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Guinea Pig With Glasses

May 15th, 2009 at 08:09 pm

No, not the one on Youtube.

Text is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAOplanuumc and Link is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAOplanuumc

Me.

I'm anxiously awaiting a $30 pair of prescription reading glasses from an online optical store. If I were happy with the progressive lenses I got locally (and the attitude of the optician), it never would have occurred to me. But in doing some research online, I stumbled on a blog called Glassy Eyes, which is full of info on how to order cheap but good quality prescription glasses (and contacts) online.

Text is http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/ and Link is
http://glassyeyes.blogspot.com/

Basically, you can guesstimate a frame size that will fit by reading the little numbers printed inside your existing frames. You enter the numbers from your eye doctor's prescription form; generally you don't even have to send in or fax the prescription paper, so you still have it on hand for your next purchase. (Apparently it can get quite addictive buying new styles and colors, once you know you can buy them so cheaply. Wink Sheesh, one place has some frames that only cost a dollar!)

The main problem seems to be finding out your "pupillary distance" which determines where the center of the prescription goes in each lens. Eye doctors often don't write that on the prescription blank, and local opticians often don't want to divulge it to the customer. But there are ways to figure it out yourself, or with a friend, and instructions are available online.

I want a nice large, frumpy frame that will give me a large field of vision; the optician would only show me skinny, fashionable frames. I want to try reading-only rather than reading/intermediate bifocals, which the optician says I need. (And which cost more, of course.) So for $30, I'm willing to experiment.

It looks like it might be a workable alternative for someone who really needs new glasses, doesn't have vision coverage, and can't afford to spend much. I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, since I haven't gotten mine yet. But I'll keep you posted.

Has anyone else tried this?



Whipsawed, but in a good way

November 1st, 2008 at 08:21 am

I hardly know where to begin. A few weeks ago, I was actually in tears because of money worries and now I'm trying to figure out how to divvy up a 45% increase in our cash flow. I just found out that my boss really went to bat for me, and got approval for me to go full-time with benefits! Not only is it more hours and free insurance, but also an increase in my hourly rate. Things sure can change fast, down or up.

I've been very worried about how we'd cope when DH's Cobra coverage ran out. That's a big part of the reason I went ahead and sold the rest of the ETFs I had in my IRA. I didn't want to raid the IRA to pay for health insurance, but I wanted to have the option if it came to that. If the stock market kept tanking, I couldn't be sure of how much I'd have available.

I've been trying really hard, running around to to buy things on sale, using coupons and rebates again, and had our freezer pretty well filled up.

One night DH got out some pizza and left the door open about an inch. In the morning, I heard it running like mad and discovered it. That's when I finally broke down and cried, fearing that all the food was ruined and money wasted. (We've been using the food up as fast as we can, with no ill effects so far.)

DH started looking for work, and finally signed up with a rather cheesy temp agency out of desperation. You can read about them here, and either be forewarned or just see how the bottom half lives:

Text is http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2002/03/street_inc.html and Link is
http://www.motherjones.com/news/feature/2002/03/street_inc.h...

I even went so far as to tell my mother I couldn't chip in the tip anymore when she took us out for a meal. It was really embarrassing, but felt I had to do it.

She likes to get out to restaurants, but is housebound now and needs one of us to drive her. She pays for the meal, and we've been paying the tips. But what with gas prices, I didn't feel I could keep shelling out more money on tips than we could have made the whole meal for at home.

Now, amazingly, the tide seems to have turned. Instead of feeling stunned and unsure because of all the bad economic news, I'm now feeling stunned and unsure about how to handle this good fortune.

I really, really, don't want to blow it.




Back because I'm scared

September 27th, 2008 at 04:13 pm

I feel like I need to huddle around the virtual campfire at Saving Advice again, safe from the cold, cruel world with some people who have their heads on straight. Smile

I'm trying not to be a Nervous Nellie, but all this upheaval in the economy is starting to get to me. It's not just what I'm hearing on the news--it's real life.

WAMU-we have our one credit card with them. Things should be business as usual, but it feels strange to have a 2nd credit card provider go belly up on me. (I had a NextBank card years ago.)

Wachovia-I have a brokerage account with them, DMom has two brokerage accounts plus she owns a pretty significant chunk of Wachovia stock which is already showing a loss. I'm hoping they don't do a WAMU and that she doesn't lose it all.

The housing market-My mother, at 91, has finally put her "extra" house up for sale, seemingly at the worst possible time in recent memory. There have only been two showings in about 3 weeks. If it goes on too many months, we may need to help her get it ready to rent out.

It's been a year, and DH still isn't working. In a lot of ways it's been a help, but we could sure use some extra money.

