Friday, September 8, 2017

Update

Thank you all for your kind words on my last post. The past week and a half has felt like 10 years and my brain is still in a fog. I finally sat down on Tuesday to catch my breath, only to get a phone call from my dentist asking where I was as I was then 20 minutes late for my appointment.

Anyway, the update on the wire fraud. He got nowhere with the bank. The account which received the money has been closed and the bank will not identify the owners without a subpoena. My son was told he had to start by filing a report with the police department in the town where he lives (even though the wire transfer took place at a bank in another town and the closing was in yet another town). He met with an officer on Sunday and shared copies of all the email exchanges. The officer then gave the information to the fraud department and my son did have a phone conversation with the detective. As we presumed, both gave him little hope that the money would be recovered or that the perpetrators would be caught ...

Next step was to file with the FBI, which he did this week. No word from them yet.

And, finally, we've decided to go after the lending company as it was there that the unsecured emails with financial information originated (despite the fact that this scam has been widely known among lending companies for more than a year and a half). This is in the early stages and will likely take some time, but we are told by others in the industry that companies such as theirs carry cyber insurance that would come into play here. We will see. At this point, all we want to do is recoup my son's money. We know that it is possible we will have to get a lawyer involved, but we are going to see if we get anywhere on our own.

This ordeal will likely go on for some time. I will post updates as I can.

Meantime, DS moved into his new home last weekend and we had a family gathering on Labor Day. It was nice to see him smiling again.

Sarah
 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Living a nightmare

This was supposed to be a great week. Our oldest son was closing on his first house Tuesday. He has been saving for years and making all the right choices in order to make this happen. He took off work, went to closing, signed all the papers and handed over confirmation of the wire transfer the lender required with his downpayment/closing costs balance.

While he and his Realtor were celebrating, the attorney came back in the room with the news that the account he sent the money to was not theirs.

My son was scammed.

Someone hacked into an email exchange between him and his lender, cloned the lender's email and sent him the info he was waiting for: account number and instructions for wiring. In looking at the exchange and the emails, I'm not sure I would have caught it either. This was a sophisticated scam.

I have since googled it and found this is a new and increasingly common scam. These thieves are good. They're efficient. And they hit the buyer when there is a flurry of activity close to closing.

The bank has confirmed that the money is gone. He lost more than $25,000. We are blessed that his grandfather stepped in and offered to loan him a chunk of that money. We pooled funds for the rest and he was able to close yesterday. But the joy of purchasing his first home was stolen from him along with the money. He said this has been the worst week of his life.

My heart is absolutely broken for him and I have not slept in 3 days. I am working now to stock his pantry for when he moves in tomorrow. I've been doing a lot of talking, telling him how fortunate he is that his family was able to help him in his darkest hour and that he is able to finish what he started (he built this house). He doesn't feel like it's his anymore, so I've been doing my best to dispel that notion. He is young (26), has a great job, is in line for a BIG raise in November and has no one else depending on him financially. Going into this, he was debt free. Now he owes his grandfather, but at no interest and with no timeline. I have told him he will earn more money and soon enough that will be behind him, too.

I don't understand people who just reach in and take everything from someone else's pockets. I just don't.

Sarah
 

Friday, July 28, 2017

The boost I needed

I've written before about the student loans on my debt roll. These are loans for our kids' educations. Loan A and B are actually in DD's name. We told the kids that if they finished college in four years, we would pay off those loans - DS1 did not and he paid off his own loan. (For the record, I would not offer this deal now, but I was dumber back then.) At any rate, we are sticking with our agreement and we took on her debt.

Yesterday, her application for teacher loan forgiveness ($5,000) was approved and processed. She has spent six years teaching in a low-income school which met the requirements for the program.

So our debt has now dropped into another "decade."

We are going to do this. We are.

Sarah
 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

I guess he was paying attention

I went furniture shopping with DS for his new house on Saturday. He bought a sofa fit for a bachelor (cup holders, recliners, USB port) and a bed bigger than my house. He paid cash.

