Surprise Bill? No Problem!

After 13 long hours on my feet yesterday at work (and an hour and a half driving to and from the hospital), I entered my apartment to find my lovely fiance heating up dinner for me (such a sweetheart!) and a bill for lab work I had in May.

I didn’t know I would have a bill (typically I don’t). If my insurance doesn’t cover all of the bill, my provider at the student health office negates the difference. Since this lab work needed sent out, however, I had to pay a little bit.

My issue is not with the bill itself; it totaled a whopping $9.19. My issues is with the billing department’s timing.

The invoice, printed June 23rd, was mailed July 11th, and arrived yesterday, July 13th.

Guess when the payment was due…

That’s right, July 14th. Today.

Maybe it’s a silly thing to let get to me, but after the day I had at work, knowing I will have a hard 13+ hour day again today, and then need to flip to night shift for Saturday makes me want to ignore all life responsibilities. Unfortunately, I can’t. Technically, if I din’t pay this bill by today, I could get dinged for a late payment.

If I hadn’t gotten the bill because I decided to take a vacation this week, I would have been dinged.

If the postal service hadn’t — thankfully — picked up on the fact that I moved rather quickly and forwarded my mail asap, I would have been dinged.

Seems like a silly thing, but I have seen silly little things like this mess up a person’s financial and credit history if not caught and corrected early.

So what about when, despite the bill coming in an appropriate amount of time, you still are worried about paying it all on time?

First, take a deep breath.

Second, look at your finances. Do you have an emergency fund? This makes unexpected bills much less stressful…you pay the bill and, as you make more money and are able to save, refill the emergency fund to its original total. This doesn’t have to be done all at once, but it should be your priority over debt snowballs and buying anything other than essential bills and food.

If you don’t have an emergency fund to cover the bill, try not to stress. Most healthcare offices and hospitals (and honestly, every company I’ve receieved a bill from) will work with you to create a payment plan rather than have you be late or never pay. I have had several offices that provide extensions and others who have told me to pay $50 a month (as a minimum). This helped out immensely with my stress and finances when I unexpectantly had to pay for extra school fees or had to go the the ER.

Despite this help, I completely advocate for an emergency fund of at least 3 months’ expenses that you do not touch unless you absolutely need to. It has saved my butt more than once, and when my fiance and I buy a house, I bet it’ll saves us again and again.

 

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