Blog Archives for category Financial

Katie’s Scribbles

She loves drawing and coloring, but what you see is the extent of what she does. :)

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Can you believe I’ve been carrying this around for 20 years?!

I had to go in the file cabinet today and happened to pull out a huge stack of REALLY OLD credit card statements. While on one hand I was surprised (I was positive I shredded all that stuff years ago)…it brought back good memories!

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Finally, an amazing sale transaction.

Today rocked.

I listed our dining set yesterday. I get an email today about it…with fully formed sentences and no text speak!! I emailed back and got a reply within a half hour. She was able to come look at the table right away, she came when she said she was going to (almost to the minute!), and left a deposit and took some chairs with her. We even stood and chatted for 20 minutes because her husband is deploying soon, too.

Ahhh, that feels good. That’s how this stuff is SUPPOSED to work.

As as a bonus? We sold the table for more than we paid for it—though not by much, after you figure in what we paid for [feet] sliders and seat cushions!! But we weren’t out any money and that’s the best part!

Today’s Money-Saving Tips

Today’s Money-Saving Tip #1: If your A/C stops cooling and you notice there’s ice on the unit, TURN ON THE HEAT TO MELT THE ICE.

Today’s Money-Saving Tip #2: Be sure to change your filters when recommended.

These tips brought to you by the Emergency Service Call Technician who was at our house for 10 minutes for $135.

:|

Apparently I can’t count.

Mommy brain strikes.

Apparently I have lost my ability to count. I was getting a cash deposit ready for Tom to take in (from selling our fridge and the garage sale last fall) and counted it twice at $2400 both times.

Tom just calls me from the credit union: “How much did you count?”

Seems it was $2320. Even had her double count it.

Yeah, apparently when I was making $100 stacks of 20s…I counted a single 20 as $100. Twice.

:|

Silly monkey…

Gramma Jean got Owen this talking gorilla bank for Christmas. He was—honestly—a little freaked out by it at first…so we just left it sit on the chair and activated the sound every so often. Well, today he was finally REALLY interested in it, so he moved all of his money from his old bank to this one, having a blast the whole time.

The last payment!

I just made the last payment on our only credit card that was carrying a balance—so we are officially done with credit card debt!! And amazingly…done mostly since I’ve stopped working (which of course makes me wonder just what the hell we were doing with my salary the whole time I was working)!

Of course, we still have the mortgage and two cars and Tom’s student loans…but the original debt is gone!

In an ironic side note, the amount we made at our garage sale was just about the exact last payment ($539 vs. $534). I guess it was meant to be.

Now THAT’S a garage sale!

So we finally had our garage sale today—we’ve been wanting to have one ever since we moved back to Jacksonville but just never got around to it. If you remember, our last garage sale was a complete dud and we pretty much vowed to never have another. But we just had SO much good stuff to sell that we decided to take the chance.

And we’re glad we did.

Yes, it was a bit of legwork to get ready for it—and I pretty much ran the whole day by myself as Tom was in taking care of the kids—but it went really well. I didn’t get TOO terribly aggravated with people making deals (because we wanted the stuff GONE!) but I did draw the line a few times—of which these two cases were the most memorable:

  1. One guy at about 7:15 (we officially opened at 7 but of course had people shopping in the dark at 6:45) pointed to all the stuff he wanted and it totaled $45 and asked if I’d make him a deal. I said sure, $40. He says “How about $30?” Uh, sorry, NO. Not at 7:15am on popular items (like a pack-n-play and space heaters) and certainly not that big of a deal.
  2. An obviously English-understanding but Spanish-speaking only woman (her young daughter was translating between us most of the time) who drove up in an [Escalade or Excursion or something] and was talking on an iPhone thought that $2 was too much for a two-piece baby outfit—which I had already discounted from $4 (I had all baby clothes marked at $2 per piece). She made a big stink about how that was just TOO. MUCH. MONEY. Really? SERIOUSLY?

But otherwise I was giving out good deals.

It was pretty busy all day but no matter how much stuff people bought, it never looked like the stuff was dwindling! NEVER! (Unfortunately, that just goes to show you just how much stuff we had. And sadly, the garage is still FULL of boxes we have to sort through and reorganize.)

When it was over, I was eager to count our stash and see how well we did. I was excited to see that we made $539—until I looked back at the total for our last garage sale (that I complained was a complete dud) and saw that the difference was only $239. But, it just felt like it went SO much better—and, if you go back and read the old garage sale post, you will see that I said another $200 would have made it better. One shopper even commented that it was a really nice sale! Yay, us! (And I have to give a huge thank you to our friends who loaned us tables and signs!)

So, in the end, we made about $300 for about 18-20 hours of work (prep, sale, clean up) which just sooooo doesn’t seem worth it. I mean, it’s better than working that long for nothing…but had we sold another $200 worth I’d be more amenable to having another garage sale sometime during my lifetime.

So I guess we did okay. Not awesome, but okay.

And everyone who drove by? They actually stopped…even if they didn’t buy anything! :)

Refinancing—woohoo!

I just dropped off our streamlined refinance docs…so in less than a month we’ll be closing and reducing our payment by just over $300. I’ll take that, thankyouverymuch.

