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Rain Cloud

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I feel like Eeyore, with the tiny rain cloud following me around. It’s not that I have a negative outlook on life (I like to think I’m a pretty positive person),  but I can’t shake these sad life “happenings” that seem like they’re going to persist…at least for the foreseeable future.

Let me back up. Guess where I am!!!

Hint – I’m not at home or work. I’m not even in the state of Arizona. I’m back in Texas. Flew in (on a $700 last-minute flight, no less) for a funeral. My maternal grandmother unexpectedly passed away. I should say “unexpected” in quotations because although we weren’t anticipating it, she has been in a nursing home for 4 years, is 84 years old and in only mediocre health, so these things don’t come entirely by surprise.

Her death comes right on the heels of Rocky’s death and the sting is real. Guess what else – Chris’ grandfather was just placed on hospice. So he may be making a last minute trip back to Texas for a funeral soon, too.

For a number of reasons, we decided we would each go back solo to attend our respective grandparents’ funeral. In addition to the funeral trips, we’re also planning a trip back up to Utah. For newer readers, my Dad used to live in Utah and still owns property there. When he was diagnosed with his incurable disease, we moved him to an assisted living facility in Texas closer to family. But his Draper home sits unoccupied. The goal is to go up, completely empty the thing out, and get it placed with a property management company that can take over its management and care. Originally we were going to sell the home, but when we actually looked at numbers we realized he didn’t have as much equity as we’d thought. After accounting for closing costs, etc., the house would probably just about break even or net a tiny amount of profits. I’ll outright say that I really wanted to get rid of this property simply for my own sanity – I don’t want to keep dealing with it!!! But I was outvoted amongst the siblings and I respect the group decision to keep it and hope to build up some equity as we get some renters in there paying all the bills and upkeep (plus extra for profits). It feels like a scary risk to me (what if the roof needs repair? the foundation cracks? some other huge $$$ disaster occurs?) but, again, not my decision.

So that’s what’s up on the old summer 2016 docket:  three deaths, two funerals, and a trip to Utah. Oh, and my brother is going through a horrific divorce, the likes of which I’ve only ever seen before in movies (I mean, it’s D.R.A.M.A.). So there’s that.

I don’t know why this little rain cloud won’t leave our family alone, but I’m totally over it. I’m really trying to refocus my priorities on work and family and to keep a positive outlook on life, making the best of even bad situations. On that note, I’m excited to see a couple cousins who will be flying into town today (my grandma’s funeral is tomorrow). We’re going to have a swim and pancake party tonight at my brother’s house and I can’t wait! Wish my kiddos were here (they’d love it!), but given all the circumstances I don’t regret the decision to fly back to Texas solo. I’m happy to spend time surrounded by extended family, love, support, and fun stories of our sweet Nana.

Financials…

I can’t just end this post without getting to the meat of the matter. Which is to say that I’ve taken another $700 from our emergency fund in order to cover the costs of this unexpected last-minute trip. I owe you lots of posts soon (May budget update; May debt update) to fully update you on our whole money situation. The Cliff’s Notes version is that our May debt updates were small, we had NO savings in May, and we ended up having to raid our EF to help cover the end-of-life expenses for our beloved dog. BUT (looking at the positive) – NO NEW DEBT and I was still able to make a little dent in our current debts, too. I have to call that a win with all things considered!

Let’s not dwell on the negatives. Tell me something POSITIVE about your summer:  some fun plans, exciting activities, new debt milestones or debt payoffs, etc. etc.  I’ll tell one of mine:  We took our girls up to Sabino Canyon last weekend and had SO MUCH FUN! We rode a little tram thing, hiked around, and “swam” (waded) in some bodies of water that result from the snow melting up on the mountain. Being the desert, we don’t have a lot of water in Tucson so it was a real treat to get to play in a natural body of water (not a swimming pool), and it was the girls’ first ever “hike” (a very light hike). I love making these types of memories with the kiddos!


