Save. Spend. Splurge.

Update on the worst news received. Also selling Dagne Dover Charlie Tote to raise money.

Thank you to everyone who commented, and emailed in help for my relative.

I have been contacting her county’s social services, looking into food banks, searching apartment rentals, and basically doing round the clock beefing up on U.S. programs and assistance for the elderly and low income.

I have never learned so much in my life about low income seniors and a lot of it saddens me. I hate that healthcare is so expensive for them, she pays about $400 a month. A MONTH. That’s almost $5000 a year.

.. the kicker is that that’s “cheap”.

I pay $650 a YEAR in Canada as does everyone else (employers pay a percentage of around 2.7% of the salaries paid to supplement this; I know this because I also shelled out another $1600 for myself as an employee in addition to the $650).

And she can’t really afford it, it eats up half her income, just Medicare alone.


My aunt is in her 80s, and on a very restricted income (~$1000 a month) which has to cover everything. She didn’t even know food stamps were a thing, but that would have greatly helped her budget (never mind, I’m here now and I’m the Queen of them).

She was beaten, robbed and left out in the winter around the time of Stella to die without a coat or boots. She was found wandering around barefoot and brought in.

She got frostbite on both feet and is under medical supervision to see if they can save her feet or if they need to amputate.

She has practically no savings to speak of (she is the worst nightmare of all PF bloggers, basically), and it is just a terrible situation overall.

I dug a little deeper and realized that the accusation against her stepson is not warranted as far as I can tell, it was just a speculation by my family in anger to the situation. I think the situation just sucks and she is a little stubborn after all.

At any rate, I think I now have a handle on the situation, but most of my time these days has been taken up with my own health issues (trying to just get a bloody simple blood test here in Montreal is like pulling teeth from rats, I don’t recall it being this triflin’ in Toronto) and Googling services, and trying to find her a new place to live.

It’s exhausting to say the least.

Plus handling a toddler. I keep trying not to cry on the phone.


I said it once and I’ll say it again: Thank goodness I have money.

More than likely I will need to dig into my savings and fly there to help transition her from where she is now to a warmer city and pay for her.

I’ve already added another $20 to my cellphone for all the long distance calls I am making to the U.S., and maybe another $20 on my long distance card will be needed.

I will need to show her her new home, public transport, and get her settled in (bank accounts, social security, etc).

I don’t know how much it’ll cost, but flight ticket there, to the new city, and then back to Canada, is going to be about $1000, then hotel for a week is about another $1000 and then food, gas, car rental.. I’m looking at maybe $4000.

I’ll probably end up paying for some things for her too (e.g. furniture, groceries, staples, etc).

So $5000?


To raise money to help defray the costs, does anyone want to buy my brand new (haven’t used it, only took photos) Dagne Dover Charlie Tote in Bone Leather with Rose Gold accents? My full review of the Dagne Dover Charlie Tote with photos is here.

I didn’t want to sell it but… hey.

It’s just a (brand new) bag. 🙂

$300 USD + actual cost of shipping

(around $55 USD to the U.S. and cheaper in Canada; obviously more expensive worldwide paid in Paypal).

It’s a deal of at least $41 USD off the price even if DD gave you a 20% discount (which they don’t really do on the Charlie tote, as I have been eying it for a while, myself)..

Let me know.

You can use Paypal and I’ll package it and get shipping costs before I let you know the final amount.


I am worried about leaving my toddler for so long (about a week) when I have never left him a day in my life.

I’ve started Googling what to do to help him transition, and thus far have come up with:

  • Taking pictures with a familiar stuffed animal so he can see it and me on the trip
  • Skyping/Video calls on a regular basis* — maybe not though, he used to get upset at this when I went back to work and my partner was at home
  • A calendar to show him “Day one: Mommy flies on a plane…” etc and when Mommy is back, so he can check off the days with his father
  • Leaving my sweater and things behind for him to snuggle and smell

Anything else that might help with a toddler transitioning?


If you can offer any checklists of what to do when moving to a new state, that’d be greatly appreciated as well.

She doesn’t have a car, it’s just her and a few suitcases with a dog.

