Insurance Switch!

Friday was a busy day.  We’ve been cooped up for weeks due to illness, and it was the last day of school break.  We took the kids to the zoo and a few other activities after DS2’s check up appointment.  It was a long day!  We left before 7am and got home around 9pm.  Most of that was just sitting in traffic.  Friday probably wasn’t the smartest time to do stuff around the city lol.

Friday evening I hopped online to do some bills and noticed that insurance didn’t deduct on the 8th.  Normally I would have noticed, but I was sick that week.  This is for auto insurance, set up as an EFT auto pay.  Same crappy company as our homeowners.  I logged into my insurance account and noticed all of my policies were listed as inactive!!  (Two vehicles and two homes.) They canceled all of my policies effective October 6th 2017.  Mind you I have a letter clearly stating our policies are active until October 20th 2017!  How nice we were driving around completely uninsured for over a week.

I called them right away, and the representative didn’t understand why we were dropped.  And he could see the October 20th 2017 expiration on our account.  He was unable to renew the policies since it was after business hours, but told me someone would call me the next afternoon to figure it out.  No one ever called.  They also owe me a refund for canceling policies early, when I was paid in full until the 20th of NOVEMBER for the homeowners policies.

I reached out to my old insurance broker, who is now with Farmers Insurance.  He gave me a quote and I went ahead and signed up.  They were able to backdate the policies so there was no lapse in coverage.  I also changed several things and saved a little money.   My broker is no longer an independent agency and with Farmers only.  I only went ahead and signed up to get some coverage.  I am still going to compare rates with other companies in the near future.

Old Ins. New Ins.
$184.66/mo. for 2 vehicles (full coverage) $161.83/mo.
$822.00/yr homeowners policy (rental) $731.04/mo.
$1401.22/yr homeowners policy (primary) $1100.95/yr

The coverage for our primary residence is also better than the old policy! Same deductibles: $500 auto, $1000 home. No discounts for paying in full annually. I guess that’s not a thing anymore? Old insurance didn’t offer it either, but I do remember getting a small discount when I’d pay in full for auto every 6 or 12 months back in the day.

I had to pay $178.85 for autos and the full $1100.95 when I spoke with the rep on Saturday.  I used my cash back credit card and will pay it off with savings.

Now, I’m still not done dealing with our old homeowners insurance, because guess what?!  The water heater flood claim is STILL NOT RESOLVED!  That’s right folks!  Adjustor lied yet again!  Here is my post questioning the legality of a payment he said he made to a vendor.  I am now being harassed by the water mitigation company for payment.  Adjustor NEVER paid them like he stated!

I’ve been in touch with a supervisor – who refused to provide me an email address to submit invoices to.  He told me I needed to send them to the adjustor, and he would forward them to him.  Why should I trust that???  DH is now taking over and will handle it this week.  This bs has been going on since June 6th.

We’ve got nothing to lose now, we switched companies.  Now they’ll get to face the wrath of a very, very pissed off husband!!  Haha.  At least it gives me a break from dealing with it.  🙂

Also on the topic of insurance: this week is open enrollment. 2018 Health coverage…what are we in for now?!

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Posted in Auto, Budgeting, Expenses, Real Estate, Rental Property | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Convenience” Fee

Our property tax bill is split up into two payments.  The first half is due by October 25th and the second half is due December 25th – Merry Christmas!  I previously mentioned that our tax bill nearly doubled this year.  Thank goodness I didn’t drain savings to pay off credit cards, especially after the recent hospital visits.

I hopped online to pay the first half, $2,487.55.  At checkout the website added a “convenience” fee of $48.  Just to pay online!  I don’t think so!  I postponed payment and decided to go to the tax office and pay in person.

I was going to using the cash back credit card to pay, since I’d get $25ish back, and just use savings to pay it off in full.  Instead when I went to pay, there was still a “convenience” fee, except this time it was $54!  I asked if I used my debit card if there was a fee – yes!  In the end I had to write a check, which annoys me, because last time I paid them via check they took nearly three weeks to cash it.

