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“Crappy” Day

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Warning:  Pretty graphic details to follow so if you have a weak stomach….you’ve now been warned.

Friday started out pretty normal. I took the girls to preschool, hit up the gym, and settled into working at the JCC. About noon I had to come home because I was expecting a package that required a signature. I got home, ate lunch, and jumped in the shower. I took an indulgently long shower. This is one of the areas that I’ve tried to cut-back since I’ve been blogging away my debt but a long, steaming-hot shower is one of my favorite weaknesses and on this day I decided to be indulgent. My shower lasted probably close to 20 minutes. As soon as I turned the water off and stepped out, I heard the unmistakable sound of water running.

“Hmm, that’s weird,” I thought. “I didn’t accidentally leave a sink running in the kitchen, did I?”

I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around me, and walked out of the master bedroom into the living room. At that point I see it. Water is streaming from the second bathroom. Still nekkid (save the towel), I run down the hall way, splashing through water to get to the second bathroom. At this point I see water just pouring from none other than the toilet. Sewage water, to be exact. I grab the plunger and furiously start plunging (totally naked at this point, as I’d had to abandon my towel to plunge with both hands), but the river flowing forth from the toilet is undeterred.

I’ve never dealt with plumbing issues this severe. I’ve learned a lot since this point (ummm…turn off the water to the toilet!!!), but at the time I had no idea what to do. I’m running around the house screaming and trying to stop the tide of water from entering the bedrooms by throwing towels down on the floor to act as little barricades. Finally the water stops.

I call Chris frantic. I tell him we have an emergency and explain the situation. I don’t think he realizes the full extent of the situation. He tells me to simply mop up the water and he’ll handle a deep cleaning when he gets home. I do what I can to try to mop up a bit and I had successfully kept the water confined mostly to bathroom, hallway, and laundry room (all tiled areas of the house).

Next I do what any person who has just splashed in sh*tty water would do. I take another shower.

This time it’s a quickie. I basically just soap up my hands, arms, feet, and legs to get the sewage water cleaned off of me. I turn off the shower and I hear it again. The toilet in the second bath is freely flowing like a raging river of crap water. Again.

I throw on a robe and race from my room in horror. This time I call my Mom in tears and explain what’s happening. She guides me through turning off the water to the toilet. I call Chris, explain the full extent of the situation, and he heads home. At the end of the ordeal we have literally two inches of water in the bathroom, and it has now expanded into at least 2/3 of the house, including the baby’s room, the guest room, living room, and into the kitchen.

I am absolutely frantic. There are actual human turds floating down the Ganges River that is my hallway. I have never seen or dealt with anything so uniquely disgusting and horrifying and it is about this point that I have a breakdown, sobbing as I watch the water soak into our beautiful living room rug, overtake the baby toys scattered about, and ruin everything in its path.

I’m sure you can imagine how the next several hours went.

We called our landlord who came out to assess the situation (we rent from a private individual, not a company). He called his home owner’s insurance, who came out and sucked up the water and set up huge fans to dry. A plumber came out and discovered that there is something wrong with the line out by the street. What I didn’t know earlier (while taking my long shower) was that all of the water that was going down the drain from my showers was meeting a blockade and somehow in the pipes it forced the closest thing (the sewage water) to come back up in our home. We were also told the problem would not be able to be fixed until at least Monday (at the earliest).

We gathered up some essentials and moved into a hotel.

I never did finish my job applications. It’s now 3:00pm (Tucson time) and not looking likely that I’ll finish them in time. I’m also hopelessly behind on grading first due to the girls’ being home sick and now due to this situation. I want to go to sleep and just wake up middle of next week and have everything be done. If only it were that easy.

But let’s look at the bright side of things. This situation, although disgusting, isn’t all doom and gloom.

