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It's 2017 and I am on a mission to simplify!

 

It’s a New Year so why not do some things differently….. right?   In 2017 I am on a mission to simplify – since It Is Always Something!  What am I doing today?  I have decided to schedule my bills so that I can sit down and take care of everything ONCE a month.   If you are like me, you have bills due throughout the entire month – with no two bills being due on the same day.  It’s a constant challenge to remember what is due when and then you ask yourself “did I pay that?”.   I have set up the automatic payments for those that I can (electric and auto) but what about those that you just don’t know what the balance is going to be (i.e. credit cards) so you can’t set up automatic payments?   I’ve called all my credit card companies (business and personal) and scheduled them all to be due on the same day.  Did you know you can do that?  You can pick the day you want to pay your bills and you can time it with your paycheck, or in my case, lump them all together and sit down to review them when it is most convenient for you.    I’ll still have the same amount of bills, I just won’t have to think about paying them every week.   This should allow for some free time each week!

 

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Posted by on in Really???
Can I have some money …. each month ????

How long should parents support their adult child? I know there is no right answer to that question and I know that each situation must be looked at differently. I was shocked, however, to read in a recent Money magazine article that parents polled believe their children should be self-sufficient by 25, those adult children said they thought they’d be self-sufficient by 27. Really….. 25 and 27??? What happened to raising your kids to be self-sufficient adults (which last I checked was 18)?

I completely understand being there to help out in “times of need”, but did you know that 36% of the parents that were supporting adult children had no idea where their money was going – they simply gave it. 26% of those parents took on additional debt, 13% delayed buying a home or taking a vacation and another 7% postponed retirement, all to support their adult children. I am shocked by these statistics.

I won’t win the “Parent of the Year” Award based on this survey. I believed adult children should work for what they have. If they want more, they will work harder. I also believe they will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride if they do things on their own. Maybe I’m just clueless. Isn’t that the way our generation was raised? I saw something recently that read along these lines ……. “It’s not what you do for your children that matters --- it’s what you teach your children to do for themselves.” That really sums it up.

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Posted by on in It's Just Life
Spread Too Thin?

The common theme lately seems to be - Too much to do and not enough time to do it all. You know why this is? Because we are all spreading ourselves way too thin!!! That doesn’t cause our waist lines to be thin but it may cause our patience to be thin! Why is everyone so busy, busy, busy? Most people I know share the same thought yet we continue to “overfill” our schedules. Then, when something unplanned happens, like a sick child, we lose the momentum and often lose our “good nature”. You know it has happened to you too in the past. How do we fix it? We all know the answer – we just have to start saying “No” …. “No thank you” if you want to be polite. I know, much easier said than done…..especially for those that like to do it all (myself included). First, don’t beat yourself up and get all bent out of shape because things aren’t getting done. Realize you’ve over extended and prioritize what is important at the time. Make time for your family and friends, but if you’ve gone out the past 3 nights, it is ok to stay home one night and do the laundry or pay bills. I’m big on lists so as you make your lists be realistic and don’t set yourself up for failure. Somehow, someway the important stuff always gets done! Most importantly, make time for yourself!

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Posted by on in Really???
Is That Growing From Your Ear???

Ok – I have to admit it …. cell phones are getting way out of control. Well the phones aren’t, the people using them are!!! There are times when it is appropriate to use your phone and there are times when it is NOT appropriate to use your phone. I was having lunch at Subway today when a woman walked in – yes, she was talking on the phone. She proceeded to talk while she waited in line, she talked while she was ordering her sub, she talked while she was waiting for her sub, talked while she paid for her sub and yes, talked all the way out the door. I could not believe she did not put that phone down for one second. Don’t people realize that was incredibly rude to the people around and even more rude to the Subway employees who were taking her order? What on earth could be so important she could not get off the phone to order lunch? Or, it if was that important, she should have stayed outside until she finished her call and then come inside and ordered. When you are in a public place, we do not want to hear your phone conversation people. Have a little courtesy and respect for others and HANG UP THE PHONE!

