Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Laundry, Light and that Stupid Lizard

I don't want to be that girl who blogs about money troubles. We all have them. They're personal and taboo. However, today the financial world opened its big, strong magnet and sucked at our dollars faster than we'd budgeted. And I need to vent about it.

The day started out rough. It's laundry day, which is NOT a picnic in our new place. Maybe I'll blog about it some day. For now, know this: 3 flights, baby, ghetto machines.

Between loads and during naptime I sat down to pay some bills. This is something I actually LOVE to do. I get this from my dad. I pour over the statements, make sure everything is correct, then get great satisfaction out of paying them, balancing the checkbook and filing everything away. Today there was no satisfaction. Just two serious, hard kicks where in hurts most. The wallet.

I open our car insurance bill from Geico. I noticed it was $21.20 higher than our last bill with absolutely no explanation why. That bugs. Of course I called. Ironically, instead of getting it back to the original price, we're now paying $127.40 MORE. Why? In the course of our conversation it came out that we've moved. (Note: When you move you have to change your address with a million peeps, right? I had my list. Harley had his. Geico was on his list. Apparently, Harley has not yet completed his list.) The lady on the phone blamed the initial $21.20 increase on "the economy hit by hard times." I know we've seen better days but seriously? That much in six months? Of course she had no way to break down this reasoning with solid numbers, so I'm left with no choice but to accept it. The NEW $106.20 is thanks to our new home. She informed me Bladensburg sees more traffic accidents than Gaithersburg. (There's a shocker.) Can't really fight that one either. I went with the ammo that's worked in the past. I pointed out our miles have dropped significantly. We went from two people commuting 20+ miles every day to well, nada. I told her we'd put only 1500 miles on the car over the next year. Harley bikes to school. I... go to the grocery store. That's about it. Didn't seem to help. She pointed out in one year my car accident will be three years behind us and that will help. Thanks for bringing up that painful memory. I told her to apply every science, geek, nerd, teacher, student discount she had. (Did you know scientists are proven to be safer drivers?) She said those discounts were already factored in. I asked if that was the best she could do. (This statement is magical by the way. I will blog about its power some day.) She paused and said, "Are you willing to have a $1000 deductible instead of $500?" Absolutely. (Take the risk. Learned that from my dad too.) She knocked off $80. Bottom line we're paying nearly $1300/year in car insurance. Does that seem way high to anyone else? I told her to send me a new bill, but threatened I'd be shopping around in the meantime. She got nervous and gave me a big speech about how much Geico cares about us and doesn't want to lose valued customers. She doesn't want to lose us, but she can't go any lower. Guess she doesn't care that much.

Speaking of "caring," what's with them acting so interested in your personal life when you KNOW they couldn't give a rat's you-know-what? Perfect example: in an effort to prove our yearly mileage would be really low I told her we just had our first baby and don't travel as much. She gushed, she ooowed, asked for his name, then wished me congratulations. Not 15 seconds later she was asking me if we have any teenage children on the policy. Two minutes later she asked if we had any "new 16 year olds" on the policy. I'm not kidding. Why are you wasting my time pretending to care about my family? I know you really don't and you're not paying attention so save my time and yours and cut the small talk! On the plus side, at least she spoke fluent English with no accent, which is way more than I can say for most people you get on the phone these days.

My "15 minutes" was really 28 PRECIOUS, day-time, cell minutes. It didn't save me "15% or more." It actually COST ME 40% more. Thanks a lot gecko.


Then there is the bill from Pepco (electric company) for $414.64. That one sent my jaw crashing to the floor. I'm trying to not freak out TOO much because SURELY there is a mistake. NO WAY did we use that much electricity (on what? Air conditioning? Not when you live with Harley) in the 13 days we've been here. I see the bill says from March 29-September 12. Okay, so maybe the previous tenant (our landlord) owes some of this. It's hard to tell from the bill. It's going to take another phone call. Gearing up now for that one.

To top this all off, I'm waiting for the maintenance man. The brand new garbage disposal is broken and the dining room light (our main source of light in a no-ceiling-lights-must-bring-your-own-lamp east coast apartment) keeps flickering and sounds like it's making popcorn. Thank goodness we rent, otherwise we'd have those bills to foot too!

Thanks for listening. I'm so glad blogging is free.

P.S. Of course we're having major Comcast issues that I will not go into on this post. No surprise there. Comcast bills don't even phase me anymore because they're ALWAYS wrong. We end up paying the correct amount every month it just takes a phone call, a lot of patience, my time and more precious, ever-precious day-time minutes.

15 comments:

Lauren F. said...

I feel your pain. When State Farm raised our rates a few years ago we just switched to AllState. I've heard bad things about Geico-- that they start low and gradually (or not so gradually) increase the rates.

Claudia said...

Sigh, I am sorry! I know how hard it is, especially when your budget has undergone such a drastic shift already.
I don't know if it will make you feel better, but last month, through the miracle of online bill pay, I paid the $391 electric bill (which was accurate) to the gas company. And then, of course, had to pay it to the electric company again, now with a late penalty. Ouch. Lesson learned. And I won't have to pay a gas bill for a long, long time...

brookie said...