But what the hell is with these “convenience” fees?  They’re not convenient.  It’d be an extra $100+ on top of an already outrageous tax bill.  I didn’t think merchants were allowed to pass on the fees to consumers.  That must have changed.

Before I stopped working, I handled a small businesses office.  Our merchant contracts had very specific clauses regarding fees.  We were not allowed to charge customers additional fees to cover our merchant fees.  This was through Visa, Mastercard, and American Express.  Paypal use to be that way as well.

At least I had a checkbook on me.  Otherwise I would have went to the bank for cash and paid them in pennies.  I was of course very polite to the lady, but my “oh hell no” may have echoed through the office!  $54!  To swipe a card!  Outrageous.

Now to try to make $2500 before Christmas!

 

Posted in Expenses, Home, Real Estate, Taxes | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Feeling Defeated Pt. 2

Didn’t mean to leave a “cliff hanger” post for so long!
Sorry, details at the end about that!***

Part 1 here.  At this point we have paid out $1500 in co-pays.  Now we’re in an isolated room at the children’s hospital ER.  DS2 is set up on another IV, this one resulted in no loss of blood.  After reviewing the lab results from the previous ER, we’re told DS2 needs to be admitted to inpatient at the hospital.  Hours later we’re transferred to our suite.  DH and I are now running on about 30 hours with no sleep.

Our suite was nice, in the fact that it was a private room with private bathroom.  Plus a separate sofa so we could take turns laying down and catching a nap.  Within an hour of being in the suite, registration came in.  $500 Inpatient Co-pay!

Swarms of doctors, nurses, and even a handful of professors visit our room to ‘study’ our child’s condition.  Ends up, it’s a common childhood virus!  The difference lies in his weakened immune system and eczema.  The virus basically infected his eczema and caused the most painful, horrific looking flare up they’d ever seen.  His entire body was covered in burn-like blisters.

We were stuck at the hospital for three days.  DS2’s meals are fully covered, but ours are not.  It’s $10/plate per adult for room service, or you could visit the cafeteria, or leave the hospital to grab a bite elsewhere.  Leaving the hospital meant $15 parking fee every time!!  That’s after they’ve validated the ticket,  it was originally $45 for 91 minutes and over.  Only after discharge were we told there’s a “5 exit pass” for $10 for inpatient families.  Goodness do I hate the city!!

For food we spent around $60 for the three days for the two of us.  DS2 barely ate.  I was able to snack off his trays.  Not bad for a hospital I must say.

Day two I get a phone call from our health insurance company asking me a million and one questions about why DS2 went to one ER, ended up at another, and was now admitted.  I basically had to justify the fact that we brought our son to the ER instead of an urgent care (I tried.)  I was nearly in tears towards the end of the call trying to explain that yes this was an emergency, when the attending doctor and he team came in.  He took the phone and spoke with insurance to explain that it was a medical necessity, and we were smart to bring him to the ER based solely on his low oxygen levels.

Day three we were discharged.  It was so nice to get home and crash in our own bed.  Rules for discharge:  DS2 must be drinking and urinating frequently and eating a little bit and absolutely no fever.  If for any reason he gets a fever of 100.4 or higher, he is immediately to return to the children’s hospital.

DS1 had been staying with his grandmother during this ordeal.   Not even an hour into being home did we get a phone call that DS1 wasn’t feeling well.  Grandmother dropped him off and the kid had a 103.6 fever and began vomiting.  Now we had to isolate the kids from each other.  DH took DS1 straight to the clinic (free!), where a strep test came back negative.  They sent it to the lab just in case.  He had no signs of what DS2 had thankfully.

***This is where things ended when I posted the first time around.  The delay in this post was because….

I woke up with giant tonsils, sore throat, swollen neck.  Made a doctors appointment for the next day, $60 co-pay.  At my doctor appointment I get a text that the lab result for DS1 is back and it is strep.  My doctor treats me for strep and gives me a steroid shot in the butt.  By that afternoon the spots start appearing on my hands.

DS2 infected me with his virus.  The blisters are so painful!!!  I’m more upset that this is was DS2 was feeling than the fact that I have it now.  It is excruciatingly painful.  I’m also being sent to an ENT for a tonsillectomy.  Sigh.

