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How to Budget for the Unexpected

January 5th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Many families of disabled or seriously injured individuals find themselves deeply in debt by the cost of caring for their loved ones. Therapy and doctor visits, wheelchair accessible vehicles, and home improvements to facilitate equipment and maneuverability of said equipment can quickly add up, making families stress about their changing budgets. Here are ten tips for managing your budget when faced with unexpected expenses.
1. The first thing to do is to take honest inventory of your spending habits. Do you eat out a lot? Do you have a penchant for name brands? While all of these may well have been within your spending range before, when you are faced with new expenses, it's important to prioritize your spending.
2. If you find that there are trends in your spending, such as eating out a lot or buying expensive items, then be brutal with yourself. This may provide temporary discomfort, but when you start feeling as if you can breathe financially, then the pain will subside.
3. Once you have pared down your spending, look at what you have left. Organize this information in some way, whether it's in a simple list or a more complicated spreadsheet. Be sure that you include everything, including rent/mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, average amount spent on groceries, etc.
4. You may look at this list and see that your spending is still too lavish for your income. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, then that is a sign that you either need to get another job or you need to stop spending as much. After all, if you never have any money left over, then what will you do if another emergency strikes?
5. If changes have to made, especially if they are drastic, be sure to gather everyone in your home together who will be affected by these changes, and speak about them openly and honestly. Be sure that your disabled family member does not feel as if your current economic troubles are their fault. If you have children, use this as an opportunity to teach them about budgeting responsibly.
6. If changes are being made, be sure to lead by example. Once again, this is an opportunity to teach your loved ones about responsible finances; in young children, this may well set a trend for the rest of their lives, which would make it a win-win situation for everyone involved.
7. If you have any opportunity to save money in your day-to-day life, take it! Whether it's clipping coupons and learning how to use them effectively, perusing the discount racks and dollar bins at your favorite store, or simply waiting for items to go on sale, every little bit will help.
8. If you still find that you are having financial difficulties (or are unable to save money), get a second job. This doesn't have to be a permanent thing; often, you can work for a few months in order to get some money tucked away, then go back to your regular 9 to 5.
9. If you have been especially good about sticking to your budget and you can see progress in your finances, then allow yourself a small indulgence. This can be anything, so long as you know that it is a one-time treat, and that you will return to your frugal ways.
10. No matter how dismal your situation may seem, don't lose hope. There are many organizations that can help you with equipment and medical expenses. Additionally, many companies offer discounted or free equipment, if you qualify.

1 Responses to “How to Budget for the Unexpected”

  1. Jerry Says:

    This subject HAS to lead to a discussion of disability insurance. There is a blog on this very website by a young person who is going through an unexpected spousal disability (and let's be honest, is it EVER expected?). Hugely important.
    Jerry

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