2008 looked like a promising start in finishing up my debt. While my hours at work aren't what I expected (I rarely work 40 hours a week), the money takes care of my current bills as well as past debt. I also made plans to speed up the process by liquidating my Simple IRA. I know there's a serious tax liability, but between donations to my Church and the medical bills I'm paying, there should be enough of a tax credit to offset the $500ish liability.
I had the whole thing figured out - I even have it all mapped out in a wonderful Excel spreadsheet, until I got an unexpected call this morning.
"Good morning, Vito. This is xxx calling from St. Mary's Hospital. I was just calling to inquire about the bill for your recent hospitalization."
For those of you that remember, I went to the hospital in November because of a breakthrough seizure. I thought I had the total bill mapped out: $591 for the ambulance ride, $478 for the actual visit, and $21 to radiology for a single X-ray. That's just over $1000.
"Oh no, Mr. Martinez. We show a bill here of $2000."
My only response: "You gotta be &#*^ing kidding me!"
I quickly apologized, and told her how I'd received the bills already, and no where did I see a bill of that magnitude. Not to mention, my stay at the hospital lasted 4 hours - 3 of which were spent lying in a bed doing nothing but listen to the drunk guy next to me constantly calling the nurses "whores."
$2000. You gotta be &#*^ing kidding me. I could have had the same experience at a Red Roof Inn for only $45 and gotten a free Continental breakfast.
So to catch up...I could have been down to $1000 in total debt after liquidating my assets and applying my tax return to my bills. I added another $1000 onto that because of the doctor bills from my incident in November. Now, it is up to $4000 in net debt I have to pay after spending $3500 to pay off everything else. That puts the current total back up to $7500. I've asked for an itemized bill of everything I spent, and St. Mary's says they have a program which is supposed to help with some of the debt, based on my present income. Since I'm well under the middle-class tax bracket these days, I'm hoping something can be done about it. Until then, I need to figure out how much I have to pay per month to be debt free.
Is there a lesson in all this: yes.
First...get a tattoo on your forehead that says: "No ambulance rides please!"
Second...I'm beginning to understand the term "kicking and screaming" with regards to discernment. Each time I try to live this year in the way I want to, something comes up that forces me to turn back to prayer, to faith, and to letting God do His thing. Will God send me a check for $2000 with a simple message that says: "Here's looking out for ya. -G"
But each time I approach this decision about the Capuchins in a businesslike attitude rather than a religious mindset, things just don't work out. I worry about how things will get paid, I see "extra money" I can spend on stupid things, I find a reason to take my time in paying off debt. "There'll only by $1000 left to go by April. I could squeeze in a trip to Vegas before August!"
So when I hear priests talk about how "God took them, kicking and screaming, into the priesthood," I begin to understand. I want to do this my way, according to my rules, my Excel timeline, and my personally laid out budget. If I fight hard enough....
I shouldn't have to fight, and that's what I'm gonna try not to do. I'm just gonna sit with God about it, and see what He tells me to do. Probably not the best financial advice, but I think this is how I'm supposed to look at it.
On the bright side, with "Dubya" sending me that $500, 25% of the problem is done. =D