Accident Fallout

Update!

I have some updates related to my accident.

Wouldn’t you know it that the other person did not have insurance! Yeah, my “uninsured motorist” insurance has to cover the cost of all of it. In addition to that, the other person tried to “escape” from the hospital. The police prevented that from happening. We do not have official word on it but it sounds like there were other things going on with the person as well. She certainly did not want to be held or in trouble.

Politics!

Ok, so here we are in a state that requires everyone to have auto insurance yet I get in an accident that is not my fault and the other person does not have any. How does that work?

Let’s face it, not everyone needs car insurance. For instance, if you live in NYC and take the train to work, there may be no need for you to have a car – ever. In that case, you would not need car insurance – right? If you are a student on campus at a college, you may not need it either. I have a cousin who did not get a car until their third year in college. Until then – no car insurance.

The bottom line is that I’m getting stuck with bills that are not my fault because someone else decided to drive without insurance. How would you feel about that?

Medical!

I went to the doctor today. I have to go for more x-rays. Seems like there is still the possibility that I have broken ribs. The pain is not going away. There is also the possibility that I have blood clots in my leg since the swelling will not go down. More fun.

How Do You Forgive?

I’m supposed to forgive the other driver – right? After all, I am married to a pastor. What would it say if I did not forgive the other person? Sure, I am mad. We were doing nothing wrong. We were simply driving home from our granddaughter’s birthday party. No alcohol involved on our part, no drugs, just good memories of a great day, looking forward to getting home and relaxing before bed.

I can forgive the other person but that does not mean I have to forget that it happened. After all, I have pain that I am dealing with every day since the accident. I forgive the other person for being selfish, not following the law, causing pain and suffering, and everything else that goes with the accident. Having said that, I will also hold the other person accountable for their actions. Here is a great point.

Pope John Paul II Shot

Credit: The Times, UK

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II, was shot in an attempted assassination by a Turkish citizen, Mehmet Ali Agca. On December 27, 1983, the Pope forgave the shooter for trying to kill him. The Pope visited the person in jail and forgave him of his sins. However, when it was done, the Pope left the prison and the person did many more years in jail before being released January 18, 2010. The Pope did not try to eliminate the sentence or get him out early. The person was held accountable for his actions. I will simply do the same.

Pope John Paul II forgives shooter

Credit: Fox News

A New Vehicle

Insurance has offered me “fair market value” for my car. I need to ask them where I can buy a car like the one I had for that amount. I don’t see it. There is about a $4,000.00 difference. That includes the fact that in the last month, I have had the air conditioner fixed and four new tires put on the car. If you are familiar with a Honda Pilot, that is no cheap feat.

For now, we were fortunate to know someone at our church who was selling a car. Although we had to take out a loan to pay for it, the money we will eventually get from insurance will cover most of it. The rest we will be able to pay off quickly.

Personal Finance Impact

Here is where we are at the minute. This will change over time so this is really just a snap-shot. We have been short one car for nine days so far. We have been to the emergency room via ambulance at a cost of $675 per person just to get there. Medical bills are starting to show up. I am currently on medical disability as it is so my check is not affected however, if I was working, I would currently be out of work for over a week so far. I would have to cover that loss through vacation which is paid or FMLA which is not paid.

For the most part, they are inconveniences for now but we will have to see how high the bill pile gets.

I am going to come back to the same theme I have been talking about regarding financial security. If we had been racked with a ton of bills, we would not be able to get a loan in two days towards another car. We would be stressed out to the max about how to pay for the things that are coming up. We are fortunate to walk away from the accident the way we have.

As I said in the last post, Things Happen. It’s A Money Thing, this is turning into a bump in the road so far. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Accidents can be devastating. We hear in the news all the time how families go bankrupt because of medical things. What can you do today to make sure you have a more secure future?

Things Happen. It’s A Money Thing.

Accidents Happen

On Sunday evening I was traveling home with my wife after attending our granddaughter’s second birthday party. We were about five miles from home when it happened. Driving across an intersection, we were involved in a head-on collision with another driver. Here is what the result was.

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We were extremely fortunate that we did not sustain any broken bones however, there is still a lot of pain and bruising going on. We were taken to the emergency room and treated. My wife ended up with a burnt hand from the airbag and some pain in her chest, shoulders, and back. I have pain in my chest, my left foot, right knee, left index finger, right thumb, arms, back and a small cut on my forehead.

We could not figure out how I had so much wrong with me until my wife saw the car (shown above), then we understood.

The other person went to jail after trying to “escape” from the hospital.

We are truly thankful that we basically walked away from this and pray for quick healing and for the other driver, that she may get the help she needs to keep something like this from happening again. Prayer is a big part of our lives. God is good all the time. We praise Him in the good times and the bad times. We do not believe that God “planned” for this to happen. We believe that people make choices and sometimes those choices affect a lot of other people.

