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rice and beans
2004-05-08

the other day i went to the orthodontist to see about getting my teeth fixed. iím glad i was sitting down when he told me how much it would cost. $4200-$4500 Ė ouch! that is a lot of money, money i donít have. of course the dental insurance that i have doesnít cover ortho. so i went away and thought about how i could simplify my already simply life in order to afford it.

i started thinking about a lot of things. iíve heard a lot of people saying that insurance is a scam, kind of like throwing good money after bad. iíve always been of the opinion that it would cost me more if i didnít have it. iím lucky that i am in good health, never been in a car accident or had my home burgled or destroyed by fire, so i guess i have shelled out major dollars for the just in case, which is what insurance is all about. but i remember when i was 17 and i had to have my appendix taken out. my folks had health insurance but i still remember them paying a lot of money to cover the gap for the hospital stay, the anaesthesiologist, and the surgeon. at the same time the sister of a friend also had her appendix taken out. her family didnít have insurance and they didnít pay a cent. this is because appendicitis is consider emergency surgery not elective. so if my folks had lied and said that they didnít have insurance they too wouldnít have had to pay a cent. this seemed highly unfair to me. i can see the social justice of it for low income earners, those who cannot afford insurance, but for families like mine, that were above the threshold, and not by all that much, they were penalised.

i also started feeling demoralized and embarrassed that i couldnít really afford to have my teeth fixed. i did 4 years of university and then 4 years of a phd and i am working, but still i am not in a decent paying job. i had always thought that working for biotech was selling out, in the science field. but the more i think about it, the more appealing working in biotech is. i would be paid better, for one, a lot better. and for someone in my position, who doesnít want their own lab, there is no reason for me to stay in academia.

when i got back to work after seeing the orthodontist i sent an email to a friend exasperated at how much it would cost. my whining was productive for once. she happened to be on the phone to a friend of hers that was having trouble finding someone to do her yard work. so today i found myself preparing garden beds, pruning, and mulching for money. and so my pretty smile for a pretty girl fund has begun.

iíve also been looking at where i can cut back on my spending. i donít eat out, so i canít save there, all the movies i watch i borrow from the library, as with the books i read. i was going to paint my kitchen and bathroom, but the pink walls will have to stay. i had been planning a trip to europe (havenít started saving for that yet) so thatís been put on the back burner. i cancelled my gym membership and figure if i walk to and from work, about 45 minutes each way, i can save the monthly membership fee and save on petrol and still exercise. no more new cds (that will be tough). even with that, and the odd job here and there it is still going to be a tight squeeze. i will though continue to give money to the couple of charities i contribute to, because my miniscule payment does so much.

i know that there are people out there struggling to put food on the table for their kids, and people with enormous hospital bills and i really do sympathise, but that doesnít make my situation less of a problem for me. so itíll be rice and beans and frugality for me for a while to come.

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