No More Medical Debt – My Immediate 2017 Challenge

Just when I thought I could sit down to smell the roses after paying off the student loan debts, appendicitis struck. Though my stress levels would be higher if I had the car loan, student loan, *and* medical bills.

There will be more bills next month when I get the appendectomy. A rundown of the bills so far are below. I was going to put it into a spreadsheet but didn’t have the inspiration at 1AM on New Year’s Eve. Not all of these are from the ER  directly. Some are followups after the fact and other include lab work.

So for the first phase I’ll be paying about $4,500 according to estimates. Aflac may reimburse me $1,000 based on 2 days spent in the ER. Getting an itemized bill from the hospital that I’ll submit next week. Worth the $125 that I paid for it. Trying to be as aggressive as possible in getting this debt gone. Unlike the car that is 1.9% fixed, the credit card will jump to ~13% Truthfully though my credit card is at 0% until January 2018. Go Chase Slate card.

I paid over $13k in student loans during 2016. The total for medical debt should be around half that. Thank god I have insurance though. Even with deductibles to hit, I’m still getting a pretty huge discount. Not how I wanted to start the new year, but it’s a short-term reality.

Thanks for reading my blog. Have a Happy and Safe 2017.

hospitalemergencyroombills
Hospital Emergency Room Bills after Insurance

Death of a Friend

No I’m not talking about Prince. Though his death was definitely a shock to me. I have listened to his music since the 1980s. Took me about a week to deal with it. Nor am I talking about my father who passed away at almost 11 years ago after 19 years of health problems related to kidney failure.

I’m talking about the death of someone else I knew. Someone I was really interested in dating. His name was Chris. He was only 29 years old. His birthday is two days before mine. Chris had his fair of struggles in life. He confided in me with a few of them. I really wished I was able to do more. We unfortunately lost touch with each other last June.

Yesterday I went to look him up on Facebook and found that he passed away just over a month ago. **One Month**  I don’t know from what. I feel a sense of loss. I never met any of his family members. He wouldn’t let me get close enough to be a regular figure in his life. I tried a few different occasions. Work or other things going on his life got in the way. Wish I could hold him again and tell him to stay strong and that everything would be alright. He was a beautiful person inside and out, just wanted to see him at his true potential. Not working crazy hours at a hotel just to make ends meet. His family setup a gofundme page to help with burial expenses.

I’m just speechless. RIP Chris. You will be missed. Not just by me but by all the people you’ve touched. ❤

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32 – Reflections on Life

So currently my blog is called Debt Free 32 – ONE MAN’S MISSION TO GET RID OF 45159.35 OF DEBT.
I may be renaming it in the near future. The style of this post is more raw from the heart vs my standard super logical approach. I’m turning 32 in less than 2 weeks.

32

What thoughts are associated with 32?
Reflection for one. Relationships, loved ones lost at an early age. Completion of High School, each of my three college degrees, the incredible amount of progress I’ve made over the years with my personal fitness. Moving 1500 miles away to Dallas without a clue of fully knowing what to expect. Six months of applying to jobs  in a career where my passion was dead but just did because I that’s what I spent a half decade doing. Surely nothing wrong with that strategy right?+ Struggles with paying back a debilitating amount of Student Loan debt proportional to my income, five figures of interest accruing over the years. Interviews where I had a sinking feeling in my stomach that this job is going to be like torture. An MBA graduate at 24 there I was interviewing for a job paying $36k with no room for advancement and trying to sound jazzed about it. Almost getting a job paying over $50k a year only to have the HR people tell me they weren’t hiring for the next 3 months.

Then…. I reached a tipping point. NO LONGER would I let debt paralyze me. I’m intelligent,  maybe limited at times anxiety and overanalyzing situations where people are busy or don’t connect with me…. but…. Other people my age have been able to get out of debt. A long time watcher of the Suze Orman show since the early 2000s I saw their stories each week along with people who had a much deeper hole to get out of. I only had $47k of student loan debt. Some people have six figures and work as a barista at Starbucks. One guy on Suze’s show went to school to become a pilot. Things didn’t work out and he had $200k of debt making less than $20 per hour.

What advice would I give to myself? Move. GTFO Long Island. Too expensive to live, staying with your parents because you can’t afford to be on your own is not good for your emotional and mental health. Being in place where your neighbors stare at you 60% of the time going in and out of the house is crazy. Having shootings just a mile away from where you live and gas stations robbed at gunpoint is crazy. Seeing your folks pay $9k/yr in taxes on each of two houses each year is crazy. The amount of stress most people have and all the gang activity is crazy. DON’T be status quo. DON’T get stuck working that job you only took as a temporary measure. DON’T be the 30 year old guy who works at the video store and still lives with mom and dad because they never strived for anything else in life.

As far as things TO DO. DO invest in yourself both mind and body. DO make friends of the caliber you think will enhance your life not take away from it. DO invest at an EARLY AGE. DO be a contrarian and value investor, the media uses people as pawns in ways, when the stock market is tanking that’s the best time to invest (I would’ve doubled my money if I followed this advice). DO diversify and avoid expensive fees from financial advisors. DO listen to people smarter than you who have turned their lives around.

