Have You Ever Had A Financial Freak Out Moment?

Have you ever had a moment where you just flipped out about something money related? That happened to me last week.  The worst part is that my financial freak out ended up being a total false alarm!

Costco Rewards Time Is Almost Near

Around the beginning part of the year, holders of the Costco American Express card receive a paper certificate, on the last page of which contains your certificate for the rewards you’ve earned by making purchases on the card throughout the year.

We use the American Express for a lot, so the 3% rewards on gas is usually a big driver, plus 1% on everyday purchases.  This year, we got a big boost because travel purchases receive 2%, and so we put the entirety of the trip to Disney World on the trip, earning a nice chunk of change.

All told, our reward for the year was over $350!

The Paper Statement Memory

We also have a couple of other cash back reward cards, both through Citi Master Card.  We use these cards as they often have rotating categories of up to 5%.  Both of the cards that my wife and I use had amounts over the $50 threshold for which you can request a redemption.

I decided to submit the claim for the rewards around the same time, so we would have the full amount of all of our rewards available around the same time.

Even though I logged into both of our accounts, my wife still got the e-mail verification about her card, and commented about it.  I told her the plan to get all three rewards piled together, at which point we could decide how to use the funds.

I remembered that a week or two prior, we’d gotten a statement from American Express. Since we do everything electronically, I imprinted a memory that it was probably the statement with the rewards certificate, as that’s the only time they ever send us a paper statement.

I casually mentioned to my wife that she just needed to take the certificate in next time she went to Costco, and get it redeemed for cash, which we could then deposit.

The Worst Two Words I Could Hear

My heart kind of sank when she said “What certificate?”

I mentioned that it was with the statement that we had received a couple of weeks ago.  Still calm, I reminded her that she had even pointed out that we had a statement.  I also pointed out (by this time, my voice probably raising a couple of octaves) that she always takes mail that I need to keep and sticks it in a little organizer that we use.

I went to the organizer and it wasn’t there.  She had no recollection of putting it there.

Financial Freak Out: Not A  Good Five Minutes

After that it was a pretty chaotic few minutes.  I was blaming her for not putting the piece of mail in the right spot where she usually puts all mail.  She claimed that she didn’t remember even seeing the statement.

It wasn’t a very fun conversation (if you could even call it that).

I looked online about what to do if you lose a certificate, and the answer was not good.  I found a few forums that said that they don’t re-issue the certificates if they’re lost.

Basically, you’re S.O.L.

This didn’t help the tone of the conversation.mb-2014-12stressed

Confusion On Multiple Ends

My wife decided to find out for herself if this was correct. By now, we were past the yelling stage and trying to figure out what to do.  I was even debating going out to the recycling bin and seeing if it was in there.  But, she called American Express and asked what would happen if it was lost or we didn’t receive it.

The agent on the end was a bit confused and said that it hadn’t been mailed out yet.  It was scheduled to be mailed out with our February 24th statement.

I got a bit confused.

But at least we calmed down.

Presenting….My Brian Williams Moment

Then, the next day it hit me.  It all came down to the paper statement.  See, I knew we’d received one.   We received a statement because we closed a different card, and apparently they send you a final statement in paper form.

So, I had my Brian Williams moment.   My financial freak out moment.  Luckily for me, my ‘conflation’ didn’t cost me my job or reputation, and it didn’t even cost me any money.

Though I did have to eat a bit of crow as I apologized to my wife…who was right all along!  As they usually are, of course!  A lesson I just need to remember….


Readers, what financial freak out moments have you had, and have you had one recently where it was all for nothing?

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Bummer News About Our Cat Boomer

Last week wasn’t the best week in our house, as we had to put our cat Boomer to rest.

Boomer was my companion for a little over fifteen and a half years.  When he came into my life, I wasn’t looking to be a cat owner to another cat.  I already had one, and had recently lost a second one.  A girl I was seeing at the time also liked cats, and I must have mentioned something about missing the other cat, because as a birthday present she decided to get me a kitten!

I was a little shocked, but the moment he walked in, laid down on a pile of blankets next to the couch, and fell asleep, I was hooked!

(For those who are wondering, the relationship only lasted a few more months, but by then the cat was part of the family!)

Boomer got his name because, as a kitten, he loved jumping up and down off furniture and made quite a loud thump, or BOOM, every time he hit the floor.  And so was Boomer!

Temperamental Cat

As Boomer grew from a kitten to a cat, there were a few characteristics that became evident.  First, the cat loved to eat more than any other cat I knew.  Second, he was not as friendly as most cats.  He pretty much turned into a one-person cat.  Luckily, that person was me!  Third, he developed a pretty well known temper.  If he didn’t like you or what you were doing, he would have no hesitation to hiss at you.