Especially since we are still paying $660 a month for his COBRA health insurance, which runs out in March. The prospects for me getting full-time at my present job don't look good, and the cost of an individual (non-COBRA) policy will be even higher.

Our emergency fund is below the $1000 minimum that I feel comfortable with, and I'm going to have to work hard to get it built up again. I'm unavoidably spending $200 a month on gas now (because of driving my mother), and our car insurance just went up $35 a month.

Somehow I'm going to have to get back to frugal ways, but I don't have time to fiddle around with Quicken like I used to.

Hope things are going a little more smoothly with everyone else.

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!)





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:

Text is www.charlotte.com/business/moneywise/story/289408.html and Link is
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."

FUD

July 27th, 2007 at 05:53 am

That would be Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Wikipedia says it's an advertising term, but what I'm feeling is about DH's job and our finances.

His company has been sold, and so far DH and his coworkers have good feelings about the change. They are encouraging all employees to stay, and they have more generous sick and vacation policies. However, I'm antsy to know what the health insurance situation is going to be.

They have several Blue Cross plans to choose from, but not the cheap High Deductible/Health Savings Plan combo we have now. DH has no idea yet whether it's fully paid for by the company, or whether he has to kick in, and how much.

We could be looking at substantially higher or lower take-home pay. It could mean moving ahead on goals faster than we'd thought, or having to cut our Emergency Fund and New Car Fund savings down to a trickle. As it is, we really need to buy some life insurance on him, as the new company-provided policy will be half what it was.

I'm glad it looks like he still has a job. I'm glad we have no cc debt left. I'm glad we have enough in the HSA to cover the dental work DH is in the middle of. But I still can't help being nervous!

Aldi diet starts today

May 1st, 2007 at 09:04 am

I just got back from the doc, and have some additional motivation. My blood pressure has gone up a bit, and he's talking about increasing the dosage of my medication--the pill I want to get off of altogether because I'm tired of running to the bathroom!

I have a 6-week reprieve to see if I can lower it by losing weight, watching salt, and exercising. I asked the doc, of his patients who have lost weight successfully, what did they do? What's the common denominator? His answer--Weight Watchers. I asked him for a note of "medical necessity" so I can use HSA money for Weight Watchers fees. I guess I'll give it another try.

On the good side, my blood work was fine. Total cholesterol under 200, and HDL 50. At least he was happy about something!

Stopped at a different Aldi on my way home, to see if they had anything different from mine. I scored some sugar free Mystic mints--my usual store only has the sugar free gum.

What I found, and didn't find

April 25th, 2007 at 09:06 am

Made a trip to Aldi's last night, at what I hoped would be a slow time. I was able to take my time in the aisles, looking for things I couldn't find previously, and writing down prices.

Pleasant surprises:

Nonstick cooking spray (canola-based) $1.29
Turkey bacon $1.89
Splenda, in addition to their own brand of aspartame
Plain, nonfat yogurt
Sugar free "jello" and fat free pudding, in the refrigerated section $1.79 for 6 cups
Fat free "cool whip" 75 cents
Baked nacho tortilla chips $1.49
Mixaid (like Crystal Lite) $1.75
Lite mayo $1.49
Corn tortillas in the bread section, that I turn into baked chips myself, by slicing and baking, 89 cents
Sunflower seeds 39 cents
Tomato juice, large can 89 cents

Some disappointments:
No 1% milk; there's skim but I'm not wild about it
No reduced fat sour cream
No reduced fat sliced cheese
No vinegar besides white distilled (cookbooks say too harsh to be used in salad dressings)
Not much selection in bottled diet salad dressings
No flavored lite cream cheese, only plain
Diet frozen meals limited to "Lean Pocket" type wraps

Still and all, I think I'll find plenty to eat and lose weight. I'll try their diet dressings, and I'll try making some homemade ones calling for lemon juice rather than fancy vinegars.

How to eat healthy and lose weight with Aldi

April 24th, 2007 at 05:36 am

No, I'm not entering the blog contest. Wink Actually, I'm not even starting this project til May 1.

I signed up over on the Let's Lose A Person thread, and am getting nowhere. I need some way to jumpstart my weight loss, some way to make it interesting enough to stick with. The accountability of blogging helped me to get out of debt--maybe it could help me lose weight, too.

So, for the month of May, I'm going to eat nothing but Aldi food and see how it affects my weight and other health factors. I made a doctor's appointment for May 1, so I can get official weight and blood pressure numbers. And I'll be getting some long overdue blood work done this week, so I'll know where I'm starting with cholesterol and such. The trick might be getting a slip for more blood work after only a month!

I'm actually looking forward to working within a limitation like this--I think it can force you to be more creative. And being creative is usually fun. Wish me luck!