  • I’m so glad we rent! It’s no secret that we’d like to be home owners but when situations like this arise, I’m so, so, so glad that we aren’t the ones footing the bill.
  • I’m so thankful we just renewed our renter’s insurance. The home owner’s insurance only covers damages to the house (e.g., if drywall or flooring needs to be replaced). Our renter’s insurance will have to step in to cover any damages to our personal property.
  • I’m so thankful we have a healthy emergency fund and that we live on last month’s income so we have a big buffer in our checking account!
  • I’m glad I’ve had a chance to calm down and gain some perspective. When this first happened I was literally like, “WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!” That’s just silly. Yes, its a huge inconvenience. Yes, it’s freaking disgusting. Yes, it has screwed me with work. But it’s not the worst thing ever. We are all safe, healthy, and happy-ish (the girls get a lot of anxiety over the new situation so they’re not exactly happy campers). But we’re all in one piece, and that’s something to be thankful for.

I’ve already spoken with a claims person from our renter’s insurance and will need to work with them on reimbursement of various things. We will for sure end up paying our deductible ($500), but I believe they should replace damaged items and cover our costs for a hotel.

There are plenty of other financial implications from this situation. Unable to access our home (and the main water has now been turned off…not just water to the toilet), we have had to eat out for dinner last night and all day today (and will continue having to eat out throughout the weekend). We haven’t talked to our landlord about what our tenant’s rights are (will he cover any of these costs??) because right now we’re just in survival mode – hanging out a hotel and trying to keep things as “normal” as possible for the girls’ sake. That’s the most important thing to me. Next week, while the girls are at preschool on Monday, we’ll have to deal with all the financials further.

I’m going to be 100% honest and say I don’t know how much I’ll be able to check in for the next few days. I will try to keep you all abreast of what’s going on but this is still very much at “minor emergency” status in our lives as we are displaced from our home and trying to make things work. My order of priorities in the coming days is as follows:

1 = family

2 = work

3 = house drama

4 = everything else (which includes blogging)

Sorry to be so brutally honest but I’ve got to keep it real with you AND with me and not make promises I can’t keep. I hope to be back on Monday with some sort of update but if I’m not then you know what’s going on. We’re all safe and healthy, but just dealing with some major life drama right now.

Thanks so much for the support!


More Health Care Costs

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This past week I had my annual well woman check-up/exam. Since this is routine preventative care the appointment is covered 100% from my insurance. BUT, something came up during my appointment that probably WILL end up costing me a pretty penny or two.

I just got a new doctor so I don’t know how this has never come up before with any of my other physicians, but when I was filling out my family medical history, my doctor commented on the incidence of cancers in my family. Specifically, my maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather had cancer at relatively young ages (prior to age 50). My grandmother had breast cancer and grandfather had colon cancer – both are known to be heritable. Because of my grandparent’s young ages and the heritability of these diseases, it raised a red flag and my doctor said she’d like run some blood to test for the genetic markers related to these diseases (side note: colon cancer, more common in men, is also related to uterine cancer in women.)

Maybe its just because genetic testing has been improving across recent years but I was kind of surprised no other doctor has ever brought up this possibility before. I decided I would, indeed, like to know whether I carry the genetic marker(s) that make either of these cancers more likely (and, along with these two cancers, several other cancer markers are checked as well). If I test positive for any of these markers then you can take necessary steps (along with more frequent/earlier examinations) to stay healthy. But, obviously, I’m hoping for negatives all around and a big sigh of relief that I don’t have any genetic loading for the most common heritable cancers.

My doctor explained that many insurance companies now cover this testing, at least in part. She said the way the process works is that they get my blood and send to the lab while processing with my insurance. If the out-of-pocket costs of the lab work will end up being $350 or less, they go through and automatically process it. If it will be over $350, they call and inform me of the cost and I can make a decision from there. I was a little shocked that $350 is the “magic number” they choose for informing patients. It still seems rather high and I wish I could provide my own figure (e.g., Give me a call if it will be over $200), but I didn’t get that option. My only option was blood work or no blood work, and given my family history I decided to opt for the blood work.

