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Full Plate Part 2 - Family Stuff

December 12th, 2007 at 06:28 am

It started about 4 weeks ago.

DMom finally decided to have the bathroom redone in one of her houses, so that one house was completely livable and she could sell the other one. She's been driving between the two houses almost every day for over 20 years. Did I mention she's 90 years old???

DH and I attended meetings with the remodeler with her, moved furniture and breakable stuff so they could get in and work, made phone calls, made sure there was food and coffee in the house, etc. DH also got a shed torn down and some yard work done while it was going on.

For 3 weeks, we took turns being at the house at 8 a.m. to let the remodelers in. DMom couldn't sleep there because there was no bathroom, and she couldn't drive down herself to meet them because she doesn't get that early a start in the mornings. We'd wait til she got there, then tried to get on with our own days.

We thought it was only going to be 2 weeks, so we scheduled our own roofing job for week 3. But as it turned out, I was at DMom's with her remodelers while DH was home dealing with our roofers.

At the end of the job, we discovered the toilet they gave DMom was not nearly powerful enough...you don't want to know! I ended up working a split day, managing a toilet changeover for her during my afternoon off.

It was getting to be very stressful because while sitting at DMom's house, we were holed up in her living room which is crammed with old, crumbling dirty stuff she doesn't want to get rid of. We saw tons of things that need to be thrown out, given away, cleaned, or stored. We could have gotten a lot more done while we were there anyway--but she just kept saying No, No, No. She couldn't deal with that much change all at once. Very frustrating.

Finally at the end of the projects, DH and I sat down after dinner to relax, but it wasn't meant to be.

My BIL, who lives with my MIL (also 90) has had bipolar disorder for many years, which has been pretty well controlled with lithium except during extra stressful periods. Well, it was starting to have medical side effects and they changed his medication.

I won't go into detail, but we've spent many hours on the phone with family, the security guard in my MIL's development, the mental health crisis people. The police and crisis folks were at the house 6+ hours before he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. He'd been holding MIL practically hostage, pulled out the phone lines so she couldn't communicate with the outside world. He was suicidal, and there's a good chance there's still an old gun on the property that he hid somewhere. The police looked for it, and couldn't find it.

We are all very apprehensive about how long the hospital will keep him, how he'll be when he gets out, and how to keep my MIL safe. I called the social worker's office at the hospital but only got an answering machine and no call back yet. I emailed the Red Cross's Lifeline service (the I've fallen and I can't get up thing) but it bounced back as a bad address. More frustrations I really don't need.

We've also got DMom's car at our mechanic because lots of repairs have been adding up and we felt it wasn't safe for her to drive. It looked like she hadn't gotten an oil change for over a year! She's just developed a bladder infection and since her car's in the shop, I'm driving her to doctor appointments and the drugstore this week.

I've been spending money like a drunken sailor--can't even tell you what on. I had to raid the Bills checking account for stuff that should be coming out of the Groceries checking account, but I don't see how it could be helped. I can't see my financial life getting back under control until things start to calm down. I've been lurking on a Debtor's Anonymous email list, and know I would be taken to task for Vagueness (not writing down everything spent, not spending within a budget). My mental reply to the DA folks right now is, "Get Real!"

My plate is full

December 9th, 2007 at 08:43 am

Since DH left his job, all heck has broken loose. Not due to him--on the contrary, if he didn't have the time and energy to help with this stuff, I don't see how I could have managed. As it is, we are both feeling pretty stressed, and at times physically shaky.

In this entry, the financial front.

Just before DH left his job, he decided to get a tooth fixed. Looking back on it, I think he wanted to look better for job interviews, but it didn't occur to me at the time. That cost $1500.

I managed to pick up some extra hours at work, which covers our COBRA insurance almost exactly. My boss knows I'm ready to go full time and get benefits, and she'd like to give it to me, but it's not in the budget right now.

Still, the cheapest COBRA option (keeping the high deductible insurance and the HSA account) is $645 a month and it's kind of painful to pay. It's more than our mortgage! And we still have to find money to put into the HSA.

We had to start paying on life insurance for DH, because the only policy he had was at work. $94 a quarter.

In October, our dog had a swelling on her cheek that we thought might be a tumor. It was relatively good news--an abscessed tooth that needed to be removed. The vet visits, surgery and medicine totalled $605.

