Category: Frugal Living

Health Insurance, I Reject You.

Medi-Share is a health insurance alternative offered by a company called Christian Care Ministry. This is a program for Christians who agree to a set of beliefs consistent with the Bible. It is not health insurance, but it does provide an exclusion for the legal requirement to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. In other words, if you become a member of Medi-Share, you won’t have to pay a penalty on your yearly taxes for not having health insurance.

I signed up for Medi-Share mainly to save money, after Cody was born. Cory’s employer provides health insurance for him, but to add me and Cody to the plan is rather expensive. After Cody was born, we kept him on the insurance until he finished up his infant vaccinations, and then we switched him over to Medi-Share. Our monthly “share,” which is similar to an insurance premium, costs about half of what we were paying for insurance, and saves us hundreds of dollars per month. It’s a great deal for us!

The drawback to this program is that fewer things are covered. For example, preventative care visits to the doctor are covered for children, but not teens or adults, and vaccinations are not covered at all. Prenatal care and birth are covered, however. For my family, the program provides what we need for a price we appreciate, but for other families this might be a problem. As with health insurance plans, you must meet a deductible, which is called an “Annual Household Proportion,” (AHP) before your bills will be eligible for sharing. And because the program is, again, not insurance, you aren’t legally entitled to anything by being a member. Your eligible bills are “shared” and paid for by other members, whose bills you help pay for with your own monthly share. Realistically, your eligible bills will always be paid, but it is important to realize there is technically no guarantee. It is a voluntary program of Christians coming together to share each other’s burdens—in the form of medical bills, of course.

Medi-Share offers several levels of AHPs, with the higher choices tied to lower monthly shares, similar to an insurance plan. If you pay $130 per month, your AHP might be something like $2,500. If you pay $60 per month, your AHP will be closer to $10,000. That means you have to pay your own eligible medical bills until you’ve paid the AHP, before other members will start paying your bills for you.

One of the best things about Medi-Share is that once you have three or more people on your family’s plan, the monthly share stays the same. That means you can pay about $375 per month for your family of three and that number will stay the same when you add another one, two, or more kids to your family. The AHP also applies to the whole family, so it’s not as if each member has to meet it before your bills are shared. One thing to note, however, is that your share increases by a small amount every year as you age. Mine went up by about $10 last year, for example.

Lastly, one of the best benefits of Medi-Share is free access to doctors 24/7 via an online system. That means I can “see” a doctor, for free, anytime, from my computer or phone. This service is for most non-emergency medical issues, and the doctors can even send prescriptions to your local pharmacy for you. It’s pretty cool!

If you are interested in checking it out, please use my referral link, here, so I can earn rewards. Then you can get a referral link of your own to share with all of your family and friends!


The information I have presented here is true to the best of my knowledge. Before signing up, you should read all of the information on and make sure that you understand all of the terms and conditions for yourself.











It’s Minimalism, Baby!

A couple of weeks ago, I read a book about minimalism and how it can be applied to having a baby. A minimalist lifestyle is essentially one that focuses less on stuff. Minimalists tend to focus less on what things they want and more on enjoying and using what they have. It helps save money, creates a lifestyle that requires less money, and thus allows people to live more freely. Spending time with family and friends and enjoying experiences together are emphasized over acquiring and spending money on material possessions.

When it comes to having a baby, the world tells us that we need a lot of stuff. It is absolutely essential that we have mountains of adorable baby clothes, fancy swings and bassinets, special pillows and seats and wearable blankets, the perfect stroller and baby carrier… the list goes on! Not to mention a perfectly coordinated nursery with matching furniture, bedding sets, and beautiful decorations. And those are just the essentials, they tell us. If we want to be really prepared, then we also need all of the newest, latest, and greatest gear and gadgets that promise to add convenience to our baby care routines. Planning to have a baby? Well then you’d better get ready to spend a small fortune on all of the stuff that you’ll surely need. That’s what the world tells us, at least.

Well, minimalists see things differently. The book I read gave this list of items that are actual essentials when it comes to bringing a new baby home: 12 newborn onesies or sleepers, 1 newborn hat, 6 receiving blankets, 2 bottles (if not breastfeeding), diapers, and a car seat (if you have a car). Personally, I would alter this list by removing the newborn hat, because babies really don’t need them once they leave the hospital or birthing center. I would also note that if you are not breastfeeding then you also need formula, and baby wipes should be added to the list as well. Finally, I would add some onesies or sleepers in sizes other than newborn, since some babies are too big for newborn sized clothes and nearly all babies will quickly grow out of them. But the point is, this list is pretty shocking when you compare it to the list of “necessities” that you’d find anywhere else. When it comes right down to it, most of what we consider necessities are actually just conveniences at best, and a waste of resources and space at worst.

