How Neighbor Pays The Bills:
Six months ago I got a medical bill that I couldn’t pay. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. My three-year-old daughter had gone to the emergency room a whole year previously with what we thought was a complication from a pre-existing condition. (Which is really wordy for “we needed the ER.”) Obviously we had paid the hospital shortly after our emergency was over. And–hello–an entire year had passed. Then we got this bill in the mail from the “attending physician” for over $200, at a time when our budget was nearly to the breaking point. (The reason for this was that we had just bought our first house a year before, and so our savings was nonexistent. With no savings, we had racked up some mildly alarming credit card debt.) Basically, this medical bill was the last straw for me.
I almost had a nervous breakdown.
Back up a few months: we had been budgeting down to the dollar that summer. I had instituted a spending freeze; didn’t even buy groceries for a whole month (we went through lots of canned food and rice). I’m not exaggerating when I say we barely had $40 to our name. During this time, I remember walking through my house late one night looking for items of value that we could sell. This picture? Maybe our tiny piano? Some of my grandma’s jewelry? Maybe the boys’ train tracks they didn’t play with? Desperation became my constant companion.
Why am I writing about this dark time in my life? Well, because I believe that I’m not the only one who has had experiences like that, times where money (or lack thereof) kept you up at night. And I also believe that sources of income are sometimes tricky to come by. You can sell Tupperware or Mary Kay (no thanks). You can grow your hair out and sell it (done that once; never again). You can get an extra job (my four kids ARE my extra job). Or you can make big money as a blogger (Snort. Ha. I wish).
Or now there’s Neighbor. Which just autocorrected to Neighbor. But don’t let it autocorrect! Neighbor is not the same as Neighbor. My Neighbor is really nice; her name is Amber. My Neighbor, on the other hand, is my online account that sets me up to rent out my extra space in my house for cash.
So back to my financial crisis story: we ended up getting some (much appreciated) assistance from grandparents to pay our medical bill, and over a period of 18 months were able to dig ourselves out of the credit card debt that had begun to consume us. But I wish I had known about Neighbor during those long months! At a time when every penny was saved (yes, literally, found in couch cushions and put into a family jar from which we doled out measly allowances for our children) – Neighbor would have changed our outlook significantly. Because I had a spare bedroom that was totally unused. A whole bedroom! And I had a closet I could have cleaned out. And, dang it, I would have been willing to park in the driveway for a few months and rent out the garage. Renting out just the bedroom alone for $60 a month would have meant an extra [wait, what’s 18 times 60…? $1080!]. Add in a garage for $80 and we’re talking about $2520! During my night-walking of my house combing it for things of value, I never supposed that my UNUSED SPACE could be lucrative. And good grief, what we could have done with an extra $1080 that year, not to mention $2520!
So the reason I’ve shared this story is because, first of all, I know what it’s like to have a money panic attack. And secondly, I believe in sharing the love. Here’s the love, guys: Neighbor is the greatest thing since Airbnb (except that you don’t have to host a perfect stranger in your house, which I refuse to do because that’s lightyears outside my comfort zone). But I’m okay storing boxes of stuff. I’m even more okay when storing that stuff makes me 💰.
I just wish I’d known about it earlier.
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