please comment below or reach out to me! I’d be happy to answer any questions!
Hello friends! This is my first update in a while. I spent the Holidays with friends and family, then wound up working in Atlanta for a few months and planning the current trip that I am on. Backpacking through Central and South America for a few months. My first desitnation? CUBA! I just got back, it was amazing! Here are a handful of notes about Cuba that nobody really told me about, and I hope you find them helpful yourself!
That’s about all I can think of for now! Be sure to keep up on the Facebook Page for more recent updates. I am still working through editing the pictures from the US Road Trip and the trip to Iceland to upload galleries here! Soon I will also be making an "Articles" page since I keep having to look up the most relevant and used articles, such as Health Insurance, How to Sell Everything You Own, and others...
Until next time, safe travels! <3
Yup! Here's some last minute traveling and backpacking gift ideas for those people you love inflicted with wanderlust!
I literally just finished my own Christmas shopping yesterday, so I've been thinking about gifts a lot! Many of these I have used myself or want for myself! If you’ve got some people on your list and you’re not sure what to buy them, here’s a few gift ideas from pretty affordable to pretty expensive! It's all here and all the Green Links will take you to other gift ideas!
For spring, summer, and fall camping, consider these great gift ideas! We have actually used all of these in our 2016 US Trip which took us 8,000 miles around the US in about two months! I would suggest each and have given them all great reviews!
All gifts, links, and amazon products should all be Prime, which means if you're a Prime Member, you get free two day shipping. This has proved vital to traveling for me as I can get items I need delivered to where ever I am or where ever I will be within two days. This has helped with gifts, getting supplies I need, and all kinds of things! If you'd like to gift a Prime Membership, sign up below!
So I sold everything I owned to adopt a nomadic lifestyle of travel. It wasn’t easy, by any means. I actually had to sell a lot of stuff three or four separate times while moving from Columbus Ohio to Atlanta Georgia, then moving around Atlanta in different living situations! At one point, I owned enough stuff to fill a 1,200 square foot apartment. And before that, an entire three bedroom, two bath house… So here are some tips and pointers I’ve learned along the way.
Make Lists of What You Actually NEED!
This part is pretty easy! Consider how you plan to travel. For me it was backpacking and road tripping. I really only needed a handful of bathroom supplies, a handful of clothes, some bags, luggage, and some camping gear. Beyond that, everything I owned I decided I could sell. Including extra TV’s, dressers, book shelves, bed, clothes, camping supplies that were too bulky, instruments and audio gear, and so much more!
For me, traveling is minimalistic, but that’s not true for everyone and their goals. As an example, if you only plan to travel for a few months then return to your daily life, it would be best to just put your things in storage such as your bed and other furniture. However, getting rid of things you’re not using would be a good idea!
But What About the Things Too Sentimental to Part With?
A lot of my things that I collected over the years are very sentimental to me. Thus, instead of selling them, I put them all into a large box which I stored at my parents house. It really wasn’t easy picking and choosing what I should keep and why. But one thing really helped me. After I would make a pile of what I wanted to keep, I would go through it again. Then again. Then again. A lot of things I actually decided to take pictures of, so that I still had the memory accessible (or something I may stumble across later) but the physical thing I didn’t have. Eventually, I got down to one large box and decided that was good enough for me!
Take Pictures and Know Your Worth!
This part is pretty important. When you try to sell everything you own, sell the big ticket items first. For me, this was mostly recording gear, instruments, and other pro audio gear. These sell by themselves quite often and have some really good going prices. After doing a little bit of research, I found some were worth more, others were worth less! While you may have a price in mind, the market may not agree with that price. And your goal is to sell everything you own, so you must (unfortunately) bow to the basic economics of supply and demand.
