I'm only going to focus on medical bills and credit cards. You'll get the picture. Our rent is average, our utilities are very conservative (especially since water/sewage/trash/recycling is all included in our rent), and the only reason why we are in debt in the first place was because of medical expenses. Our medical expenses forced us to use credit cards (which is stupid, don't do it unless you know you can pay off the credit card!). I'm not going to include my student loans. Why? Because I believe you can't put a price on education. Yes, I'll be paying it back - but paying back my student loans won't be nearly as difficult if we take care of our current debt.
Currently, these are the medical bills we're paying off:
- IU Health (when hubby had meningitis, it's the final bill): min. $50/month = $175 remaining
- Radiologists (SIRA): min. $20/mon = $405 total
- Dr. Greene's office: min. $20/mon = $620 remaining
- Unity Physicians: min. $120/mon = $2707 total
Currently, these are our credit cards (GASP - we only have 2!):
- Credit One: min. $25/mon = $306 total
- Capital One: min. $15/mon = $500 total
We are currently LOW income. When I say low, I mean $1600/month income. But this is me going to school full time, working only 16 hours a week (because that's all they can give right now), and my husband literally just got his job back after being laid off and is starting back this week. I'm currently getting everything situated for my senior year in college, and I am looking into work study as well. I'm still looking for a second part-time job, too.
So, with our current expenses and our current income - it sounds doable, right? We should be saving money! No. That's not correct. We just started this income this week! My husband was laid off for about 4 months! I couldn't work up until April. And when I could work, I spent the next 3 months looking for a job. Economy is tough, ya'll. So, you can imagine with no income, how hard that was. Luckily, there were food pantries, generous family members willing to help because they understood our situation, and we used ALL of the money we ever saved to survive that difficult time. Saving what we did prior was our emergency fund. An emergency fund goes quickly. I'm glad we had it when we needed it.
But here's something else. We paid off a lot of debt. How much?
- IU Health grand total: $21,507.87
- Unity Physicians total: $1803.00
- Radiologists (SIRA) total: $1065.00
- Pathologists total: $165.00 (and we are expecting reimbursement of $27.50)
We paid off a total of $24,155.87 in 2 years. Before I got ill, I worked. I would work as many shifts as I could and I even pulled overtime. But from November 22, 2010 until April 15, 2011, I could not because doctor's ordered me not to and for 3 months of that time, I was strictly bedridden - only permission to use the restroom. And my husband worked a lot, pulled overtime, and did whatever he could. We struggled for 2 years to pay off that amount. That is not even including the bills family members contributed towards. It costs a lot of money to save your life - and not all treatments are covered under insurance plans.
Paying off debt is possible. We've done it - and we know there are sacrifices to be made. But I definitely don't like someone telling me that I don't know what I'm doing, or that I'm following a cult because we're following Dave Ramsey's plan. Maybe why so many people follow him is because it freaking works.
For all the other penny pinchers out there - stand your ground. You aren't crazy! I know it is possible. We survived... literally.