Author Topic: 6 Months of Truly Awful Luck has drained my finances. How to get back on Track?  (Read 6338 times)

Wolf_Stache

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Ok, here it is in a nutshell.

The start of these last 6 months:
I was laid off (also lost my health insurance).
The next day, my car was stolen. 
Day after that (I kid you not these things really did happen one day after another), my fiance had massive medical problems and ended up in the ER. Had to have emergency surgery and spent 2 day sin the hospital. 
When his job found out he was in the hospital and could not return to work for 3 months, he was laid off (yes, it is legal as he was a temp)
Car was found a week later, had to pay for repairs and towing fees

The good:
Found a very good job at a substantial pay increase
Fiance was rehired at job last month

The next string of bad luck, started in February:
*I* had to have emergency surgery to have it out, had to take 1 month off work unpaid.  Also ended up in the hospital twice after surgery with complications.   LUCKILY I had already gotten health insurance through work. 
Fiance was in a MASSIVE car accident on Friday that totaled our car by a Hit-and-run driver.  He cannot work at this time.  Luckily we have health insurance and very good car insurance in case they cannot find him, but it looks like his work is going to lay him off again because he cannot work

I really need to build my finances back up, but these last 6 months.... I don't even know where to start

Income: $4000 a month net from my salary.  Fiance cannot work right now.
Owe:
$1000 on Credit card (my medical expenses)
$5000 to Hospital A (my three hospital says in February and March)- Payment plan is $500 a month, have made the first payment.
$25,000? my Fiances several hospital stays and surgery from October (He doesn't want to tell me the exact amount)
$12,0000 in Student Loans - $110 monthly
$8,000 car loan.  This will be paid off by the insurance settlement from our insurance even if they can't find the hit & run driver.  <--- I want to punch *myself* in the face for taking on this car loan anyway, as I had the cash on hand when I bought it.

As far as the car, we are currently using my old car.  I had been lending it to my boyfriends mom so she could get back and forth to work easier.  I do NOT plan to replace the totaled car at this time. 

Steps I'm already taking:
Getting a roommate in July (a friend I have lived with before that I LOVE living with!)  We have plenty of room in the house.

Should I focus on paying off medical bills first, or build back up my savings?  I only have about $7000 left in savings.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 10:14:41 PM by GamerGirl »

Dicey

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Oh, GamerGirl, I feel your pain. What an awful streak! I know others will chime in with good suggestions, so I'll only offer one piece of advice. Do not pay for any medical bills with a credit card if humanly possible. Once you put it on a card, the hospital has their money and they're done with you. If you run up a tab at the hospital, they are much more likely to work with you to settle on a longer repayment plan, lower payoff, no carrying charges, etc. Please encourage your fiancee to do the same. Hospitals negotiate all the time, but they can't help you if you don't ask or once you've put it on a credit card.
As to punching yourself, ease up a bit. What will matter more in the end is how well you manage this mess. Once you're through it, nothing in life will ever seem as scary. You will develop confidence in your ability to handle whatever shit life throws your way.

Wolf_Stache

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Oh, GamerGirl, I feel your pain. What an awful streak! I know others will chime in with good suggestions, so I'll only offer one piece of advice. Do not pay for any medical bills with a credit card if humanly possible. Once you put it on a card, the hospital has their money and they're done with you. If you run up a tab at the hospital, they are much more likely to work with you to settle on a longer repayment plan, lower payoff, no carrying charges, etc. Please encourage your fiancee to do the same. Hospitals negotiate all the time, but they can't help you if you don't ask or once you've put it on a credit card.
As to punching yourself, ease up a bit. What will matter more in the end is how well you manage this mess. Once you're through it, nothing in life will ever seem as scary. You will develop confidence in your ability to handle whatever shit life throws your way.

Thanks for the advice on the credit card.  The $5000 bill from the hospital I did do a payment plan with them since it is 0 interest.  The rest of the bills on the credit card I've been paying off monthly.  That $1000 will get taken care of before the middle of next month.

I guess mostly I just wanted to vent about the awful luck. Had been planning on buying a house this year before all the crap drained both our savings.

My fiance doesn't have a credit card (bad finances from before we got together.  I've been setting him on the right track now, but he still has bad credit).  I know he has set up payment plans on his bills, but we need to talk about how those are going to get paid now that he can't work.

