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Archive for February, 2008

Catching up

February 23rd, 2008 at 05:30 pm

Thanks for all your condolences. A Going Jessie--I love it! Yes, sad as it is, wouldn't we all rather go like that--quickly, after a long and interesting life.

This morning I sat down and tried to catch up on our financial record-keeping, generally. I was also finally able to come up with what this whole crisis has cost us specifically. It's roughly $1000.

Hotel $177 (they gave us a bereavement discount)
Train $208
Taxis to and from train $130
Obituary in paper down here (to be reimbursed from the estate) $195
Clothes for DH $95
Luggage and locks $50
Flowers $66
Gift certificate for neighbors who watched our pets $25
Gas and tolls for trips to hospital $45
Meals out $120

There was no free food on the train; they did have a cafe car, but all we got was coffee. Mainly, we ate our own snacks on the trip. We took full advantage of the hotel's free breakfast buffet, and free coffee in the lobby.

There's still $156 of cash we spent that I can't account for at all. Some of it might be regular groceries and such, but I really can't tell. Every once in awhile something else comes to me, and maybe more receipts will turn up. I really don't like having that much unaccounted for.

The kicker is, there is going to be a lot of family pressure to make the trip again in the summer. The ground was too frozen to bury the ashes, and they'll want to do it during this big family reunion in August. DH is still not working, and our emergency fund is about wiped out. We avoided going out for a similar "second funeral" for DH's father some years back, and I'm determined not to be pushed into it this time, either. If money isn't so tight then and DH really wants to go, then maybe. But I'm not putting out another big chunk of money, and using more vacation time, just to make a bunch of distant relatives happy. DH barely knows them himself!

Death in the family

February 19th, 2008 at 02:02 pm

One day we got a call that my MIL had a stroke, but not to worry because it appeared to be mild. A week later we were hundreds of miles from home, attending her viewing. I can't believe everything happened so fast. She was 90, so it shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was. She was still driving til the end, and had just cooked a big dinner the night before the stroke.

Since this is a financial blog, I'll try to write about things from that perspective.

First of all, when you're in a crisis situation like this, you can't always do things the cheapest way. We took Amtrak, which probably cost a bit more than driving would have been. But we didn't want to drive that far in wintry weather, on roads we weren't familiar with. We could have gotten a AAA discount if we could have made our reservations sooner, but we didn't know the date of the viewing and funeral til after the discount deadline. I also just found out we could have gotten a discount on one return fare with a coupon code, but I didn't have time to search for codes beforehand.

I'm glad that we still had a credit card, and I hadn't closed it out as per Dave Ramsey. It was nice to be able to charge the train fare, reserve the rooms, buy DH some clothes and pay for the local obituary FAST. I had enough to do without running around, getting extra money into the account that has the debit card and waiting for the deposit to clear. OTOH, I'm glad we had some money in the Emergency Fund so we can pay the bill off right away.

It's a good idea to always have suitable clothes on hand for a funeral (or wedding), and sufficient traveling gear. We hadn't traveled in years, and had gotten rid of some crummy old luggage without replacing it. I had to run out and buy a cheap set of suitcases at the last minute. (Nope, I didn't have the time to check where they were made!) Luckily, I'd bought DH some dress shoes on sale awhile back, even though he rarely needs them. He also still had a suit that fit. But he needed a new shirt, and a coat to wear over the suit. His old bomber jacket would have just looked embarrassing. It would have been a lot less stressful if we'd had all of this stuff on hand to begin with.

My oldest BIL is executor, and when we last saw him he was having trouble even finding my MIL's social security number. He hadn't really been involved with her paperwork over the years, and lives at a distance, so he's going to have quite a job finding and making sense of things. I'm more determined than ever to arrange things so DH can manage if something happens to me. He doesn't do computers at all, so this will mean converting back to paper in a lot of ways.

Finally, and most importantly, my MIL's eulogy reminded me to spend less time on finances and more time on enjoying life. The contrast with my own mother is marked. MIL didn't end up with a fortune, but she had a lot of travel and other fun under her belt. She enjoyed trying new things when she had the chance. My own mother has been very careful about money and everything else over the years. Rather than trying new things, she's apt to wonder "why would anyone want to do that?" She's a worrier from way back. So I've been thinking about how I'd rather hear my life summed up, at the end.