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Cystic Fibrosis – the Financial Deal

Living LargeI was sitting at my desk on the Interwebs minding my own business when Jessica Link (@chronicuriosity) asked me a relevant question and made me go and think about my life some more. 😉 Good job, Jessica. She was in grad school until she got a job,  is well-motivated, has no debt, and no long-term relationship prospects for married insurance, and, of course, CF. I think that’ about covers her situation, with the question of how to budget for unexpected medical expenses, plan for retirement, and generally how I got by single. I hope this answers a lot of questions about finances while dealing with CF. If I missed something or glossed over something too much, please let me know.

Let’s dive in

Well, we can get that last one out of the way rather quickly. I was a miserable financial failure as a single. I didn’t get my act together until a few months before we got married, and even then, it took a lot of adjustment to kick my old habits and submit to the realization that the situation needed my full attention. We still owed some credit card money from my past stupidity and I still owed on my used car, but we knocked out that car within 5 months and freed up a couple of hundred a month for some breathing room.

We have learned quite a few principles along the way and, while we aren’t rolling in money, we aren’t lacking anything. The rules for finances are the same, only modified to prepare us for bigger hits. We’ve both been through a finance class that helped us budget some, but not completely. I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts (his books are excellent for all) for over a year now and have heard the principles played out enough with both the trauma of being risky or foolish and the cheers of successfully managing money. I’ve been saddened and immensely motivated by the callers and now even more motivated by watching the show “The Secret Millionaire.” I wrote about that effect on me here.

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Just As Things Go Up, They Also Go Down

ThermometerMost of you know that starting on February 1st, Beautiful started working from home with me. Things were really tight because February absolutely sucked on the income front. We had to take out of savings to pay our obligations and I was feeling like a one-income failure, mainly because January rocked so hard that I was sure we could do this on one income.


March started out okay, but just okay. Beautiful was still quite concerned about how it was going to work because it wasn’t going to just be enough to make our bills for the month, we also needed to put money back into savings. We had a $3,000 hospital bill  (for our annual out-of-pocket max) from my surgery to pay and both taxes for 2010 and our 1st quarter estimated taxes were looming. This is why a $1,000 emergency fund is laughable for us – we really need to be on top of things to not sink, and she does an absolutely fabulous job keeping us afloat. She is succeeding where I failed for many years. She is my better half.

We started getting testy with each other because we were both stressing out, and I was beginning to consider her working part-time to create a buffer just to reduce the stress, even if we didn’t need the money from here on out. I was really torn because her allergies would make most jobs so difficult, she’d be more tired because just the housework is a fair amount of labor, and all of that would be risking having the same thing: a stressed and cranky wife. It would be a method of last resort.

After our 2nd or 3rd week of having a tense lunch, we finally worked it all out. The issue for me was that she was bringing it up at almost every meal. Sometimes we were spending precious work time just endlessly discussing our situation and never doing anything to improve it. That is a big red flag to anyone who is doing it. Stop it and start looking for ways to actually make things better. Here is how we did it.

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CF Fatboy Is Mildly Depressed

DepressedI’m sorry to make this a rant/sob story of the likes of Beautiful’s today, but we’re a team, and we are in this together. What affects one of us, no matter how opposite the other is in demeanor, time wears the other either up or down until we have a celebration day or a pity party with both of us immovable until even Fatboy breaks down and cries.

When we got married, we did our budget within the first month and were not able to make the numbers match up, but we somehow made it work. We out-earned our expenses. What got us ahead were career advancements and career moves with advancements. Our expenses stayed the same until 2 major life events in the last 2 years of our almost 4 years of marriage:

  1. Buying our townhome
  2. Fatboy going self-employed

There’s some good, bad, and ugly in those two events that look like this. This is where any but of sob story ends and it’s pure facts.
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