By Abby Henry, Oncology Content Manager, PearlPoint Cancer Support
Even with health insurance, cancer costs can be expensive. One of the best ways to prepare for these expenses is to plan ahead by creating a budget. To create your budget, you can use PearlPoint’s Budgeting Worksheets, create your own spreadsheet, or download a budgeting app on your smart phone. When creating your budget, you will need to include all sources of income such as: salary, Social Security, short-term disability, and investments. You will need to include all your usual bills such as: rent or mortgage, electric, water, car payment, gas, phone, and insurance premiums. You will also need to include more flexible expenses such as groceries, clothes, and entertainment.
In addition to the typical categories you would find in a personal budget, as a cancer patient, you will need to also consider the following:
- Co-Pays and deductibles
- Most insurance plans include some out-of-pocket expenses. Learn exactly what you will have to pay by speaking with a case manager assigned through your insurance company. You may be eligible to receive financial assistance from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Co-Pay Assistance Program.
- Travel expenses
- Transportation: Especially if your treatment center is far from home, you may have to budget extra money for transportation such as gas or even airfare.
- Lodging: If your treatment center is more than a few hours’ drive or if you are receiving treatment that requires you to remain close to the hospital such as a bone marrow transplant, you will need to budget for a hotel or apartment. You can also check to see if your city has a Hope Lodge.
- Lost wages
- Even if you continue to work during treatment, you may not be able to keep the same hours as before the diagnosis.
- You may need to find additional childcare while you are in treatment or after surgery.
- Additional medical expenses
- In addition to co-pays and deductibles you may have to buy other medical items for yourself while in treatment such as wigs, mastectomy bras, bandages, or over-the-counter medications.
To keep track of expenses, it may be helpful to keep an envelope in your car or purse to store receipts. Many parts of your budget such as rent or car payments are mostly set in stone. You won’t be able to easily change these expenses. Some areas of your budget are a much more flexible, and this is where you can make the biggest difference! Here are some quick ways to save money:
- Eat at home and pack your lunch.
- You may not realize how much many you spend if you eat at restaurants (even fast food) more than twice a week. It can really add up!
- Make your grocery list before you go to the store and only buy what is on your list.
- Look for coupons and deals online or in the newspaper.
- Shop your car insurance or home insurance policies to make sure you are getting the best price.
- Get rid of cable or change your services.
- With streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, you may not need the additional channels on your TV.
- Put a freeze on unnecessary spending.
- For example, rent a movie from the library instead of going to the theater. Go to a local park instead of the shopping mall.
What are your best money-saving tips? Let us know in the comments below!
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