Tuesday, July 7, 2015

And the bills keep rolling in ...

I knew they were coming, of course. All those visits to doctors I made and tests I had at both offices and hospitals over the past couple months are showing up in the mail. I paid the little ones as they arrived and am trying to work the others into the budget as I can. I'm used to seeing bills for DS, but not for me!

On the good news front, our insurance company has decided that a toilet/shower chair for DS is not a convenience item after all and they have given pre-approval. We will still have to pay 20% of the cost, but that's a whole lot better than 100%.

I've been keeping the house cave-like with drapes drawn to try to keep cooling costs down. Yeah, I'm probably dreaming - we had two weeks of 100+ degrees straight.

So, it's six months till Christmas ... and, yes, I have a corner of my closet with presents in it. Just a few things I've picked up on sale - nothing I went looking for. I am going to try to find a gift or two each month so it doesn't all hit at once - if I come up with some ideas for what to get!

Enough rambling. Hope my American friends had a great Fourth!


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Back with BIG news!

A lot has been going on here, leaving little time for posting. I had a couple of unexpected health scares and have had two biopsies in the past month. One was benign, the second is inconclusive. I have been put on medication and will be checked in three months. All of this has required many visits to specialists, something I'm used to doing with DS, but not for myself. Can't say I've enjoyed it much.

Last week we made the two-day drive to Kansas City for the medical conference for DS. It was a phenomenal week, giving us access to doctors and researchers as well as families who face the same issues we do. DS was part of a panel of young adults who answered questions from parents of younger children. What an inspiring group they were! We visited the Truman library and museum while we were there and DH and DS went to the WWI museum while I was in a meeting. We also managed to try some of that famed Kansas City barbecue - YUM!!

It's back to the real world now. I had a meeting this morning to talk about a new freelancing opportunity. I've slowly been building my workload the past couple of years and I'm happy with the direction it's going. I still keep any income separate from the household budget and I plan to continue with that. It's nice having that cushion that isn't earmarked for anything in particular, but is there if we need - or want - to use it.

But on to the BIG news! I updated my numbers and realized that we have crossed the HALFWAY mark!!!! We now have officially paid off more than we still owe!!! Four years ago, I couldn't even imagine getting to this point. I have to believe that the snowball will just pick up even more speed now. The end just keeps getting closer - yahoo!!!!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Happily turning down extra money

I've noticed a resurgence in credit card offers in the mailbox lately. We must be doing something right, because the sharks companies apparently are realizing that we are serious about paying down the balances rather than running them up. And I think they are worried (we had to be some of their best customers!!).

Here's the latest:

So, run up that card and we will bless you with a few extra pennies .... 

Yeah, no thanks.


P.S. Hey, Kim, no extra payments added this time ... but soon!

Monday, May 4, 2015

New month

April was not the best, financially. Car expenses. Medical expenses. Small tax bill. Increased caregiver expenses for DS. On the positive side, I expect the natural gas bill to be way down with the warmer weather and as we have not yet turned on the A/C, the electric bill shouldn't be any higher than the winter months. Plus, now that DS is almost finished with finals, the commutes should be fewer, resulting in fewer fill-ups at the gas station.

We will be taking a trip next month to a national medical conference in Kansas City, Mo. DS specifically asked to go this year as he would like to meet other young adults with his condition. I volunteered to be the local chapter representative at the conference, which means my registration fee and 4 nights in the hotel will be covered. That is huge, especially since it's a pricey hotel. Breakfast and lunch are included, so that just leaves dinner and road meals, plus a hotel stay on the drive out and back. Our biggest expense, I think, will be renting a trailer to pull behind the van. We can no longer fit the medical equipment DS requires along with our luggage and the wheelchair in the van. All in all, it should be a doable trip. I have a separate checking account where I deposit my freelance income and there will be enough in there to cover our expenses. We won't be taking a caregiver, so that will free up some extra dollars.

I'm in the market for a nice new camera and I have a plan for that. At DS's university, the food sciences department routinely runs taste tests for various companies. I am on the sign-up list, so I receive email surveys nearly every week. If I fit the criteria, I go in and spend 10 minutes tasting and rating whatever they have. I schedule mine to coincide with drop-off time for DS so there is no added travel. Payment is immediate in the form of $20-$25 Target gift cards. I've been stashing my cards and will cash in for a good camera before we had to Kansas City in June. Feels almost free!

Bring it on May - I'm ready!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Leaving a better legacy

The father of a dear friend passed away unexpectedly a week ago. The events that have transpired since have served to bolster my determination to leave my children a debt-free legacy.

Mike is 37. His father was 64. Mike has an older brother who has spent his adult years living off of his parents. The parents are hard-working, blue-collar folks who live in a single-wide mobile home on land they rent. Mike knew there wasn't a lot of money. It's what he didn't know that has thrown his life in turmoil.

When Mike went with his mother to the funeral home to make the arrangements, he quickly realized that he was going to be paying the costs. His mother had $100 in her checking account. So Mike, a schoolteacher, was left to come up with nearly $13,000 on the spot.

In the ensuing days, he began sorting through his mother's finances to get her ready to face life on her own. He learned that his parents owed the IRS for back taxes and owed $10,000 on a car now worth $6,000. The interest rate on the car note? A whopping 18%. Possibly worse, his mother is paying $300 a month for a sofa and a mattress and has been doing so for a year and a half. That means she has already paid more than $5,000 for furniture worth less than half that. The wedding rings were pawned long ago. There are credit cards, but his mother says she quit paying those and nobody is bothering her about them. Mike found a stack of unopened medical bills.

Needless to say, among the many emotions he is dealing with, he is angry. Really angry. Angry at his parents for being so reckless. And angry at his father for leaving him to sort through the mess.

All of this has reminded me why it's so important to get our financial house cleaned up. I never want my children to face what Mike is dealing with. In fact, I immediately reminded my adult sons that we have life insurance and if they provide proof to the funeral home, they won't be facing any upfront costs. We carry enough insurance to pay all of our debts, including the mortgage, with a good sum left over. But I don't want my kids to have to pay our debts. In a time of grieving, I want things as uncomplicated as possible for them.

One more very good reason to keep knocking this out. (And a reminder that we need to update our wills ...)


Monday, March 23, 2015

Life happens ...

DH rolled down his window on his no-frills car (read: he had to hand crank it) and not only did it roll down, it fell out. Totally. Crashed all over the driveway. Aside from the annoying part - having to find every little piece of glass so as to protect car and wheelchair tires - it had to be replaced. There went $180 out the window. Literally.

My grocery bill continues to be a battle. I'm telling you, if it were just me here, I'd be able to knock out all the debt in no time. It's the feeding of these males in my house that wreaks havoc on my budget! Enter Walmart Savings Catcher. Anybody ever use this? I was late to the game and just found this app a couple months ago, but I'm hooked. I scan the barcode from my receipt and then Walmart searches my local stores for lower prices. When it's finished looking (usually about 3 days), it credits me the difference. At any point, I can put my credit on an e-gift card and use it on my next shopping trip. Right now I've got $32 in my account. I like to have at least that much before I use it up so I can see a nice drop in that week's grocery bill. This month, I'm going to wait and use it on a week when things are really tight. I think you have to do most of your grocery shopping at Walmart to make this worthwhile, but if you do it's so easy - and better than coupons!


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Just the minimums ...

I don't know why I've never done it - well, I do. I didn't want to know. I've never added up the minimums we have to pay each month just to stay current.

So I did it: $2,227. Every month. Just the minimums.

When I think about what we could be doing with that money, it makes me a little sick. OK, a lot sick.