Once you’ve sold your big ticket items and individual things, you can take pictures of the smaller things, all together. I grouped mine mostly by what room they were in or what use. As an example, my shower head, over the toilet shelves, humidifier, hair clippers, and a bunch of other things I keep in my bathroom, I took a picture of all together. I also did this with all the things in my living room which didn’t sell immediately. My side table, coffee table, Roku Box, etc. Which brings me to my next point…
Use Social Media!
Sell to your friends and social networks first. If you’re sociable, your friends have probably seen the things you have, maybe they have even used them as you’ve spent time together. They know the quality of your items and if they’re good friends, they’ll want to help you. After posting most of my stuff on Facebook, many of my friends even shared my posts and helped me to sell my things. It went pretty quickly! After I sold all my major stuff, I was left with a handful of major things and mostly smaller ticket items. I was able to group the smaller items together and move to the next steps! Some of the posts I made had images such as the one below...
Use Sites Designed for Selling & Buying!
There are so many apps and websites now to help you sell the things you own. LetGo, eBay, Craigslist, even Facebook Groups and Yahoo Group pages! Selling through these means took a lot more work. A lot of picture taking from every angle, negotiating, scheduling times for pickups or drop offs, emailing back and forth, answer phone calls, and more. But the good thing about it is that that it really helped to get rid of the majority of my medium ticket items. Though the downside is that to get rid of it quickly, I had to offer slightly below market price. People on these sites scourer the posts for deals. Often times for days or weeks on end. And it’s not all that uncommon that people make a living buying good deals, then flip them! Sometimes even refurbishing or simply just cleaning the items really well to sell at a slightly higher price. While these sites can take a lot of work, they will help you get things sold at reasonable prices. Which again, brings me to my next point!
Use Garage Sales & Yard Sales!
What About The Things That Don't Sell?
It’s no secret that some things just don’t sell very well. These things are often small ticket items, clothes, shoes, things that cater to unique tastes, silverware, dishes, and more. Well, there’s all kinds of ways to get rid of them. Your clothes, take places like Rags-O-Rama or Plato’s Closet, they buy gently used clothes that are in fashion. Look up some other local businesses as well that buy used clothes. I sold some clothes to a company I had never heard of simply by asking where I might be able to sell some of the clothes that didn’t sell at Plato’s Closet or Rags-O-Rama simply because they were out of season. Check with your local thrift shops, I had a few buy some electronic cables and coffee mugs, plates, and glass cups that didn’t sell. And finally, check for your local charities, recycling centers, and more. I found a local charity that took all of my clothes that didn’t sell and that sends them to those in need. I also found a local recycling center that took literally the rest of it and sends nice things to charities they partner with. After that, I literally had one carload of stuff my parents agreed to keep safe for me while I traveled… oh, and a motorcycle and car. And yes I had two motorcycles to start with, one for adventuring (a Kawaskai 650 KLR) and a luxury ride (Honda 750 Shadow). Just for fun, I'll include a picture of the KLR below!
Planning is Key!
So like anything else in the world, you want to have a plan of action if you’d like to be successful. That being said, you need to consider when you’re leaving to travel, move, or whatever other reason you’re looking to sell your things. It took me roughly four weeks to sell literally everything I owned to be able to get to a point where my parents said they would store things for me. That was it! But it took some planning…
You need to plan for what you’ll need and at what speed things you’re getting rid of will likely sell. Smaller ticket items might take a long time to sell. Bigger ticket items, they vary depending on the item. Electronics like TV’s sell quick. Furniture can take a long time. That being said, I didn’t try to sell my shower stuff until about a week or so before I moved. And even some things, such as my bed set (including bed, frame, headboard, pillows, and sheets all in a package deal) I found a buyer but scheduled and took a down payment so that they would pick it up the weekend I left. Without thinking things through, you may sell your bed, then sleep on the floor or air mattress for a few weeks while trying to sell everything else. Imagine selling your dresser but still needing one for a month. The point here is, work it out so that you can transition as comfortable as you’re okay with.
Brush Up On Your Skills!
