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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I am new here and in $20k debt due to medical bills. I'm overwhelmed and I don't think I have any hope. Could anyone recommend a program or something to do to free myself? I have approx. 2K in income per month. I don't know how to increase income or decrease spending. Where do I start? Hugs and prayers are appreciated. :cry:
 

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There is always hope :) You just have to believe!

Now, in order for the wonderful ladies here to be able to help, maybe post what your expeditures are, and they can help you see where you may be able to cut back.

Sorry to hear about medical bills :( it's never a good thing.
 

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I'm sorry that you feel so trapped and stressed. I'm not the most frugal person here, but I am good with budgets. If you want to post your monthly bills, as well as estimates of what you spend on the variables (food etc) I'd be happy to help you make a budget. Some of the other women here will be better at helping on the frugality front.

*big hugs*
 

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A few places that help people get a handle on paying down debt are Crown Financial Ministeries, Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and Consumer Credit Counseling organization.

So sorry to hear of all of your medical expenses.

auntie
 

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I am sorry about your medical expenses, I agree there is always hope. We would all be happy to help you figure out how to cut costs.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Expenses

Well I'm not quite sure how one does this... here goes...
Income $1600
Car Payment -$200 (I'm upside down btw on this)
Rent -$300
Gas & Electric -$200
Water & Trash -$50
Gasoline & Repairs -$100
Groceries -$450
TV & Internet -$80
Phone -$60
Medical Co-Pays -$50

That leaves $110 and I have about... 50 seperate debts I need to pay on for medical... I'm stuck I think. Did I mention my credit is horrible? Every single medical bill is listed on my credit report even though some are only $20. I'm honestly worth more dead than alive. Okay deep breath... must..go..on..:shake:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Uh oh.. I forgot car insurance of $120. Yep there goes the last of it. :smhelp:
 

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I would read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. See if they have it at the public library so you aren't having to pay for it. Also, is there anyway to cut down on your grocery bill? I would also look at listing things for sale on Craiglist or eBay.....if you have anything that you could sale. That would bring in a little extra cash.

I noticed that your son has autism, as well as your DH. I jsut finished up a research paper over autism. While doing research, I came across some interesting information that may help you. Here is a quote from a website I cam across. It may help you with some of the medical care or you may already know this, but anyway I thought this may help you or someone else in your situation.

STATE SERVICES:

Most states will provide some services for children with autism, primarily funded by the federal Medicaid program. Many states have waiting lists for a limited number of slots. The quality of services varies widely state to state. Most states have one set of services for children under 3 years old (early intervention), and a second set of services for older children and adults.




State Services for Developmental Disabilities. Typical state services for people with autism include respite, habilitation, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. In order to qualify for services, children or adults must be diagnosed with autism (not PDD or Asperger’s, which do not qualify) by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist with training in childhood development. Furthermore, the applicant must meet three of seven functional limitations:

1) self-care

2) receptive and expressive language

3) learning

4) mobility

5) self-direction

6) capacity for independent living

7) economic self-sufficiency



Contact your local ASA chapter to obtain more information about the developmental disabilities services in your community.



Once a child is determined to be eligible, he/she may be awarded service hours. Many states have waiting lists for services, but some states provide services to everyone who qualifies. It is then up to the parent to choose a provider agency for each type of service. Speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists are in high demand, and the state pays only modest rates. Thus, it can be a challenge to find them. Similarly, it can be very challenging to find respite and habilitation providers (for an ABA program), and an even greater challenge to train and retain them. Often parents need to advertise for therapists, and then bring them to a provider agency for hiring. Often parents need to hire behavior consultants to train their habilitation (ABA) workers; this is very important and highly recommended if the parents can afford it.

SOCIAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
Families with limited incomes (under about $25,000-$35,000/yr depending on family size and assets) can apply to the Social Security agency to obtain monies to help children with a disability. For more information, contact your local social security office by calling 1-800-772-1213.


SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS
Children who have assets over approximately $2000 are ineligible to receive state and federal services. They must spend their money first. However, most states allow “special needs trusts” to be set up for children with disabilities. These are irrevocable trusts in which a guardian decides how to spend the money on the child. They are the best way for relatives to leave funds to the child, because these monies do not count against the child when determining their eligibility for government services.



For more information, contact a lawyer who specializes in special needs trusts. In addition to working out the financial details, it is very useful to write up a description of suggestions of how you want your child cared for and/or supported. MetLife also has a special program for children with developmental disabilities.
Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
He is receiving SSI (Supplemental security income). That is part of the income I figured. My husband is also disabled due to a disease attacking one side of his body (they have narrowed it down to diseases like Louis gehrig's- I'm just telling myself its not and its something harmless), he walks with a cane now which is hard to see- since he was an active 31 year old guy just a few months ago. I want to go to work to take care of them but I cannot even drive due to my narcolepsy. I have a hard enough time taking care of the house. I've applied for disability but it will be a very long time if ever that I can get help that way. About the only thing I can do is pray pray pray. I can live with autism, narcolepsy, even being poor, I just pray to God that I do not lose my husband. It would be more than I could bear and I feel that surely my heart will stop when his does. This is depressing.. sorry. Again, about the debt, I just will find ways to cut if I cannot add to it. I will learn to be frugal and be happy in the little things.
 

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Is it just the 3 of you at home for the food budget? I was able to reduce our grocery budget by $100 by making inexpensive meals and shopping at Aldi. I began buying the bulk packs of meat and chicken and dividing the bulk packages and freezing portions for use in meals that I make. That saves us money on meat. I searched the internet for frugal meals, most of my meals are semi-homemade. I have also helped my grocery budget by buying store brand whenever possible. There are a few things we buy brand name and I always use a coupon for those items. I stopped buying paper products, except for tp. I use kitchen towels instead of paper towels. We use cloth napkins instead of paper. At home we blow our nose on tp, instead of tissues. I have begun limiting the cleaning supplies that I buy, I try to make my own...mostly baking soda and vinegar cleaners. It really has helped me to keep a list of prices for items that I buy at the grocery store, Aldi, and the Dollar Store. That way I can keep track of where I can find what I buy for the least amount of money. I browse the fliers for pharmacies too for things I use, sometimes you can find a store coupon for an item at Rite Aid, Eckerd, or CVS and then you can match that with a manufacturers coupon and save a lot of money that way. Whatever money you can save from the grocery bill could go towards savings or paying down your medical bills. I wish you luck.
 

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Have you tried to negotiate to reduce your medical bills? It doesn't hurt to call and try to do it. Medical is out of control. They really charge you way more then they need to. Don't let a hospital persuade you it can't negotiate. Hospitals are free to give discounts off their sticker price charges. I've known people who were able to negotiate their medical bills. If they say they can not negotiate ask them what you can do to lower it or get help for it. They may direct you to something you may not have known about.

If you've paid a bill in full already you won't be able to negotiate it. You can only do it on bills that you're currently trying to pay off.
 

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Well I'm not quite sure how one does this... here goes...
Income $1600
Car Payment -$200 (I'm upside down btw on this)
Rent -$300
Gas & Electric -$200
Water & Trash -$50
Gasoline & Repairs -$100
Groceries -$450
TV & Internet -$80
Phone -$60
Medical Co-Pays -$50

That leaves $110 and I have about... 50 seperate debts I need to pay on for medical... I'm stuck I think. Did I mention my credit is horrible? Every single medical bill is listed on my credit report even though some are only $20. I'm honestly worth more dead than alive. Okay deep breath... must..go..on..:shake:
Ok after reviewing your bills, I really would suggest cutting that food bill down, that seems quite high to me, even knocking it down by $100 each month by shopping at Aldi's, Costco, Price Rite, etc... might help.

Also try applying for medical assitance, I am surprised you dont even have it with the medical problems, they even pay back bills or atleast help you with them.

Question, you say you cannot drive, why do you have a car? If your credit is already not so good, why not call the car place where you bought it and ask them to reposses it, I know it sounds bad but that would free up $200 a month + your car insurance of $120.

Try applying for some type of food stamps, medicaid or financial assistance through your county welfare office, it never hurts to try.

