Unfortunately, when you are sick your bills don’t go away. And while you can reduce many of your responsibilities – get a friend to cook your meals, get Grandma to pick the kids up from school, take a few weeks of unpaid vacation time off work with being penalized – financial obligations are still your’s to deal with.
It’s also important to you take all the actions you can to mitigate your financial stress. It can cause you stress that – in your unwell mental state – you can’t afford to deal with.
How to manage finances when you are sick
Here are some points to keep in mind and some resources to consider to help you deal with your financial situation.
1) Health trumps finances. While both are important to manage and keep in check, if you are dealing with chronic health issue, it is your main priority. That being said, financial health is a part of your overall wellness. So it’s important to keep up with bills as you can. But, if it comes down to spend your savings on saving your life or paying your water bill, while both are important you should always save your health first. Remember the old adage: “If you don’t have your health, you have nothing.”
2) Be open with your employer. It’s not your employer’s job to manage your health or to keep tabs on how your doing. So if you are dealing with a mental health issue that is affecting your ability to work, you need to confront the issue by discussing it with your employer. When you have this conversation it helps to have doctor notes to back up your diagnosis. All companies are different and your boss will be able to direct you to resources available to you.
3) Be open with your community. The term community in this sense means your friends, family, neighbors and close aquaintances. Be honest and upfront with people you feel comfortable discussing your health and financial concerns with. Ask for their input. Often when you share and ask for support from people you trust they will help you by sharing about a similar situation or suggesting actions you can take.
4) Seek support at the level of government. If you don’t have insurance coverage or aren’t getting the support from your employer (or your situation has had you quit or be fired from your job) seek out government assistance. Tap into to your local resources.
According to the Social Security Administration, more than 1.3 million are granted Social Security disability benefits because they suffer from a mood diagnosed mood disorders. Mental illness has become the second most common diagnostic category for beneficiaries. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits for those who have paid FICA taxes and no longer can work because of a long-term disability.
5) Consolidate and reduce. During this period you need to focus on your health and reduce costs in all other areas. Track your weekly and monthly spend to find areas where you can save. You may need to make major life changes such as moving homes, or selling property. The focus should be on reducing your output and maintaining your income. You may need to support yourself using savings during this time. It’s not ideal but sometimes it’s necessary.
6) Appoint a health advocate. If you are having trouble managing your finances because your symptoms are getting in the way, or you need help setting reducing your spending etc. ask a friend or family member to assist you with your finances.
7) Be cognizant of wait times. If you are applying for financial support, or support from insurance companies, or even taking your own money out of savings, remember that sometimes there are time constraints. So, if you are not work plan ahead so that you have money to support yourself.
8) Be honest with your service providers and creditors. Tell the truth about your situation. Sometimes creditors will work with you to try and work out a plan that you are able to handle. It is not always the case but it is worth a try.
9) Reach out to crisis support centers. Most cities have crisis centers. Some of them will help you manage financial issues and get you on track. Search online for your local center and call them to inquire into what’s available.
Be aware of the financial implications caused health implications. Managing finances isn’t always easy when you are treating a chronic health issue. If you aren’t in a good financial situation before you get sick you will likely have to deal with more issues and debt afterwards. Don’t blame yourself for this. It’s just the reality of what happens. Do your best to take care of your finances by taking the actions on this list. And when you are healthy you will have more energy and can get back to work and pay your debt off.
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