Medical Billing- How to Save Money and Reduce Healthcare Bills

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What Do You Require to File a Lawsuit for Medical Malpractice?

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Traveling to New Zealand: Where to Start?

Q&A with a Reader

Hi Billy and Akaisha!

We hope you are well and we know you are having a great time!

My husband Carl and I are taking off for New Zealand for 3 months.  This is our first big  slow traveling trip.  I know that you have been to NZ and I was wondering if you made reservations at hostels ahead of time or did you just wing it as you went.  We don’t know where to get started with the planning and if you could offer some suggestions, we would really appreciate it!  We are taking the hop on hop off buses and going from there.

Thanks so much!  You are an inspiration to us!

Carl and Cheryl

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Hi Carl and Cheryl,

Thanks for taking the time to write and congratulations on your trip to New Zealand! It’s a gorgeous country.


When we went there, this is what we did.

At the time, Magic Bus was running, but now I believe the Kiwi Experience has taken their routes and bought their business. I imagine that there are some things that are the same.

When we were on the Magic Bus, the driver would call ahead to the hostels and he would make reservations. He would give us a list first and we all would “x” the hostel we wanted, and then put how many people we were, and how many days we wanted to stay. In this way, the hostel knew who was getting off and how many days they were staying and Magic Bus knew how many people they were going to pick up later. It was a very efficient system.

At the time we were there, Lord of the Rings had just come out, and there were lots of tourists, so the hostels always seemed to be jamming. We did feel pressure to make reservations and to keep moving because the rooms (at that time) were not guaranteed farther down the road.


I don’t know that you will have this same problem. Because of this “pressure” we saw both islands in 5 weeks which was waaaay too fast for us. We would have loved to have taken at least 2 months to do this trip.

Also…  we used our student ID and joined  YHA hostel system, getting a discount on all our stays in the hostels in their system. You could do the same thing for the BBH system too.

One last thing I would mention that really worked for us. When we got off the bus to go to the hostels and set up, for us at that time it was a bit of a “mad house.” Lots of people running to the hostel desk to get the best rooms, the cheapest rooms, the bottom bunks, the private bathroom or what have you. It didn’t take us long to figure out that I should “run” ahead to the check in desk to pay, check in, and get the best deal at the time. Meanwhile, Billy stayed with the bus and got our luggage off. I would either meet him back at the bus to help with the backpacks or he would meet me at the check in desk with the luggage.


In this way, we were not always on the top bunks, or in the crampiest of rooms, and we could have a choice of shared bathrooms or private ones.

I hope this information helps you. I’m sure you will have a super time in New Zealand!

Keep in touch.

Best Regards,


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A Traveler’s Questions on Healthcare, Cost of Living, Apartment Hunting and More

Q&A with a Reader


First of all, thank you so much for being such a wealth of information for people just starting out on the path to early retirement.  I’m just wrapping up my first year in the workforce after graduation, and while I’m loving it, I also love the idea of the freedom that comes with financial independence.  Hearing about people who’ve done it is so encouraging.


I listened to your interview on Mad Fientist last night and loved it.  Coincidentally, I’m currently in Panajachel and couldn’t agree more.  It’s one of my top five places I’ve ever visited.  If you have any recommendations of things to do or places to visit, I’d love to hear them.  Of course, just sitting and looking at the lake is always a good choice.  😀

Thanks again!



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Hi Jane,

GREAT to hear from you. Feel free to write any time regarding questions on financial independence, travel or medical tourism – these are our specialties. And thank you for your kind words regarding our interview on MadFientist. We appreciate that!

Panajachel. Great place. Below you will find links to stories, photos and things to do. Below that you will find some info on Antigua — another must see.


Akaisha and Billy

Things to Do in Panajachel, Guatemala

Lake Atitlan Travel and Info

Our Guatemala Page

Fun things to do in Antigua, Guatemala

Our Antigua Home Page and Directory



I hope my email finds you well.  Once again in Pana and even more motivated to make this a permanent thing.  🙂

I wanted to ask you about calculating expenses.  How do you do it?

For example, we’d like to slow travel, which implies renting.  How do we get an idea for cost of living across a wide range of places and account for that in our “number”?

How do you handle health insurance?

How about emergencies/emergency fund?