When we were walking through the house with his Realtor on Sunday, he mentioned what he had bought and the Realtor went white. "Didn't your lender advise you on that?" DS looked at her blankly. I stepped in and pointed out that he paid cash. The Realtor breathed a sigh of relief and explained to DS that financing furniture would have dinged his credit report this close to closing.

On the ride home, DS wanted to know who in their right mind would finance furniture??

Proud Mom moment.

Sarah
 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Thanks for the kick

Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to keep going when all I really want to do is curl up and pull the covers over my head. I will get back to it. I promise.

On the sort of good news front, DH went for his final $$$ dental visit. The bill had ballooned to $1,600, and since he had already used up his insurance allowance for the year, it was on us. But when he went to check out, the receptionist (who is also the wife of the dentist) told him that they knew he had had some pricey procedures this year so they were extending a professional courtesy and discounting his bill by half. So he got an $800 break, for which I am so very thankful. It really does pay to cultivate relationships with ongoing providers.

I went out once today - for a taste test at the local university (they pay me in Target cards for a 10-minute tasting). I have $150 in Target cards saved up - I will probably just hold on to them for Christmas gifts.

Otherwise, I was a slug. It is SO hot here. Ninety-five and 100% humidity. It's downright hard to breathe and truly dangerous for DS. Thank the good Lord for air conditioning.

DS1 has asked me to go with him furniture shopping on Saturday. He is building his first house and scheduled to move in next month. As he is currently without a significant other, Mom's on deck. This is the kind of shopping I like - helping pick out fun pieces and letting someone else pay for them!

We're having salad for dinner. No way am I turning on the oven ...

Sarah
 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Of teeth and chairs

When I wasn't looking, the calendar flipped to July. Time just passes too quickly.

It's been a low-key summer. I watch my granddaughter during the school year while my daughter teaches, but I have the summer off. I'm not sure I could do it if she didn't have the teacher's schedule. There's a reason why God gives us babies when we're young!

The bills have been coming fast and furious the past month. I blame DH for the worst of them. When he was in his 30s and 40s, he never took time to go see a dentist. At all. He's finally going again, but now he is paying the price. Well, we are paying the price. He has had to have one tooth extracted, a root canal and a crown, and that's just in June. He will eventually have to have an implant, but for now is making do with a flipper that he hates. Too bad, bud. The out of pocket price for all his dental work this spring/summer has now surpassed $3,000.

On the upside, DS's wheelchair was finally approved by insurance!!! It's been a year in the making and the chair we originally ordered isn't even available anymore. Had to bump it to the newest model. If all goes well, he should be in it by the end of the month. Meantime, I've been buying foam in bulk to try to make his seat comfortable enough for him to manage until the new chair comes. I'm not sure what our out-of-pocket expense will be for this, but whatever it is it will be worth it.

I think I have debt payoff burnout. I'm just so tired of it. I need a kick in the pants to get back to it. Anyone want to take a shot?

Sarah
 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Still here

Contrary to popular belief, I am still here and still plugging along. The past month and a half has been a blur. DS's broken hip, 11-day hospital stay and subsequent recuperation have taken their toll.

DS is doing well. His pain is improving and he is able to tolerate water therapy sessions, which are great for him. The hospital bills are starting to come in - we're at $33,000 so far. Insurance should cover the bulk of it, but we shall see.

I received a letter from the attorney for the insurance company this week asking questions about the "accident" that landed DS in the hospital. I filled a form out and in not-so-subtle big letters, pointed out that he fell from a manual lift because the much SAFER option of a battery lift or a ceiling lift are not covered by insurance. Yeah, that decision cost the insurance company about $25,000. How's that working for you?

Meantime, still battling for a much-needed replacement wheelchair. The latest denial came two weeks ago. Approved are a seatbelt, armrests and a footplate. Not quite sure where those are supposed to go since the actual chair is denied.

Also on the insurance front, we are trying to get approval for the first-ever treatment for DS's disease. For 22 years, we've been working to raise money, raise awareness and find a treatment. It's finally, miraculously here and we can't get it. His neurologist emailed yesterday and said insurance is asking for another blood test, so we will get that done today. When I run the world, medical decisions will be made by doctors and not insurance suits.

