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

emergency fund

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!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. 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 Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (
  2. Personal LoansFixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 4.98% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 21, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. 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. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 4.98% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 3.89% 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.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown 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.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.98% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

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.