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Long Term Care

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Through a series of tragic events, my dad’s sister has entered her late 70’s without any of her 5 children willing or able to take care of her (2 passed away and the other 3 for unknown reasons).   My Dad and his sis are not close  and the fact that she ended up retiring to SA after visiting here only once from the Bronx, NY (where Dad is originally from)  is still somewhat a mystery.  I met her one time prior to her moving here when I was in the 8th grade.  Without sounding harsh, I have to say that I am not particularly close to my Aunt.   I do, along with the rest of my immediate family, want her to be taken care of and in a good situation.  Over the course of the 15 years she has lived in Texas life has brought her unthinkable challenges.  The worst of these challenges was the loss of the three family members she moved to Texas with…in three consecutive Decembers.  She lost her husband, her daughter and then her son one after the other…each December for three years.  

For the next few years my elderly parents did their best to care for my aging aunt.  She was not in good health and the stress was taking its toll on my sweet parents.  My two sisters and I along with my parents then handled another few years working all together to get her what she needed and to keep her in her own home.  Ultimately we had to move her to a “senior apartment” where she lived well for about 5 years.  Then–last year–things got to the point that we knew we had to put her in a nursing home.  I hold power of attorney to handle financial and legal issues and I knew it fell to me to make this tough decision.  I say tough not because my aunt was objecting (really–she was pretty cooperative but sadly somewhat unable to fully understand) but instead because of my own mother.  At 80 years old herself the task of putting a loved one in a nursing home while facing her own physical limitations was very stressful for my mom.  We all got through it but not without a lot of tears, frustration, disagreements….etc.

Aside from the emotional impact that this had, I was ASTONISHED at the financial impact!  My aunt worked much of her life as a Registered Nurse and her husband worked for the City of New York.  Her monthly income was right around $2500 a month and as some of you know I’m sure…that won’t touch the monthly cost of a nursing home.  I was forced to do a spendown of her accounts so that she could receive assistance for her long term care.  She didn’t have a lot of money in her accounts and no longer owned property but it was SO SAD and felt just SO WRONG to have to handle it this way.  After months and months of getting everything in order things are okay now and she is well taken care of and doing much better overall.  The kids and I visit as often as possible.  I think this is both good for the kids but I also love brightening the faces of the nursing home residents!

So I am writing this post because this experience made me stop and think about long term care.  I have done no research at this point but am curious if any of you have insight on the topic of purchasing a long term care insurance policy.  I’m not going to run out and get this tomorrow but after seeing what this did to my aunt and to my parents (thankfully they DO have their long term care plans in place…as well as their funeral arrangements DONE…thank you Dad for saving your five children that stress!), I just want a timeline in my head at this point.  Feedback welcome!  🙂


More Info About Me

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There’s so much to share! We’ll get there with time but after reading some comments today I do want to let everyone know a little bit more about who…and where…I am! I live in the San Antonio, Texas area…so urban to answer that question…even though it IS Texas and many people think that Texas is synonymous with rural. 🙂

My husband and I both work outside the home and make a very good combined income. I don’t know that I am ready to share the number just based on what milk and ramen created in the comments! If some of you see our combined income I really may have to go into hiding for a few weeks while the cyber-tomatoes are thrown at me!!! I’ll get there….I promise.   I am battling through some shame on that front at this time.

Thank you for the cell phone comments and insurance queries b/c these are two areas that I can stand up and say we are getting the best possible deal out there! My husband works for a major telecom company so our cell phones cannot get any cheaper courtesy of his employee discount. Yay! Thanks for the reminder that this is a big area to give thanks in! I tell my hubby that his employer was absolutely in the top 10 reasons I fell in love with him…because I never have to deal with a cell phone customer service rep again! I have horror stories of battling them on billing errors or a malfunctioning phone and I am thrilled that now I can just hand the phone to hubby and not deal with that mess! As for insurance–that’s my industry so we are good on that front too! I don’t sell insurance mind you–I am employed by a major insurance carrier so I am confident in my understanding in this area and confidence creates better decisions, doesn’t it?

That’s it for now–while I can’t respond to each and every post, I am definitely reading them and thought these issues warranted this post!


Life Changes…

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Did you recently have a child? Get a divorce? Get married?

