Tag: insurance

Happy New Year! 2018 is going to be a blast!

Really, how is it going to be March tomorrow? I didn’t even manage a single post in January but at least I’m squeaking in before March officially hits. That makes me feel better about neglecting basically everything in my life including the blog. The problem is I’m very boring in the winter and I stop blogging because every other week would be a post along the lines of, “Hey, we got unemployment, tried to find temp work, paid minimums on credit cards, and are still making bad life decisions.” It would get tiring. I’m still here and the winter is almost over which always leads me to think about writing, planning posts, and tending to the word garden that is this blog.

Work Update (More like a participation update)

Mr. Brickie is at a protest today (I know, right? A protest!) and hopefully that will keep his reliability/visibility indicators high for his future job potential. Tomorrow he goes to a class on organizing. I’m not sure if it teaches him how to be the big bad wolf Walmart and Amazon warn against during job training, but I’m curious to know more.

Money Update

We did get our tax return and I’m not surprised to report it was down 2k from last year. It’s not because of anything political, Mr. Brickie made about 4k more during the year and, as such, our earned income credit was 2k less. I like that it scales down slowly like that so we don’t go from having a huge tax return to nothing in one year.

We racked up a lot of debt during the winter and paying it down will be our single-minded money focus once Mr. Brickie goes back to work. Every extra penny is going to go toward debt because it won’t take much to give our credit scores a healthy boost. We need them looking good within the next few months. As a secondary measure toward 2018 success, we set a little over half of our tax return into a savings account. I honestly waver on whether we should throw every penny toward debt or save some and put the rest toward debt. I’ll have to Google it and see what the Internet thinks.

I’ve already informed the girls they won’t be doing extended summer camps this year. One week each and that’s it. We need to scale back and use that money for debt. I’m lucky my kids still trust me (the oldest is thirteen, I was worried she was going to give me pushback but she still trusts me as of the moment I’m typing this, goodness knows things can still change but I remain hopeful) and understand we have a bigger plan for all of us that is worth sacrificing a couple extra weeks of summer camp

Health Update

My doctor and I spent most of last year cycling through medications for anxiety and they either didn’t work or the side effects made them not worth the trouble. We found a new dentist that didn’t do a hatchet job like the last one and I no longer have a giant chip in my front tooth. Hooray! Plus, they’re being super-cool about paying the balance we owe them in payments. We have wonderful insurance but we still have to pay 20% of services. I have a year-long payment plan for the vein surgeries I got in my legs last year before we went to Disneyland. Luckily, they’re being super cool as well. They’re cashing the checks, anyway, so even if they’re not being super cool, I don’t have to hear about it.

Budget Update

In order to track all the doctor bills we have payment plans on (vein doctor, dentist, hospital, physicians, and the opthamologist I saw recently for a giant floater in my right eye that obscures my vision) I started a Google Spreadsheet. It took me two weeks to decide how to set it up for easy access. I settled on using a tab (separate worksheet) for each place we owed money to and then did a column for each family member within that tab. It’s been working out really well so far. For convenience, I also added the girls’ school bills as a tab because I’m making payments on that as well. School is expensive here. Two kids in middle school and one in elementary cost me over $500 out of pocket and that’s WITH a discount off fees for the kids qualifying for free lunch last year. (Next year we might only qualify for reduced lunch, which is fine since my kitchen is in far less disarray than it was last year! Thank you IKEA and a Billy bookcase we use for storage in the kitchen and two Walmart bookcases we use in the back room as pantry space, we can finally not be entirely cramped.

We also bought a quarter cow! We have so much beef! I should take something out of the freezer now to thaw before dinnertime tonight. I totally slacked on making a meal plan this week. I’ve been slacking at most everything for the last month. I don’t want to do anything and feel totally lethargic. I even went to my doctor and got diet pills, but I found out they’re not basically speed anymore so they’re not even giving me a boost. This morning I started doing bed exercises to get myself more awake in the morning and it seemed to help a little but I have this fantasy where I’m a person who cleans and enjoys cleaning and I feel like I’m failing myself every day I’m not that person. I do like to keep things organized and somewhat tidy and just this morning I spilled a little coffee on the kitchen floor and wiped it up with a rag and followed that up with a Lysol wipe (not the actual brand but you know, that type of wipe) and ended up wiping down about 4 square feet of floor just to keep it clean so I’m not living in squalor or anything….I just…have this picture in my head and I don’t match it and I don’t like it one bit. Where is my cute apron and adorable attitude? Why am I not cleaning baseboards? Why am I such a human and not a cool robot person?

