Guest Post! We're excited to share a guest post with Words on Wealth readers today from Mr. Ed Carter of ABLEfutures.org. Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
People with disabilities have different needs when it comes to finances. From physical therapy and specialized equipment to frequent doctor’s visits and medications, you may have all kinds of unique expenses to save and budget for. Financial planning will ensure that you can afford the level of care you require and maintain your quality of life no matter what unexpected events come your way. Here are some tips for developing a solid financial plan for your future.
Following a budget is an essential part of any financial planning strategy. A budget will help you save your money for the things you really need and avoid unnecessary spending. Start tracking your spending for a couple of months to see where your money is going, then use this data to create a realistic monthly budget. You may have to make some spending cuts to create room for additional savings contributions. A good way to ensure you meet your savings goals every month is to set a portion of your income into your savings immediately after you are paid. You can also automate your savings through your bank so you have one less thing to think about.
Everyone should have emergency savings. Emergency savings will protect your financial health in the event of an emergency or large unexpected expense. With an emergency fund, you can avoid going into debt or draining your savings over a medical emergency of layoff at work. Think of emergency savings as a kind of cushion for emergency expenses.
You can set aside three to six months of living expenses in emergency savings, but the right amount for your fund will depend on your personal circumstances. For example, people with disabilities may want to set aside a little more money to safeguard against emergency medical bills and offer extra time to find work in the event of job loss.
Once you’ve added to your emergency savings, you can start thinking about long-term financial goals such as home ownership. The first thing you’ll need to do is save up for a down payment. While the standard 20 percent down payment will mean lower mortgage payments, you can still purchase a home with much less down, and VA loans may require no down payment at all. If your funds are limited, you can also apply for down payment assistance.
Homeownership is not the right choice for everyone. There's nothing wrong with deciding to rent if that makes the most sense for your financial situation.
Consider Life Insurance
Life insurance can be a blessing to families facing the loss of a loved one. A good life insurance policy will lessen the financial burden on your family members if you were to pass away unexpectedly, offering you and your loved ones some peace of mind. Life insurance covers all kinds of expenses and existing debts that you may leave behind, including medical bills, funeral costs, and mortgage payments. If you have children, your policy can even be used to pay for their college education. At the very least, you should consider final expense insurance. This type of insurance can help pay for funeral costs (which can easily run over $7,000) as well as any debt or medical bills.
Take Advantage of Available Benefits
People with disabilities have access to benefits that can help stretch their income and build up an adequate savings fund for the future. For example, an Able Savings Account can bolster your long-term financial security without affecting your Social Security benefits. Able Accounts are savings programs that allow people with disabilities to save money for certain expenses such as job training, education, medical care, long-term support services, and assistive equipment. You can save up to $100,000 in an ABLE account and still receive Medicaid and SSI disability benefits while building up savings.
*This is not legal advice. Speak with your attorney and carefully review your ABLE program details.*
Several private organizations and non-profits also provide financial assistance and career help to people with disabilities. For example, The Arc is a community-based organization that provides housing, education, and employment services that can help you gain better control over your financial situation. Do some research online and ask around in your local community to discover more programs that can set you up for financial success.
Regardless of whether you have a disability, it's never too late to get your financial affairs in order for the future. The best time to tackle financial planning is right now. Start making your financial plan today to ensure you will be able to enjoy high-quality care for the rest of your life.