The Essentials of Caregiver Finance
Living life as a caregiver, whether by career choice or out of necessity, is difficult. The caregiver experience is both rewarding and challenging as you experience the highs and lows of life.
Financially speaking, being a caregiver is not the most lucrative career choice. To make it work, you may need to consider looking into some financial planning.
Being a caregiver will likely get you thinking about retirement planning, planning for healthcare expenses, and looking at life insurance policies. Some life insurance companies will require you to answer life insurance questions. Your coverage options may depend on pre-existing conditions and a health analysis. So don't wait until your health analysis becomes too involved to get coverage.
As a family caregiver, you may find that you don't have any time for a career or even a job. You may not have time for a personal life or for engaging in activities and hobbies you once found enjoyable. Your everyday responsibilities will suddenly fall in line behind your obligation to care for someone you love.
Emotionally speaking, being a caregiver can wreak havoc on you. It is difficult to watch someone you care for struggle both physically and emotionally. Add to that the financial worries brought on by being torn between working and caring for family, and you have a recipe for lack of self-preservation.
If you are a caregiver or are trying to decide about caring for a loved one in the future, prepare by reading these tips for managing your finances.
You May be Able to Get Paid
If you're wondering how to care for a family member and still maintain your financial health, family connections, and enjoy life, you may need a caregiver's guide for all the answers. One of your biggest questions is whether or not you can get paid as a caregiver.
If your loved one has purchased long-term care insurance, chances are they have a benefit on their policy that will pay for home health. The details of who qualifies as a home healthcare provider may vary, so be sure that family members or other non-medical staff healthcare providers would count under this benefit.
You may be able to discuss your financial concerns with family members and the one you will be caring for. If so, address your concerns and let them know what you will be losing financially to quit your job or switch to part-time work to provide for their physical needs. They may be in a position to assist you financially or compensate you for your time somehow.
Although difficult and possibly uncomfortable, it is a conversation worth having.
Make a Plan to Pay Your Bills
Make a family plan. You will need to create a workable budget to make sure you are able to meet your living expenses each month. This may end up being a sacrifice for you and your entire family. Keep that in mind when discussing your financial budget.
Becoming a caregiver can be a shock to the system for both you and those in your household. There are steps you can take to prepare for the shock of caregiving on an emotional level, but give appropriate time to financial preparations.
Don’t enter into a caregiving situation without understanding all the impacts.
If you are the primary breadwinner for your household and need to leave your job, consider what benefits you will be losing. Will your spouse be able to obtain health insurance benefits through their employer to make up for what you lose? Will you be required to pay for family coverage outside of an employer?
Discover ways that you can cut costs. Create a meal plan and grocery budget. Figure out a plan with your family to cut utility expenses.
If you are able, talk to your employer about staying on board in a part-time capacity. Or look for another part-time job that will work around your caregiver schedule. If that isn’t possible, create an opportunity for a side-gig. Look into freelancing, become a virtual assistant, or consider direct sales. These are things you can work around your caregiving schedule to bring in some extra cash.
Save for Emergency Funds and Retirement
Middle-aged adults whose parents are still alive know that the time is drawing near for the need to provide care. This isn't a shock with aging family members. So, the best way to prepare for it is merely to prepare for it.
Saving for retirement and saving for emergencies are two different savings opportunities. Add a third saving account to the mix — saving for caregiving. But what if you don't have time to prepare? Emergencies do arise suddenly.
In the case of an emergency where you're suddenly projected into the caregiving world, it's acceptable to rely on emergency funds for your personal financial needs until plans can be made. However, you should also incorporate plans to replenish your emergency stash as soon as you are able.
Dipping into retirement savings should only be a consideration in a tight pinch. If you borrow against your 401K, be sure you can pay it back as soon as possible. Your financial goal should include entering into caregiving and leaving that scenario with the same amount of savings and retirement.
Don't Forget About Your Family Obligations
Your parents and grandparents have likely already prepared themselves for needing long-term care in some way. If not, be sure to have that discussion with them before it's too late. Help prepare your parents for retirement and continued enjoyment of life.
Your first obligation should always be your spouse and children. Even in a caregiving situation, it is never fair to expect your family to deal with it and to pick up the missing pieces in your absence. It is the entire family that has been thrust into the caregiving role.
You also still have a financial obligation to provide for your family. Don't be drawn into caring for a family member through guilt. Doing it that way can financially crush you if you aren't prepared.
Start planning now. Make a budget, and start a savings plan if you think there is a chance that you will become a caregiver in the future.
About the Author
Robyn Flint writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, CompareLifeInsurance.com. She is a licensed realtor, a freelance writer, a published author, and an entrepreneur. Robyn is the mother of three and grandmother of three.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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