Posts filed under ‘frustration’
I want to thank all of the readers who left comments on last week’s posts: What Do You Think: Unequal Financial Handouts From Parents and Unequal Financial:Handouts Would You Turn Down a Gift From Your Parents? I appreciate the honesty and sincerity in your words. I wanted to leave a few last remarks on the topic.
I have never dealt with financial inequality in my own family. For the most part my parents treat my brother and I equally. If my mom buys something for me she makes every effort to purchase a gift of equal value for my brother or his family. There is only one time in my entire life that I can remember my parents not evening the score. They once paid for gutter covers for my brother’s house, but did not offer my husband and I any money in return. When I brought the inequality to my parents attention, (I only mentioned it because the discrepancy had gotten into my husband’s craw), they offered to write me a check for the same amount of money. (I did not take them up on that offer.)
My parents do not have a lot of money, which may make it easier for them to treat my brother and I fairly. I really cannot say. I do think it helps that my brother and I hold/held down high paying technical jobs and that we are both careful with money. Thankfully neither one of us has ever needed to rely on my parents. When we were growing up my father stressed the importance of a college education. My parents paid for our college expenses with the understanding that once we received our diplomas we would be on our own.
As for my own immediate family, I have only one child, so I cannot comment on financial equality among children in my own household. Though I hope I would always be fair, I’m sure that many other parents who treat their children unfairly once believed the same thing. In an ideal world wouldn’t we want everyone to be treated equally?
Although I have not dealt with financial inequality in my own life I have certainly witnessed it within my extended family. Regardless of the reason for unequal financial handouts the result is usually the same: someone gets hurt. No matter how strong and capable you are it can be difficult to watch a sibling receive financial handouts from your parents, especially when that sibling does not appear to work as hard or focus on saving as much as you do. There is nothing worse then seeing a loved one hurt by members of his or her own family. Parents may feel that they are simply providing more money to one of their children, but in reality the other child is left feeling unappreciated and unloved.
In my heart I like to believe that most parents do not willing hurt their children. I like to think that these parents do not realize how their actions are perceived by the children who are not receiving gifts. I hope that they want the best for all of their children, not just the one who is always holding a hand out for them to fill.
Am I being naive? Perhaps parents know exactly what they are doing and proceed with their actions fulling knowing that one of their children will be hurt. Maybe they think that their other child is strong enough to handle their decisions. Perhaps they really just don’t care.
From what I’ve seen in families where financial inequality exists there is also a lack of communication among family members. The golden child continues to receive handouts, while the other child sits by unable to speak up about the situation. Of course, in these situations communication may not matter. When the topic is broached the parents usually have one reason or another to continue favoring a child and while the parents try to legitimize their actions the other child may hear nothing but excuses.
The best course of action in this situation is to try and release the bitterness you feel. You have to accept the situation for what it is and try not to let the negative feelings overwhelm you. At the end of the day you have absolutely no control over the way your parents dole out their money, so your best action is not to brood over the fact that you are being treated unfairly.
If you are lucky enough to be successful then the good news is that you don’t need your parents money. You made it on your own. You can count the blessings in your life and focus on the positive things that surround you. Do you have a good relationship with your spouse or significant other? Are the people in your life healthy and strong?
I know that this won’t make up for the injustice you feel, but the truth is you have little to no say in the matter. If your brother or sister is willing to put his or her hand out for money your parents will continue supplying them with gifts. This will probably continue for most if not all of their adult lives. Since the situation is unlikely to go away your best option is to try to relax, breathe and do your best to look beyond it.
I realize this is all easier said then done. Believe me, I do, but in time it does get better if you change your frame of mind about it. I am thankful that we do not need the support of other family members. It doesn’t make their actions right, but it does feel good knowing that we don’t need to rely on anyone other than ourselves. These days I’ve changed my perspective on the topic of unequal financial gifts from family members. I know I can’t do anything about it and as a result I’ve decided not to carry all of that bitterness around with me anymore.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased a Groupon and nearly let it expire. I find a great deal for a nearby restaurant, but never seem to set a date and time to eat there. I buy a discounted Groupon to the Body Shop 0r Toys-R-Us, (you know the ones for $40 worth of merchandise for only $20), but never seem to go shopping. I set the date on my calendar, to make sure I don’t let it go to waste, and panic when Google calendar alerts me of it’s pending expiration. Inevitably I find myself rushing to the store on the very last day the Groupon is valid.
