Budgeting 101 and Breast Cancer

By Jade Griffiths

Okay, let’s talk: money. Balancing finances can be one of the most challenging aspects of breast cancer “aftermath” and – let’s be real – most of us don’t budget for a breast cancer diagnosis. We know it. You know it. But, what can we do about it? We reached out to the team at Planswell (the first company to offer free, online financial planning for Canadians) to get the 101 on budgeting after something life-altering like breast cancer.

Don’t put it off.

You’re a young woman who’s been recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The last thing you want to hear is that you need to pick up your budgeting game. Especially if you didn’t have much of one to begin with. But, hear us out, getting started is one of the best things you can do for yourself moving forward.   The Planswell team says it like this: “Budgeting is understanding your income and your expenses. What comes in, and then what goes out.  When serious life changes happen, the earlier we can adjust our spending to reflect our financial realities the less of a mess we’re creating for ourselves later on. Taking it step-by-step and starting early will prevent adding [more] stress later.”

Start by setting up a monthly budget.

So, now that you know budgeting is something to be put off, where do you start? Setting up a budget starts by deciding how much money you’re going to need each month to take care of your expenses. Sounds simple enough, but let’s break it down. Planswell, suggests taking it step-by-step:

Know how much you’re currently spending

Your normal expenses will remain mostly the same as they were pre-diagnosis. These are things like food, shelter, entertainment, and other things you enjoy doing.

Consider your additional expenses

Now that you know how much you’re already spending, start thinking about additional expenses that should be added to your budget, like: travel during treatment, medication, lost income from your partner’s time off work, etc.

Put a number on it… ASAP!

Knowing how much these additional expenses cost will help you plan how to pay for them. For example: will it come from savings? Is there room within your existing budget? Or will you be borrowing from the bank? Putting a dollar value on breast cancer treatment is easier said than done. Life and treatment can be unpredictable. However, talking to your doctor about these things as soon as possible will help you lots moving forward.

Find what works for you.

At the end of the day, one size never fits all. Your budget is going to be unique to your diagnosis, your treatment plan, and your life. That’s why it’s important to find the right strategies and tools that work best for you. Depending on your needs, Planswell gave us some of their top choices for budgeting tools:

Envelope Budgeting

If you’re having difficulty staying committed to your daily budget. Try withdrawing your spending money for the week ahead of time and keeping it in your wallet. We don’t always log-in to online banking to check our balance, but you can easily check your wallet to keep tabs on what’s left for spending that week.

Online Tools

There are plenty of online tools out there that can help make budgeting easier. If you’re on the tech-savvy side and want a software that’s going to do some of the hard work for you, this could be right for you. Planswell’s Budget Calculator, Mint, and You Need A Budget are just a few of the interactive tools out there to help you get started.

Going Old-School

It might take a bit of extra effort, but going old-school and tracking your budget in a Excel spreadsheet works just as well. Or, as Planswell says it:

“Taking all of your credit card transactions, bills and banking statements and putting them line by line into a spreadsheet to see where your spending is going and when is extremely empowering”

The Planswell Team

We all like to have money, but managing, balancing, and budgeting it? Not so much. Staying on top of your finances early, especially after a breast cancer diagnosis, can be the one thing that makes life just a little less stressful down the road. 

Need more information on how to get started in your financial journey post-breast cancer diagnosis? Contact support@rethinkbreastcancer.com to find out about the best resources in your province. 

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