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Vehicle Insurance Admin

November 29th, 2021 at 01:35 am

DS5 is now a licensed driver. I spent about $350 on six hours of driving lessons several months ago and it was worth it to me. With DS1 & DS2 I wasn’t so afraid to ride in the passenger seat with a driver-in-training but I am now. Relatives helped on getting driving time for him too when we visited them last month. I’m glad that we’ve got the last one over the line.

 

I don’t know how much the insurance will go up from adding a third teenaged boy to the policy. Yikes! I’m expecting an invoice soon.

 

I had an annoyance with the car insurance & our state’s DOT but fortunately it didn’t cost me money – just inconvenience. While we don’t buy cars for the boys, I am willing to have them in my name and to insure them while the boys are in school if they choose to buy a car. [And their driving record is clean.] As a result, I have four cars in my name though I drive just one of them.

 

DS4 decided to sell his car and buy a different one so for a short while I had five cars insured. I didn’t realize it until later when I noticed different policy numbers, but apparently only 4 cars can be on one policy so the insurance company had the fifth car on a separate policy. Then when DS4 sold the car, the newest one was moved to the original policy so all the vehicles were together again. That’s when I received a notice from the DOT that they had been informed that my policy was cancelled. I know from the experience of one of my boys that if the DOT doesn’t receive proof of insurance by the deadline, they assume that you had a lapse in coverage and they fine you $500. You can appeal it by going to court and showing proof of insurance but the appeal is $150 for court costs. Sooo, I sent my proof of insurance to the DOT by registered mail so I’d get confirmation of its receipt. I may complain to the insurance company. Why would they contact the DOT when they just changed the policy? I don’t know if it was a mistake or if they’re required to do it.

 

I’m enjoying the last few weeks of our CSA season. My brother and his wife gifted me a couple of boxes from Farmbox Direct for my birthday so right now we’re getting fresh organic vegetables AND fruits! Heaven.

Impending Transition

March 30th, 2021 at 07:09 pm

Tomorrow we move back to Dad’s house and a week and a half later, we head home. Then I return to work. Change will be the norm for the next couple of weeks.

 

Our annual egg hunt will include only two of the five boys but the addition of three cousins this year, and it’ll be at Dad’s house. I mailed each of the three boys at home a consolation prize. I paid just as much for the shipping as the value of the contents. It was a case where the sentimental value made the shipping cost worth it. (around $20 each)

 

Half my amalgam fillings are replaced now and the other half scheduled for the Fall. I met with the dentist here this morning to review sleep study results and to do an entire head scan. The information that can be gleaned from the tests about my breathing and potential health conditions is surprising to me. I found it interesting.

 

I spent over $100 buying books and CDs related to the boys' classes and calculators with trig functions since they left theirs at home. 'Educational' budget line item.

 

 

 

 

Holistic Dentistry

March 23rd, 2021 at 03:12 pm

I hadn’t had my teeth cleaned in more than a year thanks to Covid so I decided to make a dentist appointment here instead of waiting to return home. In line with my intentions to move to holistic healthcare providers, I searched for a holistic dentist here. Since it’s a large city there are many more options here than at home.

 

Last week I went to my appointment and there I made the decision to have my old fillings with mercury replaced with a healthier alternative. This dental practice has all the expertise and equipment to do it safely. Half my mouth will be done this week and the other half in 6 months or so. I’ll coordinate that dental visit with a trip to see Dad, maybe for his birthday this Fall.  It’s not going to be cheap but I’ve been contemplating this health improvement for a few years. The cost will be slightly more than $1000 per side so $2000 total.

 

I was impressed with the dental office. They have their own clean water system and clean air system and everything is high-tech and online. Such a contrast to my dentist at home who I like a lot BTW. It’s time though to make a move – I think he’ll be retiring soon. So next on my action list is to find a holistic dentist nearish to home.

Financial Learning from Cosmo?

March 7th, 2021 at 12:12 am

A funny thing happened. Somehow my dad received an issue of Cosmopolitan in the mail. We joked about it but I did read it before it went to the trash. And guess what? I learned a financial fact. According to the article inside, the last coronavirus relief legislation (CARES Act) increased the list of allowable expenses for HSAs and FSAs. Now in addition to medical co-pays and medications, items like menstrual products, over-the-counter meds, and sunscreen are now qualified expenses for reimbursement.  And Amazon even has a filter for them: www.amazon.com/hsa  That’s useful information!

February Monthly Net Worth Update

March 4th, 2021 at 02:44 pm

I calculate our net worth each month on the 3rd after the house debt payments have cleared. It’s up $32k from last month. The increase is due mostly to the market rather than anything new or different – savings and investment contributions are automated. Our house value is up too according to Zillow.

