May 16

You don’t think you need insurance until…

broken legThis post isn’t really a, “fun” one to write, but it’s one that comes from my heart. Thankfully not all of these situations happened to me, but they have happened to close friends and family and so they hit pretty, “close to home” for me. Unfortunately it sometimes takes a major life event, or a very difficult situation for us to come to our senses and get our lives in order.

Since Eric and I got engaged, I’ve been thinking a lot about our future and making sure that all of our, “business” is in order. We’ve been living together for a while now, but our finances are mostly separate. I pay my bills, he pays his bills and together we pay our house payment etc. (well technically he pays the bill, but I save my, “share” of the mortgage in a savings account for him).

Now that we’re on the verge of combining our lives financially, I’ve been thinking about worse case scenarios (romantic, right?) and trying to make sure that we’d both be OK if, god forbid, anything happened to either of us. Let’s face it, nobody wants to to think about worse case scenarios, but I’ve always been of the opinion that you should plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Here are some real life, “oh shit” moments where insurance was well worth (or would have been well worth) the premiums paid:

Your house catches on fire.
Two Christmases ago, Eric and I came home to a house filled with smoke. Our furnace had malfunctioned and caught on fire. Thankfully the fire smoldered in the furnace and didn’t spread to our walls (which could have burned our whole building down-scary!) and the damage was very minimal. We had to replace the furnace and our furniture smelled like a BBQ pit for a long time, but since we had homeowner’s insurance, we never had to worry that we wouldn’t have a place to live.

You get a UTI and your insurance just lapsed.
Ask my poor sister about this one! She had a horrible Urinary Tract Infection shortly after her university insurance plan lapsed and before her full-time job insurance policy became effective. She thought she could, “tough it out” and drink enough cranberry juice to make the infection go away. Sadly she couldn’t, and she ended up in the ER, not once, but twice! The first round of antibiotics the doctor gave her weren’t strong enough and she ended up in the ER a second time (feeling much worse!). Lesson learned here: never go without health insurance and if you can purchase an, “in-between” health insurance policy, do it! It’s pretty much Murphy’s law that the 1 week of time you’re not covered by health insurance, you’ll get hit by a bus.

You crack the diamond in your engagement ring.
When I first got engaged a friend and co-worker asked me if I’d insured my ring yet. I sort of chuckled because I thought she was joking (do people really insure their engagement rings? Yes they do!). That’s when she told that she was riding on the subway on the way to work one morning when she accidentally hit her ring against one of the handrails. She didn’t think anything of it until she looked down at her hand when she got to work and the vintage diamond in her engagement ring was cracked. Sadly it was a family heirloom passed down to her from her husband’s grandmother. Fortunately, her fiance had insured the ring and the replacement stone was covered in full by their insurance. She felt terrible that she damaged the stone, but relieved that they didn’t have to spend a fortune replacing the stone so his family wouldn’t notice (the stone is quite large and they wouldn’t have been able to replace it without the insurance).

Your significant other is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Sadly, we found out that my uncle had terminal cancer a few weeks before he passed. Nobody knew he was sick and certainly nobody thought he would pass so quickly and so young. He and his wife were quite frugal and didn’t want to, “waste” their money on life insurance. They figured they would never need the insurance and thought it was morbid to think about one of them dying. Of course they were correct that many people never have to use life insurance (thank god!). But if you happen to be the unfortunate person who does need the insurance money to survive, you’d certainly reconsider your decision to save money on life insurance, (by not paying for it!) Instead, you’d be thankful you paid for the coverage and don’t have to worry about replacing your spouse’s income while you’re still grieving.

Have you ever had a situation where you were thankful for having insurance? Ever had a situation where you wish you had insurance, but didn’t?

Image: Itzafineday

May 12

It’s official: My step-dad just retired

retirementThis weekend Eric and I traveled up to Maine to celebrate my step-dad’s retirement. My step-sisters and I had been planning a surprise retirement party for him for the last few months, so I was pretty excited for the, “big day” to finally arrive.

Each of the three of us (and our families) drove to Maine on Friday and surprised him one by one. He was upstairs playing with my niece when I arrived, so I snuck into the house, sat on the couch and waited for him to come downstairs. He didn’t even notice me at first (typical, when our household gets busy) then cried when he saw me. It was really sweet.

By the time my sister Leslee arrived, he was pretty much in shock. We told him we wanted to celebrate all of his hard work by being together for the weekend (He worked in the Department of Transportation for over 21 years and officially retired on April 30th).

Under the guise of a family dinner, we lured him to a local pizza place on Saturday night. He initially said he didn’t really feel like going because he wasn’t feeling that well, eek! Thankfully we convinced him to go for a quick slice…

When he got there with my sister and her kids, he looked around the room a little confused (he knew everyone in the room and thought we all just happened to be in the same place at the same time). When we yelled, “surprise” his mouth dropped open. Two surprises in one weekend, I love it!

