Category Archives: Money

Only Child looks at the macro of our horrid world

01910012You have had enough of my rants on personal reasons why this world is so bad, so except for my opinion on it, today I’m going to go into the macro area – why our 21st century world is doing worse than going to hell in a handbasket.

First, for those who didn’t read the comments from my last post, here’s a brief update. I’m not going blind yet and have expensive eye drops for life for my left eye. My son Martin is helping to pay for them. The left eye has glaucoma and is badly damaged. The right eye is fine. So, not getting an eye patch yet for the left eye. No Pirate Sharon for now.

So what is wrong with the world we live in? Here are a few things I’ve either seen (in person or online or TV), read about or people I know have experienced. FYI I believe the world just went really bad when we entered the 21st. century. Think 9/11 in 2011. Before we left the 20th century, the world was still livable, not perfect, but not way out of whack.

Here we go with my dirty dozen on what’s globally wrong.

  1. Terrorism escalating. Enough said here.
  2. Recessions, high unemployment, high debt (some people have no choice but to go into debt because income doesn’t meet expenses even if they do budget. I’m not talking about buying too expensive houses and taking on mortgages that can’t be paid if someone loses a job).
  3. Pollution.
  4. Extreme weather being the norm everywhere. I do blame global warming for a lot of it and we (the collective “we”) screwed up. I still believe that God controls the weather and could put a halt to all this or at least get it back to normal. But I also believe that because he gave us free will and he doesn’t like what we have done/are doing with it, he’s not helping us. Can you really blame him?
  5. The world is overpopulated. And you can use your own take on the whys and the wherefores here.
  6. Religious fundamentalism  of any kind and its results.
  7. Bad leaders and potential leaders in some countries. You can also use your own take here.
  8. People are getting ruder and nastier and more violent.
  9. The over-technological world we live in. Is all this necessary when we see what it does and can do to people? Yes, basic cell phones are probably necessary (text and phone functions) for emergencies and the like. But all the “bells and whistles,” the apps, etc.? And full digital kitchens? Come on, where’s the fun in cooking?
  10. Too many people getting too many cancers.
  11. Medical – both the primary caregivers – some are so inept and also how the practices and medical clinics are run. Here’s what’s happening with one cardiologist being disciplined.  And the cost to people for medical services, including drugs and supplements – what isn’t covered by government medical insurance and the high cost of private insurance.
  12. Too many people living below the poverty level and too many living high on the hog with too high salaries. The middle class? What’s that? It’s shrinking.

What am I doing about it? Trying to combine what is necessary for me in technology and becoming more self-sustainable (if there is such a word) in my life. I’ll go into that more in a future post.

So, what are you doing about this world we live in? One of my blog post followers has a slogan at the top of her blog

“Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” — Laurie Buchanan

Check out her blog posts. It is people like Laurie who give us hope for the future.

 

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Civility, God, Health, Health Insurance, Life Balance, Life demands, Money, Only child, Problems, Rude Rage, Technology overload, Weather

Only Child in financial crunch thanks to health issues

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Only child ponders finances, health and the like

Looks like what I do for my health will not only depend on my time, but my finances. Surprise! Surprise! I say that sarcastically as I am one of many seniors who live below the poverty level and have to make choices what we can really afford to pay for. And I have known that for years.

Food, utilities and property taxes, family, property, insurance and book promo are at the top of the list for monthly payments, although not necessarily in that order.

So where is health? Yes, it should be on the list, and maybe it is – somewhere. (I haven’t listed all the categories for my monthly expenses.)  But in the last nine months or so health has stolen from my finances and my time – the bad health issues. I don’t mean buying healthy food and eating healthy food. I seem to be able to keep within food grocery budget (so far), but whatever I budget for health each month is never enough. And that is just the basics I spend on health each month. Basics for me is a lot of vitamins, minerals and other supplements. Necessary for me. A few quick examples. I have to take mega-doses of Vitamin D from November to end of April becaue of our you-know-what weather in Canada (the word begins with “f”), there is little winter sun. The body doesn’t keep Vitamin D so it needs constant replenishing. I have a digestive disorder so have to take probiotics and digestive supplements. And then there are the various supplements, etc. for my allergies and re-occurring sinisitus from the allergies. But those are basic monthlies and don’t take into account all the extras such as dentist, serum for allergies, and all the health emergencies that come up.

