Cheat Sheet Q&A: 


Topic:  The VA vs. traditional medical care


Today’s question: 


Perhaps, you could research a question. What is the total cost of all VA care in the USA?  How many veterans use this service?  Determine - most importantly - the cost per veteran.  How does this compare with the cost of simply giving - for free - our brave veterans a medical insurance policy?  If they had a medical insurance policy I am confident that they could get superior medical care in the private sector. Possibly for the same amount of money or less.  Poor quality medical care in the VA system, relative to the private sector, has been a problem for decades.


Bottom Line:  These are great questions.  So I’ve reached and calculated the results where needed.  I’ll take them one question at a time:


  • What is the total cost of all VA care in the USA?:  As of this year $163.9 billion
  • How many veterans use this service?  9.3 million
  • Determine - most importantly - the cost per veteran:  $17623.66
  • How does this compare with the cost of simply giving - for free - our brave veterans a medical insurance policy?:  $12,500 (for the average comprehensive individual policy)

So your premise appears to be right.  If we shut down the VA and simply paid for the comprehensive healthcare needs of veterans we would save about $48 billion this year alone (or about 29%) and provide superior medical care with many more options for our veterans.  Now it is worth noting that the VA does do more than administer medical care.  About 40% or $66 billion of this year’s budget is discretionary.  We can argue about the discretionary value of the VA’s services.  Even if you just took the amount of VA money used for medical purposes we would be able to transition out of the VA medical model and into a private sector medical.


If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:


Audio Report:



New foreclosure activity hits yet another milestone low: 


Bottom Line:  Repeat after me…  We don’t care about the foreclosure redemption stats.  We care about new foreclosure filings.  If you’re a regular here you know why that’s the important number.  If you’re new…  Foreclosure redemptions are yesterday’s (or 2011’s) news.  We want to know how people and the housing markets around the country are performing right now.  So when Realty Trac released their foreclosure info for May yesterday, predictably most media outlets that covered the story focused on the foreclosure redemptions.  They were down by 27% year over year but more significantly – let’s look at the new foreclosure filings...


  • New foreclosure filings were down 32% year over year in May
  • New foreclosure filings are at the lowest level since December of 2005

As you’ll recall the housing market was still red hot on fire in late 2005.  To have new foreclosure activity at levels not seen since that period of time is impressive.  In other words we’re in healthy territory for longer term stability in housing.  Our housing market isn’t on fire and we have low levels of foreclosure activity.  Sounds refreshingly normal doesn’t it? 


Audio Report:



Cord cutting with college grads may be needed:


Bottom Line:  This isn’t a story about TV services and Millennial aged adults.  I’ve referring to the other cord. 


I realize that due to the extreme nature of the Great Recession some conventional ways of life changed and had to for many due to the disruption in the economy.  For example I understood why many parents willingly took back their college grads into their homes and cared for them (while they looked for work given the extremely high unemployment rates for young people just starting out in the workforce).  What I’m struggling with is still caring for your kids financially even after your college grads have obtained full-time employment. 


Call me old fashioned (and that’s scary considering that I’m only 34) but I believe that young people should have to step up to the plate as soon as possible to provide for themselves.  For one in two young adults that isn’t happening. 


According to a recent study from the National Endowment for Financial Education , in-conjunction with the Citi Foundation, 48.9% of recent college grads with full-time employment are still receiving regular financial support from their parents.  Really?  Really?  And before you take about the student loan issue 59% of these young people don’t have any student loan debt either.  It’s your right to do with your money what you want to do.  I’m speaking from experience as the youngest of five who had a father that insisted that we earned and paid for our cars, college and the roof over our head.  I don’t think you’re doing your kids or potentially your long term retirement planning any favors by making it easy for your kids.  It’s funny how hard you’ll work if you’re accustomed to a high quality of life and don’t want to give it up. 


I truly believe that work ethic is mostly determined by parental behavior, expectation and one’s financial need.  You may think you’re taking care of your children but I really think there’s a good chance that you’re doing them and potentially you a disservice.  Or perhaps I’m just old fashioned…


Audio Report:



Will technology take your job?  Or perhaps the better question is when...


Bottom Line:  A couple of months ago a study from Oxford University made news when it suggested that 47% of US jobs would potentially be lost to technology advancements over the next two decades.  I took a look at the research but didn’t feel that it adequately addressed the jobs, industry and economic benefits to new technology advances.  For example it’s easy to look at e-commence and it’s negative impact on traditional retail jobs.  But what about all of the new industry and innovation using ecommerce that’s created and its impact on the economy?  That’s often left out of the comparison.


The Federal Reserve recently released data that does actually demonstrate the possibility that the effect of technology on employment may really be a significant long term structural problem. 


You’re familiar with the characterization of a “jobless” recovery right?  It was a political talking point in the early part of the 2000’s.  The premise is that that economy is recovering but employment isn’t.  There are four times in recorded American history in which corporate profits and revenue reached record levels prior to employment reaching record levels.  They are all in the last 35 years. 


The first occurrence was in the early 80’s.  The second was in the early 90’s, the third the early 2000’s and the current cycle we’re in.  What this demonstrates is that over the course of modern history we have seen productivity, led by technological advancement has enabled greater productivity without having to hire as many people to earn more money.  So back to the headline question...


Audio Report:



Life insurance...  What we want & what we have are far apart:


Bottom Line:  Even in my world of financial geekiness, life insurance doesn’t get me excited (unless I’m investing in a life insurance company).  That being said if you have life insurance new information produced by a recent study from New York Life should warrant you taking a few minutes to review your own situation. 


According to their findings…


  • The average person with life insurance wants their beneficiaries to receive the equivalent of 14 years worth of income
  • The average actual coverage insured is only 3 years 

Clearly there is a significant disconnect.  And here’s the thing.  If you do want to obtain life insurance coverage or more life insurance it’s always going to be cheaper to get started today because you’ll always be older (and thus less statistically profitable for the insurance company) tomorrow.  So perhaps taking a few minutes to review your coverage this week would be a good idea. 

Audio Report: