Friday, October 21, 2016

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap

Well, as weeks go this one has been busy.

I've been on the phone a lot this last week going between my insurance company and the sleep center to try and get the bill reduced and also get to the bottom of the truth of what in the Heck happened with the entire affair.  The sleep center was ready to slap us with the entire bill, told us that it was basically a valuable lesson about how deductibles worked and were about as helpful as teats on a bull.  I then called our insurance company and asked to speak to a supervisor who was really nice, friendly, and most important HELPFUL.  She went through and literally read to me the exchange between the sleep center and the insurance company as every time they talk to a doctor's office they make a point of saving the entire transcript of conversation for back up just in case.  In this case it spoke VOLUMES to me as she read it. 

The results?  The sleep center out and out LIED to my husband.  They told him that the insurance said they'd cover it under preventative care, the insurance company told them that it was a medical procedure, would go to the deductible first and then would be covered 60/40 (in no way does that say "covered 100%" to me).  Furthermore the supervisor, when I asked her about the rent to purchase on the CPAP told me to immediately return the machine as they only do rent to purchase at 13 months, not the three we had been told, and she didn't want us left holding the bag for 345.00 a month rent on the CPAP with the sleep center when we we could buy a CPAP for a about 400.00 online.  She didn't want us to be left holding the very big bill when we were dropped in December, was very sympathetic and explained that it was, unfortunately, a very expensive lesson some people had to learn to always call the insurance company and double check coverage and to make sure bills had been submitted for payment. 

So, I called the sleep center back and told them straight out I was returning the machine, that I wanted a refund for it and that we were getting a discount on the bill one way or the other or I was going to court (by this point they'd been FAR from helpful in the billing department mind you).  They were just going to wipe out the last two months of rent on the machine and call it good until I started going down the line items on the bill where it said, "purchase of..." and demanding we get refunded for those things as we weren't PURCHASING the blasted machine.  Once all the "purchase" bi-lines had been changed to rentals and I'd haggled on every aspect of the bill, I got over 1/2 the bill wiped out (I'm still waiting for an adjusted bill to confirm all of that, but I do have a receipt that I demanded when I returned the machine), got 800.00 that was going to GO ONTO the bill reversed out by returning some spare (overpriced) parts that they'd sent us for the machine that we'd never used. 

So, basically, I'm probably going to end up paying about 1300.00 for an overpriced sleep study we never would have gotten done if we'd known we had to pay for it, but at least it's not close to 4000.00.  A friend is going to give us a spare CPAP machine she has (she ended up having to buy a new one when she moved to Alaska as her things got delayed in transit) as soon as she unpacks it (as she's moving to a new house).  The sleep center drew the line in the sand that they'd never put "preventative coverage promised" in any of their notes as to not reduce the bill even further (seriously, who would even write that?) even though my husband had been told it numerous times and if I miss a 100.00 payment one month they are immediately going to add everything back onto the bill (which if that happens they can go hang as I know that's not legal).  So, a new goal is to wait for the new bill and get rid of that as quickly as possible and then tell everyone I come across not to use the Wasilla Sleep Center unless they are sure their insurance covers things as they lie.

So, anyway, the machine is returned and I'm in "wait and see" mode on the final bill, but at least for better or worse it's over with for now.

I've also been dealing with a sick hen this week as one of the chickens developed stomach issues, probably from the move and then my friend inadvertently buying a type of feed the chickens weren't used to.  So, I've been making doubly sure to keep the water clean in the coop and make sure they have plenty of it so she stays hydrated, and making sure the grit is always topped up for her to hopefully calm her down a bit.  And I've been adding straw to the coop a lot to keep the area clean as well.  My friend is bringing over some probiotics to feed her tomorrow, so hopefully she'll start to feel better pretty soon.

