July 22nd, 2006

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.