Tag Archives: Money

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 runs into outside obstacles

Me in 1950 - up against the barbed wire fence, a good analogy for worrying

Me in 1950 – up against the barbed wire fence, but I won’t let that stop me from removing obstacles

The past few days I’ve run up against screw-ups from “outside” – organizations, businesses, and individuals who have messed up in whatever they are doing connected to me. As mentioned in my last post, lack of money causes me lots of stress. But so is what causes the lack of money – or at least the worry about it.

The biggest screw-up is with CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency – the Canadian equivalent of the US IRS). First CRA messed up with my return which went in on time (April 30) and I paid what I calculated as owing even though I had to “steal” the amount from my fast dwindling RRSPs.

Six weeks later I receive a Notice of Assessment. That’s customary. But mine had recalculated the Canadian Pension Payment for my self-employment and they wanted $148. more payable by June 30, 2013 or I’d get charged interest.

Huh? It was obvious they didn’t calculate it on my net income but what amount they used I can’t figure out. Their Notice of Assessment explanation didn’t enlighten. June 13 I called the CRA customer service (or whatever it is called) and Lisa told me there was definitely something wrong with the amount calculated and not to pay it. She said it would take at least four weeks to sort it out and in the meantime until the computer system was updated the “payment” could come off my GST etc. rebated in July.

The payments didn’t come off and I received my list of future payment dates and the amounts.

Then I got embroiled in a lot of other issues (some shoved at me that I had to deal with). There was the construction going on outside include digging up a small area in my front lawn. This nonsense even interfered with another issue – my appointment with my lawyer to update my will because one of the beneficiaries had to be changed. I moved the lawyer’s appointment to the next day. Because I was in the same general area of Toronto, I stopped into Service Canada to hand in my application for Old Age Security. I do this because it’s faster to get it rolling and for someone to check over the form. Yes, I had missed something which the Service Canada clerk caught. (Some of them are pretty smart – it’s the higher ups who seem to be screwing up). And it has been approved – payments to start January 2014. Then I got a boarder (two, counting her cat) temporarily until she can get into Public Housing. This is a friend and I didn’t want to see her stuck. There has been some adjustment but we work it out – so far anyway.

Fast forward (which seems like my summer this year) to last Friday when I suddenly remembered I hadn’t heard back from CRA. Over the weekend I checked my files – nope, nothing. So I worried about getting stuck with paying some outrageous sum with interest.

Monday (yesterday) I phoned CRA and found out as I figured, Lisa did her job – she sent it on to the Tax Centre. But the jerks in the Tax Centre just started looking at the inquiry last Friday, Sept. 19 – a little over three months since I inquired. (I can see the synchronicity or whatever about the timing when I thought about it.) The customer service rep could only tell me that much. For the status until they actually do something and it shows up on the computer system, she had no info. She suggested calling in a few days. She also answered my questions about paying interest. If it is $2 or less it isn’t considered. But there is a form to fill out if you want to dispute paying the interest. I had told her this wasn’t a Sharon Crawford mistake but a CRA mistake and I would pay any correct extra I owed but I’m not paying any interest.

Last week I switched my annual high payment of house insurance premium to monthly off a credit card. Thought that was all settled when yesterday I received a letter (regular mail) from the insurance agent that there is a $.75 monthly service charge and a $2. Setup charge. Neither is a lot and I don’t mind paying them. But why wasn’t I told about those service charges in the first place? One more phone call to steal my time

No wonder I’m jaded, cynical, pessimistic (some of the time) and angry. I have a right to be. I don’t know if my late mother had to deal with crap like this.

On a brighter note, I finally picked up the time management book I had on hold from the library. This one I requested in print instead of e-copy because unless there’s a hold on it, I get nine weeks (two renewals) to read it. Should give me enough time to read it Yes, I see the irony.

But I ran into an obstacle there. The library system couldn’t check out my books (I added a mystery fiction) because my library card would run out during that time. I spoke to a librarian and first she added a temporary three week extension and suggested I come in next week with some ID with my address on it. None of my cards has that. I don’t drive, so I guess I’m discriminated against here all over. But I did some fast talking, mentioning that one of the main branch librarians could vouch for me and I taught workshops at this branch (both true) so she automatically renewed the card for a year. I don’t get nasty with librarians. However, why don’t we get email notifications of library card renewals due. The library sends other notices – holds (e-books and print) and book dates coming up.