If so, it’s time to change that beneficiary on your life insurance policy.

Your life changes a lot. Make sure to update your life insurance policy (and your will).

Don’t be like us. Baby boy was born 6 months ago and we haven’t updated either one. Oops! But we are updating them today!

Get to it!


Eek! Healthcare!

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I’ve been hanging on budget wise by the hair on my chinny chin chin. Added healthcare and daycare eat up everything we were applying to debt. Add diapers, wipes, and therapeutic wine, and the budget is pretty tight.

I’d been holding on, waiting to hit my milestone year at work. Once past the milestone, healthcare costs are greatly reduced – we’re talking a couple hundred a month.

…Until they released the 2012 rates and took away milestone benefits for longtime employees. My benefit package is nearly $200 more than I budgeted each month.

Sure, I get it. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing and I can’t expect my employer to cover it, but I was oh so sad to hear about the rate adjustment.

Hubby and I have to sit down and take a hard look at what we can adjust. I’m just hoping for a raise to clear the difference so we won’t have to cut the food budget. I’m not ready for a season of Ramen… again.


Hidden Life Insurance…

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I was called by our HR department to review my latest health insurance information for the new year. They like to confirm everything is correct before the new policy begins. She checked off my information and then asked, ‘Is your beneficiary the same for your life insurance policy? We haven’t reviewed that in a few years.’

‘Life insurance policy?’ I asked.

‘Of course. I have your husband listed. Is that OK?’ she asked.

‘I’m sorry. Remind me. How much is this life insurance policy?’

Click. Type. Click. Pause.

‘We have a policy on you for $98,000.’ She started rattling off the salary ratio that determined that amount and explained how it changed with each increase in pay, and I stared at the floor, trying desperately to remember when I signed up for insurance… and how I was paying for it.

As if reading my mind, she pulled my application from her files and showed it to me.

There is was, the policy I signed up for on my very first day… and paid for by my company.

Of course, I called my husband to share about the unexpected policy and he said, ‘Well yeah hon, I have one at work too. It’s like $50K or something.’

Well, I guess we’re a little over insured. Something to keep in mind when deciding on additional insurance – know how much you already have!!

I think that no matter what we do it will be important to get a variety of quotes from the Internet to compare.


Auto Insurance Spies?

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I was reading an interesting article about auto insurance and discovered the average rates increased an estimated 10% between 2008 and 2010 thanks to the increase in medical costs and a higher number of uninsured drivers.

I went through a couple years of my auto insurance bills and discovered…

my rates went DOWN about 7% during those years, and decreased another $2 a month this year. Why? It’s a combination of multi-line discounts, accident/ticket free discounts (great, now I just jinxed myself), and driving age discounts but I the reality is, I don’t care why, I’m just glad they did what they did. Plus, the article shared the industry estimates of the average annual auto insurance cost in 2010 ($865) and mine hovers slightly less than that with great coverage. Whew!

Still looking to save? The writer suggests allowing your insurance company install a device in your car to monitor your driving habits. Progressive and Allstate both offer the device and State Farm and Nationwide are testing similar devices as well. Safe drivers can save up to 30%.

Rather not share your Indy style driving with your agent? The writer suggests calling your insurance agency and asking, ‘How can I lower my premiums?’


Scary D.I.Y. Project…

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My parents purchased five tiny pine trees from the grocery store and planted them in their front yard…30 years ago.

I don’t know if my father didn’t realize how HUGE the trees would get or if he simply didn’t think he’d still be living in the home 30 years later, but they took over the front yard. He was forced to cut them down one by one as snow storms threatened to push them onto the house but two remained.

One of the trees was leaning precariously toward the house and would unlikely survive another winter season. My father is stashing cash for his start-up and couldn’t spend the money on a tree service so my husband and brothers decided they’d take the task on.

Not realizing my husband was planning on flirting with danger, I didn’t activate his disability insurance policy. We’ve been shopping around and haven’t nailed one down yet. Eek. I was out shooting photos and shouting, ‘Please don’t get hurt! We’ve got NO INSURANCE!!!’

Remarkably they got the tree down without injury (this proves there IS a God) and my parents have enough firewood to take them into 2020.