On top of everything else, the costs of cancer can become another issue - especially if you're living away from home or have children of your own. Before you start to look into how to cut down on your expenses, it may help to look at the bigger picture. This way you can prioritise your payments and reduce your risk of building up large debts.
Prioritising the immediate costs
There are certain costs that young people report causing the biggest strain after a diagnosis. You might want to prioritise the ones listed below for any savings you could make.
Your treatment centre may involve long-distance travel, which could mean added petrol, parking charges, or even buying a new or more reliable car to meet your needs. Some hospitals reimburse travel costs if you’re on a low income so check this in the first instance.
Where cancer treatment takes you miles away from home you may find yourself having to pay out for accommodation. Some hospitals provide free accommodation for families of people on treatment. CLIC Sargent also provides free, self-catering accommodation close to specialist treatment centres, where you and your family can stay for free.
Increased living costs
Cancer can change the way you live in unexpected ways. Your taste in food may have changed because of treatment. Maybe your weight has fluctuated and you need more comfortable clothes or you need to put the heating on more regularly if you are feeling colder than usual. Most energy providers offer income-based grants to clear gas or electricity arrears or help with other household costs.
Additional childcare arrangements
If you are a parent you may need to arrange additional care for children who need looking after and picking up from school, or perhaps your childcare arrangements are no longer the most affordable option. Employed parents have the right to unpaid leave to deal with emergencies, which can be used for the immediate need for childcare.
Even though prescriptions for people having treatment for cancer are free, there may be a range of other health costs that you will need to pay for.
Looking after your financial wellbeing long-term
Once you have a better idea of your outgoings, it’s a good idea to set a budget as this can help you plan better and feel more in control.
You have a right to claim financial support because of your health condition. However, you may still need to borrow money in addition to this. It’s important to fully inform yourself of the options before you do this so you can borrow safely and with confidence.
It’s certainly not uncommon to be in debt but it’s important to know how to manage it sensibly and deal with it head on. Taking proactive steps can prevent you from feeling like it’s taking over and helps you stay in control.
Updated July 2017, next review due 2018.