Friday, May 11, 2018

Winning, May 2018 Edition

I just realized that for the past FOUR MONTHS I have neglected WINNING, a (supposedly) monthly series in which I identify at least three concrete ways we're succeeding and thriving while on this long debt repayment journey. I started this series in part to stay motivated: it's easy to get bogged down by how far we still need to go, so we need to celebrate our small but mighty victories. I also do it because it reminds me to be appreciative of the process instead of getting consumed by the overall goal.

Anyway, Winning is back! And boy do I need to focus on some wins given that our debt repayment has slowed to a crawl and our office is being inundated by explanations of benefits and associated medical bills. They just... keep showing up: surgeon. Emergency room doctor. Anesthetist. Nurse anesthetist. Ultrasound tech. Hospital stay. And let's not forget the mysterious $6000 bill for "supplies."

Actual footage of our stack of bills
But I digress. As my friend in college used to say, Hey whiner, call the waaaaaaaaaahhhhmbulance. Also, this is WINNING, not WHINING.

So. Moving on to the positive stuff:

(1) We're almost 2/3 of the way to meeting our emergency fund goal. Prior to the Great Appendectomy Adventure of 2018, we kept $1000 in reserve just in case. Now we'd like to have $3000 set aside for emergencies. By moving $600 into savings this month and another $600 into savings next month, we'll meet the goal by the end of June.


via GIPHY

As a bit of a side note on this topic, there have been some lively conversation on personal finance Twitter recently regarding emergency funds and how much to stash away. Some folks have tens of thousands of dollars in their EFs; others stick to more of a bare-bones plan but have alternative safeguards set in place in case they need to access cash quickly. From a purely mathematical standpoint, we'd probably be better off sticking to small, Dave Ramsey-style fund and sending the rest of the money straight to our credit card company. But from an emotional security standpoint, I feel strongly that we need more than that. I'll sleep better at night.

(2) Including employer contributions, we're putting ~$900 into investments and our HSA every month. Somehow I hadn't fully done the math on this one, and when I finally got around to doing so earlier this week, I was kind of bowled over. If we can manage to do that even during slimmer times when we're not making much progress on debt repayment, well, I'd say we're still kicking some financial butt. It's a different kind of progress than chipping away at our loans, but it is progress. We weren't doing this a year ago. And because these are automatic paycheck deductions, we don't have to think about it or second-guess our decision to deploy our money in this way. Boom.


via GIPHY

(3) And back to those medical bills... On the bright side, we've met our deductible and we're close to our out-of-pocket maximum. Thus, even if some doctor does decide to send us a $10K bill half a year after surgery, it's not going to knock us back much further than we've already been knocked back. So... yay?

In all seriousness, I'm incredibly grateful for HAVING health insurance. Yes, this situation has been stressful, and yes, I've had to call the insurance company three times in the last 24 hours to address billing errors, but our medical emergency would have been far more stressful had we not been covered. I've seen the pre-insurance totals. One night hospital stay, no surgery, $19K? No thank you please.

(4) Bonus win, for which we can take no credit but which we enormously enjoy for free: It's spring, and it's warm, and when we're not dealing with forest fires, the weather is absolutely glorious here. Perfect running and hiking weather.


Especially for those of us paying off debt, it's important to recognize and celebrate our victories. So what are your recent wins, financial or otherwise? 

Disease Called Debt

8 comments:

  1. Congrats on getting back to WINNING and having some nice wins to include. I have two wins coming up soon. First, in June the sale of our timeshare will be complete. It was good to have it for a number of years, but now it's become more of a burden and we're glad to be done with it. Second, in July we'll make our last car payment, ever. We plan on keeping our car for a long, long time, and when it eventually needs replacing, we plan to have cash on hand for the purchase.

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    1. WOOOOHOOOOOOO! Those are both VERY big wins! Congrats on selling the Timeshare and lightening the load a little.

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  2. Yay for winning! I hear you on health insurance. I'm constantly calling to correct errors and it's hella stressful, but I remember a time not so long ago when getting insurance wasn't even an option on the table. I hope we can improve, but I'm also glad we've made some progress on that front!

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    1. I guess the good news is that I am getting much better at calling the insurance company and asking for what I need. So far I've actually been pretty impressed with Cigna and how responsive they've been.

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  3. Winning for the win! LOL.

    I took part of our tax refund and paid off one of our credit cards, which accelerated things for us by about 4 months. We now have 73% of our credit card debt paid off and our remaining balance is under $5k. If all goes according to plan (it usually doesn't, so we'll see...), we'll be all paid off by February.

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    1. That's really exciting! You are so so so close.

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  4. Gotta love those automatic paycheck deductions, eh? It's like you don't even notice the money was diverted. We paid off our last student loan this month, so we're tackling the next loan. It's a car loan, and we're hoping to knock 2k extra off it by the end of June. (I'm a quarterly goals kind of person, so that's why "June.")

    You live in a beautiful area!

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    1. Awesome goal! And yes, I do really love the automatic paycheck deductions. They make saving SO MUCH EASIER.

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