I post a lot of poverty-related articles on Facebook, and there have been several that have talked about the mental burden of being poor. There are all of these calculations to make, and it wears you down. There are two stories I want to tell about that.
I referred to one of the stories before, but not the relevant part. You may remember a post from a few years ago about my various attempts to get on Jeopardy, and how I missed one tryout due to getting ill and ending up in the emergency room. I did not write about how I ended up there. It is embarrassing, but this post is embarrassing.
I am diabetic. Back when I was unemployed, keeping all of my medications paid for was hard, and at about the same time that I lost my health insurance my endocrinologist moved to New York, so I was back to my medical care going through the drop-in clinic.
They had some good doctors that I liked, and some horrible ones, but as we get close to this event I'd had a really horrible one. Her bedside manner was bad in general, but I was also behind on my diabetic eye exam (ophthalmologists are expensive out of pocket) and she berated me for that and indicated I had better have that done before I went in again. That mattered because it was getting close to the time when the doctor needed to approve extending the regular prescriptions.
I ran out of my medications, and I was trying to stall until I could make something happen, seeing if I could maybe get in at another doctor or something. I think that was when I found out how useless a lot of programs that are supposed to be helpful are. Anyway, it was lack of medication that sent me into the emergency room. The lack of $275 for an eye exam led to a $1200 emergency room bill, basically.
Fortunately, the ER doc renewed all my prescriptions, and it got me through a little longer.
The funny thing about that is almost immediately after it occurred to me to just call the drop-in clinic before going in and see who was on duty. I never had to see that doctor again, but when I was worrying so much about the eye exam I couldn't figure that out.
That's been a few years now, but I am still susceptible.
Things have gone from being tight financially to being really out of balance lately. I'm going to write about how that happened tomorrow, but for today, let me tell you something that just happened.
I had a bill that was due before the payday where I could pay it. This was stressful, but I thought I could at least schedule the payment through the web site as a show of good faith. The calls started coming after the deadline anyway, so there wasn't as much value in that plan as I'd hoped, but it actually became harmful.
The deposit came in, and because that payment was already schedules I looked for it to be withdrawn. It wasn't. I thought it might take 24 hours. My paychecks come in on Fridays, so there is always a weekend there, but Monday it still hadn't gone through, and I started panicking about it. The web site did not show any scheduled payments, and I was worried, and so I just set up a payment right then.
Well, a day or two after that the previously scheduled payment hit my account. There was no longer enough money to cover it, so that led to a $30 overdraft fee. I hadn't been expecting that. A $20 check I mailed for something else hit, and then there wasn't enough money for that, leading to my second $30 overdraft fee. I could have found better uses for that $60.
Once that had happened it occurred to me that what I should have done is called and asked about the scheduled payment. Do you see that? When will it be withdrawn? That would have been smart. I am usually smart, but when you put financial stress and worry and all of the associated guilt and shame together, it gets harder. It being harder then makes those types of circumstances come up more.