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Archive for July, 2011

Some of the numbers are in

July 29th, 2011 at 01:29 pm


I deposited two checks yesterday from State Farm:
$6,438.11 for the major damage
$82.59 for the subsequent damage

These numbers will be adjusted to include the estimates from today's visit when the competent contractor will go in to do moisture readings and determine if wallboard/paster needs to be replaced.

$4,700 was paid directly to the tree company for removal of the tree from the roof. They did not grind out the stump and left roots in my lawn from where the crane was. Will have to follow up with them. The bill was paid directly by my agent's office to the company.

$1,096 was for the tarp-job that was done badly, leading to the subsequent damage and confusion as to whether or not this was a second claim (a second claim would have cost me an additional $1,000 deductible). Anyhow, I do not have to pay this bill after involving my lawyer-brother, the threat of going to my state's insurance complaint bureau, and offering my original roofer's opinion that sub-contracted company should be sued and responsible.

I did pay $472 for a repair job for the bathroon ceiling. This work needs to be done again, and I was overcharged $250 an unused tarp on the original bill. No apology for the inclusion of an unnecessary item, just some excuse about the computer forwarding the incorrect form, or some other nonsense.

The roof repair to the house will be early next week, costing $1,938.

I am waiting on repair of the garage (detatched) which is a complete tear off.

Once I make the repairs I can recver the depreciation amount of $1,600.

* * * *

Now I am off to the Morton Arboretum for a tram ride with my kids, paretns, and grandmother. My grandma is returning home to California tomorrow afternoon, which of course saddens me, but I'm going to enjoy her company while she is here.

More for the stockpile, more spending, more insurance stuff

July 28th, 2011 at 03:10 pm


I spent $31 at the grocery store yesterday, and of that 18 items went for *the* stockpile - 12 cans of soup at $.75 (after future coupon amounts applied) and 3 pastas at $.67.

I also went to CVS and spent $36 (after $10 in coupons). I was able to get the $10 gas card and $3.50 in ECB for future purchases.

Not used to mid-week spending like this, but the sale prices were too good, and we needed toilet paper and more suntan lotion.

I was able to get the computer notebook for my son last week at Target for $250, using my RED card I saved $10 and got a $50 Target card for future use.

I also redeemed points through my reward Visa for antoher $10 Target gift card, and I found a $25 Macy's gift card in an old purse, and my duathers Border's gift card with a $6 balance - have to get her over to spend it before the local store closes.

Still dealing with rental properyt issues, though things are moving quicker than before. Now I must get moisture readings to determine if there is a mold issue. Smile That is a sarcastic smile, please note.

Building the stockpile slowly - box by box, can by can

July 27th, 2011 at 12:17 am


My local grocery store Jewel (might be Albersons in some other areas) presently has a sale/promo going on:

Healthy Choice soup is $1 per can, if you buy 4 you get a coupon for $1 off a future purchase, if this is applied to each item, each can of soup is $.75

Creamette pasts is also $1 per box, with if you buy 3 you get a $1 off a future purchase, and with this being applied, each box is $.67

I bought 8 cans of soup and 3 boxes of pasta. I'm thinking about going back and doing this again. My children like chicken noodle soup and pasta is a staple.

I'm going to clear out a space on a shelf in the basement - cool and dark to house the stockpile.

State Farm: 1, Laura: 2

July 26th, 2011 at 07:39 pm


Boy, a lawyer in the family can be quite a good thing. My brother shared a bunch of angles with me on how to view the subsequent damage from the unclosed claim on 6/22. Once you start saying things like, "Who will subligitate? You or I?" the wheels of the insurance machinery do start moving.

I refuse to deal with the independent contractor RF that State Farm has used as the adjustor for my claim. Based on his erroneous information, I almost opened a second claim which would have put me at another $1,000 deductible.