This is important as you can get rid of a lot of stuff quickly but offering a slight discount. The discount comes in that your time, stress, and overall peace of mind can be translated to a dollar amount. People also often like buying things in packages that include everything they need. As an example, I sold my entire bed set as a single package. I also sold all of my furniture as a single package. I also sold some guitars, amps, stands, straps, cables, and a “Beginners guide to playing guitar” in a single package. Had I tried to sell each of those things individually, I’d literally have to try to make 30-50 transactions. Instead, I was able to make three. It saved me a lot of time, hard work, and saved me a lot of peace of mind. Below is a few shots of things I bundled including an entire kitchen camping set, amps, and even a surround sound system with a bass amp!
Whatever Works, Works!
While I listed a lot of ideas that come directly from my experience, I’m sure I’m missing out on a lot of points, things I’ve done, and even things that work well. So research! Educate yourself! Get creative! I didn’t come up with the idea of taking pictures of the things that I wanted to keep but were too bulky or took up too much space. My friend Kat Moenk did. In fact, she’s super creative, check out her project Pocket Universes. Whatever works for you, works for you. These are just some stories, pointers, and suggestions from my experiences. If you think having an eye catching sign with lots of art on it will work better for you, go for it! If you want to try taking out a radio ad, sure, why not! Maybe a flea market space might work better for you? The point here is that, don’t think for one minute that there’s only one way to do something. Worst case, you try, it fails, and you learned something new. Isn’t that what this is all about?
Let’s start with the very basic question, “What is Busking?” Busking, simply put, is performing in public for tips and gratuities. My first experience busking was when I was about 17 or so. I was on a trip with no real direction or destination in mind, and wound up in New York staying with a friend. One day, I was in the middle of a college campus, playing guitar on a bench with my guitar case out and open on the ground, just killing time waiting for my friend to get out of class. Out of nowhere, a stranger walked by and dropped some change into my guitar case and just kept walking. My immediate reaction was to stop him and say, “Hey! I’m not a begger!” But before I could, I realized that I might actually be able to make some cash while on my road trip playing guitar on the street. Unwittingly, that guy changed my life, and for the better! I decided to give it a try and before I knew what was really happening, I traveled from New York to Massachusetts, and then onto New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, before heading back to Ohio. I stayed with friends, friends of friends, newly made friends, slept in my car and on the beach. I played guitar and sang on streets, in bars, at house parties, on college campuses, and really anywhere anyone wouldn’t kick me out or would give me a stage to perform on! I left on that road trip with a mere $200 in my pocket, looking to visit a friend in New York, but I wound up extending it from a weeklong trip to nearly two months and coming home with an extra $600 in my pocket after everything was said and done. I funded my entire trip simply by playing guitar and singing in public. And I wasn’t even all that good at the time…
So, I guess you could say I know a little bit about busking! I’ve been doing it for nearly 11 years now. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert by any means, I don’t busk as my sole source of income. But busking has helped me pay bills, fund an adventure to Burning Man, and is currently one of the many methods of income I am using to get to our next travel destination! I’ve learned a whole lot about it along the way and a lot of my friends ask me about it quite often. Keep in mind, busking is not just for musicians. While this article is going to speak mostly to my experience busking (playing guitar and singing), I have met buskers who do all kinds of things; magicians, human statues, celebrity impersonators, comedians, story tellers, poets, circus artists, flow artists, live painters, artists who do everything from 1 minute drawings to caricatures, robot acts, dancers, and so many more. The list is never ending! So if you’ve ever thought about busking, or rather performing in a public space for tips, then have some tips from my experience about how to do it successfully! Feel free to ask any questions you may have too!
Dress For Success!!
