Jan 4, 2011

Top 10 Cost-Cutting Tips for People with Chronic Illness

1) Cut your current cell phone bill in half by switching to a pre-paid plan like one of the Straight Talk Cell Phone Plans from Walmart. Pre-paid plans allow you to avoid all those pesky local and federal taxes while still getting quality service and reception (pre-paid providers use the same cell-phone towers the four major nationwide providers do) so your clarity and strength of signal shouldn't be sacrificed. Also, pre-paid plans offer a refreshing flexibility that standard contract plans don't: you can adjust your plan on a month-to-month basis to meet your talk/text/web needs. For instance, save more money during the months you don't plan on using your phone as much by opting for the $30 plan (1000 min, 1000 text, 1000 MB of web usage). Otherwise, enjoy unlimited everything without fear of overage fees for a clean $45 per month. For many people, an unlimited cell phone plan is sufficient and they choose to discontinue their land line phone service altogether and rely on their cell phone. However, if you still need a land line phone for emergency and local calls, contact your local phone company to determine if they offer a reduced rate for people with disabilities or low incomes. While you're at it, call your local city or county offices to find out if they participate in the utility tax refund program which qualifies eligible low income customers to be reimbursed for the amount of tax paid on utilities throughout the year--could be as much as a few hundred dollars by the end of the year depending on where you live.

2) Cut your cable bill significantly by switching to basic cable (sometimes as low as $10 a month for about 30 basic channels) and consider enrolling in Netflix for as little as $7.99 per month to enjoy unlimited streaming of new release DVDs and TV on DVD. Enjoy unlimited online streaming and DVD rentals delivered directly to your doorstep from Netflix for just $9.99 a month. Or, simply enjoy streaming thousands of your favorite programs from sites like hulu.com for free and at your convenience.

3) Cut your car insurance premium without sacrificing coverage by calling your agent to inform them that you are no longer commuting and have your policy switched to a "pleasure driving" policy. You may also qualify for the pleasure use rate if you live within a certain mileage radius of your job (varies depending on your insurance company). However, if you are no longer commuting to school or work, there is no need to pay the commuter rate anymore so be sure to let them know and you could potentially save hundreds of dollars per year.

4) Consider grocery delivery from Safeway.com, available in many communities nationwide. Where I live, it only costs $6 extra to have your groceries delivered right to your door. This not only saves gas and time, it can also save the headache of feeling woozy or sick while waiting in line at the store or carrying groceries in and out of the car. If you ask me, that's worth an extra $6 any day. Also consider participating in a local produce club like Local Harvest or Terra Organics that provides a box of fresh, seasonal organic produce to your door for as little as $20 per week. This option ensures that you will eat fresh, healthy foods and also provides some much needed variety, flavor and excitement in your diet. The selection varies weekly and takes the guesswork out of that inevitable, daunting question, "What do I feel like eating this week?" It enables you to try new, healthy, whole foods while supporting local farmers and the local economy. It also encourages you to attempt new recipes.

5) Take advantage of free shipping and coupon codes from online retailers. Online shopping also enables you to search for the best deals (which can often be tediously time and energy consuming) without ever leaving the couch in the comfort of your own home. Seize the opportunity to read product reviews from other customers gauging their satisfaction with the product before you purchase--one smart and surefire way to predict whether or not you will be happy with the product. That's one advantage conventional shopping doesn't offer. Most retailers offer a free shipping incentive if you purchase over a certain dollar amount, so make sure you prioritize and group items accordingly in order to qualify for free shipping.

6) Consignment stores offer quality new and gently used clothing, shoes, and accessories at nearly half of department store retail prices. The shopping experience at a consignment store is also much more pleasant and much less tiresome and overwhelming than at a department store or the mall. Think: small, cozy store brimming with unique boutique-like items and personalized attention from the store owner vs. long lines, either pushy or hard-to-find salespeople, and high prices. Many consignment stores will also consider trading items in their store for items you bring in, purchasing items from you outright for cash, or placing items on consignment until they are sold where you will then get anywhere between 40 and 60 percent of the profit.

7) For free or reduced-cost haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and facials, consider going to a local beauty school to reap the talents of beauty-industry newcomers. Don't be afraid, usually trainees are fully supervised by their instructors during the procedures, and if you are not satisfied with their work, someone else will step in and fix it to meet your specifications and you won't be out any money.

8) Save on prescription drugs through participating prescription drug discount programs like the ones offered by Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies. This is a great option if you find yourself without insurance or in need of a little extra assistance. Many states also have prescription assistance programs you can enroll in for free if you meet eligibility requirements.

9) Call your local Department of Social and Health Services office to check your eligibility for social programs if you haven't done so already. Even if you don't qualify for direct cash aid, you may still qualify for other valuable programs like food assistance or childcare, especially if you are already on disability. Also, keep in mind that if you owe debt due to medical bills, the state or the hospital itself may offer financial aid programs: sometimes all you have to do is inquire and simply tell them your situation and they will forgive a portion or sometimes even all of the bill without it adversely affecting your credit score.

10) If your physical health has deteriorated significantly and you find yourself struggling with basic tasks at home or in public, you may benefit from having a service dog around. Although they can be very expensive because of their years of extensive training, there are many programs out there offering low-to-no-cost service dogs to eligible candidates.


  1. Awesome article, thanks hon!

  2. Thanks Stacy, you're more than welcome! :)

  3. Health issues can really be rough, isn't it? The cost of living can be pretty high at times, and having to add a budget for one's health can put a pretty big strain on your wallet. It's important to watch out for any unexpected surprises, and if it does happen, having a safety net like some emergency funds or cash advance payday loans, is important.

    -Sofia Britts

  4. Yes, Sofia you bring up a very good point. Having an emergency fund provides an extra sense of security and ensures that you will not get caught in a dire financial situation. The financial experts recommend having a 6-8 month reserve in your bank account, but even if you don't have that, strive to sock away one or two months living expenses safe and sound in savings just in case an unexpected health emergency arises.