The weather is getting warmer here so we've begun getting outside to exercise. I want to make sure I'm consistent with walking to support my bone density.

 

Medical Prices

March 3rd, 2021 at 08:50 pm

Even though I’m living away from home, I followed up on some medical tests – bloodwork, an ultrasound, and a baseline bone density scan. I am thankful that my doctor suggested the bone density scan because it showed that I already have osteoporosis in my spine. Yikes! I’m researching osteoporosis now.

 

Our family deductible was already met so the out-of-pocket costs for those things was insignificant, about $30. What surprised me though was the price of the bone density scan. It was about $100. Given my results and the fact that it’s a quick and painless procedure, I may choose to have them annually even if insurance doesn’t cover them that often.

 

On the other side of the fence, Dad’s hospital bill – just the hospital bill – for his organ transplant is $289k. With the associated bills for the professionals involved, it’ll be at least $350k. He’s doubly insured so his cost should be a tiny fraction of that.

Taking Time Off

January 27th, 2021 at 04:50 am

I did decide to take family medical leave from work. On the first day of leave, as though it was planned, Dad was unexpectedly discharged early.

 

It’s time off one area but time on another. I’m looking forward to these months. I hope to focus on three areas: Dad’s return to health (of course!), my twins’ schooling, and my health habits. For Dad there are frequent doses of many drugs to administer, things to check, and appointments to attend. It’s a little stressful because I’m afraid of messing something up. The drug choices and doses have been and will continue to be changed frequently over the coming weeks.

 

Hospital view

 

While FML is unpaid time, the company does allow accrued sick time to be used. I am very thankful that I have been well over the years so now I can continue to get paid while I focus this time on the family. I’m hoping too that as Dad gets stronger, we can plan small outings to enjoy the city that is our temporary home. It’s a strange time but these will be memories we’ll hold forever.

 

My finances have done well on autopilot over the past few months. I’ll get back to regular financial posts after month-end. I hope to have more time to keep up with blog posts.

 

What Love Looks Like

January 19th, 2021 at 02:09 am

Well, this time it’s been four months since my last entry – unbelievable and yet so much has happened in that time. I’m still down south helping care for my dad but the tide has turned. After months of effort and care, my dad did qualify for the transplant list and finally, finally yesterday morning in the wee hours, the transplant surgery was performed. It was about 8 hours long and successful. He’s in ICU now and likely has another week in the hospital.

 

The entire process has been an emotional roller coaster but here we are. He has a chance at life. Now we’re required to live in the same city as the transplant center for a couple of months. My brother and I have rented an Airbnb and are prepared to be caretakers for Dad. I’m evaluating taking a FMLA leave from work.

 

Over the past few months I’ve taken over the administrative aspects of Dad’s life. Now I look forward to transitioning his life back to him. So to add to the list of accomplishments in the previous post:

++ moved Dad’s IRA to Vanguard (and it’s since gained tens of thousands of dollars in value)

++ removed the 30-something rent-free boarder, changed the locks, & installed security cameras

++ organized the bedrooms that had been occupied by the rent-free boarder

++ hired and managed 24/7 caregivers when Dad’s condition reached a level that required constant assistance

 

This situation has been really hard on my family but I don’t regret my commitment to my Dad. It was life or death – we had to give it all we had. My brother and I were talking about our journey during the surgery and he said something that resonated: “This is what love looks like.”

Family Assistance

September 12th, 2020 at 10:15 am

It’s been over a month since my last entry and what a month it’s been. I’m currently down south helping care for my dad as he deals with serious health issues. I arrived in time to prepare and then narrowly miss two hurricanes. One of my brothers lives here but Dad’s condition worsened to a point that my brother didn’t know what to do.

The good news is that Dad is somewhat stable now. I monitor his meds and diet and I’m proud to say that I’ve gotten him to enjoy green smoothies. His mental clarity is back but he’s tired and weak all the time. The best-case scenario is that he’ll qualify for a transplant list so his overall condition is still quite serious.

Everything needed attention: his house, his finances, his health, and a couple of relationships. Dad is generous and gullible and he’s been taken advantage of repeatedly. Some things were obvious to us but the more I organize, the more I find out. I am thankful that he’s thinking clearly now so I can ask questions and support by doing things with his approval instead of just taking over.