Last but not least…. 32 is still really young. I was chatting with someone on a dating app who is… Wait for it…. 57 years of age. Great guy, in awesome shape, established and very handsome. Just practically a guy who is probably going to retire in the next 5 years vs me having 30 left. If he was in his 40s sure but technically he is older than my mom and almost as old as my dad were he still living.

Ric Edelman has predicted many of us who are alive now will live to over 140 year due to advances in science and medicine. I don’t know about that but even if we shift closer to 100… Still a long time.
My main message to my readers / friends who read this is….

Embrace life. Don’t get stuck so much in thoughts that you forget to enjoy all the wonderful experiences out there. Many things are temporary in life including debt. Keep calm, smile, enjoy being single or with that special man or woman in your life. Be happy for who and what you are.

That’s all I got for now. Happy Sunday! 🙂

Unexpected Expenses

As much as I want to pay off Sallie Mae it’s time to beef up my emergency fund. For the month of January I’ll pay paying just the minimum $452 for the month. Between bills from the holidays and my pending medical bills it’s spreading me thin.

Today I was wheezing heavily and coughing at work. This has never happened to me before and lasted for a full 45 minutes. Luckily my job has a clinic on-site. I went down there and both people who worked there and those waiting felt really bad for me. So I was seen a full hour before my appointment. Chest x-ray ruled out pneumonia, tested negative for flu and negative for strep. Got a nebulizer treatment for a half hour, blood work drawn and two injections in my backside. I immediately started to feel better. My prescriptions were only $12. Went home and did 0 work afterward.

My current health plan has a $4000 deductible. That is going to $2000 in about two weeks. Still not enough to make a big difference in what I will end up owing. I hope most of the stuff at the clinic is covered by my co-pay but I cannot say so for sure. The x-rays will be a couple hundred dollars I figure.

Currently I have $197 in my bank account so an emergency fund is non-existant. I need to pull back at least for a month to do some damage control. Credit card balance is just under $700, close to $900 after pending transactions hit. That will be paid off in full after my next paycheck. I put the ATT ($87), Verizon ($150) and electricity bill (not yet added but $212) on it.

It’s a wakeup call that health is important and having insurance matters. Coming out of the holidays without super much massive damage (though I spent more than I wanted to) and that makes me happy. That’s all for now.

 

Update: Maybe the X-Rays aren’t as much as I thought. I see an estimated cost online of $32 for the center I went to.

Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly Weight Loss Book
Wheat Belly Weight Loss Book

At the beginning of the year I started making changed to my diet that were pretty much in-line with both the Paleo and A tkins diet. I lost a fair amount of weight but ran into some obstacles. The first being energy levels. Cutting back so much on carbs meant that my body had to rely on fat and muscle for energy instead of carbohydrates. The only dessert I would consume was 80-90% dark chocolate. This lead to insulin level spikes at work, where I would become dizzy or lightheaded if I didn’t eat food with carbs and fats. I was very heavy on protein and veggies, but my breeath reeked and I was always in a constant fog.

Needless to say I couldn’t sustain such a stringent eating regiment for a prolonged period of time..

Right after turning 22 (when I started a bank desk job), my weight began to spike. 8/5/04 I was 188 pounds, which at the time was in-line where someone of my height should be. My body was not nearly as muscular as it is now, but I moved around with ease and some level of ignorance that I would never get fat.

There have been periods over the last few years where my weight would spike, My highest on record was 223 pounds in August 2011. This was shortly after leaving New York, being in temporary housing for a month (no real kitchen) and having the stress of moving and no job constantly looming over my shoulder.

As of weighing myself this morning my weight was a more respectable 211.6 (down from 218.6 on 11/24). Lower than my ideal, but a big step in the right direction. While I am cutting back on carbs this time around, I do consume them and am putting less of a shock to my system.

Wheat… Of all the ingredients of foods I consume I would say it has been the most monumental in my weight gain. I recently went to see the new James Bond Skyfall movie. At the concession stand I got a bacon cheeseburger and fries. Ordinarily it doesn’t bother me but this day was a little different. I experienced what some would consider a mild diabetic shock, where my body started to sweat and I had some light shakes. I have never been diagnosed with diabetes, but this was a wakeup call to me that some changes need to be made to my diet.

So right now I’m feeling pretty good. Cutting back the wheat, working out and the pounds just seem to almost be melting away. It’s kind of weird. I’m hitting up the gym less than I did before but the pounds are still dropping. I know the holidays are going to be a particularly tough time. Heck yesterday I attended a company party and did shots before drinking more at the event. Even with two plates of food (only a nibble of bread), I still managed to not gain any pounds.

So this is all a work in progress. I no longer view any one dietary plan as being 100% correct in all instances. You can lose weight in lots of ways, but the question is which is the healthiest and which can you maintain over the long-term.