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Being ill isn’t part of anyone’s plan. It can be sneaky and insidious, and can change your whole life. Being a part of the medical profession, I can see how illness can cause a lot of stress, especially on personal finances. Without regular money coming in, the very roof over a person’s head is at risk, and it could happen to any of us.
I talk at length about putting together a fund for just such a situation. Call it what you want (I like f*** off fund personally!), but it is a fund that should cover your basic needs for 3-9 months. This is useful for when sickness benefits drop or stop, and can mean the difference between a nice long maternity leave or a prematurely shortened one.
This post talks about additional ways to look after yourself should the worst happen. Not the most pleasant of subjects, but one that is important none-the-less.
“NO-body expects the Spanish Inquisition” – Monty Python
1. Expect the unexpected
No one ever expects to be taken ill for a long period of time at work. It might be that you have had an accident and you are recovering, you are mentally unwell, which makes you unable work, or maybe you are suffering from a long term condition. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, it will mean that you end up having to take time off. When you are off work, you won’t be getting paid, and this is one of the main issues which cause people to stay silent and suffer with illnesses as they work.
However, to ease your mind, there are ways to help you out financially when you are incapacitated. It will let you relax and recover in peace as you live in the knowledge that your family will be supported as you get well again.
2. Get sick pay
The first port of call when you are taken ill is to find out what your sick pay entitlement is. If you unable to work due to an illness, you will be given a sick pay package for a certain amount of time until you return to work. The sick pay you are offered by your employer may vary, but in general you will end up with less than your normal salary. This can of course be a huge issue when you are trying to pay for a mortgage and your usual bills. However you could try your hand at some freelance work from home during your illness. If you are able to sit and look at a computer screen, you can go on a site such as freelancer and offer up your services to people who need it. Emmadrew.info has a lot of money making ideas you could take a look at to help plug the gap. It will not bring a huge amount of income, but it will be a bit of extra pocket money for you to spend on the essentials.
If you are physically able to work, but you will need support in doing so, you are within your rights to ask your employer for support so that you can carry on working. It might be that you work reduced hours for a few weeks or you work in a different department; but your employer cannot refuse you if you want to come back and work as your recover. They may even bring in some special equipment for you to use while you are there, and even install disabled ramps inside the building for ease of you moving around.
If you have been paying your pension through your workplace, you will be able to ask about the benefits you can get from the fund whilst you are unable to work. It could be that you are forced to retire early due to injury. In this case, find out what you need to do.
When you are rendered unable to work, you do not just disappear off the face of the earth. Don’t worry, you will not be left to struggle on your own completely. There are certain things you are entitled to such as the personal independence payment (UK). Benefits like this could be used to top up your income, help you with bills and other costs, replace your earnings with benefits and even pay for a carer if you have a serious disability or condition.
mymoneyspot.com has a post on saving money when making multiple hospital visits which may be of interest to you.
4. Help with medical bills
For American readers, if you have health insurance you will need to check how much cover you have and whether or not it will be able to cover your whole treatment. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need several different treatments over a long period of time. If you only have the minimum cover then you will need to find a way of paying for your treatment and this can be stressful. Luckily for UK residents, the NHS is literally a lifesaver and means that treatment costs are not an added burden during an already scary time.
If the injury you have sustained is at work, then you can make a claim for compensation which will make your life much easier when you are trying to get treatment. If not, you should be able to get a few benefits through your employer or the government which could include eye care, dental and prescriptions. Its best to start with government and council websites to see what benefits you could be entitled to and how to get hold of them.
5. Contact your energy supplier
If you have been injured at work and this will mean you struggle to pay your gas and electric bills, you will need to get in touch with them as soon as possible to arrange your finances, and to see if they can provide any assistance for you as you get back on your feet again. They may be able to put you on their priority list, protect you from being cut off, and give you priority when it comes to emergency call outs.
6. Help with charitable grants
If you have been sick or disabled for a long time and this is having an impact on your family life and your ability to support them, you might be able to apply for a grant from a charitable organisation to get you back on your feet and help with the running costs of your home. You will often be able to find grants like these through a trade union or a charity.
7. Look at your budget
One of the more difficult things to adjust to when you have been sick or injured is the lack of money in your account, and this will affect the lifestyle you and your family are able to lead.
To keep you and your family functioning you will need to take a look at your expenses, calculate how much money you have coming in and what’s going out for bills. The remaining amount will be what you spend on food, lifestyle and others bits.
Making a budget for your food shop is probably the more simple way to cut down your living costs. Consider switching supermarkets, and rather than eating something different every night, you could choose 2-3 meals for the week to reduce the amount of ingredients you need and therefore lower the cost. Making big batch meals such as cottage pies, soups or pasta bakes can keep the family going for a few days and leave you with more money left over at the end of the month.
I hope this helps. If you would like some support from me and my community, feel free to come over to my supportive private Facebook group, or hop on my mailing list below. I look forward to meeting you!