One of the next tasks on my Dad to-do list is to move his IRA to Vanguard. He has an advisor account with someone he met who is charging thousands of dollars each year in fees. His money is invested in about two dozen funds. It looks needlessly complicated for a modest retirement account. Dad has agreed and he trusts my judgment. Any suggestions for good funds for retirees? (once I get the funds transferred to Vanguard) My own retirement account is more aggressive since I’m not retired and I’m willing to take on some risk. That’s not Dad’s situation.

I’ve made good progress in my time here so far:
++ gotten Dad to retire. He’d been eligible for a healthy pension but enjoyed working.
++ paid off his mortgage
++ given notice to the 30-something woman with toddler that has been living here rent-free for 18 months
++ locked the credit card that was being misused by others
++ reclaimed two bedrooms that had been taken over as storage facilities for others
++ most importantly: improved Dad’s diet and lifestyle

Soon I’ll be making a trip home to get our household up-to-date and to retrieve personal items before returning. I’m not sure how long I’ll need to stay – I’m being flexible. And DH is being really understanding. I’m glad we chose online school for the boys this year. I'm also glad that I have a job that allows me to work anywhere with an internet connection. I saw a photo of a shirt that had ‘2020’ and 1 of 5 stars beneath it with “would not recommend”

July Health Habit

August 5th, 2020 at 12:41 am

Yes, I know it’s August! I’ve had a couple of busy weeks and didn’t get around to this.

My 2020 goal #2 is to adopt a permanent health-enhancing habit each month. My new health habit for July was to disconnect one day a week. For me it’ll usually be a Saturday since I work and I’m often getting prepared for the week ahead on Sundays (unfortunately).

On my disconnected day, I will avoid screens. Computer screens, TV screens, ipad mini, and phone.

NEW HEALTH HABIT #7:
Have one disconnected day each week.

BENEFIT:
• Spending more focused time in my relationships
• More likely to spend time outdoors
• Less stress caused by reading ratings-seeking controversial news stories
• Increased productivity since there aren’t distractions
• Less guilt from wasting time on thoughts and activities that really aren’t important
• More time for reflection
• Become more present and authentic.


COST:
Upfront – zero
Ongoing – zero

There might be a cost savings because I can’t order online! 😉

2020 health habits so far:
(1) Fast one day per month
(2) Consume fresh organic juice at least 3 times a week
(3) Stop storing food in plastic containers
(4) Spend at least half an hour outside every day
(5) Drink 32 oz filtered water every day
(6) Do strength training exercises twice a week
(7) Disconnect one day each week.

I remember that CJ once did something similar to this one year for a resolution.

Health Habit for June

June 28th, 2020 at 01:47 pm

My 2020 goal #2 is to adopt a permanent health-enhancing habit each month. My new health habit for June is to have two resistance training workouts each week.

I have a book that illustrates a few no-equipment-needed strength-building moves for different body parts. I have a health club membership too where I can use machines. This is an area of weakness for me. (I feel like I’ve said that about several of my health habits!) DH is disciplined with workouts but not with diet. I tend to be the opposite. If we could combine ourselves, we’d be the ideal, or the worst…!

The reason I chose strength training is that as I get older it seems like my muscle tone is deteriorating before my eyes. And I want to maintain my strength so I can remain active as I move into my retirement phase of life. So, it’s for both aesthetic and quality of life reasons.

NEW HEALTH HABIT #6:
Do strength training exercises twice a week.

BENEFIT:
Strength training can do all this & more:
• maintain lean muscle mass
• preserve bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis for women
• raise metabolism (once muscle mass is improved)
• reduce risk of injury
• improve balance
• improve the muscle’s ability to use glucose, decreasing blood sugar levels
• reduce cancer risk by lowering visceral fat
• increase mental resiliency (anti-anxiety effect)
• improve flexibility & mobility


COST:
Upfront – zero
Ongoing – $20/month health club membership


2020 health habits so far:
(1) Fast one day per month
(2) Consume fresh organic juice at least 3 times a week
(3) Stop storing food in plastic containers
(4) Spend at least half an hour outside every day
(5) Drink 32 oz filtered water every day
(6) Do strength training exercises twice a week

New Health Habit for May

June 1st, 2020 at 12:01 am

I’ve been on a slight hiatus due to feeling overwhelmed and discontinuing unnecessary tasks as a result. And it wasn’t directly because of the country’s 3-month turmoil either but instead my fretting about family members I love. In two separate situations (DS3 and my dad), I watched consequences from poor choices while I was powerless to do anything. But pray, which I did. Both situations eventually resolved themselves better than I thought possible but boy – I feel like I lost a year off my life from the stress. I really wish I knew a secret to truly let go of situations out of my control when they’re close to me.

