Author Topic: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)  (Read 3214 times)

Mr. Anderson

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Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« on: March 25, 2016, 01:49:20 PM »
I need some help in thinking through some things. My wife was diagnosed with terminal spinal and brain cancer last month, and she had three surgeries, one of them being a cesarean section, and radiation. She’s currently resting peacefully instead of her nausea and vomiting, but it’s been a long and horrible road. But we have been enjoying every moment together. My daughter was born at 32 weeks and is currently in the NICU. When we bought our house our living circumstances were different, and we’ve been talking about downsizing for a while. They are not expecting her to live much longer, but for some miracle she does pull through, we would need to move to a place without stairs. Our values don’t include doing yard work, shoveling snow, or home maintenance, so we were thinking of renting an apartment or getting a condo. Rent for a 2-3 bedroom place is anywhere from $1100 to $1500 a month (up to $2200 for a “luxury” 2 bedroom). Average condos run around $175,000 to $220,000 for a 2 bedroom near where I work.

I have two cars (06 Ford Fusion & 06 Prius), both paid off. I plan on selling the Fusion.

Total Take Home Pay: $4350 (after 10% towards retirement, health insurance, FSA, and taxes). This was more when my wife was working part time (extra $1200).

Mortgage, PMI, Insurance & Taxes: 2,036
Cell, water, trash, sewer, gas, electric, internet, netflix: $283
Student Loans (wife and I): $406
Car & Life Insurance (Me): $105
Expenses for Two Dogs: $100
Food: $800-1000 (I won’t budge on my grocery expenses as it includes a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts. We eat out 3-4x a month).
Healthcare Expenses (wife’s nutrition, chiropractic, PT, Yoga): $300-400
Home Maintenance: ~$100

I had school/daycare expenses for my daughter, but the school offered to cover my daughter’s tuition the rest of this year and all of next year. We also burned through all of our savings with extra health care expenses over the past couple of years unrelated to the cancer.

I was thinking about renting an apartment to pay off the student loan debt as fast as possible and pay off the healthcare expenses from the NICU and hospital stay. My values include providing for my family, being debt free, saving up to retire in 20 years (I’m 36 now), and saving up for my kid’s college. I would appreciate any insight/thoughts. I’m trying to avoid thinking about my wife’s cancer right now.


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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 02:16:41 PM »
I have no financial advice to give you, but please accept my sincere sympathy in this difficult time.


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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 02:40:21 PM »
What an incredibly difficult time for you and your family; I'm so sorry. My family went through cancer several years ago; I hope you all have lots of support from family and friends around you.

My first advice would be not to do anything in the short term.  Grief and feelings about home are unpredictable; it's hard to tell how you might feel in a few months.  And moving can be intense and stressful, especially if you would be handing the move mostly yourself while also continuing to work and look after your children (it sounds like you have 2 daughters?).

That said (if only for the distraction, which I completely understand), financially and for life simplicity sake, it does sound like selling and renting would be a good idea.  The only qualifier would be if you have life insurance for your mortgage?  When my father died, my mother had some regrets about having focused SO much on paying off their mortgage, as the life insurance paid off the small amount remaining (it sounds cold; it wasn't, just one of those many little details we don't think about until it happens).  If you do have this kind of mortgage life insurance, you would likely be better to stay put until you know more about your wife's conditions in a few months.

Remember that if she does pass away, you will also need help/support with your children; is moving in with family another sort of arrangement like that a possible option to consider?

Good luck and keep us posted.


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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 02:46:18 PM »
I am so sorry to hear about your wife. I hope your little one is doing okay.

As for the move, this is a tough decision, especially with a sick partner and a baby in the NICU. You may want to slow down…adding a move ontop of these things may seem beneficial from a financial standpoint, but moves are stressful under the best circumstances. I know it is so tempting to try to control one thing, like your finances, when everything else in your life is spinning out of control, but try to focus on little victories right now and avoid anything too drastic.

Possible little victories:

If your wife’s loans are federal and you are not a cosigner, there is a really good chance that the severity of her illness will qualify her for complete forgiveness. Call the lender to find out what your options are for her loans.

Dogs - not sure what the $100 entails, but if it is mostly food related, you can probably cut this down. Look at buying in bulk. We get diamond naturals for $35 per 50lbs at tractor supply.

Wife's healthcare- Many natural health practitioners and studios are very accommodating of those with serious illness/extenuating circumstances. If you are comfortable with it, you may want to ask and see if the prices here are negotiable. Any little bit off helps.

Good luck.

« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 02:51:51 PM by little_brown_dog »


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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 02:59:41 PM »
I'm like you, I am a PLANNER.  It helps me to organize and think through what to do on those decisions where I have a choice.  I totally get it.  I think it's okay to sell the second car now, and even look at renting a small apartment.

Yes, moves are stressful.  However, if you're looking for a smaller place with less maintenance and no stairs, then you really are doing something positive for your family. It obviously matters still to include your wife in that decision.  She might not want to think about not having her home to come home to, even if there are stairs.

A small place will help you with keeping up with everything, along with saving money. I wouldn't consider buying at this time, though. That's the major decision that requires a bit of time and more awareness of the future.  +1 if the move gets you closer to family. 


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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 03:07:05 PM »
I like the idea of moving in with family. Cancer stricken wife and newborn baby while being the sold breadwinner is a recipe for catastrophe. You will need help. Its ok to admit that. I'm sorry for what is happening.

Mr. Anderson

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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 08:05:28 PM »
I appreciate everyone's response. Having something that I can control feels empowering when I can't control other parts of my life. My parents and my wife's parents live 2-4 hours away, however, they are retired and have been here most of the time helping my wife and family. I also have great friends in town who have offered to help watch the kids in the summer (they are both teachers), and in a pinch, would let us crash at their place short term. I called my wife's loan provider, and they are federal, so I started the process to see if she qualifies for forgiveness. Regarding expenses for the dogs, it's for food, vet visits, heartguard/frontline, and grooming. I have a friend about 1.5 hours away who is a vet and can help out with some of the vet costs in the short term. The $100 for pet also includes potential procedures (e.g. dental) or unexpected visits.

I know it's knee jerk to think about moving right now, but I love to have a plan. My wife will be in palliative care until the end, unless there is a miracle, so she probably won't be coming home. Thank you for validating my concerns, and that if/when I move, renting is a good solution until I get a better sense of what to do next.


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Re: Case Study (and avoiding my reality right now)
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2016, 09:14:50 PM »
Much sympathy - it's especially hard to have so many unknowns you can't start making plans.

The only thing I'd say is: Getting Things Done does not mean doing all the things.  (This is the mistake my family makes.)  Could you set up services for things like housecleaning, lawn care, groceries/meals, other time-consuming low-priority things, so they can be off your radar for the next six months or a year?  That will help give you more time for your top priorities, and big decisions like moving and selling the house. 

If you feel like calling your internet company, they may have an unlisted bare-bones plan you can move to?  I'm paying TWC $15/month, and that does give enough bandwidth for Netflix.  I don't think I had to do another yearlong contract for that.  But that's pretty small potatoes - your budget looks fine to me.

And I don't think anyone has mentioned this: if there is any chance that medical bills will force you into bankruptcy, look at that before selling the house, cashing out retirement accounts, etc.  If you have assets that are protected, it may be best to leave them alone for now.  Bankruptcy isn't the ideal financial plan, but if it is within the realm of possibility, it's better not to be blindsided and screwed over by the rules.