Some people have said:
“Your materials are good, but they don’t apply to me because I am (elderly/disabled/in poor health) and I am on a very low, fixed income. There’s nothing I can do to increase my income!”
If you are in this group, then it’s true that you may not be able to increase your income. But there are still ways to improve your financial situation. We all begin from different places and sometimes need to have patience and take baby steps, but there is almost always something you can do to improve your situation.
Keep an open mind!
Just because information may be geared toward working people who have the possibility of increasing their incomes, doesn’t mean you can’t adapt the information to be useful to you. For example, you may not have “money leaks” because you’ve never been able to afford them, but there are nevertheless probably ways you can reduce your expenses to save a small amount and “no amount is too small to save!”
Here are some ideas:
- Talk to your medical providers about ways that you may be able to save money on prescription drugs or be eligible for free drugs. There are some drug assistance organizations that can get you free prescription drugs for as little as $5 per prescription, with a full refund if you are denied. www.freemedicineprogram.org ** is one such program.
- If it is available in your area and you are eligible, take advantage of “meals on wheels” to save on food bills. www.mowaa.org You can also see if there’s a food cooperative, food bank, or other low-cost source available to you.
- Look at home economics. For instance, a bag of dried split peas costs under $2 and can be made into vegetable soup that provides great nutrition, including protein, for just pennies a serving.
- You can get elegant, quality clothing for a fraction of the cost through re-sale and thrift shops.
- Without expecting any help, let your children or other relatives know that you could use a hand financially– if you don’t tell them, you are taking away their right to choose to help you. They may or may not be able, or willing, to help, but don’t take away their choice by letting pride prevent communication.
- Contact your local Department of Social Services or the Legal Aid office in your area to find out what type of housing and care services are available to you or which you might not be aware. Many communities have nice, affordable housing based upon income. Some of these will even include all basic utilities except telephone with rent, and will charge you based on a percentage of your income!
- Seniors with homes that are paid off, but not enough income to live on may be candidates for a Reverse Mortgage. You never know until you investigate.
- Butterfly’s Consumer Resources has a list of sources for information and help by topic. This is a free service and will give you a starting point.
No matter what your situation, there are things that you can do to make a difference or to get help. You may be eligible for assistance you did not know about and if you can find realistic ways to reduce your expenses even a little, it will help. If you save even five dollars a month, it will come in handy some day. No amount is too little to save! Be patient with yourself and treat this as a learning experience. You may be happily surprised at the results.
Written by Victoria Wright, JD