In this episode of the Penny Forward Podcast, Chris, Liz, and MOe, discuss some of the moves they are making with their own finances to start off 2023 off right.
Chris: This is the Penny Forward Podcast, the first episode for 2023. I’m your host, Chris Peterson. Liz Bottner and MOe Carpenter are also with me, and we’ll bring them on in just a moment, and today, we are going to talk about money moves you can make to kick off 2023.
But first we’d like to thank last year’s sponsors of the Penny Forward podcast. Accessible Avenue, Ron and Lisa Brookes are working to make transportation accessible to everyone, and we appreciate their sponsorship of the podcast all of last year. The APH Connect Center, they provide lots of valuable resources and information for people, and families of people, who are visually impaired. And also, Brolin Wealth Management. Kane Brolin is a blind certified financial planner who can help you no matter what stage of life you are in. So all three of those sponsors were a great help to making sure that the Penny Forward podcast was, uh, something that we could afford to produce last year. So, uh, while we’re working on, uh, working out sponsorship relationships for 2023, we want to make sure to thank them for their support in 2022.
Now, let’s bring on Liz Bottner and MOe Carpenter. Liz and Moe, how are you?
Liz: Doing all right.
Liz: How about you, Moe?
MOe: I’m doing good. Still a little under the weather, but we’ll try and keep the coughing out of the episode. (Laugh.)
Chris: Yeah. Well, just uh, keep your finger on the cough button there, and …
Chris: We’ll just do fine.
So, the idea for this episode came out of a, an article that I wrote about three money moves I made to kick off 2023. It was not just me, it was my family too. And those money moves were three things. The first was, and I always do this every, every few months. Got a copy of my TransUnion credit report, in braille, by calling 877-332-8228, and following the prompts on the telephone system to request that. You can do that for all three of your credit reports, and I recommend that you call about every four months, so, January, April, and about August or September or so, and uh, request one from each of the three credit bureaus. TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. And uh, and you can uh, then you can get your uh, your own accessible credit reports. They come in large print, braille, and audio CD. And uh, if all you want to do is just get them through a PDF, and you can get them instantly that way, you can always go to
and do that as well. We also opened a new high yield savings account. Interest rates have increased a lot over the last year, and that means that interest rates on savings accounts are looking really interesting for those of us who like to save and, and uh, make our money work for us. And I learned that my bank offered a new savings account that was returning three percent more than the savings account I had at the same bank. So I swapped out my old savings account with a new one. My old one was returning 0.30 percent and my new one returns 3.30 percent, which is a pretty big increase.
Finally, we switched our phone and our internet plans. Uh, thanks to the affordable connectivity program, um, you can now get, through a lot of internet service providers, a thirty-dollar a month internet plan that offers at least one hundred megabits per second download speeds, if not more. My internet provider offers one that offers two hundred megabits per second download speeds at thirty bucks a month. And while they’re set up for people who qualify for the internet connectivity program, you don’t have to qualify for the internet connectivity program to access these plans. At least not with all providers. And so I, even though I don’t qualify, was able to switch down to these. And we didn’t tell anyone in my family, except for my wife and I, that we were making the uh, change, because we wanted to make sure that people weren’t just complaining because they knew that we had slower internet. We wanted to really know if we were gonna miss anything or not. And no one’s complained. My wife and I both work from home pretty often. My kids use streaming video all the time. Sometimes together, most of the time together, and nobody’s said anything. It just works, works like clock work, but it saved us fifty bucks a month! So that was pretty amazing.
We also switched from T. Mobile, where we had three cell phone lines costing us a hundred and forty dollars a month for the three, down to Visible by Verizon. It’s a pre, uh, it’s a prepaid cell phone plan that is offered by Verizon Wireless. It costs a flat rate of thirty dollars a month, and the only trade-off is, is that you don’t get to go into a Verizon store, or call a Verizon phone line for tech support. If you want to get tech support, you have to chat with somebody. And their chat system is not entirely accessible, but I don’t need to get support all that often, so that doesn’t matter to me. Um, but I, I only pay thirty bucks a month. So, for three lines, at thirty bucks a month, we’ve gone from a hundred and forty dollars a month in cell phone bills down to ninety dollars a month in cell phone bills. We saved ourselves another fifty bucks a month by doing it. So, just by making those, two out of those three moves, we’ve saved ourselves a hundred dollars a month. And we’re able to put that towards uh, savings for other things that we want more than our cell phone and our internet.
