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Archive for September, 2007

COBRA insurance loophole

September 25th, 2007 at 05:30 am

Interesting article that includes info on how to save money on COBRA health insurance after you leave a job:

www.charlotte.com/business/moneywise/story/289408.html

"But here's what a lot of people don't know: You don't need to sign up for or buy COBRA coverage as soon as you bid adieu to your old workplace. That's because you have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage and another 45 days after that to buy it. In other words, you don't have to pay for any insurance for 105 days -- and if you don't get sick or need to see a doctor or go to the hospital, you pay nothing at all.

Here's what you do: You sign up for COBRA on the 60th day after leaving your job. Then, if you need to use the health insurance within the next 45 days you pay for coverage. Claims are retroactive to the first day in which you were no longer covered through work."

Food Prices-Higher or Not?

September 19th, 2007 at 07:15 am

I'm trying to rethink our food budget again, in light of the freezer's arrival and our upcoming lower income. So I went online to find the latest USDA Food Plan as a guide.

It got me thinking--they keep saying inflation is well under control, but I'm definitely noticing higher prices on certain foods. I haven't been keeping good spending records lately, so am I just imagining it?

The CPI figures that just came out say food is up 4.2% on an annual basis (August to August). www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm

I compared the USDA food plans for last June and this June (June is supposed to represent an average figure for the year.) Their food budgets have gone up 5.9% in a year.

And here's an article that says:

"According to figures from the United States Department of Agriculture, the price of foods containing high amounts of protein have increased the most. The cost of beef has increased by 6.4 percent. Poultry is up 7.8 percent.

"But both are trumped by milk, which costs 9.5 percent more than it did at the beginning of the year.

"For the year, the USDA is forecasting a food inflation rate of 4 to 4.5 percent, with the highest increases being seen in dairy and eggs. Historically, retail food prices inflate at a rate of 2.5 percent. “Very rarely do we get above 3.5 percent,” said Leibtag. But even if prices fall some this autumn, it appears this year's inflation rate will be the highest since 1990."

www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=6647

It really makes you wonder what to think.

I've bought a freezer

September 18th, 2007 at 10:08 am

I guess it sounds nutty, being that DH will be unemployed in less than two weeks. But I'm glad I did it.

The reasons I had for deciding to get one a month ago have just gotten stronger. My stress level is even higher, and it's even more important to cut down on the time I spend on errands. I know I'm going to have to devote time to the computerized end of DH's job search, and I want to be able to pick up extra hours at work if they're available. We need to have enough easy stuff for dinners at home so I'm not tempted to pick up take-out.

On Sunday at Shop Rite I was behind a woman with three girls, who spent $495 on two piled-full carts of groceries. I was shocked at first--I would have at least used some coupons and not bought full-price pomegranate juice!

But then I looked at how calm they all looked, and how the mother was slim and looked like she took care of herself. I thought, well at least she's done shopping for awhile now and can go live her life, exercising, playing with the kids, whatever.

That's what I want, in addition to keeping the grocery budget under control. I'm tired of having to make a weekly trip to the bread outlet for the whole grain light bread that helps me control WW points. Why weekly--I don't have room to freeze bread for future weeks. And I'm sure not going to pay full price at the supermarket.

I'm tired of having to decide between the bag of burgers and the bag of chicken at Aldi's, just because there won't be room in the freezer for both, and then having to make another trip there a week or two later.

I'm tired of shopping sales all day, not able to really stock up at each store, being so tired I stop at Wendy's for dinner, and then having to do it all again the next week.

I'm also tired of putting things in my mother's freezer temporarily, and not being able to get to them right away.

I've spent hours pursuing possible used freezers on Craig's List, to no avail. I've been watching prices online for the model I really want, and the sale prices at the big box stores aren't any better than our local appliance guy is every day.

So today I did it. With actual cash money out of our home/car repair savings account.



Update on DH leaving job

September 14th, 2007 at 08:04 am

Thanks for all the support and the "fightin' words." I'm more relaxed about it at this point, but I do have to remember not to make things too easy for him.

Actually, we've both done this before (left jobs without having another one yet), and I completely understand why he feels the need to leave this one. At least he's given plenty of notice and is trying to stay on his immediate supervisor's good side, so he can use her as a reference.

I can even understand why he went ahead and did it without telling me first--he knew I'd probably freak and try to talk him out of it. (I've gotten this way with my mother, who seems to fear all change and decision-making, in my life as well as hers. I just don't tell her things anymore, til they're a done deal.)

What I really can't take is being yelled at like I'm the enemy!

DH is burning off some of his stress with physical activity now, like taking walks and doing yard projects so he's a bit less irritable. I've been bargain- and freebie-hunting like crazy the past week or so, like I used to do when we were in debt. I did go clothes shopping and got enough to keep me happy--but it was mostly at Goodwill and a huge sale at Sears where I got a bunch of tops for an average of about $4.

I just read that it's taking about 4 months for people to find a job at the moment, so I'm trying to stockpile 4 months worth of grocery and household stuff when I see a really good sale. So far, we have enough bath soap and Kotex for the duration. Wink

DH quitting job, with nothing else lined up

September 5th, 2007 at 07:18 am

Vent Alert! Guess what the D stands for today?

I'm about as angry and frustrated and scared as I've been since I started writing this blog. DH told me the end of last week, and it sounds like he actually gave his notice at work a week before that--without even mentioning it to me beforehand.

I started out with a sense of calm, because I finally knew what was going on. See entry here: http://stressless.savingadvice.com/2007/07/27/fud_28650/

I know he hasn't been crazy about the job for some time, and it does sound like it may be getting harder. So I can understand it. I immediately got on the stick and started cancelling automatic transfers to savings, figuring out how much more I can get in take-home by adjusting my W-4, and looking up how much individual health insurance might cost. I've done a lot of thinking about how I can reduce the food budget more, and what else we can cut. My Weight Watchers membership, perhaps?

Then this morning, DH started picking at me about the state of the house, and how I should be spending my vacation week. A vacation week I scheduled out of desperation because I was already feeling exhausted and frazzled before he hit me with this news.

All of a sudden I'm not feeling like such a team player. He's still spending money on discretionary stuff, and hasn't applied for any other jobs yet. While I'm doing my financial fiddling, he's happily watching tv or sleeping. I've been trying to be cooperative, and then he has the gall to start browbeating me.

Right at this moment, I'm feeling like I shouldn't have to give anything else up. I've been working hard at getting our expenses down over the past few years. I'm not willing to go any further. I still need to lose weight. With him at home, it's going to be hard to find time to myself, and WW meetings would be a good escape. So that stays. I need clothes, and I already have money set aside. He's still spending money on books and cigarettes. AND I'M NOT THE ONE QUITTING A JOB! So today, I'm going clothes shopping as planned, dammit.

Oh, and to top it off I found out today the car insurance bill has gone up 26%.