Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Financial Rollercoaster

It’s been a rough year financially.

I’m incredibly thankful that last fall I finally broke down and took the Financial Peace class after years of contemplating it. If I hadn't, I might be in shambles right now.  I've always been pretty financially responsible, but over the last three years, I grew in my comfort level.  I had my emergency fund, plus some "extra" money in the bank.  I was comfortable.  I could give when I wanted, I could buy things when I wanted, I could take trips, and not worry. 

Then, 2010 decided to take me on a financial rollercoaster.  And I unwillingly went along for the ride.

In January, I did something that caused my neck to start spasming.  I've had trouble off and on with this for years.  But this time around, I was going to the chiropractor twice a week for several months.  Those pennies add up quickly, especially when your insurance isn't covering much of the visit. 

At the beginning of February I had just returned from a ridiculously long youth weekend retreat in Gatlinburg (where we may have been stuck at a truck stop for 4 hours). We were getting back into town about 30 minutes before kickoff for the Super Bowl. I’d been invited to a little get together with some friends. I had just enough time to run to Kroger, conjure up some homemade guacamole and head over to their place without missing too much of the action. I mixed everything together quickly, put it in a large Tupperware and rushed over to my friend’s apartment.

I had literally been there for five minutes when disaster struck. I was in the kitchen alone finishing up my homemade guacamole. I grabbed a knife and sliced the lime in half. I went to make a couple incisions in it so that the juice would squeeze out a little easier. Apparently, somewhere in the process, I sliced into my thumb. I was bleeding. I calmly called my friend into her kitchen to ask her opinion of whether or not I needed stitches. I was pretty certain that I needed stitches, but I didn't want to go to the ER.  After a while of contemplating and having everyone weigh in, I headed to the ER.

Had I known it was going to cost $1000 to put three little blue stitches in my thumb and give me a tetanus shot, I probably would have bandaged that sucker up and waited until the next morning to go to a clinic. Hindsight is always 20/20 though, right?

In April, after several specialist appointments, it was decided that I should have major surgery...an adult tonsillectomy. While that was much more intense (and expensive) than I was hoping, it was something that I needed to do.

It probably would have been helpful to know that any of these events would be occurring when I chose my insurance.

Anyway, all that to say that it’s been a rough year for finances, especially medical bills.  As careful as I have been with money, it seems like I never have much left over. It’s probably a good thing because it keeps me from spending frivolously, but it’s a different place than I’m used to being.  I feel like I can't just do the things I want.  I have to monitor every dollar I spend.  And honestly, I don’t like it.

In evaluating this and thinking about it over the last several days, I've realized how greedy I can be.  I have everything I need.  I have more than I want.  I'm taken care of.  I can provide for myself.  But yet, I want more.  It never seems to be enough.  And that's so ridiculous. 

So, instead of worrying about it all, I'm going to focus on being a good steward of my money.  I want to focus on giving more. 

In the last couple months, I’ve found ways to cut back. I discovered that we get an AT&T Wireless discount through work. That’s saved me almost $19 a month. I’ve also been seriously contemplating getting rid of my Netflix membership and my YMCA membership. I use Netflix all the time, but I could probably find better use of my time and the Redbox is just as convenient.  Our new office has a small gym. It seems silly to continue to pay for the Y, but there's a part of me that wants to hang on to it.

I’ve been clipping coupons (a lot) for everything…trying to take my lunch to work (as much as I love getting out of the office)…and just trying to keep things simple.

Anyone have any other suggestions on simple ways you've saved money?


Emily said...

Living on cash! When I take cash to the grocery, it kills me to spend money on stupid snacks and expensive brands. It definitely changes how I spend my money. You should try it one month!

Amy said...

I feel like when I tried this before I ran out of cash faster. I might have to try again.