I need to put the last of my debt payoff (current balance of $2074) on hold, more or less.
I really didn’t want to do it, I so badly wanted to have this last bit of my past financial mistakes gone in this calendar year. That’s what I set out to do when I started this blog in 2016, and that’s what I was certain I would be doing when I wrote out my financial goals for this year.
However, with medical bills starting to pile up, that’s just not possible.
Well, I take that back. It would be possible, if I were willing to halt contributions to, and draw down on, my savings accounts. But, I’m not willing to do that. I know that this season of financial stress is a temporary one, but the goals I am saving toward will still exist after the last of the cancer treatments and bills are in our rear view mirror. I do not want to lose my trajectory there. I’ve got a daughter who will be heading off to college in just over a year, and I have made a commitment to her that I will contribute a certain amount toward that. I have also been saving for a family trip next summer –possibly the last one we will all take together at this phase of our lives (the core four!), what with the girls growing up and moving out and on. So, I continue to save for those two goals at my planned upon rate.*
As for the continuously accruing medical debts, I don’t yet have a methodical plan of attack. To date, I’ve been trying to knock them off in chronological order. At the moment, the bill(s) total still falls in the hundreds, and not the thousands. In order to keep our cash flow (relatively) healthy, I’ve started arranging payment plans for all of them (even those with balances below $100). So, each pay day, I’m paying out a number of $25, $40, $50 and $85 payments. Of course, new ones also continue to be generated, even though our deductible has been met. At a minimum, every time Mr. DBG steps foot in the door of the oncologist’s office (current rate, about once a week), a $40 copay gets generated. Every time he is sent for a scan, test, or to the ER (current rate, about once a month), a $100 copay is generated. So, with my small payments on existing bills and the continuous generation of new ones, it is going to take several months (at best) for most of them to be paid off, at this rate, but since there is no interest accruing, it seems my best bet.
However, there are two items (referenced in my last post) that insurance has declined to cover – the cost for these together is more than $4000. Of course, I will exhaust all options with appeals and trying to negotiate pricing with the billing departments, but absent any of that working, we’ll be on the hook for that. If that ends up being the case, my plan is to pay off what I can from my employer-funded HRA account (currently completely depleted, but will replenish with $1500 on January 1) and just payment plan the rest.
So, with all of that going on, adding in continuing to aggressively attack that remaining $2k just has to take a back burner. Not only do I not have the physical money to throw at it, I don’t have the emotional space to think about it right now. I can only commit to paying the $25/month minimum, even though I’m sure I will throw random $$ at it here and there. I’m just going to put all thought about it “aside” (as much as I am able) until we are on the other side of Mr.DBG’s treatments in the fall. How’s that for willful ignorance?
*I should note that all of this does not even take into account the possibility that any of the rest of us should need to see a doctor or have any sort of medical emergency for the rest of this calendar year. For mundane things, I have the option to see a NP at the health center where I work, free of charge. Unfortunately, I don’t have that option for my kids – every sinus infection, suspected case of strep throat, or lingering “I don’t like the sound of that” cough that arises will involve a trip to the pediatrician’s office ($120). Please send healthy kid vibes my way!