Cooking on a budget

It’s not always easy to eat a balanced meal. Sometimes we want convenience, so we buy pre-made dinners that we just need to heat up. While these meals are convenient, in most cases these items are filled with preservatives and additives which can negatively affect our health.

Ordering take-out can be a healthier option (depending on what you order) that is still convenient. However, it can become very expensive.

So how do we balance it out between good food that’s easy and affordable? How do we cook on a budget?

Work with a dietitian

A dietitian is someone who can help you develop a specific, effective nutrition plan. This can include types of foods that are nutritious and budget-friendly. Dietitians should also be consulted if you have specific food allergies or health concerns.

Please note: Dietitian is a protected term in Canada, which means they need to have professional certification. Nutritionist is only a protected term in Alberta, Quebec and Nova Scotia. This means that someone may be a nutritionist in British Columbia but not have the same credentials as someone in Alberta. Dietitians of Canada has an explanation and a chart of protected titles by province/territory that can help you identify what kind of health professional to consult for dietary needs.

Check the Canada Food Guide

The Canada Food Guide (CFG) is a great place to start to help us understand nutritious food choices and balanced meals.

The goal is to maintain a balanced diet, filled with nutrient-rich foods that will nourish and power our brains and bodies. The CFG also has tips on meal planning, food trends, improving your eating habits and healthy options for eating out in the community.

It’s important to note that depending on your unique needs, some recommendations in the CFG may not be appropriate for you. Always speak to a dietitian if you have any questions.

Meal planning

The most efficient way to cook on a budget is meal planning. This is when you pick out what meals you want to make for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for a period of several days.

There are several benefits to meal planning:

While planning ahead and decision making can be challenging after a brain injury, meal planning will help over the long-term. You will be able to take your time and make decisions in your home (not the grocery store) and will not have to worry as much about quick decision-making in the produce aisles.

When meal planning, the most effective process is the following:

  • Write out your meals for the week, including lunch and dinner. You can do this by using a calendar
  • Create your grocery list based on the ingredients needed for those meals
  • Grocery shop for the full week

When preparing your weekly meals, review the ingredients you already have in your freezer, pantry, and fridge. By using up the ingredients you already have on hand, you will reduce waste and the cost of purchasing new ingredients.

You can make your meals each day, or another option is to prepare meals for the week and store them. The wonderful thing about this option is that it reduces waste, organizes your diet, and all your meals are ready for you when you want them. You can store them in your fridge (or freezer if you won’t be eating them right away).

Cook in bulk

Making large meals such as stews and casseroles is a great way to reduce the amount of work that goes into cooking and stretching a dollar on your grocery list. Meals like lasagnas, lentil soups, and other big meals use affordable ingredients and can last a long time. Many of these options can be frozen, which is convenient for those times when you aren’t feeling up to preparing a meal from scratch.

Shop thoughtfully

There are ways to shop for food that can cut down on your expenses.

Buy budget-friendly alternatives

When cooking on a budget, it is important to note that there are many budget-friendly healthy alternatives to the regular foods we eat. Beans and lentils are a great protein alternative to meat, while a healthy margarine can replace mayonnaise and butter. Oatmeal, purchased in large, long-lasting bags, is a healthy and cost-effective option for breakfast. Vegetables and fruit such as  “cabbage, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, squash, broccoli, apples, bananas, [and] oranges,” are both nutritious and cost-effective options for cooking.

More budget-friendly healthy substitutions can be found on the Heart and Stroke website.

Choose foods that can be spread out over multiple meals

Foods that can be used in multiple ways can help you save money. A good example is roasted whole chickens. It can spread over many meals. It can be used in stir fry, stew or soup. You can also use the chicken bones to make your own homemade stock.

Choose your recipes before you shop

Recipes that have affordable ingredients (like rice) or ingredients that can be bought in bulk (again, like rice) can help make your grocery list less expensive. If you need some inspiration, there are a lot of healthy, low-budget recipes available on the Internet for free. We have also included some at the bottom of this page.

Plan to use up the ingredients you buy to eliminate waste

If you are making a meal with a particular ingredient you don’t use often, try to find more recipes that use the ingredient so it doesn’t go to waste. For example, an ingredient like fresh ginger has a limited shelf life and can be used in multiple recipes like stir fry and sauces so that it doesn’t go to waste.