On the Horizon

Last but not least, I want to start incorporating video into this blog. I love doing videos, especially live FB videos because they’re fun! I’m guessing I just pop them on the FB page and then link them inside the blog. I’ll research that a bit more.

I hope your winter has been going well. I look forward to us talking more soon. Otherwise the next you’ll hear from me it will be that I’ve snapped and scattered Mr. Brickie’s body parts across fourteen states under the guise of a road trip. Closeness is wonderful but closeness with the anxiety of impending work that hasn’t materialized quite yet is suffocating for both of us.

Weekly Budget Update (There Goes the Insurance)

cash-money-update

My posting decreases dramatically when my nails get too long.

I need to clip them because they get caught in the keyboard. I’m trying not to bite my nails because it’s gross and I don’t want my kids to start doing it. Unfortunately, it seems I need to attach a clipper to my underwear at all times so I have one when I need it.

That has nothing to do with the budget. It’s not an analogy. Well, I guess we could look at it as a representation of how breaking habits can be difficult when you do not have a readily available solution for problems you are not used to having.

So. Deep.

Okay, this week in budget spending we have a regular 40-hour check at the new 50% apprentice rate and getting the past due electric and gas out of the way. There was a little bit leftover in the bank already from the copywriting gig.

How We Spent The Money This Week

Aug-13-2014-budget

We are leaving $100 in the checking account as a super-mini emergency fund. Basically it’s there in case I make a math mistake. It’s rare, but if I did make a mistake even of a few dollars and we didn’t have anything sitting in that checking account it could mean overdraft fees and credit card use that we have not planned for.

That little bit of cushion makes all the difference in the world when it comes to my mind and being able to be less afraid about paying the bills that need to be paid. I understand and empathize with people who have a tendency to hoard because I feel that way about money.

The car payment (in full) is $495.12 but I’m putting $100 aside into the savings account so that is not all coming out of one check. A regular check has $435.16 that can go toward bills at this time and that’s not enough. Rather than cutting it super-close one week we are going to split it up. My budget projection goes out to the end of December and in future months it is split a little more evenly. I also have the gas and electric being paid again in August which doesn’t make much sense so I have to go back to the drawing board and update those totals. Next week some credit card payments are on tap as I am trying to get those paid off by the end of the year.

Want to Talk About Insurance?

Remember when we used the rest of our savings account to pay for three more months of insurance? We got another bill in the mail because he didn’t have enough hours banked again (we thought he would start working sooner this year than he did) we needed to pay another almost $1900 for three more months of coverage. There were some very supportive people last time but a lot more people were very, “Oh no you didn’t.” when it came to paying that much cash for care. Not when we make so little and could easily be covered by medicaid for three months if an emergency did occur.

While I am not thrilled about the prospect, we really don’t have a choice. We don’t have the money. I cannot come up with almost $2k by the end of the month.

So we will be insurance-less for three months.

The funny part? (Oh, there IS one!) Mr. Brickie has already worked MORE than enough hours for our insurance to kick right back on come December 1st. It’s a done deal. Plus, the hours over the 350 he needed to qualify go into a bank toward the Mar/Apr/May quarter of insurance next year. I would consider doing some forecasting to see how many hours he will have by the time winter hits but I don’t have three key pieces of information:

1. How many days will it rain by the end of the year?

2. Are there enough jobs/work that they’ll tarp job sites during the cold days of fall/winter?

3. Can I believe the reports from Tom Skilling that it will be a fairly mild winter?

Pretty much none of those questions have reliable answers so doing projections will give me a best/worst case scenario to work with but I can suss those out with my brain and not have to do lengthy, complex spreadsheets to figure them out, you know?

Coming Up

The current budget spreadsheet is a thing of beauty. All those payment boxes are filtered into another set of boxes at the bottom that show the monthly credit card payoffs. It’s a bear to keep maintained because if a change happens it can affect a few months’ worth of entries. For example, if a card gets paid off sooner for whatever reason in October I’ll have to change November and December. Not a huge deal but a detail that is begging to be overlooked.

