Now this is a conversation unique to individuals with disabilities who are also working professional jobs and are confronted with the task of financial planning. I am in no way trying to give financial advice with this topic. Rather, I want to uncover a reality I am facing that makes financial planning stressful and feel somewhat impossible.
First, I am planning for a future I am not at all entirely sure I will have the benefit of living. From day one, yes – birth, I have been living with medical issues more significant than a majority of others my age. If the trajectory remains the same, I suppose it is fair to assume I am either going to require a significantly higher degree of medical care or I will not live long enough to worry about it. Regardless, I need to acknowledge the reality I may not make it to retirement. Thus, the primary stressor of financial planning is the unreliability of my body. I have no clue when it is going to quit on me and I have no way of predicting how my unique medical issues will evolve. Time will often tell, but that does not help when I am trying to plan ahead.
The second aspect of financial planning is largely affected by the first. I do not know how much time I have to live, so I find myself not really sure what is most important to me to invest my time and money. I know my job is a source of satisfaction and enjoyment in my life, as is my husband, but what about experiences, entertainment, or hobbies? Of course, living for today is useful for today, but what if I do live into retirement and I have not saved enough money to afford the medical care I would need? The “what if’s” are endless, but they are mostly legitimate concerns. This makes determining my priorities now versus preparing for the future all the more stressful.
Third, I enjoy relaxing and having time alone to, you know, think pensively about, well, everything. Nevertheless, I have brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends… oh yeah, and that husband… who all want a piece of the action. I somehow have to find time to maintain meaningful relationships and carve out time to myself for pensive thinking. Did I mention I might not make it until retirement?
Ok, so I am supposed to plan for a tomorrow that may never come. If I do make it that far, I will likely have more medical needs than my peers, which will translate into higher bills. I also have to create a today worth living. I suppose the answer to this dilemma is the same as investment in general – diversify, diversify, diversify. Do it all as much as possible to minimize the risk of regrets.