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It Happens to the Best of Us

Actually, at some point it will most likely happen to all of us. Yesterday we realized someone had used our credit card number to purchase $8,000 worth of eyewear and a tank of gas …. Yes, $8,000 of eye glasses and sun glasses!!! At first you are in disbelief – “How could this possibly happen?”. Then you feel violated “Why did they do this to me?”. First, realize this is happening everyday all over the world and second, it is not directed at you personally. Credit card companies have admitted that thieves are one step ahead of them and security will always be an issue. Once you realize you are totally protected and will not have to pay for transactions you did not authorize your emotions will change to one of simple frustration. If you have had a credit card compromised, call the credit card company immediately and have them issue you a new card number. Now comes the laborious chore of providing anyone who regularly uses that card with the new number. Review your past statements to see if there are any automatic monthly charges like cell phone bills, look for websites that have stored credit card information like amazon, and if you use online bill payment, remember to change the account number there as well. Trust me, it will happen to you at some time. Just be prepared and don’t panic.

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Posted by on in It's Just Life
You Can't Change People...

But you can change the way you react to them. Hmmm…..simple yet profound. That was advice that was given in a Lifetime movie last night and really stuck in my mind. We all know someone, a child, co-worker, or friend maybe who doesn't think or act like we do and as a result we are often very frustrated by them. Is that their fault? No, it's not, that's just who/how they are. If we are frustrated by them it's because we allow them to frustrate us. Think about it…….. you cannot change them. What you can change is yourself. Sounds simple enough but I know it is easier said than done. The sooner we can embrace this way of thinking, the better our relationship with them will be. Give it a try …. really make a conscious decision to react differently and see how it goes.

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Our Amazon Cost Just Went Up 6%!!!

Planning to buy something on Amazon soon and live in Florida? Do it before May 1st and save 6%. That's right - effective May 1, Amazon will begin charging those in Florida an additional 6% for sales tax. Amazon announced they will be opening two distribution centers in Florida next month and now since they will have a physical presence in Florida they have to charge sales tax. That stinks for those of us who use Amazon, and believe me, my family uses Amazon. We always look to Amazon for the lowest price, not to mention the convenience. Unfortunately now we will have to spend a little more.

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Posted by on in It's Just Life
Don’t Let Them Bully You

Have you ever had an insurance claim that you were denied on?  We had a recent experience with an insurance company that started out bad, got worse and ended up working to our advantage.   Bottom line -- just remember what your parents always told you -- don't let the bigger boys bully you!

One of our rental houses had a water pipe break and water flooded the house.   This happened when we were between tenants.   Since nobody was living in the house at the time, the insurance company considered the house "vacant",  said that was a specific exclusion in our policy, and denied the claim.   Our argument was that we had workers at the house doing some painting and other minor repairs making the house ready to be leased again.  These workers were there every day and were the ones that identified the problem and shut the water off.  Additionally, the house had been shown to a potential tenant the day before ….. therefore the house was not vacant.  Nope - claim denied!  No further discussion!   No settlement would even be considered!    That wasn't good enough, nor was it a correct response.  We had been paying our insurance on time for many years - after all, that's what we have insurance for.   So we requested to go thru the mediation process.   The insurance company said "ok" to that request and we never heard from them again.  I think they thought we'd just go away.   A few months later we followed up requesting the mediation that was promised.   We received notification from a Mediator and a date was set.  Finally, someone was going to help us with this claim.  This mediation date surely motivated the insurance company and they called us to see if we would "settle" on an amount.   Settle?  Now? 9 months later?   Right before mediation?  Not unless you are going to pay for everything we are entitled to!   

With a mediation date right around the corner, the insurance company "rolled".  The adjuster blamed her boss for denying the original claim and now they were more than willing to pay us every dime, including lost rentals!!!  One condition, we needed to agree to settle prior to mediation.   Needless to say, we got our check from them pretty quickly and notified the mediator we had reached a settlement.