Yes, it adds some years to our mortgage (we’re at 23 and it goes back to 30), but fingers quadruple crossed we’ll have sold the house WAAAAAAY before then…and if we don’t sell it and have to rent it, hopefully we’ll make a few bucks or break even instead of being in the hole every month. And in the meantime, it will help pay for the new car. :)

Credit card fraud, UPDATE.

On August 22 I posted about the credit card fraud we experienced with Discover. Since then, I’ve been patiently awaiting the results of the investigation resolution to hopefully find out who did it or how they did it or what happened to them—or anything.

Guess what I got?

A form letter saying the investigation was closed. That’s it.

I called and all they could tell me was they withheld paying the company (where the $700+ was charged) and it was up to that company to investigate to recoup their losses. And they apparently never did anything so that was it.

I wanted more, obviously. I guess I should be happy they took care of it immediately—that part was super easy—but I was ticked. I’ve never had this happen before so I guess I didn’t really know what to expect.

I just expected more.

:mad:

Credit card fraud, YAY.

Mint.com sent me a notice of a large transaction, otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered it until I checked my monthly bill weeks from now.

Apparently someone booked a trip and hotel to San Diego via getaroom.com with my Discover card using our old Michigan address and a cell number one digit off from Tom’s. Starting on our anniversary of all things.

I immediately thought it’s somehow the current tenants at the Michigan rental, but did we somehow leave a credit card behind? That got lost in a crack or a drawer somewhere? I just can’t imagine that. And all mail was forwarded (plus I get online statements only) so they couldn’t get an account number that way. And to have a number really close to Tom’s cell (123-456-2000 vs 123-456-2001) just makes it even stranger.

Ugh.

Discover is taking care of it, but it’s still a pain in the butt.

Community pool–yay(s) and boo(s).

I really appreciate the fact that we live close to the country club pool (yay!) but I really don’t appreciate that they wouldn’t prorate the cost (boo!) so I had to pay $375 to use the pool through Labor Day.

But they do have a kiddie pool (yay!) but the water in both that pool and the main pool is too warm (boo!).

And it’s cool that they have adult only hours (yay!) but overall the hours kinda suck (boo!)—11a-6p Tuesday through Saturday, 1p-6p Sunday, and 6p-8p adults only those days. There is no lifeguard and no locks on the fence that I can see…so I’m not quite sure why they have those limited hours.

Billing vs. Insurance

I just opened the insurance statement from my ER visit for my cut finger. Once again, I am amazed at what the hospital bills and what little (comparatively) insurance pays and the hospital accepts.

They billed $805.07 and insurance paid $201.61. My responsibility is $25 (which I haven’t been billed for yet).

Yep, this is why people without insurance don’t go to the ER.

More Wells Fargo frustrations.

So our NC house is vacant and has been vacant since late December. Since we are now moving back, we don’t have time for even 6-month tenants, so, it will be vacant until we get there…but the vacancy means our normal insurance is being canceled.

My current insurance agent is great, but she can really do no more for me. She did tell me that our mortgage company would write a vacant policy to protect their investment. So I called.

Ugh.

I told the operator that I needed an insurance policy for a vacant property. She transferred me to the insurance department, whereupon the guy basically laughed at me when I told him what I needed, saying they don’t write policies for vacant houses. Oooo-kay. He said she just gave me to the wrong department and tells me I need a “Lender Provided Policy” (or something like that).

So I call again, get the same operator who doesn’t seem to remember me calling five minute before (even with my somewhat memorable name), and tell her what I need. She transfers me to Chris, who I tell what I need, and he apparently can’t help me (so why did I get transferred to him?) so transfers me to Janine, a manager in the Hazard Insurance Department…who after hearing what I need, says she can’t write me a policy and I need to talk to the insurance select department. :??:

I asked her if that was the same as the general insurance division and yes, it was (the phone numbers matched). She seemed surprised that I’d already talked to them and they couldn’t help me. Then she told me I really should be contacting the Fair Plan [something or other] in my state because they were the ones that should be able to help me. She then told me about her personal experience with vacant policies…because she couldn’t write one herself….and that it would likely be about $400/mo with the annual payment due up front.

WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

“So, let me get this clear? I called to get a vacant insurance policy from Wells Fargo, they transferred me to the insurance department who laughed at me, I called back and was transferred twice to you, someone who cannot write a policy for me?”

Bingo.

So I called my agent back just to see if she had any other advice, and to ask about the Fair Plan thing. She said THAT is who is canceling me. Lovely. She said that Wells Fargo would surely get off their ass when they got the insurance cancellation notice.

Great.

So now we’re in a mad rush to find a friend or someone who will go move in to the house rent-free for three months, just to avoid this crap.

Regardless, I am ready to pull my >:XX hair out over this stupid house.

AmEx is both bad and good.

So I get all of my credit card statements via email, and when I do, I pay them. Simple, right? Happens every month like clockwork and I always pay every bill on time.

