Monthly Archives: June 2015

HSA Investments

For those who follow Mad FIentist know that the Health Savings Account (“HSA”) is “The Ultimate Retirement Account.” I had an old HSA from a previous employer just sitting in an account for years. It would earn a few cents of interest per month and then I’d have to pay a $3 maintenance fee every month since I was no longer employed by the company.

Effective January 1st of this year I signed up for my current employer’s HSA. Luckily my employer covers the monthly maintenance fee and also contributes $500 annually to my account, spread over my 26 paychecks a year. The 2015 IRS limit on contributions to a single filer’s HSA is $3,350 and employer contributions count towards this limit. I decided to contribute $100 a paycheck or $2,600 a year which would get my total contribution to $3,100 during 2015, including the employer contribution. I guess I’m short changing myself $250 of tax-free income but I won’t lose sleep over it. Maybe I’ll contact HR and try to max this account out in December.

After my new HSA was all set up, I rolled over my HSA monies from my old account to consolidate the two and eliminate the old maintenance fee.

I was on my Personal Capital account last week and noticed my HSA account was over $3,000, yippee! I had read other bloggers mention you can invest a portion of the balance in most HSA plans, so I logged onto my HSA account to explore my options. Right on the home page there was a button for “HSA Investments.” After some clicking around I noticed I could invest any excess monies over a limit I set, into the offered mutual funds. Basically they asked me how much cash I want to maintain in my HSA account and they would invest the rest into a mutual fund of my choosing with no transaction costs. My three options of amounts to leave in cash were $1,000, $2,000, or $3,000. It auto-filled $2,000 as my choice, so I thought that would be fine for now. I may adjust to $1,000 in the future, but my deductible is in the $2,000 to $3,000 range so I figured $2,000 would be a nice safety net if I ever needed the cash. I also have an emergency fund that could cover unexpected health costs, so I probably will eventually set the cash amount to $1,000.

After I selected to leave $2,000 in cash, I clicked continue to peruse my mutual fund options. I’ve been pretty spoiled with my employer’s great Vanguard 401k plan, so I was very disappointed at my options for my HSA. I thought I’d just invest 100% in a target 2050 fund since I like to keep things simple and it would be a majority equities which I want, but low and behold the expense ratio was approximately 0.72%! What’s up with that crap!?!? I’ve been spoiled with extremely low Vanguard expense ratios I suppose. Recently I got a notice from HR that my Vanguard Total Stock Market mutual fund’s expense ratio was reduced from 0.04% to 0.02% in my 401k plan. That’s only 2 basis points a year in expenses!

So I proposed a question on Twitter to see what other personal finance bloggers had their HSA monies invested in. Lifestyle Accountant came to the rescue and noted an S&P 500 fund with a 0.25% expense ratio which my HSA plan offered. It’s a far cry from my 0.02% expense ratio mentioned above, but I guess I have to take it.

I reached out to the HSA custodian and they told me what is offered is what is offered, and no other funds can be invested in. So then I sent a message to my HR, and they elevated my request to the “appropriate expert” but I haven’t heard anything back yet.

Vanguard also weighed in on the subject:

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Does your employer offer an HSA? Do you invest part of your balance? If so, are your mutual fund options somewhat decent?

The MIA to LGA Debacle

It has been a hectic month or so with work and a bunch of personal events and travel. Seeing family and friends and sharing experiences with them has been great, but my recent trip home from Miami was less than ideal.

The flight down to Miami was exactly how you wish every flight is – uneventful. Coming home was another story. I had arrived at the airport pretty early, about an hour and a half earlier than my departure. I hadn’t ate breakfast yet, so I went over to the food court area to grab a bite and kill time. I walked back over to my assigned gate and my flight had been delayed about two hours due air traffic control. Apparently NYC airports were experiencing high traffic and congestion and therefore we were taking off around 1pm instead of the scheduled 11am.

I was returning from a bachelor party so obviously this delay seemed about two days, not two hours. We finally board the plane and take off around 1pm headed for LGA. We were supposed to land around 330pm (originally scheduled for 130pm). I looked at my watch and 330pm came and went. I was wondering what was going on. Finally the co-pilot came on and said we were going to be hanging out in the airspace to the south of LGA while traffic cleared up. Oh great, more delays. Another 20 minutes or so passed and we get the announcement that we’ll be landing in about 10 or 15 minutes. It was very overcast that day so I couldn’t see anything out the window but clouds. Then I heard the landing gear come down and I thought “About time!”

Well I learned if the landing gear comes down, it doesn’t mean you are actually going to land. I could feel the plane pulling back up and the landing gear retract. It’s approaching 430pm at this time and the co-pilot comes on again. He said that we were low on fuel and headed to Bradley International and he’d have more information for us when we are on the ground there. For those of you not from the Northeast, Bradley International airport is in Connecticut half way between Springfield, MA and Hartford, CT.

About 20 minutes later we’re on the ground in Connecticut. Apparently people were not listening to the previous announcement because when we landed I heard a bunch of people saying things like “This isn’t LaGuardia!” or “Are we in Connecticut?” One girl in my isle that might of had one too many vodka sodas had to be told twice that we weren’t in New York. We get to our gate and the pilot comes on explaining what had happened (air traffic control basically would not let our plane land due to congestion), but had no idea what was going to happen next. I had already been traveling for about eight or nine hours at this point. I was starving as all I had was breakfast at the airport and some Delta peanuts. I was also a little pissed off since I was scheduled to land at LGA at about 130pm and it was now 530pm and I was in Connecticut.

They kept us on the plane for about a half hour and then said we could get off the plane and grab food and wait to hear more. Myself and many others had decided that this was our final destination and made other plans. Delta were unsure if and when the flight would be returning to LGA. I said “screw this! I’m taking Amtrak back to Penn Station.” I grabbed my carry on luggage and headed to the train station.

I got home around 1130pm (about 9 hours after originally planned) and was exhausted. I was just happy to be home, and wasn’t going to let a bad travel day ruin the fact that I had a blast the past few days.

The next day rolls around, and as you know I love to negotiate when I think the service or product I’ve received has not been worth what I had paid for it. I go on to Delta’s webpage and filed a complaint. I explained everything that happened which I discussed above, plus the fact that I’m a frequent Delta flyer for business and personal which is true. I asked to be compensated for the lack of information I was given throughout the whole process, my Amtrak ticket, and the delays.

So as you are probably wondering, let’s go over the numbers:

I had spent $230 on the flight which was a round trip Delta flight (LGA to MIA). I then spent $42 on an Amtrak ticket from Hartford, CT to Penn Station which I was not planning on. When the Delta representative responded to me the next day, they had said they were issuing me a $42 refund for my Amtrak ticket and 5,000 Delta points for my hassles. At first I was like well the $42 is nice and 5,000 points will get me maybe a fourth of a flight. I told my travel hacking friend what they had given me and he basically said it was terrible and that I need to respond back with another complaint, which is exactly what I did.

I basically laid out all the facts again, but in a harsher tone (not mean but I made it clear I was not happy with my service). They responded back quickly with a $50 gift and said they’d follow up with another email shortly. I thought the $50 gift would have to be used for Delta, but to my surprise (and delight) I was able to get a $50 Amazon gift card. Then I received another email saying I would get a $101 refund as well (why $101, I have no idea). So in the end, with my persistence, I received $101 refund, 5,000 Delta points, and $50 gift card. Not bad if I do say so myself, and Delta did not lose a customer in the process.

Have you been compensated for travel issues? How did you go about getting the best deal for yourself?