September 12, 2012

Creating a Table in Excel?

When Microsoft Office 2007 first came out, my first thought about creating a table within a spreadsheet was why? Why create something that is less than what you already have to work with? Spreadsheets do so much more than tables do. Tables were for Word, not Excel. However, there is more to a table than simple color changes. This isn't Word's table, this is much more powerful and helpful.

As an example, here is a simple spreadsheet.

I’ve added the formula in column F to multiply the Unit Price times the Units. Now, this is a really short spreadsheet, but imagine if it were many items, say at least a couple of hundred or more. You can easily copy the formula down, but tables make this much simpler and also do more for you.

Here is the spreadsheet once I selected it and clicked on Insert Table.

Obviously, color and design has been added with Tables, however, additional helps are in there as well. Now when I add my formula in, I add it in the top row and it automatically copies the formula down all the way for me. One extra step that has been removed. In addition, I now have Table Options that allow me to add a Total Row easily and I have functions built in that I just have to click on the arrow in the cell and decide what I want to see. For instance, in the example above, the Units column I have selected to know the Sum of that column. In the Unit Price Column, I elected to use MAX that tells me what the largest Unit Price is in the column. (Remember, although I can readily see this with only three items, this would be a huge time saver for large lists. In addition, of course, the last column is the final total cost.

Note the arrows in the headers of each column as well. Here automatic filtering has been turned on so with one click on the arrow, there are different sorting options available which can help isolate particular inventory items.

I admit, I thought originally tables were nothing more than pretty color on a spreadsheet and I have found that they are much more. I suggest that the next time you build a spreadsheet or work with one, try converting to a table and see all of the available options that it provides. Tables are powerful tools and will help you make the best of your spreadsheets.

September 07, 2012

Working with Microsoft Word - Changing Capital Letters

Are you one of those people who types everything in capital letters? Maybe you aren't that great at typing so that's all you can manage? Typing in capitals is considered shouting when viewed electronically. It is preferable to avoid sending emails that way if you can avoid it. Fortunately, there are some easy fixes for this. If you have Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010, a new tool will allow you to instantly change your uppercase words all to sentence case. 

First, type your email out in Word instead of using your email program. 

Then select (highlight) all of your text that you wish to change.

Select the Aa from the Home Ribbon in the Font group. It's a drop down arrow that gives you several choices such as changing to uppercase, lowercase, capitalize each word and toggle case. 

Select sentence case to change all caps and then each sentence will have the first word capitalized. 

Now you can highlight all of your text, copy and paste it into your email program and you don't risk offending anyone by shouting. It’s also much easier to read a paragraph of sentence case versus all capitals. Happy emailing!

February 04, 2006

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans Available in Texas

Prescription Drug Plans Available in Texas

Insurance Company Name Phone Number Website Address

Advantra RX 1-800-882-3822
Aetna Life Insurance Company 1-888-224-0989
Blue Cross Blue Shield of TX 1-888-579-9373
CIGNA HealthCare 1-800-735-1459
Community Care RX 1-866-684-5353
Elder Health Texas, Inc. 1-888-225-0026
Humana Inc. 1-800-851-1629
PacifiCare Life and Health Insurance 1-800-943-0399
Prescription Pathway 1-800-825-8200
RxAmerican 1-877-279-0370
Scott and White Health Plan PDP 1-866-334-3141
SierraRX 1-866-789-0565
SilverScript 1-866-552-6106
Sterling Prescription Drug Plan 1-888-909-1713
Texas HealthSpring PDP 1-800-846-2098
Unicare 1-866-892-5335
United American Insurance Company 1-866-524-4169
United HealthCare / AARP 1-888-867-5565
WellCare 1-888-423-5252
YOURxPLAN 1-800-758-3605

January 30, 2006

Medicare Part D - Issues

Medicare Part D continues to be a controversy rather than the shot in the arm that it is supposed to be. It continues to be amazing that this is such a complicated area and yet Seniors are supposed to be able to make sense of all of it.

Mr. Joe Paduda's weblog has recent updates on the fall out from the poorly planned administration of Medicare Part D, including the fact that "pharmacies are not able to access eligibility information in government databases through the normal EDI links, requiring the pharmacists to call Medicare where they spend hours on hold. Meanwhile, patients are't getting their drugs."

Government agencies are notorious for little or no cooperation with one another. The problem is when individuals have to deal with these inefficiencies and especially when this lack of cooperation and/or expertise impacts one's critical components for living as healthy as possible.

January 23, 2006

Medicare Part D – Making A Decision

Seniors are being asked to choose a drug plan with a dizzying array of information being thrown at them in order to make the choice. The problem is that if they make the incorrect choice, their health could be at risk. If they choose a provider for Medicare Part D that has a formulary that does not include their current prescriptions, then Medicare Part D is not going to save these seniors any money. So what should be done?

If you have an older parent or are friends with someone who is considering Medicare Part D it may be a good idea for these older people to have some additional input. Obviously there are older people who have memory problems and are not as capable of filtering through the multitude of plans being offered to them in order to choose the best plan.

