08 December, 2011

Christmas Trees

No - we haven't gotten ours yet. We'll probably get it this weekend. I like to have it up the two weeks prior and it will hold until New Year's Day when I take it down. I am not fond of the current trend of getting it at Thanksgiving and hoping your house doesn't go up in flames.

This is where we get our tree every year. That sign says (squint) $5.00 and up now - Mr. B keeps re-using his sign. We generally pay $2/foot or less. Mr. B is pretty loose with his measuring stick. He grows Nobles and Grands.
The green plants behind the sign are his nursery business of growing Hinoki Cypress's. Behind his house is where the trees reside. And it's a secret. We live near the places where trees start at $50 each and we don't want Mr. B to run out of trees.

I try not to ramble about serious stuff too often - so if you want to keep reading, I might be able to save you some money on a couple of bills that come due this time of year. No crafts or sewing photos today as the people getting these gifts sometimes lurk here to see what I am up to.

In December, we get our yearly homeowner's insurance bill (bah humbug bills). Looking at it just a few days ago - the bill went up $150 from last years bill. The bill went on to detail why it went up - arbitrarily upping the value of replacing our home and contents. We called the agent for an explanation who said, "We have the option of saying yae or nae to the increase."   We looked at the bill again and nowhere did it say, you don't have to pay this bill - you can ask for another. She said you can state you are fine with last years insurance valuation (?!) (that statement is nowhere on this bill).

This led to reviewing the bill and we currently have a $500 deductible. We are pretty frugal and would not have trouble coughing up $1000 so we called the agent back to look into some other billing items.
In actuality, the chance of a fire is slim, although - in the hangar - that's another matter.

There are lots of sites on the web on how to get your insurance bills down. One is to raise your deductible. The other is to try and stay with the same agent. Seeing if they will work with you is better than having a claim at a new insurance and getting canceled.

The second Bah Humbug bill showed up - our semi-annual car insurance. We still had comprehensive on my new car - but it is 2 1/2 years old - do we really need a $100 deductible here?

That's when we pulled out another card - shop around so your agent really wants to compete and get the bill down. You do get a discount if you combine your insurance needs. Offer #1 was offering $200 less than our agent. We are currently working on Offer #2 to see where we really stand in the insurance game. I think when all is said and done we will have saved at least $300 on these bah humbug bills. {12/20/11 addendum: We managed to get $500 lopped off our homeowners insurance! Our credit score also helped here. And no - the agent did not volunteer this information.}

We are raising all of our deductibles to $1000 on both cars and $2000 on the house. We are dumping the comprehensive on my car (our state requires liability only). We are also getting the agent looking into a retired discount as my husband is retired. We have been with the same agent for a gazillion years so that helps get a combined discount.

The point is, they are NOT going to offer up discounts. Every two or three years you should go in and sit down and review your current situation. The retired discount might not be available but the reasoning is sound - that person is home more - foiling both break-ins and disasters. We cut down those fir trees which were uprooting so we have done what is possible to keep our actual risks of claims down.  We drive responsibly, garage our cars, we don't have drinking parties on the weekends and we could put these savings into an emergency account where it could be used to pay the deductible.

Don't look at those insurance bills as gospel.
I have been sort of laid off/not really/way-less-hours and we are making it because we do pay attention to these bills.
We recently got our phone/internet bill down by $20.
We have a telephone coop here in Canbyland.  A lot of people have gotten rid of their landlines. We have family who still call that number (plus all those GD politicians) and wanted to keep the house phone for emergencies. Plus we have had that number for nearly 30 years. - kinda nostalgic.

Canby Telcom offered up a great solution. Turn the landline into an E-Phone  (we get our internet this way)  and bundle it with our choice of internet speed and just like that --- $20/month saved. The e-phone enables the internet and family can still call you. Outgoing calls are restricted to police/fire/emergency numbers.

Again - they ARE NOT CALLING YOU with these savings. You need to go in and see what they can do.

Rambled long enough about saving money - now I need to go make a dinosaur snap purse - to be filled with gold (chocolate) coins for my nephew's birthday. 
Last year I made him the jumbo Dinosaur bag to hold the gazillion dinosaurs. Last night on Skype, he talked about getting more dinosaurs!

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