Essential Tips for Someone With a Disability to Take Charge of Your Financial Future

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!

Hello Again…

It has been quite some time since my last post. I just haven’t felt like writing for some reason. Perhaps, life has just been too hectic, or maybe I just have been a bit lazy. Sometimes, it is difficult to just stop and take stock of the things going on around you.

Life can seem fairly monotonous. Working from home, as I have been doing for over a year, has added to this feeling. Things seem to be slowy getting back to “normal.” I have returned to my office a few days a week. This has brought back some much needed structure to my life. Staying home everyday to work while I am in my pajamas didn’t seem to give me much of a purpose.

A lot has changed within the last year. Baby Boy is now walking and saying a few words, such as “dad.” Being a dad is such a wonderful experience. I have learned a lot about myself. In addition, I think I have learned the entire catalog of “Wiggles” songs. YouTube and Netflix come in handy when you are quarantined.

Amanda and I have been blessed with so much good. Despite, challenges related to health, 2020 was a very prosperous year. It is hard to believe that we are almost halfway through 2021. God has been good to us, even when we have not taken notice.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of the year holds. We will be taking a family vacation to Florida in June. I am excited to see Baby Boy play on the beach. I’m wondering what his reaction will be when he first sees the Gulf of Mexico. I’m sure we will build some sandcastles. Well, I’ll build and he will sit on them halfway through their construction.

Looking at life through the eyes of a little one has given me a new perspective. Everything is new and exciting. Nothing is left untouched. Everything has to be tasted, even cat food. Maybe life is not so monotonous after all. How can it be when every day is a new experience?

Advice From a Father

I lost my father when I was just 12 years old. At different times I have felt cheated because of this. For instance, my brothers and I missed out on having our dad there to witness most every milestone of our lives. He was not there to see any of us graduate from high school. Likewise, he missed seeing any of us get married. Most importantly, he never got to meet any of his grandchildren.

Recently, I was speaking with a friend about some personal problems I have been having and she asked me, “what advice would your dad give you?” This is something I have never thought about. I’d never really had the opportunity to ask my dad for much advice. Ever since I was asked this question I have thought about what advice my dad would have for me today.

I am a father now and I look forward to guiding my child through the obstacles of life. This fatherly guidance is something that I did not have as I was going through adolescence, which is a critical period in any young person’s life. So, what would my dad have to say to me today?

My dad was a man with much integrity. He was also a person that doubted at various periods in his life. However, before he died I believe he was able to lay down his burden of doubt and was at peace. I’m a lot like my dad in many ways. I am stubborn, selfish with my time, and I have my own doubts that I carry.

I believe if I was to sit down with my dad today, he’d tell me to let go of doubt. I think with age my dad also would have become more giving of his time. He’d probably tell me that I need to be more open to this as well. Likewise, I am sure he’d probably let me know he is proud of me. This is perhaps what I need to hear the most. I often doubt my own abilities. I’d like to hear my dad say I am good at what I do. Hearing it from his lips might actually allow me to believe it for once.

My dad was skilled at so many ways. I wish I could have learned to do all of the things he knew how to do. His work was something in which he took pride. I think having some of his knowledge would make me more confident as a man. However, I have my own skills, which I look forward to passing down to my son. This will be a way for me to honor my dad’s memory. I’ll never be able to do the things my dad did. However, I know he’d proud of me for succeeding in life.

I don’t believe my dad is watching over me. I think he is spending eternity in Heaven where there is no sorrow. I have hope I will see him again. There are a lot of questions I have for him.

Wild Turkey and a Bowling Ball!

I think God often brings people into my life as a way of teaching me things. For instance, I recently met an older gentleman who has lived a life fit for a screenplay. Jack, as I will call him, is nearly 80 years old. He served a few different tours in Vietnam. He also has lost most of his hearing. Communicating with him was difficult, however, it was time well spent.

Jack is a man whose life experiences could fill volumes. I enjoy meeting these types of people, as their stories are so often rich with historical insight and humor. Jack went to Vietnam in the early stages of the war. He stayed until the United States was firmly entrenched within the conflict. He was a Marine, and fiercely proud of that.

After returning from the war, Jack opened a barber shop and cut hair for nearly 50 years. He just recently retired. I would have enjoyed visiting his shop so that I could have heard more stories of his life. I’m not sure Jack was always an easy person with whom to get along. It sounds as if his relationship with his family was strained. This may be due to Jack’s years of substance abuse. He is a recovering alcoholic. Jack’s brother is also an alcoholic.