Liz, you do anything to kick off 2023 in a big way for yourself?
Liz: I have. Uh, some of these things have been completed at the end of last year, but they still are having an affect in a positive way this year. Uh, one thing I decided to do was to cut the cord, as it were, and get rid of cable. And only pay for internet. Uh, and in so doing, also sign up for autopay. Which has significantly dropped my … my bill every month. Because I’m not having cable, and because I’m using autopay, it drops it I think by ten dollars more.
Uh, another thing I’ve done is I have a separate savings account that I use for online apps that might need to be connected to an account that I need for, that I may not even use all the time, but I need something to use to either deposit money or take money out of it, and to pay, you know, friends, family members, and so I had a savings account that I had had as a transfer from a different bank over into another bank, and instead of closing it, I decided, “You know what? I’ll use this,” and it’s kind of, I think a, a more secure way to make sure that my, you know, that that’s, just, that discretionary things go in there, and I’m not touching anything else. And, you know, out of sight out of mind as it were.
Uh, the third, and most recent thing I did was uh, today in fact, in about, I don’t know, a half hour? I set up an Able account. And so I haven’t yet, truthfully, deposited any money in it, but the account is there, it’s ready to use, and the next step will be for me to actually start putting money into it. But I did it over a about a half hour time frame, I was using my iPhone, I was not at the computer, and it was … it was doable completely. There were some parts of the process where I had to, kind of, double tap with one finger on edit fields more than once to get them to open. I don’t know if that was the website or the phone, or a combination of both, honestly, but it is completely doable with an iPhone and voiceover, and you can do it in about thirty minutes. (Chuckle.) So, those are my things that I’ve done.
Chris: Wow! That’s great. Opening an Able account, and then you, you set up a separate, uh, savings account, it wouldn’t have to be a savings account, but you just had one laying around.
Chris: Like some people do, um, that’s connected to your, your, payment apps. Like your cashapp and your venmo and that kind of thing, so that if someone got a hold of those passwords or something, they could only drain that account instead of, say your, your main checking account. That’s a really great idea. And then you made, uh, uh, made the switch from cable TV to I guess no TV? Or just internet? So, you’re a sports fan, I know.
Chris: Um, how do you access that content if you don’t have TV?
Liz: I previously paid for a Sirius XM lifetime membership, and, unbeknownst to me, so I have that, and the receiver, but unbeknownst to me, included in that actually is a, the, access to the, the streaming app. And so I, through either the app or my Amazon devices, can stream all the sports that I want. And so I, and/or I will use, uh, like the NHL, the National Hockey League app on my device . Uh, or even on the TV, um, I can pull that up I think. On, I have a smart TV. Uh, but I mainly use that on my, on my phone, well, mainly use that with Sirius XM, uh, but if I need to, I can also use that on the phone.
Chris: Okay. So do you feel like you’re missing out on anything, or are you getting everything you want then?
Liz: I am getting everything I want. Um, and if there’s, if I need something, there is, there are always the streaming services, uh, but I do not miss having TV. I didn’t watch it when I had it, so, really, so I’m, I cut the cord and did not look back.
Chris: Wow. That’s …
Liz: And I’m saving money. (Chuckle.)
Chris: That’s fantastic! Good for you.
MOe: Not that scary, Chris. I promise.
(They laugh together.)
Chris: Well, you know, I don’t have to be convinced real hard. I, uh, I’m not too much of a sports fan, and I’ve been using a plain old uh, TV antenna for … about as long as I can remember. And uh, in fact uh, um, it makes me laugh to think about, I was out in my front yard doing something one day, and some lady walked by with her, her kid and her kid said, “Mommy, what’s that?” And uh, the lady said “Well that’s how they watched TV back in the olden days.” So uh, you know, right uh, right above my horse drawn wagon, uh, was my TV antenna for watching TV like they did back in the olden days. So, (Chuckle.) That’s me. Moe, how about you? What are you doing to kick off 2023?
