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Archive for March, 2009

Mom Fell again today - twice!

March 31st, 2009 at 07:23 pm

My Mom has steadfastly refused to accept in home care, a paid roommate, or (gasp) stay in a retirement home or facility. But since Dad past, she's really had a difficult time.

She fell two weeks ago, and laid outside on the grass, in the rain, for over an hour. She canceled the beeper system I ordered, and the one she replaced it with would not pick up outside the home.

I've begged my sister to sell my Mom's house (it's in my sister's name now) and get care for Mom. But my sister is banking on the house for her own retirement.

Mom fell twice today, and I have an upset email from my sister. Because the housing market is down, she is refusing to sell, or even do a reverse mortage of some sort, and expects me to cover the costs of care. The quotes she gave me are over $2000 - $10,000 a month! I can't do that.

I can't go out there, I'm still recovering from my own accident and can't really even travel, let alone care for another person. DH is furious, and I'm feeling overwhelmed. I just don't have the money to cover that kind of expense. We are just redoing our budgets and trying to work out our expenses after a very long year of medical issues.

My heart is breaking.

Finally, a reasonable budget based on reality

March 28th, 2009 at 12:02 am

I’ve been sorting through the expenditures from last year, sorting out Mom’s and my families expenses, and updating with items we’ve already canceled or renegotiated. It's been a painful process (The magazines will be a story in themselves!)

Here’s what I have so far:

I’ve been sorting through the expenditures from last year, sorting out Mom’s and my families expenses, and updating with items we’ve already canceled or renegotiated. Here’s what I have so far:

Monthly Summary:
Home - $587
Utilities - $570
Transportation - $222
Health related - $675
Grocery/Drug Store - $100
Entertainment/Media - $40
Dog/Wildlife - $10
Clothing - $0
Gifts - $TBD

Total - $2204/month + gifts and charities

Wow, that’s a huge difference from my original calculations.

I'm hugely embarrassed at how out of hand things were, or at least appeared. Those weeds in the budget spread quickly, but were weeded out with many phone calls and a few heated discussions.

Here’s the breakout.


Home
Insurance - $70
Repair and Maintenance - $40
Mortgage - $0
Security System - $32
Lawn Service - $70
Lawn Cutting – in progress
Property Taxes - $375
Total: $587/month

Utilities:
Fuel Oil - $125
Electric - $250
Water Systems - $30
Phone/Internet - $70
Cell Phone - $5
Cable - $90
Total: $570/month

Transportation:
Vehicle payments - $0
Gasoline - $75
Maintenance and Repair - $70
Insurance - $70
Registration - $7
Total: $222

Health:
Insurance for all: $480
Prescriptions - $125
Dental - $50
Eye - $20
Total: $675

Grocery/Drugstore Purchases:
$100/month

Entertainment/Media/Luxury:
Newspaper - $5
Magazines - $8
DVD/Music/Games/Workout - $27
Total: $40

Dog&Wildlife Repairs
$10

Clothing:
$0 (all will be gifts)

Auto-Delivery items
CANCELLED


I'm sure I am forgetting something.

Free Filtrete filter!

March 27th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

If you haven't changed your air filter lately, this latest offer just might encourage you to do so!

Free Filter Offer

Send us a short essay, 100 words or fewer, for why you choose Filtrete™ Filters. Include a picture of your dirty filter. Really—we want to see your dirty filter. It’s proof that Filtrete filters are helping to capture the particles and allergens from the air that passes through the filter.

We’ll select the best stories and photos and post them with our featured submissions and the world can groan a collective “eeew!” To thank you for sharing your story and photo, we’ll send you a rebate for a free 1” Filtrete air filter.*



Filters run between $10 - $20, so this is a great deal!

$25 Staples g/c when you sign up your school

March 27th, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Staples has started a new program for schools,SchoolKidzs.

If you sign your school up, they will give 2 $25 g/c: One for you and one for your school when your school signs up to participate and is new to the program.

The form for sign up is at

FORM

Information: The Staples® SchoolKidzsm provides convenient supply kits to elementary and middle schools at a great value, so your kids will be prepared from day one! It's simple, you just fill out the order form brought home from school and we'll deliver your kits right to your school for easy distribution. Inside each personalized kit you'll find all the supplies approved by your child's teacher.