Bottom line, the insurance company had hoped we would just take the original "no" for an answer and go away.  For some reason, they did not want this case going to mediation and were now all friendly and willing to settle.   If you feel you were wrongfully denied by an insurance company and you are entitled to collect under a policy…. don't let them bully you by just accepting a "no".  Stand up for yourself and if you're not sure how to, seek out the necessary help to do so.  These big companies can be bullies - and they can't get away with it!!!

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Posted by on in Other Stuff
Technology - A Love/Hate Relationship

I find it so incredibly frustrating when technology companies come out with updated software versions. Why can't anything be easy? This week we migrated to Outlook 2013 (yes - it is 2014!!!). Why? I'm not really sure and although it will be fine in the end - I wish we could go back! Since we migrated from Outlook 2010 to 2013 on Tuesday a whole host of issues arose! First, my phone wouldn't get the emails properly - that was fixed in about 6 hours but since my phone has become part of my body, not having access to emails for that period of time was massive torture. The phone got fixed but then my home computer needed to be upgraded in order for me to get the mail at my desk. Simple enough right? Wrong! After two attempts by my computer expert (yes Ron) it appeared to be working. Wrong again! Now my phone says I have 36 unread messages (really I have none) and my home email says 24 unread messages (really I have none). I'm not even going to look at my iPad! UGH!!! When technology changes we really need to block off a day or two just to "upgrade" and then fix all the issues. This was not part of the plan for the day - so I guess I'll have to work around it - but it sure is frustrating!

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Posted by on in Other Stuff
Smile – It IS Contagious

We’ve all heard it before – smiling is contagious. But is it really? This is one experiment I think everyone should try for themselves. I’ve been doing it today and I want you to try it tomorrow. Tomorrow, I want you to walk around with a great BIG SMILE on your face. People will wonder what you are up to because you are smiling so big. Some may ask – some may just smile back at you. If they do ask, tell them you are just trying to make them smile. Guaranteed to work on everyone!!! Not only will the young and old smile back at you, but you will feel good doing this experiment. It is a proven fact that it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile. So smile and pass it on….:)

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Now is the Time to Pay off Those Credit Cards!

Now is the time to be getting out of debt.   If you have credit card debt or small loans that are carrying an interest rate above 3%, now is the time to think about paying them off/down.  How?  Many companies are offering credit cards at 0% for 18 months.   That’s almost free money!!!  Almost because you typically will have to pay a 3% advance fee.    Have you looked at your monthly credit card statements to see how much of your payment each month is going towards interest versus reducing the outstanding balance?   Those interest dollars add up quickly.   Think how fast your debt would be reduced if all of your monthly payment went to reduce the balance.   You can pay a lot more off a lot faster!    You have to be careful though.  What you do not want to do is pay down your high interest rate cards with the 0% card and then run up the high interest rate card balances.  If you can be disciplined to put those high rate cards away and not use them, while making your same monthly credit payment, you’ll see your credit card debt decrease much faster.   I know Citi Bank and Discover are both offering these types of cards and you can apply online.  Once approved you simply give them the details of your debt you want paid off.  I recently helped two people do this and they are both seeing the rewards immediately!

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Time to Start Watching the Calories/Points...

Well – it’s that time again ….. time to start watching the calories/points trying to reign in the numbers on the scale. While I am very fortunate in many many ways – watching my weight is not one of them. My weight is constantly fluctuating. In the last 10 months I have gained about 15 pounds. Yes, the clothes are tighter (or don’t fit) and I refuse to buy new larger ones! Many of you can relate to what I’m saying. I wish I was one of those people who never had to watch what they ate but unfortunately I’m not, so let the weight loss begin. It is not an easy task to lose weight, but once I set my mind to it I am usually successful at it. Everyone knows the only way to lose weight is thru proper diet and exercise. I have had the most luck following the Weight Watchers plan. It allows you to eat anything you want, in moderation of course. It is difficult, however, because you need to plan your meals and go shopping a lot to make sure you have the right foods in the house. Weight watchers, coupled with the Fit Bit I wear should help get me back into my clothes comfortably. I know it won’t be quick, but I know the rewards will be worth it. The hardest part for me is getting started … which I did last Friday. If you struggle with your weight, know you are not alone and join me at a Weight Watchers meeting!