Another slight anomoly I can’t quite account for is that tolls are coming out of the $200 weekly living expense. The tolls are auto billed to the credit card. So $40 of the $200 is always a payment to the credit card but it’s not really considered a payment because it’s just a living expense. So it doesn’t matter much in terms of anything but the perspective of paying $40/wk. to the credit card vs. $160/mo. in CC payments. I have tried to account for that in the payoff plan because the Internet bill is also auto-billed to the credit card and we are moving the Net10 cell phone payment to the credit card as well. I hate things touching my checking account automatically.

Moving next year and not paying $2k for insurance for the next three months will be great in the long term. I keep trying to focus on the big picture.

Sometimes it’s difficult. I desperately want to be on the Blue Cross / Blue Shield plan. So much. But it’s just not going to happen this time around. We’ll get it back Dec 1st and I can breathe a sigh of relief. Until then we can hope no one gets sick and, if they do, that there is a social worker or some other person on duty that can take care of the medicaid information.

Because as of right now? All the progress we’ve made since he started working again June 28th? It hasn’t even been two months and he has only made, year to date, a little over $6k. I was thrilled to feel not-impoverished for a four-week stretch and maybe even for the rest of the year but we’re not even going to clear $20k this year in income.

I don’t know how we’ve done as well as we have. (It’s no wonder we’re losing the house, though. There was no way.)

The Price of Insurance & Saying Goodbye to Savings

money-drugs-medical

This post is not about the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).

My husband’s job provides this magical pony of a Blue Cross/Blue Shield PPO that gives us access to pretty much all the care in the world. All he has to do is work 350 hours a quarter.

Unfortunately, winter was winter and this has been quite a slow start to the season in terms of bricklaying, so he’s not working yet. He’s doing odd jobs and whatnot, but no real income right now. So when we got the insurance bill we were expecting it to be painful but we did not, in our wildest nightmares, expect it to be $1866.37 painful.

But it was.

When we started having problems with the mortgage company I set aside part of our tax return in case we had to move quickly. A moving fund. We have just recently had to tap into that moving fund to keep the bills paid and ourselves afloat. There was still money left, though, more than enough to get through this. More than enough to keep the car paid until Mr. Brickie went back to work.

There was just about $1800 in that box buried in the backyard. Just about the exact amount we need to pay for our next three months of amazing insurance.

I seriously just want to hit my head against a wall until it all makes sense.

Thankful. I’m supposed to be thankful. I keep reminding myself if I hadn’t made the right decision when I did, if I had gone to Disneyland with that savings money instead of squirreling it away, if I had taken the kids on any kind of a vacation we wouldn’t be able to pay it.

We might have had to borrow money or beg on the Internet with our little virtual tin cups.

We might have had to try and navigate the Affordable Health Care website, which has been nothing but trouble when I’ve done it for friends and family.

Even if I might personally feel this is a horrible, painful money setback I am still thrilled with the care our insurance provides. The huge network, the low deductibles, the minimal copays and the amazing vision insurance just cannot be undersold.

So goodbye savings account. I will miss you with all my heart and you can be sure I will have twice as much saved this time next year. Because emergencies that clear me out only happen once. I learn from my mistakes and soldier through.

The Initial Plan

First, we were going to save $100 a week from Mr. Brickie’s paychecks. He will get about 32 paychecks before the season ends. That plus the tax return and we have a pretty good winter slush fund. Then, three weeks after he starts working he gets an approx. $4/hr. raise because he will be a 50% apprentice (he’s so close). So whatever that ends up being after taxes and dues will also be added on to the savings.

I’m going to be a hoarder when it comes to cash this year.

The irony is that because of our income (or lack thereof depending on the time of year) we currently qualify for Medicaid as secondary insurance. Of course, no one accepts it and if you tell the hospital about it they talk about you being a “partial write off” because they won’t even bother.

It might just kick in as primary, but I don’t want to take the risk. My kids have dentist appointments scheduled, I have new glasses to get a hold of this calendar year, and I’ve already been in the ER twice this year so….it’s important to me to have good insurance.

Am I just being stubborn? Or is this exactly what an emergency fund is for? I know it should be seen as an expense and we will absolutely look at it that way next year, but for this year…this is what it’s been sitting there waiting for. We can’t possibly get foreclosed on and evicted in less than about a year from right now, so a moving fund is nice but totally unnecessary right now.

So let there be insurance.

I guess.

chicken-border-bottom