No More Medical Debt – My Immediate 2017 Challenge

Just when I thought I could sit down to smell the roses after paying off the student loan debts, appendicitis struck. Though my stress levels would be higher if I had the car loan, student loan, *and* medical bills.

There will be more bills next month when I get the appendectomy. A rundown of the bills so far are below. I was going to put it into a spreadsheet but didn’t have the inspiration at 1AM on New Year’s Eve. Not all of these are from the ER  directly. Some are followups after the fact and other include lab work.

So for the first phase I’ll be paying about $4,500 according to estimates. Aflac may reimburse me $1,000 based on 2 days spent in the ER. Getting an itemized bill from the hospital that I’ll submit next week. Worth the $125 that I paid for it. Trying to be as aggressive as possible in getting this debt gone. Unlike the car that is 1.9% fixed, the credit card will jump to ~13% Truthfully though my credit card is at 0% until January 2018. Go Chase Slate card.

I paid over $13k in student loans during 2016. The total for medical debt should be around half that. Thank god I have insurance though. Even with deductibles to hit, I’m still getting a pretty huge discount. Not how I wanted to start the new year, but it’s a short-term reality.

Thanks for reading my blog. Have a Happy and Safe 2017.

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Hospital Emergency Room Bills after Insurance

Cutting The Cord & Reducing Gym Membership

So after over a year of deliberating back and forth I decided to cut the cord. The short version is my cable tv + internet bill went up to $105 from $90. Frontier Communications is my provider. The other options to keep tv and internet would only save me $10/mo give or take a a few dollars.

Let’s do the math.
Current rate: 105 * 12 = 1260/yr for someone who doesn’t watch TV much.
Prior rate: 90 * 12 = 1080/yr
New rate: 60 * 12 = 720/yr

I also downgraded my gym membership from the $20/mo plan to the $10/mo plan. The friend that I was going with no longer speaks to me and never was really interested in going to begin with. $120 annual savings. So combined I’m saving $660/yr. Not a huge deal but it adds up. Maybe 1% of my takehome pay over a year for something where the impact will be minimal.

I still have Netflix at 10.81/mo, Amazon Prime and may possibly be getting Hulu Plus or a Slingbox. Haven’t decided yet, but all of these options are cheaper than keeping cable TV and having a limited number of premium channels.

What things are you spending money on that really don’t matter to you? I love my car and while the $541/mo isn’t cheap it’s something that gives me a thrill everytime I get into it. Stuff like eating out at fancy restaurants outside of special occasions isn’t that important to me. Plus I juice more and my body feels way better.

On the topic of juicing. I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now since my appendicitis debacle. Not every meal but about once a day. It makes me crave fast food less and less. After the first couple bites, fast food loses its appeal to me. The aftertaste, feeling of being bloated and in many cases I’m still hungry. $10 for crappy food only to want more crappy food because it’s loaded with sugar. If I’m still hungry after the juice I’ll eat some nuts, make a wrap or something. Also keeps my daily calorie consumption in check.

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Who am I? Man with a Breville Juicer and enjoys the energy boost.

Ok enough of my ranting. Spend on things you love not the stuff you don’t. ❤

2016 – End of Year Review

I’m on vacation right now. No big plans. Flying to New York for or before Christmas and even with a car rental is not cost effective. Combine that with the snow situation… Nope.. May see Rogue One at the local theater tomorrow at the matinee. After giving it a few weeks of thought…I really find keeping track of my finances helpful on the blog. So I’ve decided to keep on doing it. I have three key goals.

  1. *Don’t* pay off the Maxima early. Sounds counterintuitive but the loan is only 1.9%. I reduced my sales tax burden by $937 with my trade-in. The original amount financed was $31,167.20. The key though here is that I need to one of the following: keep my credit card debt at 0, boost my emergency fund and max out my Roth IRA. I got the car in March 2016. Today I owe $27,173.60

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2. Get credit card debt to 0 by May. I currently have originally planned to do this for some time now. There have been a slew of events that have made this go up. The current balance is: $3,358.60. I pay $1,000 every paycheck. The challenging part has been limiting my spending so things are getting better not worse. It can be very tempting.
1) Hospital Bills – These are still coming and will likely total up to close to $6k. Unsure how much my ER hospitalization insurance is going to cover. Without insurance these bills would take me years to pay off.
2) Insurance – For 6 months car insurance was $684, renters insurance $130.
3) Eating out – Have cut back a lot over these past weeks. Juicing has been helping as well. Sometimes it’s more expensive than eating government-funded  fast food garbage. I’m down to 226 from 241 in November. 24 days until my appendectomy procedure. Planning to lose 6 more pounds between now and then.
4) Life.