April Budget Update

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Yikes! With how overdue this budget update is, I did consider just skipping it entirely. I forgot to post December’s budget and it was my first time to ever miss a month! I don’t want it to start becoming a pattern. So, instead of pushing it off any longer, here’s the extremely overdue budget:

Place Amount Spent
Rent 1200
Down Payment Savings 2000
Electricity 88
Water 55
Natural gas 60
Cell Phones (2 lines) 89
Cable/Internet 100
Trash 35
Preschool 1075
Restaurants 249
Entertainment 1
Kids Activities 82
Groceries 582
Gasoline 99
Household Goods 9
Clothing 75
Toddler Stuff 5
Work Expenses 50
Rainy Day Savings 2142 (minus deductions, see below)
Savings Goals 424 (minus deductions, see below)
Debt Payments 1521
Total Budgeted $9,941

 

Comments:

Down Payment Savings ($2000): This is right on track.” The goal is to get to $10,000 by mid-summer. That being said, I already know we won’t have the full $2,000 for this month (May). Initially, we were hoping to start house-hunting this month but we thought better and have pushed it back a bit. We are really hoping to have a closing in August/September, so we didn’t want to see something and fall in love too early when we really aren’t ready to be making offers and negotiating yet. Womp, womp! It’ll be here soon, though, and I’m still doing Zillow searches just-for-fun. 

Electricity ($88): Our electric bill has never been lower! But we’ve already been flirting with triple-digit temperatures and our A/C is back in the ON position! I already received the bill for May and, although it hasn’t jumped way high yet, it’s certainly higher than April’s bill.

Restaurants ($249) + Groceries ($582): I feel like you can’t consider one without knowledge of the other. Our grocery bill was pretty low this month (remember in months’ past where I was nearing the $700-mark for groceries!?), but the grocery bill is low because (1) we were on the cruise for one week of the months, and (2) our eating out budget was HUGE! Remember my post about blowing the restaurant/eating out budget early in the month? We aim to have this expense around $200 or less for our family of four. We blew this budget category early in the month and, honestly, the only reason it didn’t surpass $300+ is because we were gone the last full week of the month (longer, really, since hubs and the girls drove they added an extra week to their trip). All expenses while traveling were filed away in the “cruise” category, so they weren’t accounted for here.

Entertainment ($1): 99 cent song on iTunes.

Kids’ Activities ($82): This was our last month paying for the girls’ swim lessons. It was prorated since we only went for half the month. That being said, the girls did INCREDIBLE on our cruise! We spent a TON of time in the water (both in the pools on the ship and in the ocean at our docking places). I was so impressed with how their skills have improved and they seemed like little fishes splashing around in the water. It really made me want to re-start their swimming lessons so they can keep learning and improving. I’m waiting until the semester is over at school because the end-of-year time is crazy and our Saturday-midday swim class was far from ideal. When we start back again I’ll be looking for a weekday afternoon class time.

Household Goods ($9): I don’t remember if I mentioned it already, but I’ve deemed this year the year of buying holiday decorations on clearance to save for next year. In December/January I bought a bunch of Christmas decorations and in April I bought some Easter decorations. I go literally the day after the holiday, first thing in the morning, so I can try to find the best stock for cheapest. I know there can be great finds at garage sales, too, but those are so hit-and-miss that I’ve mostly relied on buying store stuff on clearance after the holiday has passed. The plan is to do this all year for all of the holidays. I’m pretty excited to finally start accumulating some holiday stuff here and there. We’ve always been very minimalistic when it comes to holiday decorations since we have typically moved every year (our current rental house is the longest we’ve ever stayed in a single place!!) I look forward to decorating for holidays with the girls as they grow!

