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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just started reading and following the Dave Ramsey plan in January. I'm 43 with a husband and 3 kids at home (ages 12, 13, 18). The reason we started looking at ways to improve our household budget is like many - we make a fairly good income so where's it all going and how can we do better for our family? Our biggest demon is the ever-rising cost of health insurance premiums and crippling health care costs of co-pays and deductibles. We had some emergency surgical bills (from co-pays plus $7000 deductible costs) from 2009 still hanging over our heads, about $1800 left today. Those were on my list to pay off this weekend with our $2400 tax refunds. But now I am looking for some advice on what path to take because we got devastating news - I have breast cancer. So we face some pretty hefty emotional and financial baggage for the upcoming year.

So… I will be making less as I am not sure how much time off I'll need for surgery and recovery. My husband is a project manager on salary with a fairly flexible schedule that he makes every week as he goes along. We're worried a little about too much time off for him, he lost his job 5 years ago and we do not want to be a big burden on his current small company or they might think about "cost-saving" measures.

Here's where we're at:
$60,000 husband's gross income (minus about $450 health premiums/month)
$18,000 my gross income from part-time 3days/week position
Bottom line: $4550/month Net paychecks

Debt:
ZERO credit card debt
$1800 medical bills leftover from 2009 - $160/month payment plan
$1500 1st student loan coming due in August
$4500 2nd student loan coming due in August
$5000 van loan taken last summer ($250/month)
Total: About $13,000 in consumer debt

We have 13 years left on mortgage - home worth $300,000, $133,000 still owed ($1200/month, we built in $50 extra principal every month)

$1500 EF in savings
No credit card debt, $13,000 other debt
We're still contributing to our retirement funds at work - my work doesn't give you a choice anyway. I have to do 6.5% and they do 5.5%. My husband contributes 5%.

So do I continue paying down the debt or should I put "extra" money in the Emergency Fund so that I can pay-as-we-go toward the current medical catastrophe? I have no idea how much we will owe to doctors' offices after all this is over - there are variable co-pays - $30 for regular visits, $50 for specialists (and I need a lot of those), prescription co-pay costs (not sure what kinds of those I'll have overall), and of course we'll have a $3000 to pay toward the deductible for my care for sure. We're double-checking every referral and choosing doctors and facilities "in network" and we're trying to make the best choices for me even though we're somewhat at the mercy of what's available to me in the insurance plan.


Crippling, for sure. Advice please?
 

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I'm so sorry to hear about your cancer. Let's hope you beat it quickly!

Yes, you are definitely in emergency mode. Minimums on everything...I would look into deferring your student loans and get rid of the extra principal payment on the mortgage.

Can you post your budget? There may be some other areas you can trim.
 

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First, I am very sorry you are having to deal with all of this.

I think how much you start slashing depends on what kind of "down" time you are looking at. Does your doctor think you will require surgery and, if so, are you looking at a lumpectomy or full mastectomy? (You don't have to answer here, but just as a point to consider.) My sister had breast cancer several years ago, had surgery, chemo, and radiation, but ended up losing very little productive time, because the chemo and radiation did not make her super sick and she was able to take anti-nausea meds for the few times she did get sick. I just went to see my eye doctor, and he is going through chemo (also for breast cancer), but he is still working every day. He is on his second-to-last chemo treatment. My mother had to have a full bi-lateral mastectomy in the early 2000's, and even though she was in her 70's at the time, she was back up and moving around after about two weeks.

I agree with dropping your payments down to minimum, just in case, and trying to get the student loans deferred. If you are making the medical payments to one organization, maybe calling them and finding out if you can get your monthly payments lowered or a grace period of 30-60 days to find out what is going on.

Whatever you do, reassure yourself that you WILL get through this, and try not to stress out about the money until there is a real need to do so. What will happen, will happen, and unfortunately, we can only control a small portion of that. You need to focus on keeping yourself emotionally and physically well right now. So, PLAN, but try not to worry.
 

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I am so sorry to hear about the cancer. Wishing you lots of luck, saying prayers and sending hugs. Keep us posted on how you are doing. :hugz:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mmmk that's what I thought...

Thanks for your support all and your knowledge of your loved ones' experiences helps too. I will need surgery and at least 6 weeks of radiation every day which is "best case scenario" and from what I understand about radiation, it may make a person weak but not incapacitated. So with the information I have, I don't expect too much time off work - and my job is one that I can practically do with my eyes closed :D and I do love my co-workers and work. I have a desk job 3 days/week so I hope to return fairly quickly if we follow the best case scenario.

Funny, I just finished college in December and interviewed for a full-time position a couple weeks ago, got the call Friday that they'd like to offer me the job....but had gotten the call about my diagnosis on Thursday. Bad timing for sure, I don't feel like I'd do justice to a new job so I've thought it over and will be declining because it's in both of our best interests. I need to just maintain my part-time position where I know what I'm doing and others can backfill for me because I have everything documented and cross-trained.

Our budget includes a $900 snowball and I make about $1400 at my job monthly so looking at things to cut back on, I think we'll be okay with only my mister's income temporarily - assuming the rising costs of fuel (and traveling all over creation to various doctors) don't completely kill our "emergency mode budget EMB." I have $200/month that is budgeted for my van fuel (my mister's vehicle and fuel is paid for by his company) so whether I'm traveling to my job or traveling to docs instead, that money is in the EMB. If I don't pay down any debt with the tax refunds and work on deferring the student loans, then our EF is more than $3400 which is not as comforting as 6-8 months worth of expenses but better than nothing.

I think I have to decrease his income tax withholding, too. We got 2400 back (and I had 0 withheld last year) so we could have $200/mo more if we stop giving the government that loan.
 

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Good thinking and planning ahead Sumacaroni - love that name!! Will be sending support over the miles for your hysical and emotional health as you and your family travel down this road. Please stay in touch.
 
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Can you get a medical deferrment for the student loans?
Your doctor will have to sign some documentation and I think it is on a yearly basis....Just a thought....I have had several patients get them.
I am sending a prayer your way. My aunt just had a biopsy for breast cancer today. She has beat it once already.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Okay you've all helped me a lot and as much as I want to pretend that we can just keep plugging away down our snowball's path, I suspected my denial was clouding my judgment. :hmmm: So, I'll roll the refunds into the EF account and just tighten our budget to minimums so we can stick any extras into the EF, eliminating things that are normal but unnecessary right now. Then we'll hope for the quickest most effective treatments while maintaining a positive outlook! It's just another lump (pun intended LOL) in our road toward being debt-free.

You've been very helpful in reading and your support, too!
 

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I'm so sorry about your diagnosis. :( I would stop the snowball and sock money away in the emergency fund instead. When my mom was going through chemo for her breast cancer she was super sick. I really hope you fair better. I'm a hope for the best but plan for the worst kind of person so that is what i would do.
 
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