BS4 question

I’m just curious, I’m not on BS4 (YET!) but he says 15% toward retirement, and not more than that because you need the extra funds for future baby steps. Do you think there is an exception to that advice when dh will be 62 this year… he is planning to work until 70, but you know there are no guarantees AND even that isn’t that much time to build a whole retirement account.
We already contribute just 5% to his 401k, because his employer has a 100% match up to that point. But nothing other than that until we get to BS4.
It just seems like if we leave it just at that 15%, we could be in trouble… but then again, having a paid off house is important. Any thoughts?

As you all know I have done a LOT of mystery shopping over the years

I ceased doing any but a very few about 2 years ago. One of the companies I continued to work for on and off was CAST. They pay fairly, and on time and the jobs were generally easy to do.

Last year they changed over from paying by check to paying by debit card. Using the SKYLIGHT debit card system. Let me say right now if you have an employer saying they are going over to this system RUN away very quickly. They are the worst debit card system I have ever dealt with.

My first exposure to them was in July of last year when they sent me the debit card along with a huge list of fees and stipulations as to when and where I could use the card without getting charged a fee. It was very confusing to say the least. All three in my household read the rules and regulations and seriously had trouble deciphering them and we are pros at reading credit card fee statements.

My first deposit according to my employer was going in the 19th of July, but I didn’t have to draw it out for 120 or longer if additional deposits were made. Because we were booking our WDW trip I opted to leave the money from that paycheck, plus the additional ones in the account to use on the trip.

In September I received a “replacement” card with a new set of rules, but they still had the 120 day limit on it and I had another deposit that had just gone in so I didn’t have any concerns. I knew I had until the first part of Dec to draw the funds out or do another shop. Foolishly I didn’t check the balance and since everything is online I never received any paperwork except the fees schedules.

I tried to use the card to withdraw the paychecks in Nov, Dec, Mar and again in April. Each time Wal-Mart and the fuel stations were unable to access the system. Unlike myself I didn’t check on the $26 because after all the satellites are often down until the April one, that one was because they did finally get through to the provider and it said I had insufficient funds.

What I found online amazed me. The July deposit was not posted until December, but then it was not shown as a deposit at all the only way it appeared was the balance mysteriously jumped by the $15 and the statement read “no activity.” How can a deposit be made and there not be activity?

In January-April they had charged me an inactivity fee despite me trying to use the card and the September and December deposits. That had brought my balance down to $6 and since wal-mart ran the card through twice I had been charged $2 each time for insufficient balance leaving my balance at $2. The really weird thing about the two times, one was listed as Wal-Mart and the other was listed as Sam’s Club. Both were tried at the same register in the same manner.

I called to protest the fees because it was due to the inability of being able to access the account and the delay of them showing my deposit for 6 months that had brought about the “inactivity” and overdraft. To say they were NOT co-operative would be combined. I was basically told to go “—–“ myself with a heavy accent. That they could do whatever they wanted and it didn’t matter that a deposit had been made in December the account said “no activity” and therefore they were charging me the fees whether I wanted them to or not.

I made NO progress with them. So I turned to CAST. My area supervisor, Ben, went through the channels and worked long and hard on it. I left it in his hands while I went on vacation. While I was on vacation I was notified that the $20 in fees had been refunded, but they couldn’t get the overdraft $4 back. I figured cut my losses and take the $22 balance.

I asked my employer how soon I needed to make the withdrawal because I didn’t have any of the info with me. She said 1 month.

Well today I go to withdraw the money via a check I had been given and deposit it into my checking account. However, something told me to check my balance first. Certainly glad I did. Just 8 days after refunding the inactivity fees they took another $5 inactivity fee out! Seriously?

Despite having bronchitis so bad I hack if I talk I called. Again I was told toughies that the account had zero activity in 120 days and therefore that $5 was theirs. EXCUSE ME? Since when does 8 days equal 120 days? The tier one person told me that they didn’t consider the $20 refund activity, even though it raised my balance and they also did not consider the 2 overdarft fees as activity because I hadn’t got any money out. Tier 2 stuck to that line. Tier three was English speaking, she read the notes, looked at the file and said “this is all messed up, you should not have been charged ever.” Finally a brain at their company!

She is mailing out a check for the $22 with no additional fees attached (even though the paperwork says they will charge fees to do that) and closing the account per my request. Of course she said that could take up to 21 days. So I’ll believe it when I see it.

So I repeat, if an employer wants to start paying you by SKYLIGHT debit card tell them NO!

