The Costs of Attending

Update:  Thanks for all the comments!  I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling annoyed with these unexpected expenses.  

The last two weeks has been a flurry of activity.  DS1 began his performing arts summer day camp.  DS2’s summer camp was canceled altogether.  That was a bummer, I could have used the break from the wild toddler.

I also had a baby shower and 2 birthday parties to attend.  All of these left a bad taste in my mouth for any future event I may be invited to.

The baby shower was for a close family friend.  DH and I were invited and it was hosted by her brother’s bar/burger restaurant in town.  They closed to the public for this event.  We arrived with two boxes of diapers, and various clothing items as gifts.  We were told to take a seat anywhere, and help ourselves to the taco bar.  Later in the evening, the guys behind the bar went around handing out drinks.  DH had a beer, I had a bottled water.

The entire gathering was odd.  Just seemed like a bunch of mingling.  No games, no other activities, no gifts opened.  After nearly 3 hours of just sitting there, we decided to call it a night.  We said goodbye to our very pregnant friend and as we were about to leave, the guy behind the bar brings us a bill!!!  We were charged $15 per person for the “taco bar” I didn’t even eat anything from, $10 for DH’s beer, and $5 for my bottled water.   $45 to attend a baby shower I had already spent $75 on in gifts!!  The guy must have seen my shocked face, because he immediately began justifying the tab as a “donation” to my friend for her recent speeding ticket.  What?!?!?!  No!  I was livid.

Fast forward a week and we’re attending a friends 37th birthday party at a restaurant.  The invite states the following: “Please join us in celebrating K’s 37th birthday with a catered dinner party on xxxx date.  To be held in the Grand Ballroom of such/such restaurant.”

What would your understanding of that invite be?  Dinner provided?  That’s what we thought.  Instead we ended up with a $88 bill for our two small, mediocre meals, which we didn’t even get to choose.

It doesn’t end there.  We also had our nieces 5th birthday party to attend.  It was held at a local indoor bounce-house type place.  They rented a party room, provided pizza, etc.  Except that in order for the kids to participate on the fun stuff, we had to pay $10 each for a wrist band!!  Oh and had to pay for the kids drinks, as none were provided.

My kids’ birthday party is coming up, we’re providing food for the kids and adults.  Should I charge them $5 a slice now?  Is that the new thing to do?!  Maybe I should just install a vending machine by the pool.  How about towel rental for drying off from the pool?  Parking fee?  Tacky, tacky, tacky!!!

I already feel like we’re being nickel and dimed by corporate America.  I certainly don’t need it from friends and family.  I’ll be sure to clarify these issues going forward and turn down any invites that will break our budget.

Really though, have you ever encountered this?!?!  I’m still baffled, and annoyed.

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Hello Again

Happy Friday & Happy June!  Summer is finally here.  I didn’t mean to take a month long hiatus.  Life has just been overwhelmingly busy.  I’m popping in to say I have not abandoned this debt journey blog.  A few bullet point updates for now will do.

  •  Fred.  DH’s work-friend landscaper that was terrible?  We didn’t have to fire him.  He basically quit!  He finally admitted our yard was too much, his wife was mad, etc etc “can we still be friends?”  LOL!  In the end he never returned to finish like he said.  Nor did he return with a new rubber pool filter pump hose as promised, which he destroyed with his mower.  Good thing that’s a cheap fix, $10.

 

  • Relative renter vacating in early May?  Didn’t happen.  They’re still there.  Zero signs of leaving right now.  Despite their job transfer and 2 hour commute, they’ve stayed put.  Now they’re talking about finding a new job.  I’m sure you know how I feel about this right now…

 

  • We cleaned up our garage and have it all organized with stuff priced for a yard sale.  We had that done in April, and I’ve been steadily adding to the sale pile.  We haven’t been able to have a yard sale, because this weather is being ridiculous.  Storms all day every days for weeks on end.  The one weekend we didn’t have rain, we had prior plans for.  I don’t want to wait until fall, but between the storms and heat, it may have to.

 

  • More DH truck repairs last month.  $400 for something I can’t recall and an oil change.  $100 Alignment.  Also having issues with it overheating, which has been attributed to the radiator having a leak, that’s a $750 fix we can’t afford right now.