Beyond Injury

It’s just a car – right? That is very true. It is something that can be replaced. Unfortunately, we had planned on keeping that car for another 4-5 years. It was paid for. We will need to get another car now instead. Insurance will only give us a certain amount for the car. From that, we will need to purchase another vehicle. Rather than using a majority of our savings to buy the new vehicle, we are choosing to take out a loan for part of the purchase price.

Why a loan? Because we can get the loan for 1.49% interest over 4-5 years. Of course, we will pay if off sooner than that. The other reason is so that we do not exhaust our savings in the process. I am estimating that we should be able to pay off the car in about two years instead of four. We will see how it goes.

Emergency Fund

I’ve talked about an emergency fund in a post titled Emergency! What Do I Do Now? The emergency fund is always a great idea but it usually is not set up to handle costs like this. We also have six months wages in savings but like I said, we do not want to completely destroy our savings account.

Medical Bills

Unfortunately, there is the concern that the other person does not have insurance. We do not know that information yet but the fact that she tried to “escape” from the hospital tells me that either she has been down this road before or she thought somehow, no one would find out who she was. Thankfully, we have full coverage on the vehicle and we also have medical coverage through the insurance. This will take away a lot of the sting even if the other person did not do what they were supposed to do.

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing is that we will recover. We will make more money, we will continue to work at what we each do, we will purchase another vehicle and our life will return to “normal” whatever that is. Although bad things happen in this life, we can praise God in the good times and the bad. Also, by having a handle on our finances, although this is inconvenient, we can handle the misfortunes.

If anyone is saddled with debt, then events like this become devastating. Major medical things cause tragedy to our finances as well as our personal well-being. Being prepared for “when” things happen is so important so that it does not completely disrupt your life. Things will happen. It truly is a matter of “when,” not “if” they will happen so be prepared.

Stay on top of your finances and accidents become just another bump in the road.

Thank you Lord, that no one was seriously hurt.

Cash – The Slow Road

Have you ever taken a walk down a wooded trail and simply enjoyed nature, time with loved ones, and the beauty that is all around you? Maybe it was a walk along the beach at sunset. The point is that you took some time to slow down and enjoy the world around you. There was no need to hurry. That is the idea about today’s entry.

Cash is King – right?

You would never know it in today’s society. Commercialism is everywhere and is no more evident than in commercials. Commercials try to make it as though using cash is a terrible idea.

Check out this commercial for the Visa Check Card. It shows that using cash is inconvenient, not only to the person using it but also for everyone else around them. Taking responsibility for your financial well-being is never inconvenient. I know that it is for a Check card but the atmosphere that is created works just as well for credit cards.

My wife and I allocate cash for certain things. We have a budget for food, entertainment, shopping, eating out and personal money (allowance). Yes, we both have an allowance to work with. We do this so we can regulate how much we spend. My wife is a real trooper. She has wrapped herself around this idea since we first started dating. She also sees the benefit of keeping track of spending although she would certainly like more spending money. Even though she would like to have more, she understands and agrees with the amounts we allocate to each area. Usually, we can adjust those numbers on an annual basis.

I cannot tell you how many times we would got out to dinner and pay with cash only to find that the waiter or waitress did not have change for our bill. One time we went out, they had to get the manager to open a safe in the office in order to get cash for us. As the commercial shows, cash is becoming inconvenient for retailers of all kinds.

What is most disturbing is that commercials like the one shown above, make it appear that you are doing something completely out of tune with society if you use cash. Well, maybe that’s true but there is nothing wrong with it – that is for sure.

We should not let it phase us. Using cash makes all of us think about what we are spending our money on.  When we have to count out $20 bills to pay for something, we know exactly how long we had to work in order to get that cash in our hands and may not want to give it up so easily.

Credit cards and even debit cards do not feel like cash. We tend not see the money slipping away like we would when handing over hard cash.

There is a reason credit card companies are constantly offering cash back, miles, etc. when we sign up for their card. They know that a majority of people who have credit cards keep a balance on them. That is easy, simple interest they get to collect from us every month. Rarely do we see anyone promoting the use of cash.

When I go to a retail store to buy clothes for instance, I am always asked if I want to apply for their store card. They tell me that I can save 15% if I just apply. The reason is that they understand that statistically, if you get one, you will spend more money than if you use cash. Although I feel like I have the discipline to pay off the card every month, I would rather not have to worry about having a credit card from each store to worry about. I have even thought about applying each time to get the 15% off and then immediately closing the account but it is one more hassle that takes time out of my day. Instead, I simply wait until I have the money to buy the items I need and not worry about it.

Here is one fact about cash that cannot be disputed. If you do not have the cash, you cannot spend the money. Period. Make a statement. Use cash. Enjoy the trip, do not rush it.

What is one way that you can change from using credit or debit cards to using cash? Let’s hear it.

Needs vs. Wants

But it is on sale?

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that. We need to start looking at it differently. Just because something is on sale does not mean it is something we need. My wife made a good point just the other day when we were talking. We had been discussing my last blog post, Coupons? Yeah – Right!,  when she said she did not like coupons either. One reason she gave was that sometimes with coupons, you need to buy other things that you do not need at full price in order to be able to use the coupon.