Thank you for your help!




Hi Jane,

Nice to hear from you again.

In terms about calculating expenses, you might take a look at our Relocation Page. There you will find listed sites such as City Data, Earth Costs, Great Retirement Spots, Numbeo, and all sorts of Expat forums. These sites will give you cost of living in various locations, and the expat forums are places where you can ask direct questions of people on the forum (many of whom are living in these locations) and receive the answer. For instance, you could ask about the price of a local apartment.

Housing is the largest expense in any household, and if you can get a handle on what you spend for lodging, you can live just about anywhere. In that case, you might also consider house sitting, Couch surfing, living in a hotel room at a monthly discount, apart-hotels, renting a room in a private home, use Airbnb or exchanging lodging for some sort of work that you would contribute. When you arrive in a location, find a notice board at a cafe, restaurant or expat library where rentals are advertised and begin there. Take a look at our Travel Housing Page for other suggestions.


Regarding Health insurance, we purchase local services in the country in which we are traveling. You might consider taking out traveler’s insurance, say, from World Nomads or another provider, but that can be very expensive. We have found medical care to be very affordable and accessible everywhere we have visited, so we simply pay out of pocket.

In terms of funding an emergency, since we live well below our means as a lifestyle, we would fund any emergency from our on hand cash in our accounts.

I hope you find these answers to your questions to be useful.

Best Regards, and take care.


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A Typical Day in Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico

Q&A with a Reader

What was a typical day like in Oaxaca City?


Reduce your spending footprint. Increase your lifestyle and financial longevity.

Hi V and H,

A typical day in Oaxaca…


In the city of Oaxaca, we would get up, have some coffee in our room and a bit of breakfast. We would do some internet work, then walk the few blocks from our hotel to the Santo Domingo Church Plaza to a cafe where we would meet up with a friend we have known for several years.


After that, we might take a walking tour of the town, go shopping for miscellaneous items, take photos, check out restaurants for a meal for sometime in the future, see a botanical garden or art museum, watch a parade, food display or a native dance routine or go visit the Maya ruins of Monte Alban.


Then back to our room for a quick refresh and then go out to lunch. Back to the room for a nap, and then back out once again to sit in the many plazas and parks around the city. We might have happy hour somewhere at one of the various wine bars or mescalerias, sitting at a rooftop location and watch the people below. Depending on how big our lunch was (our largest meal of the day) we would either have something small in our room or go out for something like a salad or share a sandwich or have a giant quesadilla and share it.


We were able to arrange for a 30 minute private flight to the beach, Puerto Escondido, so we stayed there about a week. That, of course, was a different routine. The morning was the same as far as the coffee and breakfast, and then we would walk the few blocks to the beach and stay there for several hours, having fresh seafood for lunch.


Back to the room to shower, have a siesta or read, and then back out for happy hour and/or a meal on the beach at another restaurant to watch the sun set.

Pretty laid back, generally, but then again, we maintain our website and continuously write articles and answer correspondence, read the news and such, so we tend to stay mentally active.

Hope this helps!



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Divorce after 50 – Financial Mistakes to Avoid

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How to Make Friends and Build Your Social Network When You Travel Solo

By Charli Moore


“It must be difficult to make friends, don’t you get lonely?”

More often than not this is the first question I’m asked when I tell people that I travel the world solo, pet sitting through TrustedHousesitters.

In reality I actually find it very easy to socialize when I’m on the road. By stepping into the shoes of someone local to the region I’m visiting and caring for their home and pets, I also inherit their friends, relatives and neighbors who form the basis of my social circle and help me integrate into the community during my stay.

After over five years of traveling in this way I’ve a wealth of experience arriving at new destinations unsure of what my time there will entail. How can you make friends and build your social network when you travel solo?

Here’s my guide.

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Make Connections Outside Of Your Usual Social Circle

Solo travel taught me social independence, how to leave my insecurities at the door, and encouraged me to “put myself out there”; but I must admit it wasn’t until faced with the prospect of traveling alone that I realized these were skills I lacked.

When you start planning your trip look for ways to connect with local people who can help you make the most of your stay.