Hungry Cat

As I mentioned, Boomer loved to eat.  So much that without realizing it right away, I soon found that I had a big old fat cat!  He weighed in around 20 pounds, and I knew at some point that this was not the way it was supposed to be.  See, having two cats previously, I figured all cats were the same in that if you gave them a bowl of food, they would take what they wanted, and come back later when they were hungry.  That worked pretty well, until Boomer came along.

Turns out he had the appetite of a dog.  If you filled up the food dish, he would simply empty it.  I knew that I was filling it more frequently, but never realized until the vet alerted me that he was way over his weight.

So, Boomer got to go on a diet (and so did the other cat, much to her chagrin *lol*).  Feeding was limited to several small meals throughout the day.  After that, Boomer got back closer to his ideal weight, normally around 10-11 pounds, although he scavenged for food as much he could.  He would go through the trash can, beg for food at the table, and would always scour the kitchen for crumbs or droppings.  We only made the mistake of leaving bread within his reach a couple of times, because he would literally eat a hole through the bag and eat himself a couple of slices!

Fun & Happy Cat

From the telling so far, it might not sound like he was the happiest or fun cat.  But he really was.  While easygoing ormb-2016-01-mycat lovable weren’t the first words that came to mind, he really did enjoy life.  He loved me and anytime I sat down on a couch, he would wander over, jump in my lap, and get a few minutes of petting time in.  When the weather turned to the winter, he would spend many a night at the end of the bed keeping my feet warm.

He loved looking out the back window.  We have lots of squirrels and he always made sure they weren’t getting into too much trouble.  He’d also chatter at chirping birds.

As a kitten and young cat, he loved to play.  He would chase toy mice around until he ran out of breath.  He’d actually stand there and pant.  As he got older, the playfulness waned but never fully went away.  He’d still get bursts of energy and a toy mouse was always at the ready.

When he was a kitten, he got a little stuffed hedgehog as a gift, and he loved that throughout life. He would pick it up and carry it around the house, meowing at it, and Hedgehog always seemed to be near where Boomer was.

Constipated Cat

Around the age of 3, Boomer began having some issues with going to the litter box in that, well, he couldn’t.  He suffered from constipation and this plagued him throughout his life.

Some of the early episodes were rather unfortunate and probably scarred him.  One time, he was coming back from the vet and they’d treated him, but he hadn’t gone by the time he left.  Unfortunately, he didn’t make it home and was in his carrier in the car when disaster struck.  Only it got worse.  When I got home, I realized that I’d left my keys locked in the house.  Here was poor Boomer, covered in a smelly mess, only wanting to get inside, and he couldn’t.  Hosing him down while I waited for someone to bring me a key technically helped him out by getting rid of the flies that he was attracting, but he sure didn’t see any positives!

Thankfully, we had a vet that, after the initial problems developed, was able to really help us manage the problems.  Special diet and medicines really helped.  Over the next twelve years, I became pretty good at spotting when a bout was coming on, and we managed to get in front of things.

Every episode ended pretty quickly and he was back to his normal self.

This Time Was Different

This was the routine for over twelve years and it went well…until recently when it didn’t.

I won’t go into the messy details, but essentially a few weeks ago he had an episode that was worse than normal.  He got straightened out and seemed to be back to his normal self, except that unlike every other times, he didn’t start going again on his own.

We had a few different treatment interventions, and made some adjustments to his diet and medicine, but nothing we did ultimately brought him back to ‘normal’.  It just kept getting worse, and even after getting him to go, the level that he bounced back and the time which he stayed well before starting to decline again all was going in the wrong direction.

After a few weeks, I could see just by looking at him that it wasn’t working.

I had a heart-to-heart with the vet and they put it in a very meaningful way.  Basically, they pointed out that all of the medicines and food and everything else we did was designed to assist his body in the function of going, but that the body still needed to do the work.  Essentially, the medicines and diet couldn’t take over and make things happen.

I looked at my cat and realized that, although he fought a courageous battle for over twelve years, he wasn’t going to win the fight this time.  I also remembered a conversation years back that I had with my vet, when he first started getting sick.  At the time, I asked how long a cat with his condition would be expected to live.  She said that it could vary, but that between 10-12 was pretty normal.  I always kind of kept that in the back of my head.  When he made it to past 15 and 1/2, it comforted me to know that he got quite a bit of, maybe, ‘extra’ time.

Final Time With Him

I talked to the vet and talked to my wife and we made the heartbreaking decision that nobody ever wants to make, but that pet owners must eventually face.  We scheduled the appointment for the next day.

Once I did that, I made the decision that I was not going to wallow in sadness.  Instead, I wanted to give him a great day.  And we really did have a great time together.  He got a few more sits in my lap.  He got to eat as much and as often as he wanted.  I gave him two plates of macaroni and cheese, his favorite ‘people’ food.

