Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go out in style, but save while doing it

Strike 3 I'm Out!
How to Save on Funeral Expenses

The funeral industry is a racket. Funerals cost over $6,000 to start. A casket can cost $2,000. Right when someone dies and you are grieving is a lousy time to start dealing with the issue of their funeral. And, it's a double grief to have to pay all that money if you really don't have it, to try and honor their memory.  So, what can you do to help your loved ones when you die? Build your own coffin while you are alive! Besides you can make it as simple, down home, fancy, or wacky as you want. Like an art car, you could make an art coffin. Eat that, King Tut!  (I think I'd like one that looks like a nesting doll.  Or maybe a soap box derby car.  Then just start me rolling and let me go and I'll roll into the grave. hehehe)  The only thing is, before starting I'd check to make sure the local authorities where you want to be buried will allow you to be buried in your homemade box, or if there are any specs you have to follow.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The conspiracy to abolish cash

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/ted-rall/33387/next-digital-totalitarianism-the-conspiracy-to-abolish-cash

Well, if they're really going to get rid of cash, there's all kinds of abuse possible, or even just trouble from glitches.  Banks will be able to charge transaction fees galore, and your money could possibly become inaccessible or frozen if the government doesn't like you (a la Wikileaks' Paypal account.  Hey, it already happens!).

I suppose local trading "currencies" could crop up, but if they make those illegal too we'll be reduced to swapping services or groceries with each other.

Re. swapping groceries: That so-called food safety bill, SB510, makes that practically illegal, too.  If you're bartering home grown tomatoes or culinary herbs, then in their eyes you're operating a small farm and that makes you subject to a lot of onerous regulation.  Some folks think this bill would make even HAVING a backyard vegetable garden illegal, depending on how they interpret it.  (I'm still planting my garden.  Also there's a lot of non-"crop" stealth foods you can grow that are quite good for you.)

Perhaps getting some gold would be a good idea right about now.  Not a whole lot, because it's better to invest in things you can actually use.  You can't eat gold.

I don't like the "gold certificate" idea.  Especially if it's electronic.  It makes me think it would disappear on you the way your money could if it were all electronic.  I also think that owning big bars of gold is dumb, because how does someone make change for that?  (I guess you can saw off a chunk). No, I think getting gold jewelry from a pawn shop or estate auction is a decent idea, because it's already in a form that people will want to trade for.

You could also learn how to make jewelry.  Then if the gold in bar form is cheaper per ounce than the gold from jewelry you buy in the above places, you'll be able to save on gold and add value to it.  Maybe even sell/barter it for twice what the meltdown price is.  There's lots of books in the library on how to make jewelry.

And how to get all your gold out of the country, for all you rich folks who follow my poor-people-survival blog?  Well, get a nice boat like in the movie "Heist" and make the gold into "brass" hardware on the boat.  You could even paint it.  But I'd say, if you can stay home, do that.  Anywhere else, you'd be a stranger.

 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

There Is No Prince Charming

I hope these shoes have gels, she said archly
There Is No Prince Charming.  Even if you have found him and you've got his ring.

Ladies, keep your day jobs. Or run a little home business. Even if you are married now and he makes enough to cover you, provide for yourselves anyway. At least do something part time to keep your resumes current. Here are some gruesome statistics:

50% of marriages end in divorce
The percent of second, third etc. marriages that end in divorce is successively higher each time.
70% of all child support cases in the U.S. are in arrears
The average cost to a family in lost wages of a woman being a stay at home mom is $1,000,000.00.
If you stay out of the work force for even a few years, you will find it very hard to find employment.
Women outlive men for the most part.
A large part of women 60 and over are single. They may find themselves in poverty where they've never been before.

The Distaff View and more crappy statistics:

The average cost of putting 2 kids in daycare is around $17,000/year. If you're just going to have one or two kids, and you don't earn that much anyway, it may make sense to stay at home with them for a few years until you can get them into school. Or if you have a house with an extra bedroom, then rent a room out to someone in exchange for child care help so you can work.

The corporate world on average pays mothers about 20% less than women who are not mothers.  Hey, I thought they weren't allowed to ask.  Hmm.

Links:

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Free advertising and legal forms

Fridge art with business card info on it
http://www.totalrealestatesolutions.com/art/index.cfm
free “refrigerator art”. Makes a coloring-book page for kids to color, with your company info below it, you print out on your computer. Good when your clients bring kids to your office. Keeps the kids occupied. The parents may put it on their fridge, and your company info will be right there on it.  Not just for real estate.

Since the fields are not required, I suppose you could put a greeting from you to the kids “Merry Christmas from Aunt Lucy and Uncle Bob”. Or just leave it blank and get a free page for your own kids to color.

This website says it doesn't harvest your contact info, which is comforting.

You could also download or scan coloring book pictures and edit them with software yourself.

All sorts of legal forms. They give away basic ones and sell kits with more.
More free legal forms http://www.lectlaw.com/formb.htm
For that matter, the http://www.totalrealestatesolutions.com website also has free real estate forms, there is a link on the left somewhere near the bottom.


And here is a coloring book for grownups.  Or older kids.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Just don't get sick!

Quack quack!
Over the last few months I had a few opportunities to overhear people talking about their experiences with the medical industry, government health insurance, retirement, and with the care of elderly people.  What I took from it was this:

Sometimes doctors will order a procedure or test you don't need in order to bill Medicare or Medicaid or your insurance.  Medicare/Medicaid is like free money to them.  Whatever reason they might have for them, just use your common sense and question the fancy procedures.

