I’m going to tell the story of the last several days, from the point of view of my finances. If you’re not interested in such things, feel free to ignore.
Tuesday was a stressful day. Someone from one of my student loans called and informed me that I was having my wages garnished, to the tune of $250 a paycheck, starting with my next paycheck, unless I did something right now to pay off my loan. My $10,000 loan. Yeah.
Before I continue, I want to stress that I know absolutely that this is my own fault. My loans have been something I’ve been trying to ignore for a long time, for a variety of reasons that now only feel like silly justifications. They are, of course – but the point is that I know I’m reaping the fruit of the crop I’ve sown, to use a farming metaphor.
The loan collectors require a down payment in order to qualify for the rehabilitation required to prevent the wage garnishment. Their minimum ‘hardship’ option based on my loan, I was told, was $1000 down payment by the 28th (that’s yesterday to those of you paying attention). I panicked, started crying on the phone, and the lady responded by telling me that they aren’t heartless, and that if I got some money together and made an offer, they’d consider it.
With the help of my mother, we raised about $350. I called them back, made my offer, and they accepted it. They secured a $350 post-dated check for the 30th (tomorrow!), and for the next 9 months I’ll be paying almost $100 toward the balance. After that, my loan will be in good standing, and I’ll start making regular payments on it. Kudos to this collection company for being so understanding – I didn’t expect it, honestly, especially after hearing that $1000 figure.
This crisis has been averted, but the hits, man, they just keep on coming.
Turns out that I can’t claim my short-term disability insurance until I’ve been out of work for 15 days. 15 days! I have no vacation or sick time left on the books, and if I go without hours, I go without pay. This next paycheck on the 7th is going to be missing about 20 hours – that’s about $320. This is bad because almost all my bills come out of my post-rent paycheck – the car payment, most of my utilities, and more.
There is plenty of good news, though. First, October contains a leap-week. Allow me to explain: I get paid by-weekly. Rent is due by the 5th, so whichever paycheck lies closest to rent, that’s the ‘Rent Paycheck’. The other check is the ‘Post-Rent Paycheck’. Because our months don’t correspond to our weeks, two months out of the year have an additional paycheck that doesn’t correspond to rent. This is my leap-week. This means I’ll have a slightly larger cushion than I would ordinarily – this money can’t just be spent willy-nilly, but it does give us more cash up front if we should have more emergencies.
Second, my per diem from my Colorado trip is finally coming in at $175. I’ve been back from that trip for months now, but corporations move slowly – but it’s coming in at just the right time. If I’d gotten it sooner, it’d probably have been spent on something by now.
Third, I spoke to my auto loan bank and they agreed to defer the payments on my car for 60 days. I’ve got till the end of October to pay $225 (that’s $155 less than the usual, then I’ll pay nothing in November, and only $150 in December. January goes back to normal. In other words, instead of paying $1,155 on my car loan between now and the end of the year, I’ll only be paying $370. Or so. I rounded a bit. That gives us a surplus of $785 which will help us to pay for the medical expenses I’ve been accruing. This surplus is going right into the buffer, which is the amount of money in my bank account that I don’t account for in my budgeting – it’s for emergencies, savings, and mistakes.
For those of you not interested in doing the math, here it is. This paycheck will have a $320 deficit to it. $175 of that is covered by my per diem payment, bringing the deficit down to $145. I reduced my car payment this month by $155, which wipes out the rest of the deficit. After paying my student loan collection tomorrow, I’ll have a little under $100 of buffer left, but I secured an extra $670 worth of buffer via my car payment reduction for the rest of the year.
I can’t really estimate how much I’m going to be spending in hospital bills. So far I’ve had one $35 copay at the hospital (which I haven’t paid yet though I intend to do so as soon as I get the bill), and a $25 copay for my doctor visit Tuesday. I’ll have another $35 copay to pay when I speak to the surgeon, and then at the very least 80% after deductible of whatever the surgery itself costs, with a maximum of $4000, if I’m reading this right. $4000 is a lot of money, and given my financial situation it’ll be years before I can pay it off, but I’m going to try. Even if I can only send them $10 a month I’m going to send them something. I don’t want it going on my credit as a bad debt unless I can absolutely not afford to do anything else.
Overall I’m not terribly concerned right now. Part of that is strategic – if I get overly concerned, I panic, and when I panic, I can’t think straight. I need to think straight so I can straighten my life out.