I saw a lightning bug last night. And I had to turn on the A/C this week. Summer is here.

Sarah
 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day by day

I'm in my not-so-comfy sleeping chair at the hospital listening to DS's Bi-Pap machine hum as I write this. What a day. He's still in pain (apparently, the break is so high up they're calling it a broken hip) and having to be repositioned often. It takes two nurses to do this. And yet, a caseworker arrived today to announce that because his vitals are stable, insurance will likely deny him staying longer and we need to start the discharge process.

DS freaked out. I know if they had a blood pressure cuff on him, the numbers would have been sky high. He knows what I know. If he is released now, he will have to go by ambulance - he cannot drive his chair. And when we get home, I won't be able to care for him alone. Just yesterday, the doctor told him he was going to keep him through the weekend and look at releasing him Monday. That would be almost two weeks since the accident and reasonable. The bone should heal enough by then to make his pain level manageable.

I despise our health care system. I hate that some suit at an insurance company is calling the shots. Why do we go to the doctor if we can't follow their orders because they won't get paid if we do?

Insanity. It's insanity.

On a related topic, I've officially had my fill of hospital cafeteria food. So when a friend texted to say she was bringing dinner, I was thrilled. At the appointed hour, she called. She was at my house. I was at the hospital. Our wires had gotten crossed. I told her to leave the dinner in the kitchen and DH would have it tonight when he gets home from work. Back to the cafeteria for me.

We're living day by day. It's all we can do.

Sarah
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

When life takes a detour

I had a lot of plans for this week. And I had to scrap them all.

Instead, I'm parked next to DS's bed in the local hospital. He fractured his femur in an accident, and because of his disease, neither surgery nor a cast were a good option. Instead, we are hoping to let it heal on its own. Because we cannot care for him at home while he is at this level of pain, he will remain in the hospital and likely be moved to a rehab facility for several weeks until the pain becomes manageable.

He is 23, but is physically unable to press the call button or in any way to care for himself, and so one of us is with him 24/7.

Church friends have been providing meals and DS's friends have been providing moral support. I am thankful I'm organized enough that the bills will be paid on time with little effort on my part.

We will get through this. Just have to keep our chins up.

Sarah
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A luxury is saving me money

A few weeks ago, things were crazy at home ... OK, crazier than usual. The cupboards were bare and I didn't have a spare hour to make a grocery store run. About that time, an offer landed in my email. I could order online and pick up curbside at a local store and they would waive the $4.95 fee.

Tell me it's free and I'll bite.

So I pulled up to the grocery store feeling like a celebrity, pushed a button and sat there like a kept woman while someone else loaded my groceries. All the while thinking, man this was a bad idea. I'll never go back to shopping on my own.

And I haven't. Except it hasn't been the budget buster I expected it to be. Turns out when I order online, I don't throw in those last-minute items that catch my attention and I just can't live without. I get what I need and nothing else. And you know what? My grocery bill has dropped a minimum of $20 a week. And I'm happier. Win win!

Sometimes you just have to go out of the box.

Sarah
 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

This never happens ...

Received our Escrow Review Statement on our mortgage. I always groan when it shows up in the mailbox because it ALWAYS shows we owe, usually a couple hundred dollars or more, and our monthly payment goes up.

For the first time ever, we had an overage. Attached was a check for $28.81. OK, so that's not a lot, but it sure beats having to give them more money! More exciting, is that our monthly payment dropped by $25. Since we are used to the payment, I will just keep paying what we have been and the extra $25 will go toward the principal.

None of this is earth shattering in the grand scheme, but it is so much nicer to find out someone owed us for a change. And given the week I've had battling health insurance, I'll take it.

Sarah
 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Taking a breath, and moving on

Thanks for commiserating with me over the massive amounts of money we threw at medical expenses last year. I wish I could say it was unusual. But for the past 23 years - since the diagnosis of DS - it's been the norm. While we have what most would consider a really good, solid income, it has never felt like that to us.

