Paying off debt is hard enough when everything is going well. It’s even harder when you come face to face with financial setbacks. I’ve recently experienced two setbacks that are delaying my debt reduction.
The first happened in November when my son was born. The birth was complication free, but the hospital bills were still high. Before we had left, the hospital offered to settle our bill for $3,584.00. I asked them if that was the best they could do. They said yes, it was the best they could do. In fact, for the first day alone, our bills were over $13,000. I’m not even sure what the second day cost.
Obviously, I enthusiastically agreed to pay the much smaller bill of thirty-five hundred bucks. Fortunately, I had the cash to pay the bill. But it was money that could have otherwise paid down my debt.
Now I’m getting more bills. There are a few smaller bills: a hundred bucks here, a hundred bucks there. Then there’s a $2,000 bill for my wife’s epidural. I may be able to get that bill reduced, but I’m not sure. So far, I’ve been avoiding the bills since I don’t really have the extra money to pay for them in full. I will probably have to make payments on at least the one large bill.
The way I’ve figured it, the pregnancy and delivery will have cost us about $8,000 when all is said and done. I guess that’s not too bad for paying out of pocket. Still seems like a lot of money though.
The hospital bills are one thing; tax bills are another. I just went to my CPA yesterday and discovered I owe about $10,167 to various government agencies. Worse, the taxes are due by January 15.
It is my fault for not planning better. It is something I need to correct this year. But the fact is, it is very difficult to plan when your income goes up and down every month. That’s one down-side of being self-employed.
On a positive note, I was in a similar situation last year. God provided just enough money to cover my tax bill. I had $16 left and didn’t have to go into debt to pay my taxes (praise God!). Right now, I’m trusting God to provide again.
I am reminded of the story about Jesus in Matthew 17. He tells Peter to go to the lake and throw out his line. In verse 27, Jesus says, “Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”
This passage gives me comfort when I think about the money I owe the government. I believe God will help me pay my taxes. And if I am able to meet my deadline, it will be to God’s glory, just as it was to His glory that I was able to pay my taxes on time last year.
Financial setbacks are bound to happen. They won’t be fun, but you may learn some important lessons along the way. For instance: faith, perseverance, and contentment. Learn to deal with financial setbacks appropriately, and they may become times that you look back on and treasure for how much you grew as a person.