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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

HRA Mayhem

We've had a lot of changes to our insurance lately, and it's really frustrating me. The company that processes our claims changed first, then the provider network. Next an HRA was implemented. We've never had any sort of HRA type account before.

I am confused over where to send my vision claims, how my benefits are or aren't changing, the fact that I can no longer go to some providers I have gone to for years because they're no longer in my network, and why I feel awkward submitting claims to the HRA even though it's our money and they're basically just charging us a $4 per month fee to use it.

People tell me that I will like the HRA once I get used to it. Apparently I can file claims for reimbursement as far back as August 1. I have filed five claims so far and they are being "processed". Because of the out of network changes, I saw a massage therapist twice without realizing the change. Payment was denied and the charges applied toward my annual out of network deductible of $2,000. I was told I can make an HRA claim to pay these expenses, but honestly, if I paid cash instead I could reduce the fee to about half. I wonder if I can then make a claim for my self-pay? I feel like every time I call with questions I only end up with more questions. Ugh.

I am also trying to decide what I want to do with the reimbursement money. These are claims I've already paid for, so I don't really need the money. I have considered putting it on the mortgage, or into a special vacation fund. Maybe fund a 401k? Choices, choices.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adios Summer!

School starts later this week for both of my kiddos. I really tried to make this summer a season to remember and I think we succeeded!

Lots of camping, swimming, sleepovers with friends and family, trips to the beach, Oregon, Seattle, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Financially, we've paid for most of it. I just paid off the credit card bill from our North Dakota trip this morning. I am still paying on the 5th wheel trailer we bought in June. I also owe $3,100 left on O and E's school tuition. I have money in savings to cover it, but I am trying to come up with enough extra money from DH's overtime checks that I won't have to dip out of there.  By paying in full by mid-September, I get a 2 1/2% discount.
I haven't paid anything towards the $16,000 balance on our new car. I keep meaning to purchase a receipt book to include with the payments but I keep forgetting. I would really like to pay off the school tuition, then the trailer, then hit the car hard, in that order. 

We'll see how this Fall goes!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A New Car and Summer Happenings!

We finally found the right car for us! It's a 2013 Toyota Highlander base model. No bells, no whistles! I love it! It took a lot of haggling but we got them down to $26,500. It was $29,010 out the door. We paid $13,010 out of our own pockets and borrowed the other $16,000 from my grandma, so we were able to "pay cash" for the whole enchilada. Granted, I still have to pay her back.... 

Other large expenses have been a motorcycle trip DH and I took at an expense of around $600 and a trip to my brother's house for Independence Day weekend. They have a small house and there were 10 of us total, so we had to stay at a hotel. This trip was about $300 total.

We also did the food for my sister-in-law's wedding. This cost around $400. The upside of this is that not very many people showed up and I ended up donating most of the food to a homeless shelter. The shelter gave me a donation receipt for a $200 tax deduction. Yeah!

We're feeling a bit strapped for cash, but DH is working a lot of overtime and we're hoping to build our savings back up quickly. We have about $6k left after all the purchases. My girls are taking the train with their grandma to North Dakota at the end of the month. DH and I were supposed to drive the 1,000 miles to pick them up but it looks like DH won't be able to get the time off. I have to decide if I want to drive alone to get them, at an expense of about $400 in fuel, plus probably a hotel. My other options are to fly, which would cost about $575 total for my round-trip airfare and their one-way airfare home, or to take the train, which would cost a little over $400 total. Another option I am considering is taking the train over and flying everyone back. I've never taken a train anywhere before so I think this would be fun, but I also realize that once they're picked up I will probably prefer to get home fast! Choices, choices! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Where We're At

It's been a busy time for us lately, and a lot of changes have been happening, really fast!

First off, we sold both DH's car and mine. We got around $8,000 out of the two. We both hate selling things and ended up selling both cars to people DH works with. We could have gotten more money out of them I think, but I like the people who bought them and I appreciate not having the hassle. We intend to purchase a Toyota Highlander for me when I find the right one. I don't know when that will be, and in the meantime, I am driving our pickup truck. School is out for the year and I am thankful that I can greatly reduce my driving, as this thing is a monster compared to my car. DH has his work truck and his motorcycle to get him around, so I don't have to be serious about finding a car until probably November. I hope to stockpile some more cash before the big purchase day comes. I am looking at 2010 through 2013 models and want to spend a maximum of $26,000.

