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This is the fifth post in a series entitled “Issues I face as a working adult with a disability.” Read the last post: Social Service Supports
Even though I work three days a week and am eligible for SSDI/SSI and Food Stamps, I am not financially independent. I still need the support of my family to make ends meet.
I am lucky to be able to live in a social service housing program and live somewhat independently. My housing program is staffed by social workers who help me with activities of daily living. But it is really expensive and it isn’t covered by any funding source other than my family and myself. Along with my rent, there are additional charges for support services. My parents are still helping me with a monthly stipend to cover these expensive, but necessary, costs.
I am proud to say, however, that I am able to cover a portion of my monthly rent and I pay for all of my food, transportation, my share of the cable TV and internet bill, and social expenses every month. It isn’t easy to balance expenses with my limited income. I have worked hard to create a budget that I stick to each week and have also been able to start a small savings account, as well.
I have trouble controlling my impulse to spend money. I have learned the hard way that if I don’t have the funds, I can’t do things I want to do. For a while, I had borrowed money from friends and had trouble paying it back. My family and program staff provided the structure for me to stop borrowing, to pay back my debts, and I have learned that I shouldn’t borrow from others anymore.
I have also learned that monthly bills must he paid in full before I can make unplanned purchases – including going to the movies, out to dinner and more.
One thing that helps is that I don’t have a credit card so I can’t overspend. I can only buy things if I have the cash available. Another technique I use is that I withdraw the same amount of money at the start of each week from my checking account and then have the staff put aside the cash I need for weekend spending. I don’t have it in my wallet or apartment, so I can’t splurge. It has taken a very long time for me to learn that I need to take these types of steps to control my spending and protect my funds. I am lucky to have others who helped me create and continue to help me stick to these strategies.
I also don’t have internet access to my bank accounts so I can’t go online and purchase things without the help of a family member with a credit card. This is really hard with the world we live in, but I have learned that it is necessary to keep me from impulsive buying and spending. I have learned to accept these limits even though they are hard. I can’t buy online, re-load my subway card with a credit card or go out with friends without planning to have cash, but it has saved me from real financial problems more than a few times and I know that even though it is hard, it is good for me.