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July 19, 2023 at 4:36 pm #85687Megan
I graduated PA school August 2020 and therefore have not had to make any payments during the payment interest pause. I have been able to save up enough over the past three years in a HYSA to pay my loans off in full when the payment/interest pause ends next month ($140,000).
In May my 2005 Hyundai Elantra with 200k miles finally bit the dust and I had to buy a new car. I got a Honda HRV and financed it since rates were low ($25,000 at 3.9%) and I couldn’t hit my two other big financial goals (paying off student loans that range 6% – 7.6% and maxing out retirement accounts) this year while buying a new car outright.
My plan had been to pay off the student loans next month, max out retirement accounts, and just let the car loan ride for 48 months.
But in June I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and it’s thrown off my plans, as cancer does I suppose. I live in New Mexico where medical care is not great and the access to specialists is very limited (keep this in mind if you consider moving here for the LCOL). The real kicker is that I’m a medical provider with the largest hospital system in the state and the employee provided health insurance is substantially worse than the other plans provided to the community. My insurance will not pay for me to see a high volume surgeon and seeing a general surgeon that only does a handful of thyroid surgeries per year just won’t cut it (I work in surgery and I know a highly skilled surgeon that can provide the most thorough surgery is the best way to prevent need for radiation and prevent recurrence of disease). In order to see this kind of specialist I’m going to have to leave my job, move back to AZ, and get a new job with insurance that has a larger network.
So here’s what I’m considering: Hold onto $25,000 of my student loans at 6% (5.75% with autopay), pay off the rest of my student loans, pay off my car, and still max out retirement accounts for the year (I’m late to the game for saving for retirement thanks to PA school).
- In a worst case scenario, cancer treatment does qualify for deferment of federal student loans. No option like this on a car loan.
- A new job may offer some form of student loan repayment. No job is going to offer to pay off my car loan.
- I do qualify for $20,000 of forgiveness from the Biden administration, so if this comes to fruition I could have a big amount forgiven (I am not banking on this and this isn’t a discussion about politics).
Is there anything else I should take into consideration or anything people feel like I’m forgetting? The prognosis for my type of cancer is great, so still saving for retirement isn’t futile lol. (And just a quick note – there are different types of thyroid cancer and while I have the “best” cancer, there are some with a life expectancy of <6 months, so please don’t congratulate anyone with thyroid cancer on having a “good” cancer – there’s no such thing as “good” cancer).July 19, 2023 at 4:37 pm #85688Ann
For the amount of money it is going to take you to move and all that goes with it, why not pay the top surgeon out of pocket?
I live in AZ and work for a huge medical group and much of my cancer treatment was still out of pocket because the type of cancer I have is not ‘main stream’, no matter how many letters my oncologist sent to insurance.July 19, 2023 at 4:37 pm #85689Sayee
Hold on to your cash and defer as much as you can.July 19, 2023 at 4:38 pm #85690Juliett
Your care comes first.
I would hold off on the student loans outside of a smidge above the minimums for now.
Get your surgery. Then reassess.
Having cash on hand is what give you the power to get whatever care you need.
You’re doing all the right things. You do not have to max retirement this year. You do not have to pay off the student loans this year.
I’m generally anti debt, max retirement accounts, pretend you don’t have it and save save save. But in your case, you need resources and security.
I’m wishing you all the best and so much love in fighting this beast.July 19, 2023 at 4:38 pm #85691Megan
Hang on to your cash, defer what you can and let the car loan ride for such low interest.July 19, 2023 at 4:38 pm #85692Sarah
I’d do whatever makes your life simpler for the next few months. Including using a significant amount of your saved cash to pay for medical care and associated costs.
You’ll have the ability to save that money back up in the future… the current value of that money should be to ease your stress and carry you through this time.July 19, 2023 at 4:39 pm #85693Gail
Keep as much liquidity as possible until your situation is more settled. There are too many unknowns right now, and your interest rates are reasonable.
More importantly, I wish you the best of luck in your treatment and recovery.July 19, 2023 at 4:39 pm #85694Cari
Hey, survivor here. I ended up at Sloan Kettering (local yokels misdiagnosed me).
But here’s what I discovered: major cancer centers do not give a shit about your insurance rules. They’ve got entire buildings full of people to fight for appropriate coverage.
So, my advice. Either the high volume doctor fights for you (basically says to your insurance company…this is what she needs) – or you head to your nearest cancer center. And they handle it.