 

  • DS1 is out of school for summer.  The kids are driving me insane.  I don’t know why they can’t get along.  On their own they are wonderful kids.  Polite, sweet, fun.  Together?  Constant chaos, tears, screams.  I’m not sure how much more of this I can handle!  We’re waiting to hear back about camp options for DS1.

 

  • We ran into more medical issues with DS2 in May.  We’ve been referred to a rheumatologist, but that could take 6-12 months to get an appointment.  Looking into auto-immune disorders at this point.  Received bills from LapCorp for neurology testing: I mentioned the one for $3,509, now there’s another for $3,345 – after insurances.  Had to take him in for more blood work for allergy testing, LabCorp wanted me to put a debit card on file – L O L !!!!!  Absolutely not.  Then they informed me my portion would be $579.  Bill me, thanks.  These lab bills are getting out of hand and insurance doesn’t cover anything.

 

And that’s my life in a nutshell right now.  I may not be posting or commenting often, but I read all of my fave blogs every week.  🙂

Posted in Auto, Debt, Expenses, Family, Home, Medical, Rental Property | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rental Update

Mini-landscaper update:  Fred texted DH that he would be out at 3:15pm Monday.  He showed up at 4:30pm.  We had to leave at 5pm.  On our way out, Fred stopped to tell us that he’ll need to come back with a longer saw toll to do the bushes, and to spray the weeds.  We came home at 8pm and he was gone, but my mother in law said he left around 7pm.  About 1/3 of the bushes were done, poorly.  That’s now almost 10 hours this guy has spent on our yard, and he’s coming back today – hopefully to finish!!!  Yikes!

On to the good news:  It’s official!  Our relative renter will be vacating our old home around the beginning of May.  I am hoping to get it market ready within 3 weeks, and have it listed in early June.  That’s assuming we find reliable contractors/workers.  I haven’t been able to assess the current state of the property, but I think we’re looking at $10k in repairs.  I plan to do as much as I can myself, but some things will need to be hired out.

All new flooring is needed throughout.  Even the brand new engineered hardwood I had installed on the main level is ruined, I noticed that last visit.  😦  Not to mention the water heater flood that insurance screwed us over on.  The carpet needs to go (pets.)  We’ll be shopping around for a deal.  Hoping under $4000 installed.

The rest of the budget is paint, tile, and door replacements – yep, all the interior doors have been damaged.  Nothing makes me more sad/mad than seeing all the damage to a home I took pride in and renovated top to bottom.

The question now is how to fund that $10,000?  There are two options (maybe 3).  I think I’ve dwelled on this before, but considering our financial picture has tightened over the last several months, I need to be more cautious.

Credit cards.  I have over $10,000 in available balance on credit cards.  My concern here is interest rates/fees (19%+) and minimum monthly payments.  This is probably not the best option…

Equity loan.  Taking out a small home equity loan on our current home (no mortgage) will give us more breathing room.  It could cover the monthly mortgage and utilities on the second property up until it is sold.  Plus repairs.  Interest rate in the 4% range, fixed.  Payment under $200/mo. on $15,000.

There’s also a HELOC, home equity line of credit.  I’m not too familiar with this option, and not entirely sure how it works.  The interest rate is adjustable vs fixed, but since we expect to pay it off quickly, that’s not too concerning.  The rate is 3% for 12 months @ $15,000 withdrawal, and  “as low as” 4.49% after.

Yeah, that’s 3 options then.  I’d appreciate any input on how to proceed.  I’ve been overanalyzing this for months now and still can’t make a decision.  I need to pull the trigger soon to get out from under the property.

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Good Help is HARD to Find!!

I’m not sure if it’s the area we live in, or a problem everywhere, but finding people who do their jobs (and do it well) is nearly impossible.  When you actually find good help, it’s like striking gold.  We’ve been burned many times by contractors, landscapers, even septic companies.  This is why DH and I try to do as much as we can on our own.

We found a wonderful landscaper, Jake, when we moved here.  We have nearly two acres, not huge, but quite a bit of grass and bushes.  $100 cut, $100 bushes or $180 both.  It’s an expense I budget for, because we’re unable to do it ourselves.  DH has a back injury, and my asthma/allergies to grass keep me from breathing.