Rainy Day Savings ($2142): I’d deposited $2142 into my various rainy day funds (though some money was also withdrawn from these accounts.) See below:

  • 3-6 Month EF: $1,000. The goal is to get to $5,000 and we currently have $3063.
  • Birthdays: $400. The girls’ birthday is on the horizon in June. To date, we’ve never had an actual birthday party for them, but we want to this year for the first time. It will still be simple (at our house, not another venue), but we’re going to start throwing a couple hundred a month toward this savings so we don’t get caught by surprise in June. This month I’ve over-saved because I’m anticipating that May will be a lower month.
  • Car Repairs: $50. I also withdrew $182 to finally fix the car part that broke 2 weeks after I paid it off. This leaves $73 still in the car repair account. I’ll need to pad it pretty heavily in the next couple of months, as we know we’ve got some routine maintenance stuff coming up on our vehicles and it feels like every time we go to the shop its at least a thousand dollars! Cringe! At least we have time to anticipate and save for it instead of being caught by surprise.
  • Health/Dental/Vision: $542. This gets auto-deducted from my paychecks so we can pay for healthcare out of pre-tax money. It’s sitting in a flexible spending account earmarked for health-care related expenses.
  • Annual Fees: $100. Need to slowly start building this back up. The total current balance is $250 but we have a few annual (or semi-annual) fees coming up within the next couple months (e.g., Costco membership and county pet registration are two that come immediately to mind).
  • Girls’ College Savings: $50. We save $25/each (x 2 girls) for college that’s automatically transferred monthly to designated 529 accounts.

Savings Goals ($424): $424 was deposited but there were also withdrawals. See below:

  • Savings for 2015 Roth IRA: $424. I also cleared out this savings in its entirety prior to filing taxes so I could make a contribution crediting tax year 2015.
  • No other savings this month, but I wanted to report that I also withdrew all of the cruise money from its account (and have subsequently closed the Capital One 360 savings account). At the end of the trip, we were left with an extra $800 over and above what we’d spent. I ended up re-categorizing this money as income for May. That way it’s put in with our normal income rather than being viewed as a separate pot of money. This will be particularly helpful because I don’t get paid from my part-time job this month.

Debt:  I gave a full debt update here.

 

Final Thoughts:

We put a little less toward debt this month than I’d hoped (I’d originally planned to put $2,000 toward debt). Instead, we put a bit more toward savings, particularly in some categories where we know upcoming spending is imminent (e.g., birthdays, annual fees). In May, I’ll kind of trade-off. Our savings will probably be a little lower and our debt payments will be a little higher. One big thing to note:  I don’t get paid in the months of May or August from my part-time job. Instead, my summer pay is split into two lump sums arriving in June and July. I’m trying to anticipate the lower income months and to spread the pay out when we have the higher income months. Also, I haven’t commented on our tax return yet. We had a return of $540 that hit my bank account just in the last week or so. Like our unspent cruise savings, I’ve simply categorized this as “Income for May” in our YNAB budget. Again – May will be a bit lower income month (given that I don’t get my part-time pay), so I’m hoping this will help pad our income a bit so we can keep up with the hefty debt payments that are planned this month.

Have a great month, all!


This and That

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!

My kids have Spring Break this week (yes, apparently even preschoolers are out), so I’ve been spending a lot of time with them this week and soaking up every moment since I haven’t had so much one-on-one time since I started back to work full-time. I’m lucky that it’s also my university’s Spring Break so I’m not expected to be on campus (I’m told that the syncing up of the Spring Breaks is super rare so I should be extra grateful that it worked out this way!)

This morning started out with some green chocolate chip pancakes in celebration of St. Pat’s

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followed by some painting. The girls worked on their rainbows and we talked about leprechauns and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, etc.

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Fun little St. Patrick’s Day theme.

Truth be told, though, this week has been HORRIFIC. Seriously, one of the worst of my life. I’ve mentioned before about how, with my Dad’s dementia, we’ve had a couple minor emergencies before. This week we experienced one that took the cake and is going to cause some drastic changes to our lives.

