The following is an article written by a guest contributor. His name is Ed Carter, a retired financial planner, who has his own site full of great information. Be sure to check out his website for more financial tips (ablefutures.org).
If you’ve ever been in a situation where money was tight, you know how it feels to try and make ends meet. This is a tough situation to be in, and one of the biggest issues with just getting by is that you can’t account for expenses that you’ll have later in life. Hopefully you’re in a better place than just getting by, but no matter what your current financial picture looks like, everyone can take steps to prepare their finances for the future.
Revisit Budgeting Basics
When you’re living with a disability, trying to make sense of benefits, healthcare, and accessibility needs can make your financial life complicated. We know how confusing it can be, but regardless of your age or stage in life, it’s always smart to revisit the fundamentals of setting a personal budget.
The main purpose of having a budget is to track your money and ensure you’re spending and saving wisely. Beyond that, everyone has their own personal reasons for setting a budget, and as Greenpath explains, whatever drives you will benefit you in the long run. You may want to set short-term goals, but it’s good to keep your primary focus on the long-term, especially when it comes to major expenses that could come up later in life, such as long-term care.
While looking over your budget, it may be a good idea to determine whether it’s a good idea to refinance your mortgage. This can help free up some cash for any emergencies or expenses you may have.
When you’re considering these long-term needs, you’ll want to think about protecting your loved ones as well. If you have anyone who depends on you financially, you may have already gotten life insurance. However, in determining whether or not they need life insurance, too many people fail to consider the burden of final expenses.
Getting final expense insurance is an easy way to relieve that burden by making sure your family could cover the costs of your funeral, medical bills, and even other debts. Like with any other type of insurance, the amount of coverage you should buy is determined by the expenses it needs to cover, so you should think about factors like the type of final arrangements you want and other expenses you foresee leaving behind.
Create a Smart Savings Plan
A large part of your budget is determined by income and expenses, but when your goal is to be prepared for the future, any surplus should go into a savings account. Even if you’re just getting started, U.S. News explains how easy it is to build savings by automatically diverting a portion of each paycheck into your savings account. We also love this simple tip from America Saves: create a savings plan! While this may sound overly simple, they report that those who have a plan are twice as successful at actually saving than those who desire to save but don’t have a plan.
Another crucial piece of advice for anyone who has a disability is to take advantage of ABLE savings accounts. Getting an ABLE account allows you to set aside tax-deferred savings without losing access to government benefits. ABLE savings also allow you to maintain autonomy over your own account, which makes it an excellent tool for taking charge of your financial future.
Seek Out the Best Resources
The other important thing to remember is that you don’t have to do it all on your own. An easy solution is to get the help of a financial planner, but the web is full of helpful resources too. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor has tips for making the transition from receiving disability benefits to employment.
There may be times in life when we find ourselves just getting by, but you have so much to gain by being proactive with your finances. Don’t wait to set a budget, build your savings, and take advantage of all opportunities. Your future self will thank you for putting in the effort today!