Sunday, March 22, 2015

Financial Impact of Being a Caregiver

I am often very transparent about life. 
Why not--God needs to get the glory 
as I wrote in my book, 
Getting Off the Niceness Treadmill!
I do not need to get the glory.  

      We bought our home in 2001 within the first year of our marriage. In 2004 my husband had a heart attack and shortly thereafter the house was refinanced to include the car payment for our used Expedition. After his recovery, we both continued working. I retired from stressful full-time teaching in Polk County Schools in 2007. 

      In December of 2008 my husband and I were all set to begin some retirement years together.  However he was diagnosed with dementia. Six months after this diagnosis, my husband retired. I helped him draft a two weeks notice letter. I surmised that he was not able to remember new directions from his employers and felt he needed to give his two-week notice.

         Suddenly I would have to pull in more income. Eventually I decided to work as a substitute teacher in public schools and to continue my part-time position as an instructor for DUI classes. These two employment opportunities allowed me flexibility for my new role as a dementia caregiver.
         At some point our financial advisor who monitored my IRA suggested we take a second mortgage at a bank where he had a friend. The thought was that the second mortgage would help us maintain the property because undoubtedly it would go up in value before it would need to be sold.          
        I studied Alzheimer’s and kept a good credit rating I thought. We lived our life as best as we could and Sally and Jake gave us a used pop-up camper and we went camping with them. We had two cars until a crash in December of 2010 that I wrote about HERE, which totaled our best car. He stopped driving and I drove our 1999 gas-guzzler Expedition until December of 2013 when it would have taken $6000 to fix. We then purchased a newer used car HERE that he would be able to get into and out of much easier than the Expedition, which we had to give away. We again had car payments.

         In the later years of caregiving we had wonderful volunteers that enabled me to continue to work and my husband to continue to stay in our home. Kenny would come to check on him while I worked and Pharis would take care of our yard and repairs.
          In May of 2014 my husband was rapidly declining and it became apparent that I needed to stay home and not substitute teach, although I was contracted to teach DUI classes and couldn't get out of that.    
        With more decline it became harder for us to manage. There were two choices—a nursing home or Hospice. I chose Hospice. My husband loved our home and Hospice came into our home.  Not long after this decision, he passed away on June 23, 2014. A small life-insurance policy of $20,000 paid for the burial expenses and some of my expenses that summer. I expected to be substitute teaching again in August, but due to my husband’s death I had missed an important meeting for Kelly Services.  Without his Social Security, money became very tight.  Finally a month into the school year I again started substitute teaching and seeing if I could refinance the house with the first and second mortgages.

      The decision to sell was made during my 2014 Christmas vacation when I visited family in Huntsville, Alabama—I would sell and move there. In January I contacted the bank who held the first mortgage and explained the situation and I stopped paying automatically the first mortgage. Not paying the mortgage helped me survive and take care of needed repairs on the house including a new water softener to handle the rust problem. My realtor and my visiting Alabama brother explained the reality of the short-sell to me and I spent two months getting the house ready to sell. 

It had never occurred to me that I would have to downsize at this time, and to sell-short, but I will be happy to live in an apartment and to not burden my Huntsville family with having to downside and sell property in the future.  
      My highest value in the stressful life as a caregiver had been taking care of my late husband whom I loved so much.  There hadn’t been time to take care of myself or to assess the value of our property which we thought would increase by the time we would sell it.  
I am so glad for what I have and look forward to a simpler lifestyle in a two bedroom apartment where I will work on the seminary counseling dissertation on caregiving. Continue to pray for the sale of the home as the first buyer backed out this past week. Our home will be a golden find for someone and I look forward to my golden years in Huntsville, Alabama. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

What I Did Over Spring Break

Monday, the first day of the Spring Break when I would not be able to substitute teach all week,  my realtor, Alison Terry, came over at 10 am. I had taken note of her instructions in January when she first gave them to me, and also HER positive coaching by text for two months. I signed the papers for her to list the house on Monday, March 9. 

Now Alison should have been pleased and in fact was,  because major furniture was gone as I have been blogging about on this site. Repairs that I wasn't able to do while I was my late husband's caregiver had been made. My brother loaned me money for a new water softener and I managed to pay him back at the beginning of this month. A new garage door was installed. Even so, the house was to be sold "as is"--no way could I afford to put in a new kitchen or remodel the two bathrooms or put in new rugs. 

Monday when she came Alison took numerous pictures for the listing. Here are some of the items she featured in the MLS side show:
The brick fireplace.
The circular driveway.
The pergola in the backyard.
The French doors to the backyard.
The lighted vanity and drawers in the master bedroom. 
S P A C I O U S   R O O M S!!

