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money dooms us - DOOOOOMMM!

Well, I started the topic yesterday, I might as well follow through with it.

The optometrist determined that my current prescription is still fine for close viewing - using the computer and just general-purpose stuff - but my distance sight has weakened. I could have, and perhaps should have, just stayed with my current glasses. But vision's important, I don't want to mess around with that, and if I put off getting new glasses now, when I do have insurance, it's possible that I'd find myself without that insurance later and not be able to afford new glasses. So I did order new ones. The total for the exam, new lenses, and new frames was $715, of which I'm paying $248.

Meanwhile, the surgery bill that I said I was still awaiting arrived today; it includes the bill for my emergency room visit to check on my acid reflux/irritated stomach problem. That bill's $1,146. Paying that up front is technically possible, since I've got plenty of room on either credit card, limit-wise. Practically speaking, though, it'd drive my finance charges up even more, and as I noted I'm already not getting anywhere with trying to reduce the debt, so it's not a good idea. Now, one thing I can and will do is call the hospital on Monday and see what kind of payment plan they can give me. Another thing is that I do maintain a savings account - again somewhat in vain, as I'm constantly having to pull money back out to cover shortfalls. Still, I do currently have a little over $500 in savings, so I can pull all that out and use it to offset the surgery bill. I hate to do so because that leaves me with nothing to cover emergencies, but then I am in financial straits and I seem to have little choice.

I really need to make an appointment with a financial planner at my bank, and see what they can do to help me straighten things out. I've been getting credit card offers that include deals on transferred balances, either 0% rate for a year or a permanent 4% to 5% rate on the transferred balance. That seems like a very good idea, but I'm reluctant to take an offer without checking with a professional. But besides the question of whether it works to simply consolidate the credit card debt onto another card (and what does that do to my credit rating?), I just need general help and advice on managing my situation.

I've also been toying with the idea of selling my violin (this'll get Andrea to post a comment, no doubt). I've hardly played it since moving to Seattle, and realistically I'm not likely to start playing it more. It's handmade and in good condition, so it ought to be worth something, and I have the idea that my parents paid a few thousand for it when I got it about 25 years ago. But I have no idea what the resale value on violins is, and I don't know that I could get a good value for it without going through someone else. I'd have to find someone to appraise it first, I suppose. If I could sell it for enough to clear the credit card debt, then I should do that. If it's just going to get a few hundred at best, well, that's still money that I could use, but I'd be more inclined to keep holding on to it.

I'm even toying with selling my car. It's in fairly good condition all things considered, so I should be able to get a thousand or two for it. The difference between paying car insurance and buying bus passes should save me a couple hundred, and with current gas prices I must be paying a thousand or so a year for fuel. It'd be pretty inconvenient in a number of ways and I don't want to be carless, but if it comes down to keeping the car or keeping my condo - my home - I'm going to have to go carless. It's worth noting that before I bought my condo, I'd managed to pay 3/4 of the orthodontics treatment; the bulk of my credit debt comes from over $3,000 in necessary car repairs that came up during that time. I suppose if I'd really been smart I would've just gotten rid of the car at the time, and thereby cut my losses.

Things will work out somehow, the questions are how much will I end up sacrificing, and whether I'll ultimately keep the condo or have to give it up.


Comments

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(Anonymous)
Jul. 23rd, 2006 11:51 pm (UTC)
keep everything, and get a part time job for a while... take all the money from the part time job, and sock it towards the credit cards... not a forever thing... just to get you through..

-not logging in. : )
thoughtfloss
Jul. 24th, 2006 11:30 am (UTC)
Keep your savings...
Savings are important. Don't take them all to pay the hospital bill. My kids have gone through a few surgeries and hospitalizations in the last year or so, and every time, I get a bill, and call up and make a payment plan. They're pretty willing to let you set the terms--what can you afford to pay each month, not how long you want to pay it. We pay $100 a month towards Alex's surgery, and, honestly, they probably would have accepted less each month.