So right now it’s just a waiting game and I’m crossing my fingers that (1) my insurance will cover the blood work, and (2) the costs are minimal. I have no idea how that will turn out.

If I get the call that it will be over $350, I’m leaning toward declining the tests at this time. I could always have it done again in the future when I’m planning accordingly for this type of expense and can save up. $350 is no chump change!

What would you do? If you had red flags for a genetic predisposition toward certain types of cancer, would you do the genetic testing to find out for sure? How much would you be willing to pay out of pocket for the tests?

PS: Hopefully it comes back negative but – just in case – it’s a good thing I’ve already got my life insurance all wrapped up since genetic loading toward certain cancers would almost certainly pose a problem for getting life insurance for a reasonable rate!!


Necessary Expenses

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Our month of lower income has unfortunately coincided with lots of extra necessary expenses.

Sigh.

First, I had to pay for my annual life insurance premium. Remember, the full amount was $207. I was able to use some money from my “annual expenses” savings account, but I still had to spend $94 from my “other” budget (out of a total $150 budgeted for monthly “other” expenses). Note – my husband finally received his paperwork saying all his stuff has been approved, but he is STILL waiting on the final contract. I don’t know why there are so many steps involved in life insurance coverage, but we will owe another few hundred for his premium when the contract arrives. Even if we wait to pay it next month, its a big expense.

Second, my daughters decided to have a little developmental-milestone growth spurt this weekend. They already knew how to open some doors (depending on the door knob), but within a 12-hour span they have learned how to open ALL the doors in our house AND have learned to climb out of their cribs. Why does everything happen at once??? Gulp! We knew this would happen eventually, but we’ve just been putting it on the back burner. This weekend we went to Walmart and stocked up on the door knob handle things (like these) that make it difficult for toddlers to open doors. Those were cheap. Know what’s NOT cheap? The conversion kit that is used to convert a crib into a toddler bed. For those without toddlers who have no idea what I’m talking about….when kids start climbing out of their cribs, the conventional wisdom is that it’s time to convert to toddler beds. To do so, you take off the front part of the crib, and replace it with a small safety rail thing to keep the kid from accidentally rolling out of bed in his/her sleep. Here’s an example (image from this site)

bed

That little dinky piece of wood on the front costs in the range of 80-125 bucks! Times 2, since we have twins.

And our final extra expense = clothes. It was my goal to get through this full blogging year (March 2013-March 2014) without purchasing any clothing. I did get a skirt from Nordstrom Rack using a gift card, but I haven’t paid for an article of clothing during this whole time. Unfortunately, I don’t know how much longer that can last. I don’t know if any other women can relate, but I have a closet and dresser FULL of clothes that I don’t wear. A lot of these clothes are from my pre-pregnancy body (which I have mentioned was smaller than my current body, lol). Anyway, I only have a couple of things in my current size and, now that I’ve been my current size for 2 years, these things are getting worn out! It’s not as noticeable with shirts, but my pants/capris have seen better days. The pair of capri pants I am currently wearing have already been mended to fix a hole that had developed along the seam in the crotch. Wellllll, I have just noticed that the hole is back….right next to the area where I had mended them. I guess this means the fabric is just worn out. I could mend again, but I think it’s just a matter of time until I officially retire these pants. I have been making an honest, concerted effort to try to loose some weight (my hope is to get back to pre-pregnancy weight, which is why I haven’t sold my old stuff – I really want to get back to that place, and then I’ll have a full wardrobe I can pick from!). I’ve had some success in losing a little weight, but I still have a ways to go and I’m going to need pants in the meantime.

What to do, what to do….

Basically, the budget is blown. I’m really trying to avoid any extra spending this month because we’re living on last month’s income and only have a set amount of money to work with. But then all of these expenses get pushed to next month and the budget is going to be crazy-blown for October! Just the life insurance, alone, blows the budget. Add on the baby purchases and a pair of pants and we’re donezo!

