Written by: Daniel Gleich
People with disabilities often face additional financial challenges due to the added expenses that can stem from their disabilities, such as the need for more health care and the cost of equipment required to maintain their independence. But at the same time, research has shown that people with disabilities often have less income than people without disabilities. This makes keeping up with the cost of living increasingly difficult, which is why it's essential that people with disabilities have strong money management skills. With careful budgeting, it is possible for people of all abilities to meet their financial goals.
If you primary source of income is a public benefit program, pension, or other source that does not vary, it's crucial to create a budget that balances your income and expenses and stick to it.
If you can work, factor this income into your budget.
Medical expenses are a priority, especially for people with disabilities. Add up how much money you're likely to need for medical expenses and factor this cost into your spending plan.
Everyone tends to have the same monthly expenses, like rent, utilities, and groceries. List all of your monthly expenses, and make sure that they're all covered in your budget.
If you need financial aid, research resources that may be available to you, such as disability benefits or grants.
Be very careful with personal information like your birth date, bank account information, and Social Security Number. And remember that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you use a financial advisor or money manager, vet them thoroughly to ensure they have the best intentions, and evaluate their advice carefully to pick the advice that works for you.
Figure out how much money you can reasonably set aside for savings every month, then have this money automatically put into your savings account first, before you start paying your other expenses.
Familiarize yourself with any disability tax credits you may qualify for.
Some businesses give discounts to people with disabilities, such as reduced admission to museums and theme parks.
A Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) account allows you to set aside money for education, job training, or starting a business without it affecting your disability benefits.
If you depend on disability benefits, make sure to research any restrictions that could jeopardize your eligibility. There's usually a limit on how much money you can make from working before your benefits are reduced.
It's tempting to splurge when you get an unexpected windfall, like a bonus, tax refund, or gift, but it's smarter to save it instead.
Shop at discount stores, use coupons, and buy in bulk when you can to save money on the things you need.
Even tiny changes to your spending habits can add up, like cooking meals instead of eating out, cutting back on snacks, or adjusting your thermostat to reduce your energy bill.
It's helpful to write out a plan for how you intend to reach your financial goals to keep yourself on track.
One good financial goal is saving up for a college education. Research your options carefully to figure out the best strategy for you.
Being in debt can get even more expensive over time. Make a plan for paying off your debt, including a goal for when you want to be debt-free.
You never know when an expensive emergency will strike. Work to build up an emergency fund that you can draw on when the worst happens.
Buying a house can be a smart investment, but it's also a big expense that requires careful planning. Work out a plan that can help you save up for the down payment, closing costs, and money you might need to make your new home more accessible and easy to live in.
If you've always wanted to own your own business, it's never too late to start making that goal a reality. Plan carefully to figure out how you'll save up for startup costs as well as how your business could affect any disability benefits you receive.
Research programs that might be able to help you with the cost of a new vehicle that's modified to suit your accessibility needs, then plan out how you'll come up with the rest.