Wendy, what a pain!! Hopefully the worst is over. Transitioning everything over after a move is pure hell. Just wanted to say thank you for posting this! You're not alone! I had a horrible customer "service" experience with Apple last week; gas is 50 cents higher today than it was yesterday, and my 401k has lost EIGHTEEN percent over the last year. Sickening. When did we become adults!?

Kelly Durham said...

Yuck! I wish I had had no idea what you're talking about but, sigh, I do. I detest calling customer service (especially because my kids can magically sense when the people finally take me off hold and start making mischief). "Heart-Attack Bills," as I call those that have a number in the three digits WAY higher than what you expect, are also the worst. Good luck sorting out that electric bill. That one reminds me of the time a certain random, weirdo ex-roommate of ours neglected to pay the utilities (which were in my name) for FOUR MONTHS and I was left sorting it out. Still not over that . . . maybe if she hadn't stolen my hair dryer, I would be okay by now. Nope, probably not.

Harley King said...

This will all be worth it.
This will all be worth it.

This will all be worth it.

janaemadsen said...

Wendy! I also hate bills. Anyway we will probably be driving through on Friday if you want to meet Austin the Dog- or we will come this weekend. Call me.
our car insurance is destined to go up thanks to 2 traffic tickets for John. ugh.

TamiAbbyKevin said...

Wendell,
I love your posts. I love your upset humor about the insurance and the move. Sometimes you just gotta vent. I hate feeling helpless in all of our bills, when they go up, sometimes for no apparent reason, and there is nothing we can do about it.

Sarah S said...

I have so many comments, where do I start...

First - we used to have USAA, which is a very affordable insurance for people w/ connections to the military, army, etc (Ben's dad was in the JAG back in the day). But surprisingly, www.esurance.com is even cheaper. Seriously, I think we're paying $850/yr for two cars (a 2005 Altima and a 1994 Altima). And I'm positive our area does not fare well w/ accidents. So that's one to check - we've had to use their towing a few times for our older car and it was fine.

Next, I absolutely, positively hate Comcast. Hate it. But I don't think we can get DSL at our house for some ridiculous reason, so it makes me want to stick w/ the cable internet and just do our cable and phone w/ them as well for convenience sake. But what a PAIN. I call them at least a few times a month and it is so, so annoying to waste that time.

Finally, the memory of doing laundry down three flights of stairs is still very recent in my mind. I think that was one of the hardest things about living in our condo - I always made Ben help me w/ it and we'd do the laundry at night once or twice/week after Eli went to bed.

We definitely miss some things about the PhD lifestyle though... it's a good chunk of time that you know what your immediate future holds and you're not making major decisions, at least in the beginning. Our vacation time was WAY more flexible then. Ben had more freedom with when he could go in and leave. Now life is stressful and seems so much more complicated. Ben's commute is ten times longer than when he was in school, and he wakes up MUCH earlier than he did back then. Sad!

JessK said...

Sigh...I think $1300 is typical for east coast metro areas. We paid that much last year in NJ for our ghetto 12-year-old Camry. Then we moved to TX and bought a new(er) car and our insurance is now about $800. Less population density, I guess. Have you tried Liberty Mutual? They give discounts for BYU grads...

Ali Snow said...

Man, I guess that's a pro to living in Provo still. We insure 2 cars, have liability AND collision on my car, the same $500 deductible and we only pay about $700 year. Nearly half as much! I'm sorry darlings. Come back to Utah :) And we get mad when we have an electric bill that is $40 or more. We live in 2 different worlds.

Ali Snow said...

Oh, and we have Geico too.

Zach said...

I too can relate to all the knashing of teeth regarding bills, bills, and more bills.

About the insurance? Shop around ..

With regards to Comcast ... when we were dirt poor .. wait ... we still are ... HA HA HA HA!!! We cut the cable and just used NetFlix. Yes, sounds wierd, but with all the stuff on the Internet, the only thing I seriously miss is my sports.

By the way, I never go with my cable company or telephone companies long distance stuff. You always end up paying all these dumbs fees and taxes. For telephone, I have just a local number from the local telephone company and I use Pioneertelephone.net for all my in-state and outta-state long distance. I've been doing it for years and I think they're the best. Besides, you only pay for what you use. Oh yeah .. if you call the phone company and sign some kinda form saying "I'm really really really really poor" they might cut you a deal on your local telephone ($5 a month in So Cal) and you might get a discounted rate in electricity. It's worth a shot.

You guys are awesome!

Suzette Selden said...

I feel your pain. I also am the designated bill payer at my house, and I hate those phone calls. Hope it gets worked out.

becky said...

Girl, you are amazing! Want to come deal with my bills? Let's talk about grocery shopping and how I paid $6 for milk this weekend. I could go all caps right now, but in the interest of brevity and polite language, suffice it to say I FEEL YOU! UGH!

lys said...

Oh, my dear Wendy. I wish that I could be there to commiserate.