Like any other performance art, what you do affects the community at large as these sorts of arts are often largely misunderstood. We are not bums, hobos, or any other name that are otherwise deemed “unsavory” by society in general. That’s not to say, you can’t be homeless and be a busker. And if you are, there’s nothing wrong with that! But what I am saying is to try to look professional, or in character (depending on your act)! Remember, you’re performing for free in hopes that folks will tip you or otherwise pay you with connections, networking, favors, or whatever else it is that they can offer you. If you don’t look the part, then there’s a good chance you might be judged by some folks. The last thing you want is someone yelling at you, “HEY DUDE! GET A JOB! I know you’re just going to take this money and use it on drugs.” It’s the sad truth of the world we live in today. Is it right? No. By no means is it right... But it’s the truth of our current reality. If you’re out busking and someone perceives you as ‘unworthy’ then they won’t give you the time of day, yet alone tip you.
Cater to Your Audience!
By this, I mean that you need to cater to your audience. Say you’re a musician and a young couple are walking by in their Sunday bests… Do you, A) shred out Raining Blood by Slayer or do you B) play some Jack Johnson? To those of you who comically said “A!” Well hardee-har-har. While I do believe that being yourself is great and that you should express yourself however you want – that way you’ll attract like minded individuals and those who like the same things you do; this article is about how to maximize your tips. Of course they might dig Slayer. But they’re likely going to tip you for something along the lines of the Beatles, Jack Johnson, etc. Something they can dance a little to as they walk by, that’s light on their ears and brightens their day. As another example, if you see some Baby Boomers about to walk past? Try playing some classic rock! Pink Floyd, George Therogood, etc. If you’re playing Daft Punk, they’re likely not going to tip you as they probably don’t know the song, and it’s not going to brighten their day. If you’re a magician, are you going to do that one trick you have which sprays fake blood on the audience for a group of kids? I mean yeah…You could, sure! It might even be funny… to you! But will their parents tip you? I highly doubt it…
Read your audience and cater your act to what you think will best suit them. While a human statue flipping people the bird is perfectly acceptable and well welcomed at a place like Bourbon St in New Orleans, it wouldn’t go so well in Orlando near the City Walk (a very family friendly place). I really learned this lesson while I was busking near a big concert in Downtown Atlanta. Garth Brooks was playing a few blocks down the road to my right, and to my left Muse was playing another few blocks down the road. I put myself right near the train station in between the two concerts. To maximize my tips, I had to constantly switch playing covers as different groups of people walked by. I busked in that same spot for two days, each about 3-5 hours a day, and made just shy of $600. Had I been playing original songs, or songs neither crowd liked, I bet I would have barely made $100.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Practice. Yeah, some people are great at what they do naturally. But the majority of us aren’t. I used to really be into magic tricks, specifically card trips. To a point where when I still lived in Columbus Ohio, I would sometimes do magic tricks outside of bars as a busking routine. Mostly just for a free drink. Admittedly, I choose bars because drunk folks are easier to trick than sober folks. But one trick I used to do that would amaze people is the one where a card seems to disappear out of my hand into thin air and then reappear. I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours I spent in front of a mirror practicing over and over again, trying to get this trick to look even remotely real. Literally weeks of obsessive practice in all of my free time. But once I got it, I got it! When performing the trick, it would blow people away. They literally would sometimes literally run away around the corner of the building, only to come back yelling, “DO IT AGAIN!” It was a real crowd pleaser!
Essentially what I’m getting at here is that whatever you plan to go do as your act, do it well. And if you’re not very good at it yet, still go out and do it. But keep practicing. The better you are, the more impressive you are, the more tips you will get. People will tip for talent if you really get them to!
Display a Sign!
One thing I have learned in all of my years as a human being is that you must ask for what you want in life. Ask for the sale. Ask for tips. And if your local law (we’ll get into that later) forbids you from directly asking, then suggest it. I don’t busk without a sign on my collection bin. It typically says something along the lines of this, “Hey there! My name is Bobby Taylor, I am currently trying to raise funds for [XYZ Reason]! If you like what you hear, please consider donating whatever you have. Any little bit helps! If you’d like to learn more about me, visit my website at www.BobbyTaylorAdventures.com!” And that’s quite literally it. Sometimes I’ll even get pictures or videos sent to me that folks have taken while I was busking. Sometimes I’ll get emails saying they loved my performance but didn’t have cash to donate at that time and asking when and where I’ll be next. And when I busk without a sign, I’ve noticed that I only make about 20% of what I make with a sign.
