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This year was the year of many new beginnings. Because our insurance company left the region, we were forced to sign up with the only available insurance company. This plan offers us a higher deductible, higher premiums, and many more bills. Because it didn’t meet Essential Benefits (and wasn’t required to), many doctors and medications aren’t covered.
We already had one large medical bill on a payment plan, and now we have just added another. After two appeals, our insurance has also denied covering my life-saving Epi-Pen and even the generic version. We are forced to pay for this ourselves, at a price of $180 for the generic prescription. Thankfully, I don’t have to use the Epi-Pen often, but I have to keep 2 with me at all times. It means life or death to keep this medication with me. With many more doctor visits and tests on the horizon, I dread the bills! Since we’ve taken a new look at our finances, we’ve realized that we have to come up with more money. The best way to start this process is to cut our budget drastically. Here are the ways that we’re cutting spending at our house. I hope these ideas might help you if you also have trouble paying your medical bills.
- Cable downgraded – Our cable/internet bill was huge and always growing. Even though we often called to negotiate a better deal, we loved our tv package. Now, we have cut the cable tv out, altogether! This caused the cable company to sell us internet at a non-bundle price, which was sky-high. Because it’s the only cable in our area, we had to accept the high price. At least we are now saving $80 each month.
- We found DirectTVNow through Swagbucks. I signed up for a 7-day free trial and got 1500 Swagbucks (which will give me a $15 Amazon Gift Card). The cheapest deal is a $35 monthly charge with no contract. We now have 60 channels. This is a direct streaming deal that connects to our tv through an Amazon Fire Stick. So, we get the 60 channels and lots of movies and shows through Amazon Prime.
- Re-committed to no longer eating out – We’ve made this decision before, but the last time we failed at it, we still had an income. Being retired forces us to really stick to this change. It has been super-hard traveling and avoiding the take-out food when I’m feeling my worst. But, hubby promised to help me cook. Using easy recipes and the crock-pot are my best bet for cooking with chronic illness.
- Drop the Gym Membership – Though we both really need to exercise, we can’t afford a gym membership. We have a machine called “Health Rider” to use at home and walking is free. Now, we just have to do it!
- Sell stuff – We have lots of stuff that we don’t need, so we’re going to try and sell it. We have a large collection of books, cds, and albums that can be sold. The ways I plan to use for selling include: Ebay, Craigslist, LetGo, and maybe a flea market.
- Shopping Apps – There are so many apps that can help you to save. Here are the ones I’ve used for awhile, that I want to focus on: Ibotta, Shopkick, Drop, and Paribus. These apps allow you to collect cash back, earn gift cards, and more. AARP has a rewards program and fitness link that works with my fitbit (that I got for free from my insurance).
- Shopping programs that help me save: Ebates is still my favorite, because I love the cash back checks that I earn simply by shopping online. There are also some local stores that work with Ebates, too. Swagbucks is great for earning free gift cards. I use the chrome extension and receive many daily links to get free points. There are many ways to earn rewards through Swagbucks. Groupon can also be combined with Ebates and Swagbucks to get super deals! Kohls has helped me get great sale prices and also earn Kohls cash, which is free for shopping.
- Cancel Netflix – I know this is a cheap deal to watch tv, but with our new DirectTVNow plan we don’t need it anymore.
- Cell Phone – We already have the cheapest cell-phone plans that I can find: Republic Wireless. We lowered our bill by $15 monthly by downgrading my phone plan to no longer include data. Now, the three of us have phones for $60.
- Buying used – We shop at Goodwill and other thrift stores. I consistently find like-new clothes there and it’s so cheap! Buying used saves so much: cars, clothes, housewares, books, sporting equipment, and more.
- Other ways to save: downsize the home, use one car, coupons, buy in bulk, generics, turn up temperature on the air conditioner, and do without.
None of these things will work if we don’t do them. Good intentions have often been my downfall. I’m trying a new way to hold myself accountable. I put all of these ideas into a notebook and need to check through the list weekly to make sure I don’t miss anything.
It’s been so much harder to save money since I became chronically ill. I don’t feel like shopping, cooking, or selling things when my body is fatigued, nauseated, and dizzy. It’s much easier to watch cable tv and order food, but that’s so expensive. We now need to concentrate on doing all these things so that we can pay my medical bills.
It can make me feel guilty that my health care costs my family so much money and creates the need for these changes. But, hubby reminds me that it’s not my fault and he’s not resentful. We have to live the life we have. My aim is to be content with these changes and enjoy the beauty in everyday blessings.
Being thankful to have my family and enjoy the simple things in life is important. Being able to work to lower our expenses helps me to feel productive. I enjoy the challenge to see how much we can improve our ability to pay these medical bills. God has always blessed our efforts and lives. We can trust Him to bless us in our future.
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good. Psalm 107:9
@2018, copyright Lisa Ehrman