Managing one’s own finances can be challenging for anybody, but if you have a disability that requires some form of care or assistive technology, it can become a bit more complicated. Financial independence is the key to personal independence, and so if you have a disability, it’s especially important to have the support you need to manage your money.
If you’re wanting to better manage your own finances, the first step is to look at the way you view money, and how you spend it.
What are your money values?
Your values will determine what you will do with your money. Asking yourself how you spend your money will tell you a lot about how you value money.
Do you prioritise needs over wants? Or the other way round?
It’s important that your needs come first. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between your needs and your wants. Before you start planning how to use your money, we should distinguish between needs and wants.
- A need is something you must have to survive, like accommodation and food.
- A want is something you would like to have but you don’t need it immediately.
What are your spending habits, and do you need to change them to accomplish your financial goals?
- Do you tend to buy things you need or want right now?
- Or do you save for things you might need or want later?
- Do you budget?
- Do you track your spending?
- Do you pay your bills on time?
- Do you put at least a little bit of your money away each time?
Create a Budget
The best thing you can do to take control of your finances is to create a budget. A budget sets out how you allocate portions of your income so that your needs are taken care of before your wants. It also allows you to keep track of your incoming and outgoing money so that you can identify where your money is being best spent, and where there may be wastage. It empowers you to decide if your money habits are working best for you, or if you need to reconsider how you spend it.
Here are some tips for creating a budget:
- Write down the source of each of your income streams, along with their amounts and then calculate the total amount of income.
- Save your cash receipts for one month and at the end of the month sort them into categories, including:
o Personal care items such as toothpaste and soap
o Trips to restaurants or takeaway food
o Fuel and public transport expenses
o Leisure and entertainment e.g. movies, theatre, Netflix, Spotify etc
- Then go through your bank statements and add your card expenditures to each list.
- Add it all up to get a comprehensive list of how much money you spend each month and on what.
This should give you a really good idea of where you may be spending too much money, or where you can afford to spend a little more. To break it down even further, you could then sort each item of spending into either a “need” category, or a “want” category. This will help you determine if you are taking care of your needs first.
If you are employed, your employer estimates the amount of tax that should be withheld from your pay. If you are self-employed, it is up to you to take tax into account as you will be required to pay that tax at the end of the financial year.
Are NDIS payments taxable? No, your NDIS payments are tax free, but if you have more than one stream of income it may be important to keep track of which streams are taxed and which are not.
Depending on your level of disability, you may require assistive technologies to assist you at home, work or school.
Assistive technologies can include:
- Wheelchairs and other mobility aids
- Bath rails
- Shower and bath chairs
- Kitchen aids
- Eating and drinking aids
- Electronic devices and voice recognition
Some of these devices can be very expensive but can be covered by your NDIS management plan. Others may not necessarily be a ‘need’ but may improve your life so it may be worth incorporating some assistive technology purchases into your budget if they are not covered by your NDIS plan.
Hopefully all this information helps you to get the ball rolling in managing your finances, however, if you have a high level disability that requires substantial support, you may have more complex financial needs. If you do find managing your budget to be a bit overwhelming, then it is always a good idea to speak to an NDIS plan manager. It is their job to manage the financial side of your NDIS support which leaves you free to get on with doing the things that you enjoy most.