April is Financial Literacy Month. According to Investopia, financial literacy is the ability to understand and effectively use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. Individuals with epilepsy already face a number of challenges including lack of transportation, risk of death, depression, and reproductive issues just to name a few. To add to this extensive list, epilepsy also has a substantial economic burden. Full transparency, my medicine is over $500 for 3 months. Estimated direct costs of epilepsy are approximately $28 billion per year, a significant portion of which can be attributed to increases in all-cause costs related to uncontrolled epilepsy. While people with full-time employment and insurance coverage may not always feel the effects of finances, those who experience debilitating, uncontrolled seizures and cannot work stress jobs may have limited earning power.
In a previous blog, I spoke about the cost of healthcare and its impact on seizure control and treatment. Budgeting and saving are two major practices that help me decrease the financial burden associated with epilepsy. Making budgeting decisions can be difficult. Your antiepileptic medicine is always a priority on your budget. How do you create a budget?
Compare what you spend to what you bring in.
Categorize your expenses: necessity, luxury, special occasions, maintenance, subscriptions, and lagniappe (extra)
Identify how frequently you purchase specific items i.e. medicine every 3 months, groceries every week, nails and lashes every 3 weeks etc.
I’ve invested in an expense tracker
Be honest with yourself about what you don’t need.
Once you’ve planned your monthly spending, you have created your budget.
Another concept of financial literacy that can help decrease the financial burden of epilepsy is saving. Saving has to be intentional and consistent. The amount you save can be determined by the extra money that comes out of your budget; it doesn’t have to be a large amount. In regards to epilepsy, your savings account can be a last resort to paying for medicine. How do you determine the amount of your savings?
Set up a savings account. If capable, set up a standard amount that can be deposited to your account from a regular check or income.
Save other sources of income “side hustles.” For example, I work at Delgado, but also as a dance instructor. The money from my dance check is put into my savings account.
Avoid paying bills with credit.
Distinguish wants from needs.
Along with budgeting and saving, it is also important to consider how epilepsy affects your job and your income? Do you have a backup plan for what to do financially if you can't work? Planning your finances is crucial to living with epilepsy and seizure treatment. I won’t lie…finances can sometimes cause anxiety and frustration. However, financial literacy and proactive money management can ease the stress associated with paying for medication and other expenses associated with living with epilepsy.