Creating Financial Wellness While Living with Chronic Illness

Posted on May 28, 2024   |   

This article was written by Jamie Jarrard, BA.

Financial wellness can be a challenge for anyone, but may be especially hard if you are also managing a chronic illness, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This summer we will be exploring ways to help manage your finances and plan for the future while navigating life with COPD. Some of these tips may be difficult to apply while living on a fixed income, and we will address more options in the future to support all individuals with chronic lung disease.

According to the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, average annual healthcare costs when living with a chronic condition can easily climb above $6,000 per person1. Managing COPD can cost over $10,000 per individual each year2.

Fortunately, there are proactive steps you can take to help soften the burden and prepare for future expenses.

1) Create a plan to become debt free.

Just as each individual is unique, each debt load is unique and requires personalized attention. However, the general principles of becoming debt-free can help you create a plan:

  • Create a list of all debts owed, including total amounts, minimum monthly payments, and interest rates.
  • As you can, begin making extra payments above the minimum amount on the debt that carries the highest interest rate, while continuing to pay the minimum monthly payment on all others.
  • As each debt is paid off, use the money that was going towards the highest interest rate debt and apply it to the one next down on your list.
  • Repeat this process until all of your debts are paid off.

2) Create a savings account with a minimum of $500 for emergencies.

If possible, aim to save 3-12 months of living expenses. A great way to begin a savings account is to put 10% of your income directly into savings before paying other expenses.

This can be difficult when living with a chronic illness, so start slowly, moving what you can into savings. A good rule of thumb is to aim to have enough in savings to cover your deductible on the highest deductible policy of your insurances.

3) Have a good understanding of all your insurance policies, including health, life, homeowners, and car.

Empower yourself for future emergencies and spending by getting to know each insurance policy you carry. Know your deductibles, co-insurances, out-of-pocket maximums. Speak with your life insurance broker to understand your coverage and allocate beneficiaries. Knowing the details of your homeowners and car insurance is a good idea as well, as deductibles and types of coverage can vary. Being prepared for emergencies can help avoid future debt. And, knowing how you are covered helps you be more prepared to handle emergencies when they come your way.

4) When possible, save and invest for retirement.

Explore the many options for retirement accounts, including 401(k), 403(b), IRA (traditional, simple, Roth).

Get to know your Social Security Benefits.

Retirement and investments can be confusing, so finding a financial advisor is a great option to help you understand all choices available to you.

5) Turn a hobby into a revenue source!

Turning a hobby into a revenue source can be a great way to boost income.

For example, if you knit or crochet for friends and family, consider selling your designs online. Do you love to bake, garden, or make jams? Consider selling your goods at local farmer’s markets! Do you love to paint or draw? Try taking commissions or special projects, creating notecards, or reach out to local businesses to design art for merchandise!

If you own real estate other than your primary residence, this can be a fantastic way to make extra money. Managing a property can be tricky, but there are companies that specialize in providing property management services, and they can take all the grunt work for you.

Just as there are endless hobbies, there are endless options for turning your interests into income. This can act as a stress relief, not only on your budget, but on your mind and body as well.

6) Find resources and support for lowering cost of medications.

  • Check with the companies that make your medications to see if there are discounts available. For example, three pharmaceutical companies have agreed to cap select inhaler out of pocket costs to $35 for eligible patients in the U.S. Click here to read more.
  • Find a pharmacy that offers discounts. One pharmacy, Cost Plus Drugs, can help lower the cost of some prescriptions. Click here to see if your prescriptions are available at Cost Plus Drugs.
  • Search for grants that may be available. Currently, the HealthWell Foundation has a grant available to Medicare recipients to help cover the costs of COPD medications. To see if you qualify, click here.

Living with COPD can be stressful, and the cost of associated care can cause finances to become a burden. Proactively reducing debt, reaching out to a trusted source for help, knowing your insurance options, and creating extra income from hobbies and interests may all help alleviate the weight of medical expenses.

While planning your budget, these tips can help you learn more and take action to breathe better. A balanced budget is a breath of fresh air!

The COPD Foundation’s Summer Financial Wellness series is presented by FinFit Life.


You need to login to comment.