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Adjusting Financial Plans

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I've been spending TOO much time thinking about money lately!

First of all is the whole Equifax debacle. It is outrageous that a company that you never hired or did business with -- can track your financial data and then LET IT GET HACKED! And they don't even have to notify you of the breach! I am (so far) one of the lucky ones. My friend whose data was breached is just sick with worry. She NEVER had any dealings with Equifax, but apparently someone else fed her data into the Equifax system to do a credit check on her. Also like many people, I have had credit cards hacked because some store didn't protect my data (Target! Home Depot! and many more). These businesses are acting irresponsibly! I am grateful when my credit card company called to tell me someone was purchasing items in another state using my card ...

Plus I am adjusting my personal financial plans. I retired 2 years ago, and I started drawing social security and using my IRA savings about 18 months ago. I was very conservative with how much money I drew out from my IRA, and I have managed to live within my monthly budget.

What I am wrestling with is unexpected expenses. I have separate savings that includes an emergency fund, a home remodeling fund, and travel. Well, last week I was notified by my homeowner's insurance company that they were only offering a plan with a LARGE deductible ($5,000) to me, because I had 2 claims within the past two years. And that if I filed another claim, they will drop me altogether (I HAVE to have insurance; it's a requirement for my mortgage). I've never had a claim before in 35 years of home ownership!

But: in 2015 a tree fell in my house during a wind storm.

And in 2017 we had historic snow and ice, and an ice dam created damage to my interior; the floors were soaked and warped.

The weather here has just gotten more extreme -- the summers are hotter and the wildfires are worse; and the winters are colder and the storms are worse; and drought has weakened the trees.

So I am going out to bid to see if someone else will pick up my insurance with a standard $1,000 deductible. I am NOT optimistic. My back-up plan is to bite the bullet, and stay with my current insurance company, and recognize I need to keep MORE money in my emergency fund (it will have to come out of my travel budget). And it is infuriating to pay them a premium, because they already told me that I will not be able to file another claim with them without losing ALL my coverage!

With my home remodeling fund, I used some to update my guest bathroom. I had hoped to fund a final remodeling project that would remove a large built in wet bar that divides the space between my living and dining rooms. It is VERY 1970s. I could just remodel it (reface with lighter wood or paint it, and replace the current Formica counter-top with quartz or granite) -- but it sits smack in front of the big stone fireplace, and that means I can never relax in an easy chair in front of the fire. So I wanted to remove the whole thing the next time I replaced the carpets, and put in a couple of comfortable seats in front of the fireplace.

Sorry these pics aren't great -- but the wet bar isn't so great either!!!

I had planned to do this project when I replace the carpets in another 5-10 years. Well I think I need to readjust my plans and fence my yard instead. This past summer, I have noticed people walking through my yard.

Let me be clear -- I don't mind neighbors chasing a playful dog, or a kid going after a ball. But one of my neighbor has walked around my yard more than once to look at deer (Last time she walked through my yard with a vet to assess the health of a deer that she was concerned about), or she tries to separate the deer herd (I prefer to let the deer BE wild! and not try to manage their behavior). She didn't call me first; she fences HER yard for her dogs, and she feeds the deer on the side of her yard that is by my property, so the deer all come through my property every day. The home on the other side of me is fenced also.

Even more concerning, twice I have had total strangers walking through my yard, walking back and forth. (When I asked what are you doing? one stated he looking for access to the river; one was looking for a short cut and thought there was a right of way through my yard). Bottom line: as town has gotten bigger, and the zoning around me has changed from rural to urban density, I think I need a little more security. And I don't think I will be able to change my neighbor's behavior, so I need a fence. (p.s. if you are wondering why I didn't put in a fence already, well our semi-defunct homeowner's association rules do not allow fences ... But if everyone else is putting them in, then I'm going to also!)

So I am going to go ahead and get bids to put in a deer-proof fence. I think the fence will wipe out the remodel budget. I should be able to refinish/remodel the big old ugly wet bar within my monthly expense budget. I need a new television (my old television is not well equipped for HD, and my cable has gone to all HD), so the wet bar remodel may come sooner than planned! I'll get rid of the entertainment unit that houses the old television, and hang the new flat screen t.v. on the back of the wet bar. I'd LOVE to reface the old rough cedar planks that are on that side of the wet bar, but I'll settle for painting them!