Babies have several basic needs, of course, but meeting those needs really doesn’t require all of the complicated gear we think it does. They eat, they sleep, they cry, they poop and pee. A parent’s job is to take care of these needs and provide the essential ingredient of love. For a family who breastfeeds, co-sleeps, baby-wears, and uses cloth diapers and wipes, or even natural infant hygiene, the list of stuff that is necessary to accomplish this job is quite small. A safe place to sleep can be provided with some adjustments to the bed you already have, or if desired, a side-car sleeping arrangement can be created. Swings, bouncers, and other infant-soothing devices can often be replaced by a sling worn by mom or dad, since babies frequently find a parent’s embrace to be the most soothing place of all. Cloth diapers and wipes can be reused, eliminating the need to purchase seemingly unending supplies of disposables. Natural infant hygiene is even more frugal, since no diapers or wipes are required at all! Though this method will undoubtedly lead to many messes, in the end it results in a baby who doesn’t need diapers and later, a child who never needs to go through potty training. (I’ll write a post about what natural infant hygiene is later, but the point is that technically speaking, diapers and wipes aren’t even necessary). For a family that does all of what I just described, all that’s left to buy is clothing, a sling, and possibly a car seat. If this family also follows the minimalist approach to clothing, then they will only need plain white onesies, about 12 in each size. That adds up to only about $150 in clothes for the first year, or even less if they buy clothes at thrift stores. Add another $50 for a well-made sling, and $100 for a car seat, and the total cost for gear in a baby’s first year could be only $300. Compare that to the thousands (or tens of thousands) that most new parents spend on a baby in the first year, and the savings is incredible.

Now, what I just described is probably the most minimalistic approach possible, at least that I can think of. And while that may be an optimal approach for some parents, Cory and I simply aren’t that frugal. Sorry, we just aren’t. We believe in spending our money wisely and saving on things that we buy anyway, but we also enjoy our material blessings. Nice stuff is nice to have, and I don’t think that’s wrong. That being said, there is a balance to be found, and for us, the balance is somewhere between complete minimalism and complete excess.

Reading this book on minimalism inspired me to cut some unnecessary items out of our baby budget. Cory and I spent some time re-thinking our needs and wants for life with a baby. In the end, we were able to trim over $1,000 from our baby budget, and we’ve used some of that to make changes to our home that we feel will make it more fit for our envisioned family lifestyle. One of the major things that we cut from the budget was a nursery. We’d already been planning to co-sleep, so the room that we’d designated as Cody’s future nursery was going to get very little use. We decided to turn the room into a TV room and guest room, which has opened up our living room to be more welcoming and family-oriented. There is now plenty of space for kids to play and for people to relax and converse when we have guests over. An added benefit is that the television is no longer the centerpiece of our home. Child development experts recommend that children under age 2 not watch TV at all, and this arrangement will make it much easier to follow through with our no-TV policy. Finally, we used some of that extra money to spoil ourselves with new bedding and other refreshing changes to our bedroom. Since that is where Cory, Cody, and I will all be sleeping, we wanted that room to be a relaxing and pleasant space. In essence, we cut some things from the baby budget that would have brought our family very little benefit, and replaced them with a few purchases that have improved our home for everyone while still saving money.

Our recent baby gear re-evaluation also gave us the benefit of shrinking the list of what we still need to buy. As of right now, Cory and I are glad to know that we have most what we need for the baby. We could easily spend just a hundred bucks or so to buy the clothes that we need and then we’d be good to go. It’s refreshing to see it that way, after being told for so long that affording a baby is impossible! This new outlook is due mostly to changing the way we see what we need versus what we want.

That’s not to say that there aren’t still plenty of things that we want for the baby. A fancy swing would be nice, we’d certainly enjoy a comfy glider to rock Cody to sleep in, and an ergo carrier has definitely caught my eye. Some ridiculously cute baby outfits would not be the worst thing to have either! But hey, that’s what a baby registry is for, right? Cory and I enjoyed filling ours with fun things that it would be nice to have. And honestly, knowing that any gifts we receive at our baby shower or otherwise are purely for our delight and enjoyment makes it all that much sweeter. We don’t need them, they’re simply blessings to be thankful for and to add to the fun of having a baby.

Taking a minimalist view of preparing for baby has given us peace. We know that years down the road, Cody won’t remember or care that he didn’t have a nursery or that awesome new baby gadget. He’ll just remember that he was loved and cared for. He most likely won’t even think to ask for his own room until he’s past age 3 or 4, he’ll just be happy to go to bed every night safe and sound next to the parents who love him. And when we look back at his baby years, I don’t think we’ll be regretting that we didn’t spend as much money on baby stuff as we could have; instead, we’ll look back and treasure the memories of holding, snuggling, feeding, and playing with our little baby, whether or not he was wearing designer jeans and clutching a trendy giraffe teething toy.

Stuff comes and goes, but love will last forever; that’s what kids need the most. Minimalism in all of its levels is just one way to remind ourselves about what really matters. Not stuff, but love.


“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)