Giving It to You Straight:
Three Ways to Help Weather a Financial Storm (#2, I learned the hard way!)
Flashback with me to 2009: I’m typing this from room 3129 at Emory Hospital. My mother is hanging out beside me on a couch, and we’re watching the local news report on #ATLTraffic. It’s 8:09 am and I’m dreading the next blood thinner shot that will come my way in about an hour. I’ve been shot more times (blood thinner!) in the past 5 days than Tupac, Biggie and 50 Cent combined.
My doctor told me that I must be holding onto a rabbit’s foot. He indicated that he hadn’t seen another person my age with a perforated diverticulum. That’s a fancy way of saying that I have a microscopic hole in my colon. It’s really dangerous, as I am at risk for toxins slipping into my bloodstream. Your initial reaction is to ask how did this happen? The answer may never be known.
I’m 27; just 10 days shy of my 28th birthday. I eat right, exercise and am conscious of what I put in my body (though I enjoy a late night trip to the Waffle House every now and then!)
Despite spending five days in the hospital, I’m in good spirits. I’ve vowed to make sick sexy, which is more of a declaration of staying positive and managing this health issue instead of letting it manage me. I can’t lie, staying positive isn’t easy all hours of the day. But I believe and know my body is no exception and that God will heal me. God isn’t confined to some imaginary thing in the sky. God is my mother’s love and support; my friends/family visits/phone calls/texts, flowers, walking around outside, sunshine, the intelligence of my doctors, and the diligence of my nurses. He is the power behind the action.
Fast Forward back to 2018 with me! That was a pivotal experience in my life for many reasons. It was my rock bottom and I’ve rebounded and taken some powerful lessons and a major lesson was about my finances. Fortunately, this medical situation did not bankrupt me. However, according to NerdWallet, and healthcare costs are the #1 reason why Americans file bankruptcy.
Here are three tips that helped me weather this financial storm:
- Save for a rainy day. Each pay period I was intentional about adding to my savings account. In fact, to make sure that I was not tempted to spend on “fun” stuff, I set up a separate account at a different bank. Each pay period, I had a set amount automatically transferred to this account. This was different than my 401(k) – it truly was for something unexpected. By living below my means, I was able to ensure that I could set aside a part of my income for unplanned situations, like a hospital scare 2 weeks before my birthday!
- Know Your Insurance Plan. At age 27, I felt invincible. To face a life-threatening unexplained illness so young, I simply wasn’t prepared emotionally. But I was prepared through insurance. The hospital bill before insurance was nearly $50,000. My rainy day fund definitely wasn’t that big, but the insurance covered a significant portion. Even if you feel invincible, double check your insurance plan and make sure that you know your coverage and the process to submit claims. You want to be prepared BEFORE a health scare happens!
- Prioritize Paying Off Credit Card Debt. I paid the uninsured portion of the medical bill with a credit card. It was more credit card debt than I had ever had at one point and it made me very uncomfortable to carry such a large balance. But I was determined to pay it down! I used some (not all) of my savings to immediately cut the debt in half. Then I diligently worked towards paying the outstanding balance down. That meant skipping out on fun vacations, eating out as much with friends and buying those CUTE shoes. I was willing to sacrifice short-term fun for long-term financial freedom.
I hope these tips help you to think through how to weather the storm through a significant unplanned financial situation. Everybody’s circumstances are different, yet we can all take steps to be prepared. I encourage you to apply for a credit card by clicking HERE with Citizens Trust Bank or creating a Savings Account by clicking HERE to build a nest for the rainy day!
About Adrienne W.
As the Citizens Trust Bank Strategy and Business Development Executive, Adrienne oversees the bank’s external strategy and business development efforts. In January 2018, she joined Citizens Trust Bank with a wealth of experience in strengthening and aligning financial and administrative functions with missions of community empowerment. Her primary passions in the community are health & wellness, women’s empowerment, and education.