Now here’s another update:  The local ER I originally took DS2 into, called me two nights ago.  His urine results had traces of blood and he had a UTI.  Mind you we’re almost TWO WEEKS past that visit and they’re just now finding this out!?!?!  My sister was misdiagnosed years ago and went into kidney failure due to a UTI, all because they didn’t do a urine test.  I may have lost my cool during that phone call.   The nurse called in an antibiotic prescription for him – TWO WEEKS after we were told his urine was fine.  I’m still ticked off about this.  The children’s hospital didn’t do a separate urine test, because the local ER sent over his results from their labs, which were obviously wrong.

That concludes my life update.  I am terrified of the medical bills we’ll be receiving.  We were able to pay two of the high co-pays – one debit, the other on credit I’m afraid.  The other they were willing to bill (inpatient $500).  I have to say I’m quite down about finances lately.  Stressed out to the point of panic attacks.  Two steps forward, twenty steps back.

Health insurance….what a SCAM!  😦  So much for my no spend week.  Thanks for making it through this novel of a post.  Back to the norm soon I hope.

Posted in Budgeting, Debt, Expenses, Family, Medical | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Feeling Defeated Pt. 1

What a week.  I’m over it.  I’m over the sickness, the home problems, the insurance woes, and the damn debt.  I started 2017 with excitement and motivation to get this debt paid off once and for all!  And instead, we’ll probably be ending 2017 with wayyyy more debt than we started with.

Last week DS2 came down with something.  Pediatrician closed early that day, this is happening often, might need to switch.  Dermatologist couldn’t get us in for three weeks.  I drove an hour to urgent care, where when I pre-registered online it told me a 45 minute wait, and when I arrived they told me it was a three hour wait, but they were about to close and couldn’t see us.  Defeated, I drove home.

We were going to wait it out until morning, but DS2 got worse.  I took him to the local ER at midnight.  DH was working, so I was alone, and with my eyesight I have trouble driving at night.  This is why I stayed local and didn’t drive an hour to the children’s hospital.  Immediately due up front:  $750 copay.  I nearly died.

The entire visit was awful.  None of the blood techs were comfortable doing an IV on a small child (he’s 2).  If you’re wondering how I know this, it was from these statements:

Bloodtech1: Oh damn, I hate stickin’ kids.  *turns around and leaves*

Bloodtech 2: Oh no, I don’t like having to do this to small children, it makes me uncomfortable.

That will really put a parents mind at ease, right?  I immediately requested to transfer to the children’s hospital, they denied it!!!  Told me if I left, I would have to sign papers that I was going against medical advice and they would have to call a social worker (!!!) to investigate.  I was furious!!!  I should have stormed out, but was worried.  Instead we stick it out for lab work.  They do the IV and blood goes everywhere.  I have never, ever seen this happen with an IV.  I was covered, DS2 was covered, 2 nurses, the blood tech, the table, the floor – it was like a crime scene.  DS2 screaming – it was traumatic.  My poor baby.

Six hours at the ER and they’ve run urine, blood, stool, and strep tests – every thing comes back fine.  Then they demand a chest x-ray.  They couldn’t tell me why, but the doctor ordered it.  The doctor who refused to even touch my child, even while wearing gloves.  He wouldn’t come within two feet of him.  He had me undress and move him around for him to assess from 2-4 feet away.  X-ray was NORMAL.

Then I’m asked if I have a carseat for him.

Me: Yes.
Doc: Do you have it with you?
Me: Yes I do.
Doc: Good they’ll need it.
Me: Wait, what?  Who?
Doc: We’ve ordered a pediatric ambulance to transfer him to the children’s hospital.  You will have to follow, you are not allowed in the ambulance.

Oh hell no.  First of all, I knew this was not a life or death situation.  An ambulance was highly unnecessary, I can’t even fathom the costs of that with our shitty insurance!  So I declined it and said I would take him myself.  But I had DS1 at home sleeping (grandma stayed at the house for us), and I needed to get him to school (it was now 6:30am) and then I would head straight to the children’s hospital.  Unacceptable they said.  I was forced to sign the same damn form threatening to contact CPS for “declining medical assistance” which is bullshit.  I haven’t heard from any social workers, but good luck making a case of out wanting to take my child somewhere that specializes in pediatrics.