Another question - we aren't married yet, but one of his medical bills is now showing up on my credit, and I've been getting collection notices on it (in my name)?  At first I thought they were from my medical bills, but nope, its from his medical stuff from last year.  Can they do that?

shedinator

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Another option you might be able to work out with the hospital is Carecredit, which is sort of a health-only credit card. It can only be used for medical bills, and has a 0% interest grace period, which I think is on a sliding scale based on the amount. We negotiated the hospital bill for our son's birth down to a fair price [in line with what an insurance company would've paid], but it was contingent on paying the hospital in full at that time. They would've given us a "0% interest" payment plan, but the bill would've been about 50% higher. I call that a 50% interest payment plan, but what do I know? Anyway, we got a Carecredit card, which gave us 12 months to pay off the balance at 0%. It could have been as low as 6 months or as high as 24 months, depending on the amount.

Pro: What makes this different from a traditional credit card is that you can qualify for the promotional rate every time you make a new "purchase." I'm not entirely sure how that works, as we've just used it the one time.

Con: What makes this just like a traditional credit card is that the interest rate after the promotional period is 26.99%, so only use it if you're certain you can actually pay it off within the period, or have a lower-interest option you could activate at that point.

Did you sign anything claiming financial responsibility for your fiance's medical bill? Maybe there was something in the hospital admittance paperwork? If not, it should not be showing up, and those collectors should not be contacting you. Check with the hospital, and if they don't have you on record as agreeing to pay the bills, a C&D letter from your friendly neighborhood attorney should be sufficient to end those notices.

Dicey

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Don't buy a house (or get married for that matter) until Fiance's credit is completely cleaned up. If you do, you run the risk of being plagued by "his" bills (which you are not currently liable for unless you signed something) for a very long time. The housing market is likely recover at a much slower pace than it fell. Until employment rates and wages rise considerably, there are simply not enough people who can afford to buy homes, particularly at higher prices. It seems unlikely that interest rates will increase sharply either. Buying a house costs so much more than the down payment and is not the nirvana some folks believe it to be. Once more with feeling: Do not be in a hurry.
Note: I bet it will feel great to knock off that 1K by mid-month! You will get through this.

shedinator

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Don't buy a house (or get married for that matter) until Fiance's credit is completely cleaned up. If you do, you run the risk of being plagued by "his" bills (which you are not currently liable for unless you signed something) for a very long time.

I disagree with this reasoning. If you're committed to getting married, go for it. Don't decide when to set the date based on a credit score. You are (presumably) marrying this man because you love and care for him, not because of his creditworthiness. And besides that, you are not liable for any debt incurred prior to marriage, and never will be, unless a divorce court decides that you should pay off your spouse's debt as a part of a settlement.
If you're going to share your lives together, then do it. It makes more sense to pool your resources and pay off all of your debt together, then invest for retirement together, without worrying about who contributes more. If you sit down at the end of any period of time and calculate it out, chances are that one of you will have earned more money during that period of time, and one of you may have had more expenses, and the former may or may not also be the latter. And that's OK. For many years in Western Society, it was commonplace for one spouse to do most or all of the earning, while the other did most or all of the spending. It's still common enough that we don't look at single-income families crosseyed when they show their faces in public. There are a few major reasons (mental illness, addiction, etc.) to keep your finances separate, but apart from those, it doesn't really make sense in the long run. Your names will be on the bulk of the bills together, applications for credit will be in both your names, and so on. So, as I said 2 paragraphs ago, if you're going to get married, just go for it, and don't make the ceremony contingent upon FICO scores or DTI ratios.

arebelspy

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I agree with shedinator.  Don't rush into anything, but if you're going to do it, don't make ti contingent on something.

Sorry to hear about all the unfortunate events that occurred.  Glad to see you taking positive action to turn it around and better your life.  Good luck!
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James

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Sounds like you are making the best of a very difficult situation.  Take things slowly, live simply, and make sure you have all the info before making decisions.  I don't see anything you can't beat over time, hopefully you are due for a run of better luck.  :)

smedleyb

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Wait, what do you mean your fiance won't tell you exactly how much he owes to the hospital?  25K?  Maybe more? 

I say he should declare bankruptcy and clear that debt before you get married.  He's not working, has no savings, and brings little to the table financially. 

I'm dead serious, why should you be burdened with his debts?   

Parizade

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I'm so sorry you have to deal with all these troubles GamerGirl, and I hope your luck improves soon!

It sounds like you are young, which is also a plus. You should be able to get your finances straightened out before you feel pressured to make a marriage commitment or have children.

My life was financially ruined when I married an irresponsible man, so that colors my opinion on this sort of thing. When I got married at 25, my car, furniture, and student loans were paid off and I had no other consumer debt. I had a stock portfolio, 401K, and emergency savings in the bank. Within 6 months of my marriage it was all gone and I was $20K in debt because of my husband. By the time we divorced I had a baby to raise and he never paid a penny of child support. I'm now 55 and don't expect to be FI until the normal retirement age of 65.