This past week I repeated my procrastination scenario. I purchased two Groupons for photo albums on June 19th of last year and then waited until nearly midnight on March 20th of this year to use them. I chose the photographs I wanted to include in the albums a few days in advance, but I waited until the very night the Groupon expired to design the books. I wasn’t feeling well that night. I laid in bed, suffering from an unrelenting headache, holding my head in one hand and selecting photos for the books with the other. I was so upset with myself for procrastinating, but I was determined to use those coupons. This frugal girl wasn’t about to let $160 worth of credit expire.
I’m not quite ready to give up on Groupon. I’ve ordered a few toys through the Groupon Goods portion of their website. I’ve also ordered a few coupons without expiration dates and even bought a deal for a Starbucks gift card this morning.
Am I the only person who waits until the last minute to use their Groupons? Does anyone else take advantage of these bargains and then find it difficult to use them before they expire?
For the past year or so I’ve been selling the majority of my used books to book buying services. As I mentioned in a previous post I find it easier to bundle up books and sell them in one big group then to list them on eBay or half.com and wait for someone to buy them. I earned over $150 last year in book sales and this year I am already on target to beat that number.
If you sell enough books at once the book buying services will often provide shipping labels through FedEx or UPS. I’ve sent tons of padded envelopes and boxes through FedEx and UPS and only use the US post office when I have no other option. This was one of those months. I bundled two books into an a thick envelope, wrapped it around and around with packing tape to ensure it was secure and sent it off on it’s merry way.
Every so often I hopped online to view the tracking information and watched that little package travel down along the east coast and then west across the country. Then one day it suddenly stopped. The tracking information halted and no matter how many days passed the USPS website showed no further movement.
It seems my books will never make it to their desired location. They were lost after leaving a sorting facility in Illinois on February 24th.
The good news is that I don’t have to refund anyone any money and since I didn’t sell the items on eBay I don’t have to worry about receiving bad feedback. I’ll just have to accept the fact that sometimes things go wrong along the way.
When my husband started his business back in 2009 he registered for a Capital One business credit card. We use Chase for all of our personal credit needs, but we received an application from Capital One shortly after incorporating and decided to complete the form without investigating other options.
That was our first mistake. We were approved for a credit card with a limit of $1000. Being a new company the low credit limit probably makes sense, but let me tell you that $1000 does not go very far when paying for everyday business needs.
By the time we charged recurring monthly bills like Internet, phone and fax services we had only a few hundred dollars left to spend. Add on a few employee lunches, staples for the office like paper and printing supplies and we found ourselves reaching the max long before the month’s end.
I figured this was an easy problem to solve, so I called Capital One and asked for a higher credit limit. The kind customer service representative told me I could only request credit once a year and only after a full year had passed since the last time I requested it. When the year finally came and went Capital One increased my limit by a measly $500. A year after that I called again and received another $500 increase.
Last week when I called to ask for yet another change to my credit limit I was told to hold on the line while the request was being processed. A kind customer service representative explained that my credit would be pulled and that I would receive a response within 30 seconds or so. I waited and was told my request was denied.
A week later Capital One sent a letter informing me that they are having problem with their systems and cannot increase credit limits for any business accounts at this time. From the looks of the letter though it seems a credit request was initiated. So thanks Capital One for making a hit to my credit score even though you had no intentions of issuing me a higher limit.
Oh, I also forgot to mention that Capital One’s answer to my credit limit problems is to continually pay off my credit card mid-cycle. The customer service representative told me to check my credit card activity every week. If I get close to reaching the limit I should pay off the balance to free up the credit. Umm, thank you, but no I do not want to check my balance on my credit card every few days to make certain my card isn’t declined when I dine with employees or potential clients.
I thought I was angry enough with Capital One, but when I received this month’s bill I was really upset. It seems we incurred a $39 credit limit fee for charging above and beyond our limit. Hello? What did you say? If you give me a limit then how can I go over it? Well it seems Capital One allowed us to charge $40 worth of sandwiches which put us over and above our allotted limit for the month. Then they charged us a $39 fee for spending too much. Do you think my husband would have paid $79, ($40 for the sandwiches and an additional $39 for the fee), for a bunch of sandwiches? Um, no, he would have pulled out a different credit card or paid with cash.