1.  Some good things did happen this week, though and the most notable of them is up at the top there.  See, I have exactly two items that I REALLY want that I've put on my "Christmas list for myself" as I like to call it (I end up doing the shopping, including for my husband and I usually as my husband gets busy and things around the holidays) and a tea strainer so I can make some pots of loose leaf tea has been on there for a while.  I've had that EXACT tea strainer in my Amazon cart for ages, but always found other things to use giftcards and stuff on, so I just keep going back and looking at it from time to time, but this week I found one at the used store!  For 1.50!!!  The smile on my face lit up half the country I swear *laugh*.

Now I just need to find a pie bird at the thrift stores or find one super cheap on Amazon and my list to me will be complete *laugh*.

2.  Grocery shopping went well this week.  I spent 56.00 on groceries this week, all of it at Carrs.  Carrs had some super sales going on this week and I went and took advantage of them.  Some highlights was getting a bunch of different spice mixes by McCormick for 1.25 each (down from like 4.00 a pop), so I bought a bunch to make things like chicken a bit more interesting for dinner.  I also got 10 cans of tomato sauce for 1.00 per big can as they were on a buy 10 get them for 1.00 each sale.  I also go the usual soda and chips and a dozen eggs for .99 with in-ad coupon.  And I got a TON of Idohoan mashed potato packets for .75 each after discount (digging through the 50% off stuff is seriously awesome sometimes).  Since this is one of the things I had on my "stock up" list over the next couple of months, it was definitely a welcome occurrence to run into those.  I even bought a head of lettuce because I really wanted salad to go with dinner.

When I was paying I stood in line with my favorite cashier, a really nice older gentlemen who always talks to me and is super friendly and patient (as I'm always going through with TONS of reduced things, I always appreciate the patient part).  We were chatting and laughing a little bit and he asked me if I was doing the Farberware giveaway (it's a thing where for every 10.00 you spend  you get a sticker and after so many stickers you can trade the sheet in for free pans).  I told him of course I was and he said, "Well, there's been a couple of people that went through who weren't doing it and they asked that I give them to someone who was.  I forgot to do it earlier, so here you go..." and he reached over and grabbed a little pile of stickers that he'd saved from those other people.  I got 12 stickers!!!  I was thrilled as I'm trying to save up enough to get a new non-stick skillet as the one I use for pancakes is the cheesiest thing you've ever seen (I think it was 3.00 brand new years and years ago, is spot welded together, thin and warped) and the handle is really wobbly and about to come off any time now.  That definitely helped me on my way to getting the pan I have my eye on :).  On my way out he also asked if I'd like a balloon as they'd dismantled a display for the new Ice Age movie and his managers had told them to just give the balloons away.  I said sure as my son LOVES balloons.  It was a nice mylar balloon that has, so far, survived three days of constant abuse by my son and he's still loving it.  Really awesome freebie that was :).

See, making friends with your cashiers definitely pays off as time goes on!

3.  I made all of our meals at home this week, which definitely saved us money.

4.  I paid off a chunk of dental bills this week.  It's definitely led to a bit of hurting on the financial end, but it was a relief to get that off of our backs (it was one of the "pay by this date or you'll be sorry as interest will kick you in the head" types of bills).

5.  I've been reading "The Family Save All" online on Google Books.  It's a book that is referenced a lot in "Victorian Farm" and I was watching it and got intrigued and sure enough the book is available to read online.  Saves me from having to buy it for the time being and gives me something to do when my arm hurts and I can't sleep (or when my son won't sleep, which I've had both things happening lately).

6.  I've been really trying to lose a bit of weight as due to my arm just hindering my ability to excercise I stepped on the scale and got upset when I realized I'd gained 10 pounds just due to inactivity.  So, I've been really hitting a diet that works well for me (basically a diabetic diet, but I moderate things like sugar containing desserts and things, but I don't cut out sugar completely) and so I've been actually eating decently cheap by eating things like oatmeal for breakfast and things.  I'm hoping my energy improves soon as I've found in the past (and it's proving true now) that the more weight I gain the more tired I become, so I want to make sure I get back down to a weight I'm happy with as soon as I can.  So far I've lost 3 lbs over the last couple of weeks, so I know it's working (I usually lose about 5 lbs quick and then hit a plateau for a while...I'm sure you're interested in reading about how dieting effects me aren't you?  *Laugh* sorry!).