Substitute less expensive ingredients into recipes

You can choose less expensive ingredients (for example, a cheaper cut of meat), particularly if you are using a slow cooker or a pressure cooker where the cooking process will make the food more tender.

Use coupons and shop the sales

Knowing what is on sale can really help to save you money. If you have a favourite grocery store, look at the weekly sales and coupons on their websites. You can also sign up for their email list to access potential savings.

If you want to shop around for the best deals on specific products, free apps like Reebee help you search the sales in your area.

Some grocers also have a discounted aisle or shelf in each department. These items are usually nearing their “sell by” date. However, if you are using the item within the next couple of days, it is a great way to save some money on groceries.

Most grocers also have rewards or points cards. This is a great way to earn rewards/money towards future items.

Use seasonal ingredients

Another method to reduce food costs is to cook with ingredients that are in season. This means buying fall vegetables like squash in the fall, and summer vegetables like zucchini in the summer.

Ingredients that grow in season are less expensive and readily available. This method also allows you to change up your menu and create seasonal menus that incorporate a greater variety of foods and nutritional options.

Here is a chart of vegetables and fruits according to their season, along with more tips on eating seasonally.

Some recipes to get you started

No matter what you like to eat, there are meals out there for you. Here are some compilation articles with recipes you can use for inspiration.

Make a budget using one of these templates

Government of Canada Budget Planner

This budget planner lets you input your budget information and auto-fills a template for you.

The Government of Canada also has a downloadable interactive budgeting template module that can be used.

Microsoft Excel Budget Templates

If you have Microsoft Excel on your computer, you have access to a wide variety of premade budget templates.

Google Sheets Budget Templates

If you don’t have Microsoft Excel, you can make a free Google account and access similar budget templates on Google Sheets.

Credit Canada Budget Planner & Expense Tracker

Credit Canada has an expense tracker and budget spreadsheet that you can download for free when you make an account. It’s an easy-to-use tool.

Work with a financial advisor if you need help with your budget

Understanding your finances can feel overwhelming, particularly after a brain injury when your financial situation may be different. If you need assistance, reach out to a financial advisor at your bank or through another financial company.

Additional financial assistance

Financial assistance from insurance benefits

Depending on what kind of private insurance you have, you may be eligible for financial support from your policy.

For more information about insurance, visit our page on types of insurance that may be able to help with recovery and rehabilitation costs

Financial assistance from work

Please note: depending on your employer and the circumstances surrounding your injury, you may not be eligible or entitled to financial assistance from an employer.

Employee healthcare benefits and disability benefits

Depending on your workplace, you may have access to healthcare plans that you have either been paying into or have been provided by your company. Coverage through company healthcare plans vary so you will need to check with your employer and look at your policy. Healthcare plans commonly cover services such as prescriptions and some therapies.

If your employer pays for disability insurance, you may have partial salary coverage if you can’t work because of your brain injury. You will need to speak with your employer about what coverage there may be and how to make a claim.

Canada workers benefit

The Canada workers benefit (CWB) is a refundable tax credit for eligible low-income individuals/families in the workforce. Part of the CWB is a disability supplement for those with an approved Disability Tax Credit certificate .

Non-insured health benefits for First Nations and Inuit

This program is designed for First Nations and Inuit individuals to provide coverage for health benefits that are not covered through social programs, private insurance plans, and provincial/territorial health insurance.

Health services covered under the Non-insured health benefits for First Nations and Inuit program include:

  • Vision care
  • Dental care
  • Mental health counselling
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
  • Medical transportation

You are eligible for this benefit if you are a resident of Canada and if you meet any of the following criteria:

A child may also be eligible if they are less than 18 months old and their parent is a registered First Nations person or a recognized Inuk .

Renovation funding

If your home needs renovations in order to accommodate your changed abilities, there are some renovation grants available. Please note you may not be eligible for certain programs.

Excise gasoline tax refund

The Government of Canada offers a partial refund of the federal excise tax  on gasoline you buy if you are not able to safely use public transportation due to a permanent mobility impairment.

Education funding for persons with disabilities

Education comes with its own set of challenges when coping with a brain injury, including finances. The Government of Canada offers a few different programs to help students of any age with their education.

Child disability benefit

The child disability benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to families with a child under 18 who has a severe and prolonged mental or physical impairment.

