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Houdini no more, no Costco membership renewal, the handyman, Medicare costs

October 26th, 2011 at 06:30 am

Yesterday I had my handyman come over and address the situation with the clothes dryer hose vent which my cat pried off and climbed through to get into the garage.

It was a pretty easy and quick fix, costing me all of $39 ($9 of that was for materials). He happened to have a large piece of plywood in the back of his truck that he wasn't using for anything and he cut that down to size to fit the size of the window opening. Then he cut a round hole in it the exact diameter of the vent hole, about 4 inches. Then he bought a dryer vent, the kind that has a flap that closes over the hole when it's not in use, and he screwed that into the old window frame that was already there.

So voila. Problem fixed. Now if he wanted to, the cat could still scratch at my somewhat flimsy dryer hose and tear more holes in it. Then I'd be forced to spend money on a better hose, the kind made out of solid metal, but I'm really hoping that doesn't happen becus then I might have to have the handyman back here again to re-affix the new hose.

I got 3 new freelance writing assignments for marketing materials for an upscale new subdivision (6 homes) in an upscale Connecticut town. They're actually 3 different pages of what will become the marketing brochure, but they like to give it to me broken into smaller components, like the builder bio, the town write-up and the write-up about the community itself. It's fine by me. I interviewed the builder yesterday and also talked to the sales agent, enabling me to write about a place I've never been to.

Last week I went to a free dinner lecture at Masonicares rehab/nursing home on Medicare. It's open enrollment time now and it can be very confusing which plan is the best. So I went to the lecture (mainly for the free meal) and the speaker was great. Not only that, but he will meet with seniors one-on-one to discuss their particular situation and advise as to the best plan(s), whether it's A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc., or some combination of them all.

I gave my mother his contact info and urged her to call him. She didn't want to drive out his way but happily,he's coming to her home and she wanted me to be there too cus she doesn't know the guy, so that's what I'm doing later this morning.

Before coming back home I'll hit Costco for some milk and cat litter. Costco is raising its membership fee and I've decided it's no longer worth it for me to be a member, so when my membership comes up for renewal in December, I'll let it lapse. But in the meantime, I am stocking up on enough cat litter to last me all of next year. Their price on cat litter ($7.35 for a 44 lb box of clumping) is far and away cheaper than anywhere else. I think I go thru about 1 box of litter a month for the 2 cats, so my goal is to have at least 12 extra boxes in December, and I'll plan on renewing the Costco membership in Dec. 2012 after skipping a year.

The boxes are super heavy and i can barely lift them into a Costco cart, but i hope to get one of those flatbed carts and buy 3 or 4 boxes today. Smile

I wish I could do the same thing with the milk, but I can't. Too bad I didn't have a freezer.

I feel bad for my handyman. He's struggled financially for as long as I've known him, although he does pretty good work. There are 3 reasons for this that I can see, but I can never tell him one of them.

The first reason is that he really underprices his work. And he doesn't charge for his time spent picking up materials,nor does he inflate the price of materials he buys so he doesn't profit off them, as most contractors do. I know this becus he gives me the receipt after he buys materials so i can see exactly what it cost. He must be the only person in the world who does that.

The 2nd reason he's always broke is becus he doesn't advertise his services anywhere. The one time he posted his services on a local bulletin board in town, someone from the town called him and was asking all kinds of questions becus they wanted to start taxing his business assets, like his truck. He also doesn't advertise becus he doesn't want to get caught doing handyman work without a license, which is an expensive annual cost. We were talking about it all after he finished my job, and I suggested that he try advertising again, but in surrounding towns, not this town. That way, if a local town official happened to read it, chances are, they wouldn't bother calling my town to report him, and it wouldn't matter to them since the handyman works in my town, not their town. He thought that was a good idea.

The 3rd reason he's struggling is becus he never works steadily enough. He now has a p/t job that's a regular thing, but he's only guaranteed 12 hours, altho sometimes he works as much as 25 hours a week. Not enough to live on!So he had been renting a small (900sf) lakefront cottage for years. He always had trouble paying the rent. Then he had a very bad accident with his motorcycle but collected about $145,000 from it. You would think that would have solve all his problems. Well, yes and no. He had been renting with an option to buy. The house isn't worth much by itself. It doesn't have a septic system, just a cesspool, it has no water source itself but he uses a community well, whatever it is, it's on very steep land, though it's 1/2 an acre and it doesn't have a foundation. But it's very private and it's waterfront. So he bought the house, paid in cash.

So that alleviated that financial pressure, but yesterday he was telling me he's way behind on paying the town property taxes. For his little place, the taxes are about $3300, and he now owes about $12,000. I urged him to challenge the assessment with the Board of Appeals, given all the shortcomings of the place but he seems pretty skeptical. He's kind of a loner/hippie type, with long hair he keeps in a ponytail. I feel bad for him. He's afraid he's going to lose the house.

I have been using my paypal account now. I've had it for a while but never used it. I've used it to get paid by the guy who's having me edit his emails, as well as getting paid by the online surveys. It's just a few dollars here or there, but it sure beats waiting 4 weeks to get paid by the online survey places! What an improvement! I have it linked to my local checking account and transfer money immediately when I get it. I had been leery of using Paypal when I first heard about it, but it's been around so long and so many people use it, I finally caved in. Just like I caved in about doing online banking or using more big bank credit cards. Smile


2 Responses to “Houdini no more, no Costco membership renewal, the handyman, Medicare costs”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    My husband has always built homes the way your handyman does. He does not charge out his time for picking up materials and we give the customers all the receipts, so they know to the penny where all their money went. It is the only honest way to do business.

  2. Dido Says:

    Have you thought about sharing the Costco membership with a friend? If it works the way that Sam's Club and BJ's does, you can add a second member. Now, that second member is supposed to live in your household, but they don't actually check to verify that this is the case. It just means that any coupons, mailings, etc, get sent to the person who originally opened the card. I now have memberships to *both* Sam's Club and BJ's (the closest CostCo is an hour away), both memberships shared with a friend.

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