Don't put it on your credit card, either. We're not paying interest on the balance left from the surgery. On your credit card, you would, and you'd just be paying more and more and never getting the balance down.

And beware of credit card offers. They're never really as good as they seem.
parkbenchzine
Jul. 24th, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep your savings...
yes, as for the hospital bills, they cannot legally sick the dogs on you to pay the bill, as long as you pay something on it each month. and there isn't interest on it... so... pay that one as you can... and as I said earlier for the time being get a part time job... see how you can commute with public trans, and keep your car on the road for bigger things. remember grocery shopping via the T, for me... it sucked! : ) more as I remember it.
philaros
Jul. 24th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep your savings...
I cannot keep the car and also rely on public transportation, I simply can't afford it. It's an either/or situation.

It's $2.50 for a one-way trip to work, so that's $5 a day, or $100 for a four-week month. The one-month transit pass is $90, so that would save $10. But, the metro's very own Commute Calculator shows that, even with gas averaging $3.10 a gallon right now, it's still cheaper for me to travel to work by car (30 miles a day, 20 days a month, free parking, gas at $3.10, 30 mpg = $62) than to take the bus. (Note that the calculator is showing $80/month for peak-time two-zone travel, which is what I'd be doing, but that's using the old cost of $2.00 per trip.) Even if I bought the one-year pass, at $990, it's only one free month.

Now, if I was taking the bus instead of my car, I'd be buying gas much less often, and I think I'm actually spending about $85 a month on gas right now, so I *might* still save money taking the bus. But if I keep the car, I still have to pay insurance on it, and that's about $100 a month. That's really why I can't use public transit for the commute and keep the car, because the transit doesn't really save me money over what I'm paying now, AND I'd still be paying insurance and upkeep on my car.
philaros
Jul. 24th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep your savings...
Well as I see it, the savings are there for just this purpose, to cover extra expenses. If I use them now, I'll spend less time overall paying off the rest of the surgery bill. But I haven't called the hospital yet, so I'll see what they say.

As I said, I really don't want to put any of it on my credit card, for the reasons you give.
thoughtfloss
Jul. 25th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
Re: Keep your savings...
I tried to use that logic with Marcel--"We have the money, why not just pay it?" He told me that we were wiser to pay it a bit at a time and be confident we have savings for other things that you can't budget out across time. You never know if you'll end up out of work and need groceries, or whatever. You have a credit card, but we learned (the wrong way) that you shouldn't count on those if you don't have income! It's a pain to pay a monthly bill, but I just call them and give them my checking account info once a month, so it's not that bad.
philaros
Jul. 25th, 2006 05:37 am (UTC)
Re: Keep your savings...
Yes, well, that's why I've been persisting in the apparently vain endeavor to have a savings account.

When I called, I simply offered to pay $100 a month, starting with this bill, and they were fine with that. If I'm lucky maybe in a few months I'll be able to pay the rest off at once.
philaros
Jul. 24th, 2006 06:47 pm (UTC)
slacker, not logging in...

In brief, it looks like I'd need to work at least 10 months at the part-time job (20 hours a week) to pay off the credit cards, more likely a year or more given finance charges and other things getting put on the cards. Then again, that's better than the minimum two years it's likely to take to pay off the cards at my current rate.

Of course, with the remaining dental work that has much less insurance coverage, I'd end up having to stay in the part-time job another year or two after that...
parkbenchzine
Jul. 24th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
well, it could be 3 mouths to feed. maybe find a job in sales, thats commission based... cause you're not counting on the cash, if you have a slow week, no big... when you have big week at the holidays you score, and then quit before returns come back. : )
philaros
Jul. 25th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
Dude, I'm no salesman, you know that.

I'm thinking about seeing whether the nearby co-op is hiring for part-time (unlike Andrea's co-op, they hire employees). It's close enough to walk to and it's on the route I usually take home from work.
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