Just as my student loan debt peaked at the end of my grad school studies, bed bugs invaded the 3-bedroom Astoria apartment I shared with two roommates. Thankfully, my landlord footed the extermination bill, sparing me and my two roommates from the heftiest single line item.
But through the whole ordeal--which included the initial infestation, a month of frenzied home remedies, 6 months of peace, an explosive resurgence, and two months of exterminator visits--I had to reach into my own pocket again and again.
Until now, I've avoided doing a thorough calculation of exactly how much the money the infestation cost, because, frankly, I knew it would be bad, and didn't want to know. I had always estimated that the total price tag was around $600, considering the hundreds of quarters I fed to laundry machines and cost of new furniture I paid for myself. But upon reexamination, I found a number of related expenses that I hadn't previously considered.
The tally below does not include the immeasurable price of sleep deprivation--while starting a new job, no less--anxiety, severed relationships with roommates following bed bug stress and a year of my life spent treating bed bugs, apartment hunting, moving, furniture shopping, and getting settled again.
- $18 Powders from hardware store (totally useless--I was such a novice)
- $12 Spray from hardware store (ditto)
- $100 bed bug mattress protector for my original bed
- $80 box spring protector for my original bed
- $50 bed bug pillow protectors
- $150 dry cleaning
- $90 laundry
- $250 new mattress (following the first sign of bed bugs, before we had consulted exterminators)
- $2,000 in additional rent I’ve paid over the past 8 months, since I decided to abandon my cheap rent in favor of a fresh-start place that didn’t (as far as I know) have a history of bed bugs or evoke creepy memories.
- $250 moving fees
- $250 new, new mattress (which I bought when I moved to a new apartment. I was really serious about the fresh-start).
- $100 new bed bug cover for new mattress
- $250 new dresser (ditto)
- $500 guestimate of how much money I spent replacing clothing and other items I tossed throughout the ordeal
Total bed bug bill: $4,100.
Luckily, my parents were able to help out a bit, by buying me one of the mattresses for Christmas, the dresser for my birthday, and covering my dry cleaning bill and moving truck fee out of pity.
But the rest ($3,200) all came out of the remnants of my student loan money, which I had intended to pay back. While I'm finally getting back on my feet, I still think it'll be a long while before I'm financially ready to do anything glamorous, like replace my futon with a couch.