Financial sandbagging for the mental illness storm

balancing money vs food

If you ask the average person about things that come to mind when they think of mental illness, finances is probably not something they’re going to come up with.  But for those of us living with mental illness, it’s something we all too often don’t have the option of ignoring.

I grew up in a very financially responsible household.  Debt was something to be avoided like the plague, and saving was seen as a must, not an option.  I picked up a lot of my parents’ financial approach by osmosis, and I feel very lucky that I did.  When I first got sick 11 years ago, I was off work for close to a year.  There was a 6-month wait period to qualify for long-term disability insurance.  I had enough sick time banked for around 2 months, and then I had to rely on federal Employment Insurance sickness benefits for the next 4 months.  It was nice to get, but it was nowhere near enough money to be able to pay my mortgage and bills and still be able to eat, so I was very grateful I had savings.

Ever since that time, my illness has stayed pretty front of mind when it comes to all things financial.  It’s essential to me to have easily accessible savings, and I add to that rainy (aka depressed) day fund whenever I have the chance.  I don’t want to be barely functional in terms of my mental health and have to waste time and thought pulling my money out of investments, so I make sure there’s always money sitting in a savings account, there for me whenever I might need it.

After I bought my condo, I threw extra payments at the mortgage whenever I possibly could.  With some help from my family, I was able to pay off the mortgage in full almost 3 years ago, and that turned out to be the smartest move I ever made.  In 2016 I quit my job because of bullying, but the bully-in-chief decided to make sure I would have a very hard time finding work again, and I ended up unemployed for 8 months.  I was severely depressed, I had no income, and if my mortgage hadn’t been paid off I probably would have had to sell my condo and move, which would likely have pushed me over the edge that I was teetering on.

Now I work 2 casual jobs.  I make a good hourly wage, but sometimes I don’t get offered a lot of hours and other times I’m just not feeling well enough to take on much work.  I have savings in the bank, but I try to live as cheaply as I can and use a variety of strategies for penny-pinching.

piggy bank

Coupons are great.  I also check store flyers and take advantage of rewards programs, especially those that offer gift cards as reward options.  My local grocery store has a great rewards program, and I regularly redeem my points for Starbucks gift cards.  Sites like Ebates give you a percentage cashback for doing your online shopping via their links, and they sometimes have promos that offer a higher percentage back.  None of this stuff is big bucks, but it’s  essentially free money.

There are a number of different internet survey sites that give you rewards for doing surveys.  Although the rewards per survey aren’t necessarily that large, if you’ve got time on your hands it’s pretty easy to accumulate rewards.  I’ve collected several hundred dollars in rewards in the form of Paypal, iTunes, and Amazon credits.

I’ve pared back any services that I was paying for but really not using.  I seldom watch cable tv, so I switched to the cheapest package that was offered.  I realized that I didn’t actually need the internet speed I was paying for, so I cut back on that, too.

I’m lucky that I live in Canada and medical expenses are reasonable, but at the same time the costs aren’t negligible.  When I had a regular nursing job I got benefits including extended health insurance paid by my employer, but now that I work casual I have to pay for this myself.  It’s $200, but still saves me money compared to no insurance.  When I was unemployed in 2016 I had to pay out of pocket for all of my drugs.  I wish the government would realize that it’s cheaper to provide drug coverage than to pay for the costs down the road of people stopping meds because they can’t afford them.

Having a mental illness can be expensive.  And that’s before even thinking about the manic spending sprees that people with bipolar disorder may go through.  If we set out our financial sandbags when we can, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll be enough to keep us afloat when our illness throws the next “bomb cyclone” at us.

 

Image credits:

Stevepb on Pixabay

freeGraphicToday on Pixabay

15 thoughts on “Financial sandbagging for the mental illness storm

  1. Michele Elkins-Hoffman says:

    I have struggled for years with finding a career to stick with, that I can manage with my PTSD and Lyme disease. God kept telling me I had to quit working (private duty nurse) and I wasn’t listening. I pushed myself as far as I could go-and then ended up paying for it for the past two years. My prayers go out to you my dear, and I love your blog~

    Liked by 2 people

  2. manyofus1980 says:

    i agree. its important to be financially secure. i try to save where i can also. i try to pay all of my bills on time. living alone can be hard and stressful. i still prefer it though to liveing with someone. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. amy says:

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. The reality for us spoonies is, with or without mental health issues, in this life, the bills have to be paid, and society can be quite unforgiving especially in the US with its terrible healthcare system. I’m always interested in how others with illnesses make a living without bringing harm to their health, and I was inspired by how you found work/a lifestyle that you could work with while dealing with the illness. I’m trying to find something myself as I get more stable, and I hope that I can find something fulfilling and healthy. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. B says:

    I hate how expensive healthcare is. My insurance does not cover mental health services until I meet my $5000 deductible. So I am in quite a lot of debt. I wish someone taught me better money management because I tend to have emotional spending sprees. I’m better at stopping myself now but the damage has already been done.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. harotianessentials says:

    I agree. I’m not on any of meds because of this issue. It’s so hard to get help with expensive medications where Im from. Thank you for sharing because I think a lot people do not know how expensive having a mental illness is and the challenges that come along with it.

    Liked by 1 person

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