How Did We Do It All When Working? We Didn’t!

I hear other retirees say that they have no idea how they managed to do everything when they were still working. I know the feeling, but I suspect they didn’t do everything, and I didn’t either.

What Did I Let Go While Working?

Unless it was a quick fix, we usually hired someone to take care of repairs. I usually took care of things that were obvious – picking up around the house and doing some routine cleaning, etc. But I didn’t have or make time to take care of the “out of sight, out of mind” cleaning. Some of my other friends handled this problem by retaining a cleaning service. I chose not to do this but had seriously contemplated it on more than one occasion.

I stayed on top of bills, but I didn’t spend much time questioning charges–where would I have gotten the time to do this? My routine grocery shopping was based on a “see” food diet. I’d see things that looked good and they often went into my grocery cart. Of course, if I was too tired to cook or had a lot of papers to grade in the evenings, I had other options–take-out food or out to dinner.

One of the biggest oversights last year while working was failing to notice that taxes had not been withheld on some other funds I had started drawing; fortunately, I had set aside that money and will be able to meet my tax obligation. However, it was quite a surprise when I got my W-2 form this year. Life can become a blur when living in the fast lane. That was my life before ‘retiring’ from my full-time position.

I Now Know What I Hadn’t Done Before Retiring

During my last week of work, our kitchen faucet started leaking.  We purchased a new faucet and then immediately started looking for a plumber who could install a new faucet. I read that the average national installation cost was $245. I watched a YouTube video on how to install a faucet. I spent the first day of my new life underneath the sink. It took us a couple of hours – something a professional could have done in probably a half an hour, but we did get the job done and the faucet doesn’t leak. Of course, there are certainly plumbing projects we would be absolutely foolish not to have a professional handle. The difference now is that we are looking at different situations and deciding when we really do need an expert and when it could easily be a DIY project.

As for bills, I take time to check them more carefully now that I’m not working full-time. In January, we got a bill for $294 related to an accident my husband had in November 2017. We were shocked to receive this bill. I made a call to the hospital where my husband had received care. I was then referred to another department. Next I was told to call the outside billing service to understand the charges. I then learned that our insurance had accepted the claim for the charges, then denied them, then accepted them, and then denied them.. After that, I talked twice with a representative from the insurance company that had covered us through my job. I was referred to the appeals office.

The appeals representative told me that my husband didn’t have authorization for the services he received. I argued that he couldn’t have had authorization for services because they were related to an emergency room visit. The representative said if it was related to an ER visit, it would be covered but they had not record of that relationship. I then had to contact the hospital records department, fill out some electronic forms, and order the ER doctor’s notes.

What made matters more complicated was that my husband is hard of hearing and could not make the calls himself. Yet because my inquiry was related to his injury, he had to get on the phone and verify his identity and give permission for me to handle matters on each and every call I made. After I got the doctor’s notes, I filled out an appeal form and mailed it.

Kind of a “Gotcha”

Six weeks later, we received a letter from the insurance company advising us that they had agreed our claim was valid and would be paid. It had taken me several hours (along with coordinating with my husband) to handle something I would not have had time to address while working. It’s kind of a “gotcha” when you can’t spend hours untangling billing problems because you’re working full-time. In spite of some old myths that told women in particular that we could have it all, that wasn’t ever true. I’m starting to discover all that I couldn’t do while being consumed with by my full-time career.

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