Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When You Are Broke....

Why when I am broke do I suddenly feel the urge to go all the way? To throw my hands up in the air and proclaim to the world that "fine, I am broke. If I am going to be broke I might as well be really broke!"

How did this happen? Oh, that's right we haven't had a paycheck in the last 30 days. That was a rather unpleasant surprise. Our program pays monthly on the first of the month. Under normal circumstances I would be elated! No more weird budgeting tricks to make things look better on paper than they did in the check register. But I got used to seeing deposits made every two weeks, and right now I would sure like to see one.

I am a little concerned, because payroll mistakes happen - and they are more likely to happen with the first check. We cannot have any hiccups in the system. Things must work as planned. No room for error. Technically, that money has already been spent!

I had a good chuckle with my husband this morning as I told him about the fiscal situation we are in. Everything has to arrive and be sent at exactly the right time for it all to work. One little mistake and we are in a whole lot of trouble. I don't think I am going to miss this suspense - you know, that day in the future where this will actually seem funny instead of horrifying. Can't get here fast enough.

For the last 30 days my balance has been in a nose dive and as we get closer to the end of the month the ground is getting ready to meet it. Everything is due in the next three days: rent, credit card balance (moving expenses), appliances. All the big ones are due this week.

I made the responsible mistake of checking my balance before heading out the grocery store. We left with a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. No fear, we have other food in the house so we aren't starving. But for the first time, in a long time, I didn't just pick up something else. We mean business.

Just before arriving at the grocery store I stopped at the UPS store to send a package. The documents for my husband board exam application and fee payment of $1,500! It is also due tomorrow - thus the overnight at the UPS store to the tune of $45.00.  We didn't send it earlier because it could have landed in our July billing cycle and could be due in 3 days. We aren't going to have the money in 3 days. Waiting until now makes certain it will land in our August billing cycle which is due in September. We didn't have to wait this long, but I can't handle looking at large balances. Oh, the games we have to play!

A reader previously asked me about the cost of a fellowship. I haven't forgotten your question, the bills just keep coming. I can say without a doubt that the past few months have been the most expensive months of our entire medical training. No lie. It is going to be a fun post to write!

I knew this perfect storm was coming and tried to prepare for it. I cashed out the last of my retirement savings. I know, not a good choice in normal circumstances. But, there is nothing normal about residency/fellowship. In the end, we decided that we needed the money more NOW than we will THEN. A few thousand dollars today means a lot more than it will next year (see how easily we rationalize our decisions). The only problem with this is that it takes 60 days to access, and our 60 days is up next week. I should have done that earlier and then all the fun I am having today would never have happened.

I wasn't kidding when I said our paycheck had already been spent. We need everything we currently have and that paycheck to make our bills this month. It isn't a pretty scenario. The money from my retirement account will keep us from living a paycheck behind and in the red. You know how I feel about being in the red. We have never actually gone there, I am not about to go there now. On the flip side it also means that our safety net is gone. There is no where else to go.

I need abundant thoughts. The kind of thoughts that grow on the branches of money trees, and rain down hundred dollar bills. I can see a thunderstorm of cash coming our way. The question is whether or not it will get here before the bills do.

In the meantime we may know the literal meaning of not having two nickels to rub together for a few days. Not really looking forward to that.



  1. I definitely understand this one........I went through it as a child when my father began med school at an older age and 5 kids. Now I am replaying it now with my hubby and 2 boys - the roller coaster ride of living on student loans. GRRRRRRR - money thoughts are coming your way!!!!! May the thunderstorm of money have a very fast approach.

  2. When I met The Lawyer, I was spazzing out about hating my current roommate and dreaming about a one-bedroom, where I could study and sleep without interruption. But, I couldn't bear the thought of the extra $5000/yr. that it would cost me. We weren't dating yet, and he very calmly said to me, "Listen, in the end, $5000 isn't going to matter. Your ability to do well is more important right now. When you get your first paycheck, you're literally going to pay that back in your first month working." I know that his economics are slightly exaggerated, based on being a *real* doctor and not a fellow/resident, but his certainty about it as someone on the other side of student loans has been really comforting. We both came from modest, middle class families, so I know he knows what he's talking about. I don't live above my means--and I can tell from your post that you don't either--so, just keep chugging along and the money WILL come eventually. I think you're doing the right thing by taking care of your needs right now. You're right...the financial planning of med. training would probably raise a lot of eyebrows, but we do what we have to!

  3. So it's safe to say I'm being naive when I think fellowship will be easier? I knew boards would be expensive...but wow. We'll be taking written boards next summer and maybe we hadn't budgeted enough!

  4. When we started residency my husband was 31 years old. I cashed in my retirement $11,000 minus the 20/30% hit you take off the front. That amount helped us pay first months bills, the move ($6,000ish) and kept our CC debt under $50K. You think you have problems!=( It's good you don't overspend. I do. Not on anything fancy...just organic food and take out when I am too tired to cook. I would say don't worry about it but you dont strike me as the type of person who embraces debt. I am rich with debt:) Hoping to send you many lovely trees full of money. And when you find those trees, send them back to me. Still waiting on my lost inheritance...=(

    In other news...you will have plenty of money this time next year. Only problem is you will also have plenty of bills to spend that money on. Slow and steady wins the race...

  5. Thank you for all your words of comfort and encouragement. Did I mention that I will be waking up tomorrow morning and checking my account balance to see if we were paid before running directly to the post office! I will say that I am so glad that I contributed to my employers 401(K) program, and to think I almost didn't because I thought I won't be there that long. This makes the 3rd and final time it has saved my bacon. Now time to start thinking about saving money I haven't made yet. Good times.


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