Friday, May 15, 2015

How in the World do we Afford TCM?

I'll begin by saying we are both fortunate and hard-working. I well understand that there are some people for whom this is completely out of reach and this post is by no means meant to be a judgement. I decided to share our journey, warts and all, and quite honestly, the finances are a large part of it.

I will also say, that if you are looking for ground shaking, frugal ideas, you are at the wrong blog. The things we have done are pretty normal, common sense ideas. It's simply what we've done and what we are researching.

No Car Payment

Years ago, we turned in a truck in the "Cash for Clunkers" deal. From that, we had 0% financing on one SUV and a 2007 Prius we had payed for in cash. As it turned out, we made the last payment for the SUV in the spring before starting with Dr. Li in the fall.

Savings: $560 each month

We had hoped that this would cover the cost of James's treatment, but he had outstripped that by the third month.

As a small savings (total unknown), we began to let go of the idea of "my" car and "your" car. We decide who drives what car in a day based on who is going to drive the farthest. Some weeks, this actual adds up to significant amounts.

Estimated Savings: approximately $60 a month

Not Shopping

I can't really put a price on this, but we just don't go to the stores that often. We make do, make things last, or do without as much as possible. Of course, this week, when we ran out of milk (there was plenty of other food), I may have been called "oblivious" by a certain tween in the household.

Things we are investigating:

Cell Phone Plans

My Verizon plan will be up next month and I plan to switch to a low cost carrier. I have had one in the past and hated it, but am willing to learn to live with it for the savings now. Priorities change.

My first choice is Ting. Their prices are good ; my average price would be approximately $33. And I can keep my phone. I don't love my phone. I would love to upgrade, but is it worth the money?

I have requested in invitation to Google's Project Fi. It's $20 a month for talk and text (no data). Each GB of data is $10, I currently have 2 GB/month, so that would be $20, for a total or $40 a month. You also get credits for the data you don't use. I currently pay about $95. You have to use a Nexus 6, which is $700, so factoring in the cost of the phone, it would take 15 1/2 months to start seeing any savings.

It seems pretty obvious that seeing the savings right away is more important than the upgraded phone. Ting is the winner.

Projected Savings: approximately $60 a month

Cancelling Satellite

We currently pay approximately $112 a month for satellite. We live in an area where there is no cable. However, we are fortunate to have no data cap on internet through my husband's work. Because of the area we live in, it's not always the fastest. The only option (besides satellite which is not secure enough for his work) is wireless cell phone internet. Sometimes - it's - a - little - choppy. However, we are doing a free month trial with Sling TV. It is $20 a month.

My husband really likes sports, especially baseball. MLBtv is between $115 and $95 a year. The cheapest option would be to pay for audio only ($20 for the year) and watch only the games he is able to see through ESPN on Sling and that we get on the antenna. The final option is the one he is leaning towards.

Projected Savings: approximately $90 a month

Savings per month: Approximately $770,  still under the current bill (I have not gotten our most recent shipment of herbs, however James's dosage has increased. I do believe our bill will have increased significantly from the previous $800 a month reported earlier). However, for us, these savings are fairly easy to do and make the cost easier to handle (for us).

Selling Things

We have lots of ... stuff. Generally, I take things to Goodwill, but there are some things that have hung around simply because of their value, not because I want them. This summer I will be doing a clean up and getting rid of some knick knacks. They may not (won't) bring in a ton, but they also won't be taking up space anymore.

Things we haven't cut back on:

I will give this is own post, to go into more details as to the why, but the short version: food, entertainment, education, and our gardeners.

Helping Each Other

Obviously, others may make different choices or be in the fortunate position to not have to make any of these choices. Regardless, I think all of us in treatment (or not, or with struggles, food allergies or not) should support each other, whether it is through compassion and understanding or, if we can, monetarily. Which brings me to the end of my post.

Another family in treatment is raising funds for their daughter (partially) by selling t-shirts. I have one and it's a great shirt.  Here's a picture of the v-neck. There is a regular t-shirt neck as well.They are each $20.


  1. Great post! Our monthly expenses are right around the $400/mo mark and we also do not have a car payment, and save money in similar ways to what you described. We also have a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card that provides enough points to cover air travel.

    1. Thank you Selena! That's a great point. We also have a credit card that accumulates miles and it should cover our airfare this October (I hope :-) ). Thank you for sharing a balanced perspective of cost as well, as I think James is certainly on the high end, being nearly adult sized.

    2. Thank YOU for writing this blog!