For more information on available sources of financial assistance, use this federal and provincial/territorial Benefits Finder.


Ordering forms from the Government of Canada

The Government of Canada offers alternate formats of its forms and publications for people with disabilities. These formats include digital audio (MP3), electronic text, Braille, and large print. To fulfill your order, you will need to know the form or publication number, title, and revision year.

Provincial/Territorial disability benefits

Financial assistance programs differ across the provinces and territories in Canada. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out what you are eligible for and where to look for programs that may help you.

The Government of Canada has a great online tool that can help narrow down the federal and provincial/territorial financial assistance programs for which you may be eligible. Use this Benefits Finder to determine what federal or provincial/territorial benefits you may be eligible to receive. If you need some assistance, ask a caregiver, friend or family member to help you sort through the results.

In addition to the benefits finder, here is some additional information about financial assistance resources at the provincial/territorial levels.

Provincial and territorial disability services

Each province and territory has disability services. They can help you find out what financial assistance may be available to you.

More information about provincial and territorial disability benefits

Social/income assistance

Social assistance is a program designed by each province/territory to provide money to individuals/families who have explored all other means of financial support and are in financial need. The money is for basic needs such as food, rent, and utilities (heat, water and electricity).

The program requirements and eligibility is determined by each province and territory. You can learn more about your province or territory’s social/income assistance program in the list below.

Workers’ compensation

If your brain injury is a result of a workplace accident, the provincial/territorial Workers’ Compensation programs can help with financial assistance.

Please note: if you are a federal employee, your claims would go through the federal Labour Program.


Federal disability benefits

There are federal financial assistance programs available throughout Canada. Please keep in mind that you may not be eligible for every program.

Topics in this section include:

Disability Tax Credit (DTC)

Please note: if you receive other types of disability or insurance benefits (such as Canada Pension Plan disability benefits) you may not be eligible for the DTC. Please check the eligibility requirements and have a caregiver, friend or family member help you.

In order to be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), you will need to fill out a T2201 Disability Tax Credit Certificate.

To find out if you are eligible, view the requirements for the Disability Tax Credit on the Government of Canada website. Once your certificate and application are received by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), it will go through a review process. You will be contacted if your application is approved or denied.

Please keep in mind that applying for a Disability Tax Credit (DTC) Certificate can take a long period of time, and you may find yourself getting frustrated with the process. It’s important to engage in calming activities and take breaks from working on your finances. Ask a caregiver or friend/family member to help you with the application and keep a record of all documents and communications you have about the DTC.

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits

If you were working before your injury, you may be entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits. These benefits last for a maximum of 15 weeks (about three and a half months).  On EI sickness benefits, you can receive 55% of your pre-tax earnings, to a maximum of $573 a week.

If you are self-employed, or an independent contractor, you may be entitled to Employment Insurance if you registered for Employment Insurance Special Benefits for Self-Employed People, and meet certain conditions.

Prepare for your application for Employment Insurance (EI)
Applying for any type of financial assistance is always a lengthy process. After a brain injury, people often have memory issues and fatigue easily, especially after putting in some cognitive effort. Do not hesitate to ask for help from a caregiver, friend or family member who can assist you in gathering the information you need, and help with the application process.

The more prepared you are before you start your Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits application, the smoother the process will be. Before you begin, gather all the necessary documents and information you will need to fill out the application.

Applying in person vs. applying online
You can apply for EI at your local Service Canada office. The Service Canada offices are designed to be a one-stop shop for a variety of government services, including EI. If your local Service Canada Office is closed, you will not be able to apply for EI in person. Many services and resources are now online. While you may prefer to do it in person, you should be familiar with how to apply for EI online.

Many people who live with brain injury are sensitive to screens, particularly in the time period shortly after a brain injury. Being online can be difficult and possibly trigger symptoms of brain injury. If you are sensitive to screens, prepare to do the application in short chunks of time. You can try 20 minute blocks, followed by short breaks away from the screen. If using screens is not possible for you, ask a caregiver, family member or friend to help you with the online application process.

The EI application does not need to be finished all at once, but there is a time limit of 72 hours (3 days). If you do not finish the application within the 72 hour period your information will be deleted and you will need to start over again.

If you want to apply online, here is the online application for EI sickness benefits.