In a nutshell….due to my Dad’s bizarre behavior (a classic symptom of his FTD), someone in the medical field thought he was suffering psychosis. They involuntarily admitted him to an absolute hell-hole state ran mental health facility. He was there for 3 days before we even knew where he was. When we finally found out his whereabouts it was through another patient’s family (meaning, no one from the facility EVER tried to contact us). There were various hang-ups and red tape to prove that the man does NOT have mental illness but, instead, has a rare form of dementia. In all, he spent 6 days in the facility. During this time he never once was allowed to shower or change his clothes, he was only fed at odd intervals, and he was doped up on all kinds of drugs (not to mention he was NOT receiving his prescribed medication which he is supposed to receive daily).

When my sister was finally able to free him from his prison (yes, it felt like a straight jail), he had THESE MARKS all over his body. Not just his arms, but across his back as well. We thought they were restraint marks…but on his back? The best part? He has NO RECOLLECTION of how they occurred. None. This is not from the dementia, folks. He hasn’t just lost full days and events at this point yet. That’s due to being doped up on something.

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We took him immediately to a doctor who documented all the injuries and ran a full chem panel (still awaiting results). We’ve reported the facility to the appropriate powers that be and are seeking legal counsel. To say it’s been a nightmare is a major understatement.

So there’s that.

My brother is flying to Utah next week to meet a realtor, do some housework, and get the Utah home on the market. But now we’re faced with moving my Dad immediately to an assisted living facility where he has more oversight. He would still be safe living alone otherwise, but since his bizarre behaviors can be misinterpreted as psychotic episodes, we do NOT want to experience any other similar situations. Having him live somewhere where the staff is aware of his limitations and can help protect him is vital. We’re heartbroken over what he’s experienced and it has been a major setback to his functioning.

So there are more financial implications to come. Retaining counsel, possible lawsuit, selling the second property, and placing him in an assisted living. Lots of money flying around. It’s a very scary thing. I’ve mentioned before that he had done a decent job of saving for his retirement, but money can go QUICKLY when you’re dealing with lawyers or paying $7k/month for assisted living. We’re definitely nervous about all that, but also feel a moral obligation (not just to our father, but for other patients of this facility) to hold them accountable for what they’re doing to others. I won’t say the name of the place, but from reading their Google reviews, Yelp reviews, and Facebook reviews, we are not alone. Every single review was one-star. Every single review had a horrific story attached. It makes me feel sick to my stomach.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week. Plus trying to sneak in some work time here and there. The cruise is coming up quickly and I really need to get ahead so I can be away for a week and have everything set to run on auto-pilot. Wish me luck!


Wash-A-Palooza

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Only a couple short days after publishing this post about our outrageous electricity bill, our family was stricken with an evil illness bug that has yet to fully eradicate our home!

First, Child 1 is ill (throw-up type of sickness).

Three days later, Child 2 is ill (throw-up type of sickness).

Two days later, hubs and I become ill (thankfully neither of us actually vomited, but just a general run-down, achy type of exhaustion).

One day later, now Child 1 has pink eye.

One day later, now Child 2 has pink eye.

Two days later, now I’m pretty sure allergy season is kicking in and my seasonal allergies are driving me crazy.
Sooo, yeah. Lots of illness. It’s been quite the struggle trying to balance child-care (obviously cannot attend preschool while vomiting and/or having pink-eye) and work.

And the other big implication is that I’ve been doing a LOT of laundry. Obviously my allergies cannot be passed by contact, but all of the other illnesses I mentioned CAN. And therefore, I’ve been on a house-cleaning rampage:  laundering every towel, pillow case, sheet, blanket, etc. that has come in contact with anyone who has been ill. It’s ridiculous. I think on a single day I managed to do nearly 10 loads of laundry (the majority of which were bedding or towels).

Aside from this little snafu, we’ve actually been doing pretty well trying to keep our electricity usage under control.

I’ve yet to turn on the A/C even a single time since writing about our electric bill. Even though here in Tucson we’re seeing highs already in the mid-80s, I’ve just been living with the warmth, opening doors and windows to let in the cool morning air, and spending time outdoors in the sunshine (where, magically, mid-80s feels glorious! How’s that work? Indoors a mid-80s temp feels sweltering but outside it feels like heaven!?)