HTH

Thank Goodness Blue Cross came through!

March 21st, 2009 at 05:57 pm

One of the problems we've had in sorting out last years expenses is sorting out my parents expenses, and estimating my mother's costs for the future,

Mom is 87. Her SSI is minimal, my Dad was a janitor, and she works hard to keep her costs down. She decided to find a cheaper health insurance plan last Spring. And, after almost 30 years being insured by Blue Cross, she changed to AARP.

Unfortunately, she didn't understand the fine print on the new insurance. My Dad died just over one month after she "made the switch". But, under the terms of the new policy, she had no major medical coverage for the first three months of the policy.

No coverage for the ambulance, or the ER, or the ICU where he stayed for almost one week. The hospital simply billed AARP. It was over a month before the bills trickled back to Mom as "denied". Then the trickle became a flood. And she didn't understand any of her paperwork, simply hid it away for the children to figure out later.

Sigh. Later was painful. Very painful.

AARP was of little help, as the terms of the policy were quite clear, at least to them.

Blue Cross terms were a bit fuzzier, and we weren't sure exactly when the "end date" of the policy was signed off on. When we called and explained the situation, very openly, they agreed that to extend the policy for the additional six weeks if the premium for that period was paid. We did, and we just received notice that they have paid the final bills.

Wow! My parents were with Blue Cross for over 30 years, and their premiums were fairly high. Still, a company that was will to extend a hand to a widow in a difficult situation gets a big thanks from me.

Summary monthly expenses in 2008

March 17th, 2009 at 08:48 pm

Home - $
Utilities - $
Transportation - $
Health related - $
Grocery/Drug Store - $
Entertainment/Media - $
Dog/Wildlife - $
Clothing - $
Gifts - $
Miscellaneous - $

Total - $/month

no way. we have ALOT of work to do here! Argh!

Grocery and Drug Store expenses 2008

March 17th, 2009 at 08:29 pm

Average $400 a month

Goal is $100 or less

this includes all drug store, personal care, health and beauty, parents medical supplies, etc., so it should be fairly easy to reduce it this year.

Breaking Down Last Year's Expenses

March 17th, 2009 at 08:12 pm

To start our new budget, and find more extraneous spending, I'm breaking down last year's expenses into categories, averaging things out into monthly costs, and them I'll roll them up into an overall spending review.

Just a quick check in!

March 16th, 2009 at 07:08 pm

I spent the morning with DH estimating our monthly expenses from last years bills. WOW. Then I spent time removing services and miscellanceous charges, like magazines we had on a trial basis before my accident and somehow got renewed at full (outrageous) prices. Then shopping, with good savings, and now I'm running late to physical therapy.

I'll detail the findings later, but WOW, we found some HUGE savings by making a few phone calls. And unfortunately some that will take awhile to figure out.

Changing Cell Phone plans saved serious cash today

March 14th, 2009 at 10:53 pm

I have been trying to deal with my cell phone provider by phone or email, which sounds logical, but HAH it's not.

So I finally made it down to their store with DH (don't even ask, but two phones requires both of us). I've had the same provider for 15 years, back when Corporate paid the bills. I changed plans a few years ago, and hadn't really noticed that after the contract was up I didn't renegotiate a new contract, and the charges started moving way up. It was up to $70 a month for the two phones, which we really didn't need. I mean, yes, we used them, but NEED did not equal $70 a month.

We went for a prepaid pay-as-you-go, with 99c only on days it's used, and no minute charges for family members. We stayed with the same provider, so kept our activations etc, and the annual savings will be around $750 - $850!

The other problem with our current plan had been that the same provider was our internet provider, but not the line provider and local and long distance were separate, and there were little charges all over the place. I went nuts trying to track some of them down, but our DSL/internet/local calls/long distance was over $150 a month, and quite a bit was miscellaneous little charges that made no sense to me or DH.

We bundled all the services together into one bill, at $59 a month, still high but unlimited local and long distance and high speed DSL, lots of features, and -- Smile -- I got them to agree to clean up the mess of all the weird little charges. One simple bill and plan.