When I look at needs and wants, I see the same dilemma. If I go to the store because I need one pair of jeans, how many times are there signs in the store that say if you buy one pair, you can get a second pair for half off?

Needs are things we have to have in order to survive. For me, that means, food, clothing, and shelter. I tend to add a fourth one to the list. That one is transportation. The reason I add that one is because even if you are using public transportation to get to a job, it ends up being a need so that you can keep your job. Bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards, and any other form of transportation is needed for a certain distance.

Wants are things we would like to have that do not fall into the categories listed above. I want a new car, but, I will continue to drive my 2000 Toyota Corolla which I bought from my mother and still has under 100k miles on it. It is paid for and the maintenance has been really cheap to this point. Mainly tires, brakes and oil changes. My wife and I want a house but for now, the rental we are in is working out well. When the time is right, we will look at purchasing a home of our own again. It took a while to get rid of the old homes we had.

When we talk about needs, it is important to define some of those as well. We all need food to survive. I remember a time when I was in the military. I had gone out partying and blew my whole check in a week. I had eight days to go before I got paid again and there was no food in the apartment. I was already getting extra pay for not eating off the base so I could not eat there. I ended up borrowing money from someone before I got paid. It was a hard lesson in major interest. From that point on, I always made sure that I had two loaves of bread, peanut butter and jelly and some kind of drink mix in the house so that I wasn’t always drinking water.

I told every one of my kids the story and encouraged them to make sure they always had those things too. They add Ramon Noodles to the list. Doing this, I made sure that I would always have some food in the house. Sure, it sucks to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner but the alternative is to go without food.

Clothing is something we need so that we do not get arrested for indecent exposure. We do not need 25 pairs of shoes no matter how hard we try to justify it. We can save some money by shopping for clothing items at Good Will, Salvation Army or garage sales. It just does not make much sense to spend extra money on clothes if we cannot pay the bills on time.

Finally, there is shelter. This is a hard one because no one wants to live in a location that is unsafe or where there are health hazards within the house or apartment. However, living in something you cannot afford is not recommended either. Many people realized this when the housing bubble burst. How many people lost their homes because the value went to half of what they paid for it? If you look at what was going on, people thought that credit was unlimited. They were taking equity loans out on their homes and putting their families in jeopardy. I am renting right now because we recently moved to a new area. My wife and I each had a house before we were married. It took a long time to sell them. Years in fact. We can afford to rent the place we are in now. It is nice but we would not get into something that was over a certain amount so that we could look like we were doing better than we are. That is called keeping up with the Jones’. You can read about that in my post Unfriend Mr. & Mrs. Jones.

There is always room to move up. Watch what you spend, pay your bills on time, eliminate your debt. When those things are gone, you will find out how much extra money there is in your life and will be able to get some of those things you want. Take care of your needs. The rest will come in time.

Coupons? Yeah – Right!

Coupons save you money. A lot of times, you can get free coupons in the mailbox from local grocery stores, etc. Everyone knows the stores are banking on the idea that when you come to the store with coupons, you are more than likely going to buy some other stuff as well. Those other things will be at full price.

Personally, I hate coupons. The only coupon I consider using is the one from Hobby Lobby. You see, with that one, I get 40% off the purchase of one item. Why do I like that one? Well, it is because I can call it up on my phone, show it to the cashier and it gets taken off my bill. I do not have to clip coupons, keep track of dates and items. I simply show the coupon. Done!

I know that there are coupon people out there who are screaming right now. I understand. I know people who are coupon super savers who work the system so well that they barely spend any money on groceries. Personally I do not have the time for it.

When I was a single dad, with three teenage girls at home who had all kinds of school stuff to do – when I was saving pennies just to make ends meet, working tons of overtime to make an extra buck, I had no energy for coupon clipping.

I don’t even know how long it takes to do it. All I know is I did not have the time or energy to bother with it. Hobby Lobby is about as close as I got. I only started shopping there about six months ago as it is.

I did do some things that helped out a lot and did not take a huge amount of time. In the town I was in at the time, there were four main grocery stores. Each one would have a flyer each week. I would circle the items on their sales flyers and make a list of my groceries.  There is a whole story about how I came up with my grocery list which I will share in another post. Back to the stores… I would take all the flyers and go to the store furthest away from the house. I would go through that store and pick up as many items from the flyer that I could. If it was strictly an in-store coupon then I would have to wait for that store rather than trying to get a matching price. I would then move on to the next store and do the same thing until I had gone through all the stores. Small towns do have an advantage that way. Maybe it added 15 minutes to my trip by stopping at all the stores but I was able to save some money that way. I would also buy extra of some things like chicken. My kids will probably never eat chicken again.

My hat is off to those of you who are coupon groupies. I could not spend the time focusing on it.

There are some grocery stores that give you their coupons automatically if you have one of their free membership cards. What I see there is their prices on other items are higher than other places. That’s what I see anyway.

If they only had a coupon I could call up on my phone that would give me 1%, or 3%, or 5% off my purchases as a given store. Now that is something I might be interested in keeping up with.