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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!


Life Insurance Saga Continues…

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It’s no secret that husband and I have been in the process of getting life insurance (see related posts here and here)

My life insurance was all wrapped up and squared away by the middle of last month. Husband’s insurance was also done and we were just waiting for his final contract to arrive in the mail. Or so we thought…

We’d received an email saying that his insurance would be more expensive than the original quote due to his weight (phooey!!! I had received the same email, too). But then when we got a document in the mail from the insurance company, it wasn’t his final contract. Instead, it was a request for more information.

More information, still!

Even though husband had given a thorough medical history and completely covered his mystery medical condition that knocked him out of commission for a couple months at the end of 2013, now they want more information. And by “more information,” I mean that they want his full medical records from this period of time.

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

When he went to the Mayo Clinic we had to locate copies of the discs containing his scans and that was insanely difficult. I can’t imagine what it will be like to get a complete record of all this information. While sick, husband went to 3 different Tucson hospitals (and was admitted 2 separate times), had a consultation at the Mayo Clinic, was seen as an outpatient with a neurologist, and had a myriad of blood work tests run at a separate facility. So all of these records are in different places. In addition to just the annoyance of physically going to all these places to retrieve records, let’s talk about the bulk of information that we’ll be requesting. I mean, it will require an actual BOX to send this off to the insurance company. NO WAY it will fit in any type of envelope or padded mailer. It would be easier if we could simply fill out the release form allowing these different entities to mail/email information directly to the insurance company, but the company has requested records from us. Maybe we can work around that and simply say the records will come from the medial entities, but its just going to be a cluster trying to get everything submitted. And then what? Will he even get covered or will they look at everything and reject him after the FOUR MONTHS worth of hoop-jumping we’ve been doing? Why is this all even necessary? They know his final diagnosis (atypical meningitis), so why can’t they just use that to determine cost and coverage rather than requesting every medical record he had from this time? HUGE pain in the arse! HUGE!

So the saga continues with the life insurance. In the meantime, at least I’ve got my coverage in place! I take comfort from the fact that if I had an untimely departure my family would have the funds necessary to survive and even thrive. Of course I would like for my husband to be covered as well, but for some reason I tend to feel like I could take care of myself if he were to have an untimely departure. I know that’s probably naïve and immature, but he’s more likely to try to do everything on his own (and therefore need the financial assistance from life insurance), whereas I’m more likely to simply run back to Austin (I could continue to work my contract jobs), live with family for a bit, and get back on my feet. Though the money would certainly help, we wouldn’t fall apart without it. Unfortunately, when hubs had his mystery illness he really thought he was dying – it was very scary – so I had a bit of time to think about what the future might look like for me and the girls if we were left alone (as weird/morbid/sad as that sounds).

Ick – not a fun topic of conversation! But a necessary one, nonetheless. Anyway, we press on with this life insurance drama.


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!!


September Budget Update

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This month we had $6317 to work with for income. Little heads up….we went over our budget. The excess was taken from our extra savings. Here’s how we stacked up in each category:

Place Planned Budget Actual Spent
Rent 1055 1055
Electricity 260 245
Water 65 61
Natural gas 20 14
Sprint (2 lines) 115 114
Cable/Internet 100 100
Car Insurance 104 103
Health Insurance 350 350
Trash 35 35
Debt 2009 1779
Miscellaneous 300 366
Groceries 400 483
Baby Purchases 1200 1077
Gasoline 100 111
Saving for Irregular Expenses 445 445
Total Budgeted 6558 6338

 

So our actual spent ($6338) minus our income for the month ($6317) means we spent over budget by $21. Not too terrible, but there were some categories of spending I’d like to zero in on and give some additional details….

First, you’ll notice that less was spent in debt payments than was initially planned. I hate to put less toward debt, but here’s what happened….

Do you remember when I moved my student loans to be Income Based Repayment (IBR)? Welllllll, there was some confusion with this. I realize how irresponsible and airheaded it sounds for me to admit that I didn’t realize what was happening with these payments, but….yeah. That’s kind of what happened. Apparently, there was a “hiccup” with my ACS student loan IBR payment. And by “hiccup”, I mean I was actually paying the full payment rather than the lower income-based payment. I don’t know how this happened. And, actually, it would have just continued like that forever if I hadn’t made a call to the company about something totally unrelated and discovered completely coincidentally that my payment was not, in fact, in IBR status. So that changed in a hurry. This lowered my monthly ACS payment from $247/month down to $77/month. Remember – while in IBR status, any unpaid interest is forgiven for subsidized loans, so I consider this a good deal since this extra money could (theoretically) go toward other debts.

Of course, this month we did not have any extra money to go toward additional debt. Womp, womp!!!! I also paid less toward our car loan than I had originally hoped (I made a $1,000 payment this month – still more than the minimum, but not as much as I’d hoped).

I was over on our grocery budget, but I’m hoping the new modified money envelope system I’ll be using this month will help with that.

