How to Live on a Tight Budget When Chronically Ill

How to Live on a Tight Budget When Chronically Ill

Endometriosis can turn a simple life into a slightly more complicated one. For some of us, wearing white is as scary as bungee jumping. For others, there’s the occasional run to the bathroom — hello, IBS. Chronic pain has us task-juggling while counting painkillers.

Most frustrating of all, endometriosis sabotages career paths and limits incomes.

A lack of understanding about this disease means that most employers are not receptive to our needs. Period leave is still more of a hot trend and less of a reality. Endometriosis patients can work, and quite successfully. Yet the professional landscape closes its doors on us more often than not.

My life with endometriosis involves a tight budget.

I’m a self-employed writer who works from home due to my health. Occasionally, I find different types of work other than content creation, but these are temporary, limited gigs. My earnings are quite reduced.

Because of my small income, over the last year, I turned into someone I never thought I’d become: one of those people who uses spreadsheets outside of work. More specifically, I use them to manage my income.

I’ve been learning how to juice my earnings, cover my bills, and live a healthy lifestyle without putting myself into further debt. It hasn’t been easy, and it still isn’t. But this is what I’ve learned:

Less takeout food and more meal planning.

While ordering food is useful during a flare-up, the cost soon adds up. Planning what I will eat and cooking bigger meals that can be kept in the fridge or freezer and reheated later is a life hack I swear by.

I also regularly curb what I spend on food. Soon after switching to a plant-based diet, I discovered that buying vegetables in season is always cheaper than, say, eating a mango in the middle of the English winter.

Help is available.

If your ability to work is affected, it can be useful to look into how your local government categorizes disability. Many of us go through life unaware of the help we are entitled to, or miss out on useful grants that could make our life easier.

Jarvis has no money worries, one of the joys of being a dog. (Photo by Jessie Madrigal)

Need vs. want.

I am a movie buff. In an ideal world, I’d have subscriptions to every streaming service. But right now, I can’t afford any. Yes, I do feel out of touch and excluded from any TV or film conversations, but I have also become the queen of the free trial. Having several email accounts and bank cards means that every so often, I can binge on “The Office” over a long weekend.

Selling stuff online is easier than ever.

I’ve been known to collect leopard print coats. Selling these babies online has helped me pay bills in the past. There are so many apps that give advice about how to take a decent picture of any object and offer great protection when selling online. Take advantage of them.

Getting savvy about finances can be life-changing.

As a New Year’s resolution, I decided to learn more about my finances. The book “You’re Not Broke, You’re Pre-Rich,” by Emilie Bellet, is an entertaining, extensive book about how to understand everything to do with money, from savings to mortgages, and how to invest wisely. It avoids any patronizing language, and having read only half of it so far, I already feel more confident about my finances.

Despair and anxiety don’t help.

Currently, I am earning so little that I barely make rent. I live in a cramped, tiny studio flat with leaks and mold. I call it shabby chic. It’s not ideal living, but there is always good coffee in my minuscule kitchen and easy meals in the freezer. Small, inexpensive joys help when I wake up anxious. I take a few long breaths and ask myself what I need at that moment.

Life with a chronic disease can be challenging at times, and any money worries matter greatly. But the key is to avoid overthinking, ask for help, and make small changes to bring back a sense of control.

Things will get easier, and nothing lasts forever.


Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.