My Money Advice for a Young Couple With Chronic Illnesses
Managing money is an essential skill every couple must learn. From the moment they decide to live together, and especially after they decide to walk down the aisle, the health of their finances will always be a huge determinant of their happiness. This is true even if one (or both) has a chronic illness. In fact, when chronic illness is part of the equation, money becomes even more important.
Whether we like it or not, the reality is that having any sort of health issue bears a significant cost — paid in either time or money. And in many countries, the lack of support for healthcare is a long-debated issue.
My husband, Jared, and I married young. He was 25 and I, 24. We were a couple of starry-eyed young professionals hoping to make our mark in the world. I had only been out of college for a year, whereas he was trying out full-time employment again, two years after quitting his first real job. His hemophilia and seizure disorder were factors in his resignation. But we got lucky and found an inclusive employer.
We knew full well that our salaries would be low. But I was just starting out, and Jared was physically disabled. He felt he had no right to be picky, knowing that people with disabilities have fewer opportunities. So we signed the contracts for the entry-level jobs we were offered.
At the time, we had no idea just how important money could be. Like many young professionals, we thought it was enough that we could eat and buy the digital playthings we wanted. We purchased gadgets and paid in credit installments. We ate at fancy places to reward ourselves for a job well done almost every time we got our paycheck.
Looking back, those were fun times. Living this way lifted some of the stress that Jared’s monthly bleeding episodes put on our life as a couple.
But not for long.
Things took a 360-degree turn when we decided to have a child, and then when we decided to move out and become independent. After I gave birth, we got hit by a truckload of expenses.
Throughout my child’s first year, I spent a good fraction of our common earnings on the mandatory two big boxes of milk. I attempted to breastfeed, and while that went OK for four months, I eventually needed to supplement. To Jared’s credit, he supported my breastfeeding “career.” But there were just too many “what ifs” at the back of my mind: What if Jared has a bleed and gets bedridden? Would he be able to support me in the way I need? I went back to business immediately.
At that point, we realized we had to change how we handled money.
If I had a chance to talk to a younger version of ourselves, I would give them the following money advice:
Start saving early.
You’re young, and understandably you want to enjoy what you’re earning. After all, this is your first time earning for yourself. You should be proud! Go ahead and reward yourself for your hard work. But don’t forget to save up.
Set aside a fixed amount of money from your salary and never touch it. At first, this may seem inconvenient, but you’ll get used to it eventually. Meanwhile, your future self will thank you, especially when emergencies strike. You have no idea what this means yet, especially if your parents still support you. But as you get older, and your responsibilities increase, you’ll realize that some situations can cause you to overspend.
No matter how well you budget your expenses, calamities can strike, or your kid can get sick. In our case, we experienced COVID-19. Our business struggled, and we still haven’t recovered. And with chronic illness, emergency cash always comes in handy. There are times you’ll be sicker than usual and won’t be able to work. What then do you use to live?
Purchase health insurance.
I’m sure this works differently depending on your country. But here in the Philippines, healthcare is extremely expensive. The cost of being terminally ill can exceed one’s entire life savings.
Therefore, getting health insurance is always helpful, even if it doesn’t cover all costs.
With a preexisting condition, such as Jared’s seizure disorder, it can be difficult to qualify for insurance. However, some companies are willing to find ways to work around this to help disabled people. Take advantage of this!
Lastly, contribute to your common needs according to earning capacity.
Jared and I have been doing this lately, now that we are both working as full-time freelancers. Now that he’s earning quite a bit himself, he contributes what he earns to our family’s needs — communications bills, groceries, and the like.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.