A guy DH works with is trying to start up his own landscaping company.  He invested in a $10,000 John Deere mower and other equipment.  He began nagging DH about doing our yard a few months ago.  When the yard was to a point that it needed some attention.  I didn’t want to switch.  I like Jake, he does a great job, super affordable, dependable, and HONEST* – he’s been a loyal worker for two years.  I think DH felt a little obligated, and agreed to let the guy come by to assess the yard.

He asked what we paid and undercut by $10.  $90 cut, $90 bushes.  $180 for both, no discount combined.  Basically same price.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too fond of him, but DH thought we should give him a shot.

Jake texted DH about coming out to mow.  DH fibbed and said his brother in law was starting a business, so he was going to give him a shot, but we’d keep him posted.  I think we both feel bad, and should go with our gut…but you know….sigh.  Our entire yard takes Jake an hour to cut and blow, or about three hours with bushes and edging.  Keep that in mind…

Last month the work friend, Fred, arrived with his $10,000 mower and started cutting.  My first thought was that for $10,000, that’s a slow mower.  Then he came and told us he couldn’t do the hill by our driveway, because his mower couldn’t make it up the hill.  It’s not steep, not at all.  He came back with a push mower to do that side of the yard the next day.  I can’t say I was impressed.  I feel like it took two full days and you couldn’t even tell it was mowed.

Last week Fred came by for the second time to cut and also do bushes and edging.  He arrived at 10am.  He was still there at 4:45pm when I left to run errands.  I left a check for DH to give to Fred for the full $180.  I mentioned to DH that he hadn’t even started on the bushes yet.  He even busted out the push mower again.  *shakes head*  DH texted me at 5:30pm to let me know Fred had just left and did not touch the bushes.  That man literally spent 7.5 hours mowing grass, with some edging around our small fenced area.  I don’t understand!

DH gave him the check – which was cashed immediately (5:50pm!!) by the way.  Fred said he would be back Monday to do the bushes.  Here it is Thursday morning, Fred hasn’t been seen or heard from.  I told DH not to pay him the full amount if he didn’t finish.  Now this is going to make work awkward.

There’s no reason it should take nearly eight hours to mow our yard.  I don’t think Fred can handle our yard.  I want to go back to Jake.  I think DH is in agreement, but has to find a way to let Fred down (assuming he shows up again?!)   I’d like to get my $90 back and call Jake.  At least I know he can handle the job.

Now we’re in the market for a contractor, because (good news!) the rental house will be vacant the end of this month.  We have to get it market ready by mid-May.  I dread having to find someone.  No one is reliable anymore.  Or they don’t take pride in their work and it turns out sloppy.  It’s all about the dollar now.  Going to be a busy spring.

*HONEST:  Jake’s mower once slung a rock and shattered our car window.  He immediately let us know about it.  It was an easy fix and we just traded off for a free mow.  On his next visit when I tried to pay him, he reminded me it was free for the window.  Not many people are that honest.

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$1000!

I made $1,000 in one week selling random junk from around our house!  I don’t know if it was stress or the extra B12, but I was hit hard with the spring cleaning bug.  We still have plans to do a yard sale in the coming weeks.  I didn’t even touch our crowded garage.

Sad how much you accumulate over the years.  Especially with kids!  Time to SIMPLIFY!

Sold two dressers, a chair, computer desk, TV, monitor, toys, kids clothing, some dishes, shoes, a bed set, some organizational baskets/bins, a mini fridge, bookshelf, and a few other things I can’t recall off the top of my head.

Total:  $1,005 (in 6 days)

Debating on selling the pull out sofa I bought two years ago.  It’s brand new, used once.  It’s in my office, to convert for guests as needed, but we never have overnight guests anymore.  We never sit on it.  It’s a $1200 queen size pull out, very nice.  Not sure what I could list it for, maybe $800??

Anyway, of that $1,005, exactly $905 is going towards debt!!  I’m spending $100 on a piano for my son, who started lessons a few months ago, and has turned out to be somewhat of a prodigy.  I found a used upright piano for $100, and need to have it tuned.  His piano teachers husband does that, and is offering his services at no cost.