I’m glad it has helped you

I am still working on that series of blog posts. We still aren’t quite finished with that room, but progress is being steadily made.
One of the discussions we had in our total of 7 days driving to and from WDW was the future of Rock ‘n Tree Ranch once dh retires. It was decided whether we keep it or sell it all excess must go to avoid future problems. So be prepared for a lot more decluttering posts.

We will definitely need a lot of money for that. And looks like the only way is to opt for instant approval loans with no credit check and I really think I should do it. Also, if you are curious whether payday loans are good or bad for your credit rating – read this article. The explanation is thorough yet short and simple.

It has been a long, hard month, financially and emotionally:

DS18 in two vehicle accidents, the State tax board being sent (immediately by DH’s employer) ALL of the state taxes we owe instead of waiting an hour for me to get it resolved, deductibles which had to be paid due to the car accidents, DD17 ending up in urgent care…

but the capstone is our backyard neighbors. They are putting in a swimming pool and evidently want to put in a stone fence, which of course, my landlord is NEVER going to help pay for (and everyone in the neighborhood knows it, hence the reason this place is falling down), so I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY HE BOTHERED TO ASK.

All it did was bring my landlord over into my backyard, who has now given me a two week “get rid of all your (prepper) stuff OR ELSE” edict. It has been really depressing. Not that we don’t have stuff we could get rid of, but it’s ONE MORE THING I have to deal with.

So I’m trying to be positive. And trying to stay on track….and focus on what I am gaining (things which really do need to go…..hence the appreciation for Jan’s offending office clutter blogpost) rather than focusing on the prepper stuff I am losing.

Today the antique piano in the garage which needs restoration work, is leaving. Hopefully a bike which needs restoration is going too, and the outdoor umbrella clothesline which needs slight repair. Jan’s right: I don’t have the money to restore the piano in order to sell it; I haven’t restored and/or ridden the bike in 15 years; and the umbrella clothesline is cheap enough ($40?) if I ever need another one I’ll just buy it since I am just not handy enough to fix and use it.

On the upside, by next Wednesday, a bunch of stuff is going to go BYE BYE to the recycling/trash people (they take 10 items 4x a year!) and next Friday when we get paid, I am going to spend $100 and rent another trailer and take what’s left in the back yard and haul it to the dump. (they charge per load at the dump…about $60.) And I now have a huge space in the garage where that piano was to get stuff out of the house.

But it’s worth spending $100 I guess, in order to forestall having to move.

Oh and did I mention that this Saturday AM there’s a “come donate your working/not electrical stuff” fundraiser going on? I’m getting rid of a huge older television, a non-working laser printer, and a non-working DVD/VCR player.

Had a fairly good week…

got up to go to the new job on time everyday. Nice little bit of cash for holding a baby. Hopefully, he will stay the sweet little thing and not be fussy.

My van had to be sent to the shop at the end of the week–took a bit of convincing on my part for DH to believe that the fix might be beyond what he has the talent or time to do. The van is over 11 yrs and hasn’t really had anything major gone wrong. We don’t have a diagnosis, so I may need to borrow a vehicle from a neighbor. He has no problem with it, just told me to get the keys when I need them and return them when I’m done–got to love that.

Our new business was featured in a local paper, so we got a few leads from that–possibly 6 more students. The next few months should be interesting as we add to what we started with, DH didn’t want to start with too much and then burn out. We have is former employer asking about self-defense seminars, so I guess that may be next in the planning phase.

Money wise, we are under budget for the month, the last kid turned 18 and insurance rates went down. Not much of a savings, but I’ll take what I can get.

My father went into hospice in February

and I took FMLA from work to help my mother out. While traveling there running errands, my vehicle acted up. I had no choice but to have it repaired as it was the water pump, coolant system, etc. to the tune of almost $700. Then I traveled home for a week, traveled down to see my father again for his birthday, returned home and a week later he passed away, so had to travel back to help with the funeral and arrangements. While there again, my front tires seemed low, went to get air put into them and was told that the belts were wearing on the inside. So needless to say, I had a few others check and that was the case, so had to purchase two new tires (the rear tires were then put on the front, and new ones in the rear). Another $300 for the tires, then when I got home had a total wheel alignment for another $200. I could not have traveled with either vehicle issue as my trips are close to 5 hours one-way.

Then two weeks after all of this, my dog developed pancreatitis and was hospitalized for 5 days to the tune of $1235.

Needless to say 2014 is not a good year, and thank goodness for the emergency fund I did have.

Now SO needs to go to the VA Hospital as he has a spot on his lung. Took the day off for all of his scheduled procedures including scopes. Don’t know what this will bring, but at least this part is his and he’s covered under the VA.

Timely question for me

Two weeks ago, the left front control arm and two stabilizer links broke on my car. That was an emergency and I dipped into the emergency fund to get it fixed.