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Are You Using Mobile Banking to Make Your Check Deposits?

Are you using mobile banking to check your balances or transfer money?  Technology is wonderful isn’t it?!   Now, are you using mobile banking to make your check deposits?  Why not????  This has to be one of the easiest things you can do with your phone or tablet and it is such a time saver.  No more filling out a deposit slip, no more driving to the bank, and no more waiting in line.  You simply log into your bank’s app, click on deposit, take a picture of the front and back of the check and select which account to deposit it into.   Once this is complete you will get a confirmation code. Viola!   The money has been deposited!    I write the confirmation code on the front  of the check and file the checks until the bank statement comes in, although I’ve never had a problem.   It doesn’t get much easier than that.  The best part is you can do this from anywhere and at any time, no more trying to fit a trip to the bank into your already hectic schedule.  Think about how much time you’ll save as well as gas driving to the bank.   If you haven’t done it, give it a try.  If you are scared to try, drop me a line and I’ll talk you into it.

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Be Careful When You Flash Your Headlights!

Did you ever drive down a highway and flash your headlights at another vehicle? I just did it the other day to warn oncoming drivers of a police vehicle that was ahead of them trying to get speeders. Maybe you’ve done the same, or maybe you’ve done it to tell a car it is ok to pass or that you are yielding the right of way. Whatever the reason, we’ve probably all done it at one time or another. This was something my father taught me when he was teaching me to drive. Well….. “flashers beware”!!!! Did you know that it is illegal in some states to do just that? You can be pulled over in states like Alaska, Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Washington so be careful! In Florida headlight flashing is considered free speech under the First Amendment and in Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has ruled that flashing one’s lights during the day to warn of speed traps IS legal. Can you believe a case like this went all the way to the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania!!! In a case in Ohio they actually debated whether the ordinance referred to a noun or a verb. Flashing lights as a noun is prohibited, flashing lights as a verb is not! Imagine being pulled over in Ohio and explaining to the officer that the act of actually flashing your lights is an action, thus a verb, and not a violation of the law! Not sure I would try that though…

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Burrrrrr - Here are Some of my Dilemmas When it's Cold.

I really don't know how the people that live in the colder climates of this country do it. Honestly - how do you do it? And better yet - why do you do it? Yes, I'm a native Floridian and am reminded of that every time I go into the colder sections of the country. Here are some of my dilemmas when it's cold. It is so difficult to get the temperature in the house just right. It's either too cold and I'm putting clothing on or it's too warm and I'm taking clothing off. I have acquired the "right" attire but ... how many layers of shirts do you put on at one time? Long johns or flannels? You have to wear closed toe shoes and socks are a must -- I feel like my feet are choking!!! Add that jacket on top and you are sure to feel like the Pillsbury Dough Boy or the Michelin Tire Man. Clothes shopping is a major hassle, not to mention going to the bathroom (hope you aren't wearing a one piece). Your fingers freeze and hurt when you have to do anything with them (good luck not using them). When I think about it, it's amazing to me that any babies are born from September thru November in areas that have cold winters. Some will say they like the seasons -- me too - we have a winter in Florida for a week or two! Bundle up and stay warm!!!!

Tagged in: Come on... Health Stress
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Posted by on in Other Stuff
We've been Robbed

As the name of the blog implies.... It is always something!!!  This week we were robbed!!  Can you believe it...someone actually came in our home and took our stuff!!  It is so hard for me to comprehend that someone would just steal someone else's stuff.  Who does this?  Do these people not have parents to teach them right from wrong?  Or maybe they know the difference and simply chose to ignore their conscience. We're lucky though.  No one was hurt and the house was not damaged.  Although the bad guys took items like the tv and a bunch of tools, they didn't get the valuables!!!  The valuable stuff in the house is all the memories we have ... and the robbers can't take those from us!!!  Sure, we'll spend countless hours dealing with insurance, police, and the locksmiths and then hours trying to replace things, but as I started out with, it is always something and we just have to deal with it. 