$905!  I’m excited, it was a lot of work, but I did it.  Today I’m going to focus my efforts on my online sales.  I have plenty I can add, just need to take some good pictures.  Hopefully the sun is out.  Been quite dreary lately.

Oh!  And DH took his placement test for college.  Perfect score on every subject.  That man should have gone to school years ago.  He’s incredibly smart, but just…content.  I’m proud he’s finally searching for something he’ll enjoy and succeed at (personally and financially).

Posted in Debt, Extra Income, Family | 2 Comments

Ups & Downs

A lot of stuff going on, haven’t had time to sit down, and write out a decent post.

We’ve had a few financial ups and downs recently.  Mostly downs.  The good news is we finally sold the third car!  We didn’t even have to fix it up.  A relative wanted it, so $600 later he towed it away.  Had we spent the time and money to repair, we could have made $1500-$2000.  But honestly, it’s gone, it was easy, it’s done.  And we were helping someone out.  Win/win.

I was excited to throw the entire $600 at a credit card.  Until the next day a rock flew off a truck and shattered DH’s windshield.  $285 later…repaired.

I had my annual eye exam.  I was excited to get my new pair of glasses, since my current ones are bent and the lenses keep popping out.  I had to pay out of pocket last year, since our vision insurance only covers frames every other year.  (Stupid.)  I only picked from the selection that my insurance covered, and yet it still cost me $229 out of pocket.  Ridiculous.  A $30 “material fee” since the frames are a poly-plastic and I’m over 18.  Wtf?!  A $20 “processing fee”, etc etc.  I was ticked off.  At first it was $305 and I about lost it.  The lady removed the warranty from my bill, but couldn’t budge on anything else.  I just need to get my script and buy online from now on.

Then yesterday we got a bill in the mail from Lab Corp.  DS2’s blood tests from December 2017?  Our bill is $3,509.  Insurance covered $29.01.  !!!!!!!!!!  Our deductible was 100% met in December and they covered a measly $29!!!  I’m still fuming over this one and need to call.  Of course we have a different insurance company this year, so I get to dig out the old card info.  All that for 3 tests on 2 tiny vials of blood.  WHAT A SCAM!!!

So as usual, we’re two steps forwards, five steps back lol.  Some day maybe we’ll catch up and things will even out.  I’m still snowballing the credit cards!  I will admit I’ve been terrible with eating out.  I lost my mojo to cook.  I need to get back into meal planning, it’s such a money saver.  I’m just completely burnt out lately.

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Extra Income + Tax Refunds

Happy Friday!  Our federal and state refund direct deposits finally cleared.  The money has been sitting in our account untouched for over a week now.  We still do not have a debit card.  Now that the tax deposits are done, we can switch banks.  That’s on our weekend to-do list.

We received $5500 federal and $650 state.  We were able to itemize this year due to our children’s medical expenses.  I didn’t realize how much we actually spent on medical bills this year.  It’s quite depressing.  So much for health insurance!

I have not spent a dime of the refund money and still need to figure out where to put it.  No luxuries, it’ll be debt and savings rebuilding only.

The consignment sale ended and I made $599 after fee’s.  I only had a few items leftover.  Happy with that extra money.  I’m debating on putting this towards credit card debt, or into our self-funded escrow account for property taxes and homeowners insurance.

I was bummed to realize I had a lot of items stolen at the consignment sale.  The organizers are not responsible, and I understand that, but I honestly question how some things get out the door when there’s security.  That was disappointing.  I’m already prepping for fall, hopefully I can make another $600.  If I had the time, which I should by then if my youngest is in school, then I’ll volunteer and make a larger percentage.

Also made $59 on Mercari this week, and $68 on Ebay.  I’ve been too busy with consignment stuff to list online.  Now that it’s over, I can focus on my online sales again.  🙂

And finally, DH’s HR called last evening to discuss how his new crew is working out.  During the conversation he let DH know his raise:  3% increase.  It’s decent considering the stingy company, but it didn’t exactly help us out thanks to a 19% increase in health insurance premiums.  But it is what it is, and it’s little bit more, so that’s good.  The raise won’t go into effect until next pay period, despite having been told about it well over a month ago, and colleagues already received theirs.  Wish I could insert an eyeroll emoticon here, lol.

Posted in Debt, Extra Income, Savings, Taxes | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments