There are easier ways to make $200…

There are lots and lots and lots and lots of better ways to make money than to go to the Emergency Room with chest pain and shortness of breath.

It started Sunday night, when for the second time in my life I (Apparently?  Hopefully?) had heartburn.  The first time (several years ago), I thought I was having a heart attack, but thought I’d  go get some Tums and see if perhaps it was that heartburn stuff I’d heard about over the years.  The Tums did nothing for me (and didn’t years later when I was pregnant, either!), so I went back out and bought some Pepcid, with the plan that if I didn’t feel better in an hour I’d go to the ER.

Pepcid, lovely product that it is, worked in twenty minutes.

So,  when I started experiencing chest and back pain on Sunday night I popped a Pepcid.  And, because one of my dearest friends had a heart attack at age 44 just three months ago, I sent Husband to the store for baby aspirin, just in case.  I chewed 4 baby aspirin, and promptly fell asleep.

Well, that wasn’t  smart.

But, I did.  And when I got out of the bed the next morning my chest felt a bit tight.  And when I started huffing and puffing just walking from the refrigerator to the microwave to the sink I thought something might be wrong.  Seriously wrong.  I called Husband, and we decided, “better safe than sorry”.  I arranged for my sister-in-law to come pick up Son, and went to the Emergency Room.

Funny thing.  Mention the words “chest pain” and “shortness of breath” and your ass will be in a wheelchair so fast you won’t notice the dirty looks of the other ER patients-in-waiting as you are whisked immediately into treatment bed 6.   I made sure to tell the doctor it was  “probably heartburn or a little anxiety”  because, well,  G-d forbid he think I’m a hypochondriac.  He wasn’t impressed by my Curriculum vitæ as regards medical training (watching Marcus Welby, MD, ER and Quincy do not an MD make, apparently).  One EKG later and the doctor admitted me, even though my EKG showed no abnormality.  Seems the heart likes to play coy and only sometimes shows trouble on an EKG.    I was admitted for more tests and for observation.

Lovely.

While I waited for a room, I was treated to an array of visitors.  There was the girl from registration, who wanted my drivers license and insurance card (smart girl that I am, they’re the only 2 things I brought to the hospital).   Patient relations came for a visit  (Did I need anything?  Yes – how do I make sure that everyone who touches me is covered under my insurance?  She blanched, ran from the room never to be seen again.)  And, surprise, the Chief Financial Officer of the hospital.  He “didn’t want any money from me”, just wanted to see how I was doing (Seems my bigwig brother sits on the Patient Relations Board, called the COO, who made sure I was taken care of.  And, ahem, that got me a private room, never mind that it was at 3 am).

So, while I waited for a room I called my insurance company, who verified that I needn’t worry who  touched me (well, not for insurance reasons, anyway).  Because I was at a participating hospital, and because I was admitted from the Emergency Room, everything was 100% covered.  And my ER deductible was waived because I was admitted.

I was quite relieved, having read about and experienced (while handling the insurance claims from my stepmother’s final hospital stay) horror stories about in-hospital services and doctors’ bills being  not covered or covered at much higher out-of-network rates.  I am seriously hoping the information I was  given was accurate.

Seriously.

And so began a twenty-four hour odyssey of tests and blood draws and two room changes and massive headaches-as-side-effects-of-medications and sleeplessness and really bad food (there was a hamburger that looked suspiciously like the roadkill I’d noticed in the parking lot as I walked to the ER), but at least all of the personnel I dealt with were top rate, at least I had a private room (thanks BW!) and at least I’ll be making money on the deal.

How?  Well, remember the Hospital Income policy I told you about?  Yes, well, I get to put a claim in for my lovely day in the hospital.

There are easier ways to make $200.  Perhaps next time I’ll try something that doesn’t involve needles.

Aeropostale Friends and Family 30% off Coupon is Back!

Shop in store or online between August 6 and August 9, 2009 and get 30% off of your entire purchase! In store use this printable coupon.   Online use Coupon Code FRIEND8689.

The holidays aren’t that far away.  Perfect time to scour the clearance racks and pick up a great deal for someone you love!

JC Penney 15% off purchase coupon!

Just noticed this in my email.  A printable coupon good for 15% off your entire purchase – with their usual exclusions- good through Saturday, August 1.

We’re doing school shopping tomorrow, and this will definitely come in handy!

Have a great weekend!

Free Money for Reading!!!

TD Bank wants to help you encourage your kids to read.  Kids can earn up to $10 for reading 10 books as part of their Summer Reading Program.  Just download their form and have your kids list books as they read them.

The $10 credit will be deposited in a new, or existing, Young Savers Account when they take the completed form (with the list of 10 books read) to a TD Bank branch.

