May 25, 2012

College Savings… Really?

Ok, so I’m totally not there yet. And I know everyone says save for your retirement, not your kids college. And I definitely understand that. But in the long slog to debt-free, I’ve found it useful to consider where else I *could* be spending (or saving) my money. So I naturally went in search of an online calculator: http://www.savingforcollege.com/college-savings-calculator/index.php (aka World’s Simplest College Cost Calculator).

So – taking the defaults (for a child who has 9 years until college, will attend full time for four years, wish to pay 100% of costs, wish to meet goal by time child ends college, expect costs to increase 6% each year, expect to earn 7% after tax each year in your college savings fund) – plus adding in the little bit we have saved (mainly that my mom saved for them), and selecting the HALF-PRICE* rate of 25,000$ annually – 100% of the total college costs will be $184,771. I will need to make monthly contributions of $885 to meet this cost. For my second son, 100% of my total college costs will be $220,065. I will need to make monthly contributions of $751 to meet this cost. That’s a total of $1,636 per MONTH. Who has that much PER MONTH to save – just for college? Seriously?

Obviously that’s assuming a lot. I have no idea whether they’ll actually choose to go to college. I sincerely hope and expect that they will contribute, and that we will do our best to get whatever scholarships we can. I don’t know how to tell whether they’ll go to public or private, and both the cost increases and the percentage of earnings after tax seem like they’d be a little hard to reliably predict. Still, I’ll tell you this. Those numbers of what I need to save? They seem crazy (885 x 9 years of school x 12 months per year = $95,580 – which is a ton but seriously shy of $185k – $108,144 in deposits for the other child). Holy crap. Those two numbers added together are more than (we are still paying for) our house. And the total costs for both kids for college – that’s two houses! How do people do this? We are not what I’d qualify as poor. Stupid at money management (but getting better), but not poor. If this looks well nigh impossible to us, how does it look to everyone else?

For now, that makes me think seriously about AP classes, Community College courses, living at home during college, and encouraging my kids to save as much as possible. All of which we should do anyway. But seriously? Yikes!

*For 2010-11

Public 4-Year (in-state tuition)
Tuition = $7,605
Room & board = $8,535
Books & supplies = $1,137
Transportation = $1,073
Other expenses = $1,989
Total = $20,339

Private 4-Year
Tuition = $27,293
Room & board = $9,700
Books & supplies = $1,181
Transportation = $862
Other expenses = $1,440
Total = $40,476


May 14, 2010

Financial Frustration

Filed under: budgets,crazy,debt,family,money,parents — by elysianconfusion @ 2:13 pm

Well, the new numbers are in.

Current total debt is $365, 251.86.

That’s $2,412.82 in principle. I guess it’s better than nothing, but it’s all got me down. I felt like we were making so much progress.

We’ve sold a couple of things on Craigslist (randomly had a sink top; I have no idea why, it was new and we didn’t order or pay for it). That was $50, and we’ve mostly sold a double stroller. (How do you mostly sell something? Well, she PAID for it via PayPal, but doesn’t have it yet. Weird, huh?)

We’re still sorting through to see what else we don’t need. I do have two bags of clothes and stuffed animals ready to donate.

So, we paid our deposit for school next year, we paid for two weeks of preschool camp, we paid our town taxes.

Then I charged the balance of summer camp. Happily I paid that back within a few days of charging it, so now camp is PAID for! I only have to save another $4,000 for August to pay for next year’s preschool and then I think we’re on a regular budget for all this.

I’m looking forward to this but I don’t like the lack of momentum. There are always things that come up. My husband says we need a new lawn mower. My wedding band needs repair.  We need a booster seat, as my oldest has outgrown his car seat and isn’t big or heavy enough to sit on his own.

Ah, life, it’s pricy!

