For these personal finance influencers, infertility wasn’t part of the plan

Personal finance supports the idea of ​​keeping your expenses low. However, if you are trying to start a family, this ambition may be easier said than done.

About 15% of couples globally face infertility problems, according to Global Health Organization. Some infertility diagnoses can be resolved naturally, but for many, procedures such as intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization are the best chance of pregnancy. In the United States, the average cost of one round of IVF is $12,400, according to American Society for Reproductive MedicineMost couples endure multiple rounds of therapy.

Ali and Josh Lupo were one of those couples. As personal finance influencers, their usual course of action is to share tips with their 135,000 followers Instagram About index funds, investment properties, and living below your means. infertility f Its amazing price It was not part of their financial freedom plan.

“When you are financially exploited, and you are in the throes of infertility, it is like a dark black hole,” Ali said. “Nobody understands the pain of what is happening unless they are going through it or experiencing it.”

By laying their foundations in their twenties, the couple was better positioned for an uncertain future. Instead of relying on perfectly manicured posts, Lupos use their social media channels to facilitate conversation and community as people navigate the nuances of personal finance—scenarios like infertility, where sometimes the economy isn’t an option.

“After 30 months of trying to grow our family, we’ve had 1,230 pills, 79 injections, 6 canceled transfusion cycles, and 1 surgery. [and] 1 transfer, we’re pregnant,” read the graphics of an Instagram video announcing their pregnancy.

Here’s how one spouse navigates the money journey, along with how some Americans are finding workarounds to ensure health insurance remains part of their financial independence goals.

They had over $100,000 in student loan debt

Ali and Josh Lupo smile for the camera while standing outside in a parking lot

Josh and Ali Lobo, founders of The FI Couple, a personal finance media company.

Ali and Josh Lobo

The Lobos weren’t likely to become “acting” candidates, a moniker for personal finance creators of varying levels of credibility who attract large followings on social media. After college, Josh worked at a high-risk youth group facility and Ali worked at a domestic violence shelter, jobs they said paid about $12 an hour. In pursuit of better-paying career opportunities, Ali went back to school to obtain a master’s degree in social work. By the spring of 2017, the couple had accumulated just over $102,000 in student loan debt, with their wedding scheduled for the following year.

“We both grew up in financially struggling families,” Ali said. “We never budgeted, and we lived on credit cards.” Although Ali’s additional credentials land her a higher-paying job, Josh is laid off shortly thereafter, forcing the couple to become relentless at living below their means. Both Lupos started working multiple jobs, and when Josh stopped, he also took Uber, listening to podcasts about personal finance and real estate between rides.

To help make ends meet, the couple has focused on reducing or eliminating what they call the “big three” expenses—housing, food, and transportation—and said the process of doing so teaches economics, which is a powerful skill for aspirations of financial freedom.

“I think a lot of people get it [themselves] “They’re having a problem when they’re going after lifestyle design,” Josh said. “They’re like, ‘I’m going to make more money to make it happen.'” But they don’t focus on managing their income. Figure out how to manage what you spend your money on first.

Their might paid off. In the years that followed, the couple paid off all their debts, bought a duplex, and later bought and rented a second duplex, setting themselves up rent-free. However, Ali’s job was stressful—”I was getting punches and kicks in the stomach at my full-time job, and it didn’t help to get pregnant one day,” she says—so she switched to a part-time job that still provided health insurance. , a decision that would prove invaluable in the coming months.

The quiet personal finance movement that prioritizes benefits over money: “Barista FI”

IVF is expensive enough that some Americans take a job to get the benefits of IVF insurance over wages. This phenomenon is known in some personal finance circles as “Barista FI”.

Barista FI is part of the “Financial Independence, Retire Early,” or FIRE movement, an acronym first introduced in 1992 by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez in the book Your Money or Your Life. The premise of the FIRE movement is simple, but not easy: Save and invest enough money so that the annual interest alone covers all of your bills, resulting in a bottomless nest egg.

This number, often called your FIRE number, is, well, pretty exciting. It’s also on its way there — north of $1 million for most people, and drifting higher each year due to inflation, a detail that personal finance influencers often overlook. Ali said: “The pursuit of fire can be miserable. And Islamic Intelligence is not for everyone.” as a result of, Some enthusiasts are cutting out the “retire early” part. From the acronym FIRE quite rightly, especially those seeking fertility treatments.