I see the pants as the least immediate need, but the toddler crib conversion needs to happen asap. One of my girls has already gotten hurt by falling when she was trying to climb out of the crib after naps (one of my girls has it down, and her sister tries to copy but isn’t quite as adept at it yet). The life insurance thing is pretty important, too! Basically, I think all of these things need to happen. Maybe not today, but soon.

Fortunately, this month should be much better financially than last month (knock on wood), so I’m hoping that we’ll have a larger budget to work with when I’m allocating all of these expenses next month. But each dollar spent on these items is, necessarily, one less dollar spent on debt payments. And I look ahead toward the holiday season with worry. Ideally, we’d start buying a few gifts here and there so as to alleviate the financial burden of Christmas in the month of December, but it already looks like October is going to be a bust, so we can’t even think about Christmas gifts until November/December. Or perhaps Christmas gifts just get slashed from the budget this year entirely? One thing’s for sure – it’s gonna be a tough couple of months ahead.

What would you do? Put off all purchases until October? Try to hold out on the pants? Maybe ghetto-rig the crib conversion somehow for the time being? Maybe I can go donate plasma to make some extra money (I half-joke, but I have totally donated plasma in my younger days as a way to supplement my income. If you didn’t know, it’s a real thing you get paid real money to do…)


A Second Opinion Can Change Everything!

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For any new readers out there (hi!!!) this is now my third or fourth post about dentistry/dental health in just a couple months. Our family has been plagued with dental issues as of late (see dental-related posts here, here, and here).

To be fair, husband’s issues were not new nor were they surprises. But mine were definitively unexpected….

Remember when I went to the dentist a couple months ago?

Well the x-rays turned up a “fun” little surprise. My front tooth is dead. Yep. Apparently at some point (could have been years ago as a child) I must have been hit in the mouth hard enough to kill the root in my front tooth.

When I went to the dentist he said the gums look good (no disease or abscess), but the tooth would continue to darken over time (eventually turning black if nothing was done) and would need to be replaced. His suggestion? A porcelain veneer. But, of course, I don’t want to do my one front tooth by itself – that would just look silly and out of place. I would need to do at least the front two, though it would be better if I just did the front four or six.

No worries!, said the dentist.

We’ll get you a quote printed right up! We’ll even give you a discount! *smiles*

Well that sounded downright ridiculous. Everything I googled said that a dead tooth required a root canal (since there’s often infection) and a crown. NOTHING even so much as MENTIONED a porcelain veneer.

I got on a little facebook Moms group in my neighborhood and asked for dentist suggestions. Someone recommended a little family-owned and operated dentists’ office within walking distance of my home (I’ve walked by it to go to the park many times and never even noticed it!)

WOW – what a difference a second opinion makes!

This dentist said it was perfectly fine to simply take the “wait and see” approach. Since there’s no sign of infection an immediate root canal is not necessary. Of course, should infection occur in the future I would know it by a number of signs (pain, sensitivity), and would need to have a root canal at that point. But infection is not imminent. It could never happen! So I just need to be mindful of potential signs of infection and we will have a front tooth x-ray done every couple years to make sure everything still looks good. Easy-breezy!

Also recall that since my last dental appointment I also chipped my back tooth. The dentist said it’s a relatively small chip but does need to be filled in to prevent decay from setting in (I’d googled this in advance and this is precisely what Dr. Google had recommended, too).

I scheduled an appointment to have a filling done next week. The cost is $190, but they will give me a 10% discount (= $171). The quote from Nogales, Mexcio my husband had received had put fillings at $100 each, so I think $171 is a fair quote. What’s more? They gave me the day’s appointment for free! Even though they’d had to re-do some of the x-rays (the old office had only sent over the Panoramic photo), and the dentist gave me a full examination, they said today would be considered a “consult” and would be no cost!!! I was anticipating spending at least $100!

So I think I’ve found our new family dentist!!!

On my last dental post I’d asked if we should consider getting actual dental insurance. I hate it because its very expensive and there’s a long “wait period” for many of the services (basically everything my husband needs, for instance, would have to be a 9 month-1 year wait). I understand why they do this, but it’s still annoying!