During one of my first pet sits in America I joined a local quilting society after the homeowner had told me she was a member; by the end of my first class I’d an invite to a birthday party taking place a few days later. While there I met a yoga instructor who invited me along to her weekly class, and through her I was inducted into a fabulous group of friends who met once a week for an evening out.


After just a few days I had a network of people I could socialize with and call on for support. I no longer felt like an outsider just visiting, but a local experiencing the true culture of the region. These and other relationships I’ve made whilst pet sitting have lasted long after I’ve left the sits, and consequently I now have a number of lifelong friends in countries all over the world!

Find Safe, Free, Home-From-Home Style Accommodation

One of my first concerns when considering a solo trip was where to stay. As a single female I’m considerate in my choice of accommodation and have a checklist of features I look for. My main concern is security, but comfort and location fall in close behind.

For the budget savvy, hostels and out of town options are often first choice. However I’m never enthused by the idea of sharing a dorm with 20-something travelers and a night bus home after an evening meal doesn’t appeal, so until I discovered TrustedHousesitters I found I had to dedicate more of my budget to central accommodation options.

As a pet sitter I am offered free, home-from-home style accommodation and have the security of neighbors and friends to support me during my stay. I’ve also saved thousands on the cost of my trips, not only through the fact that I now stay for free in beautiful homes all over the world but also because I no longer find myself paying exorbitant prices for tourist-trap attractions; instead I’m taken to hidden gems by the locals I meet during my stay.


Opt For a More Meaningful Itinerary

We all travel to get a better understanding of the world, to enrich our own lives, and add experiences to our Curriculum Vitaes, however I’ve found that in reality my travels are far more rewarding when I’m helping or enriching the lives of the people I meet.

Choose to donate your time to a charitable organization, teach, or directly benefit the local community while you’re away and more often than not you’ll find you’re soon connected to a network of like-minded people with whom you can spend time during your stay. You’ll also be rewarded with a more meaningful and enriching experience.

While pet sitting in Costa Rica I stepped into the shoes of the homeowner and took over her position as a voluntary veterinary nurse for a grass-roots animal charity. Spending my Saturdays spaying and neutering upwards of 100 animals I could see that my time there was having a direct impact on the community I was visiting.

I’ve also found that pet sitting itself offers similar rewards. Every time a pet owner returns home to an obviously happy and contented animal I feel a huge sense of satisfaction. The owner’s gratitude is worth far more than any fee I could have been paid to take on the same role.


Feel Like a Local When You Travel

There’s nothing better than feeling like a local while in the places you visit, yet this can be a difficult task if you’ve only just arrived.

As a solo visitor there are a handful of things you can do to blend in; don’t walk around with a map or stand in the street looking lost, tailor your clothing to match local fashions and learning a few phrases in the local language can really help. However I think one of the most effective ways to look and feel like a resident is to head out and about with a dog.

While pet sitting in Australia I took to walking everywhere with the two dogs I was looking after. From our early morning constitutional along the local beach, to short trips into town for groceries, we were inseparable. And consequently not only did I feel like a local but I was treated like one! People would stop me in the street to ask for directions, cafe owners would engage me in conversation about local affairs, and other dog owners would approach me for a chat whilst out in the local park.

I never felt lonely and I certainly wasn’t without entertainment! So if you’re keen to make new friends and build your social network when you travel I highly recommend that you become a pet sitter. You’ll find you can easily explore new locations with confidence and will always be in good company with a pet by your side!


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Financial Thoughts Before You Pull Any Lever

Guest post by Sharon O’Day, Awakening the Financial Genius in Today’s Woman

Reprinted with permission

lever1Mud-slinging.  Name-calling.  Shades of the truth.

If you listen to political ads, you’ll hear a hundred triggers you could react to as you make a decision about what candidate to vote for.  That holds true for all elections: national, statewide or local … in fact, for anyone who can possibly have an impact on the “playing field” you call your life.

Of course social issues are important.

But if the economic environment makes it difficult to earn, save and create security for yourself and your family, how important is that social issue … relatively speaking?

So, before you pull back the curtain and step up to a voting machine, special stylus or pencil in hand, here are some financial thoughts you might want to consider as you make those oh-so-important choices.

photo from

photo from

Other factors, like healthcare, student loans, mortgage rates and others, are very important … but here we look at just the big four:


Unemployment figures are bandied about by all candidates.  But do you know what those figures really mean?  Is there any manipulation of the statistics that makes them a false indicator?  (The answer is yes.  Besides, there are enough different statistics out there that they can always find one that works in their favor.)