Price of the gas to get to and from Maine, about $120. Price of the pizza party/decorations etc. about $100 each (split 3-ways). Being together with friends, family and my step-dad to celebrate his retirement… PRICELESS!

My step-dad didn’t go to college, so he’s literally been working since he turned 17. Not only is he a hard worker and and an inspiration as an employee and supervisor, he’s also an amazing dad. He’s successfully raised three girls who made it though high school, college and graduate school a a pretty big accomplishment in my opinion).

He’s made a lot of sacrifices, so that us girls had the things we needed growing up. We didn’t have a lot sometimes, but he always believed in us and told us we could be anything we wanted to be. He taught us to work hard, try your best and have a heart for serving others (values that have made us the women that we are today).

So kudos and congrats to my step-dad. I’m so proud of you and so thankful to have you in my life! You’re  an inspiration to all of us and real life, “proof” that hard work, dedication and generosity do pay off!

When do you plan to retire? What will you do during your retirement years? Who are your, “retirement inspirations?”

image: www.Gotcredit.com

Apr 30

A Wedding costs HOW MUCH?!?!

cakeOn March 8th the love of my life proposed to me (aww). On May 9th, we announced the engagement to our excited friends and family. My mom was smiling from ear to ear and my grandfather joked, “It’s about time!”

Immediately thereafter we were bombarded with a slew of questions I was completely unprepared to answer:

  • Have you set a date?
  • Will you get married in Maine or New York (or do a destination wedding?)
  • Have you picked a venue?
  • Why type of dress do you want?
  • Will his family be able to make it (many of them still live in Manila, so we want to plan around them being able to come)
  • Who’s in the bridal party?
  • Will you take his last name or keep yours?

By the end of the first day of, “announcements” my head was spinning. After 6 years of dating I was thrilled just to be able to introduce Eric as my, “fiance”. It’s sort of funny because we’ve always been committed to each other (heck we have a, “fur baby” and even purchased a home together), we just didn’t have an external symbol (engagement ring) that perfect strangers could see.

Since he put that pretty rock on my finger, clients have been commenting and asking me questions about my relationship status (which is really pretty sweet and sometimes pretty funny. I.e. comments like, “You can’t be old enough to get married!”).

ice sculpture

Ice Sculpture Swans, not exactly our style!

A Wedding costs HOW MUCH??? Insert shocked face here!

A frugal, “bride in training”, once I told my family about the engagement, I immediately immersed myself in learning how to plan a wedding on a budget. I searched pinterest, etsy and wedding bee for inexpensive venues, flowers, cakes, caterers and wedding rings (holy cow… planning a wedding without spending a fortune is a full-time job! Now I know why some people happily hire a wedding planner to deal with all of this).

I looked up the average cost of an American wedding and, googled, “most expensive places to getting married”. Here’s the list I came up with-gulp:

Top 25 Most Expensive Places to Get Married

Based on average cost of a wedding in 2013:
  • New York City (Manhattan): $86,916
  • Long Island: $57,343
  • North/Central New Jersey: $51,287
  • Chicago: $48,449
  • NYC Outer Boroughs: $47,121
  • Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA: $44,214
  • Rhode Island: $42,469
  • Westchester/Hudson Valley, NY: $42,444
  • Connecticut: $41,745
  • Philadelphia: $40,350
  • Los Angeles: $38,735
  • South New Jersey: $38,620
  • Washington, DC/Northern Virginia/suburban Maryland: $37,487
  • Southern Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas): $37,210
  • Boston: $35,512
  • Houston: $35,475
  • Louisiana: $35,008*
  • Lehigh Valley/Poconos, PA: $34,488*
  • San Francisco: $33,836
  • Orange County/Inland Empire, CA: $32,021
  • Baltimore: $31,964
  • Chicago Suburbs, IL: $31,489*
  • Detroit: $31,044*
  • San Diego: $30,885
  • Maine: $29,854*
*New to Top 25 List in 2013- Source: XO Group Inc.

Great…NYC is the most expensive place to get married, and Maine is the 25th most expensive. We certainly have no intention of spending anywhere near either figure. If I was 22, I’d probably want a huge fairy tale wedding with a chocolate fountain and a huge cake and a huge fancy ballgown. At 32, a small simple ceremony with good food and drink and very close friends and family is much more my, “speed” and we definitely have much better uses for $30-80k!

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with other couples spending on their, “big day” if that’s what they want. We’d just rather save our money and use it towards other things.

Married? Tell me about your wedding. How many people did you invite? How much did you spend? Not married? What’s the most you’d spend on a wedding?

 

Image: Kurt Nordstrom, boscobridalexpos

Apr 23

Where have you been? and BIG news!

