Bedbugs: A Costly House Guest

Last Updated Mar 17, 2010 9:46 PM EDT

About two months ago, I discovered I had a very expensive problem. I found a bedbug in my apartment and decided to attack the problem aggressively. I'm now living with my parents and estimate that I'll spend upwards of $15,000 making sure the little critter and any potential friends are gone. Of all the financial hiccups I could have ever imagined, I never anticipated needing to dip into my emergency savings fund for this.

Was I naive not to plan for bedbugs? After all, New York City is infested with them. Rather than berate myself for not building this into my budget, I'm just going to think of my ordeal as yet another reminder -- albeit a very expensive one -- that I need to be financially prepared for anything that may come my way. Let's face it, unexpected stuff happens all the time. And if you're like me, it usually occurs at the worst possible moment. I first spotted my bloodsucker in the middle of the night while nursing my three-month-old.

Unlike cockroaches and other insects, you can't simply spray some chemicals or leave out traps to get rid of bedbugs. The debugging process involves living out of plastic bags, washing all of your belongings and throwing out as much stuff as you can part with. In my case, I even ended up putting my living room furniture in the trash.

So how did I end up spending $15,000? Here's a rough estimate of our expenses:

Bed Bug Fees
Bedbug-Sniffing Dog (3 visits) $1,050

Exterminator $2,100

Chemicals $250

Rug Cleaning (and storage) $3,000

Laundry $200

Dry Cleaning $1,000

Supplies (plastic bags, tape, etc.) $300

Extra Pair of Hands $1,200

Babysitters (so I could work on Apt.) $600 (and counting)

Inflatable Couch $100

Budget for New Mattress $2,000

Mattress and Pillow Covers $435

New Vacuum (plus bags) $200

Budget for New Living Room Furniture $2,500

Total: $14,935...and counting

Other than living room furniture, my total expenses don't even include what I'll have to spend on replacement costs for my children's toys and books and other decorative items. (Yes, we were even told to store or throw away the pictures on our walls.)

Here's the kicker: It's been two months and I still don't actually know if our pests are gone yet. I'm bringing a bedbug-sniffing dog back on Friday for an inspection. If the beagle indicates that we still have a problem, we'll probably end up spending thousands more on new treatments. And that doesn't even include what I may shell out on therapy!

Is there an upside to our ordeal? My parents have had a rare opportunity to spend countless hours of quality time with their newest granddaughter. Whether or not they really want to is something I can't answer.

Have you had bedbugs? How much did it cost you to get rid of them?

Bedbugs image courtesy of oldmaison, CC 2.0.
  • Stacey Bradford

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