In previous posts I mentioned that I am dealing with one big health issue a  month – even if the related health practitioners don’t like it. The focus had been on my time. I love my late mom, but don’t want to spend my senior years like her – a long litany of various medical appointments that didn’t improve her health and didn’t save her life. For example, medication for her arthritis didn’t make it better. She lost her job because of her arthritis. And thanks to the arthritis, she had a fall, which led to an undetected brain aneurysm, which wasn’t found by any of the litany of medical experts she saw – until it was too late and it sent her into a five-day coma, which killed her – despite surgery.

I rest my case with that aspect.

But the financial. This month was earmarked by me (in conjunction with my dentist – at least I was following his direction here) that I needed my (hopefully – experience has trusted me not to trust anything where health is concerned) last dental appointment to fix the residue of the dental emergency in early December had to be in February.
Well, I made an appointment for Feb. 17, but have since moved it to Feb. 29. That’s a time thing. For those who read my author blog you will know I’m in a big crunch to finish my third Beyond mystery book to get it to the publisher by Feb. 28. Of course, if accepted, there will be more changes and rewrites. But I moved the dental appointment to after the publisher’s deadline – I cannot afford taking time from my writing day this month to do medical appointments for medical practitioners who don’t have evening and/or weekend hours.

But now I can’t afford to pay the dentist this month. He is very understanding about lowering the fee, but I’m hoping he will accept post-dated cheques for over the next few months. Starting with March, the property taxes return. I have a horrendous hydro bill coming later this month (horrendous because hydro’s credit which provided dollars off ended January 1). I have applied for the new electrical bill help which could give me $30 a month off or $60 a month for each bill which is bi-monthly.

Won’t be this current bill. My application has been received. I got notice of that last week, although it was a month since I sent it in. I was told when I phoned in last week that it would take two to four more weeks before being approved because the consent form takes the time.

Well excuse me. I filled out and signed the consent form and there is only me involved for consent for them to get a copy of my income tax notice of assessment for 2014 – the latest available. Oh pardon my ignorance – that is two different governments.

So, to return to health issues. A business colleague just published a book called “My Business Ate My Life” – a self-help (with some humour) guideline for small businesses who spend 24/7 with their business. If I wrote a similar book, the title would be “My Health Ate my Life.”

Being old is not fun – with health and finances. And, for those who are wondering – I can’t afford to pay for one of those extended health care plans. I have looked into a bunch of them – monthly payment all too high for limited coverage a la carte.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Hydro Rates, Insurance, Life Balance, Life demands, Money, Old Age, Older Women living alone and health, Poverty

Only Child’s thoughts on living below the poverty level

Only Child  contemplates living in poverty

Only Child contemplates living in poverty

A Google search on poverty levels in Toronto brought up this shocking information. The poverty level for a single person is $19,930 a year. That’s after taxes. Depending on your sources, that figure pertains to somewhere before 2014. See http://www.povertyfreeontario.ca/poverty-in-ontario/status-of-poverty-in-ontario/

Before or after 2014, that figure really hit home with me.

I just finished doing my 2014 income taxes in late April, so income before and after taxes was still in my mind. It turns out I am living around the poverty level for a single person – but before taxes, so I guess after taxes it is below the poverty level.

And that’s with having a boarder here most of last year – until late October – I kicked her out – with a few months leeway because according to her plan she could be here indefinitely until she found a job and was secure for six months in it. She is/was on social services (called Ontario Works here in Ontario). So the extra low monthly boarder rent income wasn’t making much difference to me as the poverty-line figure shows. My friends told me this boarder was just taking advantage of me anyway. But that’s a story for another post. At least my hydro and water bills are much less now.

