General chatter - Fix my car or buy contacts - a weight loss reward




KatieC87
08-14-2011, 11:48 PM
I need some advice, y'all!

I told myself when I first embraced this lifestyle change that when I made it into the 160s, I would make an appointment to be fitted for contacts as a reward. I don't know when I last weighed under 170 pounds. (I was at 172 at 17 years old.) So this was a big accomplishment for me.

Unfortunately, I didn't expect the fitting and the contacts to be as expensive as they were. The fitting was $119.50 (with insurance!), and the contacts are going to cost about $240. I'm a full-time student working a full-time job as an administrative assistant, but I'm also working on paying off my student loans by May 2012. (You'd have to know me to understand how big a deal this debt goal is for me, but to make a long story short, I've been fixated on being frugal and paying off student loans since Feb. 2010. I really want this to happen on schedule.)

So... I'm hesitant to buy the contacts because it will set back my debt payoff a little bit. But I really want to reward myself, and after only three days with the trial contacts, I know they would improve my life. (It's SO MUCH easier to work out without glasses on!!!)

Okay, here's where the car accident comes in. A guy backed into the front of my vehicle last week when I went to the gym. His F-150 hitch left a nice dent in my front bumper and bent a piece of my grill. (Photos attached.) The car is still in drivable condition.

Because the contact fitting was more than I expected and I paid tuition this month, I have $134 in the bank to last to Sept. 11 when I get paid again. This wouldn't be as much of a problem, but I have a trip planned with a girlfriend next weekend to visit Cedar Point. There's no backing out now as we've already paid for the tickets and hotel room. So, in addition to paying for my food and gas at home until Sept. 11, that $134 also has to pay for food for me on our trip and 50% of the gas for the 8.5 hour trip there and back.

I got an estimate for the damage today. It'll be $1,207 to fix.

So here's my question. (And bless you if you made it this far!) Would it be reasonable to use the cash from the car repair to help pay expenses between now and September and pay for my contacts? I'm trying to be practical about this decision. My car was bought used in 2009, and it's a 2005 Dodge Stratus. I love my car, but I'm not a "car person" really. (i.e. I don't plan to ever buy a new car, and I plan to drive my car until it dies. I see vehicles as something to get you from point A to point B and nothing more.) I'm really leaning toward postponing getting it fixed. (I could still fix it with my own money once I pay off my student loans next year.) But I'm afraid I'm overlooking something or just being plain silly. What do you think?


Katers88
08-15-2011, 12:04 AM
I don't think the damage to your bumper is THAT bad!! I was expecting something a lot worse :) So that's a relief! If it were my car, I could go without repairing that, at least for now! Especially if you don't really care too much for cars - if your car is just transportation to you, and nothing much else :) I would go for the contacts! Or, you could hold off on your contacts until September, so you have a comfortable bank account for the contact expense!

Have tons of fun at Cedar Point!!

ERHR
08-15-2011, 12:51 AM
I would hold off on the contacts no matter what you decide about the bumper. Do you have an emergency fund? You're skating on very thin ice for the next month... Best of luck.


PacSunMama
08-15-2011, 01:41 AM
I'd go without repairing it too! Also for me to get contacts, my insurance covers the glasses prescription but not contacts. At lens crafted, it has always been $80 for the contact exam. I use focus dailies, and don't use them every single day. It's nice to have the option and you always have a clean set of contacts to use!! I had such bad allergies and cant use the regular disposables. Anyway, the focus dailies are $45/box at the store and less at 1-800-contacts! You should look for a great price before you commit.

But definitely go for the contacts. Don't tell the guy that tomorrow though. Get a valid estimate to repair the bumper and insist he pay you that value. And don't feel bad- he did hit you and by settling without insurance you're saving him money.

PacSunMama
08-15-2011, 01:42 AM
Lens Crafters* not crafted!

KatieC87
08-15-2011, 10:40 AM
I would hold off on the contacts no matter what you decide about the bumper. Do you have an emergency fund? You're skating on very thin ice for the next month... Best of luck.

Thanks for the luck!

I do not have an emergency fund. I never have, and that's because the benefit of an emergency fund, for me, doesn't outweigh the cost. I say cost because, if I pay $1,000 to my student loans, I'm taking $1,000 off the balance and saving the 6.8% interest that would have accrued on the $1,000. If I put $1,000 in the bank, I'm looking at something like 1.2% (the highest local rate we've got - not sure how high ING is right now). So I'm "losing" 5.6% by keeping an emergency fund instead of paying off my debt.

I feel like emergency funds are a lot like insurance. Do you *need* an EF or insurance? Maybe. Something might come up, but then again something might not come up. Although I do have insurance, I don't believe the risk of not having an EF is all that great. If something ever does happen - an emergency that requires cash on the spot - I'll be changing my tune. ;)

Another reason that I don't have an emergency fund is that, in a normal month, I have $1,000 left over after bills/groceries/gas. That's why I'm able to pay my debt off at an accelerated rate. If a real emergency came up, I would definitely funnel that $1,000 to the emergency and miss my debt payment. (I don't consider this a real emergency because there are ways to make money between now and then should I need it - plasma donation, selling gift cards, etc. I'm not going to go without food because of this, and fortunately, I paid all of my bills for the month before going to the eye doctor.)