So what do you hang your hat on?  Listen carefully to what the candidate says she or he is going to do to create an environment where good jobs will be generated.  Are they pro-business or anti-business?  Do they seem to have a believable vision of where they’d like to see the job market go?  Does the position they are seeking have the influence needed to make the promised changes, or is it just pretty-sounding rhetoric?  Check your gut:  do you believe them?

The Economy

Unless you’ve invested years in studying economics to understand how all the pieces work, domestically and internationally, it’s hard to grasp what’s really going on in the economy.  (It’s even hard for economists, because today nothing reacts as it used to.)

But here are two fundamental elements that we can all appreciate.  And if the candidate you’re favoring has been elected to some office before, her or his voting record is a good place to start.

What is the position they hold on the country’s deficit?  (And here all politicians weigh in, whether they are running for the Senate or chief dog catcher.)  If they think it’s okay to grow the deficit more and more, remember that this is the same as allowing the balance on your credit card statement grow larger each month.  As you know, the interest payment due each month grows proportionally.  Someday it will be more than you can pay.  And the balance itself will eventually have to be paid back.  The answer you get from candidates will give you a hint about their long-term view.

You can retire in this economy – You do have options – Click here to learn how!

And inflation?  Like the unemployment rate, this too is a manipulated number.  Just imagine, the figure mentioned most often today in the U.S. is what’s called “core inflation,” a figure that doesn’t count the price of food or energy.  How real is that?  How many people do you know who can live long without food?  Or heat in the winter?  And how long could they go without filling their gas tanks?

To put inflation in perspective, it means “how far your money will go when you shop.”  So listen carefully to what a candidate is saying about keeping all costs down as far as possible.  The answer will tell you how much she or he cares about the quality of your day-to-day life.


Nobody likes to pay taxes.  Yet everybody likes to benefit from some of the things they make possible, like good roads, good schools, a safety net for those in need, a secure country and so on.  And we know they’re necessary.

But politicians are great at demonizing their opponents, throwing enough mud to make it hard to know what’s what.

Here’s what you can use as a gauge when you’re analyzing a candidate’s posture on taxes in general or on a specific tax:  do you feel that the money collected will be used efficiently if the government provides the good or service?  Or is there someone else who could do the job better?

Forget the rich and the poor for a moment.  Putting yourself in the taxpayer’s shoes, if you were going to pay more because of a particular tax, at the end of the day would you feel good about paying it?  (Because in my books, if you wouldn’t be willing to pay it, you shouldn’t expect someone else to pay it either.)

Where a candidate stands on “who pays what” will tell you what they think the role of taxes is.  And then it’s up to you to see if you agree.


The American economy grows and contracts based on how housing is doing.  You see, it’s not just building or renovating the houses themselves that matters.  It’s everything that goes inside those houses that helps drive the economy.  Refrigerators, toilets, roofing materials, sod, architects, plumbers, landscapers, realtors, county inspectors …

If anything has taken a direct hit in this economic crisis, it’s been the housing market.  Generations of Americans have counted on the increased equity in their homes to help finance their needs in later years.  And home values had grown along on a pretty steady upward curve.

Whether you’re in a house with an upside-down mortgage (where the balance is greater than the value of your house) … have lost your house … have been able to stay afloat … or don’t even own one, what candidate seems to have a better plan to get our economy back onto sure footing?

Forget fairness for a moment.  Who is offering a plan that will strengthen the general economy so that the demand for houses can grow?  Is that plan affordable?  Or is it so expensive, it’ll put a drag on the economy as it tries to get out of its present doldrums?

To Wrap Up These Financial Thoughts …

I’m not talking about political platforms here.  These questions aren’t about Democrats or Republicans … or anyone in between.  They’re about the numbers.  They’re about what are ultimately your numbers.

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Wondering whether you need a lawyer to represent you?


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Benefits of Travelling- Why People Should Travel Regularly

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This post is no longer live, but if you want to know more about financial independence, world travel and medical tourism, please visit our website.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

Thank you!

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