The way Jack described his brother was humorous to me at first, however the more I thought about it, the sadder it became. Jack said his brother could simply be described as having “a bottle of Wild Turkey in one hand and a bowling ball in the other.” This description makes me think Jack’s brother is not a very pleasant person with whom to spend time.

It also got me to thinking how others would describe me if they just had one sentence in which to do it. I am hoping I’d be known for something much more positive. Fortunately, I don’t drink Wild Turkey, and I am a horrible bowler.

Goodbye 2020!

The end of last year brought hope. Amanda and I welcomed a three-day old baby boy into our home. Since this time he has become a part of us. In two days this bright, smiling child turns 1 year old. We will have a party with family. There will be cake, smiles, laughter, and maybe a few presents.

It has been strange raising a baby during a time when the world is filled with such uncertainty. This year has had many ups and downs. However, despite all of this, life has gone on and everyone has remained relatively healthy. There is much for which to be thankful.

Amanda and I have great friends and a loving family. We have a baby who brings us so much happiness on a daily basis. It has been our great pleasure to become his parents. We feel fortunate to have been blessed with the responsibility of raising him and providing for his needs.

God has protected us through times of trial. This year has truly been a struggle at times. The isolation brought on by the pandemic has often been too much to handle. However, life is still good. I will be happy to see 2020 come to a close. I’ll carry the things I have learned this year into the next. One might think that the future looks bleak, and in a lot of ways it does. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am curious to see what the future holds. As we approach 2021, let us all treat each other with more love and understanding. Everyone has a burden they are carrying. Let’s make time to listen to others.

I recently had a friend reach out to me to share some things that were going on in his life. He expressed to me that he needed others to “do life with.” This is something we all need. The English poet, John Donne, writing in the 17th century, wrote that “no man is an island.” Hopefully, 2021 is a year we can reconnect with each other. Good riddance 2020!

Six Weeks

Yesterday was my last dose of antibiotics. This was cause for celebration. It has been a long six weeks of medication, home nursing visits, doctor’s appointments, and sleepless nights. There were times it seemed like it would never end.

However, my body has healed. My PICC line has been removed, and life is slowly getting back to normal. Now it is time to once again build up my strength. My body has become very weak, as I have been quite inactive. Working from home has not helped this situation. Despite this, I am thankful to have a good job. Likewise, I am thankful that my body has healed.

I am curious to see what the next few months will bring as we head into autumn. There is a lot to look forward to, especially with Baby Boy here. For instance, Halloween should be fun with a little one. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be extra special as well. Hopefully, 2021 will be a better year for us all. I know I am ready to say goodbye to 2020!

My parasitic PICC line. It felt like a worm slithering through my vein as it was removed from my arm.

Drip, Drip, Drip…

I seem to be living life one drip at a time these days. Four weeks in to being on IV antibiotics and progress is being made, despite the drip, drip, of time. The wound on my foot has healed, for the most part. However, there are still two weeks of antibiotics to go.

I am dreaming of the day when the PICC line will be pulled from my arm. If all goes as planned this should happen the week of September 21. After that I hope things will get back to normal.

In the time I have been down, Baby Boy has begun to crawl. This has presented some challenges, as I cannot always catch him before he gets his hands in to things where they don’t belong. For instance, he has sampled some cat food, explored the bathroom floor, and played with television remotes. I am hoping he hasn’t purchaed anything from Amazon while I wasn’t looking.

The next two weeks will drip, drip, drip on by and my left foot and my left arm will once again be fully operational. I can then be on full-time baby patrol every evening. I’m sure the cats will appreciate that. I know Amanda will, as she has been working overtime keeping our household running. Without her I’d be lost. She has been wife, mother, nurse, housekeeper, chauffeur, and friend all while holding down a full-time job.

Doctoring in the Time of COVID

Going to the doctor in 2020 feels more like how going to the airport used to feel when we still went places. You check in and are “wanded” across the forehead so that your temperature can be checked. Fortunately, mine has been holding steady at 98.7 degrees or so. You are then “interrogated” about your health, with whom you’ve been in contact, if you experienced body aches or chills recently, and then you are allowed to pass through to your “gate.”

I think I might just get a t-shirt made that has my full name and date of birth printed on it so that I can just point to the front as they take me in for yet another test. Today, it was an ultrasound on my neck and arm to check for a blood clot. The area around the entrance to the PICC line that I had inserted into my arm a few weeks ago looked suspicious to my home nurse as she visited today. Therefore, I was sent to see my doctor, who at first thought I had an infection in the line. However, as noted above, it turned out to be a blood clot. Fortunately, it is was not a clot that tends to cause any problems.