The house smelled good thanks to AirWick in six rooms. (I was not aware of the dog smell in my house but she clued me in.) Family pictures were boxed up and much less was on the walls. 

Meanwhile a certain M. M. had fallen in love with our dream house right away when she saw it on the MLS listing Tuesday night. Wednesday M. M.  and a friend were the first ones to come. Sharon, the realtor from Realty 2000,  came half hour earlier  at 3:30. I had to be out by 4:00 with my dog. I gave Sharon my tour, telling her that the master bedroom used to have a king-sized bed, but was changed to a hospital bed for my late husband and a twin bed for me. Hospice had taken the bed back, and instead of thinking of it as the room where my husband died, the master bedroom now had a twin bed and a sewing island, not that I have done that much sewing lately. (Ziggy still has to sleep with his people, even if it is only I in a twin bed.) 

After Sharon's short tour, I met Sharon's  prospective buyers on the front porch. With Ziggy in my arms I managed to give my "Junk of Old People" rap, humorously telling the prospective buyers of my downsizing efforts. 

Then Ziggy and I did what we were supposed to do while three different realtors were showing the house--we left the house until it was dark.  To date there have been maybe a half a dozen showings and 127 people on my Facebook Like Page for this blog who viewed the Wednesday night message from my iPhone:
Dog Ziggy and I have been holding out in a park for three showings of my house tonight. Started to rain and we just made a dash for the car. Realtor just sent me an email to my iPhone that the first prospect to see it are going to make an offer on it!! 
Ten comments followed. Folks, if all you do is read this blog, you might consider clicking on the above right link to Facebook where I do post a lot. 

Thursday the post hole diggers came to put the For Sale sign in. 

I can't believe we forgot Alison's sign, they remarked. 

I took off to see the movie "Still Alice" Thursday afternoon and then wrote on the Facebook Like page my brief review: Family wins out in this wonderful, realistic Alzheimer's movie. 

I added,  At the end of it [Still Alice]  I turned my iPhone back on at 4:39 pm and read this message from my realtor. 
"You received an offer today! Full price."
At 1:30 pm today, Friday, the 13th, I accepted the offer at Alison's office. 

When I came home, the above sign had been been put on that pole in my front yard. 

This afternoon a lady came by to inquire about the For Sale sign and wanted to see inside. I told her there is an offer I accepted and I couldn't let her in, as my realtor had advised, but I did sit on the front porch and chat with her and gave her Alison's card in case it went back on the market. After all, my poem that became my first rap is featured on this blog--Longing to Chat on the Front Porch With You HERE


Saturday, March 7, 2015

More About Yard/Garage Sales

Three yard sales in October of 2014 helped by several friends including their husbands who could price shop equipment. One in January with my Huntsville brother and Pharis helping to pull it off. Three in February. One unsuccessful one yesterday.

Discovered that books do not sell. Discovered that clothes do not sell. Discovered that selling large items works well with a virtual yard sell, but not at all in a yard sale, especially when the Strawberry Festival is on.
Just packed up those books and brought them to Lighthouse Ministries.
Many other items that didn't sell well also went to The Goodwill. Saving receipts for 2015 taxes. 

The last items I hoped to sell just sat there in the driveway yesterday and then I moved them inside the garage. One day I may be able to park in that garage before the house sells.
Dog not for sale
Anyone need something here?

Family heirlooms were given to my husband's family.

Yesterday during the yard sale when I did not sell anything for a change, my out-of-town brother-in-law Danny, married to my husband's sister,  came by for four framed paintings by his wife and one stitched family tree created by my husband's mother. They understood that it is time these get passed on to their grandchildren or kept by them.

While Danny and I  were standing in the front yard, two students I have substituted for came by and Danny heard me rap for them. Danny also highly complimented me for being an angel taking care of my late husband who had Alzheimer's. Yes it was a tough job, tougher than downsizing and getting ready to sell and move.

Happy I could go to the Strawberry Festival on Thursday and enjoy large, juicy strawberries on a stick dipped in chocolate. The high schoolers working in that booth recognized me and I rapped for their kin working in the booth.

Dale Carnegie once said:
Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one, it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.
So many little jobs in moving. I am excited about moving closer to my family in Huntsville, Alabama, renting an apartment and having a landlord take care of things. I am excited about living more simply and enjoying my good health (so far) in my senior years and then having less distractions so I can work on my dissertation.

However, my house has to sell first.