MOe: Well you guys make me feel like such a slacker. Um, I haven’t done anything as of yet. One of the first things I need to get done is, our internet provider had our bill go up last year. My husband put it off to negotiate our rate, because we were supposed to be getting Google Fiber in the neighborhood at some point soon, um, but it’s been a year, so I think it’s time, (Laugh.) To get that negotiated back to at least saving us a little bit of money. I mean, I’ll take ten dollars. So, that’s Item number one.
Another thing is, I am also looking at doing an Able account. I started that research back in December, but I haven’t pulled the plug as of yet to actually get that set up.
And my other big goal for the year is to kind of figure out what is going on with our retirement planning. Because I’ll be honest, it’s just kind of been on the back burner for several years, and I think it’s time that we get serious about actually planning for the future.
Chris: Yeah. It’s, it’s never too late. And it’s never too early either. And uh, you know, it’s … many of us …
MOe: The earlier the better, but it doesn’t always work out that way. (Chuckle.)
Chris: Absolutely. And in fact, I’m even in that boat. I didn’t really start thinking of that real hard until I was in my thirties either. So, um, you know, it was, it’s definitely something that um, it isn’t, it isn’t a catastrophe. And it’s not like you, you haven’t been contributing to retirement plans, but you maybe haven’t paid that much attention to how they’re invested and stuff. Is that right?
MOe: It’s not been a whole lot that’s been …
Chris: Uh huh.
MOe: Added over, you know, the years that my husband has been working. ‘Cause I have not been, so I have not been contributing at all, and so that’s, yeah.
MOe: I just want to get control of that stuff this year.
Liz: What I will say about that is that you definitely want to make sure that, if your employer puts in so much money of, you know, quote unquote free money, …
MOe: A match.
Liz: Match that. At least. Because if you don’t, then you are missing out. Uh, so definitely do that.
MOe: Yeah. I know that was our original intent, was to get some matching funds, but back in the day, when we actually set some stuff up, um, that money wasn’t there. So, this year, we’re gonna get on top of that.
Chris: Awesome. Well, that’s really good, and uh, we’d love to hear from you, at
about money moves that you’re making to kick off 2023. And there are definitely things that we can help you with. You want to know what it’s like to open an Able account? Maybe you’re a little bit nervous about it? Because it’s not something we do every day. And it maybe seems a little bit scary. Ask … Ask Liz. Ask me. I have an Able account open. And, Moe will pretty soon too, and uh, while your process may not be exactly the same as ours, depending on which Able program you choose, uh, it, it still is a good, good way for uh, you to put away money in, in uh, a savings account that can, can make your money work for you, and can also protect you from losing means tested benefits, like supplemental security income, if, if you’re on those. Uh, but even if you’re, if you’re not on those, and don’t plan to be, uh, there are, uh, are tax advantages to allowing the growth, uh, the money that you put in your Able account to uh, grow tax free over the years. So it’s definitely a valuable tool for us. For those who qualify. And we have a past Penny Forward podcast episode all about Able accounts. Um, which uh, may be a little bit difficult to find ’cause it’s a couple of years old now, but uh, we may end up uh, doing a new one this year. With uh, with someone from the Able National Resource Center. We’ve just got to put that together.
Um, speaking of other things that we’re doing this year, um, Liz and myself and MOe, uh, when you last heard from us, were all finishing up the AFCPE symposium. And we didn’t announce this on the podcast while we were there because it wasn’t public yet. But we can announce now that we have all received scholarships to study for our accredited financial counselor certifications. Um, that process involves studying, passing a, uh, an exam, and doing one thousand hours of AFC related experience work. And so, as a part of that experience work, we want and need to be helping you. And you will also be helping us, by letting us help you, with getting that certification. So we’re all very excited about that, and uh, as we work through that process, you’re going to hear from us as a group, I would say fairly often. Uh, where we’ll come on here and we’ll be talking about things that we’ve learned, and things that we, uh, think will help you manage your money, so please stay tuned throughout the year for that.
Liz: For those who may not be familiar, uh, what is AFCPE?
Chris: AFCPE is the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning education. And it’s amazing that I can say that without stuttering. Yes, let’s all saver that for the moment. (Laugh.) Thank you. Thank you for asking me to repeat that, Liz. Um, …
Liz: You’re welcome.
