This $5,000 Vet Bill Completely Changed My Money Mindset

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Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

And while it’s always painful to end up on the receiving end of this saying, it’s usually most painful when it involves your finances. Even if you have an emergency fund to back you up.

I learned that myself just last month. I had just taken a big career leap (and risk) by quitting my full-time job as director of marketing for a financial services company and becoming a freelance writer and content marketer.

And while I still believe this move was the best one for me to take to achieve my business and financial goals, it’s hard to hang on to that sentiment in moments of financial crisis.

On my first day of full-time self-employment, my boyfriend and I had to rush our cat to the animal hospital. He had emergency surgery and a seven-day stay in the medical center.

And when we finally picked him up, he came home with a $5,000 bill for his treatment and care.

Expecting the financially unexpected

Before we go on, my kitty is back home and doing well. In fact, he’s happily snoozing on the chair next to me as I write this.

But that massive vet bill did nothing to ease my financial concerns.

I already had anxiety surrounding my departure from a steady paycheck to becoming 100 percent responsible for making enough money to cover my expenses. I felt like I had failed before I had even begun.

What’s more, I was already questioning if I would ever make enough on my own to go from “good income” to “building real wealth.” Would I always be scrambling for cash when something unexpected came up?

Thanks to some financial planning, I had $11,000 in emergency savings that took me years to build. But even with my emergency funds, the vet bill was a tough financial blow.

It led to a week of stress, anxiety, and tears as I worried about my pet and my future financial state. Yes, it was a relief to use my emergency fund and not worry about budgets or a newly unstable income.

However, it’s still painful to see that money leave. Even when it’s earmarked for exactly this kind of situation.

That’s the first thing I learned about getting hit with this huge expense: it still hurts to say goodbye to that money forever.

Making expensive, emotional decisions is not easy

Since this cat already racked up a similar vet bill in the past ($8,500 to be exact), I tried to draw a line in the sand back then. I said that I would not pay more than another $3,000 on medical expenses for him.

It sounds harsh, but I felt like it was the financially responsible thing to do. At the time, I was 24 years old and could not imagine ever having the kind of wealth that would allow me to continue dropping thousands on a pet.

However, while I had already made this “rule” that favored financial responsibility over my emotions, I broke down in tears when the vet gave me the estimate for this time around. It was over my financial limit I set for all pets. That meant the end of the road.

Yet, as much as it scared me to part with the money, there was no way I would tell the vet to euthanize my pet. Saying one thing about your money and doing another when emotions are involved is nearly impossible at the moment.

I learned a few things from this less. The first being financial responsibility does not trump family. And my cat is a family member.

The second lesson I learned is that you must prepare financially if you don’t want to make an emotional decision based solely on money.

Having an emergency fund — one that’s large enough at that — allowed us to make decisions free from restrictions about how much we could afford.

We all have a mindset around money

I write about personal finance for a living, so I basically live and breathe all this money stuff.

Yet, I had always dismissed the idea that I could have a mindset around money that was negative or detrimental.

However, this experience wiped that thought from my brain. I learned I absolutely do let mindsets, fears, and stories I make up about money take over and influence how I feel.

I have a scarcity mindset around money. This leads me to constantly feel anxious about running out of money or worrying that I’ll never have enough.

So when I took a hit in my emergency fund, I started thinking things like, “How will I ever afford to buy a home?” And, “I can’t dedicate money toward that goal because I only have so much and now it needs to go towards rebuilding my emergency fund!”

Money comes and goes (and that’s okay)

Essentially, I fail to recognize when I operate with a recency bias. This means I think the way things are now is how they’ll always be.

Therefore, I assume because I experienced a financial blow and now face rebuilding my savings with my self-employment earnings, I’ll always be looking at an uphill battle when it comes to money.

But the reality is, that’s not really the case.

This experience also helped me shift some of those money mindsets. I realized that I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life actively making money. That I’ve actually been succeeding at it.

It hasn’t always been easy. I haven’t always made enough (or what I wanted to make). I also haven’t always been happy with my financial situation or felt like I was making progress.

But I know how to make money. And if I operate from an abundance mentality, that means I believe there is enough out there for me to have a piece of that sweet money pie.

Ultimately, the point here is that what you think influences how you act and the way you perceive the world.

So if I act from an abundance mentality, instead of a scarcity mindset, and believe in my ability to generate more money, I’m more likely to remain open to possibilities. I’m more likely to see and act upon opportunities.

That, in turn, can lead to a financial abundance. When money flows out, that’s okay. I can always make more. It just takes some time.

Your earning potential and emergency fund is unlimited

Thinking from an abundance mentality also allowed me to see that my move to self-employment was still the right one.

I thought about what it would still be like if I were still working my day job. No matter how many hours in a day I worked, at the end of the month I’d still make the same amount of money.

I had received a paycheck from a set salary. And, there was no room for growth unless someone else decided I earned a little more on an annual basis.

But this month, I turned my willingness to work and hustle into extra income. I looked for additional gigs and filled my schedule to the brim in order to generate more money that I can use to rebuild my savings and emergency fund.

Self-employment can be scary and make you feel like you work on shaky ground. But this experience reminded me that there’s more stability — and possibility — than I think.

Ultimately, it took a $5,000 vet bill to remind me of the simple power of thinking positively and working hard. I can claim my share of responsibility for how I feel about money, the way I earn it, and what I want to use it for.

While it hurts to part with a massive sum like that, I feel more empowered around money for acknowledging my fears and worries, then letting them go.

I am now ready to move forward with a happy cat and a world of opportunity to build wealth throughout my life.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 6.990% APR to 14.865% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.255% APR to 12.555% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 1, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.255% APR assumes current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 4.425% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

    To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.See Consumer Licenses.
  2. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  3. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  4. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan of $15,000 with a term of 24 months, and qualify for at least two of the following discounts: (1) add a co-borrower who has sufficient income; (2) use at least fifty percent of the loan proceeds to directly pay off existing debt; or (3) show proof of having at least forty-thousand dollars in retirement savings – contact FreedomPlus for further details.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.49% – 19.49% (6.49% – 19.49% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.49% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com

**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.


7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

7.73% – 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

6.26% – 14.87%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

6.99% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

5.99% – 24.99%2$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

4.99% – 29.99%3$10,000 - $35,000

Visit FreedomPlus

5.99% – 18.99%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

15.49% – 34.49%5$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.