Managing Your Finances
Requiring frequent medical services places a strain on a family’s finances. These suggestions are designed to help you prioritize your spending as you navigate the transplant process.
Budget your monthly finances
It’s important that you budget every month from the predicted income coming into your household.
Before the 1st of the month begins, put your predicted/average income at the top of a document/paper.
After you have calculated your projected monthly income, write down all of the major expenses: rent or mortgage payment, utilities, transportation, and food costs.
Subtract these projected costs from your income total.
What you have remaining of your income can now be designated toward other costs, including bills/payments, clothing, entertainment, etc.
Once you have everything accounted for in your budget, make sure that you are not spending more than your projected monthly income.
If you find yourself “in the red,” meaning you have more expenses than income, you will need to
A) cut expenses down and/or
B) leave bills/payments unpaid or negotiate payments.
It is best if you have a little money leftover from your income to put towards extra payments on your debt or into your savings, instead of having all of your income spent on expenses at the end of the month.
2. Have an emergency fund
It’s important to have a large emergency fund when someone is facing a chronic illness. This is because you never know when you’re going to need to take off of work, travel, or even leave a job.
Consider saving 3-6 months of basic expenses (e.g., rent/mortgage, transportation, food, utilities) in a savings account.
This is better than using a credit card in an emergency- as credit cards will eventually need to be paid back.
If you are budgeting each month, you should be able to put money aside to put toward an emergency fund.
Do not use this emergency fund for non-emergencies, as that is not the purpose.
The emergency fund is to be utilized for periods of unexpected job loss, income loss, or increased and unforeseen medical expenses.
Do not save your emergency fund in an investment or 401k- make sure the emergency fund is in a place you can access it easily and is not at risk of being lost in a stock market downturn.
3. Plan for large expenses
A way you can plan for large upcoming expenses is to create a sinking fund in your budget.
A sinking fund is where you can save money for an expense that is recurring or is predicted.
This is separate from an emergency fund, as an emergency fund is for unpredicted emergencies.
If you are aware that you will be needing to take time off of work in 3 months, create a sinking fund to get you through that period.
Estimate the money you will need, and save for it every month leading up to that event or expense.
Planning ahead is extremely important so you know your family and you will be secure, even when large expenses hit.
4. Refrain from taking on debt
It can be very tempting to take out debt when facing a medical crisis, however, this can be very financially destructive in the long-term.
Borrowing from your own investments can mean penalties and taxes.
Try to preserve your future investments and retirement as best you can.
With credit cards, it’s advised to pay them off every month so that the interest payments don’t create more debt for you to pay.
Try to think long-term and be proactive in creating a financially secure future.
Be diligent about keeping track of bills and negotiating payments when you can. Here in the U.S., It’s advised to have health insurance so you can better afford your medical expenses, as without insurance it is challenging for anyone to afford the extreme costs of medical care.