Believe me simple changes can make life a bit easier, just today I cut off our cable, freeing up $50 a month, cable isnt a necessity it's a luxury, you could also try cutting phone features or your internet down a bit. Dont worry, things will get better and we are all here for you. :hugz:
 

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I should also mention about trying to find local food banks or calling a church for help even financial counseling, try to find resources in your area by searching the yellow pages or online... there is a wealth of information out there.
 

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Look at some of the old posts about saveing money on cleaning supplies. Their are a lot of things you can do. Use only vinegar and bleach as your main cleaning supplies. You can cut your laundry budget way down by useing only 1 or 2 tablespoons of soap, thats all you really need to be useing anyways, and cut your dryer sheets in half. 450 for 3 people is a lot and I dont even have to ask what your buying to know that. And sometimes there just isnt much you can do but do without. Good luck.
 

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Food stamps! You should definitely be eligible for food stamps. Did you file taxes yet? I don't know what your husband earned last year but you should be able to get something back and maybe claim the Earned income credit. Also, your child should be on medicaid so you shouldn't have medical payments for him. Or, if he isn't, then they do pay back bills for the problems. If you have medical co-pays are they for your DH or child? Does your DH not have insurance? He may be eligible for insurance through the state.

Finally, I have heard of many people calling their medical creditors and arranging payment plans and reduced rates. If the bills are for your DH and he is not insured than you need to call and tell them this and make arrangements. They want some money and are willing to take some if you can't pay all.
Good luck!
 

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Wow, I'm sorry to hear about all the things going on with you right now. You certainly do have a lot on your plate.

I would say that, yes, probably your first step is to start praying. But I don't want you to be scared by that comment. I'm not saying you are hopeless by any means. What I mean is, put faith in yourself and your God that you will come out of this on the positive side. I have heard, and love the thought, that the Universe or God has three answers for prayers: Yes, Not Yet, and I Have A Better Idea... Keep that in mind. Keep your faith in yourself and your ability to tackle any issues in your life.

Now, about your finances.

Car Payment -$200. There is very little that I know of that you can do about this at this point, other than getting rid of the car. If your vehicle is necessary, and after reading about your husband's dissabilities, as well as your own, I gather that it most definitely is a necessity, you will probably have to factor this into your finances. The other ladies may be able to give you better ideas regarding this.

Rent -$300 Is there any extra utilities/furniture/etc. that are included in your rent? For example, is air conditioning included? Or furniture? You may be able to discuss with your landlord about getting rid of some of these things and lowering the rent.

Gas & Electric -$200 This is one of those things that is a habit. You get into the habit of turning on the heat when you get cold instead of finding a blanket or putting on a sweater. Or you get into the habit of leaving lights on. Here you can get very creative. There are so many ways to save on electricity. When cooking/baking, try to cook a couple of things instead of just one. Turn off the television/radio when you're not around. Don't leave lights on for more than five minutes when you're not in the room.

Water & Trash -$50 Shorter showers, tighter taps so there's no drips, don't water the lawn -- there are lots of ways to save on water. And as for garbage costs -- One thing about being frugal -- you use everything to death, and I mean, to death! So you have far less trash to be picked up! Before you toss anything, think as hard as you can what you can use it for. Margarine wrappers -- use to grease cookie sheets! Scrap t-shirts -- great for cleaning glass! Near rotten vegetables -- toss 'em into an empty ice cream container until it's full, then boil 'em all down and make some veggie stock. I had no conceiveable use for a towel with a gigantic hole in the middle of it besides using it to make rags, but I have a ton of rags right now. Instead, I cut it into big squares, am stitching around the edges with a piece of yarn, and gonna sew buttons and button loops over them and making -- reusable Wet Swiffer cloths!!! :D And if you can't think of a use for something, come back here and ask us! The ladies (and gents) on here are incredibly creative! You should hear some of the things we come up with!