After speaking to another kind customer service representative I was informed that you have to disable the credit limit override. Otherwise Capital One will let you spend more than your allotted amount, but will immediately assess a fee for doing so.
After all of this I decided that I was finished with Capital One. I contacted Chase, completed a form for a new business account, received immediate approval and a new credit card arrived in the mail less than a week later. My new Chase limit $8000.
So I am happy to say good riddance to Capital One! Although your customer service representatives have always been kind your services are abominable.
Yesterday after returning a few unwanted Christmas gifts to the store I bundled the baby in the back seat and drove to the gas station for a quick fill. Once we’re dressed and loaded into the car I tend to get the most bang for my buck by completing as many errands as possible.
It was really cold outside, (I think the weather man said it felt like 9 degrees), and there was a sharp wind that cut right through my coat. I hopped out of the car, entered my Giant rewards number at the pump, clicked a bunch more buttons, entered my zip code, pulled the nozzle out, selected a grade and planned to jump into the car to warm back up. As soon as I pressed the handle to pump gas the pump beeped and told me my transaction was cancelled. Argh!
I locked the baby in the car and walked up to the external cashier window. (My car was only two or three feet away from the pump.) He asked me to try my transaction again. Double argh! I entered my Giant card number, etc, etc, etc. I stepped all the way through the process again and just as I pressed the nozzle to dispense gas the transaction was cancelled again. Triple argh!
I walked back up to the cashier. This time he told me they were having problems with that particular pump and asked that I back up and try a different one. I put the car in reverse, moved to the new pump, ran through all the steps again and wouldn’t you know it my transaction was cancelled for the third time.
I was frustrated, annoyed and to be honest quite furious. I decided to drive to another Shell station because my Giant rewards were set to expire in another day or two. Five minutes later I arrived at the next closest station entered my Giant number, followed all of the same steps and pumped gas without a single problem.
I saved 90 cents a gallon or roughly $13.00, but I spent nearly 30 minutes doing so. I wasted time driving to a gas station where the pumps didn’t work. I wasted time attempting to pump gas three times. I wasted time asking the cashier to help me and I wasted even more time driving to another gas station when the first one didn’t work. I think this is one of those examples where I should have chosen time over money. $13.00 is a decent chunk of change, but the whole sequence of events was terribly aggravating.
What do you think? Would you have tried to pump gas three times in the freezing cold and then driven to another gas station to save $13.00?
I started One Frugal Girl back in 2006. Since that time I’ve written 1,215 posts, most of them detailing my relationship with money and my desire to maintain my frugal choices no matter how much I earn or save. I imagined being the kind of girl who would clip coupons long after reaching my savings goals and hitting my targeted net worth.
Lately I’ve been second-guessing my earlier intentions. I believe my desire to save is making me a little crazy. Take yesterday as an example. My husband is an avid Coke drinker. I hate the amount of soda that comes into our home, but over the years I’ve come to realize that I cannot control everything about my husband or his choices. If he wants to drink Diet Coke for breakfast then that’s exactly what he’ll do. Since he drinks so much soda I decided to start clipping the coke reward codes. For the most part the rewards kind of suck, but every once in awhile you can cash in points for gift cards. It only takes a minute or two to enter the codes so it certainly seemed worthwhile to do so.
Yesterday my husband clipped a coke reward and placed it on the kitchen table. Between all the hustle and bustle of daily life I lost track of that little piece of paper. Rather than saying “no big deal” and moving on with my day I spent the next fifteen minutes searching for that stupid thing. I keep a relatively organized house, but I picked up every item in just about every room in search of it.
Now there were two parts of crazy in this scenario. The first is that I do go a bit nuts when I lose things. It’s a trait I inherited from my mother. I cannot stand losing anything and typically throw an all out hissy fit whenever I do. Ask my husband about it and he’ll shake his head and roll his eyes. I’ve been known to bound out of bed at 3 o’clock in the morning when I think I’ve misplaced my keys. The second piece of crazy is that I hated the idea of losing Coke reward points. I can’t believe I spent all that time and energy trying to find a tiny piece of paper worth 25 reward points. Seems pretty crazy, especially knowing that I usually need 1500 to 2000 points to earn a $25 gift card. That’s nuts!