Sometimes the procedure or test won't be covered by your government insurance and you will find you are the recipient of a very high hospital bill for something that was really unnecessary.

If you find yourself getting a giant medical bill for something and you have gov't. health insurance, write a letter to the health care provider and ask that they re-submit the claim.  Or you can also try to dispute the bill, and say the procedure was unnecessary.  Sometimes the admissibility of the claim has to do with how they submit it or what they call it.

I heard one tale of a doctor submitting a claim to insurance, claiming that the patient was a "new patient".  The patient had been going to that doctor for 5 years.  Somehow this caused the patient to get an enormous bill, although I am not sure why.  They disputed the "new patient" part of the bill and it went away.

Nursing Home Libels Loved One

One crappy nursing home in Florida AS A STANDARD BUSINESS PRACTICE would submit complaints to Health and Human Services about any people who had POA (power of attorney) over any elderly people who decided to move out of their facility into another one.  They would allege the POA was stealing from the elderly person and had transferred them against their will.

The investigator who was sent to check out the nursing home's complaint told the person with POA in this particular case that in about half of their other cases, innocent or not, the POA's had not kept sufficient records of where the money went.

So if you are going to get POA over another person who is in a nursing home, KEEP EVERY DARN RECEIPT NO MATTER HOW SMALL AND EVERY PIECE OF CORRESPONDENCE, BANK STATEMENT, ETC.  I would guess that anyone who has been screwed in this manner by a nursing home might have a cause of action if they have kept good records and come out clean themselves.  They might even be able to assemble a class action suit.

If you are elderly, foreign with weak English, too timid, or otherwise seem like you can be pushed around, you may find yourself in the unnecessary medical procedure predicament often.  Also if you are watching out for an elderly, frail loved one, you will want to watch for this on their behalf.

More advice:

If you injure yourself just slightly, like you fall down and get a scrape, and you think you might heal on your own, and you are on Medicare or Medicaid, avoid going to the hospital.  Use your common sense about this one.  They might order up a test you don't need, just for a scrape.

Never tell a medical professional about a suicide attempt you may have made long ago in the past.  They will put you on a suicide watch even though you are fine now.  Suicide watch means they take away your clothes, your stuff, and your phone, put you in a hospital gown, and put you in a hospital bed in a room with someone watching you for a couple days.  You aren't allowed to leave, and in some cases, even call anyone.  And all for basically no good reason, if it was ancient history to begin with.

If they put you on a new medicine and you start to feel worse, and you don't think it will be life threatening to do so, try stopping it for a bit and see if you feel better. To me this is a no brainer.  But too often, the patient then gets prescribed yet another drug to combat the side effects of the first drug.  Sometimes the cure becomes worse than the problem.

When someone gets on Medicaid because they've used up all their money, and they are in a nursing home, they only get like $51 a month for an allowance.  The adult diapers you can get thru Medicaid suck!  And $51 a month is not enough to buy the good ones. (I got this one from a nursing home nurse).  Here are some causes of adult incontinence:  infection, pregnancy, meds like diuretics or sleeping pills, prostate problems, inflammation of the bladder, drinking of alcohol, weakening of muscles due to menopause and lack of estrogen (?), dementia. 

I know two people who got MERSA in the hospital.  The cost of MERSA medicine is enormous.  One course of the meds is over $1,000.

Moral of the story: don't let yourself get sick in the first place.  Keep your fitness up but not to the point of getting a sports injury.  Don't smoke, don't drink in excess, drink enough water, don't get fat, try to eat lots of fruit and vegetables and whole grains, etc.  And avoid hospitals if you can.  Note I didn't say avoid the doctor altogether.  Or the dentist.  Bad teeth can kill you, literally.  Just take care of things when they're still manageable, when they're maintenance instead of surgery.

P.S.

If you know an elderly person who lives alone and they will let you, LOOK IN ON THEM every once in a while and make sure they are doing OK.  Sometimes old people will put up with things in their house that are broken but easily fixed, because they don't want to be a bother.  With a very little amount of effort you can be super useful to someone.  Example, furnace that just needs a tuneup or inexpensive part, tripped breaker in the basement, mice and bugs, broken window (new pane and glazing is cheap, but might require someone to stand on a ladder), etc. etc.  Also, if you can, look in their fridge, make sure it works right, look under their sinks and make sure they're not leaking, all that stuff. People with bad eyesight or who have no energy might not notice these little things.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Shuffle off to Buffalo!

 SHUFFLE OFF TO BUFFALO!
This guy thinks that in the coming economic crisis, the answer is to shuffle off to BUFFALO.
Yep, Buffalo, New York.
His rationale: there is a lot of fresh water nearby (Great Lakes) and a big hydroelectric plant (Niagara Falls).  It's not normally subject to earthquakes or tsunamis.  South of Buffalo there's farmland.  People in Buffalo are mostly blue-collar, so they won't try to hoity-toit you out of there, as long as you're willing to roll up your sleeves and work alongside them.  There's a lot of vacant houses in Buffalo, so people who escape to there might find temporary shelter easily.
Where will you go if your city has the next crisis?  It should be a tank of gas or less away.  If that isn't going to cut it, consider storing another tank worth of gas and then rotate it once in a while to keep it fresh.  When you hit the road, you'll be able to go farther.  For me, this would be 2 tanks away.  But unless it really hits the fan where I am, I'm stayin'.  I live within walking distance of a river, so I'll have water one way or another.  Of course if we get one of those 100 year floods, I might have to go.  Happy New Year everybody!