Ten Ways to Stay Financially Afloat After TBI

Ten Ways to Stay Financially Afloat After TBI

I vividly remember all the sayings my father had about money. “Money is the root of all evil,” and “Money can’t buy happiness.” It took me many years to understand why he said this. He was a music teacher supporting nine people: his wife, six children, and Gram. We never had much money, but I never felt poor. I had plenty to eat, and our family had a lot of fun. I do remember driving up to Vermont and watching the skiers ski because we could not afford the tickets to do it ourselves, but Dad even made that fun. He bought us each a hot chocolate, and we had a snowball fight. My parents made do with what they had. Incredibly, they did not use charge cards. We only traveled by car, never stayed in hotels, and ate out on very special occasions at a modest restaurant.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized that other families went to exotic beaches, Europe, or Disneyland for vacation. It didn’t really bother me because I was content. But after I married Hugh, and we started a family, I wanted more — a week at the beach, dance lessons for the girls. Hugh had a good corporate job with benefits and I was able to supplement our income with my own work. When he sustained his brain injury, the money crunch added to my worries. He used up his vacation time and his salary was cut to 60 percent on disability pay. We were paying more than $800 a month for COBRA to keep his medical insurance coverage, and I had little time to work while caregiving. My financial worries escalated like the mountain of copays for rehab, prescriptions, and frequent doctor’s office visits.

Can money buy happiness? Maybe not, but I knew I could draw a stark line between anguish and peace of mind with dollar bills. Having money helps in a crisis!

Our efficient management of the money we have can relieve us of unnecessary stress. When TBI strikes a family, causing income to disappear and expenses to soar, a plan is needed to ensure financial stability. It’s hard enough to deal with the crushing emotional burden of TBI without worrying about going broke. Here are ten strategies that may help:

1) If you are not good at managing finances, look to your network of family and friends for solid advice. Ask a trusted person of your choosing for some free financial advice to help you get organized and begin a plan for the future.

2) Take a close look at your monthly expenses and figure out what can be cut and what must be spent to maintain a reasonable standard of living. Make cuts early on. Soon after Hugh’s crash, I sold my minivan and drove Hugh’s car. That saved me a car payment, cut my car insurance, and gave me extra income to use elsewhere. Hugh didn’t drive again for nearly a year, so that was a good move.

  • Can you downgrade or eliminate your cable TV?
  • Can you get rid of your house phone and use your cell phone only?

3) Can any bills you pay now be renegotiated? I was able to reduce the cost of Hugh’s rehab visits significantly by negotiating with the accounting department there. They gave us a price reduction and a payment plan I could work with. I also cut down on the number of visits per week while doing some therapy at home with the help and guidance of his speech and occupational therapists.

4) Enlist the help of any friends with special talents. We had a friend that was a physical therapist. He set up a pulley system at home for Hugh to exercise his weak left arm and shoulder. We also had a friend who was a masseuse who gave him massages, and one of his old bosses came over and helped Hugh on the computer as a cognitive exercise.

5) Make use of social services. The Brain Injury Association of Virginia offers support groups and a summer camp that allows caregivers respite. They also advocate for people and families dealing with TBI, so stay on top of what changes are happening legislatively that may benefit your family. There are Brain Injury Associations in most states.

6) If recommended, apply for Social Security Disability as soon as possible if your loved one may not return to work.

7) Use generic prescriptions when possible. Many new pharmacies now offer drastically reduced prescription plans.

8) Start clipping coupons and planning meals. You’ll be surprised at how well you can eat, and how much money you can save on food when you plan well.

9) Encourage your kids to earn some money of their own. Babysitting, house/dog sitting, or mowing lawns are all great part-time jobs. This is for older children who may want spending money. Working will teach them the value of money and responsibility.

10) Be open and honest without whining. Tell all your family and friends that times are tight, so for special occasions and holidays, you’d like gift cards. Be specific as to what you want/need: restaurant gift cards, movie passes, Visa gift card, etc.

11) Keep a family fun jar for change. Throw pennies and loose change in it whenever you can. When the jar is full, cash it in and go do something fun with the family like going out for ice cream or a movie, or buying something special.

Most importantly, try as hard as you can to not incur debt. By remaining financially responsible, you will drastically cut down on your own stress and the stress level in your family. With a little planning and some self-restraint, you can stretch the money you have coming in much further than you ever thought possible.