There have been many examples of this nuttiness over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to kick myself for forgetting a coupon while I was out shopping, forgetting to hand a clipped coupon over to a cashier or even driving back to the store just to save a dollar or two. How many times have I stood in line at the customer service desk at the grocery store because an item was improperly rung up or waited for a manager override when the cashier forgot to deduct 5 cents for my reusable bags?
At the end of the day I don’t think any of this is a particularly good use of time. If I were in dire circumstances saving a dollar here or there would really matter. If I desperately needed the money then I would certainly continue to do all of the things I have been doing to save money throughout my lifetime. But right now I just don’t see much value in waiting around 10 minutes to save 50 cents or driving around to three different stores with a baby in tow to save $3. Right now I think I might need to change my thinking.
I think it’s time to throw some of my crazy, frugal ways out the window.
The past few months have been filled with unexpected expenses. First we had trouble with the car, then extensive work was required to repair cracked pipes that left our house smelling of sewage, the pipework left huge holes in our walls so then there were costs for repair work and now on top of everything else our air conditioner stopped working! I’ve been hesitant to review the numbers but today I decided to add up the total.
Pipe Work & Plumbing (Due to Sewage Smell)
- $900 – Original Fix Replaced Toilet & Resealed
- $4700 – Replacement of Cast Iron Pipes to PVC
- $165 – Drain Cleaning
- $700 – Replacement of Metal Sink
- Total = $6465.00
- $2200 – Repair and Painting of Walls Damaged From Pipe Work
- $143.69 – Paint Required for Damaged Walls
- Total = $2,343.69
- $875.19 – Car Maintenance Costs
- $40 – Diagnostic Cost for Car
- Total = $915.19
- ?? – Analysis Performed Friday (Fuses Replaced)
- $4000 – New Air Conditioning Unit (Fuses blew again)
- Total = $4,000+
Total for unexpected repairs so far: $13,723.88!
In addition to the unexpected expenses we also refinanced two properties which will cost us an additional $7,000 or so in closing costs. Refinancing will save us $151,000 in interest over the life of the two loans, but right now an additional $7,000 in costs stings.
Add it all together you see $20,000 in unexpected and unusual expenses for the month! That’s a crazy amount of money!
A few weeks ago I wrote about the ever-so-pleasant stench of raw sewage that seemed to be invading our home. After spending nearly $1,000 on repairs and hoping the problem would go away I’m afraid to say that it did not.
This time the plumbers showed up with a giant ladder and a smoke producing machine that poured black smoke down our vent pipe in search of leaks. When I asked about the amount of smoke that would flow into our house I was told it would be minimal. Unfortunately that was not the case for us. The minute the test began the house began filling with smoke so thick I could barely see.
In order to isolate the issue the lovely plumbers proceeded to bust through the plaster walls and ceiling in search of cracks in the pipes. Two rooms will need plaster repair. One is relatively minor, the other is missing half the ceiling and a large chunk of one wall.
But what’s a girl to do? If the 60 year old pipes in your house have cracks in them you have to bust through the walls, find the cracks and repair them. In our case we’ve decided to replace the entire stretch of pipe while the ceiling and walls are open. Otherwise we risk opening everything up again in a few months or years when the rest of the pipes decay.
The cost for all of these repairs: $4,700. That doesn’t include the cost of hiring a general contractor to fix the plaster walls and repaint once the plumbing job is complete. (I’m so happy that we just had the entire house painted less than 9 months ago.)
Ahhhhhh… The joys of homeownership.
Thank goodness we had a wonderful, rested and relaxed week long trip to North Carolina. My husband worked on the house, (like usual), but Baby A and I just enjoyed the scenery. Lots of trips to the beach and pool. I so wanted to stay at the beach, but unfortunately renters were moving in on Sunday so we had no choice but to head back to Maryland.
Due to the big storm that hit the east coast our house has no power and certainly no air conditioning, but the good news is that my parents and in-laws are letting us crash with them for a few nights until power is restored.
