MS and Me: Money Part 2

Last month Emma Rogan started a conversation about having MS and money. What impact did being diagnosed with MS have on her finances and outlook? This week she’s full on with her own financial planning, revealing the steps that are making a difference, financially speaking, to her life. 

Writing this piece and reflecting on the topic has given me the opportunity to really get REAL. Sitting in the hospital on D-Day after I got the news, one of the prevailing thoughts I had was can I still work? Earn money? Would I ever achieve my ambitions now I had MS? The turmoil and the chaos of those few minutes left me with long-term concerns about staying financially independent. All in the space of a few minutes!

By getting organised, realistic about my current situation and respecting money for what it can do for me, I’m already seeing positive changes. 

Stock take: First things first, I needed to take stock to get an accurate picture of my situation. There isn’t any point fudging the figures, the plan has to start with the reality. But to actually get to that point, there must be integrity. Maths don’t lie. But I delude myself. From this I can then set out your future truth – what I really want in life and plan to that. 

Forecast: It is still early enough in the year to forecast, to look ahead in the year and really get a perspective on what my income and outgoings look like. Do I expect my car insurance to go up (again!), what about my home insurance or health care? I know when I was relying on benefits it was even harder to focus on the reality but it was more important.

Adjustment: I can plan and forecast and analyse but all this will fall if the plan doesn’t meet my needs. Any adjustment in spending to be reduced in line with our value systems. For me that means that my daily coffee at 7.30am before I get to work will stay but buying a new top or jeans goes way down the list. Education is important here- read articles on personal finance and understand your debt and what is costing you’re the most.

Now that I’ve taken stock, looked at the year ahead and made some adjustments, I’m using the Toshi Finance app to keep track and monitor the progress against the Plan. If you prefer pen and paper, do it. Keep track in a way that suits you, decide on a frequency, a methodology. If the reality is not fitting with the plan go back to the plan and make sure your values are in there and ask why it isn’t working. Just hear it and see what you can do with it. 

There will be surprises – things break cars, showers-  people celebrate engagements, birth, getting married; bills get crazy; my toddler calls Australia… these or something like these will happen. WILL happen. When they do adjust and re-plan. Don’t stop but do make ‘unexpected’ part of the plan. Reward planning and if you find it tough going make sure you celebrate the wins. Ideally a non-financially devastating reward would be great but be prepared to pay for a treat as well!

Make being open part of your plan to let the people in your life know you’re making different financial decisions. Some people find it difficult to say ‘I don’t have the money’. But that is a circumstance and in no way reflects who you are or your value as a person. A fundamental aspect of good business is financial planning and we should feel equally empowered to do the same for our personal lives. Keep talking about it. Remember deliberate earning, saving and spending are very different to being ‘mean’ which is another Irish ‘no-no’. Don’t let a fear of being labelled mean have you spend to disprove it. I’ve learned this the hard way. 

It is a relationship – so there will be ups and downs, wins and losses, arguments (with yourself!). But over time there will be a profound and consistent change that will bring you what you choose. 

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