Christine A Howard

Wise Financial Decisions for Special Needs Families: Life’s Biggest Expenses

It may sound like an odd thing to say, but it can be quite sobering looking at how much money it costs just to live.  For special needs families, the expenses add up even more quickly.   If you live to the average age of 78, you’ll need something like $1.6 million over the course of your life. That’s just to, you know, stay alive and thrive a little. Of course, life is a wonderful adventure, so it’s money well spent. However, more than one and a half million dollars?!  That is a frightening number, isn’t it?  If we break down the costs of where this money is spent, we’ll see that most of it goes on just a few expenses.

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These are the ones that really dictate our quality of life. Since special needs families have so much more to think about, it becomes even more important to have a plan for the major expenses.  It’s important to keep track of all the small expenditures.  These definitely add up. The real focus should be on getting the biggest costs under control. That will make your all-around existence much more affordable. Here’s how you can make these wise financial decisions.

inside of vehicle



Smart Housing Options

There is a temptation, particularly in America, to buy as big a house as the bank tells says you can afford.  However, that’s not that what you can comfortably afford.  That is simply what you can afford on paper, presumably with some difficulty. It may be high-time we take a look at the Scandinavian approach, which is to live in a humble, efficient home. 

This is one that is simply large enough to house the family, and nothing overly grand. When it comes to looking where to live, it might be worth bringing your budget down slightly, even if the bank is telling you that you can afford more. By having a much smaller house payment, you can free up a lot of cash for other things.  As you probably already know, being a special needs family is very expensive.  If you can live with a smaller, affordable house, you will have the money necessary for those unforeseen events that seem to crop up.   In any case, the novelty of a large home often wears off after a while anyway!


Getting from A to B

It is difficult to exist in this country without a car; that’s just a fact of life that’s beyond your control. What is in your control is what car you’re using to get around. Most people are drawn to the fancy new cars, but it’s worth thinking about whether this is really the best option. In most cases, it’s not.

A lot of special needs families need to purchase a vehicle that can be adapted for special needs.  Of course it would be nice to have it factory made to your family’s specifications.  It may be a wiser decision to purchase a used vehicle and have it customized.  Keep in mind, you should be spending around a third of your annual income on a vehicle – but preferably less. If you’ve gone over that percentage, sell the car and downsize – the car is quickly depreciating in value!

It is literally like getting an extra paycheck when you make wise financial decisions.


The Price of Knowledge

You’ll be well advised to attend college, and to send your children to college, too, even despite the debt you’ll take on. It’s what’s considered ‘good debt,’ because you’re investing in yourself and it will (hopefully)  bring a high return on your investment.  Sometimes these debts can become unmanageable, especially if you are dealing with a very large medical payment. These expenses that go beyond our control can make our other responsibilities difficult to manage.  

If you’re struggling to meet your monthly payments, then that can have a devastating effect on your quality of life.  You may feel as if you cannot take that very needed respite break, or you may feel torn between working more hours and spending less time with the family.  There is another way if you are struggling with student loan debt!  Look at a website like, and bring down your monthly payments. It could also bring down your interest rates, so you’ll be spending less money overall.  


…But Don’t Forget the Pennies

Of course, your main focus should be on life’s biggest expenses. They’re the ones that really reflect your financial situation. However, don’t ignore all the small savings you can make elsewhere.  You should always be looking for ways to save on your everyday expenses like groceries, clothing, and home maintenance too.  It is literally like getting an extra paycheck when you make wise financial decisions. Between the routine and the costly expenses, you’ll be on the right path to a sound financial future.

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