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This will be a monster post!

December 23rd, 2011 at 05:06 am

Oh, work has just been crazy as it always been this time of year. So, I have about 10 things I want to blog about but haven't had time to. Will see how much I can squeeze in a post.

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UGH!

I got a bill from our HMO last night. I peeked at it while I was out at the mail box and was surprised to see a bill for $1500. Holy Heck! I just assumed it was probably in regards to the emergency room visit last October. They aren't particularly known for prompt billing. (Heck, likely more related to my surgery in January).

BUT, imagine my second surprise when I saw this was for dh's ultrasound LAST WEEK. Rolleyes

Anyway, though my annoyance level is pretty darn high, I am 99% sure this is a mistake, so am not too stressed out about it.

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BTW, dh seems to be feeling much better. It was "nothing" and it has passed. Will see...

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I had forgotten that the deductible is basically included in the monthly cost of our health insurance. We have ALWAYS maxed out, and the whole point of switching was that it was a little cheaper, with deductible, than our old plan. Which means, if you look at it that way, our health insurance will cost MORE than our mortgage after this refi. $950/month versus $1050/month. Ouch! (Our old health insurance plan must cost $1100+ these days. IT cost about $900 when we switched - it was insane). But yeah, I am just adding the average $250/month deductible we have been paying - adding that to the insurance premium.

& yes, we have made HUGE efforts to cut our living costs down. HUGE moves, and I think getting our mortgage down under $1k is pretty respectable from a regional perspective. (The average person I know has a $2k+ mortgage. Rent isn't any cheaper as an option). BUT, I don't know if I should feel exasperated with the medical side, or just glad we have controlled what we can as much as we have, so it doesn't kill us financially. I feel a little of both. Grateful we can afford it all, but still a little exasperated. I just was telling dh last night, more than 25% of our take home pay went to medical and dental bills this year." Ouch!

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This week I gave blood - that is my giving for the holiday season.

(Actually, we gave a little cash too. Good thing we did that before monster medical bill. Wink )

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My dad is upset because for the first time in his life he can not contribute to an IRA! I had to inform him that he needed "Earned income" to contribute. HE didn't earn a cent in 2011.

My dad is still on COBRA, and I think they can easily live on unemployment, for the most part.

My dad was telling me how many of his friends can't find any work and how screwed they are financially. I am starting to REALLY realize that the reason our generation is in such a financial mess has everything to do with my dad's generation. This is the common story: Bought a big house, fancy cars, private schools, supporting adult kids well into their 30s, divorce.

All of the above is VERY expensive. & then I wonder what financial planet most of my peers are on? This is how they grew up?

(To be clear - I Am talking about people who had $100k-$300k steady paychecks for the last 2 decades. THIS is what I See all around me).

My parents did none of the above, and the reward is a *shrug* if he can never work again.

OF course, my dad just never took his income for granted, and having grown up dirt poor, I just think he felt VERY content at a much lower spending level. Food, shelter, what else do you really *NEED*? More where I get my own attitude from.

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Anyway, I didn't see much point for my dad to contribute to ROTHs near retirement, when he had a huge income. BUT, he has been converting since unemployed. This year he was able to convert $50k. He will pay some taxes, but nothing above 15%. Basically, will pay in the tax instead of making ROTH contributions.

IT's kind of funny because I have never heard of this tax strategy, but we have both used it. Contribute to 401k and regular IRAs while income is really high and get a HUGE tax break. When income is low, convert to ROTH and pay no or little tax on the conversion. Win-win.

All the more reason to just keep our IRAs for the long run. We are not any more than the 15% tax bracket, even with a big conversion. But I haven't wanted to come up with the cash. & I am thinking that I probably shouldn't. Maybe we can convert those during the early years or our retirement. ??? If it would make sense to?

Anyway, we were most definitely in the 25% tax bracket and took advantage when we both worked. 401k and IRAs. But our income has been so low since having kids, that we did a big ROTH conversion at the 10%/15% tax rate. When you figured the state taxes, we might have gotten a 30% tax break up front, but converted and paid 15%.

Heck, my dad might have saved 40% on his taxes, with 401k and IRA deductions, being in a higher tax bracket, but will pay little more than 15% total on this conversion. Pretty sweet!