I am also a senior and while I am grateful for the Old Age Pension and Canada Pension Plan, they aren’t high enough. Especially the latter, which varies with each person depending on how much you put into it when you worked. And being self-employed for the past 18 years, and before that, sporadic full employment from the late 1970s, doesn’t help increase the CPP. The Federal government does give you some extra CPP allowance (seven years I believe) to allow for raising a child from birth. There are tax credits that are doled out monthly and one in a lump sum – some are senior-specific. And I do get some alimony from my ex-husband.

My self-employment? Not as lucrative as even a couple of years ago.

The Feds also have something called the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which I signed up for when I signed up for the OAS. But I haven’t heard hide nor hare back about that – probably because your income has to be under $17,088 annually. See table at http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/services/pensions/oas/payments/index.shtml

That’s  $2,842. less than the poverty level income for a single person. Something is wrong here.

All that isn’t enough for the rising costs of living. I have health issues and take natural supplements because drugs don’t agree with my body. Yes, there are drug plans for seniors and others but you are on your own with natural supplements. The basic Ontario medical coverage gets skimpier and skimpier in what it covers and purchasing extra health coverage from private companies is too expensive.

So I end up using my line of credit to cover the more monthly expenses than money coming in. And I don’t go on shopping sprees for anything and take only one holiday a year – visiting family. I forgo a lot of entertainment (like plays and movies and some concerts) I would like to go to because I can’t afford it. Free entertainment is what I look for. Street festivals and other free events and lectures outside home. I walk a lot, garden, read (mostly books from the library but I do buy a few from writing colleagues) and do readings and other presentations with other crime authors for my Beyond mystery series. I socialize with friends, an occasional meal out – sometimes they pay – and sometimes we go to garden events (free ones) together. I am fortunate in that I have a son who helps me with computer problems and takes me out to dinner for my birthday and Mother’s Day. He is even paying for a new chesterfield for my living room – his idea at Christmas – if I can find the time to finish looking around for one.

This all makes me wonder how others with less or even the basic poverty level income, can manage. I don’t have to pay rent as I’m a homeowner (and fortunately no mortgage), although with all my utility bills needing paying this month, plus other regular monthly bills to pay, the total here came to above what my May income is. And that’s before the cash items such as food and health.

So I grow some of my vegetables and fruit in the garden.

That is if I can get someone to take me to the garden centre to get some topsoil. Another long story here for another post perhaps.

No wonder I’m cranky a lot of the time. I think I have a right to be cranky.

Cheers.

 

Sharon

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Filed under Family, Gardening, Health, Health Insurance, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Income Taxes, Money, Old Age pensions, Only child, Poverty, Seniors

Only Child deals with multiple snafus

Only Child down from running in circles

Only Child rests after running in circles

I’ve been running in circles today. Not only too much to do, but too many snafus to deal with at the same time. The worst part may be they are caused by others. Bad enough dealing with your own mistakes. And that’s why I’m late with this blog post. At least I made the day in posting.

Not going into a big long rundown of them all – but just for a taste here’s the really stupid one. There ought to be a string of jokes about bad banking deeds. Or maybe there is. The latest one to happen is on Friday I withdrew $30 from the bank – my bank, but not my branch. The teller gave me $30 cash but took it off my account twice. Sorting it out isn’t simple. When I caught it early Friday evening online back home, the bank branch was closed, so I had to call the main bank line for all branches. Nothing could be done because that branch is closed weekends but I got the Customer Services supervisor’s name and phone number plus the person from the main bank line said she was sending the info to that person now.

Yeah right. Not according to the Customer Service Super when I called her Monday morning. The latter might just be covering her ass because she hadn’t checked yet. So, once more I launched into my spiel and she said she would investigate and get back to me no later than Wednesday morning.

Today it was telephone tag. Her first call to me went into voice mail because I was outside dealing with a more serious snafu. “Snafu” may be a misnomer as this was some of the damage caused by God’s winter weather. Mike, my handyman and I were outside looking at and talking about the downspout and rain barrel damage and what he needs to do and cost. “One snafu at a time,” I said to Mike when I heard the phone inside ring.

