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Archive for April, 2009

Today's Mail had a check!

April 9th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Yea Smile

$25 from Olay ProX, from a sale/coupon/rebate offer plus another rebate last month. There's another rebate for $25 this month, but I haven't decided if I'm going to use the last rebate to buy more and get the new rebate. It's pretty expensive, even after all the discounts.

Also a booklet of $1 coupons from General Mills. But no ads! I can't shop without seeing what's on sale. So, it may just be another no shop week.

The rest of the day was spent CONTINUING to deal with the phone/internet company on the new contract. They just CAN'T seem to get it right. But they have managed to roll all the old bills together, so we can see what we were paying all combined, and YIKES! I'm so glad I'm getting back in the habit of reviewing these things.

Those free magazines weren't so free anymore!

April 7th, 2009 at 05:47 pm

Well, we’ve also been sorting out our “media” bills…newspaper, magazines, cable, all the fun stuff!

For the last year, I’ve been mostly leaving the bills and finances up to DH while I’ve been “recovering” from this accident. Which is great, except that he tends to assume that various charges are legitimate, or that I ordered a magazine or whatnot; he doesn’t ask me about it. We were tracking down my sister’s AOL charges on our credit card bill, when I noticed, well, a bill for Jet magazine. Hmmm…we don’t receive Jet magazine. But we do receive a few others that I thought I discontinued.

In fact, I HAD canceled them, but I had contacted the magazine subscription services directly. The charges were coming through auto-payments to various credit cards, and even though I had stopped subscriptions, I hadn’t double checked that the charges had been credited to our account before the accident. Turns out they hadn’t been credited, they hadn’t even been canceled!

To make matters worse, I’d order a subscription for my Mom three years ago, and the magazine clearinghouse had contacted her directly with offers for some “free trials”, with the auto delivery later being billed to me! My 87 year old, very white, mother was receiving Jet magazine, and a few others, and had no idea I was getting charged for them!

Tracking all this down has been difficult. The magazine clearinghouse runs on an automated system, and you can only access a few magazines at a time. It doesn’t tell you what else might be on your account. Just time, sniffing around, loads of phone calls, and monitoring credit cards for charges. So far we have canceled:

New Yorker
Atlantic Monthly
Child
Parents
Redbook
Ladies Home Journal
Better Homes and Gardens
Kiplinger’s
Times
US News
Travel and Leisure
Harpers
Cosmo
Science
Natural Health
Body & Soul
Garden Design
Architectural Digest
Astronomy
Bon Appetit
Taste of Home
Jet
Vegetarian Times

The charges have been credit back to my account. Yea!

We did keep a few health and fitness magazines, which I renegotiated the rates for. I also had the auto bill removed and a block put on our account.

Our newspaper is offering a new subscriber rate, and even though I’m not a new subscriber, I asked about it and my account was immediately rolled over onto the new rate, at $1.49 a week for 16 weeks. We were paid ahead by two months on the old rate, but they credited the account forward. Whew!

I can’t believe things got THAT out of hand. DH and I are both pretty thrifty, but life sometimes distracts attention from other things, like finances. At least we’re getting back on track now.

Whew!

Free Sample of Eucerin Plus Smoothing Essentials

April 6th, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Nothing like a free sample (and coupon) to brightening the day Smile

You can receive a sample of Eucerin Plus Smoothing Essentials here:



Eucerin sample

HTH someone, or maybe brightens someones day Smile

Bringing down the gardening costs

April 6th, 2009 at 11:03 pm

Wow, we just saved $300 a month on lawn care!

Which is embarassing in itself. We moved to the property 15 years ago with a plan to mow the lawn, do all the planting, trimming, weeding, maintence, mulching, have a fruit garden, a vegetable garden...and on and on.

Then, DH was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was assaulted, we retired, I had an accident. Little things that changed our lives forever.

The first thing to go off of DH's to-do list was mowing 2 acres of grass. Radiation treatments meant lots of sun screen and little sun exposure, and he was hypersensitive to allergens, dirt, mold, etc. So we hired someone to cut the grass at $50 a week.

Then there was the issue of homeowner's responsibilities, no dandelions, no harsh chemical treatments, curb appeal required. Costs were associated, of course. Careful planning to tuck "produce" gardens out of eye sight, behind trees while getting proper sunlight.

Then came the deer, rabbits, ground hogs...

Anyway, the cost of cutting the lawn had grown to $100 twice a week! The treatment was up to $3000 a year, plant replacement, etc., well, it all added up.

So, we spent March doing research on services in the area, getting new bids, and getting those costs down. We've gone from almost $800 a month to around $250, which includes budgeting for annuals like tomatoes, zucchini, etc.

Whew! VIctory feels great, but it hurts, too!

I feel guilty replacing the people we've used for all these years. They have done a good, solid job. They probably need the money as much as we do. But, I'm trying to come to terms with the simple fact that I can't be responsible for the rest of the world, but I HAVE to be responsible for me and my family, our finances.

Just growning pains.

I spoke with Mom this weekend...

April 6th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

and all she could say was that she was a burden and wished she would die. Argh! My sister was sitting right there with her on the cell phone, on speakerphone, and didn't do anything to help.

I tried the "free services" logic, the "get help for these things and then there will be more time/money, etc., for other things", etc. Wow.

