The Effects of Chronic Illness On Your Money
Loss of income
Having a chronic illness can have a detrimental impact on your money resources. It starts with missed days of work or decreased productivity during your work hours due to pain, fatigue, or malaise. If you’re fortunate enough to have disability insurance through your job, you may qualify for short-term and/or long-term disability payments. These payments are very beneficial.
However, the amount of your payments varies depending on your policy, and how long you’ve not been able to work. My employer disability payments were 55% of my base salary. Unless you have a good amount of savings, or have other sources of income like that of a spouse or significant other, 55% of your salary is going to make it hard to make ends meet.
You find yourself not feeling well, and stressing about your income and bills. It’s hard enough to be sick with a disease that is never going away, and still have to find a way to live day-to-day on a reduced income.
On top of less income, your medical expenses sky-rocket. Maybe you only saw a doctor once or twice a year before, and now your primary doctor wants to see you every month or two. Flare ups or complications can lead to hospital stays or emergency room visits. Add in specialist appointments, physical or occupational therapy, medications, infusions, and the costs become alarming.
Enter Money Distress
Enter money distress and even panic mode. Your emotions can be all over the place. Fear, anxiety, anger, embarrassment, shame, you name it. In this week’s post we’ll be exploring our emotions and beliefs related to money. Why? Our beliefs and emotions regarding money can complicate our efforts to see the issue clearly, and respond in helpful ways to our money woes. First, we’ll cover money scripts.
In the article “What Did Your Parents REALLY Teach You About Money? (It Might Surprise You)” by Emily Guy Birken, I learned that we acquire our basic beliefs about money at a very young age. Financial planners and psychologists refer to these beliefs as “money scripts”. We aren’t aware of these beliefs even though they affect our financial decisions every day. There are 4 money scripts. It’s possible to believe more than one at the same time. The scripts are:
- Money Avoidance– believing that money is bad or that you don’t deserve it. This also includes believing that working for money is good, but getting gifts or free money is bad.
- Money Worship-believing that having money will solve all your problems and lead to happiness.
- Money Status-believing that your value as a person is tied to how much money, and possessions you have.
- Money Vigilance-believing that saving money, and being frugal is the most important way to manage your money.
I’m a money avoider. I don’t like figuring out where my money is going, I believe that I need to work for my money and it bugs me to get money and/or goods without my working for it. Now that I’ve learned this about myself, my anxiety over money makes more sense.
Check out Emily’s article above, and see if you can figure out what your beliefs are about money. She also offers tips for dealing with each money script in healthy ways. Our money scripts will impact how we feel about being disabled.
If you feel that you need more information to decide what your money beliefs are, you can take a quiz here.
Emotions Regarding Lack of Money
Being sick with a chronic illness is stressful, and distressing in itself. Add in not having enough money to pay our bills, pushes most of us over the edge. How can we think clearly enough to come up with a plan if we’re stuck in panic mode?
- First of all, making decisions while in panic mode is not recommended. You and your significant other, whether that’s a spouse, partner, adult child, or parent, need to calm down. Do whatever helps you calm down-listen to your favorite music, watch nature, pet your dog or cat, meditate, do deep breathing, pray, etc.
- Second, once you’re feeling calmer, discuss the immediate financial need with your significant other or a counselor or social worker. If you cannot pay an upcoming bill or bills, call the company(es) and explain what’s going on before the bill is late. Ask them what you can do to get through this rough patch. Remember to breath, and try to stay calm. The person on the other end of the phone is not to blame. Try to treat others the way you want to be treated. Getting angry won’t help, neither will ignoring the problem.
- Third, hospitals and doctor’s offices have information about local resources for food and other needs. Swallow your pride and ask for help. These programs exist to help people in your position. Many doctor’s offices are willing to work with you regarding payments, and can provide you with samples of medication as well. Hospitals are also able to negotiate with you, or provide patient assistance with bills.
- Fourth, find healthy ways to express your emotions so that they don’t eat you alive. You can learn more about this from my earlier post on Painful Emotions: Coping Skills We All Need.
If you’re interested in learning more about how your emotions can impact your spending and saving habits, you can read 7 Emotions and Their Affect On Your Finances by Shannon Ryan who is a certified financial planner.
This is the first part of a three part series on the topic of chronic illness and money woes. Part 2 covers finding sources of financial assistance. Part 3 covers resources to help you manage well what funds you have.
Finally, I have found the lack of adequate financial resources to be just as bad as my health issues, as a source of anxiety and fear. If you have similar anxieties, sign up below for my email list so you don’t miss the next two parts of this series. I send out a weekly email on Wednesday or Thursday of each week. Subscribers also receive two free e-books. One on Traveling With Chronic Illness and the other on Using Medicines Safely.
If you found this article helpful, please share it with someone! Till next time, Kathy