Outcome (after several telephone tags with me stating when I was going out and not being listened to) was an apology from the bank’s customer service manager and the money has been credited to my account. Of course when I asked how the double posting could happen I got the loop answer. Maybe it was only $30 but going into May I have multi-bills to pay – all the utilities (some aren’t monthly) AND property taxes. At least Mike is understanding – I think he kept his work cost down and he agreed to let me come to the hardware store(s) with him so I can pay for the supplies with a credit card. The latter won’t need paying until June when the two extra utilities and property taxes don’t have bills.

The scary thing here is the cost for this property repair will probably be within ten or twenty dollars of the two utility bills and property taxes combined.

But the damage outside can’t wait until June. I hope all the stuff that needs repairs inside can wait until June.

I know. I need to go sit outside in my garden to relax. Wait a minute. Out front is the damaged juniper thanks to God’s extreme weather the past two winters. Out back is the rain barrel etc. stuff.

But Mike is coming Monday morning to fix the damage in the back – if it doesn’t rain then. I won’t be holding my breath.

I’m still going to sit outside and do some gardening. Maybe not this evening. Because this evening…

Nancy Bullis is interviewing me on Howl about my new mystery novel Beyond Blood at 10 p.m. this evening (April 28) on the University of Toronto radio station CIUT 89.5 FM. Don’t know if it is live-streamed online but you can check their website at http://www.ciut.fm/listen-now/

Howl is right. That’s what I feel like doing over all the snafus.

And I’ve only covered the surface of them.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Bank service, Banking, Beyond Blood, Garden Destruction, God, Life demands, Money, Problems, Snafus

Only Child scowls through life

Only Child wearing her gentler scowl.

Only Child wearing her gentler scowl.

The old Charlie Chaplin song Smile tells us to smile through all our grief (Smile, music: Charlie Chaplin, Lyrics: John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons) but I’m not buying it for me. A study at Wayne  State University (published in Psychological Science says those who smile can live up to 79 years – the wider the smile the longer the life.

Those of us who are glum can expect to live to 73 years, according to the same study.

Do you know where this study’s researchers got their information? By looking at photos of  230 Major League baseball player on 1952 baseball cards,  seeing if they scowl or grin (and how wide the grin) and then checking records to see at what age they died.

I thought these studies were supposed to use the actual people – not pictures and records of them. Maybe the baseball players smiled purposely for the photo. (That was considered in the study, but obviously not held to much importance). Maybe the players were having a good or bad day and smiled or scowled accordingly.

This isn’t enough research for me to change my scowls to smiles. I do occasionally smile but my main facial expression, the last year at least, is a big fat scowl. And it’s not all squinting at the sun or trying to read the print on my computer when my eyes are bummed out for the day. I scowl because of all the misery I have in my life – all the stuff I referred to in my last post (and earlier posts) as coming at me from outside, or as I put it “dealing with others’ shit coming at me”).

As for attitude and perception – I’ve tried the positive route. The beginning of this year I had high hopes 2014 would be much better. Except for some financial improvement, it’s not turning out that way. And the “financial improvement” may all literally go out the window  to replace a few new windows so the rain can’t come in and yet another major excavation outside to waterproof the basement wall because of the contractor Nigel Applewaite’s screw-up in 2011. I’m now booking contractors and window companies for estimates, but deep down I don’t think my finances will cover it all – even with some help from my ex-husband. I’m already carrying debt and am trying to pay it down.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be frightful – a mix of rain, ice pellets, snow and high winds – from the east and southeast – right where it can get into my basement when we have this concoction. To top it off I have a sore swollen gland – the tale end and/or a branch of the sinusitis I thought went away a couple of weeks ago.

And don’t tell me if I had smiled 24/7 I wouldn’t have this viral infection.

Back to the study. Look at the life ages predicted. Seventy-nine (for the big grinners) and 72.9 (actual) for us scowlers. Not much difference. But more to the point for me. Even at my age, 72.9 is far far away when you have to put up with all the crap coming at you on a daily basis.