Of course, you may wonder why on earth I would recommend him to convert now, to ROTH, and pay tax. On a practical level, my parents can probably live off social security (starts in 5 years?). So, less money in regular IRAs = less RMDs. & of course, RMDs and social security will eventually equal a large tax bill for them. Certainly not as large as when my dad worked, but definitely more than 15% tax. Right now they are just kind of in limbo - no real taxable income. But I have enough retired clients to know that won't last. Wink

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Squeaky Wheel Update

CU called me back yesterday. I think it was good I called so much. Customer service is majorly lacking over there, but whatever.

They put in a request for an appraiser because "locked in rate a week before application was approved." I am not sure what this means except they are really damn slow to approve applications? So, we may have sped up the appraisal process being squeaky.

I Was griping to dh that the whole application was online, but I have to sit and play phone tag. When I am swamped I can much easier reply to an e-mail. ANYWAY, no sooner than I griped, my loan processor e-mailed me to assure me her supervisor told her I Called, that the requests for info are in the mail, the appraisal is ordered, and to E-MAIL her if I need anything. PERFECT!

I just wanted to make sure all the time consuming stuff was rolling and I was doing everything on MY part to get this thing through on time. Getting a request for documents, and an appraisal, is a good start. Hopefully we get the appraisal done first of January.

I've got all the documentation I should need. I will probably drop it off in person. Or hopefully I can just send it securely over the internet. I will not be mailing all that personal information (too many bad experiences with mail). But, however I deliver it, it will be done the second I get the request. My part will be DONE! & hearing all the stories, I am really curious how the rest of this will go. I am bracing myself for odd requests and follow up questions, though it's hard to be more straightforward than our situation. Borrowin 80% or less equity, W-2 income only, ample cash savings, all of our investments in retirement. No other debt. PITI will be about 20% of income. What else is there to analyze? & yet I know people in FAR better financial situations being put through the ringer with these mortgage loans. But I think a lot of them have self-employment income, other mortgages, stuff like that. So I am hoping we get it easy. Will see!!!

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Spending Christmas Eve with the family (in-law gift extravaganza) and Christmas Day here at home. I've done nothing to prepare and will do nothing to prepare. (Anything to be done has been done, ages ago). Well, might scrub the toilet tonight? That's about it. Dh is doing grocery shopping today and making a butternut squash soup today, for Sunday. YUM. Take and bake pizzas, also. The ones at our grocery store are DIVINE. The kids went with Grandma yesterday, and we pick them up Saturday.

In regards to MIL drama of Christmases past, I won't hold my breath, but I think she found something else to do Christmas morning. Hallelujah! It's more of a charity minded thing, but this is the second year in a row. Could this be a tradition? She actually DROPPED THE DRAMA and found something more positive to do on Christmas Day? I can't believe it!

Anyway, if we get 2-3 hours with MY parents, alone, and MIL doesn't cry the whole time she is here, it will be a success. That is ALL I ever asked for. Can I hope? Big Grin

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Anyone who read all this gets a gold star from me!

4 Responses to “This will be a monster post!”

  1. rob62521 Says:

    Wow, what a busy life you have. Hope you got the bill cleared up...I would worry too!

    Hope you have a drama free Christmas!

  2. ccraw Says:

    I hope the bill is a mistake like you are thinking. I love reading your blog, every word! Happy Holidays MonkeyMama!!!

  3. monkeymama Says:

    UPDATE: Bill was a MISTAKE (I guess the fact that they sent it to dh was a clue - the insurance is in my name - they said that was part of the problem. Like they either billed him as if he had no insurance, or missed that the family deductible was already maxed). YAY!!

    Refi Update - Appraisal scheduled for Monday. Way sooner than I had hoped. Woohoo. Fingers crossed for an appropriate appraisal. Lord knows, but from past experiences they tend to be on the high side. So, I think it's okay. BUT, a house down the street just sold for $240k. I was hoping for $250k appraisal for 80% equity loan. BUT, that said, another house sold for $305k. I expect it to be fine, but will feel better when I see the number. I would consider paying down up to $10k if I had to, to get 80% loan to value ratio with this loan. Don't really want to, but I would. So, we do have options. (This is precisely why I am not scared to keep a little cash on hand - has always bought us so much flexibility _ this is a perfect example).

    Happy Holidays you two (and everyone)!

  4. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I'm glad to hear your DH is feeling better (and that the bill was a mistake!)

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