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 2020!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
5.99% – 19.16%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

8.69% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.99% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $35,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

7.99% – 29.99%4$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

7.99% – 20.88%5$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%6$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%7$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.82% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 19, 2020 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 creditworthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.
  5. 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. (

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

Direct Deposit required for payroll.

Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.


    Rates and terms vary by state.

3 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.

4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. The loan terms presented are not guaranteed and APRs presented are estimates only. To obtain a loan you must submit additional information and documentation and all loans are subject to credit review and our approval process. The range of APRs is 7.99% to 29.99% and your actual APR will depend upon factors including your credit score, usage and history, the requested loan amount, the stated loan purpose, and the term of the requested loan. To qualify for a 7.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available. All loans are made by Cross River Bank and MetaBank®, N.A., Members FDIC.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  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.

6 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 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% 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.

7 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 and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 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 website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,900 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,619.75, repayable in 36 monthly installments, with an APR of 29.95% would have monthly payments of $250.30.

Based on the responses from 11,574 customers in a survey of 210,584 newly funded customers, conducted from 1 Feb 2018 – 1 Aug 2019 95.05% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. 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 to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with 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.