When living with a disability, one’s expenses can sometimes change drastically. Many of us may find ourselves living on a fixed income. We also often face additional expenses of medical bills, adaptive equipment, and credit card debt. However, creating a budget when living with a disability may be the answer to your financial concerns.
My Top 7 Tips for Creating a Budget with a Disability
To help you gain control over your financial circumstances, I’d like to share some of the tips I’ve learned over the years for creating a budget with a disability.
Tip 1. Use a cash ledger to monitor the flow of your money.
First, start monitoring your monthly income and expenses for the entire year. Some people prefer to buy a cash ledger book to track income and expenses. Others may prefer to use an Excel spreadsheet or even a smartphone budgeting app to track income and expenses.
Be sure to list all your fixed expenses, such as mortgage or rent, insurance, car payments, internet bills, and more. Next, look at your variable expenses, such as groceries and gas. These costs may change, so tracking them month-by-month over time will help you better understand your spending habits. Plus, you’ll begin to see how much money you have left each month.
If you find you’re spending money on items that are not in your ledger or budget, re-evaluate your spending habits. You can use this handy tool to start making your budget work for you.
Tip 2. Start a savings account.
Next, if you haven’t already, open a savings account and start contributing toward it each month. Even if all you have left after your monthly expenses is $5, save it. As you see the money increase in your account over time, it will motivate you to add more.
You might also look into whether you may be eligible to open an ABLE savings account. ABLE bank accounts may allow individuals with a disability to save money without losing their eligibility for SSI disability or Medicaid benefits.
Tip 3. Use coupons, discounts, and money-saving apps.
Part of saving money can include using discounts and coupons when they’re available. Before going to the grocery store, make a list in advance of the things you need. Then search online or in your local newspapers for coupons and discounts. Also, be sure to check with your local grocery stores about possible rewards programs.
Apps like Ibotta or Rakuten can also save you money by giving you cash back for certain purchases. It may seem like small amounts, but these purchases really add up. You may be surprised at how much money you’ve saved at the end of the year when looking back over your ledger.
A lot of services are available for people with a disability. For example, you may qualify for help with your bills. Some stores, hotels, and entertainment venues may also offer discounts for people with disabilities. It never hurts to ask.
Tip 3. Consult a financial advisor.
Having a financial advisor isn’t just for people with a lot of money. Financial advisors can be a great source of guidance for anyone, especially those of us who are working on creating a budget with a disability. They can help you go through your expenses and debts while letting you know which ones are the highest priority and which ones you can pay off slowly.
Whether your income has changed a little or a lot due to your disability, consider making an appointment to consult a financial advisor. You may be able to find one at the bank where you open a checking and savings account. On the other hand, you may want to go with an advisor from a reputable company, such as Morgan Stanley or Edward Jones.
Ultimately, a financial advisor can be a great tool when creating a budget with a disability by helping you create a realistic set of goals. This may help you feel more in control of your finances.
Tip 4. Utilize tax credits and deductions.
If you can also consult with a tax specialist, you may find out that you qualify for tax credits. According to the IRS, if you’re living with a disability, “you may qualify for tax deductions, income exclusions, and credits.”
Just like a financial advisor, a good tax expert can really help you better understand your money. Many tax specialists do not require you to pay for their consultation services. If you have met with a financial advisor, you might ask for a referral to someone they know is very reputable. You’ll want someone who has your best interest in mind when working with you.
Tip 5. Identify your needs versus wants.
When you find yourself on a fixed income, it’s still easy to crave and want to buy nice things. However, if you spend with no restraint, then you’ll likely get into a jam.
I know how hard it is to think about giving up things that you may have easily enjoyed before your life took a dramatic turn. Money can play games with our emotions when we already feel down on ourselves. However, I can tell you it’s even more fulfilling when we focus primarily on our needs.
Once you get into the rhythm of only buying what you need and saving anything left over, you may find some peace of mind about your finances.
Tip 6. Watch out for emotional buying.
When I first began creating a budget after my disability due to a spinal cord injury, I remember being surprised when my financial advisor identified me as an emotional buyer. Yet, after much thought, I realized he was exactly right. Just like any other habit, we can find ourselves spending money like a crutch to fill a void within us unknowingly. To get past this, we must learn to recognize the triggers.
Being disabled can feel like a burden at times. To cope, some of us may turn to addictive habits, and shopping is really no different. However, you may find yourself in a desperate cycle of overspending, which may make you feel even more out of control.
A licensed psychologist or therapist may be able to help you understand where your triggers are coming from. Most licensed therapists accept health insurance. To find out for sure, call your health insurance company. Nowadays, you can easily find a therapist who will do virtual visits with you over video chat.
Tip 7. Understand your health insurance coverage.
As you may already know, adaptive vehicles and equipment can come at a high price. Many items like wheelchairs as well as prescription medication and medical supplies are often covered by health insurance companies. However, it’s important to know and understand your insurance coverage to avoid unexpected expenses.
For instance, if you’re on Medicare, you have various plan options and choices annually. You may find that many of your needed items are covered in part or in full depending on your health insurance coverage.
Sometimes, it may come down to the task of looking over your insurance paperwork. On the other hand, you may be able to call your health insurance company and have a representative guide you through the best type of coverage for your needs.
Additionally, if you are with any assistance programs that help with specialty medications, such as infusions, these programs typically require re-enrollment annually. If you forget to re-enroll, then you may not receive the same types of assistance for the next plan year.
In addition to keeping track of your budget with your ledger, be sure to keep records of your coverage start and end dates.
Buying Catheters Through Health Insurance
When you contact 180 Medical, their representatives can verify your insurance plan benefits. Then a specialist will contact you so you can go over your coverage together. They can let you know how your health insurance will cover your catheter supplies or other urological supplies. Plus, they’ll provide you with an estimated out-of-pocket cost (if any), so you’ll know what you can expect to pay for the supplies you need.
If you need intermittent catheters, ostomy products, or incontinence supplies, contact 180 Medical to get started.
Reduce Financial Stress with Your Budget
While creating a budget with a disability may not feel easy at first, it can bring you a sense of financial freedom in the long run. Also, it can help reduce the stress of financial concerns by knowing where your money is going each month. Keep working on those money management skills to maximize the impact of your income.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog post are for general informational purposes only. You should not construe this post as legal, tax, investment, or financial advice.