Comments

In regards to obtaining help for yard work, housecleaning, etc., contact your local church, other churches or synogogues for teen groups, etc. that help senior citizens and would surely be delighted to help you also. Also, contact your Vocational Rehab State Agency (TBI department) for they do indeed offer housecleaning services and possibly yard work services too. Make an appointment with your local county's office TBI representive for an Evaluation of your present physical/mental status to determine your specific and current needs. Be sure to have all your income and bank statements, disability allowances and paperwork, reports from your doctor/hospital history and TBI diagnosis and take them with you for the initial interview and subsequent Initial Assessment. Also, you need to put your house in someone else's name whom you really trust to not steal it from you and sale it out from under you. Consult your attorney, one that specializes in areas like this. Medicaid will take your house and use the proceeds to pay your medical bills if you ever can't pay for medical treatment, etc. Change of name/title will need to be done at least 3 years before Medicaid accepts that it is no longer your asset. My own sisters I can't trust!! It could possibly be a bank but AN ATTORNEY specializing in this area is the best person to advise you on these types of matters. God Bless you! Elizabeth
If response to your need for yard work and other household chores, etc., I understand completely as my 31 year old daughter sustained a fracture while at daycare. We were told by the radiologist that she only had a concussion. Not So, and years later after making all A's in elementary, Duke Tip scholar in 7th grade, it was when she began high school that I started noticing a problems with her short term memory. Being a Speech-Language Pathologist helped but even so, this was not obvious until after the statute of limitations had run out on sueing the daycare center for allowing children to pick up my little girl( a dwarf)on their arms and then she fall onto a concrete floor. She is now attending a technical college but the teachers nor Special Accommodations Counselor understand WHAT TBI is. Even doctors don\'t understand the magnitude and scope, accommodations that are needed individually by the TBI person. My suggestion to you is to contact a local, neighborhood church or one that you perhaps attend, they or a class of teenagers would be delighted to help you with your yardwork and other sundry light handyman chores. If that for some reason doesn't work out, then you need to get in contact with your state and local TBI agency who supplies caretakers for those who need help with household cleaning, bathing, etc. YOU need help with other essential and basic needs, i.e. your yard work that YOU are physically unable to accomplish. So, contact them and have a caseworker come to your home for an evaluation of your particular situation and needs to accommodate you in the specific areas that you need help. Hope this is some help to you. EF Seale (SLP)
Thank you for clearing up the quote for me! It makes perfect sense that LOVE of money would be the root of all evil, not money itself...
"Money is the root of all evil"...Actually, it says "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil" which has a totally different meaning.
Rosemary, thank you for your financial advice. However, I wanted to clear up one thing that you quoted...\"money is the root of all evil\"...it actually says that \"the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.\" Many people misunderstand that quote, because the word LOVE is left out. Many individuals make money an idol and that is what is evil. We all have to deal with it and yes finances are a challenge for those of us that have sustained severe brain injuries. However, it should not be the focus of your life...God should be.
As one person pointed out that many folks are alone or are the main provider in the household and must try to travel this path alone. It is not easy. There ARE services - but they are disjointed and the challenge of forms, paperwork and follow-through are difficult for people with TBI. Many agencies do not have knowledge of TBI per se and so there is less understanding. I advocate for people to speak up, or find a community - maybe a house of faith or a TBI support group - that will help them. Unfortunately even case workers don't have he full range of knowledge on services such as mortgage, rent, utilities, automatic payments, taxes, social services, medical etc that individuals need.
To Aug. 29th comment: For free help with yard work, you might try contacting a local high school or college to ask for help. Many have community service organizations where students help in the community as volunteers. Just a thought.
This is all excellent advice. I would just add that if your loved one needs continuous care (my husband has most likely maximized his recovery and resides in a skilled care nursing home) you need to consult a lawyer about spending down your assets to try to qualify for Medicaid. As my husband's guardian, we needed court approval to restructure our finances and I never would have been able to figure out the logistics without my attorney's help.
thanks so much, we are in this position and our families are up north. So. Cal Edison suggested a discount. Now Steve also has cancer. He needed a cheaper cell so I got consumer cellular. Friends here have been great.
I appreciate your tips. However, I live alone and have a hard time taking care of myself, let alone hhousework and yardwork. I have no friends as I have become reclusive due to all of my disabilities. Can anyone tell me if social security offers any services to help me. I am close to losing my house because spending all my $ to others in order to maintain my home, unending medical bills, groceries, taxes, etc... I'd be ecstatic if I could someone to help with my yard work. I end up hurting more by doing things myself. I end up crying out of sheer Pain and frustrtion. This is not living.

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