February 13, 2010

Owning Your Mistakes

Filed under: budgets,crazy,debt,mess,money — by elysianconfusion @ 3:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

Now I’m going to do something I dread doing, even though no one actually reads this blog. I’m going to put out the numbers for the debt and the interest rates.

Ready? And yes, I know it’s awful.

Debt Amount Rate Month Paid Off
Visa $9,018.87 8.5% February 2011
Bank of America $9,474.75 9.9% November 2011
Upromise $16,672.85 11.15% September 2012
Citi $17,566.20 9.15% March 2013
Car #1 $9,538.98 4.7% June 2012
Car #2 $11,978.64 2.9% May 2013
Home Equity Variable $18,468.68 4.0% August 2013
Home Equity Fixed $63,920.19 6.5% February 2015
Student Loan $20,712.83 2.9% June 2015
Mortgage $194,710.36 3.5% November 2018

So, scary though that might be, here’s something scarier. If we had no snowball plan? Last debt paid off March 2034. And total interest without a snowball $153,130.50. OMG! With my current plan we pay almost $80,000 less in interest. That… that is just mindblowing. We may not pay it back in exactly the order listed…. We know paying the avalanche method would save us about 2k. But it would also take us a year and seven months to pay off the next bill. That’s not much progress (and talk about delayed gratification). And with this plan we’ll have paid our house off in 17 years (instead of 30) and we’ll be under 50 with no debt.

Also, for those thinking why the f*** do they have two car payments, believe me, we tried to figure out how to get rid of them. Basically we could sell our cars for a very slight profit (or possible loss) and then we’d have to go find and somehow pay for two replacement cars that were safe for the kids. If we find a time when we can just sell one or the other (or both) and get a reasonable replacement, we will do that.

Anyway, that’s where we’re at. However, I do think we’ll spend less time getting out of this hole than we took going in! And maybe we’ll get to shave some time off this plan if we get bonuses, dividends, and stop paying for childcare (eventually that *will* happen and that will add another $1,050 to our monthly snowball (currently at $659) and cut our debt much faster).

November 17, 2009


Filed under: children,crazy,mess,parents — by elysianconfusion @ 5:29 pm
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I had a bus issue yesterday with my first grader. This is our first year taking the bus, and honestly so far it’s been pretty uneventful. We missed the bus one morning (I don’t know whose clocks were wrong). The bus absolutely will not stop unless they see you there waiting. You must be visibly there for your child to get picked up and dropped off, no exceptions (I’ve had to RUN from the garden to be at the right spot for stopping, and we only have a little half acre).

So, although I was waiting at the end of the driveway for my oldest to get off the bus, the driver (I know he’s a substitute driver this week) drove right by me and down the street. I ran after on foot, but he must not have seen me.

I raced to the school with my youngest in tow to find out where to get the first grader (I tried calling the school but there was no answer). In the school lot there was another driver there waiting with a child, and she said that our sub didn’t have a radio so she couldn’t call him, but the sub *would* bring him back to school and I should wait at the front of the school. When the driver returned, my child wasn’t on the bus. Already, let me tell you, my heart was racing. Even when the bus didn’t stop at our house I was worried. What do we parents do? We dread lost children, kidnapping, molestation and murder. Even though I don’t watch the news much, this seeps in to fill my heart with fear. And I do *not* know this new driver.

Well, the driver said he left my son at my house. “Isn’t there someone there?” he asked. But no… if the child doesn’t get off for any reason you are supposed to go to the school to pick them up. I drove home as fast as I could but the poor child was already crying and locked out and home alone for the first time in his life. I know it was only a few minutes, and I know he wasn’t harmed. But he was scared, I was scared… I showed him where the spare house key is hidden, told him to let himself  in and dial 911, and that he could walk next door to the neighbors as well.

I think the sub of all people should have a radio or some way to contact him? And shouldn’t he have just brought my son back  to school as they are supposed to? And aren’t they never supposed to leave a child without the parent there to collect them? I guess the sub was from a different town with different guidelines. I wish I’d known what he was going to do.