Well, apparently, if American Express mails you a hard copy—like they do for the month you get your Costco rebate check—they SKIP sending you the email. Why on earth they can’t continue to send an email that month is beyond me.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? >:-(

Yeah, I got charged a $15 late fee and I’m sure there will be interest. Ugh. And yeah, I’m so used to receiving emailed statements that it DID NOT EVEN OCCUR TO ME that the mailed statement was a real statement. A sign of the digital times, I guess?

That said, I paid the full balance (plus some extra) immediately, then emailed them and complained about their process. To their credit, they did waive the fee, but I still think it’s asinine they can’t send an email when they also send a hard copy. I mean, how hard can it be? Why WOULDN’T you send one?

Amazon selling!

Sale #1

About three weeks ago I bought a ceramic flat iron when Amazon was offering it for a great deal. I didn’t really need it—nor did I need to spend the $50 on it—but I did, thinking I could likely resell it (or worst case, actually use it when mine dies since it’s a better one). I listed it on Amazon for $149.99 (it supposedly retails for $249)—and it sold within a few hours!! After Amazon fees and the original cost, I made $80. I knew I should have bought a handful of them! :up:

Sale #2

I had a baby/toddler toy that is kinda big that I wanted to get rid of. Owen still liked it and played with it, but we’re trying to downsize (and he has enough other toys). Checking Amazon, they are apparently no longer available (though a newer, different model is) but there were two sellers: one for $100 and one for $300 (88|) so I figured What the hell? and listed mine at $99.99, fully expecting it to just sit there. I also listed it on Craigslist for much less since I wouldn’t have to worry about shipping—because Amazon doesn’t give you a fair price for shipping costs. But, I figured, even with the fees and S/H, I’d still make a fair amount.

So imagine my surprise when it sells…a day later! 88| YAY! But then I had to pack and ship this huge 14x18x18 thing! It has its own box but needed a shipping box, which of course we didn’t have, so I had to cobble together two boxes (which ended up to be 18x18x24) and use about a roll of tape. Fortunately, shipping only ended up to be like $5 more (instead of the $15 more I was thinking) and the tape was free (leftover from our military move)…so long story short, I paid $30 for it at Target a year ago and will have made, after fees and charges, $50! :up:

Who says I’m not working and making money? :b

Happy Bank Account

We got our Escrow Analysis for the next year…and hmmm, I see that they’re scheduled to pay our Hazard Insurance in January 2012…which makes me think that they paid it THIS year, too. Which is funny because I sent in a payment [to our insurance company, not the mortgage company] for the same thing in December. I did this because [for some reason I can’t quite remember] when we first started renting our house, I had to pay the insurance myself—it couldn’t come out of escrow. And I guess I just assumed that it would continue that way and no one told me otherwise (i.e. I was billed for it from my insurance company).

So I called Wells Fargo and all they could tell me was they paid it in January 2011. Then I call my insurance company and after some back and forth…they tell me I am getting a refund because I overpaid!

So I should be getting $1168 back this week. Our bank account will be VERY happy.

Back to USAA!

Well, we’re back with USAA for auto and home insurance.

When we moved to Michigan, our auto rates skyrocketed—so we switched to a local company that was cheaper, then took the home (well, renters) with us to get a multi-policy discount.

However, over the past two years, the cheap insurance has increased by about $600/year so I thought I’d check out USAA again…and long story short, we’re paying about the same but getting better coverage. And the same with the renters policy.

And the CSR was just awesome. And now everything is in the same spot. :up:

Car trouble!

I drove to an appointment and the car was just fine. An hour later I am ready to go home and I notice the Brake light on. My first thought was “Did I unknowingly put the parking break on?” So I tested it and no that wasn’t it. Then I noticed the Engine light was on. And the ABS light.

:eek:

I know any of those usually mean STOP DRIVING IMMEDIATELY but I had to get home—we were on our way to the birthday ball as soon as I got home! So as I was driving I am thinking that we have to get the car in that day, so I called Tom to have him call…and while I was waiting to talk to him, I see that the speedometer wasn’t working, either! By this time, all I’m seeing is $$$ to get all this fixed—and before we leave on our major road trip for Thanksgiving!

Let me just say that it’s unbelievably disconcerting to be driving with no speedometer and have the Engine, ABS, and Brake lights on. Thankfully we were able to get the car in and crossed our fingers that repairs wouldn’t be so expensive that we’d be new car shopping instead.

American Express Rocks!

I am signed up for paperless statements via email notification and it stays in my Inbox until I pay it. Well, I got the March statement and it says it’s 30 days past due. Huh? What? I check my email—even my deleted folder—and there’s NO email from them. I have the End of Year statement email and the January email, but no February email. So there’s a whopping $39 late fee plus interest, and you know it jacks up everything for months afterwards.

So I sent them a stern email explaining what happened, and mentioned this isn’t the first time I have missed an email—and what is the point of offering paperless statements if I don’t get the notice?—and asked to be refunded the late fee. I also told them I paid the bill in full that day and I would set my own reminder to pay the bill so this didn’t happen again.

Imagine my surprise when their reply email mentioned not only removing the late fee, but any and all interest associated with the resulting fee, AND removing ANY notation of anything being paid late so it would be as if it never happened.

So it sucks that the original mistake was made, but kudos to them for fixing it.