It’s crazy how simple this is and how much more it capitalizes on getting more tips. A sign is another way to captures people’s attention and gives them a reason to stand there for a moment and actually see what I’m doing instead of just walking past and ignoring me. And if they do walk past and ignore me, that’s fine, no big deal. But if you want to make more tips while busking, give a friendly sign a try! If you want to do your own experiment, try busking with and without a sign. See which does better for you.
Seed Your Collection Bin!
In most cases/acts, people don’t actually want to get very close to you. For the pedestrian walking by, what you’re doing is a novel form of entertainment. So with that in mind, keep your collection bin a solid 2-4 feet from your act. That way, people can just stop for a second, drop a dollar in, and keep going if they so please. Depending on your act, some people may want to get pictures with you or otherwise. But as a musician, keeping your bin a little far away from you gives people a little bit of autonomy. Also, this should really go without saying, but put your collection bin IN FRONT OF YOU. I can’t tell you how many acts I’ve seen sitting next to their collection bin, or they may have it behind them, or in the worst of cases – in between their legs. Yes. You read that right. Nobody wants to reach in between your legs to give you a dollar while you’re busking… Okay, well, some people might, I guess. But you probably shouldn’t be taking tips from those people to begin with. Keep a reasonable distance from you collection bin and you’ll notice that you’ll collect more tips.
Plan for the Best, Prepare for the Worst!
Whatever it is you do, have backup tools and supplies so that you can keep going should something go wrong. Unfortunately, this is another lesson I have learned the hard way. I was outside of a large local music festival busking at night when I broke a string. I was a solid 35 minute drive from home (where I had my supplies), and had already made about $30 in my first hour. Up until then, it was shaping up to be a really good night. So not wanting to call it a night yet, I called a local music store that was a few blocks away! But they were closed. And being that it was after 10pm, so were all the other stores that I called. So I kept playing anyways, but it was difficult to keep my instrument in tune, and it was difficult to play many of the songs I choose to play. I had to improvise to make certain chords and to play certain songs, and I kept getting hung up on it. Although I powered my way through, if I had broken another string, I would have been done. I had never even thought to bring backup strings until I needed one. After that, I bring strings and all kinds of things with me. I just neatly tuck them behind my collection bin (along with a bottle of water to keep my hydrated) and leave them there in case I need them. Whatever you act may be, bring spare stuff and backup stuff. If you’re a magician who does up close card tricks, bring a spare deck of cards. You’re a circus artist who juggles? Bring extra things to juggle. All it takes is for someone to run off with one thing, for you to drop or damage it your gear, etc. and then your act is over. On a good night when the tips are flowing, this is a worst case scenario. So bring backup. You never know when you may need it! Below is a shot of my entire setup, it's pretty simple right? But it has literally everything I need!
Get Stuck in Traffic!