I do understand the concern, but August was a really rare month for me in terms of expenses. Normally, I wouldn't have tuition or doctor's bills. I understand that EFs are good to have around for these abnormal months, but they happen so rarely that I'm just not interested at this point. Post-debt, however, an emergency fund is my top priority! (And I would never go into something like home ownership without one. They are important. Just not to me at this time.)

ERHR
08-15-2011, 11:28 AM
KatieC87

Well, I'm glad you've at least thought about having an emergency fund. Obviously you get a better ROI from contributing to your student loans instead of keeping cash around. Like you said, it's really for insurance purposes. (I also would never go without health and auto insurance!)

I think of an emergency fund really as a way to stave off carrying a balance on a credit card and getting into a debt cycle if something does come up, like a job loss, medical emergency, death in the family, etc. (That is, unless you had a way of coming up with cash that doesn't involve credit cards. Then you effectively have a different type of emergency fund.) Personally I have never had to touch the money in my emergency fund but I like knowing it's there because I am very consumer debt-averse. (Although I have not yet built mine to the 9-months' expenses level so a job loss would still screw me over pretty fast.) Think about the interest rate on your credit card and compare it to your student loan rate!

I've been working on a new cash plan for my family for the last year or so. We save monthly for big expenses that come up on a yearly or semi-yearly basis. I wear contacts too so I know that's a big expense! I have like seven different savings accounts with ING all designated for different purposes - medical (contacts, dentist, co-pays), car (parking permit, insurance, repairs), travel (we do a lot of flying), etc.

Before I set up this system I was paying for these big rare expenses as they came up just out of my checking account, and it happened to be that they were spread out throughout the year that I didn't have any problem just using my leftover monthly balance. But after a while I decided I didn't want to be caught by surprise by too many big expenses too close so we started earmarking money to save monthly.

Sorry, that was a lot of detail but personal finance is a sort of hobby of mine!

It's great to hear that you're aggressively paying off your student debt. Those loans (and lenders) are turn nasty fast if you ever get into trouble. Still though, I'd hold off on the contacts until you're on a little more stable footing. Like you, I wouldn't want to have to deviate from a debt repayment plan because some random stupid expense came up just at the wrong time.

KatieC87
08-15-2011, 11:55 AM
ERHR

I appreciate your advice and getting to hear your story! Personal finance has been a hobby of mine for a while too. :) I did have a semi-popular PF blog up until early this year when it got to be too much work/too stressful to keep up. But I still love hearing other people's stories and learning as much as I can! :)

What actually got me started on my PF kick was credit card debt! I racked up $3,500 on 6 (SIX!) different cards because of tuition and the new experience of having rent/cable/cell phone/grocery bills every month. (And making some really poor choices too - can't let myself totally off the hook.) It doesn't seem like a lot until you tack on that 20-something percent interest rate. OUCH! So I paid all of my cards off quickly after beginning work full-time, paid off a personal loan I had taken on from my parents, and that's when I started paying off student loans. I've paid my student loans down from $29,665 to $10,769 in 18 months, and I managed to pay for summer/fall tuition with cash in that same period. I really can't wait to get that debt below the $10k mark!

I closed all of my credit cards when I paid them off, which was premature. I was just so happy to have them paid off that I wanted them completely out of my life. I told my husband last night that it sure would be nice to have one of them open right now, lol. I don't think credit cards are entirely evil, and if a person can use them and pay them off every month, they can actually be good. (I know some PF bloggers who would rack up rewards points like nobody's business!) But I was such a disaster with them that I really can't trust myself to have them yet. So I don't have that possibility looming over me at all times.

Thanks again for all the advice! :) We've managed to combine my two great loves here - weight loss and personal finance!

KatieC87
08-15-2011, 12:02 PM
Update: Well, everybody, I got my estimate in today. $1,207! I was SHOCKED to say the least! I thought, you know, maybe a few hundred. Of course, I have no knowledge of cars, so I was just guessing there.

Parts alone - a new bumper cover, chrome grill piece, and absorber - are going to be $760, plus labor. So, the guy decided to go through the insurance companies, lol. It'll be weeks before I see a check to fix the vehicle, I'm sure.

Lovely
08-15-2011, 12:09 PM
This is just me, but as long as the car didn't -run- any differently I wouldn't fix it for a cosmetic reason. I'm also not a "car" person, though. That might be different if I bought a car brand new, too... as all my vehicles have been used and I run them into the ground. Does it get me from point a to point b? Then that's all I need.

