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Paying bills non-conventionally?


I received the credit card/vet payment bill today for Hutch’s hospitalization (He’s doing WONDERFUL by the way. I went running with him last night and it was awesome!!)


I lost my breath.

But hey, according to the paperwork, if I make minimum payments…I can be paid off in 13 years. It annoys me that this credit card company hopes my debt may outlive my dog.

As I stared at the bill, I was annoyed with myself. Dave Ramsey encourages people to live outside the box rather than have a natural reaction to accrue more debt.

I didn’t think outside the box. I threw in the towel – and quickly at that.

The fact is, there will ALWAYS be a reason to jump back into debt. Car repairs, hospital bills, home repairs… VET BILLS.

I know it’s only a two month hiccup but I can’t help but wonder if I had offered to scrub dog poop, would have let me?

I’m working on changing the way I think. I’m slow – but I’m getting there.

What I really wonder is…

What is the strangest way you have paid a bill?

Have you cleaned your dentist’s home? Have you cooked for your mechanic? Have you babysat for your plumber?

My husband installed an exhaust fan for a 6 pack of beer so trust me – I know you folks are out there.


  • Reply Elizabeth |

    My grandmother, who is a professional artist, traded her dentist a dental crown for three paintings for his office. My grandma still thinks she get the better end of the deal…and her dentist is bringing her new business as a result!

  • Reply Dream Mom |

    Glad to hear Hutch is doing so much better. That is wonderful news!

    As for debt, I am not a fan of it. Instead of an all or nothing, I think it’s better to just be respectful of money. In the case of Hutch, you made the best decision you could. Once your debt is paid off, you’ll have an emergency fund or insurance to cover something like that. Until then, just pay it down like crazy (which you will).

  • Reply Sally |

    Bec, I’m worried that you are thinking unhealthily about money. Yes, you could have scrubbed dog poop, but you weren’t in a state to be doing that.
    I hate debt too, we worked hard to get out of $36K of it. But I want you to stop being so hard on yourself … really:) We still accrue massive bills occasionally and we have to work hard to get rid of them within the month. You dont’ have to talk a service provider down in order to be reponsible with money.
    You guys are doing great!

  • Reply Joseph |

    For me, I traditionally just paid my debt back the old-fashioned way: slowly and in small increments. At the time, I made so little money that I at least had enough sense to stay away from all the Target store cards and credit card offers I got in the mail.

  • Reply Bella |

    My mother once traded a typewriter for dental work (this was during the mid-1980s). Our dentist was fresh out of dental school and just setting up his own practice. He needed office equipment and my mother was in desperate need of overdue dental work. We still use that dentist to this day!

    Currently, I’m paying my parents back a substantial debt (I borrowed money to start a cleaning and personal assisting business, which is now very successful) by cleaning for them weekly for free.

  • Reply jaye |

    I recently did a job “in trade” for a piece of art. I’m a landscape designer. It was a definite win-win situation for me and my client, though we both probably should’ve taken the money….

  • Reply Phaedra |

    Well I still have lots of debt but my husband is a great deal-maker. He is a school teacher but he has also been a disc jockey since he was sixteen. He has a very good reputation and is well-paid for his services. Recently we traded a wedding for landscape design and plants. The funniest trade of services I have heard was from a friend of the family. He trade automotive work for a vasectomy!

  • Reply Andy V |

    I just started to follow this blog, the first article i read was the one about Hutch’s run in with nature. It has made my Weds. to hear that he is doing better!!

    My husband is an IT guy and he has traded work for all sorts of things – plumbing work, landscaping, auto repairs, haircuts and even meals for us at local restaurants.

    We live in a small town (less than 3k peeople) and this sort of bartering is welcome. I have to admit, being a city girl it has taken me some time to get used to this, but it works out well for us. While I was in school and he was the only one working his bartering made it possible for us to do thing we would not have other wise been able to do, like have a meal out, or have our yard landscaped with pretty bushes (you should have seen what was there when we moved in:)

    Love the blog!

  • Reply Melissa |

    I traded cleaning the Orthodontists office for paying off my braces! It wasn’t so bad but it took 2 1/2 years of every other Thurs. night. It was worth it in the end though!

    I just wish I could do some bartering with the people at Bank of America!

  • Reply Julie |

    I traded my services as an attorney to a therapist who treated my child weekly for four years. During that time he was divorced twice and my fees covered all of my child’s therapeutic needs. (The guy was a great therapist for adolescents, but I wouldn’t have recommended him for marital therapy!)

  • Reply Kate |

    My youngest daughter catered two parties to pay a huge vet bill.
    I’ve done mending and alterations in exchange for haircuts and manicures.
    When my kids were little, I cleaned the daycare kitchen and bathrooms to pay for daycare.

  • Reply JMK |

    As a baby and toddler , my daughter went to a fabulous home daycare and we remain in contact with the woman who ran it. At 9 she doesn’t need daycare any longer other than when the school is closed for the occasional PD day. When we drop her off for the day 3-4 times a year and rather than pay the $32/day rate, instead I also drop off a box of toys we’re done with. My daughter gets a fun day with old friends (a lot of “former babies” show up on PD days) and the daycare gets some new supplies.

  • Reply Chrissy |

    I have fibromyalgia and I finally found a treatment that works well in helping me with my chronic pain – something called Active Release Technique.

    But with my lame insurance, I used up all the appointments it would cover.

    My practitioner has four kids and I have a background in culinary arts so now I’m teaching her older kids some cooking basics in exchange for my treatments!

  • Reply JB |

    Hey Bek,

    Unfortuanetly I have had my share of vet bills (My aussie had 2 knee surgeries). It is tough, but in the long run it is money well spent! I wouldn’t be upset about the bill, you did what you had to do. Now its time to work on getting the credit card debt paid off. Keep your head and working hard!

    Sincerly, JB

  • Reply LoveBeingRetired |

    The unexpected, unplanned for and unavoidable bills are just a pain! Despite our best efforts, they come around and often find us unprepared. With two kids in college, I am constantly “surprised” by bills for school health coverage or expensive books or whatever. And they have to be paid now so resorting to credit cards is sometimes all I can do. But I keep whittling away at the beast and one day the kids will graduate…and I am sure other bills will take their place to surprise me. One day at a time…

  • Reply Jodi |

    I just spent over two grand on my Golden Retriever who had to have emergency Pyometra surgery (hysterectomy) – I totally understand…. but they are part of our family too….. keep your head up!

  • Reply Amber |

    These comments are really great! I loved every one of them! I must say I have done my share of bartering away a debt.
    I am an artist and got stuck on a kick of painting Holiday ornaments which lead to “pet ornaments”. It is amazing how close we are to our pets that some people would want a portrait painted of them. Anyway, I painted ornaments for 15 years and traded anything from Mums for my yard to shoes for my kids.
    I highly suggest the barter system. It never hurts to offer. 🙂

  • Reply Cassie |

    My parents paid for part of my childhood orthodontics with oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, raisin bread (mom was a baker) and mechanical services for a couple old trucks in the orthodontist’s field. (dad’s a mechanic)

So, what do you think ?