Guest post by Kelli Hays of More Bang For Your Bucks
When our son Landon was born six years ago, we were expecting to pay cash for his delivery since we didn’t have maternity insurance. What we weren’t expecting was an additional $2,000 for my last-minute C-section plus $7,000 out-of-pocket expenses due to his rare pediatric liver disease. Add that to the $4,000 for my OB/GYN and other hospital bills, medication, hotel stays, gas, meals out — and we were out $13,000 by the end of the year! (This figure doesn’t count the $60,000 my insurance company did pay for my son’s health diagnosis, biopsy, surgery, etc.)
Just looking at that amount now still takes my breath away. But we were able to do it because we weren’t strapped down with consumer debt.
We had no credit cards or student loans. Both of our vehicles were paid for, and our mortgage was just $250 a month (no, I didn’t leave off a zero! With lots of sweat equity and a private loan, we were able to fix up a house we bought for $10,000 in the year 2002 and keep our mortgage well below what it would have cost to rent.)
We had a lot of stress going on shortly after our son’s birth. On top of being new parents, we had a ten-day stay in the neonatal intensive-care unit, then weekly trips to a city three hours away for the continuing diagnosis process, culminating in his surgery at seven weeks old.
The amount of tears I shed in that seven-week period was probably more than the sum total of my entire life up until that point. If we had to worry about finances, I can’t even imagine how much harder that time would have been.
Because we didn’t have any debt besides our house, all of Landon’s medical bills were paid off within the year. We are very thankful to our parents for teaching us to make wise financial decisions. I will never forget at one point in my infant son’s hospital room, my dad asked me, “Aren’t you glad you don’t have a huge mortgage to cover right now?” And I was.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, they must have had a high paying job.” The truth is, my husband is a minister.
Our first year of marriage–the year we bought the house–he made $12,000 as a full time youth minister (again, I didn’t leave off a zero!) The next church we served in paid us triple that amount–which definitely took care of our needs but didn’t allow for exorbitant spending. I made $9,000 as a part-time private school teacher.
We just chose to live a simple life.
None of us know when tragedy will strike, but by being careful with the money we have been entrusted, it will take one worry off the table when a crisis does hit.
Kelli Hays blogs at More Bang For Your Bucks about ways to save money, as well as her life as a church planter’s wife (in the city where her son spent his time in the hospital!), mother of three, and do-it-yourself projects. Her son, Landon, is doing phenomenally well.