We have good health insurance, but good insurance doesn't cover much of the equipment needed to get through the day with a physically disabled family member. It's ironic that when DS is in the hospital, the cost to us is nothing. Insurance covers 100%. But when he is at home, we shoulder a burden that impacts us greatly. By caring for him at home, we save the system millions of dollars but put ourselves at financial risk. It's a dark side of the system that hasn't been addressed and about which many aren't aware. Since we will not put him into a nursing home - where all his needs would be covered - we will keep plugging along.

Last year's out-of-pocket medical expenses totaled $48,000. Beyond the usual co-pays and 80/20 costs, that includes nearly $20,000 for caregivers; $6,000 for a ceiling lift so we can safely move DS from bed to chair to bathroom seat; the cost of caring for his service dog and repairs to everything from his wheelchair to the ramp leading into our house. Note: the ceiling lift was considered non-essential and so was not covered at all by insurance. Home adaptations, including a ramp to enter the home fall into the same category. I've long since given up trying to figure out the logic in that thinking.

I have learned to be super organized and keep a record for every single medical expense, no matter how small. I am meticulous about the mileage when traveling to medical appointments and ask for receipts when I have to pay for parking at the hospital. My work pays off at tax time, when I can produce proof of what we've spent and why.

So, yes, we will be receiving a nice tax refund ... which is already earmarked to take care of the crumbling bathroom with the leaky faucets that the plumber said are so old they can't be fixed. (It also has mustard yellow tile, circa 1972.) It would be great to throw the refund at debt, but sometimes other issues take priority.

Onward and upward.

Sarah
 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Another day, another doctor

I am slowly working my way through my New Year's goal of getting checkups from my doctors (when you pass 50, the number of doctors multiplies!).  I've seen my dermatologist (history of small skin cancers), my dentist and my endocrinologist - who released me and said I can now be followed by my regular doc so one specialist down - yay!

Yesterday, I went to see the ophthalmologist. I have always just gone to an optician, but wanted a more thorough checkup since glaucoma runs in the family. As I was checking in, the receptionist informed me that my insurance only covers an optician. What?? I asked how much the visit would run and she said a minimum of $200. But I was there, I was tired and I wanted an exam, so I said OK.

Midway through my visit, the doctor tells me I have a bleed in the back of my right eye, which is a sign of early glaucoma. He'll need to see me in 45 days, he says. I tell him that my insurance won't cover it and he tells me I am no longer here for a vision exam - I am now a medical case and my medical will cover it. ... So, good news, bad news!

I'm thankful I decided to stick around and get checked out. And I'm thankful he was able to spot the bleed. He said that had I come in 3 weeks, it would likely have cleared up and he wouldn't have seen anything. I'm told glaucoma usually doesn't show any symptoms, until you start losing your sight.

Next up is my annual with my regular doc. Here's to hoping he doesn't find anything but an aging woman!

On another note, found out this morning that insurance has denied DS a wheelchair - again. Not sure what the next step will be. I am frustrated and angry that his needs aren't being addressed. This should not be this hard.

Sarah
 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Hello 2017

Well, 2016 is in the books. Our family marked several milestones and endured several trials. In other words, we experienced life. Hopefully we emerged stronger and smarter. Well, stronger anyway.

On the debt front, we paid off $10,809.29. Not our best year, but a decent number nonetheless. I hope that younger folks who happen upon this blog have a moment where they realize how long it can take to dig out of stupid. Maybe it will keep them from making the same mistakes.

Our family's word for 2017 is hope. The first-ever treatment for DS's disease was approved by the FDA before Christmas. We are anxiously awaiting the drug company and insurers to sort out the numbers (estimated cost for the first year is $750,000). While the drug has not been tested on adults, there is HOPE that it will benefit them as well as the kiddos who have seen such remarkable results in clinical trials. After 23 years of living with a life-threatening disease for which doctors offered NO hope, we are overwhelmed and overjoyed.

DH and I spent the first day of the new year with our week-old granddaughter. If a new baby doesn't inspire hope, I don't know what does.

Time for a fresh start. Happy New Year, everyone!

Sarah