You can also apply for EI in person. Find your local Service Canada Office and enter your postal code. Please make sure to read whether or not your local office is open or operating with restrictions.

Submitting reports
If you are getting Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, you will need to fill out a report every 2 weeks to receive your benefits. You can submit these reports using the EI Internet Reporting Service or by calling the EI Telephone Reporting Service at (1-800) 531-7555.

Canada Pension Plan disability benefit

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit is a more permanent solution for financial assistance after brain injury. It is available throughout Canada, except in Quebec. If you live in Québec, please visit the Government of Québec’s website page on pension plans.

The CPP disability benefit is a taxable benefit for people under the age of 65 who are unable to work because of their disability. To be eligible for the CPP disability benefit, you need to have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan AND have a disability which is considered ‘severe and prolonged’.

This means your brain injury must:

  • Prevent you from working. This includes full-time, part-time or seasonal work
  • Have symptoms which will last for a ‘prolonged period’ of time (the foreseeable future). Generally a disability is considered a condition which interferes with a person’s daily activities.

The effects of your brain injury and how they impact your ability to work will be evaluated by the medical experts who review your application. Because of this, it is important to provide medical documentation to show the impact your brain injury has had on your life.

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) eligibility and contributions
To be eligible for Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit, you need to have contributed to the CPP.

How much you could receive from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit
This is based on how much you have paid into CPP. For current monthly averages and maximum monthly payments, you can check the Government of Canada’s CPP disability benefit amount.
How to apply for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit
You can apply for the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) disability benefit online or through the mail. Please keep in mind that this is a long application. No matter how you choose to submit it, you should take frequent breaks, ask for help, and assemble all necessary documents and information before you start.

If you have someone you know and trust to help you with your CPP application, you will need to give written permission to Service Canada for them to act on your behalf.  To do this, you will need to fill out the Consent to Communicate Information to an Authorized Person.

If you have any questions about the CPP application, processing times, or benefits, you can contact someone at the Canada Pension Plan program.

Canada Pension Plan post-retirement disability benefits
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) post-retirement disability benefit is similar to the CPP disability benefit. It is for people who acquire a disability under the age of 65 who have been receiving CPP payments for more than 15 months, and as such are not eligible for the regular disability benefit.

Benefits for children and youth under 25
If you have children either under the age of 18 or under the age of 25 and attending secondary education full-time, they may be entitled to monthly payments from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). While there are two types of CPP children’s benefits, the one that would apply to you is the disabled contributor’s child’s benefit: a monthly payment for a child of a person receiving a CPP disability benefit .

Disability benefits for veterans

If you have served in the Canadian military, you may be entitled to disability benefits for veterans. The veteran disability benefit is a tax-free, financial payment to support your well-being . The benefits you may be entitled to are dependent on a variety of factors, including whether your condition is the result of your service, its severity and impact on your life, and how long you served in the military.

Veterans Affairs Canada has an online benefits navigator which asks you questions about your situation and guides you to the benefits that you may be entitled to receive.

➔    Use the Veterans Canada benefits navigator

Eligibility requirements for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits
Veterans Affair Canada (VAC) offers many services, including disability benefits.

If you qualify for a disability benefit, you will receive either the Pain and Suffering Compensation or a Disability pension.

How to apply for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits
You can apply for the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) disability benefits online through your MyVAC account, or in person/by mail at any VAC office, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Transition Centre or Service Canada office. The application process will take some time. Make sure to take breaks as needed and ask for help from caregivers, friends or a family member.

Get help with your application

The staff at any Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) office or Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Transition Centre can assist you with your application. Service Officers with The Royal Canadian Legion or The War Amps of Canada can also assist you with your application, including helping you get all of the information you need to support your application. Their assistance is free of charge .

Review of your application

Once your application is submitted, you can use this wait time tool to give you an approximate estimate of how long it will take to review an application similar to yours.

Case management for veterans
Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) offers case management services to veterans transitioning back to civilian life. This can be an incredibly challenging transition, especially if you are also coping with a brain injury. Case management can be helpful for coping with navigating disability services, financial uncertainty, housing issues, stress, and social isolation .

If you are in the transition process, your transition interviewer may suggest case management. If you have already been discharged but think case management would be beneficial, you can contact the VAC. There is no application process. You will build a close relationship with your case manager as they help you identify goals, assist with planning services such as rehabilitation and doctors’ appointments, and frequently check your progress .