Here are the things that will need to be done in order for the choice to be made.

1. Review the current drugs that are being used. Make an all-inclusive list of medicines that are currently being taken. It might be a good idea to speak to the doctors and ask what kind of medicines are likely to be needed in the future given any kind of existing chronic conditions. That way there will be fewer surprises when a new prescription is added.

2. Check the current drug coverage. A letter should have been sent from the insurer stating whether the plan is creditable, meeting Medicare’s minimum requirements. In this case, waiting may be the answer but the letter gives proof that the beneficiary didn’t wait until after coverage was needed to get good drug coverage.

3. The deadline for enrolling in a Part D plan is penalty-free until May 15, 2006. Get all the education before that deadline because once it passes, if there wasn’t a creditable drug plan in place at the time of enrollment, there will be an extra 1% charge on premiums for every month delay in signing up. That can be significant in a very short time frame.

4. Finally, be careful about options before actually making the choice. Find out what changes the employer plans to make should a Part D plan for prescription drugs be chosen. Will it affect current coverage? Some employers may continue to cover medical bills but it is expected that about half will drop retired employees from their insurance plans entirely should the former employees purchase a Part D plan.

Medicare Part D is like any major financial decision in that it should be made with a very clear head and without emotions attached. Choosing the right plan should be based on whether it will save the senior money on the prescription drugs that they take, exactly what it is supposed to do. If the plan doesn’t do that, it doesn’t matter how nice the people who try to sell it are, they aren’t the ones who will pay whatever drugs that won't be covered, the senior will.

Get the information and ask questions, lots of questions. Don’t forget that there are lots of resources out there to help make this decision as painlessly as possible, including Medicare’s website,

January 05, 2006


“Synonyms: be economical, be frugal, be prudent, be sparing, conserve, cut back, cut corners, cut down, husband, manage, pinch pennies, retrench, save, scrimp, shepherd, skimp, stint”
Look how many of these synonyms for economize could be considered in a negative connotation. How odd that somehow the frugal individual is frowned upon for their budgetary sense. Perhaps it is a symptom of the throw away society that encourages waste.

In fact, so much waste is accumulated each day that storage facilities are a booming business, necessary to house all of the stuff that Americans can no longer find room for in their homes. So now many of these average citizens scramble to find a storage facility to store all of this unwanted stuff. Therefore they not only have wasted the money on things they don’t use but to add insult to injury, they now have to pay rent to store all of it and it may stay in storage for years.

Television shows on HGTV and The Learning Channel such as “Clean House” and “Mission Organization” highlight the amount of clutter that people generate every week. These shows and others show the must have syndrome that prompts all of the impulse buys for things that have no practical use. Instead the individuals purchasing these things are often deep in debt hoping to purchase more items. Economize and all of its synonyms are not a part of these folks vocabulary.

But changes can be made with just a few adjustments in lifestyle. Before purchasing that knickknack that may seem too cute to resist, stop and think. First, does it go with anything already in the house? If so, does that mean this would be essentially a duplicate of the same thing? If your house were cluttered, this item would be just another piece that needs dusting on a frequent basis. Once you bring these thoughts to the foreground of your consciousness, it may be that looking at the cute knickknack, admiring it and putting it down for someone else to purchase is the way to go. Think of all the money that could be going into a savings account instead.

Economizing doesn’t mean giving up things you need. It means being smarter about what you currently have and using those things before automatically purchasing new things. Do you have things that were purchased and used once before becoming dust collectors? If so, maybe it is time to clean up and get rid of the additional drains. A yard sale is one way to even recoup some of your costs back. If that is too much of an effort, consider giving your unwanted stuff to the local charity. Either way, it is better to get rid of the extra clutter than to rent storage space for it. Then, just think before you buy and you will be on your way to becoming a frugal person.

"It is great wealth to a soul to live frugally with a contented mind."
Lucretius (99BC - 5BC) Roman poet, philosopher.

January 04, 2006


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) signed into law on April 7, 1986. Congress created this law primarily to help individuals retain group health insurance when there was a break in coverage due to such things as unemployment or changes in family status such as divorce.

COBRA is a law that employers must adhere to by offering continuation of group health benefits to individuals who lose coverage as a result of the following qualifying events.

Qualifying Events
Legal Separation
Los of dependent child status
Medicare entitlement
Reduction in work hours
Termination of employment

Group Health Benefits Defined
Medical Insurance
Dental Insurance
Vision Insurance
Prescription Drug Programs
Health Flexible Spending Accounts and any self-insured arrangements that provide similar benefits.

COBRA requires employers to offer individuals who lose coverage as a result of a qualifying event the same coverage they had prior to the event. These individuals are called qualified beneficiaries and must be given essentially the same rights as active employees. If the active employees have the ability to change plans or benefits, add or delete dependents during open enrollment periods, qualified beneficiaries have the same rights.