Gasoline & Repairs -$100 You're paying $200 a month for a vehicle -- make sure you're paying for a decent one! What kind of vehicle is it? Is it a fuel-efficient one? What year is it? What are the consumer reports regarding this type? Make sure you haven't been making these payments on a vehicle that has a history of transmission errors or lousy milage! If that's the case, you may be able to get out of your lease or trade it for another vehicle!

Groceries -$450 If you'll forgive me for saying so, wow, that is a high food budget! How many people live with you? As silly as it may seem when you have so much debt to start with, the best thing for you to do is start there, at your food budget. Try aiming for maybe $400 for the rest of the month and slowly cut away at it.

What kind of foods are you buying? What percentage of it is things like fresh fruits and veggies? What percentage of it is bulk purchased or scratch cooking items? What percentage of it is microwaveable/defrostable/instant/etc. -- trust us, you don't need 90% of that crapola. Give us a list of your normal food purchases and we can really go to town on that!

TV & Internet -$80 So here is the major question: How much do you need television and internet? :smooch: (that little icon is what I use to describe my live-in boyfriend, Kyle) is a professional chef and he LOVES the Food Network. I will admit, I would love to have the music video channels and the law networks (I'm a law drama junkie, but am "kicking the habit"). But we discussed it and for us, the cost of cable was just not worth it. Instead, we opted to keep the internet, and we both derive a fantastic amount of pleasure from it. While it may be difficult to cut back to basic television for a while, you'll find the show you "can't live without" become far less important and there are far more fun and interesting ways to spend your time -- since I cut television out of my life nearly four years ago (wow... it's been that long) I've rediscovered the joy of the radio, found that I actually ENJOY housecleaning, learned (actually learned) to cook and do it well, bake, write letters, exercise, etc. I don't think I would want to have television anymore, seriously.

If it came down to it, I think I could do without the internet, or at least cut back to specific hours. But to me, it provides far too much good to my life to cut it out. But that is a decision you and your family would have to make.

Phone -$60 Do you need long distance? Does your families live fairly close by, or are they all at great distances? Even if they do live far away, could you write nice long letters or emails instead of long and expensive phone calls? Do you need call display/answering services/call waiting/etc.? If not, call and ask to have those things eliminated. Don't pay for something you never use.

Does this also include cell phones? Do you seriously need a cell phone for anything except emergencies? I keep a pay-as-you-go phone and put $10 on it a month for emergencies. Once that's gone, that's it. It's not for calling friends/text-messaging/etc. I use it for when my car breaks down or I see an accident or I get lost.

Medical Co-Pays -$50 Are your medications/perscriptions the highest quality? Would you be able to get "no name" versions, or could you ask your doctor for sample packages? This is an especially good trick for things like birth control. Companies send doctors sample packs all the time for medication. Next time you go, ask your doctor if there are any sample packages of your perscriptions that you could have.

car insurance of $120. Check your class of driver -- is it accurate? If you only drive a couple miles to work, you might be in the wrong class. Also, ask your broker to shop around to make sure you have the best rate. They don't always do that every year. At the same time, remember that loyalty to one company can provide a discount. Ask for any discounts your broker might not have mentioned.

There are some fantastic and even fun ways of fixing your finances. Things are not hopeless. But you have to think positive! I know things seem so dark and dreary right now. Trust me, I've been there. Seven years ago, there were times when I was barely able to afford white rice for myself and my ex, much less buy food that had any nutritional value. You can get through it. We're a great cheering squad. Paid a bill? Let us know, we'll congradulate you! Didn't stop at MacDonald's on the way home? Let us know, we'll diss their gross and greasy slop with you! Got a great deal on cabbage? Let us know, we'll be jealous and offer recipes!

This can be a fun and fantastic process for you and I hope you do the big and little things that help you get out of it. You're making $1600 a month. Make it work FOR you, not you work for it!!!
 

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I am really sorry you are going through such a hard time. Sending hugs and prayers your way. :cheerup: You have received some very good ideas about cutting the budget. You could probably cut down your food budget some. Please keep posting and let us know how things are going.
 

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Can you negotiate with the hospital to reduce some of the medical debt?
 

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Nada - Wow! what great advice and input you have giver her - I hope that she will be able to gain some insight!
 
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