I’m struggling — truly struggling. This year has been beyond hard. I honestly never thought this time last year that I would be in this predicament. Things were good, I had a great job, and I was working on our fixing up our dream retirement home. We had great vacations every year. Yes, the home remodel wasn’t quite on track, but we were making progress. But then, my world fell apart. I had a case with a bad outcome, and that changed it all. I was blamed and let go from a job I loved and a job I thought I would be at until I retired. I am not here to determine whether I was right or wrong — that demon still lives, but I have had to make peace with the fact that the outcome is now something that I have to deal with. I have to move forward and quit beating myself up with what could have, should have, would have happened if things had been dealt with differently.
Thankfully, I had a part-time gig and thought I had enough money to get by until a full-time opportunity arose. I was wrong. Unfortunately, we depleted our savings within a few months. In addition, it took several months to gain a full-time schedule and even longer to get paid for that work. My new employer paid out two months later for work was done two months prior. So for example, for my August hours, I was finally paid in October. The cost of relocating was another unforeseen expense, and it all led to a financial disaster.
You go through your life paying bills and accumulating things, just working and making a living. Material possessions that are purchased to make your life easier and more fulfilling are acquired easily, especially with an MD behind your name. Each of my kids had their own vehicle, my husband had his, and I had mine. I leased my car, as I wrote it off as an expense for work. When I fell behind on our bills, it was the first one repossessed. I cried and was truly embarrassed as it happened when my parents were visiting. I had a spare that my daughter used, and I thought we were going to be good.
I had made it to October and finally was paid for full-time work and had even accumulated some extra hours. I tried to catch up on the mortgages first (yes, more than one). It’s the burden of being a first-generation college student and the first doctor in the family — a financial syndrome well known to many, including young professional athletes. You carry forward so many people that you are also responsible for, and it’s often why the first generation has difficulty maintaining wealth. I was on track to recover, at least I thought so. And after this difficult period, I truly thought there was a light at the end of the tunnel — but it was just another freaking freight train.
My credit score took an enormous hit from being in the 700s to now dropping to the 5-600s depending on the reporting credit bureau. But what floored me was what happened on the impromptu drive home to pick up my pink Danskos. It is October and breast cancer awareness month. So after dayshift at work, I drove home, a two-hour drive, to pick up the mail (just more bills and late notices) and to spend an evening with my husband. We had not seen each other in a few weeks, a problem we’ve had to endure since my change in job locations. We had a quick dinner, went to a movie and returned home around midnight. I thought things were good with our car lender, but I had been in the habit of removing my bags and badge and brought them inside the house just in case. I knew that I was going to have to get up early to return to work two-hours away. I went to bed quickly. After a few hours of sleep, I showered, pulled on a pink top, my scrub bottoms and slid my pink Danskos on and walked outside only to find my car gone. No one stole it. It was just another freaking repossession. What the hell — I just paid them. As matter of fact, I paid a few months payments all combined in one check. I knew the check cleared; I had looked at our online bank statement that morning. Late fees and one extra payment make a big difference, I guess, it’s all I can figure. What happened was one additional payment was missed, and it is why they still repossessed the car. In the grand scheme of things, I realize that it is just a car, just a material possession, and that it is just a number (my credit score), but I felt like a failure. I sulked all the way back to work and cried all the next day but survived the weekend — after eating a tubful of ice cream. I have since put my big girl panties on, and I will rock my pink Danskos all month.
I believe we are or will be back on track shortly. The mortgages were saved, and I am sure the cars will be replaced eventually. My interest rate may be higher, the car might not be new, but my family and I are truly blessed. There is love at home, and we actually like spending time with each other. We did not have a vacation this year, and many things we wanted were placed on hold — but my husband received another clean bill of health from his oncologist, and that’s the only bill that truly matters.
The author is an anonymous physician.
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