For those of us trying desperately to have our own baby, we know all too well that this is not just a physical and emotional journey. This is also a journey lined with dollar signs, likely leading to credit card debt, an impact to our retirement savings, and saying goodbye to the fun stuff. It’s a journey where saving up for a vacation just turned into more medications, more tests, or another embryo transfer. Unless we win the lottery, strike it rich through our own Reality TV series, or already have wealth beyond our wildest dreams; money will most likely be the deciding factor as to whether or not the journey is even an option. But when we want something this bad, it is also likely that we’ll start to get creative to figure out how we could find that $12,000+ for an IVF cycle or $800 for a vial of sperm or $XX,000 for an egg donor, surrogate or adoption agency.
So, what does that creative financing look like for you? This all depends on where you are in your life. It depends on whether or not you are currently working, whether or not you already have a retirement plan, or are you doing this alone or with a partner, do you own a house or are you renting? Are you starting on this process in your 30’s after you have a career established with some stock options on the side? Or is this a journey that’s starting in your 20’s when you are in your first job out of college and just got married? While we are all in different financial situations, I do think there are some creative options to consider.
The following options are based on my own experience over the past two years (from my own financial situation) and the ideas I offer may not be an option for everyone. But there might be something here that you haven’t yet thought of that could help or get you thinking beyond your next paycheck.
- Meet with a Financial Planner: Discuss with a financial planner the amount of money you think you will need and where you want this money to come from. If it’s coming from our own resources, there could be long term strategies put in place to help make up for the financial hit now. They could have ideas on other debt consolidation to bring down other monthly payments to help off-set taking on a new loan to cover something like IVF.
- Discuss your plans with your CPA: Out of pocket medical expenses are tax deductible, as well as adoption expenses. Last year, we had to pay strictly out of pocket for our egg donor/IVF process and the entire amount was added to our itemized deductions. Since we notified our CPA at the beginning of the year and knew how much this was going to cost us, we were able to adjust our withholding amounts to make sure that we would either break even or be getting back a refund.
- Do you have good credit? If so, you may be able to qualify for 0% interest credit cards. These offerings periodically come to me in the mail offering 0% interest for 12, 15 or 18 months. If you are on top of your budget, you can use this card for a few thousand dollars (or 10…LOL) and keep yourself to a strict monthly payment plan to pay off most or all of it before the interest rate goes up. I’ve used these for overflow IVF/embryo transfer expenses that were not covered by insurance.
- Do you have a solid 401K? Some 401K plans may be able to allow you to take out a loan from your own retirement plan without any penalty. This of course comes with some risk. You need to make sure you stay employed for the length of the loan or have a way to pay it back if you were to lose your job or change employers. You’ll want to check on the terms of the loan before moving forward. I was able to take this approach to help finance our egg donor/IVF process. The emotional downside – It’s painful to know that every month I’m paying toward a loan that has still not created a baby. I’ll be paying this back for the next 5 years.
- Fertility Treatment Loans: I was surprised to learn that these exist. But be careful. These tend to be rather high interest loans. However, it may be your only reasonable option. Before I took out a loan from my 401K, I seriously considered moving forward with “Capex MD.” (http://www.capexmd.com) I submitted an online inquiry through their website and later that afternoon, received a phone call to answer my questions. I found them to be very understanding and compassionate about the difficult journey of seeking out fertility treatment and how to pay for it.
- Do you have good health insurance? If you are lucky, and you have a health insurance plan that provides coverage for infertility, that is fantastic! I am one of those lucky ones, but these benefits tend to have a lifetime maximum. It doesn’t take long to run out of this benefit. My insurance had a $20,000 lifetime maximum benefit for infertility. This got us through two rounds of IVF, a third embryo transfer and other miscellaneous expenses with ultrasounds, tests, etc. There are ways to make the dollar stretch further if there are differences between seeing out of network or in-network providers.
- Have you considered crowd funding? I haven’t gotten to this point yet, but I think it’s a great option. Here are some recommended sites that I found for supporting those trying to go through IVF or adoption:
- Do you own your own home? Look into your options for Refinancing or Home Equity Lines of Credit to either allow you some extra money each month with a lower mortgage and/or a pool of money such as from a HELOC to use toward your fertility treatment options.
- Can you think of other creative ways to make more money? You’ve got skills! Use them!
These ideas might seem a bit off the wall to you, but I’ve launched myself into a couple of business adventures to see where it can take me. So far, it is not something that is funding these medical costs, and fingers crossed I can break even at some point but maybe this will get you thinking outside the box. Keep in mind; I have a full time career, so I’m involved in these for minimal hours per week to balance it all.
-Direct Selling: I became an Independent Skin Care Consultant for Rodan and Fields (you know, the doctors that made Proactiv?). I’m so in love with their skin care products that I decided to join them as a consultant to build my own business. This allows me to use the leadership skills I’ve built in my 17-year career, as well as immerse myself in a network of strong, creative, and passionate women. I may be struggling to make a baby, but I have great skin!
-Getting Crafty: I love photography and just recently opened my own shop on Etsy selling cards made out of my own photography. Do you have a talent that brings you joy where you could create a product that people love?
- Buy a lottery ticket: You just never know…maybe you’ll be the lucky one.
What other ideas do you have?