Booo! Buy dental insurance or no?

I’m leaning toward putting it off until after the car is paid in full. I just really, really want that car debt gone and want to avoid taking on additional monthly payments until after it’s been eliminated. What do you all think?


Dental Hygeine

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Surprise, surprise. When you play with fire you get burned. And, we got ourselves a little “ouchie” (as my girls would call it) this month.

Remember how I discussed my husband’s dental issues awhile back and started setting aside additional money for imminent dental needs (I “upped” our dental/vision monthly savings from $50/month to $125/month, starting last month)? Well I suppose we ‘played with fire’ by waiting too long and guess what happened while we were in Utah? Husband started having some extraordinarily painful tooth problems.

He self-medicated with Orajel and over-the-counter pain meds. He toughed it out over the weekend but called a local dentist first thing on Monday morning and got an appointment for that very afternoon. So on Monday of this week, he ended up having a root canal. Yuuuup. So much for our plan to go to Mexico and have it done for half price.

In all, the damage will set us back nearly $2,000. He did purchase a dental discount plan, and that was the discounted rate. I don’t have exact numbers in front of me, but I think the root canal portion was about $800 and the porcelain crown is another $800-$900?? I need to double-check my numbers, but that’s a ballpark figure.

I checked my CapitalOne360 savings account and our dental/vision savings only has a grand total of $225 in it. Plus, I have my vision appointment coming up in September and will need to get new lenses, so I’m going to need most of that money myself.

Since I don’t have money to cover the root canal expense anywhere in our usual budget and we don’t want to pull it out of savings, we’re going to take a little hit on our income this month. Basically, husband is paying for it out-of-pocket with funds that otherwise would have come to me for budgeting/allocation. So the money is being spent before it was ever officially classified as “income.” Does this make sense? Basically, our income is going to look a little artificially deflated this month. Fortunately, I still have a good sized paycheck coming for my summer teaching (and, remember, no check next month due to the schedule of payment). Hopefully my check will help balance things out a little.

I digress. Back to the main issue regarding dental care.

Husband still has a LOT of other work to be done. This root canal only takes care of his one most pressing issue. So we still have an opportunity to try to save some money on the rest of it. I still vote for him taking a day trip to Mexico to have some work done (the problem with that is it has to be scheduled in advance, not same-day like it was needed this time). I also liked the reader suggestion to try to haggle with the dentists. Give them the prices we have from the Mexico dentists and see if they can match the prices, or at least reduce them. But there’s one other potential avenue I’m crossing my fingers about….

Husband recently went and did a bid for a potential customer who turns out to be…a dentist!!! It is exceptionally rare that husband is able to barter work because he does wood flooring and his labor for jobs is generally in the thousands. Because of the high price point, its tough to barter for hair cuts, car washes, lawn care, or whatever else because the price of those items is so much lower that there’s a big risk that we wouldn’t recuperate the labor costs from my husband’s work if someone flakes out or disappears. BUT – his dental necessities are also in the thousands, so this would be a beautiful trade (both parties still paying for “parts”, but getting the labor for free).

Apparently husband was directed to give his bid to the dentist’s secretary (why would a dental secretary handle the dentists’ home flooring bid? I have no idea), but I have urged husband to reach out to Dr. Dentist directly and try to negotiate a trade. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed!!!!!

Have you ever had a dental emergency? How much did it cost you? When I was in High School I chipped my front tooth and still remember it cost $1000 to fix (my Mom paid for it at the time). I also distinctly remember the dentist saying the “fix” (composite material that was bonded to my tooth to fill in the chipped spot), was only designed to last about 7 years. It’s been 12. So there’s that.