That’s what I call a win-win!

Take Advantage of Back-to-School Deals Even if You Don’t Have a Back-to-Schooler

I love the Back-to-School season.  Even though I’m not a student anymore it doesn’t mean I have no need for school supplies – and I’ll bet you and your family need some, too.

Year-round office supplies. Every year for as long as I can remember I’ve used the super sales to stock up on most of my office supplies for the year.   Pens, pencils, notebooks, paper – there are always a ton of great loss leaders.   And loss leaders – when retailers give ridiculously low prices in hopes that you’ll spend more money on high profit items while you’re there – are a frugal Mom’s friend.

Birthday Party Favors. Once  Son was born my Back-to-School shopping took on a new dimension.  Son sports a July birthday, so in addition to my own office supplies I’ve been taking advantage of the great deals as frugal party favors.  One year I got boxes of 25 crayons for a penny apiece!  You can bet I stocked up – I had enough for 3 years of parties!

Christmas Gifts and Stocking Stuffers. For the kids, for your spouse, to donate to a charity.  Shop early and save!

In my area I’m lucky enough to have Staples, Office Depot and Office Max all close by.  And then there’s Target, K-Mart and Walmart.  I can’t wait to see what deals I’ll get this year!

And speaking of this year – Son enters kindergarten next month.  I’m so very sad that his early childhood is nearly over.  I’m unhappy that Son will be in school all day (as opposed to the 1/2 day kindergartens in many other areas).  I’m going to miss him like crazy.  And for the first time since I graduated college I’m actually going to use Back-to-School sales for someone that is actually going to school.

I already have a lot of the things on the teachers’ supply list.  A few months ago I got a $10 off $10 purchase coupon in the mail from Office Max, so I’ve got a good head start.  But Son needs a backpack, and I’d like to get him a new lunchbox (though I may wait until after school starts and they go on clearance to replace it).

So I already took advantage of Staples’ super deals this week to get Son that backpack.  Staples was offering a box of pencils for a penny and a ream of copy paper for a penny after rebate, with a limit of 2 each.  Staples also offered a $5 off $20 purchase coupon.  So, here’s how it all shook out:

Pencils                       2 boxes @  $.01  = $     .02

Copy Paper               2 reams @$3.69 = $ 7.38

Backpack, 25% off                                     = $14.99

Subtotal:                                                        $22.39

Less $5 off coupon                                       -$ 5.00

Less paper rebate                                           $7.36

Total Cost:                                                    $10.03

So, for pennies over $10 I got the backpack, 2 reams of paper (and if you live in my house with Son’s love of drawing (mostly restrooms!) you go through a ton of paper!) and 24 pencils.  Woo hoo!

Important! I admit I’ve forgotten a time or two to submit the rebate.  Never again!   Send it it!!!!

I also picked up some 25-count boxes of crayons at Target for $.25 apiece.  Hey, those penny ones didn’t last forever!

So, this Sunday I’ll be sure to check out the paper, or perhaps just visit the stores’ websites, and see where the best deals are.  And I’ll plan my week to hit the sales – as long as it’s not out of my way.  But go early for those loss leaders – sometimes they’re gone by Monday!

One more thing – check to see if your state offers a sales tax holiday, and if they do wait to buy anything that isn’t usually on sale.  Florida used to do this, but I can’t find  any info on one this year.  I hope you’re luckier!

Sometimes Buying What You Don’t Want or Need is a Frugal Choice

I know, that’s a ridiculous statement to anyone who has an iota of frugality in their body. And in most cases it is ridiculous.

But sometimes we need to think outside the box to get what we really want, and save money in the bargain.

Prime example: I needed a table and chairs for the kitchen in our new home. I considered the size of the kitchen (quite large) and the color of the floors (brown ceramic tile – ugh!), and spent some time looking in stores, catalogs and online before I decided I wanted a farmhouse-style table with off white legs and a wood top, plus six chairs. I found one I liked at a local furniture store, and it would have cost $1000. I just didn’t want to spend the money…

So, off to Craigslist I went, and spent a few weeks checking the listings every day. I found a few that I liked, but they were either too small or too expensive. The ones I liked were listed in the $500 – $600 range – too much.

And then I saw a listing with a table and chairs that looked darn near perfect. The catch? They were selling a china hutch with it. I don’t want or need one, and I wasn’t particularly fond of the one being offered. They hadn’t purchased it as a set, and it was a cheap fiberboard piece, likely purchased at K-Mart or Walmart. Just not my cuppa tea. Besides, the only appropriate place for the hutch in the kitchen was already appropriated in my plans to house the pasta table (a lovely butcher block table on wheels that my mother had handed down to me, and that many friends have tried unsuccessfully to buy from me over the years).