Say you want to go busking at the big “LOCAL SUPER FESTIVAL” but it costs $20 for parking nearby. And say you go busking, only to get kicked out, and you only make $10 before you get kicked out. Well… really, you lost $10 then, and that’s only counting immediate costs of getting there and such. If you really want to get into the full cost accounting of thing, consider your gas, your actual time, and any other costs associated with going out busking. Essentially what I’m trying to say here is that, make sure it’s worth it for you to go out and busk! Sometimes, when I’m just feeling bored, I’ll go busking. Not for the tips, not for the money, but because I like playing for people and I like meeting people to. Some of the people I have met while busking have turned into long time friends. I’ve met strangers who have offered me jobs, informed me or local events or even given me free tickets to things. So make sure to consider why you’re going out and going busking. Some of the greatest tips you’ll receive aren’t money…
Research Your Local Laws!! (Possibly the most important tip here)
One of the biggest and most important tips I can give you is to know your laws inside and out. Here in Atlanta GA, you must follow these specific laws. “You cannot block or stop the flow of pedestrian traffic. You may not use amplified sound (As in electronic speakers. Acoustic amplification is fine, such as horns, vocals, guitars, etc.). You may not perform on private property without permission from the owner of said property. You do not need a permit to perform in public in Atlanta. You may not sell anything without a permit (such as CD’s) or specifically ask for money – this is panhandling. (I get around this last one with a suggestion to donate and never ask anyone explicitly for cash)” And that’s really about it. But here’s the catch! Busking laws vary from state to state, city to city, even county to county. That being said, most places don’t have specific laws around busking. But places where it’s pretty popular, such as New York, New Orleans, or Las Vegas, there’s lots of laws. Sometimes, even entire departments of law dedicated to managing the art of busking in their city. So with that said, in some places, you are required to have a busking permit or face fines or jail. Some places even have ‘designated zones or spots’ that buskers are allowed to perform in and nowhere else are they allowed to perform. Some places even pay their buskers an hourly wage! Other places even give you a specific schedule, like a regular employer would. It all depends on the place and their laws surrounding busking. So all of that being said, do your research and learn your local laws.
And here’s the kicker, specifically to those of us busking in places where there really isn’t very much oversight, rules, or regulations regarding busking… just because you know your laws, doesn’t mean your local law enforcement officers know the law. Ironic ,right? A personal bit of advice, if an officer asks or tells you to stop performing where you are, just do it. Move somewhere else. Possibly even call it a night and go home if they’re overly aggressive. While you may be technically right and on the right side of the law, abiding by all laws set forth, personally I don’t really think it’s worth fighting the ticket(s), possibly spending time in jail (for things like resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, causing a public nuisance, etc) or possibly even risking your personal health and safety. Remember, you’re performing in public for tips and gratuities; it’s not that big of a deal. Your actions as a busker also affect how the general community at large view buskers. So while you may be in the legal right, understand that if you’re just doing this as I do this, it’s not worth being assaulted by an officer, getting fined, or possibly thrown in jail. You’re really not going to make many good tips in jail…
Some of My Favorite Busking Acts!
So as I mentioned before, you can do anything as a busker! Here are some videos of my favorite acts I've seen over the years! Some novel, some amazing, but they're all great!!
There's really so many of them, but so that I won't just completely fill this post with YouTube Videos, a video of Kylie and I in Las Vegas exploring the Freemont Experience! Full of buskers!!
And that's it! Be sure to follow along on our adventures on Instagram or Facebook and if you have any questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to reach out below!!
Until next time internet land!
So I'm realizing aspects of this blog are going to turn into more of a, "Frequently Asked Questions" where I write a lot about the different things that come up quite regularly. Well this afternoon, I decided to write about one of the more frequent questions I get asked. And that is about health insurance and healthcare while traveling or adopting a nomadic lifestyle...
"So what are you going to do about insurance?"
Well, to be perfectly honest, for a long time I didn't have an answer to this question! It took a lot of research to determine what my options are and which ones are best for me. At the end of the day, I decided that it would be best for me to incur the annual fee for not having Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) as defined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and get insurance through a broker who set me up with only exactly what I need and nothing more.
"What exactly do you need?"
Considering that I've been to a doctors office for being sick maybe three times in the last five years, I really only need emergency medical care, such as coverage for visits to the ER, a Hospital, or an Urgent Care facility. I take great care of my health and pay attention to my body, it's needs, what it responds to, what it doesn't, my emotional state, and all kinds of other things. That being said, I will eventually make some posts about positive life style choices and how to best listen to your body too! The one thing that's a bit unfortunate about having Short Term Coverage is that I will no longer have annual checkups, which are highly important for determining if you are developing a problem and catching it before it becomes a more serious problem. Keep in mind, everyone needs something different. I happen to be very lucky and fortunate that I am still relatively young and healthy. If I need to visit a doctor or get a prescription, I will just have to pay cash out of pocket.
