MS and Future Planning: Check Out Your Finances - dummies

MS and Future Planning: Check Out Your Finances

By Rosalind Kalb, Barbara Giesser, Kathleen Costello

When you have multiple sclerosis (MS), careful planning is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself and your family. If you gear up to deal with whatever challenges MS can bring, and then find down the road that your MS has actually remained pretty stable and manageable, you haven’t lost anything except some planning time.

But, if you lay down some plans and the disease progresses enough to interfere with your life in a significant way, you’ll already have some safety nets in place to meet the challenges head on.

As you can imagine, when you have an unpredictable disease like multiple sclerosis (MS), taking a long, hard look at your financial health is important. Even though you don’t want to think about it now, your medical bills may end up rising later due to disease progression (or you may need to hire extra help), and so you want to be prepared financially for whatever happens.

When you’re checking out your finances, be sure to include the plus column and the minus column. You can do this in a variety of ways — by writing lists of your sources of income and expenses, by keeping a daily journal of monies coming in and monies going out, or by filling out a any loan application form (by the time you fill in all those blanks, you’ll know your situation pretty well!).

Just keep in mind that it always feels better to start with the plus column. Here are the specifics you should consider:

  • Sources of income: These incoming sources can include income, assets, all forms of financial support (including child support and alimony), VA benefits, interest and dividends, food stamps, public assistance, rental income, life insurance policies, employee benefits, and anything else you can think of.

  • Expenses: These outgoing costs can include housing, food, transportation, utilities, cell phone, cable, clothing, loans, mortgages, car payments, interest on credit balances, employer deductions, alimony, property taxes, insurances, medical care, prescriptions, rehab, personal assistance, and anything else that drains the coffers.

You may consider getting a credit report from one of the three credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion — to see where you stand. You’re entitled to one free report per year from each of these agencies. Check out AnnualCreditReport, which is the central website that the three companies created so that the public can easily request free reports.