While managing personal finances can be challenging for anyone, people who live with a chronic illness often experience a unique set of financial challenges. A chronic disease is defined as a persistent condition that is long-lasting. Conditions like fibromyalgia and pulmonary fibrosis often make day-to-day life more difficult to deal with, as well as more financially challenging. If you or a loved one suffer from a chronic illness, consider adopting some of these tips to making managing your finances a little easier so you can spend more time focusing on your health and happiness.
Get Professional Help
Financial organization and planning are always helpful, but since many chronic illnesses can be unpredictable, it’s nice to have people who can help you keep things on track. While this help can come from friends and family members who are good with money, investing in the help of a financial advisor can help you make sure you have all your bases covered.
Make sure you share your health history with your financial advisor because it’s important to factor your illness into your long-term financial planning. They can help you with health care savings and budgeting for things like disability coverage and long-term care insurance. Financial professionals can help you understand the services you may need in the future and help you manage your expenses accordingly.
Stick to a Budget
Sticking to a budget is essential for us all, but it can be especially important for people who live with a chronic illness because of the potential added medical and wellness expenses. Planning a budget isn’t a favorite activity for most of us, but it’s a must do so choose a time of the day or week when you are feeling good to sit down and plan it out.
Keep track of all of your expenses, including your medical expenses, and make a budget and saving plan that fits. If you know you have an out-of-pocket prescription every month, include it in your budget and try to find other categories where you can save. If you are faced with a massive bill that doesn’t fit your budget, ask if you can pay in installments over time and modify your budget accordingly.
You can make your financial life a lot easier by planning for things before you need them. An excellent way to cover your bases in the future is to have all the insurance you might need like health, disability and home already covered. Even if you don’t have a large estate, it is a good idea to have things like living wills, directives and trusts in order and squared away so you won’t need to worry about them in the future if your health changes.
Planning for the future when you live with a chronic illness is one of the best things you can do for your yourself and your loved ones. It’s not always fun but taking care of all your financial bases now can bring about peace of mind and reduce stress, which helps you feel better and enjoy life more.
Learn About Your Health Insurance
Health insurance can be one of your most significant expenses while living with a chronic illness. Before your annual enrollment, do your research and compare premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, co-pays and prescriptions. You can ask for help from your human resources department on deciding the best coverage for your needs. You also may be able to save money by choosing your spouse’s insurance plan, so compare all costs and options. If you have a high-deductible, consider getting a Health Savings Account (HSA) that you contribute to regularly.
If you find yourself in financially difficult times and cannot afford your prescriptions, there are various assistance programs for which you can apply. Try speaking to your doctor and pharmacist about programs that can help when money is tight.
Keep Track of Medical Costs
Your medical expenses may be deductible, so keep track of co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses and prescription drug costs. Even things like travel mileage for medical purposes and stuff you buy at the drug store may be deductible. Keep all of your medical bills and organize them by “date of service” for easy reference.
It’s also a good idea to discuss medical costs with your financial advisor, as they may be able to help you consolidate accounts to simplify your finances. It is a good idea to share your medical and financial records with a close friend or family member. That way, the information is accessible in the future if you become ill.
Live a Healthy Lifestyle
While this piece of advice seems obvious, living a healthy day-to-day lifestyle is one of the best financial investments you can make. Research suggests that things like stress, smoking, weight and drug/alcohol abuse are the most significant contributors to illnesses. While you likely didn’t do anything to cause the disease or illness, living a healthy lifestyle that includes nutritious food and regular exercise can keep you feeling better and spending less time and money on medical treatment.
Dealing with a chronic illness or injury is hard enough without having to stress over finances, so try to take care of budgets and expense planning soon rather than later. By practicing proper organizational techniques, educating yourself about insurance options and prescriptions and saving money for unforeseen health expenses, your finances shouldn’t cause you too much stress. There are ways to make money that don’t involve going into an office every day which can help when mobility or energy is limited. Remember what matters most in life and take stock of the lessons that can be learned from living with a chronic illness. Prioritize what is important to you and don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends who love you unconditionally.