"How did you decide the 'best route' for you?"
I decided my best route by looking at all of my different options. Which were;
Option A) Go on about traveling without insurance and just eat whatever emergency costs that may arise, after all, I haven't broken a bone or anything in years (long time thrill seeker here)
Option B) Get full coverage insurance through the Health Care Market Place under the Affordable Care Act or...
Option C) Get a healthcare plan that doesn't meet the MEC via the ACA's definitions and incur the penalty fee.
Option A - no insurance, isn't reasonable for me. For my first trip, I will be hiking a lot and I could very easily injure myself without meaning to... They're called, "accidents" for a reason. So that was off the list right off the bat.
Option B - Obtain insurance through the ACA. I decided against this because I was in a bit of a unique situation. Essentially, I found out that there is a Minimum Income Threshold of $12,500 per year that if you make that much or more, you are required to have MEC or face a fee for not having health insurance. As it turns out, this fee is $695.00 per person, per year OR 2.5% of your annual income, whichever is greater. Well my income wasn't very high, just enough to be above the Minimum Income Threshold, so in my case, the penalty fee was higher. That breaks down to about $57.92 per month per person. While I was above the threshold, my income put me in a bit of a limbo situation as I was only able to get very small premiums through the ACA to get MEC. It would have cost me around $180.00 a month to get this coverage. Granted, I would get the ability to visit doctors should I fall ill, but I'm not really concerned about that as I mentioned earlier. Also, I found out that if my income increases, as in if I get a job again this year, then I may be required to pay back some of the premium discounts as my income will be higher, so that means possibly more taxes later. So Option B seemed alright, doable if needed, but not great...
Option C - So it should go without saying that this option is going to start at a minimum of $57.92 per month for not having MEC and incurring the penalty fee. I researched and called many insurance companies. The whole process took me literally about three weeks between determining the jargon used in the Health Care Industry, checking out companies via the Better Business Beau (BBB), obtaining quotes, and more . Eventually I found a broker that was able to provide the insurance I was looking for (short term coverage) at only $62.00 a month. We spoke mostly about my concerns and developed an exact plan for exactly what I need and not a single thing more. Combined with the penalty fee I will incur (as this plan does not meet the Minimum Essential Coverage definition) this option comes out to be just shy of $120 a month. That means if I choose this option, I will save roughly $60 a month as compared to Option B; again, all while only getting exactly what I need for my concerns.
So I went with Option C as $60 a month may not sound like a lot to some people, but being a budget traveler, assuming I'm spending an average of $10 a day traveling around SE Asia, that's enough funds for two months of traveling...
"I thought if you were out of the country or traveling, you don't have to participate in the ACA?"
Like anything else in this world, it's not so black and white. There are a few things to the ACA (that are called exemptions) which can allow you to forego the penalty fee for not having MEC.
The first of which is called the Short Gap Exemption. Essentially, you have two months from the last time you had insurance to obtain insurance again. If you have insurance during any day of the month, it counts that you had insurance that month. As an example, If your insurance runs out on January 1st, you're considered to have had insurance for January, even though you may have only had MEC for one day that month. This would mean you have all of February and March to determine your best route and get insured with MEC insurance before May. The reason I say it this way is because you only need to obtain insurance for one day, any single day, in the month of April, and you won't incur any fee since you will have been considered to have MEC insurance for that month and you'll still meet the Short Gap Exemption definition. In short, you cannot go more than two consecutive months without MEC insurance without inuring the penalty fee.
*On a side note, in my research, I found that you have to apply for MEC insurance through the ACA or Health Care Market Place 15-30 days before it can be accepted and processed. So if I apply for insurance on the April 15th, it's likely that my insurance will not start until May 15th. Which can be problematic if you need your insurance to start in a week; such as in the month of April in the example. Just something to keep in mind...