So far my list is the following:

  • Withdraw her money from the bank she is at (small independent bank) as a money order (this is possible right?) with some of it in cash to put into her new bank
  • Cancel and close out all accounts for her other bills (tie up loose ends)
  • Switch her auto-deposits into that bank account to a new one; may take time to transition however have to leave old account open & understand how to get that money later on
  • Find a place to stay, vet it, sign a lease and put down deposits
  • Take her to get basic amenities and furniture (nothing fancy, futon on the floor, cleaning supplies) and stress to her the importance of basic cleanliness of a home
  • Set up her telephone
  • New bank account with the new address
  • Set up forwarding mail address from old address
  • Go to food bank nearby and sign up for SNAP (Food Stamps)
  • Go to Social Security Office and change address
  • Go to Legal Aid office to create a living will and durable power of attorney
  • Take her to public transportation office and get a monthly pass (reduced fare) and show her how to reload the card each month
  • Go to United Way or any place along the way and ask for employment for someone who is in good health, of sound mind and body (hopefully still true) and in her 80s
  • Map out and walk her to the nearest grocery stores and basic drug stores for living
  • Teach her basic survival skills like being home by 6 p.m. etc

Anything else I am missing, that is U.S. and/or low-income senior specific?

Thanks in advance, and even more thanks for your support & help from the bottom of my heart.

I don’t know what I would have done without my base of readers to tap into for help.

I’ll also be a little AWOL these days.


  • Elisa

    It is so very nice of you to be helping your aunt. Because her income is so limited, you may want to contact as well Meals on Wheels. With this non-profit organization, which is in many US cities and towns, she will get regular visits from volunteers who can check on her while receiving healthy meals (in some cities, once a day). Also, depending upon the state /city/county where you are moving her to, there may be local assistance for the elderly such as free access to driving services–limo-type–that will take her to doctor appointments etc.

  • Meredith Seiser

    Was your aunt a veteran or the widow of a veteran? She might qualify for benefits. .she will need a new syate I.D. Card, likely through department of motor vehicles or her passport. Bless you for what you are doing!

  • Linda

    Wow, sorry to hear.
    Assuming you are preparing before you get to the states, because things take a long time to get settled (speaking abt NYC). Definitely depends on what state she resides/going to as well.
    If your aunt is of sound mind, even better.
    Sounds like money is tight, but what about possibly looking into a caretaker perhaps to check on her a few time out of the week, if she doesn’t end up in an Assisted Living facility.

    To be elderly in NY is really ruff I tell you. My grandmother 86 paid all her taxes and needs help and can’t get any! But thats what her money is there for I suppose, until it runs out b/c of bills and other things unfortunately. I’m babbling,.. but I’ve experienced the stress and worry that you might be under.

    Best Wishes to you Sherry. Hope everything works out.

  • ArianaAuburn

    When signing up for new utilities, check with the utility companies to see if your aunt qualifies for rates based on income (or senior rates). If your aunt has a dog, make sure to look for places that accept pets. If so, verify if they have breed restrictions. Some places do not allow certain dog breeds or dogs over certain weights.

  • K

    Not sure if this can help but there is a phone service called Safelink which offer free basic cell phone service. Availability is based on state. In my state, a basic phone is provided for free and $30 to get a smartphone with a 500mb monthly limit.
    Although i have not personally set up an account, a family member of mine uses it as their main phone and the service is reliable.
    State availability link:

  • tburley

    Nurse in Ohio
    If she is still in a facility (?), then a living will and durable POA for HC can be done on site- don’t have to go to a lawyer. They’re standard forms although they differ state to state they don’t require an attorney to complete and facilities have them (check with social worker). Also, ask the bank for a cashier’s check (works like a money order and is free). There are lots of senior living complexes that charge based on income. It sounds like what she needs- to be around people her age and circumstance. Again, social worker should have a list of these unless you’re moving away from the area altogether. If she’s not in a facility now, she should get a case worker assigned when she signs up for stamps. They can also be a resource to finding a place, etc. In addition to United Way, check out Red Cross, a huge resource for displaced persons. Keep us posted as you can; you are in our thoughts.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thank you again for all of your help. I will be talking to the facility on Monday directly, she seems to be really stressed about it and starting to snap at people on the phone who keep pestering her (like me) about details.

      I am looking into a senior complex as we speak. Thank you again!

  • Jen

    Hi Sherry, hope everything works out for your aunt. You are so kind to take care of so many things. Email me whenever you need anything from TO.

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