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Posted by on in It's Just Life
What a Mess

Ever have one of those days where things just don’t go as you planned?   Yesterday was one of those days for me.  I thought I would accomplish a ton of things only to have the rug pulled out from under my feet and hardly nothing get accomplished.   We had a major leak of transmission fluid all over the driveway yesterday – I mean major and I mean ALL OVER the driveway.  Of course,  it was the coldest day of the year too!  Needless to say, my plans for the day were changed quite rapidly.   This happens to all of us at times --- How you decide to deal with it is what determines what happens next?  You can get upset and let things bother you or you can just adapt and go with the flow.   I realized I had no choice but to cancel my afternoon plans and clean up the mess.    I also realized I had no help available and it was going to take a while.  With the right frame of mind, you’ll get thru it.  When situations like this happen, take a minute, take a deep breath and control the situation – don’t let the situation control you.   Remember – it is always something!

Tagged in: Danger Stress Ugly
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Posted by on in Dollars and Sense
Pharmacy Coupons

With the new year comes the start of new annual deductibles for medical insurance. Some might even have an annual pharmacy deductible. As you go to pick up your prescriptions do a little homework and you might possibly save yourself a lot of money. Many pharmaceutical manufacturers offer manufacturer’s coupons to help assist patients with their co pays. If you pay more than $20 a month for a prescription you should check to see if a coupon is available. Now, you may have to be creative with these coupons but they are worth the effort. For example, I just filled a prescription that was for 120 pills at a cost of $205. The manufacturers coupon covered only 90 pills. The pharmacist suggested I just fill the prescription for 90 pills to take advantage of the coupon – which brought the cost down to $103. Yes, that’s a week short of the full prescription but it’s also a pretty significant savings off the price! I’ll refill the prescription in 22 days and save some more money. The other item to consider is mail away pharmacies. Most do not want to take the manufacturer’s coupons so you may have to switch to a local pharmacy to obtain the benefit of the coupon. You’ll have to do the math to see if it is worth it. Here’s another example – the lady behind me at the pharmacy line complained about the cost of her medicine. I looked up the manufacturer on my phone while in line and did find a coupon for her. She was going to her daughters to print it out and bring it back to the pharmacy! This is free money! Why not take advantage of it?

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Posted by on in Dollars and Sense
Textbook Rentals

It’s a new semester for the college kids and that means big bucks are being spent on textbooks. Getting the right book at the right price requires a little time and effort. If you are willing to put forth some time and effort you might just end up saving some real $$$$’s. Just to give you an example, one of my kids needs an accounting textbook (yes, maybe he will take after me). I looked on Amazon (who historically is pretty cheap) and I could rent the textbook for $79. I compared that to Chegg and found I could rent the book from them for only $40. That’s a 50% savings. But, before I ordered the book I decided to check another site …. Textbooks.com. The book was only $29.49 to rent from there. That’s a $50 savings on one textbook alone. Yes, the chemistry book was cheapest at Textbooks.com as well. You want to know the funny thing in all of this …. the invoice from textbooks.com says the rental service is being provided by Chegg!!! In about 20 minutes I saved some real money. It definitely pays to shop!!!

Tagged in: Discounts Money School
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Posted by on in Other Stuff
Email management

How many of you made a resolution to “clean up” your email box?   This was one of my resolutions last year and I must tell you – it works!   If your email box has gotten out of control you need to whip it back into shape by unsubscribing to any email that you get from a company you do not buy from.   Once you buy something online you often agree to have your email address shared.  No, you didn’t agree to this?  Well believe me, somewhere along the way you did.  Here’s how you fix it.  Every day you should pick 3 emails that you no longer want to receive and you should go into the email, usually at the bottom, and click the “unsubscribe” button.  This will take anywhere from 10 – 30 seconds to do for each email.  Eventually those companies will remove you from their distribution list and you’ll stop receiving their emails.   It won’t seem like you are making much progress at first but after a few weeks you’ll see a noticeable difference.   Remember – unsubscribe to just 3 emails a day …… you’ll save time in the future and your mailbox will be manageable again!  After a month, send me an email and tell me how it’s worked for you.

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