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Empowerment Series: Budgeting

As an individual with a disability, you have basic living expenses like anyone else. You might also have expenses having to do with your disability. For example, you might have more medical appointments. You might have to buy medical equipment, eat a specialized diet, or hire an assistant. Your income may come from multiple sources. It can be hard to keep track of the money coming in and going out, and that’s why you should budget.

What is Budgeting?

A budget is a record of your income and expenses over a period of time (usually a month). Most people don’t like to budget. It’s a chore that takes time, and for best results you have to budget consistently. Yet budgeting allows you to see where you can save money. With 32% of people with disabilities living below the poverty line and many more living near the poverty line, wasting money is not an option.

Before You Start Budgeting

Keep a record of every single purchase and payment you make. Also, include all the money that you receive. Do this for at least a few weeks.

Then, look over your records and come up with some categories. For example, rent is a category. Food is a category. Here is a list of categories you might find useful, but feel free to come up with your own.

A Budget is Good Planning

Your budget should include the following information:

  • The income source and availability

You need to consider where your income comes from; is it your salary, government aid, or are you dependent on a relative? This will determine whether your income is fixed or if it varies from month to month.

  • Fixed expenses

These are payments you make on a regular basis, like rent. The amount doesn’t change from month to month, so you know that you will always have to budget the same amount for these expenses.

  • Variable expenses

These expenses change every month. You might always have to pay the electric bill, but the amount you pay is different every month. The same is true for the amount you spend on food or clothing.

  • Necessities

We all have things we need and things we want. We need food and housing, but we also spend money on entertainment and treats. It’s okay to spend money on things you don’t need because it helps you enjoy life. However, you want to control that spending.

  • Emergency funds

You can’t plan for everything. When you keep track of your spending, you’ll probably notice that some of the money went to unexpected things like car repairs or doctor visits. That’s why it’s a good idea to set aside money every month that can cover unplanned spending. If you don’t, it can really throw off your planning.

Learning from a Budget

A good plan will inform you if you require more income, how much you are able to save, and where you might be able to lower expenses. Most importantly, it will ensure that you live within your means.

If you’re living with a disability and need assistance budgeting, contact Acumen today.