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Posts tagged with: tax refund

Preparing for End of Life


My parents have now been here for two weeks and we anticipate they will stay through this week as well. We are so glad that came and have truly enjoyed getting to spend quality time with each of them.

I am especially glad my mom is getting to see her mother a couple of times a week. And we were able to celebrate my grandmother’s 93rd birthday together. We have all heard the horror stories about how families haven’t gotten to spend last moments together due to COVID.

When the Older Generations Get Together

While they have been here, there have been lots of end of life talk. Not about people dying as much as preparing for it legally. Between my parents, their siblings and my grandmother, there are lots of aches, pains and just general “growing old” health issues.

My grandparents, on both sides, prepared for their deaths early on. Although differently, they both set up their estates for their health choices, their assets, their final resting place and services and more to be handled by their 3 children and be as fair as possible.

But even now, almost 20 years after my grandparents on my dad’s side passed, they are dealing with division of property and financial decisions. And with my mom’s mother in long term care, there are lots of decisions and caretaking responsibilities to be handled on a weekly basis.

You just don’t think about all this until you see it. And we have seen a lot of it this week.

Planning for End of Life

I wrote a week or so ago about the options I am considering with my life insurance. And I’ve already designated who will take care of the minor kids should something happen to me and my desires for how that care would be given. This decision has changed a couple of times over the years especially affected by the ages of the kids.

But I don’t have a will per se. I mean, I don’t really own anything of value. My question is, what resources have you used to prepare to end of life. What documents do you have prepared and where do you keep them? Who have you discussed your decisions with?

If you have any free or low cost online resources for this type of planning, please share them in the comments. I think I’m going to create a notebook with all the documents and my notes so it’s accessible. And more than that, I’m going to sit the kids down and discuss my decisions and plans should something happen to me.

I’ve learned a lot this week about where my grandparents went right in their planning and then also seen some things that I don’t want my kids to have to deal with or wonder when I’m gone (or losing my mind which is a very real possibility based on family history).


Blowing Money on Trees


Our new house was built in 1991, and the trees and bushes weren’t cared for much. Things grow like crazy here in the Northwest, so they’re super overgrown and some need to be removed. So we’re blowing a ton of money this month on expensive tree removal.

Saving a Bit on Shrubs That Think They’re Trees

We have two arborvitae on the side of the house, just a few feet from the foundation. Normally people use them as shrubs, and keep them around 8 feet tall. Well these two beasts are—no joke—35 feet tall. They honestly crack me up.

We got bids to cut them down thinking our HOA would require us to use a professional, and the cheapest was $200. But since they’re technically shrubs (the biggest shrubs in all the land!), the HOA said we can “trim” them ourselves.

We’re happy we can save on the labor, but we don’t have adequate tools ourselves. We don’t own a chainsaw, but we do own a small hand saw that is pretty much used for cutting down our Christmas tree. I somehow, someway talked my husband into using this handsaw to start cutting down the arborvitae. He kept muttering under his breath, but we persevered.

Check out our progress:

Expensive Tree Removal

My husband grew up in a logging community—his dad worked at the mill—so he taught me the safe way to cut down trees. We cut down as many of the smaller branches and sections that we could. Our arms may never be the same. It was hard work, but we fell the first one and all the small-ish ones on the second. But the rest are beefy and we really need a chain saw.

He is campaigning hard for buying a chain saw. We can use it on the arborvitae and to cut up fallen trees, and then to help us maintain the rest of the trees in the yard. But I just want to rent one from Home Depot or Lowe’s every now and then and call it good. It costs $32 to rent for four hours, and then we wouldn’t have to store it. But he likes one he saw for $250 (plus a $50 battery). Considering we are saving $200 by not using a professional, I might be persuaded.

More Expensive Tree Troubles

Speaking of trees, remember that tree I mentioned that dropped a big branch on our neighbor’s roof deck? Turns out it’s a Black Cottonwood that grows fast and can be very brittle. It scared the bejeezus out of our neighbors that day. And since it’s on a slope above our house, it scares me too. It’s too close to the house, especially where our kids sleep.

We had to spend $50 just to apply to our HOA to have it removed, and they’re still reviewing it. (Oh HOAs…) They try to keep native trees around, but we really hope they’ll take our safety into account.

Our bids for this tree HURT. Such expensive tree removal. One was for $2,400 plus $300 for grinding. A friend’s tree service will do it for $1,000. We’ll still need to grind the stump and figure out how to get rid of it ourselves, but the math is a no-brainer.


So this is how we’re blowing money on trees lately. If only money truly grew on them! This is the part of home ownership that is neither glamorous nor inexpensive.