I've dealt with incompetency at the agency level (agent told me one thing, his office worker told me another). I've dealt with incompetency at the preferred provider contractor company level (missing paperwork not faxed as claimed, missed appointments for emergency repair work). I've dealt with incompetency of the contractor's subcontractor (crappy inital tarp-work, grossly over-inflated bill, etc). On and on and on.

So as it stands, State Farm will cover under the initial claim the subsequent water damage from the crappy patchwork tarping done by the subcontractor. I am free of dealing with the Insurance Adjustor who wouldn't even consider these additional damages as part of the original claim. I have already contacted the roofer who will do the repair by the end of the week/early next, at least some of this will be taken care of.

Woe is me!

July 26th, 2011 at 02:21 pm


In total frustration right now with State Farm and their incompetent independent Claims Adjustors, faulty tarpers whose ineffective tarp job led to subsequent damage. F*R*U*S*T*R*A*T*I*O*N ... I have, however, to my credit, refrained from any foul language during my 8,000 hours on the phone with my agent's office, Catastrophic Claims. Now that I'm talking about signing a Power of Attorney and letting my attorney (brother) deal with this, people are moving a bit faster. But still ...

And in all honesty, I can't really say "woe is me" - my son's classmate's father was moved to inpatient for hospice and has 3-5 days before going to the Lord. I think it is time to say the rosary to put this in perspective.

Money-related issues

July 23rd, 2011 at 05:15 pm


(1) Surprise, surprise! All of the volunteer work that I do as Co-coordinator for Vacation Bible School 1 and Vacation Bible School 2 has paid off. I work with the Director of Religious Ed (who is a paid professional of the parish). She attempted to get me money (a stipend) but couldn't due to budget cuts and her paid secretary is 86 and has been there forever. However, I was given a grant/scholarship for tuition bringing us down to $1,300 (last year we were happy for $2,000 which left us paying $4,200). This is a WONDERFUL thing for us. Having to pay $130 a month versus $420 leaves us with breathing room.

(2) There appears to be a $25/month coupon that I can use six times a year toward my daughter's Veramyst Rx.


(3) We have decided to purchase a car at the beginning of October. DH will ride the train for Aug and Sept and come October the weather gets colder here, the kids' schedules get more hectic and at that point we will have been one-car for six months. Smile However much money we have at the time is what we will spend - presently have $19K, may have as much as $21-$22K cash for purchase.

(4) My grandmother has offered to pay for academic therapy for oldest son. He's had the Dx of dyslexia for some time and while he has made progress, he continues to struggle with reading. We took for a consult at a place highly recommended for individualized instruction. The Director who has a doctorate in education looked over his most recent testing (IQ) and zero-ed right in on the discrepancy between his Perceptual Reasoning (130) and working memory (100), too much of a span. So with specific learning strategies and individualized attention, we should be able to narrow that gap significantly, making his academic struggles less. He is presently on a service plan and his minutes will decrease to 30 with the resource teacher because a state grant from the government has not been renewed. This is a very generous thing and all I can do is say "thank you" and continue to be a good steward of our resources.

(5) Looks like August and September will continue to be months of budget basics - trying to do back to school shopping on the cheap - buying only loss leaders.

(6) I did spend $123.66 at Kohl's on my mother's card (I paid it off and closed the account that was mine) buying three pairs of athletic shoes (49.99, 41.99 and 44.99) plus three pairs of sunglasses (5.00, 5.00, and 10.99) and one pair of shorts (6.00) - she had a 30% off coupon saving me $49.19. Those were all needed items.

(7) Back to couponing in a major way!!

It's all relative

July 20th, 2011 at 08:30 pm


It happens to be over 100 degrees here in the Midwest - heat advisories and all. It happens to be the only day that calendars between two branches of the family coincided, and it happened to be the day that I decided to take my group to The Shrine of Christ's Passion in St. John, IN. Today we happened to fall a few rungs up the ladder from the Duggars - five kids all in purple Totus Tuus T-shirts with rosaries singing Vacation Bible School songs on the journey.

