We Might Agree on More Than You Think

There are, perhaps surprisingly, many things we can agree on today despite all the divisiveness with COVID, politics and climate change.

One we might be in agreement with is that here in the cold north we spend way too much time and money attempting to maintain a summer climate throughout our homes when it can be 80 or more degrees colder just outside the walls.

Even if our houses were built with state-of-the-art airflow design, it’s never just right. We still have cold spots and hot spots. The minute a new house is completed it is out of date. Meanwhile, we are strongly encouraged to save energy by intentionally keeping the temperature just out of the comfortable range. You can’t be comfortable and save energy at the same time, despite what your smart thermostat suggests. And this year we’re paying a premium due to external events like last winter’s debacle in Texas.

We insulate walls and attics, block air leaks around doors and put plastic over our windows. We humidify in winter and dehumidify in summer. We wear more clothing in winter. And because newer homes are so well insulated now, we have to allow combustion air in for the furnace and water heater, and fresh air in for our health. Seems illogical but what do I know?

It is a sight better than homes we grew up in, though, that were like heating a corn crib. My last house was 100 years old and an energy audit revealed that the air in the house changed out about every 15 minutes. At least we didn’t need an air exchanger.

Another thing we also likely agree on is that completing and submitting our tax returns is purposely designed to keep us busy this time of year. It’s a waste of time and energy to complain about something that never really gets easier. This, despite the “simplification” of them in recent years.

Even if you hire a service to complete them, you still have to provide the documentation and know the answers to a lot of questions, especially if you expect to minimize the bottom line. For some people, COVID has made completing them even more complex when accounting for the various temporary tax changes made to help us through the pandemic.

Then there are the services we pay for, often out of mind because they are paid through direct payment from our bank accounts. We may agree that paying that way is nice in that you don’t need to worry about missing a payment as long as you have a sufficient balance.

But what many of us don’t pay attention to is that many of these services regularly change their service packages that you could benefit from. However, they usually don’t tell you about them. You have to find out. These include cable TV, internet, cell phone, all types of insurance and more. Sometimes the costs increase and you don’t realize it. Price increases are often buried in the fine print of a bill or maybe you just tossed the email or letter you received explaining it.

You can probably find cheaper car and home insurance if you shop around. But I bet most of us know that you really shouldn’t expect to save 15 percent on your car insurance in 15 minutes like the ads say. And the $9.95 a month life insurance plan? That’s for $1,000 coverage which is about enough to cover your funeral luncheon. You’ll have to pay $99.50 a month to cover a typical $10,000 funeral.

We probably also agree that ordering online is convenient. I certainly appreciate having 40-pound boxes of cat litter dropped off right at my door. But have you noticed how many delivery trucks are going up and down your street? A recent order I placed for two boxes of cat litter was delivered on time but one box came via UPS and the other via the US mail. How does that even happen?

Our unfortunate mail carrier has to deliver both the mail and things like cat litter. Well, they’re offering that service. I bought a larger mailbox because some packages were shoved in there so tight that I damaged them trying to get them out. There have been a few days recently when no mail was delivered to our street. COVID and The Great Resignation have hindered their ability to keep up.

I think we would all agree that there has been a marked increase in the number of businesses that use automated phone menus. These businesses seem to have learned how to make them as complicated and confusing as possible. You would be amazed at what the decision tree flowchart of those menus looks like on paper. Listen carefully because, you know, their “menus have recently changed.”

You also learn to be careful with the ones that supposedly can decipher your voice answers. Recently, in my attempt to change pharmacies due to insurance changes, I somehow ordered a prescription refill that I didn’t need. I don’t think I yelled “no” loud enough because I soon received an email that it was ready and waiting to be picked up.

One thing we can agree on is that we would all be better off if we could agree with each other more. Or maybe just agree to disagree.

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