I HATE worrying about money! But I have to recognize that I am retired, and when the savings are gone, they are GONE!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Don't get me started on insurance companies...any of them! Grrrrrrrrr. So maddening we pay premiums fro years no claims on it...then they cancel you at drop of a hat if you do. Sorry you're dealing with this. We need so much done at our place we have to put off vacations for awhile. Maybe you could do that too for a bit to get projects done. Just a thought.
    Equifax told us our information may have been involved....aggravating! Now have to sign up for credit monitoring for free with a company they chose. HA...wonder how reliable they are! Sigh.
    Neighbors! Always something with them...i could tell you stories that would curl your hair!
    Hope all goes well for you! ❤
    1124 days ago
    Yes, it sounds like a fence is in order! We have planted hedges on both sides of our yard because of our neighbors. My hubby had to retire at age 60 when he lost his vision, and I retired at 62 to take care of our parents, so I understand your concern about budgeting during retirement! It sounds like you are doing a great job weighing your priorities and delaying your remodel for the immediate future. Your insurance company sounds very cold! Our. Insurance rates went up dramatically this year so we chose a different company. Our independent agent will help out when we ask her to search for the best deals for all of our insurance needs. So much to think about!


    1124 days ago
    I worry because I have no savings and live in a rented house. I was just about to post something about money when I spotted your blog. You show how even when you are wise with your money, things come along to drain the resources. It's not easy.
    emoticon Good luck!
    1126 days ago
  • no profile photo CHAYOR73
    Good luck with your projects, all will turn out fine!! emoticon
    1126 days ago
    I resent anything that interferes with our travel budget. We worked long and hard to have money available to travel, and there are so many places we still want to go. Peter and I had our 6-month dental check-ups today. He went first and came out with the news that he needs a crown replaced. $3,000. We joked that we could still go on a trip as long as I didn't need one too. Luckily, I don't... but the reality is that unexpected expenses are really hard to handle after retirement.

    I can see why you want to get rid of the wet bar. It's a shame that they chose to divide the room that way. Could you perhaps take down only the top part, and paint the bottom a lighter colour? It would open the room visually, although it might not let you sit by the fireplace.

    I'd definitely get the fence, especially if strangers are cutting through your yard. I agree that the deer should not be fed, because it makes them dependant on humans.

    I want to do some renovations too... actually I want to move to a smaller house, but Peter won't agree, so we're compromising by doing some minor work in the kitchen, our bathroom, replacing the carpet in the front hall with ceramic tile, and making a few landscaping changes... new front steps, edging around some of the gardens. It will probably mean giving up one trip... or leaving less for our kids (all of whom earn more than we ever did). Lots of choices... how to decide?
    1127 days ago
    Hi Alison..............

    I am so sorry to hear about what your Home Insurance Company is doing to you when it was Nature that caused the damage and nothing that you had any control over. We have gotten so that we shop for Car Insurance, Home Insurance and Health Insurance every couple of years to try to find the best deal available. They are definitely a business and because of this, they are right there FOR your premiums but you end up getting punished for having to use the services that you are paying for WITH your premiums. I would talk to your friends and acquaintances to see who they have and how much they like it.

    I am with you on the wet bar. I LOVE a fireplace and would do whatever possible to open the area for a better view of it and also to make better use of the heat given off.

    After hearing about your neighbor, I would be putting up a fence too. I, too, hate to think about finances but with so many people spending their time hacking and making life miserable for the rest of us, we can't afford NOT to be diligent.

    I wish you the BEST...................
    1127 days ago
    too bad you cannot sit by the fireplace,if the tv goes on the back of the wet /bar you will never see the fireplace is there any way you ca put it in the room with the fireplace? I love your fireplace. & ceiling beams.We have Erie insurance $100.00 deductible our house is only worth $100,000 as it is just ranch home. The insurance company's are greedy they do not care all what you paid before and being a long time customer.Those disasters to your home were brought on by the elements. I hope you can get picked up by someone that fits your budget
    Take care
    1127 days ago
    And yes, you have to watch your money. I hope you find fair coverage - what about asking the mortgage people to recommend.
    1127 days ago
    That rating from Equifax in my case was based on someone else with a similar name on my street... it took years to clear- they wanted money. I have a perfect credit rating - no debt ever. I do not order online either- fraught with peril.
    1127 days ago
    I froze all my credit reports. Scary hacking stuff, for sure.
    1127 days ago
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