The road out of poverty is a complicated one. Navigating it, with disabilities on top, it just feels like the odds are stacked against us. And maybe they are! But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Getting out of poverty while disabled can be done.
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No stress, no worrying about being homeless next month, no Panic! At The Cashier.
Living in a financially stress-free environment, besides the obvious upgrade to your lifestyle, has a lot of perks. Your health will improve, thanks to adequate and healthy nutrition, you’ll be able to afford days off when you need them, and you’ll be able to afford to be lenient on yourself, and let your bad days be bad, while you can make the most out of your good days.
It’s something that will take time and effort, on your part. And no, it’s not really fun, and it doesn’t always feel fair, but the rewards can truly be astounding.
Step 1: Emergency Cushion
While you scale the very smooth walls of the poverty hole, emergencies will happen. When do they not?? That’s why you’ll need an emergency fund. That is your first goal, and it will always take priority.
A good emergency fund would be 1000$. It can cover most emergencies. Here’s how to go about it and why it works.
Building a 1000$ Emergency fund
As stated in my blog post – How to Make Money As A Disabled Person -, there are a ton of active and passive ways for you to make money. In this case, I would encourage you to choose the active income path, and to save up 1000$ in a separate account for rainy days.
Keep in mind, the word “Emergency” is not taken lightly here. We’re talking EMERGENCIES. This 1000$ fund will not be used for anything less than absolutely necessary expenses, such as fixing your car that broke down, an emergency dental appointment for a problem tooth, and the like.
How it works:
Isn’t it super annoying when you start saving up… and everything crumbles at the sight of one emergency? Yes, it is. It can make you feel hopeless, and like everything sucks and that you’ll never get out of the vicious circle. That’s where the emergency fund comes in, acting as a buffer.
Being able to use your emergency funds allows you to keep your usual income unscathed by emergencies. That will, in turn, help with your anxiety about being broke, as well as keep things a bit more stable in general.
Your first priority, at all times, is to make sure that your 1000$ emergency fund is at full capacity. If an emergency crops up and you have to pay for something with it, you have to replenish that emergency fund asap. That’s the key component to getting out of poverty and staying out of poverty while disabled; having a fail-safe.
Your second priority will vary: it could be lowering credit card debt, loans and other things, or saving up for an expense that will help you in the long run. I leave that part for you to figure out.
With that system, you can see this scenario instead:
- You work on your stuff, saving money slowly but surely for [Priority #2]
- Emergency happens. It’s a 500$ expense. You take it from the emergency fund. Your [Priority #2] savings are unscathed.
- You now halt any contribution to [Priority #2] and make sure to replenish your 1000$ emergency fun to max, either by working more shifts at work, doing active income work, etc.
- Now that you’re back at 1000$, you can carry on saving for [Priority #2].
Why It Works:
The effect of such a system on your mental health will be enormous. Your [Priority #2] savings were not decimated by your emergency, they simply came to a halt for a short period of time while replenishing.
That can make the difference between continuing your efforts and giving up. I know that from experience.
STEP 2: [Priority #2]
So, what will be your priority #2? It could be all kinds of things!
- Credit Card Debt
- Investing in yourself (skills, tools, healthy foods, guides)
- Buying or replacing items that make your life easier
- Loans (such a car loans or student loans)
This list will depend on your goals for the future. Getting rid of credit card debt is a pretty good idea, for starters. If you’ve chosen a specific path towards financial comfort, then you’ll most likely need to brush up on some skills or maybe you’ll need some new tools. Getting out of poverty while disabled often involves having a small business to work on (or multiple, if you have “shiny new thing” syndrome like me!)
This list was written in order of importance, according to me. You can definitely choose to prioritize differently, of course. To me, both Credit Card debt and Investing in yourself are first on the list.
Why are loans so low in importance? As long as you make the monthly payment required, they won’t hurt your credit score or otherwise impact your life too much. Besides, if you work on your projects and build things to make you money, it’ll be much easier to pay off these low-importance loans later on.
Because you, my friend, are much more important than loans.
STEP 3: What Do You Need?
So, you have a 1000$ emergency fund, and you’re lowering your credit card debt like nobody’s business. It’s time to think less short-term and more long-term. There’s no way around it; getting out of poverty, especially as a disabled person, means that you’ll need to set up steady income streams, including some passive ones, too. Without those, one bad week or month, and your finances will suffer.
At this stage, you’ll still need active income as much as you can, too. However, you now need to set aside a few hours and figure out the answer to the most harrowing question of all: what the heck am I trying to do with my life??
In order to figure out what you need, you need to figure out what you want to do. Once you know that part, you can sit down and list items, skills and courses that may be of importance for your new path.
In my case, I chose a few different paths (blame my ADHD). The main one being blogging. That’s when I realized – I now need some specific things, such as:
- Domain names (did you think I’d only have one blog? Damn you, ADHD!)
- A hosting service (monthly fee, too…)
- Content for my blogs, relevant images
- A keyword researching tool for better SEO
- Some proper guidance (which I found here)
- Some way to organize myself and my thoughts (still haven’t quiiiite found that!)
So, with that, I knew I’d have some expenses along the way. Thanks to that knowledge, I was that much better prepared to tackle my project.
While this was only an example, if you’re interested in the resources I’m using for blogging, you can find them on this post: Everything You Need To Know Before Making Your First Blog. Blogging is one of the best ways for us disabled people to get out of poverty, simply because it can be done at your own pace, and you can just keep adding to your blog as you go.