I run home, it’s now 6:45am.  DH meets me there. Grandma is relieved from duty.  Get DS1 ready for school, drop him off, and we head to the children’s hospital with DS2.  But wait, how about a flat tire?  On the brand new tires we just bought.  That happened.

We arrived about 9:45am to the pediatric ER unit.  They got us in quickly, and guess what?!  Copay!  $750!!!!!  We were immediately put into an isolation room.

More to come….so much more…DS2 is on the mend, so no worries for the kiddo!  I assure you this is a financial story at it’s core.

Posted in Debt, Expenses, Family, Medical | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

No Spend Week

Thanks for all the input on my previous post.  After reading more about it, DH and I are definitely going to try out SimpliSafe!  Once we get our property taxes and new insurances taken care of, we’ll move forward with the new system.

This week is tight.  Somehow I missed a check clearing.  I thought I saw it on my account last week, I even wrote it down in my budget notebook, and updated my balances.  That check cleared Friday instead, leaving us $400 with bills due on Monday for $207.40 and $69.00, plus groceries and gas.  Ouch.  I need to go through my statement line by line and check things, because something isn’t adding up.

I decided to forego grocery shopping this week and stretch what we’ve got.  After taking inventory of my fridge, freezer, and pantry, this turned out to be a lot easier than I expected!

  • Mon:  Sweet Meatballs & Stuffing Cups
  • Tue:  Sausage & Potatoes
  • Wed:  Spaghetti & Garlic Bread
  • Thur:  Leftovers
  • Fri:  Crockpot Stir Fry & Fried Rice

Not a bad menu.  The best part is a couple of these meals are great for DS1’s school lunch as well.  I love the hot food thermos I purchased two years ago on Amazon.  Gives the kid some variety using leftovers.

  • Mon:  Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Pineapple, Cupcake, Juice
  • Tue: Leftover Meatballs & Stuffing Cup, Yogurt, Juice
  • Wed: Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Pineapple, Cupcake, Juice
  • Thur:  Leftover Spaghetti, Roll, Pineapple, Juice
  • Fri:  Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Pineapple, Goldfish, Juice

DS1 is on a pineapple kick.  Since the prepackaged cups were $3.29 for four, I purchased a can of diced pineapple for $0.89 and divided into five of the Rubbermaid 3/4c. reusable food container cups.  The repeated sandwiches were his choices as well.  Win/win for school lunch this week.

Not grocery shopping saves us $100.  Friday is payday and it’s the third check this month, woohoo!  I’m going to stretch that one as far as I can, and try to get back on the month ahead budgeting.  Since our renter paid in full today, I may even be able to swing the first half of property taxes without hitting savings.

And for those insisting I use savings to wipe out credit card debt, I haven’t ruled it out yet, but I’m also facing several expensive bills in the next two months.  Once I get these handled, I will reevaluate depleting savings.  These expenses are property taxes (which doubled this year), homeowners insurance (we were dropped!), and DS2’s medical bills have started to arrive in the mail.  For four sessions of physical therapy, it’s $1,859.00, after insurance.  That bill covers July into August only, and we’re still actively going to appointments each week.

I’m not looking forward to the holidays this year and boy, they are quickly approaching!  Summer went by too quick.

Posted in Budgeting, Expenses, Family, Food | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Surprising Costs of Safety

Update:  Thanks to OneFamily and APairofBartletts we’re looking into SimpliSafe – what a much, much better deal!!!

We had an incident occur a few nights ago around 4am.  DH was at work, the kids and I were sleeping.  First I heard the doorbell go off several times, and then a loud banging.  I immediately called DH to see if he was home, he wasn’t.  I grabbed a pistol and crept through the house.  I didn’t see anyone outside, but my sightline is limited to the front and sides of our home.  DH came home within the hour and drove around the neighborhood to see if he saw anyone wandering around.  Nothing.  There were visible signs of attempted forced entry to our front door.  Scary.