Chris: So, again, uh, reach out to us, and tell us what you’re planning to do to improve your financial health in 2023. Please let us help you, and by helping you, you’ll be helping us, and I hope that you’ll continue supporting Penny Forward, by signing up for a membership. For just $9 a month, or $99 a year, where you will get access to this podcast a week early, a weekly newsletter, access to our weekly members only group chats, other bonus content that we may produce throughout the years, and also access to one to one financial counseling, and other things. That uh, have not yet been announced yet, but we’re always, always, always looking for more perks. MOe, Liz, anything to add?
MOe: I was just thinking, do you want to explain what an Able account is real quick? ‘Cause that is something all of our listeners might not know so much about.
Chris: I certainly can. Uh, an Able account is a tax advantaged savings account that is available to people who are blind, or have a disability, if their disability occurred before they turned age twenty-six. And there is legislation working its way through congress that would increase that age to forty-six, but right now it’s still twenty-six. And uh, um, it works a little bit like a Roth IRA, if people are familiar with a Roth IRA, and, and, man, we could go on for hours about this. But essentially, what happens is, you put your money into the Able account today, and it will earn interest throughout the years, and you will not pay taxes on the interest that you earn when you take your money out of your Able account, say ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road, when you have built up a nice nest egg. And there aren’t too many strings attached to how you use the money. Uh, as long as you use it for qualified disability expenses. And they’ve set up the, the uh, categories for qualified disability expenses in such a way that it is hard not to use your Able account money for something that’s a qualified disability expense. As long as you pull the money out in a way that benefits you. In other words, you need to spend the money on yourself, as the Able account owner, uh, not on your family members or your friends. And otherwise, the categories are things like housing, transportation, uh, food and groceries and other personal care items, education, um, assistive technology, uh, work related expenses, things like this. So, it, it really is, um, quite difficult. Quite difficult to, uh, find things that would not qualify as qualified disability expenses. So don’t be afraid, uh, of those terms because uh, you’re not really being boxed in real hard by those restrictions. Um, the other thing that an Able account does, if you are on Medicaid, or SSI, or food stamps, or other things like that that, um, force you to have, uh, less than two thousand dollars in the bank, if you have more than two thousand dollars in an Able account, it will not put your ability to receive those benefits at risk. So, you can, uh, you can receive gifts from family and friends, and put them away in your Able account for something that you need later on, and uh, you don’t have to worry about losing your benefits. So, uh, they’re, they’re a pretty great tool. And uh, and in fact, they’re kind of set up to allow your family and friends to, to give you gifts. So, most Able accounts have a handy dandy gifting page, kind of like your own personal Go Fund Me, uh, that you can give to your family and friends if you’re saving up for something and, and you can say, “You know, just uh, just put your gifts right in here, and that way I don’t have to worry about, uh, losing my benefits.” So, that in short is what an Able account is. Um, did I, uh, did I cover it in a way that made sense to both of you? Or did I miss anything that you can think of?
(MOe and Liz both try to speak at once.)
MOe: The one thing that … Sorry, Liz. Uh, the one thing that I wanted to add was that these are fairly new. I believe they’ve only been around since around 2016, it might even be a little later than that. So that might be why you don’t know a whole lot about them if you don’t know anything about them.
Chris: That is correct. And Liz, was, was there something you wanted to add?
Liz: I just, I was gonna say I think you covered it.
Chris: All right.
Liz: I don’t think you forgot anything.
Chris: All right. Well, I think that’s about all the time that we have for today, so uh, again, I want to thank you for listening to the Penny Forward podcast. Head on over to
and join Penny Forward for ninety, uh, … For, $9 a month, or $99 a year, and you’ll get access to our weekly members only group chats, our weekly Penny Forward newsletter, early access to the podcast, and much, much more. The Penny Forward podcast is produced by Chris Peterson and Liz Bottner, editing and post production is done by Brynn Lee at Super blink …
transcription is provided by Anne Verduin, and again, we’d like to thank last year’s sponsors, Accessible Avenue, Brolin Wealth Management, the APH Connect Center, and Dennis and Nicole Malinis. Thanks for listening, Everybody. Say good night, MOe and Liz.
Liz: Good night. Thanks for listening.
MOe: Good night, MOe and Liz. (Laugh.)