The next exemption is the Expat Exemption. This is an IRS exemption that was developed to assist with Americans who make money and file taxes in the US, but are living abroad. In short, you MUST be out of the country for a total of 330 days a year. Yes, you read that right; three hundred thirty days, a year. You can only receive this exemption if you are out of the country a cumulative total of 330 days, not just consecutively. Meaning if you come back to the US for one week in January, one week in April, one week in July, and one week in October, then a week in December for the holidays, you'll still be able to claim this exemption as you will have been out of the country for all but a total of 35 days in the year. But say if your flight is delayed and you wind up staying a week and two days in December. You'll have been in the US for a total of 37 days and you would no longer be eligible for the Expat Exemption from the ACA (or the IRS for that matter).
The last exemption, is simply the Minimum Income Exemption. If you make less than $12,500 a year, you are not required to participate in the Affordable Care Act. It's that simple.
"So what does this all mean?"
This all means that if you take the time to determine your needs, research your options, you can make the best decisions you can, for you and your situations. In business school, we learned that we can make the best decisions if we have total and accurate information. While it's impossible to gather absolutely accurate and complete information, and lots of it, we can do our best. So I encourage you to take time and really explore your options in this situation and any others you may encounter.
At the end of the day, with all else equal, I will have not have to pay for any penalty fee or not having MEC insurance for May and June. I will begin receiving the penalty fee this July, along with my Short Term Coverage plan starting in July. This plan provides for my exact needs and saves me a total of roughly $360 in health insurance costs this year while giving me what I need. Option B would have cost me a total of about $1,080 for the rest of the year; while Option C will provide me exactly what I need for a total of about $720 for the rest of the year.
"What about when you're traveling out of the country?"
There's this cool stuff out there called "Travel Insurance" - definitely look into it. There's all kinds from protecting your electronics to providing reimbursement for healthcare expenses abroad. These plans do not meet the MEC for the ACA, but it's very affordable and can cover most things you'd need. So far, I have found an attractive plan that is as little as $0.30 a day (or $18 a month) to cover my bare needs while traveling overseas. (Keep in mind that's for a 27 year old healthy male with no problematic health history.) I'll still incur the penalty fee for not having MEC so my total monthly cost will be around $75.92 a month for health insurance while traveling abroad.
Summation of the points above to help you determine your best course of action...
- Minimum Income Exemption is $12,500 or less a year
- The fee for not having Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) as defined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is either $695 per person per year or 2.5% of your income, whichever is greater. *This is for 2016 only, as the fee will increase each year
- Short Gap Exemption states that you can go a total of two months out of the year without MEC Insurance and not have to pay the penalty fee
- Expat Exemption states that if you are out of the country for 330 days a year, you do not have to participate in the ACA; however if you are in the USA for 36 days or more, cumulatively and not just consecutively, then you do not quality for this exemption
- Using the Health Care Market Plan can take up to 30 days to accept and process your applications, keep this in mind to avoid the penalty fee if you are in a time crunch
- If your income unexpectedly increases, you may owe money back on the discounts you can elect through the Health Care Market Place
- Research all your options and gather as much information as possible to make the most educated decisions for your situations
- Travel insurance can be pretty affordable but does not meet the MEC so you will receive the penalty fee
**Remember that you cannot put a price on good health. It is often better to have something and not need it, than to need it and not have it. I am in no way suggesting you cut corners or do anything just to save money. Your health should be your number one priority, physical and mental. This article is intended to provide examples of my experience and show how I made the decisions in which I did. I am in no way am I providing you with advice, legal or otherwise. And please do your best to stay happy and healthy :)
Just your average, not so average, guy! Here you can follow my travels, learn to travel yourself, check out some cool photography, and otherwise follow along as I explore my interests from performance arts to traveling to philosophy and more!
Categories & Tags