Barista FI, so named because Starbucks offers health insurance to employees if they average 20 hours a week a week, lets people move on from a stressful job while keeping residual income and benefits. The prospect of maintaining insurance coverage is particularly attractive to young people seeking fertility support; reports The number of workers taking jobs at Starbucks to help fund their IVF trips has skyrocketed in recent years, which is a grim indicator of the crippling cost of the procedure.

Why are fertility costs so high?

Fertility treatments are expensive, he said, “because everything about it is expensive.” Dr.. Shaheen Ghadir, dual board-certified MD and assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “There is another level of fertility workers, embryologists, highly technical individuals who perform the procedures in the IVF lab,” Ghadir said. He added that setting up a good IVF lab “could cost millions of dollars.”

Ali and Josh Lobo smile for the camera while holding a medical form

Ali and Josh Lobo

Aside from technology, other factors make the cost of fertility particularly prohibitive in the United States, said Dr. Joy Juner, assistant professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and board-certified reproductive endocrinologist at USC. HRC FertilityIt is a fertility-focused medical practice. “We are a capitalist country, so we have a lot of competition. So this kind of price hike. Pharmaceutical companies don’t [have to] “They negotiated with the government to bring down the cost of medicines,” Gunner said. “There is a cross section between medicine and fertility work.”

Lupos’ decision to keep a job with health insurance proved particularly helpful when they faced infertility. “The pandemic is hitting, it’s May of 2020, we’re literally in lockdown, and we’re like, now seems like a good time to start trying for a baby,” Ali said. “We did, and it took two and a half years before we finally conceived our first child.”

“We were very fortunate to go through the process and have our first conversion outcome in a successful pregnancy,” Josh said, adding that the total out-of-pocket cost with insurance coverage was about $3,000. The Lupos said sharing their experiences about their efforts on social media has resulted in hundreds of followers reaching out to share their personal stories and financial challenges, thanks in part to their relevance.

Josh added, “We’ve had so many friends that we didn’t know were going through infertility, but the act of sharing forced them to share their truth with us and have this community. The support is there, and I think that’s been really helpful for us.”

Personal finance is personal, but these tips are universal

If you have certain goals in life or personal aspirations, rewiring your money plan can help you get there faster. Keep the following tips in mind when deciding what you want in life.

Widen the gap between income and expenses

Personal finance can quickly become intimidating. Generally speaking, it can be reduced to nine words: make more money, reduce expenses, and monetize the difference. Focusing on one or all of these directives will move you in the right direction. This may mean Pick up a side hustleor take an honest look at your current budget or learn Investing basics. Fewer than three in five Americans own any stock at all, according to the latest reports Public opinion poll.

At the same time, resist the urge to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. “On our shooting journey, we talked to a lot of people who made it work, and they were like, ‘I wish I was a little slower,’ because I was really miserable the whole time,” Ali said.

Be ruthless about whether your employment benefits align with Planned Parenthood’s goals

If family planning funding is a top priority, Ghadir said, find a job that has the benefits you need. “Many of my patients looking for new jobs are looking for positions in locations that cover excellent fertility services and benefits—give yourself a chance,” he said.

Ali Lobo waves at the camera while sitting in the doctor's office

Ali Lobo

Stay informed when exploring great investments

An additional challenge in the infertility industry, Gunner said, is that the patient population is extremely vulnerable. “They are willing to do whatever it takes, [and] Willing to take any test recommended to try and increase her ability to conceive, so you can sell a lot of stuff if you want to.” Gunner also recommended two websites, fertility And ReproducerFacts.orgwhere prospective parents can get more information for free.

Lupos wants to use their platform to have real conversations about the challenges of money, work, and family.

“It is unacceptable to live in a country where access to vital services that help families expand their families is so expensive,” Ali said. “There are huge cost barriers to becoming a father, adoption isn’t that simple, and fertility treatments don’t always work. It’s just bad attitude. I think it’s about giving yourself grace and being patient with yourself.”

Ali and Josh Lobo smile for the camera as Josh holds Ali's baby bump

Ali and Josh Lobo

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