A police report was filed, but not much can be done.  DH and I agreed to look into a home security system with surveillance.  On Saturday a representative from a local (but large) security company came out to assess our needs and provide a quote.

Three cameras on the exterior plus  door and window sensors.  Simple enough.  I’ve looked into buying our own surveillance system through someplace like Lorex before, but the idea of an outside company monitoring would offer some peace of mind as well.

The equipment and install quote ended up being lower than I expected, but still expensive.  The part I wasn’t happy with was the mandatory contract length and monthly payments.  Minimum 3 years, up to 5 years, depending on the package you select.  Since we’re hoping to relocate within 2 years, a contract for that long wouldn’t be wise.

When the representative provided the quote, I had to laugh at their breakdown, and how he insisted we were getting huge discounts on equipment.  Three cameras, at $395 each.  LOL.  We could buy an entire system for that much with eight cameras!  The rest of the breakdown was the panel, sensors, and labor.

The quote came to $3,850.00 for equipment and install.  This does NOT include the monthly monitoring.  Now the company does NOT monitor the cameras, only the alarm being set off my door/window sensors or if we select the emergency button on the panel.

We’d be responsible for monitoring the cameras.  I was hoping for a monitor in our bedroom that you could watch the cameras through, but they only offer camera viewing through a smartphone app.  Of course this smart phone app costs extra per month, and without it, the cameras are entirely useless.  I don’t understand why it’s not rolled into the monthly monitoring fee when they’re selling your a package video surveillance deal!

For the $3,850.00 equipment and install – you can either pay this upfront in full, OR break it down into monthly payments based on your contract length.

  • $49.95 per month monitoring fee
  • $9.95 per month video app fee
  • $106.94 per month for equipment w/ 3 year contract OR
  • $64.17 per month for equipment w/ 5 year contract

Our monthly payment would be either $166.84 or $124.07.  Paid quarterly.  OUCH.  We also had the option to putting a “down payment” (min. $500) to reduce the monthly equipment fee.

I understand peace of mind is priceless, but that is so expensive – we’re a single income family!  And the company isn’t even monitoring the exterior videos!?  They also require a credit check to approve you for the monthly equipment payments, otherwise you have no choice but to pay in full.  Our credit is no problem, but I thought that was crazy.

DH was ready to sign on the dotted line.  I would have killed him!  Thankfully he understand my glare and let the guy know we’d talk it over and get back to him.  I personally feel this is too expensive.  Anyone else have a home security system?  Thoughts on the costs?

Posted in Family, Home | Tagged , | 10 Comments

August Debt Update

I spoke too soon.  Nearly as quick as I hit ‘publish’ on my previous post, our internet went down again.  Fingers crossed it’s up for good now.  You never realize how reliant you are on the internet until you can’t access it.  Privilege at it’s finest.

The July debt and savings amounts:

Starting Debt: $75,945. 03
Starting Savings: $16,600.00*
*I’m only accounting for our regular liquid savings account.  Not the apps, investments, or Digit.

I laid out all of our current credit card debts in this post here.  That post also briefly mentions our mortgage on a rental property that is just under $60k.

Starting Credit Cards: $11,186.44
Starting Mortgage: $60,185.80

End of August Numbers

Current Debt: $75,916.08
Current Savings: $16,655.03

August Breakdown

Credit Cards: $8,376.88
Mortgage: $58,143.81
Auto Loan: $9,395.39

Debt decreased by $28.95 (including mortgage)
Savings increased by $913.60 (including investments)

Overall…

Basically no progress.  I expected as much after every thing that keeps popping up lately.  These numbers are from August, and have drastically changed since then.  I’ll have a September update in a couple of weeks.  I’m expecting an even worse outcome than August, but I won’t know until all the payments have posted.

On the bright side we didn’t add to our debt.  I’m obviously not very gazelle intense at the moment.  My fear of draining our cash reserves is ever present these days.  September is a three paycheck month – hallelujah! – hoping to get ahead.  This should help with property taxes as well.

If our renter pays this Friday, we’ll be good to go to get the rental property a month ahead on expenses! (Renter is already 5 days late, per usual.)

Posted in Debt, Monthly Update, Savings | Tagged , , | 1 Comment