My sensitive eldest boy is quite upset and doesn’t want to take the bus again until our regular driver comes back, which is fine.

What a scary & stressful day.

October 30, 2009

Communication is Key!

Filed under: budgets,crazy,insurance,money,network,websites — by elysianconfusion @ 6:44 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m still struggling with the dermatologist bill. When I checked, the doctor’s office had resubmitted the bill for another provider to see if that would pay more, and then they wrote to me and said it didn’t work, that the other provider billing gave them less money.

So I logged in to check my claims, and they didn’t give *less* money. They gave *no* money. They denied the claim as a duplicate (which it was, so that’s legit).

Then I called PHCS at the suggestion of my HR department. PHCS agreed that the (original) doctor was in-network and a covered provider. I said great, can you tell Guardian that? They said no. They cannot call Guardian or communicate with them in any way on my behalf. Explain to me how that is useful or efficient? The only thing they said I could do was to call Guardian and ask them to submit the claim again, Guardian would then send it to PHCS to determine if the doctor is in network and theoretically *this* time they’d say yes, she’s in network and a covered provider, they’d pay the doctor’s office and I would stop getting billed.

I asked if there was anything else I could do, since this process obviously hasn’t been working since July, in spite the doctor consistently being listed on the website and via phone and as confirmed by the doctor’s office. No, nothing else to do.

So I called Guardian again. They asked if PHCS had provided me with something (a form?) and said that’s what PHCS usually does when things don’t work like this, but since they didn’t and weren’t planning to do so, they’d submit the claim again for research. If I’m supposed to call PHCS to confirm that the doctor is covered, why exactly is it that Guardian and PHCS can’t call each other?

I have a feeling that I’ll be paying this bill.

October 19, 2009

Where does all the money go?

Filed under: birthday,budgets,children,crazy,debt,family,mess,money,Uncategorized — by elysianconfusion @ 5:39 pm
Tags: ,

I should probably wait more than a month before going back to check our progress. Because for all the money rushing out, it doesn’t feel like it’s going down a bit!

Right now, we’re at 389,117.17

Last month it was 391,582.87.

2465.70 down in a month. I guess it’s progress. Possibly I should add that this month, instead of 71.04 for our snowball, it was 551.04. (Which, ahem, might have been a little over optimistic this month.)

We also had our 4 year old’s birthday party, complete with a dinosaur cake (mine wasn’t this pretty). I was going to post a photo, but the head fell off. There’s a reason I’m not a professional cake decorator. I still find it hard to budget for birthdays, and got into a whole argument with my husband, who went out shopping with the list, but spent almost all the money in the envelope. That was for groceries and the party (I combined two envelopes). But it was also for groceries for the rest of the month. He says he just got the stuff on the list, but I say you have to keep in mind the total amount and decide where to cut back as you shop. You can’t always have everything on the list. Especially if you ever shop at BJs. They kill me every time.  I think the bulk pricing can make things cheaper, but sometimes you just spend all your money there.

So, we’re pinching pennies big time here for the next 11 days or so.  Of course we have tons of stuff in our pantry, and the cars have gas, so it’s really a matter of making it through without spending extra. I’m not entirely sure we’ll make it. I’m always playing catchup from the last month, so I take away from things that are budgeted (because we need them, so my plan was good to budget for them). Not sure where to take away from this month, there’s nothing left to cut.

Still, I got my social security statement on Friday, and I earned more last year than I’d actually ever earned in my life (and 5 months of last year I was working part-time). And my current pay stubs tell me that I’ve already earned more this year than last. So where does all that money GO?

September 29, 2009

Figuring out Insurance is Torture

Filed under: budgets,crazy,insurance,money,network,websites — by elysianconfusion @ 3:53 pm

I have great insurance. My company pays 100% of the medical for me and my family, and it’s a Preferred Provider Organization. There’s a website to look up providers, and overall they’re pretty easy to use.