Update:  Ugh – crap! I wrote this post Thursday evening and Friday morning guess what happened….I have a tooth that chipped! Did I jinx myself or what??? Luckily its not my front tooth, its a back molar. It’s a relatively minor chip (no pain or sensitivity), but everything I have googled says I still need to get into a dentist ASAP, otherwise decay can set in. What the heck? We can’t catch a break over here with our dental health! Time to invest in dental insurance??? *sigh* : (


Life Insurance Update

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I’ve mentioned it before, but we currently do not have life insurance. Yes, I know how irresponsible and dumb this is, particularly since we have children, yadda yadda yadda (<side fact: I googled whether its “yadda” or “yada” and urban dictionary had both spellings, so no consensus).

Well I’m happy to report that I finally got the ball rolling. But, BOY, does it feel like a PROCESS!

I was imagining going online, filling out some questions, getting the quotes, selecting the company I wanted, and BOOM – done. Not so much.

I went to Zander Insurance (who is endorsed by Dave Ramsey), filled out some questions, then got a call from a nurse who gave me an entire hour-long interview (I had pregnancy complications due to the twin pregnancy and – whoa – that opened up a whole rabbit hole of additional questions!!!). The next step is that someone is going to come to my house for an actual assessment, complete with blood draw and who knows what else?! Gulp. I might’ve shaved a few pounds off my weight. Clearly that will have to be rectified, given that I’m assuming they’ll actually weigh me. What all else is included in the home visit, aside from the blood draw? I’m healthy and disease-free, but it still makes me nervous for some reason. Ugh! I don’t even know why but I’m just dreading it (maybe the whole weight thing???)

Als0….not even sure that husband will be able to get covered (and he was the whole impetus for this, given his mystery illness). He hasn’t done the hour-long interview thing yet. Any knowledgeable readers who know about this type of stuff out there? Husband’s official diagnosis was “atypical meningitis.” Is that type of thing a deal-breaker for life insurance? I mean, I know meningitis can cause death and once you’ve had it, your odds of getting it again go up. This is gonna be a problem, right? Sigh.

We will press on. I just wanted to give a quick update about the status of this. I thought that by now we’d have it all wrapped up and I’d simply be reporting on the monthly cost and how it would influence our budget. Instead, we still have no idea if we’ll even be covered???

What I DO know is that we are signing up for a 20-year term life policy (which is much more affordable than a whole life policy), and although we haven’t “locked in” an amount yet, I’m thinking we’ll do $350,000 policies (for each of us). Ramsey suggests 10 times your annual salary, which would put us at roughly $500,000 each, but I feel comfortable with a lesser amount. What do you guys think? I learned a LOT from your comments about my car insurance coverage, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

What would you suggest is good for life insurance coverage? Do you follow the “10 times your salary” rule? What guidelines have you used to select your own life insurance policy amount? What would you suggest for us?


Insurance Company WIN!!!

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Remember how I was fighting 2 separate insurance-related battles? The first was regarding coverage for a consultation with the Mayo Clinic (the consult was back in November!!!) I fought hard (aka:  spent LOTS of time making calls back-and-forth between the Mayo Clinic and the insurance company), and in the end came up empty handed (translation:  claim got denied and no coverage was granted).

My second “fight” was in relation to trying to get my prescription reimbursed (from back in December), when I’d had to pay out-of-pocket because we went back to Texas and I accidentally left my prescription in Arizona. (Side note:  if you need a memory jog – I talked more in depth about these issues back in April – see here).

Well imagine my excitement when I came up VICTORIOUS on the second battle (re:  prescription reimbursement).

I got this letter just last week:

IMG_3615

 

Obviously they were VERY clear to let me know they are not responsible for MY mistakes (and I do admit that it was my mistake to forget my prescription). But, I’m thrilled that – after receiving one initial rejection – I did not give up! Remember? I called and talked to an agent and he told me exactly what to write and where to send the letter. I am so grateful!

When I first got the letter I was a little confused….it says they’ll reimburse me, but how does all that work out? But then a couple days later I received a separate letter containing a check for the $55.99 in question. Only 6 months after the out-of-pocket expense, but hey – I’ll take it!

That’s 1 point for a little perseverance! Win!! Thanks, Blue Cross Blue Shield!