Alright.. We all know that sticking to a budget with chronic illness is one of the hardest things we face. How are you supposed to budget when, at any moment, you could end up with a hospital visit, or even an admit? This is something I’ve struggled with since the beginning of my illness. So, today I’m sitting down and trying to work through a practical approach.
My first step was to find an Excel spreadsheet that I could use. I chose to use Excel because it does all my month calculations for me, and I don’t have to think too hard (which is good because, ya know, brain fog.) I’m also very sight oriented, so putting out my expenses on a calendar is the best way for me to understand where all my money is going. I found the spreadsheet below after typing in “calendar” into the search function for templates in my Excel 2016 program:
It’s titled “any year expense calendar” and it comes with a few values input so you’ll have to go through and delete them.
Next was to make a list of my every month expenses. Started with the mortgage, electric, solar, gas, cable/internet, and cell phones. That is what I see as the necessities (minus medical, but that will come later.) Then came the extras: Netflix, Hulu, Kindle Unlimited, Office subscription, etc. All these values then were put into the calendar as negative (i.e. “-100” ) values.
After that, I put in my husband’s base pay each week as the positive values. I use his base because over time is not guaranteed, no matter the fact that he’s been working 6 days a week for the last year. You should include any income you have, on the exact day you get it. This is will you an idea about weekly expenses and when money will be in your accounts.
Now, for the medical. I try to budget at least enough for one ER visit a month, as well as two doctor’s visits. If you know you’ll have them more often, then add them in too.
Many of us will see a negative after inputting our values. This is when we have to start looking at what we can cut. This is my biggest issue. Many of us know about the “medical baseline” savings from our electric and gas companies (if you have an illness that allows for that.) But what else can be cut?? I feel what I have is all necessary. Just because we’re sick doesn’t mean we should have to give up everything we find enjoyment in. So, I started to look at what I had labeled as “extras” earlier in the process.
Netflix and Hulu. My daily indulgence. Looking at these, I see how having cable and these is a waste. If I were to take the cable off my internet, it would save me $20 a month. That happens to be what these cost me and they have far more selection. So now I get to make a call to my provider (after Sunday, Superbowl, or my husband might just kill me.)
My kindle is my savior. On those days when I can’t get out of bed, that is the only thing I have to occupy me. It charges beside my bed every night, so I just have to roll over and I have something to engage my brain. As easy as this is, I have recently unpacked most of the boxes from my move and found plenty of books. There are also many groups on Facebook that exchange books or sell them for cheap. The paper book is going out like the DVD has, so people are usually just trying to get rid of them.
For me, as a blogger, my Office subscription is part of my life blood. There are free versions, but I haven’t had a chance to work with them. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to download them and see how they match up, that way I can have the possibility of cutting this expense for the time being. This equates to $10 a month, so it’s not huge, but every little bit adds up.
Also, we usually have 3 days a month that we go out to dinner with friends. While friends are important, this is an unnecessary expense. We have, instead, began inviting them to our house for dinner once a month. The cost is far less, not just for us, but everyone who attends.
I know that these things don’t apply to us all, but I hope that these alternatives are able to help at least a few of us.
What other expenses have you been able to cut? Are there other alternatives that I haven’t discussed here?