It’s not as if I don’t do anything about it. I don’t bury my head in the sand (if Icould  find it under the snow and ice). I tackle my problems and try to resolve them and get rid of them for good.

But like a bad penny they won’t go away.

Oh, correction, the penny has gone away – from the Canadian monetary system at least. Maybe PM Stephen Harper had the right idea here.

Unfortunate that all the other bad pennies in life won’t stay away.

See story on this baseball players smile study at http://healthland.time.com/2010/03/25/grinning

and

 How smile intensity may offer clues about longevity | TIME.com http://healthland.time.com/2010/03/25/grinning-for-a-longer-life/#ixzz2wKIX3j5m

More stories can be found by Googling “smiling and longevity study”

Cheers. (or should that be “Scowls”)

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Death and Dying, Debt, Leaky Basements, Life demands, Money, Only child, Rain, Smiling and Longevity, Snow, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child tackles more consumer issues – Swiss Chalet

Only Child  rests before doing more battle with companies screwing the consumer

Only Child rests before doing more battle with companies screwing the consumer

Sometime I think that crawling into a hole would be heaven. It’s winter – too early this year. But mainly I am fed up beyond the top of my head with all the crap big business and big government shoves at you when you are just going about your daily business.

My current battles are with Rogers Cable TV and Swiss Chalet.

Let’s cover the latter first as it is shorter and less complicated.

Sunday evening my friend Carol and I went out to dinner at the Swiss Chalet near our homes. I’ve never had problems with any Swiss Chalet before but the waitress who “served” us takes the cake (stale preferred; she doesn’t deserve fresh) for stupidity and dishonesty.

The actual taking our orders and bringing the food went okay. However, when our bills came, that’s when the trouble started. Carol’s bill was fine. But I was overcharged for the extra side – the sweet potato fries. Anyone who has eaten at Swiss Chalet knows that most of their main dishes include the cost of one side and for any others you pay extra. I was charged $4.58 for the sweet potato fries. Where did this broad get this amount? Not on the menu. The menu said $6.49 for a large order of sweet potato fries on their own and $1.99 for a side. I didn’t care if the fries or the vegetable medley was the extra side to pay for as long as I was charged the correct amount.

Trying to make this broad understand was worse than the proverbial pulling teeth. First she said she gave me a large order of SWF; but she finally did go back to change it.

Still not correct. Now the basic dish had gone up $2. and the Sweet Potato Fries were charged as an extra $1.99. So, I disputed this. She didn’t understand – or pretended she didn’t.

“Get me the manager,” I said.

The manager arrived and I explained the situation to him and reiterated that I didn’t care which side was included in the main dish price and which was the extra side. But I shouldn’t be charged for two sides. He checked with the menu and said the SPF are always $1.99 as a side but he conceded the menu didn’t make that clear. So he fixed the bill and this time it was right. When Ms Duffuss came back for the money, I paid with a $20. She asked if I wanted change and I said “yes.”

She didn’t come back with my change. I saw the manager still around the tables and called him over and said I was still waiting for my change. He spoke to Ms Duffuss and she returned with four quarters on the bill platter.

“I already gave you the change,” she said.

“No you didn’t,” I replied. I picked up two quarters and left the rest. Fifty cents was my change, not $1.

She didn’t get a tip and as the manager was aware of her incompetence, I hope he fired her.

This week I’m calling Swiss Chalet head office – you know the number on the bill with the “How did we do today?” and an access code?

I won’t boycott Swiss Chalet – even this branch – but if Ms Duffuss is still there I’ll make sure I don’t sit in her area.

Next week the Rogers Cable TV story.

What consumer issues have you personally run into lately? Do you let them slide or tackle them? Please comment.

