Is it easier to save?

Whenever I have needed to save money, like large sums of money, it has always been something that has been fairly easy for me. Many years ago I had two months to save $2,000 for a vacation with my grandma. I did that and then some, no problem. When I needed to save money to move to Kansas City, no problem saving up the money in a few months. Saving seems to be the easy part for me.

Even now, just a few days after my husband and I decided that we needed a hefty savings fund to pay for his lawyer and medical bills that we know are coming down the pipeline. ONE WEEK ago and already our savings account is at $3,929. (And Mr Woodpecker has another $1,500 check that is a wedding gift in his wallet that we need to cash – so there is easily our $5,000 goal and then some.)

What baffles me the most about all of this is how can I so easily save  money on one hand – and then be terrible at paying debt off on the other. Surely paying off debt is no different than saving money. It can’t be “compounding interest working in my favor” on these savings accounts. I’m looking at ONE WEEK at a 0.9% annual interest.

Perhaps it is just that I’m more encouraged by the total going up than a total going down?

Perhaps the immediacy of knowing that we WILL need this money? Paying debt is “saving” for purchases I’ve already made and purchases in the future that I haven’t yet planned. Saving right now has a very specific  goal: Keeping us from being crushed by medical bills in the next few months.

Instead of trying to analyze why saving money seems to have such a simple nature to it and paying off debt so difficult, maybe I should just say “interest be damned” and just save money until I get a pot big enough to pay off each debt in full. I’d still be paying minimums, of course, but perhaps if I can easily come up with $3-5,000 at a time using savings as a goal that I can just then transfer these amounts in huge chunks to my debt rather than just paying off the debt little amounts at a time.

Who knows… perhaps I’m not better at saving than I am at paying off debt. Maybe it is just easier to see because it grows, and debt just gets little chiseling and then BOOM monthly charges that work is gone.

Either way, I’m happy to report that our savings is growing. Our debt is remaining steady. And hopefully we’ll have enough saved to pay the onslaught of medical bills we know is coming.

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Good-Bye Weight Watchers

After a year long relationship with Weight Watchers, I have finally ended my account. I joined last April to help a friend lose weight for her wedding in June. Well, I ended up losing 35 lbs, getting lifetime status, and I’m actually (a year later) at 40 lbs total lost.

The program itself was very useful to me. I lost my weight fairly quickly (thought not unhealthy-fast) by following the program to the letter. I ate within my point allotment, I tracked EVERYTHING I ate, I made sure to get all of my activity points. I did everything as suggested by Weight Watchers and it absolutely worked, and it worked really quickly.

Once I had achieved lifetime status I remember having this thought were I said “Well… am I really going to track what I eat FOREVER?” I was sold on the new lifestyle of eating fruits and veggies and working out. And now I had an idea of what an appropriate amount of food for me to be eating was… did I really need to TRACK it all?

So I decided to go on an experiment and see if I could live healthily and not track. And sure enough, 9 months after obtaining lifetime I’m still below goal weight. I’m not gaining. I’m doing just fine. So I stopped weighing in and using the e-tools from Weight Watchers around February of this year. Still, no issue. I do weigh myself every morning and take note of where I am. I still try to compensate those high calorie meals that happen with low calorie for the next one or extra activity points. I’m still living the Weight Watchers diet, I’ve just decided there really isn’t a point to having an account with Weight Watchers because I have to stick to their rules which also means if I slip up I owe them money. I’m not a huge fan of THAT.

So I’ve canceled my Weight Watchers account. But I have also made an agreement with  myself that if I ever get to the point where I’m 5 pounds above my goal weight and I find that I can’t take care of it on my own, I’m going back to Weight Watchers immediately to get my weight back under control.

But, for at least now, this is good-bye Weight Watchers! It was wonderful knowing you!

Disability

About a year and a half ago my husband was in a pretty serious car injury. He was taken to the hospital unconscious. It turned out he had a blown to the head, which has been exasperated by the fact that it was not his first head injury (he can cite at least 4 other concussions before this point).

Immediately after the accident he slept constantly. He would watch TV with me and not remember the next day that we had watched anything. We would have a conversation and a few hours later he would have no recall of the conversation. He had, and still has, massive migraines constantly, dizziness, and soreness and pain in his neck and back.

Initially he tried to go start back to work, which was a big mistake for his recovery. But he believed that what he had would pass quickly.

He quickly used up all of his PTO time leaving work early due to massive headaches.

Eventually his boss told him he needed to fill for FMLA or if he missed anymore he would be fired. So he did. Within about six months he had used up his FMLA and was told that he needed to apply for short term disability. He did this.

He’s been seeing two different neurologists, a speech therapist for memory issues, a chiropractor and massage therapist and physical therapists to deal with the back and neck pain, an ENT and vestibular therapist for his dizziness. And while time has seemed to help him with his memory and cognition, though he isn’t perfect according to our neurocognitive analyist, he has definitely improved. But his headaches and dizziness have seemed to have gotten worse despite all the different treatment plans that his two neurologists have put him on. He still, a year and a half later, can’t drive because he can’t focus on the road and moving his head left and right causes his vertigo while driving. The few attempts that he has made have nearly resulted in other accidents.

Well, at the end of February, his short term disability ended and we also found out that the first review of his long term disability was denied. So here is a guy who WANTS to work, but can’t because he can’t mentally and physically hold a conversation (required by his job) for longer than 10 minutes… and he is denied? Anyway, so now we’re having to pay for COBRA for health insurance because he is now technically on a leave of absence at his work and since we only get one appeal for the long term disability we also have to hire a lawyer. Combine that with about 40% less income than we had previously – and well, things are financially tough over here.

I’m still working my part time job, so that is helpful. But right now we’re making *just enough* to cover our daily expenses. The medical bills we’re just working on one day at a time and chiseling them out with the $100 I get each month from my HSA (here’s $15 to you, $15 to you, and $15 to you… we know it isn’t enough, sorry).

In other words, things are stressful financially here. His appeal is due by the end of July. So we just keep hoping that one way or another that will settle things. However the lawyer keeps talking about suing if he gets denied again and then there is of course the next option of public disability (right now we’re applying through the long term disability benefit from his job benefits).

Because we don’t know what will happen next to us financially except that we know there WILL be expenses and that we WILL have to pay for them. We’ve decided to stop paying down debt. Paying down debt assumes a luxury of not getting in to more debt. We don’t have that luxury, we HAVE to incur medical debt right now.

Instead we’ve decided that our best method of debt prevention is to build a healthy savings of the extra money we do get so that we can pay for the “unexpecteds” that come along the way. When/if the disability gets approved, he’ll be getting a back payment of enough to pay off the majority of the debt that we have except for student loans, so it isn’t like we’re just giving up on paying it.

We’re essentially going back to Baby Step #1 and saying: “For us, $1000 isn’t enough. We need more because we know that big emergencies are likely in the next few months.”

So instead of my extra money at Kohl’s going to debt, it is now going to savings. Instead of my overload money at work going to debt, it is now going to savings. Instead of some of these wedding checks going to debt, they’re going to savings. Instead of the tax refund going to debt, it is going to savings. Instead of my summer teaching money going to debt, it is going to savings.

As strange as it may sounds, money and debt and finances have taken a second seat. It used to be my main focus, my drive. But now it is about getting my husband out of pain. Or at least helping him find a way to manage his pain so that it doesn’t get to the disabilitating levels that it has achieved recently.

However, money stress doesn’t help his recovery, so that is my “job” in helping him get better. I just have to make sure the money stuff is taken care of as best I can until we move past this and in to the next phase of our lives together.