Related programs and information for veterans
Additional pain and suffering compensation
This program is for individuals with severe and permanent disabilities related to their service. It is granted based on an assessment.Attendance allowance
If your brain injury requires you to have a caregiver on a daily basis, you may be eligible for the attendance allowance, which helps cover the costs of caregiving. The amount you receive is based on the level of care you need .

Clothing allowance
If you need custom-made clothing as a direct result of your injury (such as wearing a brace, splint or prosthetic), you may be eligible for a monthly clothing allowance.

Critical Injury Benefit
The Critical Injury Benefit is a program for sudden, single incidents (such as motor vehicle collisions/accidents and gunshots wounds) that lead to immediate, severe and traumatic injuries or illnesses . The program provides a tax-free sum to address the immediate impacts of the injury.

Exceptional Incapacity Allowance
This program is for people that are severely impacted by their disability, both in life and in finances. This allowance is awarded based on an assessment.

Financial advice program
If you have received a lump-sum from VAC, you can receive up to an additional $500 to get advice from a financial professional on how to manage the lump-sum.

Long-term care assistance
If you have been admitted to a long-term care facility and have a brain injury acquired through military service, you may be eligible for financial assistance.

Rehabilitation services
If your brain injury was acquired in relation to your military service, you may be eligible for rehabilitation services through Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).

Treatment benefit
If you qualify for a disability benefit, you will be eligible for the VAC treatment benefit. The treatment benefit is a program that provides you with a VAC healthcare card which provides coverage for healthcare services such as hospitals, appointments with specialists (i.e. rehabilitation professionals, medical specialists and mental health providers), medical equipment, prosthetics and prescriptions .

Ill and Injured Support – Support our Troops


Having a brain injury almost always results in an interruption of work, whether it is a temporary disruption or a permanent one. This can cause financial challenges, particularly if you were the primary source of income for yourself or your family. Financial hardship can make an already difficult time even more stressful. Accessing financial assistance after brain injury will depend on a variety of factors including:

  • Where you live in Canada. Some benefits are national (federal) while others are available by province or territory. Not all programs will be the same or offered everywhere
  • If you were employed before your injury. You may have workplace benefits that can provide financial assistance
  • If you are military personnel or a veteran
  • How your injury occurred. For example, if your injury is the result of a Motor Vehicle Collision, you are likely entitled to Insurance Benefits
  • Where your injury occurred. For example, if your injury occurred in the workplace, you may be entitled to Workers Compensation

Topics in this section include:

Getting started

There is a lot of information on the following pages, and while we have done our best to make the information as easy to follow as possible. Before you start exploring the financial assistance information on our site, we recommend the following:

  • Set up your screen and viewing area to minimize visual stress by using the Accessibility Options at the top of your screen on our website
  • Take breaks
  • Ask a caregiver, friend, or family member to go through it with you
  • Take handwritten or digital notes
  • Bookmark the pages you want to go back to at another time

It’s important to fill out any forms properly and provide correct medical documentation. Incomplete or incorrect information can delay or even prevent your application(s) for financial assistance from being approved. Some important tips to remember when filling out your application are:

  • Keep copies of everything you submit
  • When you make calls, keep a record of who you spoke to and when (the date and time you spoke)
  • Keep all the documents, notes and information relevant to your application in one place, ideally in a labeled file folder
  • Have a support person (caregiver, friend, or family member) help with the application, especially if you are experiencing cognitive challenges with memory and thought processing

If you don’t have someone to help you with your application, reach out to your local brain injury association. They may be able to connect you to a person or service that can assist you. Please note this may not be available everywhere.

Ordering forms from the Government of Canada

A lot of benefits come directly from the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada offers alternate formats of its forms and publications, including digital audio (MP3), electronic text, Braille, and large print. To fulfill your order, you will need to know the form or publication number, title, and revision year.

Income taxes

Filing income taxes can be confusing, particularly when trying to figure out deductions, credits, and expenses after a brain injury. Here is a brief overview of tax information and resources from the Government of Canada that can help you during tax season.

How to complete and pay your taxes

You can fill out your taxes yourself, ask a trusted caregiver or family member for help, or you can hire an accountant.

