Money To Live

December 31, 2008

Another victim of the recession: Puppies

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

I gave my father a puppy for Christmas.

Since my mom wanted a dog that does not shed and my dad wants a big dog (but not a standard poodle), we decided to look for a Labradoodle. Labradoodles pups are the result of cross-breeding a labrador retriever and a  standard poodle. While there are no guarantees, the breed tends to be low-shed and hypo-allergenic.

I contacted and offered to adopt two adult labradoodles, but each already had a pending adoption. The only other adult labradoodles in the area that were up for adoption have behavior issues, and my parents were not ready to bring home a dog with pre-existing behavior problems.

I found some Labradoodle pups listed on Craigslist and called the owner, Scott. Scott explained that he is not a breeder and only has this one litter because his veterinarian convinced him that his gentle, AKC registered golden lab would make a great mom for breeding. When the pups were born, most were already claimed by their new owners, who had paid a deposit for a Labradoodle puppy. Several families backed out and forfeited their $250 deposits, though, because they could not pay the remaining $500 of the adoption fee. That left Scott with a lot of Labradoodle puppies. He actually lives in Oklahoma but had to bring the pups to Dallas because there were not enough people interested in buying the pups in Oklahoma City.

The logistics of buying the puppy worked out very well, and Scott came directly to my parents’ house on his way from Oklahoma City to Dallas. It was quite a site to see five 3-month-old Labradoodles running around the front yard. Of the five, four had black coats and one had a golden coat. My father selected the one puppy with a golden coat, who also happened to be the largest of the litter. Originally named Noah Bear, the golden Labradoodle puppy has been tentatively name Sherman (after William Tecumseh).

In all honesty, the reason my parents finally agreed to get a dog is the movie Marley & Me. It is a wonderful movie, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes dogs. The dog Marley has the nickname “clearance puppy.” In the same spirit – because he was already returned once due to a misunderstanding of apartment dog weight restrictions, my nickname for Sherman is “final sale puppy.”

Within the first 12 hours of getting the puppy, my mother and I together spent a total of $600.
$250 for the puppy
$300 on food and supplies (a crate, etc.)
$50 in donations to the Fort Worth Animal Shelter (because they asked and I felt guilty for not adopting from a shelter)
Staying up half the night because the little guy whined in his crate – priceless

Here is a short clip of Sherman “romping”

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December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Merry Christmas Eve!

This is my first holiday season with a full time job, and I am a little sad to be working on Christmas Eve – I fly to Texas late in the afternoon and will be with my family on Christmas morning.

With everything going on in the world today, I am very grateful to have a relatively simple and safe life. And also to be employed. To celebrate the holidays (and also being gainfully employed), I made a contribution to every organization that asked me to. I enjoyed picking out a pink box of Legos (because girls need Legos, too) for Toys for Tots and some sweaters for a young adult in an alternative high school.

Tomorrow morning I will make “monkey bread” for Christmas breakfast. Only once a year can I justify eating bread soaked in butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

December 17, 2008

Update: health insurance reimbursement

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

A while ago, I wrote about my health insurance. For various reasons, I spent several hundred dollars out of pocket and had to file a claim form with my insurance company.

When a month after filing the forms I had not heard anything, I called the insurance company and then the billing departments of the doctor offices I had seen.

In total, it took 7 phone calls to get two doctor offices to reimburse me for what I had paid out of pocket.

My favorite phone call:

Katy: [spends 3 minutes telling the story of why I need to be reimbursed]

Billing representative: Well, let me pull up your file. … Why, you don’t owe us anything!

Katy: That’s right. You owe me money.

Fortunately, the lady burst out laughing. Probably most of her phone calls are exactly the opposite – with her asking patients for money.

December 10, 2008

Reader tip: Price Reductions

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

Tip from Janice:

Many of the stand-alone clothing stores (Ann Taylor, Banana Republic/Gap, etc) have a 14 day (2 week) price reduction policy.  It used to be printed on the receipt for Gap and Banana Republic, but is no longer.  If something you buy is discounted or is reduced in price within that 14 day period, you get the difference back.  All you need to do is give the cashier your receipt and ask if any of the items you have purchased have been reduced.  I just got $15 back on a pair of jeans I bought at the Gap that way.

I am amused when a store will not offer a price adjustment but will accept returns. What is to stop a customer from returning an item and immediately repurchasing the item at the reduced price?

December 3, 2008

When Money Solves Problems

Filed under: Uncategorized — by moneytolive @ 5:00 am

As the weather has turned cold (I saw snow last week!), I am reminded of how unprepared I was for winter when I first moved to New Jersey from Texas. My first two winters were miserable.

During the first winter, the heat was shut off in my dorm for 24 hours. Feeling very cold that evening, I decided to take a hot shower to warm myself up. I put the shower on hot and let it run for several minutes to get nice and scalding hot. After a few minutes I dropped my towel, hopped into the shower, and screamed. When the heat is turned off, so is the hot water.

It did not help that my office was poorly heated. My office temperature never got above 70 degrees in the winter, but it also never dipped below 67 degrees, which was the threshold for arranging a visit from Maintenance.

There was also the day I slipped on ice on a sidewalk, right as a yellow school bus full of children drove by.

My poor mother heard countless time how cold it was, and one day she had had enough of it. I called her and spent ten full minutes relaying every detail of the cold. When we got off the phone, I found a $200 Lands End gift certificate in my email inbox. I promptly ordered the warmest socks they sold (intended for arctic hiking and camping) and the warmest long underwear available (upwards of $60 a pair).

This gift may be the most transformational gift I have ever received. It literally changed my life, and I complained far less the three remaining winters in New Jersey.

Every time I pull out the arctic camping gear (like today), I think of my mom and am so grateful she used money to solve my problem of being cold.

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