Anyhow, our group included my 91 year old grandmother and her 86 year old sister-in-law, plus two single "different" first cousins once or twice removed. They happen to be very good sons to their mother, never married, vegan, agnostic types.

One of my sons was polite enough to wait until out of ear shot when he asked was is as agnostic. I tried to explain it as nicely as possible (it should be clear that we mostly associate with large like-minded Catholic families). Son #1 said to relative, "It's OK, God still loves you." and Son #2 said, "We're Catholic enough for you, too."

Price for Catholic prayer cards for everyone's collection: $9.00. Definitely well worth it.

And the relatives were only irreverant once when they commented that there were enough of us to fill the places at the Last Supper which began the interactive journey. This Shrine had life-size depictions of the station of the Cross.

We then went out to a very nice luncheon with the relatives, and my children were quite appreciative of "real napkins" and "more than one fork" - we are clearly Culver's and Steak N Shake folks. Older daughter to younger daughter: "Did you hear how eloquently the one missing teeth discussed the wine selection? Maybe he's missing the teeth because he spent so much time with the poor in India." Younger daughter: "Just like Mother Theresa"
Older daughter: "Yes, right. Just like Mother Theresa."

Thrift Store Scores

July 19th, 2011 at 03:52 am


Today I mentioned to DH that it looks like we're adding another "very expensive" medication to our oldest daughter's list of already costly things (Flovents runs us $150 a month, albuterol runs us about $40 and now we're adding Veramyst for about another $50). DH told me not to worry and he'd be happy with clothes that I can find for him from the thrift store and that "we'd make it work."

I stopped by the pediatrician's office to pick up another sample of the Veramyst and a $20 coupon. Our hospital has a resale store associated with it - and boy, was the thrift store karma good today for my DH!

It happened to be 1/2 off all clothing and I got DH two like new polo shirts (one Tommy Hilfiger, the other Izod) and Nautica jeans, right size all for $10.70. I saw a very cute and summery Dooney & Bourke barrel handbag in hot pink for $25, which I was too frugal and prudent to buy. But when I was at my mom's I was on the phone and telling DH about his bounty, my mom heard sad conversation when I hopefully asked if accessories and purses were included in the "sale of the hour" and I was told "sorry, but no". My mom said she'd like to buy me the purse and we went back and it was still there.

Some very nice thrift store scores today indeed!

On the money front ...

July 18th, 2011 at 01:47 pm


nothing is going on! I've spent so far: $25.01 on gas (didn't have enough to make it to Sam's Club for a fill-up and I have to use a $10 gas card from CVS next), $84.52 at Aldi's on groceries for most of the week, and $14.60 for a bike lock at Sears Hardware (save $1.50).

My grandmother is here visiting. She's 91 and heat susceptible, so our fun has been comprised of going to the mall twice when it's been really hot, going to the park on a nice day, working LOTS of puzzles (all of which I've purchased on clearance, $1.34 and $2.99 at Michael's clearance last week), watching some movies, and reading. I imagine this is what summers were like for lots of people, just "hanging out" - my kids have really adjsuted well to this pace. I might have shared that this is the summer of nothing but the pool, and two weeks of Vacation Bible School. No running from class to class or camp to camp. We're all generally happier and calmer and less stressed.

The tenant had to to skip her rent payment, due to delay in pay because she started a new job. I can't complain too much because she at least told us in advance, and since I threatened her (nicely as I could) with a five-day last August, she's been pretty close to perfect with her pay schedule. This just meant that I didn't pay bills ahead of time.

Hope everyone is having a good summer!

Finances, Frugal Fun, Family

July 10th, 2011 at 02:52 pm


Friday was payday, and yesterday I was spendy, simply out of necessity: gas tank was empty ($70.85 to fill it at Sam's Club), cupboards were bare ($104.00 at Aldi's), I spent $40 stocking up on toilet paper, papert towels, shampoo and tooth paste in order ot get a coupon redeemable for a $15 i-tunes card (my kids use them for their ipod app purchases), and then $8 between Michaels for some needed DMC floss and a clearance puzzle, and a new fire starter and flip flops at Target. Spending done for another week!

