Murphy, Murphy, Murphy.
The last few months haven’t been kind to us as Murphy has taken up residence.
My computer died, and I bought a new one, which I had been putting off for quite some time. I like to look on the bright side: at least I was able to use the old computer for longer than I thought before it died last month.
We have accrued a lot of medical expenses. I went to a specialist who is finally starting to unravel what has caused my health problems for the last two years. Knowing what is wrong and being on a path to fix it is wonderful, but this knowledge comes with some hefty medical bills. Also, my daughter’s emergency room visit was not covered by insurance in the amount I thought it would be. (We are going to have to pay about half the bill.)
And the doozy. We received notice early in October that my husband’s paycheck would be slashed for the next two months. I don’t completely understand why, but here is how I understand it:
He registered as an international student in 2001 after we were married and he had not yet gotten residency. He got his green card in 2004, and the university continued to pay give him a tuition waiver for his education.
Now, he has graduated and is working at the university in a post-doc position. He has a better chance of finding a job in a medical school if he gets a Master’s in Public Health, so he is taking two classes this semester. The classes are free, but since the university is paying for his classes, the money is classified as income. He never changed his residency status, so he has to pay tax on the amount the university is paying for him to attend classes as an international student.
His October pay came yesterday, and 1/3 of his usual income was gone. That leaves us without 20% of our usual income. Considering that we are already facing mounting expenses, well, it just isn’t a good thing. He is contesting the decision, but meanwhile, we are without that money.
Changes We Are Making
The debt snowflake/snowballing will end. If you like my debt snowflaking challenge, please understand that we have to take a break from aggressive debt repayment for now. We will pay the minimum we have to pay so that we can focus on surviving without a portion of his income, and then we will work on paying down medical bills and building our emergency fund again. I estimate this will take us until at least the beginning of the new year.
We will live off our very stocked pantry for awhile. All summer long I worked and preserved our extra CSA produce into freezer meals. We have a full freezer of food, and now seems like the perfect time to use it. While our emergency fund is not large enough to cover all of these expenses, having a full freezer will save us several hundred dollars in grocery expenses during the next few weeks.
We will have a no spend challenge. From October 17th to October 31st, my goal will be to spend no more than $60 for gas, entertainment, food and miscellaneous. This will be a bit tricky as our gas tank is on 1/4, and we will need fruit in the next several days. Still, a no spend challenge is just what we need to try to make up for my husband’s paycheck shortfall.
We will continue to find things to sell around the house. I just sold part of my stash of cloth diapers on Craigslist for $50, and I have many more things to sell. Hopefully I can make up a few hundred dollars this way too.
If you were faced with an unexpected drop in income, how did you handle it financially? What did you do to get through the rough patch?