I’m going to see how long I can last without turning on the A/C at all. We definitely warm up here much faster than the rest of the country (some of which, I realize, is still below freezing as I’m bragging about our gorgeous weather). So I’ll be happy if I can make it until mid-March. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, excuse me posts are a little less frequent. I have lots of topic ideas I need to actually sit down and write, but time is limited given all the catch-up I’m playing at work since I had to spend so much time in doctor’s offices and at home with sick kids last week. You can all relate, right?

In that regard, is this some type of cosmic come-back? I was bragging just the other day about how long it had been since anyone in the family had been sick. I made it the entire Fall semester without missing work a single day for my own or my children’s health issues. But this semester has been one set-back after another! Ugh! Here’s hoping it quickly passes (and that my allergies don’t flare up just as other illnesses subside. Sigh).

Happy Moan-day! Har har har!


Lessons I’ve Learned being Poor

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We hear all the time about the welfare state, and the generations of people living on welfare, etc.  And being a conservative, that has always driven me batty.  “I’m working my butt off to support my family with no assistance, and these people who are perfectly capable for working, just sit on their butts and collect a check which I worked for.” –has been my attitude on it.  And this even coming from a social work background.

Now I certainly know that there are people who truly need the assistance, they cannot work or what they can do would not be able to support them.  I get that.  But having been in and around the social work field since the early 90s, I can promise you that this is not the majority of welfare recipients.

But now I am one of those people.  We are receiving SNAP (food stamps) and Medicare.  I do not qualify for any other assistance due to the adoption assistance for the twins…$1372 per month. (This number is public knowledge and every state sets their own rates, you can read more about in on the NACAC website.)

It was a VERY humbling experience to apply and have an in person interview for these services to be awarded.  I had to prove everything…my kids, my income, my bills, my job loss, my bank balances, etc.  I am not sure I have every felt so much shame and failure.  But I had to do it, I have four children to take care of.  And the only way I got through it was by telling myself – I have paid into this system since I was 15 years old AND this is not a long term solution, just short term assistance.  But frankly, I am so embarrassed to go buy groceries and have to use the SNAP card.  And while I pray that embarrassment never goes away as that is certainly a lesson in and of itself for me, I am educating our children at the same time and teaching them not to judge people in these situations, as I have for so long.

Needless, to say, we cannot live on $1372 per month, especially when rent on our 2 bedroom, 900 square foot apartment is $1435 per month.  So I’m having to continually seek additional assistance (in addition to my job search, odd job, etc.)  And it’s in seeking this assistance that I have learned ALOT about this “system” of ours.

I don’t want to write a book here and I could not about my experiences the last couple of months, I do want to give you some highlights.  And maybe some food for thought as you think of your charity choices.