So, tonight I find a pressure bandage around my right arm. Warm compresses will be used as I climb into bed. Then tomorrow another PICC line will be placed in the opposite arm so that I can continue to receive my daily dose of antibiotics. I sometimes wonder if all of this is real. Each week of 2020 just seems to get more odd.

Amanda got a flat tire this past Friday. I layed on my glasses last night in bed, which bent the frame and popped out a lens, then news of a blood clot in my arm today just seemed to be the icing on the cake.

I think tomorrow when I go in for my procedure, I’ll pretend like I truly am at the airport. I’ll check my bags, and ask for a glass of champagne as I take my seat in first class, then I’ll recline my seat and drift off to sleep. Perhaps, when I wake up it will be 2021. Then again, I’ll probably just be asked, “what is your full name and date of birth?”

The Eye of the Tiger

Do you ever feel as if you have no fight left within you? Living life in a disabled body, especially when that body breaks down is overwhelming. I have been luckier than most in my life. My independence has not been as limited as others who are disabled. However, the past few weeks has left me feeling like I am down for the count.

Battling a bone infection is tough work. I’ve actually done it a few times in my life. It saps your energy. Being treated with heavy doses of antibiotics is not pleasant, as these drugs often kill the normal bacteria that grows within your gastrointestinal system. This often leads to unpleasant side effects for your bowels. Fortunately, there are probiotics that can reverse these side effects.

Struggling with physical ailments typically increases the anxiety, which often bombards my mind. Usually, my first reaction is to get frustrated, which leads to anger. I often question God why He allows suffering of any kind. I think sometimes it is a way of getting our attention when we are stubborn. This is especially true in my case. I am a very stubborn person, who often refuses to listen to others.

My stubborness led me to avoid treatment for a wound on my foot, which then became infected. This infection then entered my blood and bone, which if it had not been caught in time, could have killed me. This realization has been frightening. According to my doctor, I am still not out of the woods. I will be on IV antibiotics for the next 4 to 6 weeks.

Some days are better than others. Frankly, I feel like a boxer who has been knocked down one too many times. How much more do I have left to give? This is a question I have pondered lately. My body is tired. My mind is exhausted. My nerves are frayed. However, I am not ready to quit.

I came across a story tonight about a little girl who is in the hospital fighting for her life. She has multiple IV tubes running into her neck, which are delivering heavy doses of antibiotics to her body. I pray that this little girl has a lot of fight left within her. What I am battling is minor compared to what she is facing.

One of my favorite movies is Rocky IV. It is essentially a David vs. Goliath story, where a much smaller, slower fighter is tasked with defeating a giant, genetically engineered monster. Just before the final fight sequence begins this behemoth leans down into Rocky’s face and says, “I must break you.” I feel as if that is what this infection has said to me.

However, much like Rocky, I have the will to win. I am bruised and bloodied, but no one is going to throw in the towel. I have plenty of people in my corner, many of whom I know are praying for me. This giant will be defeated. Can you hear the opening chords to “Eye of the Tiger” yet?

The Trash Bag Ladybug Monster

God usually teaches me humility in humorus ways. My latest lesson has involved showering. If you have been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know that I am currently undergoing treatment at home for a bone infection that I got through a wound in my foot.

I currently have an intravenous line in my right arm, through which Amanda administers antibiotics every morning. I also have a bandage on my foot that Amanda changes every other day. I am lucky to have such a loving wife that is willing to do this for me. However, she does like to have fun with me as well.

For instance, in order to shower I need to duct tape garbage bags around my right arm and left foot. This is to keep my foot dressing dry, as well as my IV line. The duct tape that Amanda chose for me has ladybugs on it, which look great with the black garbage bags. Once I am all suited up I look like the “Ladybug Trash Bag Monster.” I then “climb” into our shower, which is the size of a small phone booth. It is fortunate that my shower chair even fits in there.

Getting out of the shower takes a leap of faith, as I am never quite sure how I am going to stick the landing. This morning I gave myself a 9.0, as I did not fall. I also maintained pretty good form through the dismount from the shower chair.

After I am out of the shower comes the fun part, the removal of the bags. This involves ripping strips of hair off of my legs, and some hair from my right armpit. I am beginning to think I should just wax myself down. That way the agony of the tape removal would be lessened. In addition, I’d probably become more aerodynamic as I race through the house in my wheelchair.

Yes, I choose to laugh at these times. If I didn’t life would be a daily struggle. However, I know that God is there. Likewise, I know He sees my struggles. He uses these to keep me humble. I am often frustrated, but I take comfort in knowing God has never taken His hand off of my life. My duck tape with the ladybugs and those black trash bags are reminders that God has a sense of humor. He continues to care for me even when I fail Him.

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