Thursday, August 16, 2007

Watching a Down Arrow

Like many people with any money in the stock market, I've been watching my investments go into freefall mode over the last couple of weeks. I am comfortable with losses since all the money I have invested is in retirement accounts, and therefore extremely long term (40+ years) but when you start seeing numbers like -11%, even with that long term outlook it takes some deep breathing and repeating of the "i don't need this money for another 40 years" mantra to not hit that sell button. What goes down must come back up eventually, right?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hello Unexpected Medical Costs

As someone that is young, well insured, and generally fairly healthy, I don't tend to give much thought to medical costs. Even if something were to go wrong, my medical insurance has no deductible and covers just about everything except a co-pay ranging from $15 for routine medical visits to $50 for hospitalizations. I thought I was pretty safe. What I didn't think about as much was my dental insurance, which at $1,500/year of coverage each for dental and orthodontics with only a $50 deductible is also very good. Saturday at the dentist's office, I heard what every parent of teenagers dreads hearing - I need all 4 wisdom teeth removed and braces! It was even more of a surprise because I had braces for 4 years when I was a teenager.
I still have no idea how much the wisdom tooth surgery will cost (though I do know some of that will come out of my pocket), but the first estimate I got for the cost of the braces was $6,500. With the $1,500 that insurance will cover, that still leaves me at a whopping $5,000 that I have to pay out of pocket (or at least out of my pre-tax flex spending account). I'm doing the frugal (and best for your health!) thing and getting more estimates, but that first one gave me a bit of a reality check. I thought braces were maybe $3,000! Then again, I haven't had them in 8 or 9 years, so what do I know?
I know it could be a lot worse. People get stuck with paying tens of thousands of dollars for surgeries all the time, so in the grand scheme of things $6,000 (if I end up spending $1000 on the wisdom teeth) isn't that bad. It will pretty much wipe out my emergency fund, but I guess this is the type of thing that I have one for to begin with.