So, ick on the hutch.

But.

All of the pieces – the table, leaf, six chairs and the dadgum hutch -were priced at $200. Two hundred dollars!!!!

So, I made an appointment to see it. Naturally.

I knew I wanted the set the moment I walked in. First, the house was immaculate. That tells me that the owners are clean, and took care of the pieces. BIG bonus points. If the house was a pigsty it would be really difficult for me to buy a button, let alone furniture.

Second, the table and chairs were almost exactly what I wanted. Wood top with a leaf (so it could sit 4 or 6), white legs, and six chairs that are sturdy as heck. There were a few things I wasn’t entirely crazy about – the scale of the legs was large compared to the table – not my preference. And the wood top was basically rectangular, but was beveled and curvy. My clean-lines loving self would have preferred a regular old rectangle.

And then there was that hutch. That I didn’t want or need. Or like.

What did I do? I gave her a deposit right there, of course. Then I corralled my best friend (the one silly enough to purchase a pickup truck) to help us pick everything up and drop it off at the new house – and this was before we moved in.

And that night I listed the hutch on Craigslist, and sold it the next day for $75. In retrospect I should have asked for more, based on the number of inquiries I received. Live and learn…

So, I bought something I didn’t need to get something I did, and wound up paying only a net $125 for a wood table, leaf and six chairs.

And doesn’t it look nice?

6.14.09 Move and After 149

Charging A Hormonal Woman to Cash a Check Spells Trouble

Some things just piss me off. There are some charges/policies that should be outlawed. They are just not fair. And when I come across something like this at certain times of the month the level of pissed-offedness increases exponentially.

Today I needed to go to the bank to deposit the checks from our renters (I’m thrilled that not only was it on time, it was a week early!). Since we are going out of town and their bank is right down the street from mine, I thought I’d stop by and get the checks cashed and just deposit cash into my own account, avoiding the hold-time for deposits of local checks.

Son and I stopped into Regions Bank and were immediately greeted by a teller. I handed her the checks (two because they pay it out of two separate accounts) and she asked me if I was cashing them. After answering yes, she asked if I have an account with them. When I replied in the negative she said, “No? Then there will be a charge per check of…” and frankly, that’s all I heard. Apparently this bank is one of THOSE banks that charges a fee if you cash a check and don’t have an account with them. Even though it is DRAWN ON THEIR BANK

I find this practice reprehensible, and have ever since I heard that Bank of America started the trend several years ago. If someone is nice enough to accept a check from me (for whatever services rendered) I expect that part of the service I get in exchange for letting the bank use my money (to make themselves heaploads more money!) is to CASH the damn CHECK. Whether the payee chooses to deposit it in an account of their own or go to my bank to get some cold, hard cash should make not one iota of difference. Not. One. Iota.

Regions Bank was instantly added to the list titled “Banks With Which I Will Never Do Business”.

As steam started coming out of my ears I took back my checks, replied that there is no way I would ever do business with a bank who would charge such a usurious charge, took Son’s hand and started to walk out of the bank.

Son pulled me towards the restroom, as he is on a quest to visit every restroom within an ever-constant 100 yard radius. I told him, loudly, “Sorry, not today. They’d probably charge you to see it, anyway.”

Posted in rants. Tags: , , , . 2 Comments »

Print those canceled checks now to save time and money later!

I hardly ever write checks anymore.

Most of my bills are charged to a credit card so I can take advantage of the rewards, and I even most of the rest with my bank’s Bill Pay system.   It saves me the cost of mailing, and it saves  paper.  Yay environment!

Still, checks are a necessary evil.  When sending money as a gift of course I send a check.  Last month I had to pay a friend for an item I sold for her.  Last week I had to pay a plumber who didn’t take credit cards.  This week Husband’s cousin did some work on my car.  Check, check, check.

I don’t think I wrote 30 checks all of last year, and I’ll probably write about that this year – perhaps less.  And being a good girl I’ve always saved those canceled checks.  You never know when you’re going to need one, do you?   I don’t ever want a Judge Judy wannabee to give me the evil eye after grumbling, “What do you mean you didn’t get a copy of the check from your bank!!!???  Where did you think you were coming today??!!!!!”

Last year my bank – like just about every other bank – stopped sending us our canceled checks.  A money saving measure, to be sure, but also a great savings on paper.  Yay environment!

But what’s a good record-keeper like me to do?  Well, nothing for the last year.  Why not?  All the usual reasons – I hardly write checks anymore, the bank has them if I really needed one (for a research fee that’s about a million an hour!), I’m too busy to deal with it…

Naughty, naughty record keeper!