He went to the door wall and found a perfect square of sunshine to lay in and take a nap.  Before we left, he went up on his blanket and lay down.  I sat next to him and started petting him and started talking to him.  I told him how much I loved having him as my cat.  Then, I was just talking to him about things I remembered throughout his life.  He fell asleep.  It was a blessing to get that opportunity to say goodbye. It was heartbreaking to take him in a couple of hours later for the visit that you know he won’t be coming back from.  But really, those last 24 hours will be time I’ll always treasure.

In Almost Twenty Years

I’ve had three cats over the course of nearly twenty years.  Losing Boomer was the first time that I didn’t have a cat still waiting for me.  Losing him meant companionship and the routines and everything else that you just get used to.

We’re going to take a little time and decide what we want to do as far as getting a pet.  We haven’t ruled anything out or made any plans one way or another.  This is a new chapter in our lives, and we’ll see how the story plays out.

For now, though, we all miss Boomer, though we are already making sure to cherish the memories above all else.  He’s no longer here but he’ll always be part of our family.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Ashley Madison Hacked And Nothing To Worry About For Me!

Man, it seems that every time you turn around there’s another company that’s gotten hacked with some sort of data breach.  Target, Home Depot, and many others have all hit the news over the past months.  Those are some big names, so it should probably be of no big surprise that the biggest website for those looking to cheat on their spouses got hacked.

That’s right, Ashley Madison, home of the “Life is short, have an affair” slogan, announced that their databases were hacked.  The company hasn’t officially released information about what exactly was hacked, but I have to believe that there are probably a lot of nervous people out there right about now, and I’ll also bet that there’s a lot of people worried about a lot more than whether their credit card data was part of the breach!

Dangerous Information

In most hacks, there are a few key pieces of information that are probably the most valuable to hackers and the most damaging to someone whose information is compromised:

  • Credit Card Number
  • Other Credit Card Details (expiration dates, validation codes)
  • Social Security Numbers

With this hack, those items are certainly key, but it seems a lot of other information could land someone in the mb-2015-07-doghousedoghouse, even so much as:

  • First and Last Name
  • E-mail Address

Might Ordinary People Pay These Hackers?

In most cases of hacking, the information contains value.  Do we really know who might be on the other end of those transactions?  If a hacker steals data, you picture the parties that might buy that data as someone overseas, or a shady criminal or someone using their computer hiding in a dark basement in the thick of night.

With this hack, the people that might pay for the data could be sitting right next to you.

If someone were to suspect their spouse of having an affair, it might be worth putting $10 in the hands of ‘the bad guys’ to have the opportunity to look up a few e-mail addresses against the Ashley Madison database, don’t you think?

While some cheaters might first create a new e-mail address that their spouse doesn’t know about, many probably don’t go through the trouble.  If a suspecting spouse knows their work e-mail, their current personal e-mail, and their college e-mail address that’s no longer appropriate for everyday use, that’s three chances that would probably uncover a lot of potentially cheating spouses.

Worth $10 for three chances?  If I suspected my spouse of cheating, that’d be money well spent.

No Suspicions Or Anything To Hide

Thankfully, I have no suspicions of my wife.  Plus, I can state that any lookup of any of my addresses would come up clean.

Cheating is one of those things that’s a show stopper for me.  I’ve been cheated on, and when I found out, I broke up with the girl.  At the time, I thought she was my soulmate, and breaking up was the one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but I did it and looking back, I’m glad I kept my resolve.  The closest I ever came to cheating was kissing another girl while in a relationship.  That was twenty years ago. And I told my then-girlfriend almost immediately.

That’s the beginning and end of my ‘cheating’ experiences.

That’s why the whole premise of Ashley Madison always kind of disgusted me.  It didn’t surprise me that a site like that existed.  There’s something for everybody.  As long as its not illegal, you can best bet that someone will profit.  Since you can’t go to jail for cheating, someone seized the opportunity.  Presumably a lot of people made lots of money.

Now, if this hack threatens the personal information that could be damning for those who signed up or used the service, it could end up costing a lot of people a lot of money, sleep, and a lot more.

But, maybe that’s the risk one takes if you decide to go out looking to cheat on your spouse.  I’m just guessing on that, though!

Readers, what do you think of the Ashley Madison hack?  Did anyone you know pop into mind as someone who might be in some hot water?

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

You Have To Have Both Oars In The Water

mb-oars201308I was recently reminded of something that my grandma and great-aunt used to say when it came to talking about marriages, specifically when you’re having problems.  It went something like:

“You have to have both oars in the water to move forward.  Otherwise you’ll go in around in circles or nowhere at all.”

This is so simple yet so true.

When you’re in a relationship, you have to have both people involved, with their oars in the water so to speak.  If you have just one person putting effort into the relationship as a whole, or a particular problem that’s presented itself, you’ll move but you’ll end up going in circles.  If both people decide to do nothing, then you’re going to go nowhere, or be at the mercy of outside forces like the current or the wind.

It’s better to work together.  Work together to find a rhythm and a pace.  But above all, you have to have both oars in the water.

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.