Mental illness has become a significant problem in the United States, with one in five adults experiencing some form of mental illness each year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental illness costs the nation $1 trillion in lost earnings yearly.
Mental illnesses can be pretty taxing financially, not only for the individual suffering from the disorder but also for their families. The costs can quickly add up between doctor’s appointments, medication, and therapy.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental illness, it’s essential to be mindful of your finances and take steps to stay on top of your money.
There are a few key things you can do to stay on top of your finances when you have a mental illness:
1. Understand Your Benefits
If you have a mental illness, there are likely certain benefits you are entitled to. It’s essential to understand the benefits and how to apply them. You can receive benefits based on your work history if you are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
If you have not worked enough or recently enough to qualify for SSDI, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You can also check with your state’s disability office to see if you qualify for state-specific benefits.
You may also be eligible for Medicaid if you have a mental illness. Medicaid is a government health insurance program that provides free or low-cost health coverage to low-income adults, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.
2. Create A Budget
Creating a budget can help you see where your money is going and adjust as needed. When creating a budget, make sure to account for all of your regular expenses and any additional costs associated with your mental illness. This could include things like medication, therapy, and doctor’s appointments.
If you find that your expenses are more than your income, you can consider a few options. You may be able to get help from a government assistance program, such as food stamps or housing assistance. You can also look into getting a part-time job or taking on side work to help make ends meet.
3. Build An Emergency Fund
When you have a mental illness, it’s crucial to have an emergency fund in place in case you experience an unexpected setback. This could include job loss, an unplanned medical expense, or changes in your benefits.
Your emergency fund should have enough money to cover three to six months of living expenses. If you don’t have that much saved up, start small and gradually build up your savings over time.
It’s also a good idea to have your emergency fund in a separate account that you can easily access if needed. This could be a savings account, money market account, or even a short-term certificate of deposit, that will help you stay on top of your finances.
4. Manage Your Debt
If you have debt, it’s crucial to create a plan to pay it off. Start by making a list of all your debts, including the balance and interest rate for each. You can clear the debt by making more than the minimum monthly payment. Another option is consolidating your debts into one loan with a lower interest rate. You can get a loan through a bank, credit union, or online lender. This could help you save money on interest and make it easier to pay off your debt.
Another option would be to enroll in a debt management program. This type of counseling can help you create a plan to pay off your debts. The program will work with creditors to lower your interest rates and monthly payments.
Mental illness can be costly. Understanding your benefits, creating a budget, and building an emergency fund are important. You should also manage your debt to stay on top of your finances.