I went from being $1,000 in debt to $12,000 in debt – here’s how you can too!

This is the face we make at mountains of debt.

Just have major surgery. And then maybe screw up your taxes, just for good measure. It’s THAT easy!

When all the Occupy protests started, I became even more aware of all the things that were awesome about my life. I was lucky to be able to be making enough money freelancing to support myself; I was lucky to be in a stable, loving relationship that offered support if I couldn’t; and I was lucky that we had a beautiful home and could afford to pay our all bills and eat and entertain ourselves and have fun.

BUT. I also knew that if either one (or, even scarier, both) of us lost our jobs or had some major medical emergency, we would quickly lose that feeling of security, which could eventually lead to us losing our beautiful home, and then the ability to afford to feed ourselves. I just didn’t imagine how close I was to something like that happening.

The bulk of my surgery cost a whopping $23,000. Luckily, I had insurance, and even luckier, that whole “pre-existing condition” nonsense was no longer in effect, so it was covered by my insurance. Still, after they took a stab at it, it came to around $8,000. Or…so I thought before I called the surgeon’s office to pay their $700 share of that, and then found out the insurance processed it wrong and I owed an additional $400 and something. And, then there’s the anesthesiologist’s bill. And the pathology bill. And, well, let’s just say the bills, they keep on rolling in.

To make matters even worse, I took a stab at my taxes and got smacked in the face with a HUGE bill. The first year I freelanced was awesome. I had a lot of work, and I ended up pulling in (in my eyes, anyway) a pretty impressive $50k+, which was on par with what I was making at the FT corporate job that I quit the year before. I ended up forking out about $800 to the IRS, but that was kind of expected.

Last year, I managed to pull in about $38k, and unfortunately, most of it wasn’t taxed. So when I fired up the H&R Block software and it said I had to pay, I wasn’t that surprised. But when it said I had to pay over $4,000 dollars, I almost fainted. Some people would say this is all my own damn fault, and it is.

I’m notoriously bad at numbers, so while I had imagined I’d be paying the same amount this year and put enough aside to cover that, I totally forgot to calculate the difference in what I was making, and what wasn’t taxed this year vs. last. But, it would still be manageable (and also a very valuable lesson in what happens when you accept a lot of untaxed monies), if it weren’t for that damn hospital bill that’s already looming over my head.

And so (long story short—too late!), in order to afford the hospital payment plan ($432 a month) plus my insurance premium ($205 a month), plus my Student Loan payment ($150 a month, which I was SO CLOSE TO PAYING OFF DAMMMIT), plus credit cards that I ran up while I wasn’t working for almost 2 months while recovering, and paid the completely and totally separate doctor’s bill with, and you know, do important things like eat, I have to pull the plug on freelancing (something that makes me very, very, very sad) and try to find a steady, FT job—which uh, as you know, isn’t terribly easy right at the moment.

I am still in a much better position than many other people. I KNOW this. I’m very, very, very grateful that I live with an employed sweetheart who is willing to let me put all my current earnings towards my own bills instead of the house payment. I can’t even imagine where I’d be if I was living on my own, because there is no way in hell I could afford any kind of rent right now.

And it makes me sad and angry that I’m 40, and I have to rely on other people to help me. I have to rely on my parents to lend me money, and on Jonathan to cover costs. Especially because when I got divorced, I was $8,000 in the hole in credit card debt, with $26,000 owed in student loans, and I worked so hard to pay off ALL the CC debt, and get down to just $5,000 owed loan-wise. So this just feels like a big-no-fair-fuck-off set back.

I have never been as angry about our healthcare system as I am now — even when in my 20s when I couldn’t afford any insurance and had to scrape together donation money for exams and birth control from Planned Parenthood.

Even though I recognize how much better I have it than others who have been laid off and are suffering (my heart is breaking in particular for my friend who is losing her condo), I still hate it. MAN, do I hate it. It makes me feel bitter and angry—which I hate even more. It’s like a vicious cycle of hate.

I know I just have to believe that the right job will come along and that I’ll be able to eventually work my way past this, so I keep telling myself that, every day.

(It still sucks, though, you guys.)

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8 responses to “I went from being $1,000 in debt to $12,000 in debt – here’s how you can too!

  • Shrie

    It sucks, it totally does. And that’s all there is to it. Fortunately, we have loving people to count on for help. That doesn’t make it easier… in fact it makes us more disgusted with the situation and sometimes ourselves. But just like anything in life, you and your partner will get through it, figuring it out together, as a team. Sometimes that union, that understanding and feeling, is the only that thing gets me through.

  • Alta Swinford

    Shrie is right. I was laid off and it took me 2 years to find my current job. 2 YEARS. If I wasn’t married I would have ended up in a women’s shelter, period. My unemployment benefits would not cover rent – HA! So thank goodness for B. I don’t know where I would be without him, really…

  • Wendi Dunlap

    I was talking to an old friend a few weeks ago who was laid off in 2008 and has only been able to get 4 *interviews* since then. (And no job.) He is in constant danger of losing the roof over his head. He is 53 years old and has no real hope of having a good job with benefits again — the employers that used to pay him well and give him benefits now hire 18 year olds and give them no benefits.

    I am pretty much terrified of losing the house. I don’t make enough money for much of anything, really.

  • Clinton

    I really think you could find ways to write off a LOT more! I hate being the dude who goes directly into “advice giving” mode but I possibly have some referrals for you that would help you not owe so much to Uncle Sam. Email me if interested. I appreciated your vulnerability in this post.

    • Amie

      Clinton – I appreciate that!

      I’m going to take them to a pro later next month to have them triple-check everything. I honestly don’t qualify for a lot of the write-offs, and I made sure I deducted EVERYTHING I could. But, that’s why I’m going to a pro, just to make sure I didn’t screw myself over more. 🙂

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