One of the little additions on our house had a much older roof than the main part, and it started to leak once in a while. It kept getting worse and in November we decided we'd better get it replaced before snow season started. Even I could see it was beyond repair, unless we just wanted to lay a tarp over it for the winter! $1125.

We rarely have flea problems, but our dog and cat both got them recently. I didn't have the stuff on hand, so I ordered it online for the best price I could find--just under $100.

It was our balance month for natural gas, and we owed $48 extra. We needed a new faucet cartridge, $22. DH worked on hedges at DMom's house, sliced the extension cord. New cord, $25. MIL needed her phone card re-upped due to a family emergency, $25. We've been very involved with DMom and MIL lately, which has made it harder to do things the cheap way. We've been indulging in some fast food and I'm just happy to get out shopping when I can, let alone following sales and using coupons.

Amazingly, we are still afloat financially so far. I had to charge a few things only because the emergency money I had to spend wasn't in the account with the debit card. As soon as I pay that bill, we'll be debt-free again except for the mortgage.

Oh, and all that subprime mortgage news that's been coming out has made me very, very nervous about our ARM, due to adjust in 3 years. So I set up an automatic extra payment to principal for $50 a month--don't know how much it will help in the long run, but it makes me feel better.

Next time, the family crises. (Oh, joy!)





Homeowner's Insurance Tip

June 8th, 2007 at 08:10 am

FYI - You might want to check and see if you're covered for cleanup from sewer backups. That is, unless you're willing to do the cleanup yourself--yuck!

DMom is going through this right now, and the cleanup is even going to involve removing basement shelving and other old wood that can't be sanitized. It's going to run into several thousand dollars--and she discovered her homeowner's insurance won't cover it.

Apparently you need to add an extra rider to your policy to cover this sort of thing. She hadn't thought of it, and her agent hadn't suggested it.

Luckily, we're with a different company, which automatically adds the rider unless you specify you don't want it. It's costing us $50 a year for $3000 of coverage. Worth every penny, as far as I'm concerned!

4-week report, ending Sept. 23

October 2nd, 2006 at 06:09 am

Everyday Expenses came to $575, a little high but not terrible. Mostly because I had a bunch of cat food coupons to use up before they expired, so I bought ahead. It certainly wasn't from gas prices--only spent $80. Yay!

But overall, I did some SERIOUS spending this past month.

HSBC $1099, down by $50. But overall cc debt (purchases not yet billed or due) up to $1613. I purposely bought as much on the Citi card as possible to get one last rewards check from them. You have to have $50 in rewards to request a check, and I had to work to make it.

Emergency Fund $110, down $570.

But I have no regrets.

We spent $345 on car repairs and maintenance. Worth it for peace of mind.

We spent $250 on the lights for the back of the house.

I spent $78 on misc. household stuff such as curtains, a throw rug, miniblinds and a hose.

I paid less on the credit cards to reserve cash for the plumbing work we had done in September but weren't billed for yet. (It came to $515, which we'll be paying this week.)

It's gotten to the point where the undone repairs and maintenance are weighing heavier on me than the weight of unpaid debt. The main debt is at 0% through March, and the Citi charges are still in the grace period. I'd rather have two fully functioning bathrooms than have these paid off early for no reason.

So, a satisfying month even though the numbers say otherwise.

Something to save up for--Yikes!

September 21st, 2006 at 08:53 am

The plumber was here today, and I asked him to show me where to turn off the water to the house in case of emergency.

I knew it had to be done out at the street, where the meter is. Long story short--if I were here alone, I could never do it myself. We'd have to buy this long-handled "key" tool and even if DH were here, the job would involve one of us crawling on the ground looking into a scary, gaping hole and the other one holding a flashlight.

So I asked him to look in the basement to see where a shut-off could be added. This is where the Yikes! comes in.

Our pipes are ancient iron ones, and very corroded. In fact there are old shut-off valves there, but they are so corroded they would break if you tried to move them. Basically, all the piping from the street to the house should be replaced. Much of the work would have to be done by hand instead of machine because of the convoluted way the pipes go into the house. The way it was done was "weird." (Why am I not surprised?) They are also all behind the hot-air furnace ductwork, which was added later.

I asked him for a ballpark figure. $1000? $5000? $10,000? He figured $5000 would be closest.

Boy, I can think of far more interesting ways to spend $5000. But I guess it will have to be done someday. In the meantime, the plumber suggested keeping a trash can over the man-hole thingy out front in the wintertime. That way, we wouldn't be searching around for it under the snow.

I'm starting a new blog category for House.