I'd use that money for far more fun things than just how my vehicle looks. And by fun, I mean likely save it for a specific purpose (for me that'd be the house my husband and I are saving for) or use it towards reducing debt.

mommytosonja
08-15-2011, 01:17 PM
When I had someone else hit me and they went through their insurance company, I never show the check. They wouldn't give it to me. It went directly to the auto-repair shop. Not sure that is the same for every state?

kateleestar
08-15-2011, 01:52 PM
I would use the car money to pay for contacts and live off of... Also, that price for a fitting and lenses with insurance is INSANE. I paid, earlier this year, $18 for my fitting and trial pair and $22 for my years supply of monthly-sleeping-in contacts. Like, shop around, lol. WHEW, boy, did that price shock me. :lol:

Also, Cedar Point is about 2 hours from me, I'm in Akron, Ohio and its in Sandusky, Ohio. GREAT place... Pack a lunch, lol. Fairly expensive to eat at the park, but there are some awesome little dive places to eat up there!

Have fun, and good luck! :D

KatieC87
08-15-2011, 02:47 PM
When I had someone else hit me and they went through their insurance company, I never show the check. They wouldn't give it to me. It went directly to the auto-repair shop. Not sure that is the same for every state?

Did you own your car outright? In the past, when I've been in accidents, the check has come to my home address and was made out to me, but it's because I owned the car. The title was in my name, and I didn't owe anyone for it. (If you took out a loan for the car, it goes to straight to the auto body shop or to the bank that holds the loan.) Anyone else know if it's different in different states?

KatieC87
08-15-2011, 02:54 PM
I would use the car money to pay for contacts and live off of... Also, that price for a fitting and lenses with insurance is INSANE. I paid, earlier this year, $18 for my fitting and trial pair and $22 for my years supply of monthly-sleeping-in contacts. Like, shop around, lol. WHEW, boy, did that price shock me. :lol:

Also, Cedar Point is about 2 hours from me, I'm in Akron, Ohio and its in Sandusky, Ohio. GREAT place... Pack a lunch, lol. Fairly expensive to eat at the park, but there are some awesome little dive places to eat up there!

Have fun, and good luck! :D

Hm, hm, hmmmmm! Could I take the prescription I just got through their contact fitting to another optometrist? I guess $18 + $22 is a lot less than $240 anyway, but I'd like to avoid paying for the fitting twice if I can! Maybe the daily contacts are just more expensive? When I had contacts the first time around, they were monthly, and they worked just fine for me. Not sure why my doc is pushing dailies.

I've been scouring the internet for advice about Cedar Point, and that's something that is ALWAYS mentioned - expensive food! I read on the park's website that you can't bring in food or drink, unless it's an unopened water bottle, but I guess they don't inspect your bags? If not, we'll smuggle some Subway sandwiches in there fo sho! :-p

PreciousMissy
08-15-2011, 03:47 PM
Did you own your car outright? In the past, when I've been in accidents, the check has come to my home address and was made out to me, but it's because I owned the car. The title was in my name, and I didn't owe anyone for it. (If you took out a loan for the car, it goes to straight to the auto body shop or to the bank that holds the loan.) Anyone else know if it's different in different states?

I live in Colorado and had a loan on the car. The check came directly to me, but the repair was only $700. I don't know if the amount had anything to do with it.

My vote is for the contacts, living expenses, and vacation. What ever is left tack onto your next student loan payment and send it in.

I received a large rebate once, used what I needed and made an extra car payment with the rest.

XLMuffnTop
08-15-2011, 05:55 PM
I've been wearing contacts for 15 years and have never paid $240 for contacts unless it was a HUGE (seriously huge) order. I get a box for usually around $20. Unless you have something seriously funky or special about your eyes, you shouldn't have to pay an arm and a leg.

I would check out Coastal Contacts. BTW, if you're a new customer, occasionally they have promos on Facebook for free glasses (minus upgrades). Seriously love the company and no I don't work for them. :)

FYI, you are NOT required to buy contacts or glasses from the optometrist that provided the eye exam. Not releasing your prescription to you is illegal.

ETA: The fitting is likely included in the cost of the eye exam. Some optometrists include one free pair of contacts with an exam, others don't. If they do, it would include instruction on how to put them in the first time. They measure your eye as part of the exam; unless they screwed up the exam it should fit fine. When you refill your prescription or get a new exam later, no "fitting" is ever necessary.

sontaikle
08-15-2011, 06:06 PM
If it's just cosmetic damage to the car, then why repair it? I'm driving around with a cracked bumper because I didn't feel like shelling out the money to replace a bumper on an 11 year old car. That and I was doing a full-time unpaid internship so I simply didn't have the money.

I could understand if the car needed the repairs to run, but if you don't really care how it looks and just want it to get from point A to point B, then there's really not much of a point to repairing it.

cherrypie
08-16-2011, 02:35 AM
I've been wearing contacts for like 30 years and have never paid that much for contacts. Even back in the day when a pair lasted you a year.

go online and check out some prices. I've been buying mine online for a few years now.