I loved my husband when we married, but that didn't protect me from his poor decisions. So my advice is to go ahead and love your boyfriend, but do what you need to protect yourself financially at the same time.


Wolf_Stache

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Wait, what do you mean your fiance won't tell you exactly how much he owes to the hospital?  25K?  Maybe more? 

I say he should declare bankruptcy and clear that debt before you get married.  He's not working, has no savings, and brings little to the table financially. 

I'm dead serious, why should you be burdened with his debts?

We've actually talked about him doing this before we get married.  I think the reason he doesn't want to tell me how much he owes is because he doesn't know for sure, and doesn't want to scare himself by adding it all up.  I should probably press him harder on this, but haven't because of everything that has been going on.

It is not a hurry, tho, because at this point we legally cannot get married.  Fiance is transgendered, and legally still a female per the 'rules', so until he can get that done or Washington passes a gay marriage bill we won't be getting married 'legally.'

zweipersona

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$25,000? my Fiances several hospital stays and surgery from October (He doesn't want to tell me the exact amount)

Wait, what do you mean your fiance won't tell you exactly how much he owes to the hospital?  25K?  Maybe more? 

I say he should declare bankruptcy and clear that debt before you get married.  He's not working, has no savings, and brings little to the table financially. 

I'm dead serious, why should you be burdened with his debts?

We've actually talked about him doing this before we get married.  I think the reason he doesn't want to tell me how much he owes is because he doesn't know for sure, and doesn't want to scare himself by adding it all up.  I should probably press him harder on this, but haven't because of everything that has been going on.

It is not a hurry, tho, because at this point we legally cannot get married.  Fiance is transgendered, and legally still a female per the 'rules', so until he can get that done or Washington passes a gay marriage bill we won't be getting married 'legally.'

Yeah, you're staring at another problem here.  The others have given some good advice on your current problem, but this WILL become a future problem.  You need to talk to your fiance to get a financial picture.  If he does not know it, he needs to find out, and consider bankruptcy an option.

It's not pretty, but on the other hand, it sounds like there is significant financial irresponsibility here.  Probably best to wipe the slate... and hope you can keep them on track in the future.

shedinator

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Wait, what do you mean your fiance won't tell you exactly how much he owes to the hospital?  25K?  Maybe more? 

I say he should declare bankruptcy and clear that debt before you get married.  He's not working, has no savings, and brings little to the table financially. 

I'm dead serious, why should you be burdened with his debts?

We've actually talked about him doing this before we get married.  I think the reason he doesn't want to tell me how much he owes is because he doesn't know for sure, and doesn't want to scare himself by adding it all up.  I should probably press him harder on this, but haven't because of everything that has been going on.

It is not a hurry, tho, because at this point we legally cannot get married.  Fiance is transgendered, and legally still a female per the 'rules', so until he can get that done or Washington passes a gay marriage bill we won't be getting married 'legally.'

It's a good idea to have more concrete numbers before you get married, simply so the two of you can have a solid idea of what your money strategy will be going in. If all of the debt you two have accumulated truly is a result of bad luck, and you don't see any signs of financial irresponsibility on the part of your fiance,* don't worry about that aspect, just worry about overcoming the debt problem.


*I can understand some seeing his hesitance to give you exact numbers as a form of financial irresponsibility, but I disagree. It's not necessarily a wise thing, but there very well may be psychological coping mechanisms at play here. People who go through traumatic experiences often don't want to take an inventory of the damage afterward, including how much money it cost them. Or, if they know what it cost them, they will often avoid telling other people, because doing so somehow makes it more real. While folks on this board (myself included) tend to advocate a good punch in the face for a lot of things, if your fiance is suffering from actual psychological effects brought on by several major stressors, it would be best for him and for your relationship if you didn't go that route. Of course, I only had a psych minor, and I've never talked with your fiance, so I can't say with certainty that he is in fact suffering from such effects, just trying to point out the distinct possibility.

gooki

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It is not a hurry, tho, because at this point we legally cannot get married.

Irrespective of the fact the marriage may be some time off, the sooner one can clear those debts the better, whether that's through bankruptcy or repayment.

Fetlock

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I think the reason he doesn't want to tell me how much he owes is because he doesn't know for sure, and doesn't want to scare himself by adding it all up.

I can't for the life of me remember where I heard the following story. I think it was in a book or a blog or something, but I've had no luck finding it. I'll try to recall it as best I can.