Hi friends. You may have noticed that I’ve been pretty quite for the past few months (apologies!). I think I was having a “3-decade crisis” (is that real, I have no idea?). I was feeling like I was at a crossroads in my life where I wasn’t really sure, “what’s next?” I was trying to figure out what the future held for me, both in my career and my personal life (relationships, friendships etc.).

Even though I had a lot going on, I didn’t really feel like I had a lot to say (which is pretty unusual because I always have something to say-wink).

I guess it was a time for being introspective and that’s why I took a break from the blog. The break lasted a lot longer then I had ever planned or intended, but I didn’t want to jump back into the blogosphere and put up posts just to post. I try to keep my content as, “real” as possible and when I’m feeling, “stuck” the blog is stuck too.

So if you’ve been anxiously awaiting my return, curious about where I disappeared to, the answer is here:

woof

Eric proposed to me on March 8th, and we’re now happily engaged (aww). The sign above is how I we told my parents and family that we’re engaged. We skyped with my folks and told them that Brooklyn (our dog) wanted to, tell them something. Then we held him up with the sign. It worked great the first few times until I held the sign upside down and saw my sister tilting her head and trying to figure out what the heck was going on.

So that’s the news in my little world. I’m now answering a million personal questions from people I don’t know that well about my fiance (how strange it is to type that after 6 years of having a “boyfriend”), my engagement and my wedding planning (or lack thereof). It’s all pretty fun and exciting (not just the wedding stuff, but finally being able to plan a future with the man I love).

I’ve also been working on some career things, including possibly taking on some private therapy clients at night (more on that in a, “side hustle” post to come) which is helping me feel re-energized about my work.

So if you’re an old friend, I’m glad you stuck around and I hope you’ll continue to stick around! If you’re an advertiser, blogger or colleague who sent me an email message I haven’t replied to, I’m SO sorry, please send it again and I promise I’ll reply right away (my inbox has gotten a little hairy and I’m going to have to start fresh to keep my sanity). And if you’re a new friend, Welcome! I’m very excited to have you here!

Tell me what’s new in your world! Have you ever taken a break from something and started fresh? Had a mid-life or 3-decade crisis? Gotten engaged? Tell me about it!

 

Mar 04

Would you move to cut your mortgage in half?

mortgageWhen I was paying off my student loan debt I felt, “stuck” and, “broke”. I worried I’d never dig myself out of the hole that I’d made and I felt frustrated a lot. When finally submitted that final payment and received my, “paid in full letter” in the mail, I was thrilled…for a minute.

Because I’ve always been a goal setter, I tend to celebrate accomplishments then immediately re-focus on a new goal. My goal after paying off my debt was saving a down-payment and buying a condo.

Since we’re now homeowners, my main goal is saving for the future and building wealth. Full-disclosure, when I typed, “building wealth” I sort of laughed at myself. I guess since I’ve never really thought of myself as a, “big earner” so the concept of, “building wealth” has always seemed a little foreign to me.

Somewhere along the line, I’d convinced myself that only the super wealthy can, save the “big bucks” and, “build wealth”. Why? I’m not really sure. But thankfully other folks in the personal finance blogosphere have taught me that anyone can build wealth. You don’t have to be make a million dollars a year, or even $100,000 a year to build wealth.

Sure a person making 6 figures will be able to save more and save faster, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save and build wealth when you’re making less.

All that to say, Eric and I have been talking about the possibility of moving out of our condo (we’d rent it out) and into a cheaper living situation (either buying a cheaper condo or single family home in the suburbs, or renting an apartment).  We’ve run the number and done a little research and it seems very possible for us to cut our housing costs (as much as in half).

Basically if we moved further outside of the city, moved to a less, “hip” neighborhood, moved to a smaller apartment (you get the idea) we’d be able to save more and save faster. Here are a few of the pros and cons we’re batting around:

Pros:

  • Our mortgage (or housing expenses if we rent) would be cheaper so we’d be able to save more aggressively
  • We’d probably be able to find a place with parking which would save us $300 a month in parking fees
  • If we rent our heat and hot water would probably be included

Cons:

  • We’d probably be moving further outside of the city which means a longer commute
  • We’d definitely be moving outside of our neighborhood, which we really like
  • We like our condo. It’s cozy and comfortable and has newer appliances
  • I hate moving, it’s expensive and so stressful

I guess it all boils down to preferences, tradeoffs and what we’re willing to give up. The faster we save, the quicker we’ll be able to work on other goals. Some of our long-term goals include: buying a rental property (or two-why not be dream big?), starting a business (more about this later), traveling more and saving more aggressively for retirement.

What do you think? Would you move if you could significantly decrease your mortgage or rental costs?

Image:401kcalculator.org

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