money management is an essential skill that every couple should 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) suffers from 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 type of health problem comes at a significant cost – paid for in time or money. And in many countries, the lack of health care support has been a long-debated issue.
My husband, Jared, and I got married young. He was 25 and I was 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, while he was trying to work full time again, two years after quitting his first real job. His hemophilia and seizure disorder were factors in his resignation. But we were lucky and found an inclusive employer.
We knew very well that our wages would be low. But I was just getting started and Jared was physically handicapped. 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 that were offered to us.
Back then, we had no idea how important money was. Like many young professionals, we thought it was enough to be able to eat and buy the digital toys we wanted. We bought gadgets and paid in credit installments. We ate at fancy places to reward ourselves for a job well done almost every time we got paid.
Looking back, those were fun times. Living this way took away some of the stress that Jared’s monthly bleeding episodes put on our married life.
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 were hit with a truckload of expenses.
Throughout my child’s first year, I spent a good portion of our joint earnings on the mandatory two large cans of milk. I tried breastfeeding, and although it went well for four months, I eventually had to take supplements. To Jared’s credit, he supported my breastfeeding “career”. But there were just too many “what ifs” in the back of my mind: what if Jared was bleeding and lay in bed? Would he be able to support me in the way I need? I immediately got back to business.
At that point, we realized we needed to change the way we handle money.
If I had the chance to talk to a younger version of ourselves, I would give them the following financial advice:
Start saving early.
You are young and you naturally want to enjoy what you earn. After all, this is your first time winning for yourself. You should be proud! Go ahead and reward yourself for your hard work. But don’t forget to save.
Set aside a fixed amount of money your salary and never touch it. At first it may seem awkward, but you’ll get used to it eventually. Meanwhile, your future self will thank you, especially in an emergency. You have no idea what that means yet, especially if your parents are still supporting you. But as you get older and your responsibilities increase, you will realize that certain situations can cause you to overspend.
No matter how you budget your expenses, calamities can happen or your child can get sick. In our case, we experienced COVID-19. Our business has struggled, and we still haven’t recovered. And with a chronic illness, emergency money always comes in handy. There are times when you will be sicker than usual and unable to work. What then do you use for a living?
Take out health insurance.
I’m sure it works differently depending on your country. But here in the Philippines, health care is extremely expensive. The cost of a terminal illness can exceed a lifetime’s savings.
Therefore, taking out health insurance is always useful, even if it does not cover all costs.
With a pre-existing condition, like Jared’s seizure disorder, it can be difficult to qualify for insurance. However, some companies are willing to find ways around this problem to help people with disabilities. Enjoy!
Finally, contribute to your common needs according to your earning capacity.
Jared and I have been doing this lately, now that we both work as full-time freelancers. Now that he earns a lot of money, he contributes with what he earns to the needs of our family – communication bills, groceries, etc.
To note: Hemophilia news today is strictly a disease news and information site. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of anything you 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 on issues relating to haemophilia.