I was also over in miscellaneous. Miscellaneous is broken down into four sub-categories:

  • Entertainment: budgeted = $20, actual spent = $8
  • Eating out: budgeted = $100, actual spent = $136
  • Personal maintenance: budgeted = $30, actual spent = $15
  • Other: budgeted = $150, actual spent = $207

Total budgeted = $300, actual spent = $366

Again, the modified food envelope should help curb my eating out spending. The “other” category spending was, in my opinion, pretty unavoidable. $94 was spent on my annual life insurance premium (side note: I mentioned in this post that I increased my semi-annual savings to account for this expense for future years’ annual payments). If it weren’t for this expense we would have been well under-budget in this category so I’m not concerned with the other much smaller purchases made from this category.

So there you have it. We did still go over our income, but it wasn’t too bad considering the original planned budget placed us at $200 over our income, so ending at $21 over income isn’t terrible.

This month also turned out to be pretty lackluster in terms of our income (though not as terrible as it could have been). My family was in town all weekend so I didn’t get a chance to write a planned budget post, but I’ll try to get one up either later today or on Tuesday depending on how work stuff goes.


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…)


Health Insurance Woes

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I was recently reading a debt update post over at Six Figures Under, where I saw that they were only paying $114/month for health insurance for a family of 5.

We pay $350/month for our family of 4. We surely must be overpaying then, right? This is one of the few areas that I haven’t examined yet for trying to reduce costs/fees since we started our debt reduction journey. Unfortunately, what I discovered makes me nervous for the coming year…..

I guess I haven’t thought about it (because I did know this fact), but our health insurance doesn’t fit the qualifications required now since the Affordable Care Act passed. Specifically, our current insurance does not include any prenatal coverage which is now a requirement of all health insurances (regardless of whether you are planning a pregnancy or not). When the Affordable Care Act passed, we received notice from our insurance that our policy would be expiring. But then a wonderful thing happened – due to some type of governmental stuff (protests? No idea, I’m not a hugely political person), our insurance was “grandfathered” in for another year. Basically, we got an extension until it is dissolved and goes away. That means we have our current insurance until December 31st of this year.

What do ACA-compliant insurance policies for a family of 4 look like in terms of price?

In a word…expensive!!!

The cheapest policies I found were in the $550ish range (through tax-payer subsidies), but they ran up to well over $1,000/month. I looked at several websites and some (through private insurance companies) were “set” prices. When I looked for insurance through the governmental/subsidy websites, they change based on what you earn (the more you earn, the more expensive the coverage). Since we’ve made a pretty decent income this year….it’s looking like the cost of health care is going to be pretty decent-sized too.

I definitely don’t want to start a political debate (I know this is an inherently political issue, so it’s hard to avoid), but I was really shocked by the numbers I saw. I guess it’s better that I priced the insurance now, in September, rather than get surprised with this fun fact on January 1, 2015. But at the same time, it doesn’t make me any less bummed to know that one of our non-negotiable monthly costs is going to skyrocket next year – possibly double, or more. *gulp*

This is all the more reason why we need to get rid of our debt – NOW! All those monthly payments are just consuming our monthly income! We’ve got to get out from under the weight of our debt!

Recommitment-city over here (not like I ever lost commitment, but this was one of those things that served as a big old wake up call!)

Out of curiosity (if you want to share) – How much does your family pay for health insurance? We currently pay out-of-pocket since my husband and I are both self-employed, but I think it might be worth looking into some sort of small business owner group insurance. I’ve heard of these but have never looked into them before. Perhaps my husband could get this for his small business and it would save us some money. Lots to look into!


Life Insurance Update

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Remember how I started the process of trying to get life insurance for my hubs and me, oh….2 months ago???

Well I’m happy to report that it’s finally done….kind of.

Both of us have had our physicals and been approved. I just mailed in my contract today and my husband’s contract hasn’t yet arrived but should be here any day (he’s already been notified of the total costs).

Readers had pointed out (and of course this is the case), but everyone always advertises their “best” price and then you end up getting hit with extra costs once all the exams are complete. So, once my husband’s health history and our height/weights were taken into consideration, our costs ended up being higher than the original quote.

To insure us both, the annual cost will be $575. Ouch! (We were originally quoted just over $400, but my husband’s recent health issues, Nov-Dec 2013, influenced prices).

You get a bit of a break for paying in one lump sum for the year instead of monthly installments, so I went ahead and sent in a check for mine along with the completed contract (remember – we’re still waiting for husband’s contract). My portion was $207, but I was able to take $113 from my “annual purchases” savings to help cover some of the cost (this wipes out my “annual purchases” savings account).

Since this month is a bit tight anyway, I’m thinking we may wait to send in the payment for husbands’ life insurance until next month. To help cover these costs for next year, we’re going to increase our “annual purchases” savings from $45/month to $100/month. This should allow us to cover the full $575 annual premium, and still give us a little bit of wiggle room.

I had no idea this would be such a long, drawn-out process but I already have so much peace of mind knowing that if something were to happen to me, my kids would be taken care of. Mary Poppins (my replacement) isn’t cheap! ; )