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Tip #13: Some Variables to Help Budget for Surgery

Contributor: N

The reason I’m approaching a budget right now is because I’ve made the decision that I want top surgery, I’ve understood for a while that I’m going to have to pay for it myself, I’ve ascertained a reasonable time frame to save up the funds, and I recently acquired a job that gives me confidence in my ability to have steady income until I have the funds I need.

These things aren’t pre-requisites for saving up for surgery & guys come upon the funds for surgery in different ways. I know some guys who have their families pay for it. I know guys who have had fundraising events or use fundraising tools online — and these are great ideas. And, needless to say, a lot of guys don’t want surgery or don’t have the ability to obtain it. But, given my circumstances, I know I want it and I know I’m going to pay the majority myself.

I just wrote up a rough surgery budget for myself. Spending as much time as I do thinking about variables (I’m a computer programmer), I realized that the steps I took could be generalized into a sort-of budgeting formula for surgery (or for anything, really). So, I want to step through my thought process & I hope it helps other guys budget more effectively for what they need.

First, we need to define some variables.


Starting today, how much are you looking to save for surgery? How many months from now are you looking to have surgery? That first question really relies on how much money you already have saved & where/when you’re looking to have surgery. This figure has to take into account the cost of surgery, the cost of travel to-and-from, and the cost of staying close to the medical facility. If you’re doing this in-state & staying at your own place, this cost will be lower. If you already have $5000 squirreled away, this cost will be lower. If you fly to an unpopular destination during off-season, this cost will be lower. If you can drive to your destination — you won’t have to pay for a plane ticket or pay for a rental car — and this cost will be lower. If you have friends who can put you up close to the surgery facility, the cost will be lower. As long as you’re not compromising on the quality & comfort of your service, these are all fine things to take advantage of.

I’m going to use myself as an example here. I currently live in New York City. I believe I want to have my surgery in Florida with Dr. Garramone. I want to have surgery in roughly a year from now. I do not have any friends in Florida — I will have to stay at a hotel/motel & rent a car. In looking at Dr. Garramone’s pricing, I will put the cost of surgery around $6000. To be on the cautious side & because I like round numbers, I’m going to say that the cost of travel, rental car, lodging and unexpected expenses will be $4000 (note: this is quite a high figure). So, I’m aiming to save $10000. I don’t have much money in savings in savings, so I want to keep that intact. I will start from scratch, looking to put away $10000 over the next year.

Cost of Surgery = 6000
Surgery-related expenses = 4000
Amount Needed = 6000 + 4000 = 10000
Amount in Savings = 0
Amount to Save = 10000 – 0 = 10000
Months to Save = 12


Next, I will look at the patterns I acquire money in. Currently, I get payed about $2400 a month and I get payed twice a month. However, I pay rent once a month at the price of $775 and that has to happen by the first of the month. So, that $775 will be taken out of one of my $1200 paychecks. Meaning, I cannot put away the same amount each pay period, because I don’t get to keep the same amount each pay period. I can also factor in other monthly payments that happen during certain pay periods (e.g. phone bill, wifi bill, school loans, etc.). But, since these can be payed anytime during the month for me, I can choose to pay them when I have adequate funds — only my rent distinctly affects a certain pay period.

Number of Pay Periods = 2
Monthly Income = 2400
Gross Amount Earned per Pay Period = 2400 / 2 = 1200


Now, I want to calculate how much of each paycheck I can put away. First, I see how much I need to put away each month:

Amount to Save Monthly for Surgery = Amount to Save / Months to Save = 10000 / 12 = ~ 835


Then, figure out how to balance the amount I put towards savings between the amount I take home each pay period:

Rent = 775
Gross Amount Earned Pay Period 1 = 1200
Gross Amount Earned Pay Period 2 = 1200 – 775 = 425
Gross Amount Saved = 1200 + 425 = 1625
Percentage Saved During Pay Period 1 = 1200 / 1625 = ~ 0.75
Percentage Saved During Pay Period 2 = 425 / 1625 = ~ 0.25

Amount Monthly Savings for Surgery Pay Period 1 = 835 * 0.75 = ~ 625
Amount Monthly Savings for Surgery Pay Period 2 = 835 * 0.25 = ~ 210


So, during the pay period I don’t turn over rent, I will try and put away about $625. The period I do turn over rent, I will try to put away $210. This way, I’ll be saving the $835 per month I need to save $10000 over the course of 12 months.

This really is a rough formula for how much I need to save for surgery to fit my goals. Of course, we’ll see how well this scheme works when the reality of life and expenses get in the way — but at least I have a figure to point to when I’m thinking about saving. If I cannot save as much as I’ve calculated, then I’ll know that I’ll have to increase the amount of months before I have surgery. If, when surgery is closer, I figure that my travel & lodging expenses are more than I estimated, I can adjust how much I’m saving or how many months I can expect to wait before surgery. And, if I suddenly start earning more or having to pay less in monthly expenses, then I can expect to shorten the amount of months I need to reach my goal.

If any of you guys have ideas about budgeting — I really could use them. For the guys thinking about budgeting — it does help to think about the variables I’ve laid out here. Of course, they’ll be different for everyone & not everyone knows when they’re being payed and how much. It’s not a bad idea to throw some numbers around — but they are variables & they do vary.

One Comment on “Tip #13: Some Variables to Help Budget for Surgery”

  1. […] Tips for Trans Men: Some Variables to Help Budget for Surgery […]

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