Financing Your Future

Steps for Living encourages sound money management
Author: January W. Payne

The National Hemophilia Foundation’s interactive Steps for Living Web site has been a resource for families of young people with bleeding disorders since May 2011, when it launched “First Step,” a section for parents of children from newborn to age 8. The site’s newest section, “Step Out,” is a resource for adults age 26 and up with bleeding disorders to help with issues that come with aging. Its goal is to provide sound long-term financial advice.

“Caring for your financial well-being may be as important as caring for your health,” says Ayana Woods, NHF’s director of education. “The most important part of any financial plan is having one. This new section is a resource for people at any stage of life, whether entering the workforce or planning for retirement. ”

Most people older than 65 have multiple chronic illnesses, and grappling with the costs of managing those conditions is difficult, according to a 2011 study in BMC Geriatrics. You may encounter unexpected expenses, such as the need to hire help for dressing, bathing or managing medications for yourself or loved ones. The most common other chronic medical conditions in older people with hemophilia are: cancer, cardiovascular disease, joint disease, liver disease and kidney disease, according to a study published in Haemophilia in 2009.

Building a savings account, wisely investing your money and protecting yourself against financial catastrophes can help ensure you have money for emergencies and your long-term future. Other smart money moves include funding your retirement years, maintaining health insurance throughout your lifetime and purchasing long-term care insurance so you don’t deplete your savings.

With the implementation of healthcare reform, NHF also wants to help people in the community understand the health insurance market, whether they are 27 or 67. “We have a complex healthcare system that can be difficult to navigate, especially when living with a bleeding disorder,” says Woods. “The information in this section of the Steps for ­Living Web site aims to outline some of the implications a bleeding disorder might have on financial planning. It can help guide planning and conversations with family members and financial advisers.”

The “Step Out” section of Steps for Living offers such sound advice as:

  • Build an emergency fund: Save three to six months of income. This will cover you if you lose your job or go on unpaid medical leave to deal with a problem related to your bleeding disorder or other chronic medical condition. To accomplish this, calculate how much money you would need to cover your expenses during that period. Then you can determine how much you need to set aside.
  • Pay off debt and don’t take on new bills. Most Americans are in debt, and medical bills are one of the main causes. More than 60% of bankruptcies result from medical bill debt, according to a 2009 study published in The American Journal of Medicine. To avoid bankruptcy and handle your current debt, stop using your credit cards. Consider stopping short of canceling them, since that can lower your credit score by reducing your available credit. Also, devise a debt-reduction plan to chisel away at your debt pile. Try to pay more than the minimum due monthly on your credit cards and bills.
  • Beware of scams. Before investing your money or hiring a contractor or business to complete a job for you, check them out thoroughly via the Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general’s office or other methods. This will help verify that the business is legitimate before you fork over any money. And although Web sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp rate businesses, it’s better to get recommendations from people you trust, suggests Steps for Living.