Medical bills are a hot topic everywhere today. One year ago, when I made my first appointment at the doctor for my lumpy neck and tea colored urine, I had little idea of what I was getting into. It quickly spiraled out of control and in a little less than two months I was starting chemo and had already tallied thousands of dollars in medical bills. The reality is that getting sick is expensive and the sicker you get, the more expensive it is, and the less likely you are to work.
When I started this blog I wasn’t working. I was on disability. I spent my days sleeping and being exhausted walking 15 steps to the bathroom. I wasn’t working, but I was receiving 2/3 of my pay thanks to an excellent disability policy at work. Let me tell you, that 2/3 of my pay was wonderful (even though we would have gotten by if we didn’t get that money). It really helped make things not so tight. But there wasn’t a moment where things didn’t feel tight either. When the bills starting coming in and the totals were getting higher faster than I could make payments I did feel overwhelmed. The good thing about medical bills is, they hospital is just happy if you pay on them so if it takes you a little while longer, that’s okay.
I make a decent income, and I will never dispute that. However, I’m not in six figure territory either. My first priority every month was the mortgage, of course, then the lights and natural gas. Then it was on to medical bills. I decided I wanted to be debt free by the time I had my wedding and figured that I needed to put a good chunk of money toward that every month. We cut out a lot of more frivolous things like eating out at expensive restaurants, buying things that weren’t on sale, and holding off on purchases that weren’t really necessary. I also started selling some of the things I really didn’t need or want for a little extra cash (it hasn’t amounted to a whole lot, but it has amounted to something, and every little bit helps).
I used to add extra principal to my mortgage, which not everyone has the luxury of doing, but I cut that out to make sure I could dump all of my extra cash into medical bills. I vowed to use the heat less and the air conditioning as little as I could (of course the weather was dreadfully hot and that made it difficult). I wasn’t going to buy any new clothes that didn’t pertain to my wedding (shoes, dress, undergarments, and that’s about it). I was going to watch the number of loads of laundry and how long I was using the dryer and keep the lights off whenever was possible. As for driving, the plan was to minimize my trips and only travel to places on the way to or from work (I will have more on how this worked out in a future post).
All of this helped me to pay off the medical bills in exactly one year. I will make my last payment September 15, right around the time my first bills started coming in last year. You know how I really did it though? Dedication. I couldn’t afford other things because I was dedicated to getting rid of these bills. I also dipped into my emergency fund for about two thousand dollars during disability.