And for those in the Toronto, Ontario Canada area interested in writing memoir I’m doing another Kick-starting Your Memoir Using the Six Senses this Thursday evening (Nov. 28) at the Beaches branch of the Toronto Public Library. See http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDMEVT147744&R=EVT147744

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Consumer action, Life demands, Money

Only Child looks at weddings back then and now

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

November holds a lot of close family anniversaries – sad and happy. Last week I posted about the anniversary of my dad’s death. Mom’s birthday was November 9; I got married November 13 – and with that date it’s no wonder it didn’t last. But my parents’ marriage lasted 26 years. That doesn’t seem like a long time, but that was because Dad died in 1965.

Mom and Dad were married November 25, 1939 in St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Toronto. Weddings back then were very different from now. Besides the World War II factor, couples getting married weren’t so greedy – insisting that guests not only bring expensive gifts but cough up money to pay for their too expensive wedding. Considering that many marriages don’t last “til death do us part” these two penchants for money, money don’t make sense. And I thought weddings were supposed to honour the bride and groom, not pay their bills.

I’m not going to delve into this much further, but here is a link  from a very recent Toronto Star story about a wedding gift issue that gets the (wedding) cake  (for the brides to choke on) for stupidity, crassness, rudeness – all bad traits and no good ones from these brides.

http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/06/19/wedding_gift_spat_spirals_out_of_control_after_bride_demands_to_see_receipt.html

And smart advice from the relationship expert – Ellie – in the Toronto Star on this issue. http://www.thestar.com/life/2013/08/30/wedding_gifts_shouldnt_cost_more_than_you_can_afford_ellie.html

 When you read the first one (and it is linked from Ellie’s column), you may reach the same conclusion as me. Abolish lavish weddings and elope.

In 1939 with the Second World War just started, weddings focused more on the basic raison d’être – celebrating with the bride and groom. Fabrics for white wedding dresses weren’t readily available. Mom wore a satin blue suit. I remember this suit – and no, I sure wasn’t around then (and not for nine years after) but the suit sat in Mom and Dad’s bedroom closet – I think it was even in my bedroom closet for awhile. No idea where it went but I suspect it got swept out with a lot of stuff when Mom downsized in 1968 and the two of us moved to a two-bedroom apartment.

Mom didn’t say much about the wedding and its reception. From photos I have outside the church and inside the reception hall (and they are mostly too small to post, so you get one of the happy couple a few years after they were married) , I gather it was a small family affair. The reception was held at 10.30 a.m. (I remember hearing that – I’d never make it to a wedding, let alone a reception, at that time) and it was a breakfast. The fiancé of Dad’s youngest sister was manager of the dining hall at a small hotel near the church, so that’s where the reception was held. The funny part is the way the small party attending was seated. Tables were put together in the shape of an L – with Mom and Dad at the head in the middle – on Dad’s side for the rest of that part of the L, sat all his blood family members (and outlaws, I mean, the inlaws, too) and on Mom’s side it was her family.

I have no idea what gifts they received but it sure wasn’t stacks of money. I suspect it was maybe some place settings for their good dinner set, maybe a lamp – something useful and thoughtful.

This wedding gift setup still existed when I got married November 13, 1971. My fiancé and I registered our good dinner set choice at Eaton’s and Simpson’s and received a number of place settings (cost from $20 to $29 per – there was a sale on part of the time), wine glasses, bed sheets. It was unthinkable then and when Mom and Dad married for guests to fork out cash to pay for the wedding. And we didn’t have a lavish reception – but that was partly by choice. We married in a hurry (no, I wasn’t pregnant – my Mom had died suddenly three months prior and my fiancé and I had moved the wedding forward three months) so we didn’t have much money and the tradition of the parents of the bride paying wedding expenses obviously didn’t apply. We did use the downstairs dining room of the restaurant Mom and I had picked –fortunately Mom had booked the room, albeit it for the later date, and the restaurant owners just changed the date. It wasn’t the Ritz, but Mom and I knew the family who owned it and it was in the neighbourhood.

I’ll leave you with one question and please comment.

What do you think of the current trend of the wedding couple (gay or straight) insisting that guests help finance all their wedding expenses and then also expect an actual gift?

You know what I think.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Eaton's, Family, Mom and Dad, Money, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Uncategorized