3) Keep the retirement ball rolling. I’m most impressed with how my portfolio has done this year. If I didn’t invest diligently that would not have happened. Current 401k portfolio snapshot:

Curent Balance: $21,206.01
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My Betterment account is $721.96. That makes for a combined total of: $21,921.97. Back in  September 2016 my total was $18,585. $3,336 more than before or 18% more in about 3 months… I’ll take it.

On Minimalism – I watched this fantastic documentary on Minimalism and how it’s transformed people’s lives. When I think of buying a home or a much fancier apartment I think of people who are happy without all this stuff. I could be one of them. Stuff keeps you happy short-term. New experiences and having fun with someone makes you happy in ways that matter a lot more.
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I did a pretty thorough cleaning of my apartment this week. Got through 4 bags of old clothes, boxes, mail and other crap that wasn’t serving a purpose. Very liberating!

2016 has taught me one important fact. To value life. My crush Chris passing away at 29 due to various health issues in April that I couldn’t save him from. Then yesterday the mother of a guy I’ve been messaging online for months and just met for the first time passed away. It’s like the three times I found guys I could see myself really falling for over the past 2 years something major has happened. I will just keep trying though until I find the one and focus more on me.

I could have died last week.

So there are three times where I almost died.

First: About 1992 I had a BMX bike, maybe it was a Mongoose I don’t fully recall. My overprotective (and rightfully so…) mother and grandmother were adamant about me wearing helmet. Two blocks over, a group of kids in my neighborhoods, being 90s kids and all set up a ramp in the middle of the street.I pedaled hard as I could to gain speed, went up the ramp. My bike flew up in the air and I landed right on the helmet…. which SNAPPED in half. My hands, legs and ankles broke some of the fall. Crazy road rash. A neighbor poured some peroxide on my wounds. I was visibly shaken and in some of the worst pain of my life. I was able to walk my bike home and miraculously broke no bones, a fact that still holds true in 2016.

Second: Winter 2010. On my way to my banking job. I am caught in a police chase. My car was doing about 40. The Toyota Camry passed me at such a high rate of speed (more than twice as fast as me) I felt everything shake. About a mile down the road I saw the car flipped over on fire and several armed officers approaching it. Later I found out the driver and passenger died on impact after hitting a tree.

Third: November 2016. Gastroenteritis I thought due to food poisoning, ending after 2 days. Then again a week later I had a pain near my navel. I went to a clinic, told the doc about my pain and got an sonogram. It came up clear, he said come back in 2 weeks since the Holiday break was upon us. Wednesday and Thanksgiving I thought I was fine. Friday the sharp pains came back, Saturday was a little less manageable. Sunday… let me tell you about Sunday. I got this fancy blood pressure monitor on Amazon.  Before I left the house I was at 158/106 with a 115 pulse. Not great and cause for concern. I drove my car to the hospital and walked into the ER. No ambulance, no friend around to take me there. The number jumped to 193/128 and 119 resting pulse. My temperature 102°F.

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I put off going to the ER because I was concerned about the money. I didn’t want to waste thousands of dollars only to find out they didn’t know what was wrong. That happened to me once in 2005. The bill was $3k at the time but still.

Baylor took me right away. I think the admitting nurse was surprised I drove there, could still walk and have a normal conversation. I was given pills to lower my temps, blood pressure and oxygen tested multiple times. They gave me a contrast drink mixed with lemonade to show better results on the ct scan.  My diagnosis? Appendicitis, an abscess on my appendix and Peritonitis.

I stayed in a hospital bed for two nights. Barely eating any food, getting antibiotics pumped into me and having to take several hits of morphine medication just to allow me to sleep. I have coverage through Aflac for ER overnight stays as well as my normal medical coverage. I’m not looking forward to the bill of course..

Make sure you have insurance. If you have sharp pains near your stomach, go see a doctor. If you get misdiagnosed and the pain is still there, go back. If I stayed stubborn and didn’t go to the doctor when I did, who knows… I might not be here home on Late 2013 MacBook Pro typing this message. I could still be in the hospital or perhaps dead.

I still have to get my appendix itself removed as well at the catheter that is plugged into it. Even if the inflammation is gone, I never want to experience that pain ever again in my life. Maybe this is a sign to keep my blogging up and continue making other changes in my life?