But I selected a dermatologist from the website based on her being in network. My insurance paid the majority of the bill, but told me that because she’s out of network, I have to pay 45.94. I know this isn’t a lot of money, but it’s still money, and I picked this doctor because she was in network. I asked the insurance company. They agreed, it looked like she was in network. They researched it. Then they told me that no, she was not in network. I sent them a screen shot showing that she WAS in network and asked how to select a doctor if the doctor they  list on the website (for over 4 months in a row) as being in network is actually not. They just said that they confirmed with the “network” that she wasn’t in it.

So I called the doctor’s office. They think they’re in network too.

All I can think is that somehow (although I did this step by step with someone from the insurance company on the phone) I did something wrong searching for a provider. Seems like I’m being stupid, right?

But actually, the process is quite baffling. You go to the website, log in, select “Find a Provider,” then select “Find a Doctor,” then “Select a Plan.” Ok, so I need to select one of these:

  • PPO
  • Extended Access PPO
  • ChoiceGuard
  • Complementary

(I have no idea which one is right. It says to refer to your card, which I do, and it doesn’t actually say any of those things on it.)

So I enter PPO, hoping that that’s right. Then I enter my zip code (or complete address) and proceed to the next page. Then I have to choose my network. Options here are:

  • FirstHealth
  • Healthlink PPO
  • Lab Card
  • LifeSynch
  • MultiPlan
  • National Capital PPO
  • PHCS Preferred Provider Organization

Ok, so my card says PHCS, Multiplan, and Lab Card. Ummm… ok, so I select PHCS because that’s the big logo on the front of the card. Interestingly, when you do that, the resulting page says MultiPlan in HUGE letters, and then on the right it says “Search on below logo: PHCS.”

Now I have to choose a provider type; I select Doctor or other health care professional, and press Continue. Now I have to enter my zip code (or complete address if I’m so motivated) again. And then I need to select the type of doctor. I select Dermatology. Then I can enter the doctor’s name, first or last, or both. (There are more search options I’m not using, such as gender, languages spoken, and hospital affiliation.)  I click continue and there’s my doctor’s name, address, and phone number. What am I doing wrong? And why is this so hard?

September 4, 2009


Filed under: crazy,family,parents — by elysianconfusion @ 8:16 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

On Sunday I came home to a message from my dad, wondering if we were mad at him as he never hears from us. I called back. No answer. I left a message. I’ve left many other messages already and sent emails. I don’t understand it.

Last night he called again. Are you mad at me? No. Then he explained that he can’t check his voicemail because he doesn’t know how. I log in to his Vonage account — and it’s canceled because (surprise!) he hasn’t paid the bill in three months. The real mystery is that he called me on the Vonage line. So although I can’t change his features or check his messages, the phone line is still working. Now I’d never believe that if I hadn’t seen it myself.  He is the master of the weird tech stuff.

All in all it was a better conversation than usual. He did not actually yell at me about anything.

August 15, 2009


Filed under: crazy,family,parents,visit — by elysianconfusion @ 1:17 am

Me: Do you want to come for a visit while my sister (your daughter) is here, before she moves halfway across the country?

Are you interested and if so could you look up the bus schedule and let us know?

love, me

Dad (2 days later): Got ur email today.

Me (9 days later): I was thinking there would be more of a response. Did you want to come on Monday?


That’s right, no response. No visit. Is it that hard to say, sorry, can’t make it? I wish he’d just respond.

How to buy stamps

Filed under: crazy,family,parents,stamps — by elysianconfusion @ 1:01 am

I got a letter from the post office today addressed to my father — it said the post office had found an envelope with a check in it and was returning it, the check had my mailing address listed, so I guess that’s why it came to me.

The check was for 15$ and I am guessing that my father wanted stamps. It was addressed to “postmaster” on the front (no other info) and on the back it said “first class stamps please.”

Is that how you buy stamps?

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