All of that changed a couple of months ago.  I started noticing a little check icon next to the checks I wrote on my online banking statement.  Apparently they have added the ability to view these canceled checks.  Whoa!  Terrific!  AND they will let you print them, too.

So,  I’ve now  printed a copy of each check, and stored it in a file on my computer.  If I ever need one I have it, and I don’t  have to pay the bank a million dollars to find it.

The bank taketh, and the bank giveth.  And sometimes I’m smarteth.

Why I turned down Comcast cable, phone AND internet for $50 a month, but how you can get this deal!

We have been subscribers to Comcast for cable since we moved in, internet shortly thereafter.  We added phone service this past year.  At that  time we got what I thought was a great deal – $99 a month for six months.  That was less than I was paying for just cable and internet!  There was much rejoicing!

A few months ago that promotional rate ended, and I was in that icky place where we weren’t eligible for a promotional rate.  I had marked my calendar for the date when we could get a better rate again, and unhappily paid a bill that was $70  more per month.

When we decided to move I hoped we’d be able to move up our eligibility, given it was a new address.  I didn’t  really want to start a new account because our main email address is @Comcast, and it  would be a huge pain to change that.

I was in for a shock when I called Comcast.  They don’t serve the  city we’re moving to – the one about 10 miles west of where we are now.  Our new city is one of only two cities in our county that is not served by Comcast.  So, no new Comcast promo rate, no getting to keep our email addresses, no getting to keep our telephone number…

Ugh.

So it was with some trepidation that I contacted the cable company that serves the two lone wolf cities.  I was happily surprised to find out that we’ll have a few more channels, and we get the same $99 rate we used to have with Comcast.  And, we get that rate indefinitely.  So, I’ll be spending less again, for the foreseeable future.   Yay!!!

But what about that $50 rate in the title of this post?

Well.

I called Comcast the other day to cancel service, and though they attempted to talk me out of it they backed down when I explained that I would no longer be in a Comcast service area.  We scheduled the cancellation, made arrangements for the equipment  to be returned and that was that.  Or so I thought.

Yesterday there was a message on my machine from someone wanting to make me a special offer if I decided to keep Comcast.  Though keeping Comcast wasn’t  a possibility I didn’t ignore the call because I wanted to see what they would offer to entice me.  So I could share it with you.

You smart readers already know what the offer is.  $50 a month for cable, internet AND phone!!  For a year!!  I’m sure you also know how irked I am that I couldn’t get that rate to begin with.

But perhaps you can.  Perhaps you’d like to call and schedule a cancellation a few weeks away.  Perhaps you’ll get a call offering this super-dee-duper-doo-please-don’t-leave-us-or-the-stockholders-will-crap-a-brick rate, too.

Let me know if you get this great deal.  You can e-mail me at one of my all-new web based email addresses (I’m not going through changing main email addresses again.  Egad!).

And I shall save vicariously through you.

Important Document Organization Can Save Time, Money and Grief

Consumer Reports’ blog had a great article today about having your documents  organized in case of emergency.  I’m reproducing their included table here and linking to them.  I figure if maybe I link enough times they won’t ask me to remove it.

The  good news is that I already do most of this.  Spending so many y ears as an insurance agent I saw the value in these preparations.   Something I also recommended that I don’t see here is a written and video inventory of your possessions, including as much detail as possible (where bought, how  much paid) expecially for the big ticket items.

TYPE OF STORAGE DOCUMENT(S) KEEP A COPY? WHERE TO STORE DUPLICATE?
SAFE-DEPOSIT BOX Birth and death certificates; marriage license; adoption, citizenship, divorce papers Yes Home file
Inventory and photos of household property Yes Home file
Deeds, titles, bills of sale, car title, mortgage Yes Home file
List of location of important papers Yes Home file
HOME FILE CABINET Tax returns; supporting documents for past 3 to 7 years No
Passport No
Bank-account information Yes Friend’s or relative’s home or at your office
Insurance policies No
List of all assets, including brokerage and mutual-fund accounts, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, real property, and employee-benefit accounts Yes Friend’s or relative’s home or at your office
ATTORNEY’S OFFICE Will, durable power of attorney Yes Home file and executor or personal representative
Funeral instructions Yes Friend or relative
Living will, health-care power of attorney Yes Home file, physician, personal representative
Location of safe-deposit box Yes Joint owner, friend, or relative
WALLET Driver’s license or other photo I.D. yes Home file
Auto insurance card Yes In car
Emergency contacts No
Blood type, list of allergies, medications No

I don’t know about you, but I know it would help calm me in the time of an emergency to know that much of the information I need is safe and sound, organized and easily accessible.  And when we lose someone we love our grief is tempered slightly by the knowledge that they cared enough to prepare and make the logistics of dealing with the aftermath as easy as possible.

Go forth and organize!

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