We also ended up purchasing a 5th wheel travel trailer. We'd been mulling it over for awhile and I had pretty much decided to keep my car and buy the 5th wheel when we got a call from the guy who ended up buying my car. DH and I talked it over and decided that if it was meant to be he would buy it, and if not, he wouldn't. Obviously he did end up buying it, but we were already worked up and excited about the 5th wheel so we ended up getting it. It was a smoking hot deal, as we purchased it from my dad. It needed some new tires and maintenance work done, so that set us back a bit. I paid cash for the work we had done, but we still owe dad for the trailer. He's in no hurry and said he knows where to find me when he needs it. I appreciate this because I want to keep some liquid cash for when we find the car.

We took the trailer to the Oregon Coast for a long Father's Day weekend and we had a lot of fun. I'm so glad we didn't have to tent camp in the rain! So far, we have not regretted the purchase.

My mortgage pay down has been stagnant for quite some time, but I still feel encouraged over the fact that we're far enough into it now that we're starting to see a nice drop in principal just from our regular payments. Our balance is at $146,984.52. This month about $325.00 went to principal. I don't know what the house is worth. Zillow has it at about $217k, I think. We paid $195k for it in 2009, and at that time it had appraised at $230k. We've dumped a bunch of money into it so I hope it would be closer to $250k now, but who knows. Sometimes we think about selling it and moving closer to my oldest daughter's private school. We asked some friends of ours if they would consider subdividing their land and selling us a parcel, but the husband and wife were split on the decision. It's hard to find good land in that area and we would most-likely want to build, so I guess we'll just watch and wait. We'd like to get the small house rented out again and use the money to start a land fund, but I need to do some painting out there and I've been so busy it's hard to get motivated to start another project. One of these days....

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vehicle Limbo

I haven't posted in quite a while because I just haven't felt like it. During this "down time", we sold one of our cars. We're left with one car, one pickup truck, and one (running) motorcycle. The car we sold was DH's. We sold it to a friend for $3k. This was a heck of a deal. DH also decided to throw in the snow tires and chains for the car as well. 

We've also been trying to sell my car. My car was the same model as DH's, only a few years newer. We haven't been able to sell it yet, and have considered trading it in. There's nothing major wrong with it, but we have really been feeling drawn towards something with more seating capacity, as our girls are getting older. 

Ultimately though, I'm torn. The car is fine. It has high miles because I drive A LOT, therefore it's not worth a whole lot. I will continue to drive a bunch for the foreseeable future. The new car I am thinking about will cost around $25,000... or $33,000ish if I decide to go with a brand new one. I would like to put at least $10,000 down on this car. I have the money to do this. 

Meanwhile, we've considered buying an RV for several years now. My dad has decided to sell his 5th wheel. He would give us a very nice price on his 5th wheel, around $5k I think. The 5th wheel needs new tires and new batteries, which will cost around a grand. He's taken really nice care of this thing and we have vowed to venture out more this year and do some camping. We're headed to camp at the beach in June, and to the mountains in August. It would be really nice to not sleep on the ground. 

We are considering waiting on the car for another year and purchasing the 5th wheel instead. Our truck is already set up to pull a 5th wheel, so there would be very little additional expense. We can pay for the 5th wheel outright and then set aside money every month (as though we were making a car payment) to recoup the cost of the 5th wheel and perhaps a bit more. This would leave us with around $12,000 total in savings. 

It sounds good to me in theory....! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Big 3-0

I'm turning 30 this week. 

Part of me wants to freak out, the other part says what's the big deal? There are a few things I wish I had improved on before rounding up to this new decade, but really I can't complain. I've accomplished a lot more already than most friends my age. While I know I missed out on some "youthful" stuff because I got married young and started a family early, I really don't feel slighted. I am happy to be this far along in my life and that my kids will be grown before I am too old to enjoy some alone time with my husband. 

Here's to a new chapter!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Insurance Waiting Game

Our medical insurance is a health trust through DH's employer. While the insurance itself hasn't changed, we were informed that as of the first of the year we have a new plan administrator. 

E had dental surgery in late January. I took care of all the pre-op paperwork with the old plan administrator at the end of last year, before learning of the changes. Luckily, when I called the new administrator they said they would honor the paperwork as long as it was within the last six months. Fast forward to mid-March and they have only now finally processed the claim from the surgery. It wouldn't be such a big deal except that I had to pay $1,200 up front for the anesthesiologist. 

Now that the claim has been processed, I am only on the hook for about $350 for the anesthesiologist and $575 for the dental work itself. That means the anesthesiologist owes me a refund of $850. According to the explanation of benefits, the check was mailed the 12th. I'm hoping I get the refund soon so that I can use it to pay the dentist the $575.  The $350 should have been $180, but I ended up paying about $170 extra out of pocket to the anesthesiologist because my insurer said the fee was above the usual and customary amount. This kind of pissed me off, but I was really nervous about the surgery and the dentist and anesthesiologist we used really made me feel like my daughter was in good hands. I guess that's worth something.