There was a guy in a similar situation, in that he didn't know how much debt he had, but he knew it was a lot, so it scared him to even think about it. Instead, he put his statements in a drawer and ignored them, avoided the creditors on the phone, and so on, and didn't want to even deal with it or know how bad it really was. But one day, the stress of the problem got bad enough that he was forced to work it all out. It ended up that the situation was far worse than he had feared, and he had racked up over $100,000 in debt. But, looking at it, he realized it wasn't actually all that scary. Sure, he was in a bad position, but all the stress and bad feelings had come from avoiding the situation rather than facing it. It was actually a big relief to finally know, so it stopped having power over him, and now it almost seemed like a game. He posted that number really big on his wall, and every day he worked to reduce it. It took time and effort, but eventually he got rid of it all.

ferfischer

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I certainly understand bad luck - we have been through some really tough times as well, medically, too.    Three years after our really bad luck happened, I feel we're finally in a much better place (not just financially).   Having been through some pretty complicated medical things too, I would do these things.  Are either of your hospital stays covered at all by insurance?  Has insurance already paid their portion?  It takes months, sometimes up to a year or more for all the "final" bills to come in, so that may be part of the reason your fiance doesn't know the exact amount.  It's absolutely worth appealing the insurance companies to pay as much as possible.  They count on people not appealing, so if you appeal, you might get it.  We get denied for almost everything and have to appeal everything, so I can tell you, it's worth it.  Also, is there not a maximum out of pocket?  If he or you were laid off, then that insurance you should still be able to access via Cobra or whatever, right?   It's also worth going through all the explanation of benefits one by one, and determining the exact amount you are liable for and disputing the difference.   I cannot tell you how many "mistakes" I have found here.   

As for collections notices, they will call ANYONE they can find with ANY relationship at all.  That doesn't mean they can actually collect from you.  Call them and tell them that.   You don't have to mention you are engaged.  I don't believe they can come after you (unless you are guarantor on something) and tell them that, otherwise THEY need to prove what you owe and why.  Then tell them to stop bothering you. 

I have no other advice about the other stuff, but if you have time and effort, you might be able to save some of what you owe medically by doing those things.

Wolf_Stache

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I certainly understand bad luck - we have been through some really tough times as well, medically, too.    Three years after our really bad luck happened, I feel we're finally in a much better place (not just financially).   Having been through some pretty complicated medical things too, I would do these things.  Are either of your hospital stays covered at all by insurance?  Has insurance already paid their portion?  It takes months, sometimes up to a year or more for all the "final" bills to come in, so that may be part of the reason your fiance doesn't know the exact amount.  It's absolutely worth appealing the insurance companies to pay as much as possible.  They count on people not appealing, so if you appeal, you might get it.  We get denied for almost everything and have to appeal everything, so I can tell you, it's worth it.  Also, is there not a maximum out of pocket?  If he or you were laid off, then that insurance you should still be able to access via Cobra or whatever, right?   It's also worth going through all the explanation of benefits one by one, and determining the exact amount you are liable for and disputing the difference.   I cannot tell you how many "mistakes" I have found here.   

As for collections notices, they will call ANYONE they can find with ANY relationship at all.  That doesn't mean they can actually collect from you.  Call them and tell them that.   You don't have to mention you are engaged.  I don't believe they can come after you (unless you are guarantor on something) and tell them that, otherwise THEY need to prove what you owe and why.  Then tell them to stop bothering you. 

I have no other advice about the other stuff, but if you have time and effort, you might be able to save some of what you owe medically by doing those things.

Thanks for the tips about collections. I've never dealt with them before so I didn't know how they operated.

As far as insurance, my out of pocket *so far* after insurance has covered their share etc for my medical stuff earlier this year is over $12,000.  The last bill I got included my last hospital stay, so I assume(?) i'm getting close to the end?

As far as my fiance's, he was still covered by insurance for everything, but I don't know how much after insurance his bills are (the insurance we had last year is not as good as the insurance we are getting through my new job).

grantmeaname

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If I were you, I wouldn't "assume" your insurance is going to tell you when you've hit your out of pocket maximum. I would look up your plan, find out, and make sure that they've been complying with it and paying all the benefits they should be.

ferfischer

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I'm glad you both had insurance.  There is such a thing as "maximum out of pocket" for covered expenses.  That means that outside of your deductible, there is a maximum amount you can be expected to pay as part of your coinsurance.  There should be a way for you to look up all of your claims and remaining benefits online and know where you are with those things.  If not, call someone and talk to them, and if you're not getting answers, call back and talk to someone else.  You should be able to find out for EVERY EOB what you owe and what your balances on your deductible and max out of pocket is.  I agree with PP, it is YOUR responsibility to know what you are expected to pay and what they are - they will collect even portions of what is their responsibility if they CAN!  Don't assume all your claims are in yet.  It takes time, and every department works differently.   It is WORTH knowing the insurance policy inside and out and fighting to get things covered.  More effort, yes, but money saved, absolutely.