I also had to clean up AOL charges, which were supposed to be "free", but I hadn't quite realized that when my sister set up an account while she was staying here, she didn't cross over to the free account, and it was still linked to ours, and AOL had linked their charges into our phone company local provider and also into our long distance provider AND also into our DSL provider. Getting that cleaned up is still in progress.

Still, a good savings day.

I'm still working out the budget, trying to decrease these "line items" while figuring out the actual costs we have. One day at a time Smile

Hey, that Free Dr. Pepper offer is still good!

March 13th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Dr.Pepper has been running SO many promotions that I hadn't really checked out the online offer. But, I looked into this offer, it's legit, just provide your snail mail address and they will send you a coupon for a free bottle of Dr. Pepper.

Dr. Pepper Coupon

They are sending out a total of 200,000 coupons, and as of yesterday they had not reached the limit and were still accepting requests.

So, hey, free ANYTHING right now might just bring a smile Smile

HTH someone.

MJ

I need some Hope today!

March 13th, 2009 at 07:04 pm

I've got a cold, and so instead of laying out a budget and my current expenses and evaluating the cost of phone plans and bundles, I've been glued to CNBC and MSNBC and Fox and CSPAN...and even though my finances aren't a catastrophy, it feels like they are. Every one guessing on how bad it will get, how long it will last, what else might happen next.

That Audacity of Hope seems rather audacious.

But if I don't find the hope, I won't stop fighting to make things better. A good part of the financial recovery relies on believing it can get better, and it will. Even though it takes a heck of alot of work, it WILL be worth it.

I've got to believe.

And so...I search back through the hard times to see how I've made it through to the other side.

I started life seriously poor. I was a late life baby, and my parents had grown up during the depression. They knew how to stretch a dollar, or coupon, to get through tough times. But Daddy was a farmer, and just before I was born there was a drought. The crops dried up, the chickens died, and the dream for my parents quickly became a nightmare.

I started life finding meals out of trash cans.

My father had polio and could barely walk, but he took a job as a custodian, and worked hard. Mom had been a pastry chef before she married, and she started a bakery in our home. She fed us the "scraps": crusts cut from little tea sandwiches becamse our French Toast. Cake trimmed to level a wedding cake was layered with pudding and marshmellows to make a fantastic trifle dessert.

Me, I was the dishwasher, unpaid other than the benefit of food on the table. And trust me, when Mom is catering five weddings, with wedding cakes serving 500 people, there are alot of dishes! But we got by. I started giving piano lessons, watering and gardening for a neighbor, keeping score at bowling alleys, anything to contribute.

My Mom's business took off, and she published cook books, taught at the local college, ran a business. My brother was sent to a top university on her dime.

My sister and I had to pay our own way, being girls and all Smile. But we worked hard, got scholarships, took out student loans, graduated with honors and advanced degrees. We got the high tech jobs, with the high tech salaries and benefits. We spent, we saved, we invested, and we spent. Yes, we spent on things that don't seem so important now, but when you work 100 hours a week to get that top salary, the fact that some is wasted on restaurants and fresh produce that spoils because you aren't home to eat it, well it just doesn't seem foolish at the time. It seems necessary.

But life is a balance, and at the peak of our "financial" success, DH and DS both got cancer, and I was badly assaulted. As we recovered, we decided to take some time away, retire, live off of the interest from our investments. Which seemed quite reasonable ten years ago.

DH has managed things well, we didn't lose huge sums of money in this "downturn", but we also struggle with all the basics of everyday living that everyone else does. Gas, electricity, buying healthy food, making ends meet when they seem miles apart.

And so, today, I need some hope. Hope that life moves forward to better times. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and burned it many times over. Yet here we go ago once again.

Times are tough. So am I. There is reason for hope. I just need to find it.

But first I need to blow my nose, have a cup of tea, and turn the channel.

$7 off Scrubbing Bubbles and a Money Back Guarantee Rebate

March 11th, 2009 at 11:10 pm

I received this in today's email, save $7 off Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Starter Kit

Scrubbing Bubbles ASC coupon

with a full reimbursement form rebate here

ASC Rebate Form

which is good through the end of the year. So technically, I could find one sometime at a sale price, use the coupon, and if I don't like the product receive back the full purchase price.

