**Don't forget to "like" our facebook page, for more updates, pics.
I've been debating on writing about this for a while. Most people don't discuss their finances, on any level, anywhere. It's one of those taboo subjects, but everyone always wonders about how everyone else is doing financially, right? Don't get me wrong, I'm just like everyone else too and keep this stuff close to vest , but I also like be somewhat transparent in our situation, well, maybe more like translucent.
Anyways, if I were on the outside, and my daughter wasn't the one with a malignant brain tumor, I would wonder how the family would be doing financially. Do the health care costs bankrupt them? Does insurance cover everything? What extra costs do they incur? How expensive is this stuff? Maybe you wonder, maybe you don't, but I thought I'd shed a bit of light here.
Even on the FB support group for parents of children with medulloblastoma, there is little mention of finances, mostly just about treatments, emotions, progress, recurrence, etc, which is more important than money. In the back of my mind, I wonder how everyone else deals with the financial part of all this. Do they have regular fundraisers? Does their insurance cover like ours?
First, many of you have been so very generous to us, whether it was a direct checks to us, donations or meals via mealtrain, sending gifts, amazon/costco/target gift cards, etc. It has been extremely humbling for us to receive and please know that is has been very helpful. Thank you.
So you know how when you elect benefits for the following year, and you try to predict how much you'll use of your medical benefits next year? Maybe you're thinking of having a baby, or a non-urgent procedure that you can plan for, or something else? You wonder how much to put in your flex spending, b/c you have to use it or lose it! HSAs, you don't lose it per se, but you don't want to put too much aside either. Yes, well for us, we don't really have to plan or wonder about that anymore. We elect the max in HSA or flex spending, b/c we will use it all. As you might expect, we hit our deductible very quickly, and our out-of-pocket max is not far behind, usually all within the first month of the benefit year.
Specifically, family out-of-pocket max of $6,000 for 2012 was hit very quickly last Dec, as you can imagine, with 18 days in-patient at the hospital. The counter reset on Jan 1, and with daily visits for proton radiation, 2013's $6,000 came within that first month as well. That's $12,000 that we had to pay in a relatively short time period. Fortunately with the gifts, donations, and family help, it was not as overwhelming as one would have thought.
The middle of the year brought some unexpected windfall in the form of a higher-than-expected bonus from work, and a new job that brought a higher income. Along with that new job, our benefits did reset, but with some careful planning, it has not been an issue. The new job also brought a slightly lower out-of-pocket max, with a different nuance of individual family members having their own out-of-pocket max ($1800/each), and only being able to contribute partially to a higher family out-of-pocket max ($3600). Soph did her part for sure, now it's Jeannie and baby brother's turn (on his way, yikes!)
Ongoing, we've incurred a few extra costs. We go downtown a lot more these days, so our gas usage has increased, along with parking costs, eating out, etc. We probably end up spoiling Soph a bit more ($20 Disney on Ice spinning toy?!?!?!), but how can you say no to a 5-yr old girl who's been through all of this in the past 10 months?
All that to say, we are doing ok, financially. We'll see what happens with baby brother coming, but he (hopefully) won't cost us too much. Boys are cheaper than girls, right? We budget via mint.com, but are not super-stringent. I do still take pride in my money-saving ways, clip Target coupons (store, manufacturer, cartwheel!, etc), use/buy/resell gift cards, resell our junk on ebay/craigslist, maximize cashback, take advantage of some credit card arbitrage (not like the good 'ole days, though)
The last thing I'd like to leave you with...for now, we don't need extra donations, but if you feel compelled to give, have a few bucks to spare, or are looking for a reputable place to reduce your taxable income, here are 2 places that we really believe in. There are a gazillion organizations out there that solicit your $$ for good causes, some probably more effective than others, and I have no idea which one is the best/most effective. But these 2 have impacted our life directly, so please consider giving here, if you do give.
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital - we have mixed emotions with this place (b/c this is the site of some of our darkest days), but bordering/shifting to the better mix, since the people here care for our Sophie. Plus Bob Lurie is a Michigan grad. Wherever you go, Go Blue! Besides money, they take toy & gift donations, so get creative!
- Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children's - cannot say enough about this place. When we were here for 18 days last Dec, RM House was our home. A warm shower, hot meal, the ability to be together as a family, and timely hospitality were given to us in our lowest moments, and we are indebted to this place for that. Don't just click to send $$, but organize a group from church, work, neighborhood to sign up to provide a meal. Prep, cook, clean, and meet some of the families who could use encouragement, a hug, or just a good meal, outside of hospital food.