But I have started using another tool to tame time. Will report next post next week.

I’m currently living on sales from my mystery short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point which is a good thing for sales but what does it say about the overall income picture?

For those interested check out my profile on amazon.com Just click on the book icon below.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Beyond the Tripping Point Cover 72dpi

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Filed under Anxiety, Beyond the Tripping Point, Life demands, Money, Only child, Persistence, Problems, Sharon A. Crawford, Short story writing, Worrying

Only Child deciphers New Year’s resolutions

Only Child and Mom before the arthritis took its toll on Mom

I learned a couple of startling things when compiling my New  Year’s resolutions on Sunday. Over the last few years I’ve developed an interest in weather forecasts and in the last month of 2011, in consumer advocacy and problem solving. The other revelation, which also occurred when emailing a friend, was the bond between money and health.

Oh! Oh! Does that mean I have to add these two interests into an already full plan? I can’t see me as a meteorologist (maybe in another incarnation) but the consumer advocacy one bears considering. So does the bond between money and health because this connection has followed me for more years than I care to remember…maybe even back to my growing-up days when my late mom who was such a super budget-financial caretaker, also had health concerns – first my dad’s several bouts with cancer (plus an ulcer and a minor heart attack), then, her own arthritis after Dad died. By that time, Mom had returned to work as a typist for an insurance company, then had to switch to proof-reader when her arthritic fingers got in her job’s way. She was off for a few weeks because the arthritis had spread to a foot and an ankle. I remember coming home from my business school class and finding two of her employers (former colleagues years before I came along) and the conversation was disturbing. As I write in my memoir:

She [Mom] is on a mini-leave of absence, when one day I walk into the house and find two strange men with her in the living room. They’re both sitting on the chesterfield, one on either side of its designed split. Mom is in the pink chair by the bookcase as if the World Books standing guard behind can lift her up beyond the swollen foot propped on a footstool. The conversation stops and the two men stare at me with blank smiles on their faces.

“This is Peter McLaren* and this is John Vardis* from Surety Insurance*.” My Mom points to each. “This is my daughter, Sharon.”

“Hello,” I say as I sit down in the chair under the window.

The men say, “Hello,” and nod, and then McLaren continues the conversation.

“Julia,” he says. “I know you are a valuable employee but we need to know if you are coming back to work.”

“I don’t like to say it, but I have to,” Vardis says. “It might be better if you retired now.” He addresses the mantle.

“Let’s not be hasty, John,” McLaren says, and then looks Mom right in the eye. “Julia, do you think you will be able to come back?”

“I don’t know.” Mom’s voice is wispy and little girlish.

I just sit, grinning and gripping the arms of the chair. I don’t even have the courage to wish one of the men would shuffle around in the chesterfield so it would move at the split. That might jolt them, although into what I don’t know.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford)

*Names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Perhaps the “jolt” today for me and everyone else is to consider what is most important in our life and what we can do about it this year. If I don’t want to continue the “family curse” on Mom’s side of the family, I need to consider my health. And like my Mom, money is so connected with my health. Without good health I cannot work; without money I cannot do all I need to do for my health. Anyone who thinks government health insurance will look after all health issues, think again. Anyone who signs up for private health insurance and thinks that will solve the issue, think again. Most of these private health insurance plans cover no more than 80 percent and have a payout cap. Options are a la carte, making monthly premiums high. Is it better to pay the piper in premiums or pay the piper up front for each health treatment, supplement, etc.? If you have a partner with a health plan from his or her employment (usually partially funded by the employer), you might be better off with the private health plan…for now. If you are an only person like me, especially self-employed, maybe not.

You decide.

For the money end, I’m looking into several options, once considered controversial, but becoming more common as we aging boomers near retirement and find out it’s not all Florida, Mexico, Arizona and easy-living. Depending on your age, you might want to consider applying for Canada Pension Plan payments before you turn 65 (in Canada. Starting this year, you can still work and apply and receive CPP, as well as continue to pay into the plan). You might also want to consider cashing in some of your RRSPs (if you have any), downsizing your residence, etc.

My point is, consider these issues (rather than the usual lose weight and exercise ones, although they are also worthy). We aren’t getting any younger and sometimes thinking outside the box can work.

Comments anyone?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Arthritis, Canada Pension Plan, Goals, Health, Health Insurance, Money, New year's resolutions, Only child memoir, RRSPs, Sharon Crawford