I know many couponers who would get the full price back, without subtracting the coupon savings and make a profit, even if they love the product. I can see both sides to the argument. But before I even consider that, I need to find a great price!

HTH

Olay Professional or Regenerist?

March 11th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

One of the first things I gave up along with the corporate income was shopping for skin and beauty products at department stores. Sigh. I really liked the products, well some of them, and the cute little freebies in cute little packages. Some not so much. But the price, well, I didn't really notice how high they were until I had to work out a detailed budget.

So, drug store products it is. But how do you choose? Seriously? Do any of them work for semi-aging skin Smile

The thing that is confusing me the most right now is the multitude of products that a single brand puts out. Olay Total Effects, Touch of Olay, regular Olay, Olay Regenerist, and now the Professional. The Olay website for receiving a "personal recommendation" doesn't include the new professional line. The commercials, well...there is the Olay Regenerist beats the $700 department store cream...and then there is the Olay Professional quality guaranteed results...but nothing about Regenerist beating the Olay Professional, or vice versa. Great marketing hype, but HUH?

Both have LOADS of coupons and offers. $5 off ProX, $10 off ProX, $25 rebate on $50 ProX purchase, and $5 off Olay Regenerist, $25 rebate on $50, the drugstore rebates...Regenerist is much cheaper and better than the others, but Olay still recommends the Professional line. Because it's more expensive, or is it better?

Has anyone tried anything that is great on 40-ish skin that's starting to sag, with a few wrinkles from squinting too much? Glasses are the next item for the budget Smile

Are new store coupon doubling policies driving you nuts?

March 6th, 2009 at 12:01 am

Well, they are me. But it's a good thing Smile

Ten years ago, most stores in our area were doubling coupons up to 50 cents. This means that a manufacturers coupon, could be redeemed on the item, and the store would equal the value of the coupon to double the discount. In other words, if I had a coupon for 50 cents off the price of a box of Cheerios, I would receive a $1 discount (50 cents from the manufacturer and 50 cents from the store) off at the register. On a sale of $1 a box, that would make free Cheerios. Yeah!

Well, okay, I don't eat Cheerios. But the point is, most stores "doubled" coupon values up to $1 ($2 off received). Then...things changed, the economy got bumped around, competition changed, and some stores went for lower prices, others to more organic selections, etc., and coupon policies were changed. Fewer stores had double coupons, some stores limited coupons to four items, some stores reduced the value that they would double.

As the economy has gotten tighter, competition between stores for business has stiffened. And hence, each store is updating it's coupon policies to attract more of the new "coupon saavy" shoppers.

Our local Superfresh started things off by returning to doubling coupons up to 99c (for a $1.98 discount), but will only allow four of the same coupon or item. Then our local Acme store raised their limit up to 99c (again, $1.98 total), but allow an unlimited number of coupons to be used, as long as it's one coupon per item. So...if you have 10 50 cents off Zone bars and Zone bars are on sale for $1 each, they double all ten coupons to purchase 10 bars for free.

Superfresh started periodically having TRIPLE coupons up to 99c. Which, if you triple a 75c coupon to give $2.25 off, can provide some great deals. Even if it's only 4 items each, if you can find them on sale at the same time as the triple coupons are available, you can purchase a good supply of expensive items for free, or almost free.

But, now Superfresh is running triples for only three days, usually only once a month. Acme continues to allow unlimited doubles. Safeway just entered the game two weeks ago, with up to 99c doubles and no item limits. And tomorrow, Giant Foods is test marketing with a week of four clip and save "double one dollar" coupons from their weekly flyer.

Other stores locally double 50 cents, and some stores double only four, others unlimited, even within the same store Chain but different cities.

While this is fantastic for savings, it also complicates the effort of shopping! Reading the circulars from each store, looking for differences in prices and savings, is complicated. Then there are the unadvertised instore sale prices (when the ad says "more savings in stores"), and then trying to remember which store has which rules on doubling coupons, which days, which limits, and therefore the best deals. And then, of course, the trade off of which store to shop at, since who has the time, or wants to absorb the costs of gasoline, to run all over the place to find one or two items.

Sigh. I think I will enlist DH, two brains might be better than one, and it just might take a rocket scientist to keep it straight Smile


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