Last night was a bit rough for Baby A as he slept in a play yard. Well I should say we tried to put him in a play yard and gave up and co-slept after an hour of two of complete breakdowns and fussing.
The electric companies are telling us to prepare for a week without power. While I’m grateful to my parents and in-laws I sure hope it doesn’t take that long to get the juice turned back on. I want to get all of us back into our own beds!
Thanks to some very helpful comments on last week’s post we started sleep training Baby A when we were in North Carolina and were making great progress. I hope this week he doesn’t revert to his old, fussy, night time ways.
A few years back we installed a satellite dish at our vacation home and ordered service to DirectTV. Shortly after the installation I considered ditching our cable TV, but before cutting the cord I sent out a survey to a bunch of our repeat renters to ask their opinion.
Most of our guests told us that they only watch television when the weather is bad and they were concerned that satellite service wouldn’t work during a major storm, so we made the very strange choice to keep satellite for ourselves and for any renters who wanted to watch it, but also keep cable for the renters in case storms arise during their vacation. Our cable bill was only $20 a month, (due to a promotion), and during the off season we place our service in vacation mode, which costs $10.
Well this year something went horribly wrong when I asked the cable company to place our service in vacation mode and since we don’t watch cable we had no idea the service was out until the first renter called to complain about it.
This is where things get a little crazy. I called the cable company and asked them to place the service back into active mode. They said that wasn’t possible, because the service had been completely turned off at the pole. In other words, rather than making the change to vacation mode they turned off our service all together. I vaguely remember a customer service representative telling me that she could save us more money by making a change to our service, but I certainly didn’t remember her telling me that the savings would come from completely shutting off our access to it.
I calmly asked the customer service representative what needed to be done and he explained that someone would need to come out to the pole and turn our cable access back on. He also said that someone would need to be available at our home so that the technician could verify the change. My husband asked for clarification and we were told that the tech would just need to make sure the cable was working when the television turned on. The representative then told me he was going to sign us up for a promotional rate that would ensure we paid the least amount possible for the same level of service.
Well our vacation home is roughly 250 miles from our primary home, so there was no way we could be onsite for this change, but we informed our rental management company so they could let the technician into our home. We were told the cable was back up and running and thought nothing more about it until we drove down to North Carolina this weekend.
When we arrived our satellite receiver was on the floor, a digital cable box was on the shelf where the receiver used to reside and all of the cables were strewn about. We knew the satellite service wouldn’t work if the receiver wasn’t plugged in so my husband plugged it in, but it didn’t receive a signal.
For some very strange reason the technician cut our satellite line. We didn’t ask him to do this, we didn’t expect him to do this and to be honest we were pretty pissed off that he made this change. We also didn’t ask for digital cable. Prior to this time we had analog cable and we were perfectly fine with that. (Remember it’s just a back up so renters can watch TV on rainy days.)
In an effort to cut down on costs in the off-season we some how managed to have the cable service turned off, (turning it back on cost us $50), and my husband had to spend a day and a half restoring the cables to our satellite service. Worse yet we had to drive thirty miles out of the way to return the digital cable receiver we didn’t want and didn’t request in the first place.
Of course, if we had been onsite when the technician came out to make the change we could have informed him of the error and watched his work to ensure he didn’t cut the cable to our satellite TV, but we were 250 miles away.
I learned three very valuable lessons through all of this. First, when a customer service representative says they can save you money ask for clarification. I had absolutely no idea our service was going to be turned off at the pole rather than being placed in vacation mode. Also, when a representative says they are going to provide you with a promotional rate ask for clarification of the type of service. In our case, we were never informed that the promotional rate involved a change from analog to digital service. If we were told about that change we would have kindly said thanks-but-no-thanks to the promotional offer. Lastly, be very clear with the rental management company about the change to be made. We should have explained to them that the cable technician just needed to turn on the TV. If they understood the change being made they never would’ve allowed him to cut our satellite or install a digital cable box!
In the name of saving ourselves a couple of bucks each month we caused ourselves two days of misery. We not only had to repair the satellite service the technician purposely destroyed, but we also had to drive out of our way to return the digital cable box and pay $50 to get the service turned back on!