7.  I've been using up older canned goods in the pantry, so things on the menu this week included meatball subs (using up an old jar of tomato sauce) and things.  I'm feeling pretty good about things in this area as really using up most of my pantry the last couple of years has resulted in cans that are still super fine even by store standards until 2018.

8.  We got six inches of snow the last 24 hours, so hopefully sledding in the back yard will be on the agenda for tomorrow.  Yay for free fun :).

9.  My husband took my daughter to a free event at the school tonight where they will be giving out prizes and having a bunch of games.  My son is home not feeling good (he seems like his stomach is upset), so I hope my daughter gets to have a lot of fun at the event :).

And there you are folks.  My frugal adventures for the week.  How did you do?


  1. Wow --- that is great that you were able to get that sleep study bill down... but boo that they are still charging you, when they were caught lying. My hubby and I both use CPAP machines... mine is way older than his, but I do not want to do the trade in thing as that just causes extra bills and etc. We go through a company for our supplies and we caught this summer that they were overcharging us... my husband was all over that... and it was nice to let him sort it out. They were billing us rental but our insurance purchased his machine over 6 months ago... what the what??? Why do businesses try to cheat people -- so greedy.

    I went through the weekly ads while starting my grocery list. I found turkeys on sale for 88 cents a pound and some other great deals... so I am going to hit up the stores tomorrow.

    I enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Sounds like you had a very productive week :)Lots of good things happening at your house. Sorry the hen is sick maybe your friend could get the type of food the chickens are used to? Too many changes all at once does not make anyone happy.
    Sounds like you are taking extra good care of them. Hope she feels better soon. I hope your arm gets a chance to feel better too. I hope you have a great weekend.

  3. Erika, I've said it before but I'll say it again -- you are One.Awesome.Woman and a terrific advocate for your family's wellbeing in every area! Way to go with the whole sleep center billing disaster! What you "earned" on a per-hour basis for all that time on the phone was so worth it... A big high-five to you! Well done!

  4. I love finding free books online! I've been looking for some articles that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote for a farm publication... it's an old publication so I know that they are probably free somewhere, but I haven't had any luck so far.

    I'm glad you're getting somewhere with the sleep center ordeal.


      The website has been taken offline, but you can still view all the articles, plus the scans of the original papers, on archive. :)

  5. Good job getting that bill sorted out, Erika! Even better that you were able to pay off a bunch on the dental bills. I'm sure both are a huge relief...or at least as much relief as you can get for now from a bill.

    I LOVE the beautiful tea strainer you were able to buy for yourself! Perhaps you can do some research on what flowers/herbs you can grown for tea next year. Never hurts to experiment! A homegrown tea blend might even make a great gift idea too.

    Great job on the grocery shopping, as always. LOVE that you received some extra stickers and a free balloon, too. I stocked up on Campbell's this week, 6 chicken noodles and 8 tomato (I'm a name brand snob when it comes to these flavours). I love having them in the pantry for cheap lunch meals, to use in recipes and for easy meal options during emergencies. I also bought 2 boxes of the food saver bag rolls from Costco this week as they were finally on sale. They are normally $40/big box, so a $9 saving/box was worth buying extra. As much as they are expensive, they do save me a lot by protecting the meat from getting freezer burned.

    I've been walking around our subdivision to help get a few pounds off as well, too. It's a free work-out and I am enjoying the quiet "me time". Unfortunately, it has rained several days this week, so not as many walks recently. I'm determined to stick with it as much as possible, though. It's a healthy habit to get into, for both mind and body.

