Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Healing - What's Bothering Me?

I woke this morning with yet another revelation. I knew this blog would be good for me.

I have a family blog that I've maintained for the last 3 years. You know the ones dedicated to your kids and all the fun, happy things that happen in your life. Where all the pictures have happy children and only the best of the best are blog worthy. I stopped blogging in November and for the next 7 months. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. All of the things I wanted to say didn't seem appropriate for the format I had previously chosen (happy, cheerful, we love life, etc).

My departure from my family blog also happened to coincide with the fairly recent discovery that we were expecting again (planned), my husbands announcement that he would like to do a fellowship, and the discovery that part of his student loans were due and couldn't be deferred any longer. The combination of these events really did me in.

I am by nature a planner, forecaster, spreadsheet making fool. This proposed fellowship was the wrench in my plan. You see, resident surgeons in my husbands specialty usually secure jobs the spring of their 5th year or the beginning of their 6th year. That would be us right now. With that signed contract also comes a signing bonus, or financial retainer, that binds them to that decision and prevents them from looking around further. It is often equal to or greater than their resident annual salary. It is a big deal. Many of our previous plans and decisions over the last 5 years, and more recently, have hinged upon that timing.

I am grieving. It seems silly to be upset over something like money, or rather it seems shallow, when you have been blessed with so much. But the position we are in now is one that makes me worry significantly. For the last six months we haven't been able to save any money. In fact our savings rate has been negative. Meaning we have been using what had previously been saved. When we got married we vowed to never carry a balance on our credit card and we have managed to successfully do that for the last 7 years. It's not something we would consider breaking lightly. It's been tempting, but we've resisted. That we've been able to do it this long really is a miracle in itself.

Any one of the following would have been bad enough by itself, but they have all come at the same time:

  • My husband has been doing an internal complex spine fellowship about 45 miles away at an affiliate hospital. He commutes 90+ miles a day, 5 days a week. The timing couldn't be worse as gas prices in our area have averaged above $3.90 for the entire 6 months. So any savings has been claimed by the gas station. 
  • Starting in January many of the smaller student loans that were unsubsidized were called due. We thought for sure that all of his student loans would be deferred until after residency. That isn't the case. Apparently you have 4 years and 6 months from your date of medical school graduation for some types of loans. So in January we also started paying back student loans.... Sallie Mae received anything we could have saved. 
  • In January the state that we live in also increased their state income tax from 3% to 5%. It is a flat rate on your taxable income which is a 66% increase in the amount of state taxes we pay. Taxes! More potential savings given away.
  • Fellowship interviews. Fellowship interviews are a lot like interviews for residency in duration and intensity. Fortunately, we only had two interviews before we found out he was accepted to the one that we wanted and he could stop traveling. These interviews, again thankfully only two, were on our dime completely.
  • We have a baby coming in June! The hospital/employer that our residency is attached to doesn't have a very generous insurance package for their employees. In our case we pay a deductible plus 10%. All of our children have been born via c-section. Our costs with each birth have been $2,500. 
  • We own a home. That is probably all that needs to be said. The costs associated with getting it ready to sell wouldn't have been an issue if we were moving on to a job instead of a fellowship. We can't lose money on the sale of this home. There is no money to make up the difference.
  • Moving expenses. If we were moving on to a job, moving expenses would be in our contract. A 1-year fellowship doesn't come with moving expenses. Yet another expense we will bear in addition to the expenses associated with finding a place to rent.
Bottom line: we are running out of money fast and the payday we were counting on has just been delayed by a year.  I am stressing! After we pay for the delivery of our baby, our savings account will be zero, nil, nada!

When you are pregnant the last thing you want to be is worried. Somehow everything feels worse, but I know this is bad even without being pregnant! Having said that, I am a believer in miracles. I know that some way, some how, this will all work out. I know we'll be able to keep our commitments and find a way to take care of the things we need. I just have no idea how that is going to happen. That drives me crazy! It will take a miracle, and I hope there is one more left for us. We could really use one about now.

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