One of the most dramatic effects of paralysis is how it impacts your financial health. When I was injured in November 2011 I had a thriving chiropractic practice and was in a good place financially. Within three months 80% of my chiropractic practice income was gone.
But by God’s grace eight years later my financial picture is much healthier than it was even before my injury.
Today I’m going to walk you through how that happened and the steps you can take to begin to move from a place of surviving to thriving financially even when you are paralyzed like me.
After my injury, I was unable to do what I had been trained to do which was be a chiropractor. It was extremely difficult for me to envision how I could provide for my family and use the skills, gifts, and talents that I had been given to serve others if I wasn’t practicing chiropractic.
But over time God gave me a renewed purpose and a new vision for how he could use me in a different way. In a previous article, I detailed how I was able to find my renewed purpose after my spinal cord injury and how you can do the same. If you haven’t read that article I highly recommend it. This article will help you to begin to think of ways to make income again or increase your income.
Finding your purpose is the first step to seeing hope through the fog of your circumstances. John Maxwell said, “If there is hope in the future there is power in the present.” You must have hope in order to move forward after paralysis.
As I mentioned previously, I lost 80% of my income in three months. My chiropractic practice was on life support and eventually had to close.
I had three small children at home and my wife who is also my primary caregiver was not able to provide income and care for me and our children. So for a while, we had to rely on others in order to survive.
We received donations from friends, family members, our church, other chiropractors, and strangers who wanted to reach out and help our family. It was an incredible blessing.
Sometimes it’s difficult to receive help from others but during that time the Lord really taught us humility and that it is okay to get help from others.
I also had some disability insurance which helped for a while as well.
I think it’s very important to not settle in and believe that you will always have to have financial assistance from the government.
My goal was to be self-sufficient as quickly as possible. To utilize disability insurance and government assistance along with the donations for as little time as possible.
When I started my marketing company in 2013 my goal was to be supporting our family as quickly as possible and by the end of 2014, we were off disability and no longer receiving donations. Since 2015 we have been self-sufficient and our financial picture has grown healthier and healthier.
Challenge yourself to do what is necessary to support yourself and your family. Find a renewed purpose and use the gifts that you have been given with perseverance despite your physical challenges and you will be blessed.
Another extremely important part of thriving financially has been handling money in a biblical way. Dave Ramsey has a plan called the 7 baby steps which are a biblical way of handling money that we have been using even before my injury and has been key to helping us thrive financially.
As you read through these baby steps remember to focus on the one that is in front of you. If you do not have $1000 saved just focus on baby step one. You don’t have to get overwhelmed with all of the steps right now. The key is beginning to work towards a better financial position. Moving forward from where you are now and not getting discouraged by where you wish you could be. Take life as it is and press on.
Save $1000 for an emergency fund. The first step is to save $1000. Having savings is extremely important after paralysis because you never know what’s going to happen with your health that may impact your financial situation. So if you do not already have $1000 saved focus on making this happen as quickly as possible.
The second baby step is paying off all of your debt except your house (if you own one) by using a debt snowball. A debt snowball is done by listing your debts from smallest to largest and attacking the smallest one with intensity until you have paid it off completely. Then rolling the amount that you were paying towards the first debt into the second debt until that is paid off. Then moving on to the third debt and so forth until all your debts are paid off except your house.
If the majority of your debt is medical bills associated with your paralysis there are ways to negotiate to reduce these debts. Many doctors and hospitals will settle medical expenses at pennies on the dollar if you can save up and pay with cash.
Having debt is extremely dangerous especially for someone who has suffered a spinal cord injury and is attempting to stabilize financially. Once you are making some income focus on paying off your debt as quickly as possible.
The third baby step is taking your $1000 emergency fund and increasing it until you have 3 to 6 months of expenses saved in a savings account. So, for instance, say your monthly expenses are $3000 then your goal would be to save between $9000 and $18,000. The key with all three of these baby steps is to realize that they take time. Especially when it comes to your debt and savings depending on your income. If you can increase your income obviously you can do these steps faster.
Once you have established these three foundational financial security steps then you can turn your focus to the future. Baby step #4 is to begin saving 15% of your income for retirement. The best way to do this is generally using a Roth IRA or a Roth 401(k) if your company has it available. Dave Ramsey recommends that you break down your investments in your 401(k) into four categories of mutual funds:
I use Vanguard for my investments and they have a variety of mutual funds that are in these categories that you can choose from.
Baby step five is also focused on the future. If you have children this is when you begin saving for their college education. Vanguard has 529 college savings plans available that you can save for each of your children that I highly recommend.
Once you have your financial foundation established and you are beginning to plan for the future the next step is to focus on paying off your house. If you do not already own a home you can begin saving for a house after baby step three. Dave Ramsey recommends saving for a 20% down payment and getting a 15 year fixed mortgage. So if you already own a home or you have purchased a home during baby steps four and five baby step six is paying off that house as quickly as possible. You can use the same principles that you used in baby step two by using more and more of your income to pay down the mortgage debt as quickly as possible.
The last step is to build wealth and give like no one else. When you have no debt you have money to do things that no one else can do. Such as giving to causes that you care about. You also get to do things you never were able to do before. This is where we all want to be financially and you can get there.
When you begin to take wise steps financially the Lord blesses you. Every one of these steps is focused around biblical principles and when you do these things the Lord blesses your diligence. This is what we have seen in our own lives. Our business has been blessed. We have been blessed with unexpected inheritances. There have been a variety of things that have happened that have helped us to get through all seven of these baby steps in the past eight years since my injury. It’s completely amazing and we give all glory to God.
Let me encourage you to just take a step in the right direction financially. Find a renewed purpose. Find a way that you can contribute and serve others. Work towards providing for yourself. And then be wise in the way that you use the money that you are blessed with. Be a good steward. And walk through these baby steps and you will be amazed at what happens.
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Thank you for being an influence in the SCI populace!
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