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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Clipping to fiscal health...

I spent yesterday with one of my surrogate daughters. She’s not exactly an extreme couponess, but she is the next best thing. We went up and down each aisle as she showed me how to calculate how much an item would actually cost if I used a certain coupon. I’ve been couponing for years, but lately I haven’t been using them as much. When she offered to help me, I jumped at the chance because I know that soon my financial situation will change drastically. Besides, what’s not to love about spending time with one of my girls!

The grocery store we went to is almost two hours away from me and I’d never been there before. I was pleased with all the different things they had to offer – like Tuscan stuffed Portobello mushrooms and fresh chopped asparagus with sliced mushrooms ready for stir-frying. I had to hold myself back or I would spend as much as I saved on things that I didn’t really need. But, I did load the stuffed mushrooms and asparagus into my cart along with a big bag of dog food (I had a $5 coupon).

Besides the fact that I’d get to spend some quality time with this person, the store was doubling all coupons up to $1.99. That’s a pretty good deal. But, I could only use 20 coupons per visit so I had to make sure I was using the ones that would save me the most. By the time the shopping was over I had saved as much as I had spent. OK. I’m a believer. I’ll be clipping every coupon I see and keeping them organized in my binder so I’ll be ready for the next trip – next Saturday.

I am trying to prepare for managing financially after Riley is gone. There’s not going to be much insurance money and I’m not sure if they will even pay because alcoholism may not be covered if is listed on the death certificate under cause of death. If the death certificate says something else other than alcoholism, I might get enough money to pay off my car and get him cremated. The Navy will take care of his burial at sea. There won’t be a memorial service since he really doesn’t know anyone around here. It will just be me, the kids and possibly a small handful of others, sitting around having a nice dinner and being happy it is over.

Fortunately, I will receive 55% of his military retirement pay and a portion of his social security. But, in essence I will have to live on half of our current income. I’ve always worked and had my own income which was always sufficient for my own needs. Things have changed, I don’t have an above-average paying job anymore and my social security check is far less than half of what I’m used to earning. In order to be a good girl scout and be prepared, I must get all this figured out before the inevitable happens.

My recent focus has been in finding my humor again and head towards a healthier lifestyle. I’ve taken some strides in that direction, but I must also lean towards a healthier financial life as well. I suppose I need a personal trainer for my money.

Although I’m a shopper at heart, I have always shopped with the idea of saving money rather than just getting what I would like to have. It’s like buying a yacht when you have no car. That makes no sense to me at all. I shop for high quality items that will last for more than just the moment. It takes a lot of work and research. I don’t mind, because I benefit in the end. My savings may not appear to be immediate, but if you look at the three-year (for example) big picture, I’ve saved a bunch.

If I had continued working, Riley would have continued to be covered under my life insurance umbrella and I would have received enough money that I would have been able to live nicely for several years. That is if I didn’t take long vacations and buy an Aviator. But, that insurance is gone because it was too expensive to continue it as a conversion. For many years Riley had a small policy for about $50K – that’s now gone as well because I didn’t know he had it until it had terminated.

I’m not fretting over the money. I have managed on much less than I will be getting after he is gone. My mother taught me the value of pinching pennies and how to get the most out of anything you have. Like Scarlett O’Hara, she turned drapes into a beautiful evening gown. My mother could take a pound of hamburger and turn it into two meals for a family of five. Old t-shirts were turned into dust clothes and old wash clothes were perfect dish rags. She canned fresh fruits and vegetables and made the yummiest jams and jellies. Clothes that I out-grew were passed down the line to one of my cousins. I learned a lot from my mother and I apply those teachings every day. It’s ingrained in my brain and to do anything else would feel unnatural.

One piece of advice I have for my readers who are involved with alcoholics who are not end-stage or to alcoholics who are still functional, would be to get an insurance policy now while you still can. Make sure it will pay even if alcoholism is the cause of death. Keep it to a smaller pay out so there won’t be a need for a medical exam. Then keep that policy in force no matter what. Pay it like you would your light bill. In the end it will be beneficial when you’re trying to figure out where the money is coming from for a funeral. Once the alcoholic gets to a certain point, he/she will be uninsurable and things will get complicated at the end.

Social Security will pay you a whopping $250 as a death benefit. The average cost of a cheap cremation is $1,800. So you better have at least $1,550 in savings just to get the alcoholic’s remains processed. That’s a harsh reality. Now you better have some more funds in there if you want a funeral which averages $6,000 these days. Of course, if you want flowers and a reception afterward – well – do you have about $10,000 side aside for that? If you’re like me, that would be an amount that I could not handle unless I had insurance.

I’m resourceful. Someone put that somewhere as a description of me one time. I don’t remember where or when, but I was proud for the designation. I will continue to clip my coupons and turn t-shirts into dust clothes. I’ll can and/or freeze fruit and vegetables when they are in season. My car will be paid off, but I’ll keep it well maintained in hopes of it lasting many years. I’ll keep my eyes open for a cheaper residence that will meet my needs and when the perfect one happens along, I’ll snatch it up.

Riley used to tell me that having a life insurance policy is like betting against one’s self. He never wanted one and saw no need because he would not get any benefit from it. It all goes back to his being self-focused. He always knew what he would get if I died, and liked that idea. But, he could never see how he would benefit if I got money as a result of his death. Little did he know, my life insurance policies do not provide from him at all. Instead a portion of the proceeds would be put into a trust for his care and managed by both my daughter and brother. The rest goes to my daughter and grandson.

So if I go first, Riley better take some coupon clipping lessons from someone. However, I doubt that anyone would be willing to teach him or even take him to the store. When one alienates so many people and family members for so long, one must expect, eventually, they will alienate you.

Who am I kidding?? I know my daughter will step in and try to save him. He is after all – still her father.  And that, my friends, is why I must continue in my quest to a healthier lifestyle, physically, mentally and financially.


Gerry said...

Doc has willed his body to science which might take him depending on their policy on alcoholics. I have also willed my body to science and also have a funeral plan policy which pay $2500. They can get back some of my remains from the science center for $40. My daughter found a bargain basement cremation price for Pierre, my last companion for under $400 in Phoenix. Pierre had gambled all his money, so a collection was taken up and between him family and my family his cremation was paid for. He tried to sell his ashes to his ex-wife who wanted them to be in an urn with hers after death since they were married for 30 years. She did not send the $700 so after about a year I sent the ashes to her for the sake of her daughter Pierre had helped raise. She was very happy as she loved Pierre. Pierre was an alcoholic, a binge drinker, but died of a heavy smoking habit as did his ex-wife a year later.
I think you are wise to plan ahead Linda for all contingencies. I have 4 children who will not have to pay for my funeral expenses.

NorthernTeacher said...

Thinking and planning ahead is caring. Some people will never appreciate this. Good luck.