  1. EVERY SINGLE place I’ve applied for help has turned me down.  The most common reason…I haven’t received an eviction notice.  Something is wrong with this picture to me.  So you want a single mom of four to be put out on the street before you step in?
  2. YOU CANNOT BE RESPONSIBLE and receive assistance.  I did not buy my kids Christmas presents. Every dime I get, I put toward bills.  We ate ramen for most of the month of December SO that we could have a great Christmas dinner.  Yes, that might have been my receipt with a couple of steaks at Christmas time…but if you looked at the rest of the month it was sandwiches and ramen.  So when I’ve gone to get help, don’t have an eviction notice and my utilities are just a week or so late…yup, no assistance for you.
  3. NO ONE EATS expired or weird types of food.  We have been blessed beyond measure with food.  Thanksgiving basket from a church, turkey from our neighbor and boxes and boxes of cranberry sauce and yams.  I am so guilty of this.  When one of my kids activities required a canned food drive, I would find whatever we wouldn’t use in our pantry, no matter how long it had been there and send it.  Gross!  Now I have received those foods.  My kids won’t eat them, I won’t eat them.  So when you are going to give to a food pantry, give them money…they can buy fresh food, food that people will actually eat.  I have a big box in the back of my car of food to donate…because we don’t eat it.  But I hesitate to send it back because I hate for another family to get a whole box of cranberry sauce and yams!
  4. IT IS REALLY HARD to get ahead and by ahead I mean paying your bills on time or at least on time enough not to accrue late fees, when you can only get help when you are SO far behind.  Since I’ve known I had this part time job for months now, I also knew that if I got to my start date being so far behind on bills, I would NEVER catch up.  And while I knew I wouldn’t make enough to cover all the bills, but I figured I would be able to at least “borrow from paul to pay larry and vice versa every month.)  Do you get what I’m saying?  But if I am even one day late on my rent, there is a fee of over $400 added on.  And with other bills the fee ranges from $5-25.  So I knew I needed to stay as current as possible.  And by the grace of God, awesome friends and community and family assistance, thus far I’m pretty close to on time (4 bills currently in arrears, 2 due to dog bite medical treatment/insurance fiasco,) but I know not everyone in my situation can.  So if you want to help someone who is struggling, don’t give them “stuff” or gift cards and I know most don’t want to give money…but you can, absolutely can, pay a bill for them.  It won’t take too much time out of your day to make a phone call or take them to a payment center and pay it.  No expectations, no strings, just pay it.

I won’t keep preaching.  But I can tell you this, I have changed significantly since starting my BAD journey a couple of years ago now. But these last months have made a forever imprint on my life and my attitudes, I have learned so much about the populations that I have wanted to serve my whole life.  And I have learned so much about the systems, they are dealing with, I am dealing with.  When I am through this phase in my life, I can promise that I will be paying it forward like a crazy person AND more importantly I will work to help improve the systems/services that are supposed to be “helping” these communities.  I think for the most part, they are just holding them down…the responsible ones that is. And I promise you there is more than just me that falls into that latter category!

I know the holidays are over and I know this is a debt pay off blog, but I will tell you this, if you are reading this, there are others who are a whole lot worse off then you.  I challenge you to reach out, lend a hand, even during your payoff journey. 


Year Of Becoming An Adult: Final Status

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Back in October 2014 I wrote about wanting to use 2015 to really “become adults.” To me, this meant taking care of some much needed issues that were in addition to my 2015 financial goals. I wrote a few posts throughout the year with updates (January update, March update, September update, October update), so this will be my final update of the series.

  1. Wills. Wills were actually drawn up at the beginning of 2015, but it took us awhile to actually get them notarized. This task was completed by mid-year. Final status = Complete
  2. Life Insurance For Hubs. We had intended to start working on this mid-year, but didn’t actually get around to applying until October. In November hubs completed all the bloodwork and in early December he was asked to supply some additional information (all stemming back to his mysterious illness at the end of 2013 where our medical bills are from). He finished everything on his end but we’re still waiting to hear back from the company. When I first applied for health insurance it took about 3 months to all be processed so I’m thinking this is normal (and not something directly related to his mystery illness). If he doesn’t hear back sometime in the next couple weeks we’ll check back with them but I’ve got my fingers crossed everything is in order and our next interaction will be mailing off a check to actually finish the process. Final status = Well underway, but waiting to hear back from insurance company
  3. Open Retirement Accounts. We opened up a Roth IRA in April 2015 and a 401(a) through my work in July 2015. I fund 10% of my pay to the 401, and we’ve saved a little extra here and there for the Roth (but a truly minimal amount…something I’d like to increase in 2016). Final status = Complete
  4. Open College Savings For The Kids. We opened up one 529 for each child in October 2015 and we’ve been funding them with $25/month each ($50/month total). Not a lot, but every little bit helps! Final status = Complete

Overall, not too shabby. I wish we’d started the life insurance stuff a bit earlier in the year so it was all wrapped up and done by now, but at least it’s well underway and if it doesn’t work out it will be because we were denied (not due to our own lack of trying). But hubs’ health has been great and, especially with his weight loss, I’m really hoping everything goes through smoothly and he’s able to be insured. It will certainly give me great peace of mind.

