Edited to add: The suggestions, ideas and support that people have left in the comments are amazing- I’m so proud of the community here!
Ellen left this comment on the envelope system post.
I thought it was so important that I turned it into a post of its own- I just know you guys will have good suggestions for her!
I struggle to pay all our bills which are mostly medical. The costs keep going up as we are dealing with a lifetime medical need. Right now I am paying $15 to each medical bill. Last month one hospital sent us to collections and another Dr. is threatening to with only about $33 left on that bill. Some weeks we are left with $45 for groceries and life after the mortgage, gasoline for my husband’s commute, car payment on a car that does not run; we owe about $350. more on it) and approximately $ 2,000 on a debit bill which added up several years ago while we were struggling before our larger home was sold. I ride my bike which was a gift to me, but I wonder if anyone has suggestions how to get through as I don’t see medical bills listed on the topics above. thanks for any ideas.
Well, the first thing that I would say, is that the beauty of the envelope system is that you can add or subtract envelopes as needed, so it’s really very flexible.
You’ve probably tried as hard as you can to cut all your expenses, but, if you’re not already doing so, keeping track of what you’re spending will help see where your money really is going. I find that a kind of ‘audit’ where I write down every thing that I spend to the penny, shows me if there are any leaks in my wallet… and there usually are a few!
Another suggestion I would have is to try to increase your income. I know it’s not easy to find extra jobs- I’m kind of sick of personal finance experts telling people to set up their own lawn-mowing business, and so on. But on the other hand, you could try to think of ways of earning income that don’t necessarily involve doing more work. For example, could you rent a room in your house to a student, or swap a friend’s garden produce for time spent weeding?
Finally, I know that a lot of people are opposed to charity, but I think that such systems exist for when people need them. Afterward, when you’re on the other side, you can help others, but it seems like right now you need help the most. So, is there a program you can lean on- maybe at your church, or a local food bank? You didn’t say where you live, but I think that many states offer medical bill relief plans.
Readers- any other suggestions for Ellen?