Still keeping it cheap, as far as the entertainment budget: pool four times this week, library FREE, concert at the park FREE. We've got ocupons for bowling and this upcoming week is the second round of Vacation Bible School - since I co-cordinated it, the fee was waived, saving me $90, but this program is really heavy on Catholic doctrine and theology and the day is long (9-2:30) and my kids are really in vacation mode (bed at 10, up at 9) - so this really isn't a "Gee, I can't wait to go" experience for them, or me really (since I rolled myself out of bed at 9:22)

Family! My grandma (91) came yesterday from California and she is so much fun. We hosted a s'mores party last night with my parents, brother, and Gran - lots of FUN. My brother is single and dating so it is very interesting to hear his adventures looking for the *right* one - today we're celebrating my mom's birthday which was Friday. My baker boys (oldest sons) are making a cake that looks like a pig (involving 2-9" round cakes and some cupcakes) and the smallest on is making Peppermint Pig cookies, thank goodness DH has some kitchen talent - I sort of bake the basics and then they get creative. We're giving my mom a Vera Bradley bag bought on sale at the outlet last week at 30% off lowest price (MSRP was $59, I paid $22+tax). My non-Irish cousin had a baby and borrowed one of our names (think past Dylan, Brandon, Sean, Patrick, Kelly, Erin and Coleen - and I've got kids with names like Seamus, Conal, Eoin, Eamonn, Mairead, Cliona, Nuala). Very funny to me that the non-Irish would even WANT a name like this - plus with a hefty polysyllabic Italian name!) Anhow, its a very cute baby!

Anyone read Thor Ramsey's "Total Money Meltdown"?

July 8th, 2011 at 02:03 am


Thor Ramsey is a Christian pastor and comedian who apparently wrote the above entitled book, which puts forth some practical advice on budgeting, etc. and he was inspired by David Ramsey's TMMO.

I'm wondering if anyone has read it and if they feel it is a worth-while endeavor.

Oh No, the M*****s are at Defcon 5!

July 3rd, 2011 at 05:15 pm

The M***** refers to my family's last name. The Defcon 5 refers to "War Games" when the world was on the brink of nuclear war after the Broderick character hijinxes the system and creates the possible end of the world.

So, this is how DH portrays our finances to my family. In actuality, we're going on vacation on August 5th for a nine-day drive/stay in Virginia. I'm diligently scouring deals (got one on a hotel for $375 for 5 nights while we're there) plus my 4th grader to be and I are doing price comparisons on the cheapest alternative to seeing what we want. I should add that I'm buying snacks on sale and creating our food bounty to take us there and back (though I'll stop before we return home to purchase sandwich supplies to get us through two lunches and dinner during our drive home.)

Anyone who lives with me knows the month before vacation it is all about "economic choice" - if we spend NOW there is less LATER (on vacation). DH is not immune from this. He wanted to golf today AND go to a Chicago White Sox game on Thursday. I should add that tickest are free at the Game, though DH feels compelled to bring $30 and buy a round of drinks. I had to tell him it was one or the other, not both. He didn't like that a bit, but he's got to play by the same rules as those in the house.

So, in his e-mail back to my brother (who is the inviter) he stated we are at Defcon 5 (facing vacation, $1,000 deductible on rental property claim after tree damage, and new car). DH does have an unopened box of Miller Genuine Draft (left over from when FIL was here) that he'll contribute to the White Sox game, so he did manage to fanangle both - though for the price of one.

I, on the other hand, was tickled pink to find a brand new with tags and sanitary liner attached Ralph Lauren bathing suit in my size and favorite color at the resale store for 50% off - and it cost me $2.50. I recently returned a new suit from Old Navy that seemed like a good deal for $17.50.

I suppose I win the frugal contest hands down.

Anyhow, happy 4th, folks!