The good news is that I have been keeping up with the high priority items directly in my control. So back to regularly scheduled programming…

My 2020 goal #2 is to adopt a permanent health-enhancing habit each month. My new health habit for May is to drink 32 oz of filtered water each day. (in addition to any other liquids I consume)

I think the ideal water intake for an adult is more than this but it’ll be a step up for me. I have a good quality water bottle that I keep at my desk. Two fill-ups should be at least 32 ounces.

NEW HEALTH HABIT #5:
Drink 32 oz of filtered water every day.

BENEFIT:
Drinking water positively impacts brain function, energy levels, digestion, and metabolic rate. Water intake eliminates headaches caused by dehydration and can prevent kidney stones. It aids in detoxification and lubricates joints, eyes, and skin.


COST:
Upfront – zero (I already have a filter.)
Ongoing – zero


2020 health habits so far:
(1) Fast one day per month
(2) Consume fresh organic juice at least 3 times a week
(3) Stop storing food in plastic containers
(4) Spend at least half an hour outside every day
(5) Drink 32 oz filtered water every day

CSA Start

April 22nd, 2020 at 04:27 pm



Today was exciting because it’s the first CSA delivery of the year. Our first box contained spring onions, Tuscan kale, green chard, wintered kale, radishes, and gold potatoes and one butterkin squash from winter storage.

I’ve already made green smoothies for us with an assortment of the greens. I feel healthy just knowing that we’ve got just-harvested organic greens in our bodies.


Smoothie raw materials – 2 types of kale + radish greens

April Health Habit

April 21st, 2020 at 06:59 pm

My 2020 goal #2 is to adopt a permanent health-enhancing habit each month. I’ve decided that my new health habit for April will be to spend at least half an hour outside every day.

It’s a shame that I have to work to make this a habit but I do. Even working from home, some days I realize that I didn’t get out at all except to pick up the mail. Especially when the weather is cold. So now unless there’s a bad storm or the temperature is in the single digits, I’m going to spend time outside. It doesn’t have to be for exercise – I could just drink my coffee on the deck. Part of it is covered so I could do that on a rainy day too.

NEW HEALTH HABIT #4:
Spend at least half an hour outside every day.

BENEFIT:
Provides a de-stressing effect, might improve short-term memory, creativity, and the ability to focus, reduces inflammation, helps eliminate fatigue, may prevent depression, may protect vision, lowers blood pressure, may boost the immune system

COST:
Upfront – zero
Ongoing – zero

Cheap and simple.

2020 health habits so far:
(1) Fast one day per month
(2) Consume fresh organic juice at least 3 times a week
(3) Stop storing food in plastic containers
(4) Spend at least half an hour outside every day

Antivirus Buyer’s Remorse

March 26th, 2020 at 10:42 pm

Well I purchased Norton Lifelock for my computer’s antivirus protection since it was only $20 and I already have buyer’s remorse. I can’t get it to complete the install – it keeps requesting a reboot again and again – and the online technical support isn’t available because of the coronavirus according to their website. If ever there was a job that was conducive to working remotely, I would’ve thought that online technical support would be it, but apparently not. Needless to say, if I can’t get it working I’ll ask for a refund. I suspect that I may be told (if I ever talk with a live person) that my computer is too old.

We’re still being vigilant about vitamins to stay healthy. And DS1 who still is expected to work in a customer-facing role says that he’s receiving an extra $300 per paycheck for working during this outbreak. He’s taking the high-dose Vitamin D he received in his stocking and so far is symptom-free. We also talked about him using any stimulus money that might come his way to start his new EF.


Mine and boys

Tomorrow I’m invited to a virtual retirement party.

Vet Visits Redefined

March 18th, 2020 at 09:20 pm

We recently adopted a stray cat and today was its first vet appointment to get checked out and receive immunizations. The animal clinic sent a message a few hours before the appointment to alert us of the temporary protocol in place due to the coronavirus. After we parked the car, we called them to let them know that Bandit (The kids name our pets.) had arrived. I spoke on the phone with the technician to review concerns & health history just like we normally do in the exam room. Then when the vet was ready, we carried the pet carrier to the front door for a hand-off. We waited in the car until the vet called my phone with the exam notes and results. I paid with a CC over the phone then met the technician at the door to retrieve the full pet carrier.

I have to say that it was efficient in addition to being safe. It was strange though not to be with our pet while he was examined.

The total bill was $201. That included the visit, two immunizations, a fecal test, and a leukemia test. They’re only doing medically necessary surgeries for the next 2 weeks so I have to call to schedule the neutering for sometime later than that. We found out that he is about three years old! We guessed that he was less than a year.