How to Cinch a Belt After a Huge Debt

We pay our own way. We always have. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

When we took Nana in to our regular vet, she felt Nana needed more complex surgery than she could offer and referred us to a specialist. She estimated what we thought was a large sum of money, twice as much as what we had paid for chemo for Nacho and Isis. It had been many years since we’ve had to deal with major veterinary bills, and the price of things do go up.

Imagine our surprise when the final bill was double the estimate.

It’s cinch time.

When Greg and I walked into the veterinary clinic, he said you could smell the money. Ha! He was so right. The building was immense, the parking lot had an inordinate amount of high dollar sports cars, and there were free snacks and expensive coffee in the waiting room. That couldn’t be a good sign. 🙂

On the other hand, it’s one of the most respected facilities in the area. There were several specialists for different disciplines from orthopedics to oncology. I chose a vet who not only taught surgical procedure but specialized in orthopedics. He was thorough and answered all our questions without hesitation. I liked that. I can be kind of pushy determined when it comes to my pets’ health. I like to know all my options and the risks.

He gave Nana an 85% chance of recovery. A lot will depend on how well we handle the next four months of Nana at the vet hospitalrehabilitation. My hope is that this surgery will give her a better quality of life. She’s only four, so she’s got a lot of years left in her.

For this reason, we gasped, but we didn’t balk at the final sum.

For us, this means some of our plans will have to be put on hold. Every year, we usually have one big dollar item to invest on us, home, or homestead. This year it was supposed to be fencing our acreage. Next year was earmarked for Greg’s boat. Right now, both are up in the air. The boat isn’t necessary, but the fence has long been a need that we’ve put off because of the high cost. We finally had all our ducks in a row when Nana got hurt.

What are you gonna do? We can’t let her suffer. Both of us know first hand how painful bad knees can be.

We have a second car and a sporty ATV we can sell, so that will be our first method for solvency. Hopefully, with them gone, we can pay off our bills without going into debt.

I plan to advertise Book Cover Diva more too and maybe start writing again. I don’t want to get too busy right away because Nana’s rehab is going to take a lot of time. I hope to get a call today saying we can pick her up.

What’s your go-to method for making payments when you’re hit with a major bill? An extra job? Freelancing? Or selling your stuff?

I feel like a wrung-out towel today. All day yesterday we waited by the phone for updates keeping us in knots. She was in surgery a long time, but the vet felt it went very well. The rest now is up to us.

PS  Thank you all for all the wonderful support you’ve given us on Facebook, calls, and texts. I’ll feel better once we get our puppy home. I know she’s terrified being in a strange place. Her mommy wasn’t doing too much better. 🙂



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    • Madeline: I’m a little worried about the rehab. I’ll know more when they give us the details but from the research I’ve done, it’s pretty intensive. They sawed the bone and reshifted it. That means we have to make sure she doesn’t put any weight on that foot until the bone fuses again.

  1. Maria, I feel you and Greg’s pain about the financial end of things but am on board with the decision you both made to do the best possible thing for Nana. Hopefully her recovery will go well and everything will work out fairly smoothly on the money end too. Prayers and positive thoughts on both counts!

    RE: “What’s your go-to method for making payments when you’re hit with a major bill? An extra job? Freelancing? Or selling your stuff?”

    Our go to method has always been to save back any tax refunds or work bonuses for rainy day funds if we can do so. Irony is this year we are using some of those “rainy day funds” to repair rain damage from Hurricane Harvey left us with on our property. Selling things has also helped as well with smaller financial needs but at this point we have nothing to sell anymore.

    • Jackie: Saving tax refunds and bonuses is a good idea. That’s what I always did but Greg didn’t always agree. I don’t like having debt over my head. Not one dollar.

      re: selling stuff
      All your stuff was lost in the big fire so that’s quite understandable.

  2. When we were In Colorado our finances got tough. I couldn’t find a job etc. To make ends meet we sold my hubs’ knife collection on eBay, bit by bit as needed. You do what you gotta do. *Virtual treats and belly rubs for Nana*

    • Ronda: Funny you should say that. My sister contacted me the other day. She wanted me to illustrate a children’s book about a dog with a disability. Children’s books aren’t really up my alley, but it piqued my interest.

  3. Stacy McKitrick

    We’re lucky in that we have a good amount in savings and stocks to fall back on if it ever came to that. Hopefully it never will. But Hubby is like you: hates debt. The only loans we have right now are both interest free (we’ll gladly use their money instead of ours).

    I hope you get to hug your Nana real soon and are able to take her home.

    • Stacy: Greg had mentioned to the vet he wished he was still working, then it wouldn’t be an issue at all. When you’re retired you live entirely on what you’ve saved. It wouldn’t be so bad, but none of us knows how long we’ll live either. It’s a little like playing roulette. 🙂

    • Marlene: She’s home now, but boy is it hard to do even the simplest things with her. She’s a big dog and it takes all my strength to hold up her rear end with the sling she has to wear when walking. I anticipate some strong biceps when this is over. 🙂

  4. Oh I hope Nana is home safe and wound with you guys so very soon and that her recovery and rehab goes well. I always said one should consider being a vet or a plumber. They usually get their money pretty much upfront; rarely any payment plans unless you take out a loan, etc. I remember when we had our dog that he wouldn’t be released to us until the bill was paid.

    When we need to tighten our belt, albeit for not such a big expense (we funded our dog’s chemo through savings and never repleted it due to circumstances) we cut out going to eat on Fridays. We usually bring something fast food home and enjoy a bottle of wine at eight dollars compared to 30 dollars out and about. A few months of that and we have built back a reserve.


  5. Having gone through a divorce, two relocations (one away from Texas then one back to Texas), and several local moves due to some innate need to “start anew” every couple of years, then the financial bombshell that gave way to the slump of 2015 through most of 2017, I can understand the pains of dealing with unexpected financial difficulties.

    Usually, I’m beating the streets to take on a second job. That tends to help in the short run. But my body isn’t as young as it used to be and trying to work 2 jobs, write, and be a mom takes it toll.

    I pray all goes well with Nana’s recovery. She’s a wonderful girl and I want you all to have years of joy together with her 🙂

    • Angela: The nice thing about having been married 42 years is that we’ve accumulated enough stuff to sell and we’d never miss it.

      Working two jobs is tremendously exhausting. My dad did that all his life. I guarantee you, it shortened his life.

  6. I hope all goes well, Maria, and that in two years time Nana is bouncing healthy and the present financial pain is but a memory. We have savings, but since Bernadette has joined me in retirement we have no second income. The plan is to siphon a section of our monthly pensions into a saving scheme designed to meet household emergencies eg repairs and replacements. On a static income it makes no sense to get into debt. On another point, I’m still pondering on your book title. I woke up in the night with what I thought was brilliant idea and promptly forgot it in the morning. 🙂

    • Mike: When we retired, we built up a cushion for emergencies. Just didn’t think I’d have to use it so soon.

      I’m not worried, just agitated at what hospitals charge for a bandage and a swab of Betadine. It’s bad enough they charge this much for humans, but for pets (most of which do not have insurance) it’s unconscionable.

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