Then our “good” lawnmower went belly up due to poor maintenance on my part. We are dealing with the “cranky” lawnmower until we can afford to replace the “good” one. That is definitely not an emergency and I am paying my penance for not maintaining the first one properly.

So with everything going on this month

some of which have had a ripple effect creating different problems, I am wondering: what do you consider an emergency where you would use your emergency fund and what do you consider just poor planning and so you just have to live with the consequences?

Ok, when I posted the one time we were on vacation

I promised to bring you all up to date on what all has been going on here on the Rock ‘n Tree Ranch. One word. Murphy. Since the first of the year Murphy has became a permanent resident on the Ranch. Small things like all the outside tools (chain saw, weed whacker, DR, lawn tractor etc) breaking down one at a time to the point that when we came home from vacation we came home to a jungle that would have made the Rain Forest proud.

Unfortunately most of the repairs seem to be avoiding my dh’s efforts. Luckily there is a small engine repair shop that has opened up within two miles of us. So starting this weekend we will be taking those tools in order of importance (weed whacker or DR first one at a time to see how the guy does and if his rates are reasonable. It’s getting seriously scary around here with weeds so tall the ticks, fleas and snakes are moving in at a rapid pace.

The not so small things have been some major repairs on the Dually. Blown head gasket, u joints etc. Before the trip we sunk over $6,000 into the truck, but it was still far better than what it would have cost to replace the truck with anything in otherwise as good of shape.

The trip to SDC in on shoestring earlier this year unveiled a few small problems with the fifth wheel, which dh was able to repair the most important ones himself, at little cost.

The ECV (electric wheel chair—more on this when I do my trip blogs) decided to disintegrate two of its six wheels. So those tires needed replaced, just in case. Thank goodness we did.

Overtime disappeared in the middle of this, of course. Oh and let’s not forget the nearly $3,500 to IRS and state.

Because of all of this we were simply paying minimums, no snowballing, well a little snowballing since January. Our plan to be cc debit free before the trip went south quickly.

More than once we very nearly canceled the trip we had booked in July of 2013 for Memorial Day Weekend this year. Just as we were about to purchase our annual passes they also went up in price, as did accommodations. Luckily we were locked in for a AAA discount when the rates went up, thanks to Naomi—our travel agent with The Magic For Less Travel agency, you will hear a lot about her in my travel blog.

At the last moment I got a “knock your socks off” whopper of a royalty check. It combined with the little I had put back more than met our travel budget and at a family meeting we decided that we had worked HARD this last five years and the cost of the trip would only delay our being totally debt free (house and everything ) by one month. So after much discussion we loaded up and headed out, with Murphy in tow. Yep, he want to WDW and back with us.

I was sick the entire trip, but not contagious. Thank goodness for the ECV.. We had a great time, much to Murphy’s dismay—take that you ornery cuss. So great that we have more trips in this next year planned.

I’ve been sick since we’ve been home with bronchitis, but that is finally waning and I have started typing up the blog posts about the trip and all the fun we had. Once I get them all typed, edited and photos added I’ll let you all know.
We’ve taken on a new attitude with Murphy. Unless it is dire, the repairs will wait, except for the garden equipment—that is dire—I need a rent a goat or something. Our plan is to pay off a cc every 30 days or less between now and the end of September to be totally cc debt free. With taking some long weekend trips between now and then as well.

Then later in the year ds will fly down to WDW by himself for a long weekend. A while after he goes, dh and I will fly down while he stays home to mind the ranch. Then next spring we will all go back for one final push on our annual passes before they expire.
As soon as the cc are gone the big thrust will be on the smallest of the two mortgages, while doing some household repairs and remodeling along the way as well. It’s going to be a busy second half of the year.

Today I am working on the budget to make all of this happen. Wish me luck!

Hi everyone, It has been a really long time since I posted

A lot has been going on. As some of you may remember, we are foster parents and have had a sibling group of 4 for the last 3 years. We will be finalizing the adoption of those kids in 2 weeks. We are so excited and cannot wait to put a period at the end of that sentence. I am hoping to quit my job soon and be home with the kids. Three of them are considered special needs, and the extra time at home will be good for all of us.

My husband has Life insurance serviced through ING. We received a letter stating the policy is being taken over by VOYA. Does anyone have any experience with this group. Looks like the actual policy is still through ReliaStar (I think that is the name of it) Life Insurance.

Wanted thoughts on this.


Can anyone explain?

I know that I need to increase my life insurance and need to get some on my DH. When I went to the Zander Insurance site, I got a list of quotes that started at $280 to over $900 annually for the same amount of coverage. There was no benefit explanation, so I don’t know why there is such a huge difference between individual companies.