    As for my frugal adventures, this week was a good one. First, I canned 5 pints of raspberry applesauce and 4 pints of strawberry applesauce from some of the bushel of apples we bought a couple weeks ago and some of my frozen berries. My daughter not only love the applesauce, she thought it tasted like jam and ate it on bread and crackers! If there is more apples left over from making pies for the freezer, I'll try and make more.

    After making the applesauce, I used the apple peelings and cores to making apple jelly (my newest canning adventure). Well, I thought I had it to the jelling stage, but was mistaken. What I did get, however, was the most beautiful, thick, sweet tasting apple syrup I've ever tasted...perfect for pancakes! Best fail ever!! I now have 4 delicious half pints of canned apple syrup for my pantry. I will use the peeling and cores from the rest of the bushel to make more jelly or syrup...haven't decided which but both are welcome pantry additions. I love that I can make something so amazing from just scraps!

    I've been doing so much canning that I'm running out of jars. So I decided to invest in 2 dozen more pint jars...a worthy investment I think. While I was picking them up at Walmart, the store just happened to be putting some of their canning items on end of season clearance. I bought 4 boxes of wide mouth lids and 10 boxes of no sugar needed pectin for $2.50/box (both normally $4/box). The pectin has an expiration date of Feb/2019, so I packed the boxed into a large, washed out Ziploc bag to store away until next year. The lids will be put with my canning supplies and used as needed. Another way I save money canning!

    Well, that's about it for my frugal adventures. I hope your daughter and husband had lots of fun at the school event! Hope you have another great week, Erika!

  6. Glad you where able to at least get the sleep center to reduce the bill. There must be someone you can write to and complain. Bet there are a lot of people just paying that bill never knowing how the sleep center is cheating. Cheryl

  7. It may be wise for you to obtain a copy of the insurance company's transcript of their conversation with the sleep center and to also write down your conversation with the sleep center for your own protection. In cases like this I've filed complaints to the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Protection, and to the Insurance Commissioner, as each State should have these agencies. I assume that the sleep center is under the umbrella of an MD. If that's the case the AMA also has a grievance committee where you can file a complaint.

    So great to find exactly the tea strainer that you wanted and all of the unexpected gifts from the food checker. Hope the kiddos have a great time playing in the snow.

  8. I am happy the sleep center fiasco is at least turning out better than it could have! It's a shame sometimes places are so dishonest.

    Ok...I do think it's awful you buy your own christmas gifts and your husband doesn't. :(

    You have had such great grocery deals, how awesome!

    Today we took the kids to a Halloween event at our local book fair, it's a massive warehouse open 6 times a year filled with books 50 or more percent off, and often toys and gift things too. We hadn't ever gone before but I am glad we did. It wasn't too crowded, but each kids got a free treat bag, baby pumpkin and got to choose a Halloween book or coloring book. There were free minature pony rides, my oldest did that twice, and there were a few other things that my kids didn't want to do, but it was nice.

    My oldest turns 9 Wednesday, so we are celebrating with pizza that night, and gifts. Then he's off to scouts, and moves into Bear scouts.

    I hope your kids have good sledding!

  9. I am so glad you spoke directly with the insurance company. I have always found that they are more my friend than offices trying to charge me. I think it's always best to call them ahead of time to confirm what they will cover. I just did that myself related to physical therapy, because I wasn't sure how my insurance covers that, and I just had rotater cuff repair. Oddly, I have had more fights with dental offices than with anyone else. The EOB's (explanation of benefits) are always important. I file them and compare them to any bills that I receive.

    I love the story about the free items from the cashier. People are nice!

  10. Sadly, I've heard similar stories about med places saying things are covered and people getting stuck with big bills. I think some of those places flat out lie, banking that the average person will not double check. And then they charge a non-negotiated rate and know the person is trapped. Grrrrrr.

    As for the pie friend just sold one at her garage sale less than a month ago! I would have been happy to buy it for you. It was a whopping 25¢!!!!!