Today’s blog is written for Laura Morningstar (who writes over at www.lauramorningstar.com) Laura has teamed up with the amazing RX Connected; an online pharmacy dedicated to helping those in the US slash the price of their medicine, to share all about her journey with managing her finances with a chronic illness.
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Happy Wednesday! This week’s blogger takeover is @laurajmorningstar ; mom, step-mom and U.K. lifestyle blogger. “Before becoming a full-time blogger, I was a trainer, life coach, holistic therapist and doula. My aim is to use this vast wealth of knowledge to write about ways to improve health and wellness whilst living with chronic illness. My journey started two years ago and I am still undergoing tests to figure out what is wrong with me. Join metoday as I have my first Rheumatology appointment and hopefully get some answers as to what could be wrong!”
When you are well it is so easy to take for granted the life you lead and that includes your income. That isn’t to say that healthy people don’t have money worries (because especially in these economic times they do) but even then there is an uneasy truce or acceptance of your financial state.
When chronic health issues started to insidiously weave their never ending tendrils into my life, I never realized how widespread an affect it would have. Even when I started to struggle to work, go out and see friends or was diagnosed with special dietary requirements; I still didn’t see how it was destabilizing my financial circumstances.
Being self-employed my income has always had an element of uncertainty to it but I had got to the point within my business where I was able to forsee when lean times would be and budget for those. Having to cancel clients due to illness left me having to constantly wonder how I would pay the rent. The stress from this would cause me to flare meaning I’d have to cancel more clients, and my situation soon became untenable.
That is what chronic illness does: it undermines your whole life, it’s like building a house on sand and never been sure when it might fall down. The other things you lose due to chronic illness are often more visible. It’s easy to see friends who walk away, or sick days building up. It doesn’t always register that you have just paid for those groceries with the last of your credit card balance rather than cash.
Frugal living quickly becomes the norm, and unexpected costs are just as rapidly seen as the enemy. Yet that’s the catch-22 as with chronic illness there are often unexpected costs, such as prescriptions, travel to appointments, the cost of the medical care itself and special dietary foods / supplements etc. You’re left questioning how if ever are you supposed to steady your financial situation.
If you have never had to worry about money or budget before this is a cold hard wake up call, and if you have, well then it is no picnic for you either. Chronic illnesses truly are the gift that keep on giving, if the pain, lethargy and other varying symptoms aren’t enough the vast majority also see sufferers having to deal with some level of cognitive dysfunction aka brain fog.
If you have had brain fog then you will absolutely know what I am talking about, if you haven’t experienced it then it is like having a thought wading through treacle while getting covered in feathers. You can neither recapture the thought or recognise it. Have you ever lost your keys, or forgotten where you left your purse? Finding them somewhere daft? With brain fog that’s a regular occurence, I have tried to pay for shopping with a tampon and I almost toasted a ten pound note. I can’t explain why, but at the time these things happened they made perfect sense. That is brain fog 101 add that level of cognitive dysfunction into budgeting you potentially have a total mess on your hands.
All of this is why it is important to get a handle on your personal financial situation not just now but potentially in the future as quickly as possible. Here are some tips on how to find that handle….
1) Know you’re not alone
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are about 117 million US adults living with a chronic illness or disability. Whether they have the same condition as you or not doesn’t matter that is 117 million people who will have also had to deal with finances as its a necessary part of life. 117 million people who may well have your back as they know how it feels.
Connect with support groups, if there isn’t one for your specific condition locally look online, or set a local group up. Established groups will often have documentation about support available or how to apply for benefits, loans and other savings. Nobody knows this better than your fellow patients!
2) Look for ways to cut medicine costs
Did you know that patients in Canada and other countries don’t have to pay the same extortionately high costs that Americans do. Prescription charges have been political talking points for years, yet nothing ever changes. For years there have been ways that Americans could get their prescriptions filled from outside countries, yet quite often safety concerns have seen people afraid to use this option.
But now RxConnected makes buying prescriptions from abroad completely safe; connecting you directly to licensed pharmacies in Canada and countries around the world. RxConnected is available for anyone to browse. You can search for your prescribed medication and compare prices on brand-name and generic drugs without any commitment to buy. Buying drugs from RxConnected’s partnering licensed pharmacies are guaranteed to be safe as they are approved by the country’s regulatory bodies.
Put simply RxConnected is a simple, safe, and affordable way to fill prescriptions for your maintenance medications- it pays to shop around and not just accept the first price you see for meds!
3) Adopt frugal strategies
Save those budget coupons, have jars for old change, buy the odd shaped veg, look out for special offers. There are so many ways that we can get savvy with day to day living costs from batch cooking to repurposing old furniture. ‘Frugal living’ in itself has become a trend of the hipster brigade meaning that their are articles on everything from batch cooking, to how to make your own jam or creating knickers from old t-shirts. I’m not suggesting that you will want to do that as you know spoons and unnecessary tasks but you may find some ways you can cut down your daily expenditures. We love these guides by Being Fibro Mom on every aspect of frugal living!
4) Shop Around
We’ve mentioned using RX Connected for the best deal on your medicine-but make sure you are on the best deals for you cable, electricity, gas and other utility bills, can you get better deals anywhere else? Do any of your providers offer additional discounts for those living with long-term conditions or disabilities? (this often the case with water companies and those whose medical conditions require a lot of water)
Make sure your house, car, life and medical insurance is with the most competitive companies. However this comes with its own headaches as it can be especially tricky to change providers once you have been diagnosed with a chronic health condition-so switching might not always pay!
5) Ask for help
I have saved the hardest for last. It can be so difficult to admit you can’t do everything especially if your used to being Wonder Woman or Superman, but it is vital you ask for help. Another wonderful catch 22 is that chronic health conditions often experience a worsening of symptoms due to stress yet in themselves they can cause a lot of stress. You are not weak if you ask for help and support, in fact you are far stronger than the person who continues to struggle because they are afraid of being seen as needed.
It’s not about asking for a loan necessarily, but having a supportive network of people around you means you can ask your buddy who loves to cook to help with batch cooking or meal planning. That mom from school who works in real estate may know who the best cable deals are with.
Most people want to help, for example we have an open fire. Last year when we were particularly struggling financially, I asked if I could swop logs for helping the log company with their social media. They said yes ensuring heating was no longer a worry. Going into the local town is a total exhausting nightmare for me. I will often ask my Mum to have a look for things for me when she is shopping, meaning I don’t have to plan what for me would be an epic trip. Asking my partner to help with meal-planning means we can create a rough plan of foods we both enjoy to eat and cook, the great thing is if I don’t feel well enough he can easily take over.
So please don’t struggle. The tips above are relatively easy to implement but I am telling you now they are far easier when you have someone stood next to you supporting you.
Thanks so much to Laura for her AMAZING advice and being so open about her finances. Do checkout RX Connect, who sponsored this post, to get a great deal on your medicine too!