Jan
15
2009

  Three Cut-Off Notices

Well, good thing I actually went through the November thru January mail today. As it turns out, I had THREE cut-off notices. I think that's a new personal record.

First for the NJ gas & electric bill, they were going to cut off service if I didn't pay by today. I tried to pay online but it kept giving me errors, but I was able to pay by phone through an automated system. The problem is with how the automated systems handle zip codes-- we've got different zip codes for the service address, mailing address, and credit card bill address, and since they don't match I the online system won't put the transaction through. But the phone system only asked for one zip code, and the mailing zip code seemed to suffice. I just don't want any hassles if they try to use it to run the credit card through and it gets rejected since that's NOT our billing zip code. I got a "payment identification number" so I'm going to assume that's my cover in case there are any problems, so I don't have to suffer through actual disconnection and reconnection of service and associated fees. I really don't care if they cut off the gas since it's just for the stove, but the house won't show well to prospective buyers with the lights cut off. Grr.

I also got a cut-off notice from our internet provider. Yada, yada, yada. It's true I only get around to paying them every other month, I'm not a great customer. But we're testing out DSL starting at the end of this month. We've been too far away from the substation to get DSL in the past, but the phone company has either built a new station, or put in a repeater or something, since now we and our neighbors are eligible. It won't be as fast as our current T-1 line, but hopefully it will be fast enough to not be annoying. It's about 10x cheaper. That's right, ONE-TENTH the monthly cost of our T-1. It will be a huge cost savings for us if the service is fast and reliable enough that I can place my trades, etc. when I need to. Hopefully, ACC Business will only have to put up with my late payments for one more month, then we'll be done with each other, and my internet bill will just get paid along with my phone bill (which is conveniently automatically billed through my bank, so I don't have to worry about keeping up with it, it just gets paid whether I open the mail or not).

The last cut-off notice was a bit unexpected-- it was from one of my banks. Apparently, Terry did not send in his signature card the first time I asked him to, and the bank said it would close our accounts if it didn't receive the cards by 1/13 and 1/15 respectively. Hopefully they aren't on top of their game, and haven't closed out the 1/13 account yet. I'll get those cards faxed out today. What a hassle.

I didn't get a cut-off notice from one of my credit cards, but I did get an unexpected late fee. The account has been on auto-payment so they get their payment the same day every month, and I've never gotten a late fee before, so I called to see what was up. They changed the terms from 25-day grace period to 23-day grace period, but they didn't send out a change-of-terms notice. They just changed the due date, to which of course I didn't pay attention since the thing gets auto-paid. I told them that was unreasonable on their part to not send out a change-of-terms notice, so they waived the $39 fee. The card companies are so aggressive with their @#$@ fees. But at least they usually waive them for people who call and complain. Now I have to set the autopayment to arrive on the 8th of the month instead of the 11th. Again, a nuisance.

It's days like today that I wish I had a staff person who would take care of all these details, pay the bills on time, open the mail before the cut-off dates, etc. I'm a much better manager than employee, I really am not good at getting things done. I need to make a bill-payment checklist or something that I can print out, and check off the box each month when the bill is paid, so I can see at a glance that everything is up-to-date. At least it's better now than it used to be. The problem is that all the bills are not going to Oregon like they should-- they all USED TO go there, but since I set that up I've opened more accounts and stuff, and so some bills are coming here. Not to mention that the NJ stuff is pretty messed up since I don't even know what's going on with that mail. Sometimes it seems it collects in the box, sometimes the Hudson County post office sends us nasty notes telling us to pick up the mail in the post office since our box overflowed, sometimes the mail is forwarded to VA, sometimes to OR. Ugh.

I dream about the day I might earn enough from stock trading to hire full-time help. Wouldn't that be lovely? A dream. I should buy a lottery ticket this week. That would do it. I'd spend the whole of the annual payout on salaries. Since while I'm making money from stock trading (I already posted a pretty little capital gain this month from my sale of FXY, my first income of the year!), it's just enough for us to live on, not really enough to pay out for help. But I'm hopeful that things will pick up. If Terry starts bringing in some income from either his music or farming that will help, too. But for now, stock trading is it, and the market it dismal. I can't use that as an excuse, as a trader I should be able to profit in any market, but certainly some years should be easier than others. . .