How have you done on your financial (or other) goals in 2015? Do you have any new goals or resolutions set for 2016? I’d love to hear them!

 


Health Care Nonsense

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I definitely do NOT want to get all political on the blog. I, personally, am pretty moderate and a swing voter so I can see both sides of most political issues. So without pointing fingers or blaming parties, I’m just going to say what anyone dealing with health care already knows….our current system sucks. Sucks bad.

I’ve got two case studies for you:

1) When my Dad had to retire early (due to being diagnosed with FTD), I took over a lot of his personal matters, including paying his bills, getting him insurance, etc. Here’s the problem:  we basically cannot get him the health coverage he needs. No matter the cost, its just not possible.

Some explanation…

When my Dad relocated from Utah to Texas he was given a referral to a neurologist who specializes in FTD. This physician only accepts certain types of insurance plans. He will not even book an appointment without one of these plans (I even tried to pay in full in cash at time of booking. Office simply wouldn’t do it). Unfortunately, the plan is really only available for group coverage. Did anyone else know that PPOs essentially no longer exist for privately-paying individuals? Because they don’t. We can buy various levels of HMO coverage (for like $1,000/month for a single individual), but none of the options available through the Marketplace (which is the government website) NOR direct through the big insurance companies (we tried 4 of them) have a PPO plan option for someone paying privately. It just doesn’t exist. Meanwhile, my Dad doesn’t qualify for Medicaid due to his asset base, and from the legal counsel we’ve received it sounds like Medicare is a long ways off before we can get him covered (pending getting all his disability stuff in order). So what’s our only option? We cannot see the specialist we were referred to. Just simply can’t do it. Between the poor options in health coverage available on the open market coupled with some ridiculous office policies at the specialists’ office (seriously – who doesn’t just accept cash?!?), we are stripped of the option of seeing the one person recommended to us. Absolutely disgusting.

2) Okay, to be totally fair, #2 has nothing to do with the government or sucky health care options…it has to do with my own naivety (heh). Apparently when I signed up for health insurance I was unaware that the plan I selected has NO (zero, zip, zilch, nada) coverage until a $500/person (or $1,000/family) deductible has been met. At that point we just pay the co-pays. But until then we owe 100% of our health bills. Only….I guess medical office staff wait to settle up their books until the end of the year? Since switching insurance in July, we’ve had several trips to the doctor (3 routine annual office visits/exams & 3 sick child visits). At each trip we paid our normal copay and thought that was it. Until…within just the past couple weeks bills have been flooding in! All of these visits (that have occurred at different places and with different family members) are just now being billed. At first I thought it was some issue with the insurance but after 3 separate calls to have all our benefits explained, I discovered – nope. It’s not a mistake. We owe this money. And it’s in the range of several hundred dollars (just under $500). We do still have about $400 in our health/dental/vision savings, but that’s going to go QUICK and we’ll still owe more. Groan! One more point for Murphy (of Murphy’s law) and yet another reason to slow our debt payment progress so we can try to recoup our EF (which I mentioned as an option here; still haven’t decided 100% for sure yet. We pay our debt at the very end of the month so I still have about a week to decide).

My Dad’s health care drama will likely be an ongoing thing we continue to deal with the entire rest of his life (as he’s always going to be privately paying; even after he gets Medicare it’s not like things will be all peachy. There are plenty of issues with that program, too).

In regard to my family unit, it’s annoying to have just discovered this information (and, of course, I learned this AFTER open-enrollment had ended so I can’t change it at this point). However, we can make changes to our budget to accommodate the issue (e.g., keep a larger amount in our health/dental/vision account in order to cover the $1,000/family deductible).

Live and learn. That’s all I can do. Live and learn.

And earn & save more money. ; )


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