I couldn't sleep last night, woke up angry this morning, which rarely happens, and irritates me. I'm not typically an agry person. But I did feel like if my sister wanted the help, she should own up to it with Mom and not act like she is fine with the way things are and I'm somehow just causing problems. Sister asked for help, after all.

And it just made for a horrible morning. Plugged the toaster in, which promptly sparked, flamed, and burnt out in glory. We've had it 26 years, and we JUST gave our spare in it's unopened box, also 26 years old (wedding gifts), to a friend in need. The power had gone out overnight, and the timer for the coffee maker had reset and didn't come on, so no coffee. We missed an important phone call while walking the dog. Somewhere along the way I burst into tears, had a good cry, threw up, put my back out, and fell asleep on the couch.

Which gave DH some time to look at some financial improvements, and start on our taxes.

Some days just start out wrong! I'm digging in, remembering that I'm doing the right things for the right reasons. Stretching finances for everyone requires creative thinking, and doesn't always mean everyone gets everything they want. That's a struggle for me, I like to keep everyone happy, and sometimes ignore the financial costs that result. I can't do that right now. So, deep breath, a bit of tylenol, and charging on.

Thanks again everyone!

Trying to Play the Fiber One Fiber Friend Face-Off game...

April 4th, 2009 at 07:48 pm

General Mills has a promotion, play the fiber one fiber friend face off (try saying that fast!), and get a $1 /1 coupon for Fiber One Chewy Bars. You also get entered to win $50 every day. But...I can print the coupon, no problem, but I'm clueless on how to get to the game!

Anyone else get it to work?

http://www.fiberfriendfaceoff.com/

The bars are very tasty, so the coupon will be used, but I'd love to win the $50!

Elder Care is exhausting!

April 2nd, 2009 at 06:58 pm

Five phone calls and several hours on the phone long distance, but I think we at least have a plan. Even if it's just a plan to get more information.

A social worker will go out and assess Mom and her living situation. They can't force her to take care of herself, but at least they can evaluate things and give a different perspective.

I'll think about the costs after they provide the information. No use worrying about things before they happen.

Good news, well, a smile. I was panicking thinking I had two hours of prime time long distance charges. Then I remembered the new phone plan just kicked in, which includes unlimited long distance. Smile A silver lining among all the black smoke.

We're in a Heated Agreement!

April 1st, 2009 at 08:36 pm

DH and I are so both upset with my sister right now, we are positively bristling. Unfortunately, since we've decided not to respond to her until we calm down and do some research, we're boiling over at each other. It's a scalding heated agreement that we are angry together about, and yet here we are, well, angry. Sigh.

This all could have been prevented. It should have been. Before my Dad passed away, he begged my Mother to sell their house and move into a retirement community. The housing market was up, and even though the home is older, it would have closed quickly. The retirement community provided progressive care, so as my father's illness worsened, more medical staff, less straining, and now as my Mom struggles alone, she would have had everything she needed.

Even a reverse mortage would have worked, at least a year or two ago.

Instead, she refused. Then Dad wanted to get the house retrofitted for their walkers and handicaps: bathroom fixtures, wider doorways, ramps going in and out of the home. But he died before it was taken care of.

I live on the opposite coast of the U.S., thousands of miles away. So my sister, who lives near Mom, started caring for my Mom on weekends. Washing sheets, weeding the garden, just being there. In exchange, my Mother transferred the house into her name, or at least willed it to her. Mom is 87, and we are never quite sure what she has really done versus what she says, and my sister hasn't really been clear.

Last year my sister transferred all my Mother's money into her own accounts where she said she was getting better rates. DH and I were pretty adamant that she not put it into stocks or investments that were already showing signs of going south. It's not clear what happened with Mom's accounts, but sister said she lost $30K of her own money. I didn't think she had $30K of her own saved away, but, well...

...and she decided Mom should remodel her kitchen instead of putting in the handicapped features. New countertops, new top of the line appliances, $40K. In a very old, small house. I pressed Mom not to do this, Mom is not even allowed into the kitchen according to her doctors. But she wanted my sister to have what she wanted, and my sister wanted the best. Mom's money, Mom's choice.

But here's the rub. Mom uses a walker, and she has been falling. Alot. We had paid for installation and monitoring by a good facility, but Mom and sister canceled it and picked up a different contract with a system that doesn't work that well. She uses it several times a week, sometimes a day. But she's so old and weak, most of the people on her "call" list aren't strong enough to lift her.

As I blogged, she recently fell and laid on the grass, in the rain, for over two hours, with a giant bump on the head. When help finally came, she refused to go to the ER (where an assessment of her living conditions would be required). Sister came, sent everyone away, etc.

Yesterday I received a scalding email from my Sister, demanding that I move out to care for Mom, and pay for additional care. I'm currently disabled from my accident, my husband continues his fight with cancer, and even though I'm just in my 40s, I can't provide care for everyone. My husband and I arne't employed right now. My sister flat out refused in her email to sell Mom's house. She plans to retire in it, and she won't sell it.

DH is beyond furious. And I am too. And instead of yelling at my sister, or my Mom, we're just tense with each other.

Finances do that to people. And inheritences, even when there is really very little to inherit, seem to turn loving, wonderful people into something else.

Sigh. I'm going to have to do more research to see if I can demand someone outside the family step in to evaluate the situation.


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