If you do choose to complete and file your taxes on your own, there are a few different ways to file your tax returns. The CRA also has a variety of in-person and online payment options for income taxes.

Deductions and credits

If you have a brain injury, you may be eligible for certain deductions and credits on your taxes. For a complete list of disability deductions and credit, visit the Government of Canada website.

Disability supports deduction
Adaptive devices and aids like talking textbooks, job coaching services, and Braille note takers are eligible expenses that you may be able to claim as part of the disability supports deduction. These expenses must have been incurred as a result of your being employed or carrying on a business, conducting research based on a grant, or attending an educational institution.
Disability amount for self
You may be able to claim this if you are eligible for the disability tax credit.
Home accessibility expenses
If you have renovated your home to make it more accessible for yourself, you may be eligible to claim home accessibility expenses.

These are just a few deductions and expenses you may be eligible for come tax time. A full list of available deductions, credits, and expenses can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.

Tax-related services for people with brain injury

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a variety of accessible services. If you are visually impaired, the CRA offers publications and forms in alternative formats—such as Braille, large print, etext, and MP3 audio. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use teletypewriter services. Or, with your written permission, the CRA will speak to an operator-assisted relay service for you or arrange to have a sign language interpreter available at a meeting.

If you need help filing your income tax and benefit return and have a modest income with a simple tax situation, contact the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. This program works with community organizations to run volunteer tax clinics across the country.

Additional resources

Financial assistance
There are financial assistance programs that you may be eligible for after your brain injury.

Tips on managing money
It’s important to understand what money you have, how to manage your spending and what savings options are available to you. Learn more about managing money.

Managing money

After your brain injury, managing your finances is important. While there is public health coverage and insurance, you will still be facing new and most likely unexpected financial challenges such as loss of income (if you are not able to work), rehabilitation costs, adaptive equipment expenses, and possibly long-term care costs. This is all going to add up, and it can be overwhelming and stressful to manage finances on top of recovering from a brain injury.

The nature of your injury may also contribute to financial challenges.

It’s important to understand your current finances as best as possible, options for savings, and how to plan for the future. You should also be aware of financial assistance programs that may be available. You can ask for assistance from a financial professional or a caregiver to help with organizing and managing your finances.

Topics in this section include:

Tips for managing money after brain injury

Create a budget
A budget is the first step for anyone who wants to manage their money. By tracking how much money you make vs. how much you are spending, you can work towards savings goals. It also gives you and your family or primary caregiver a better understanding of monthly financial commitments.

The main components of a budget are your income and a list of your expenses. Your income is how much money you have coming to you every month. This would include a salary, employment insurance (EI), or other disability payments. You can also factor in the income of your partner or other members of the household if you share expenses. Your income should only include any money you get on a regular monthly basis.

Monthly expenses are anything that you pay for on a regular basis. This can include:

  • Childcare
  • Health
    • Health and rehabilitation expenses that aren’t covered by insurance or provincial/territorial health plans
  • Housing costs
    • Mortgage or rent payments
    • Utility bills
  • Personal costs
    • Credit cards
    • Debt payments
    • Entertainment (subscriptions to streaming services, for example)
    • Groceries
    • Personal hygiene products (toothpaste, period products, shampoo, etc.)
    • Phone bills
  • Transportation
    • Car payments or public transit costs
  • Pet-related costs

While most of these expenses are called ‘recurring expenses’ (meaning they are due every month or on a regular schedule), other expenses such as vehicle maintenance, home maintenance, and clothing don’t happen as often. In order to account for those expenses, you can put a designated amount of your income in your savings each month. Treat this amount of money like a fixed, recurring expense.

By comparing the amount of money coming to you (income) to the amount of money that goes out (expenses) every month, you can figure out how much extra money you have to save or spend on other items.

You can also use a budget to track your savings. This includes your personal savings account and any investments you have – for example, a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP), or Canadian Disability Savings Grants & Bonds.

How to make a budget

You can make a budget on paper, on a digital spreadsheet, or using budgeting software. If you aren’t sure where to get started, ask a caregiver, friend or family member for help.

Track your spending
You can use a journal, a receipt holder, or an app on your phone to track your spending for the month. This is especially handy if you don’t have a clear idea of your monthly expenses or aren’t aware that you may be spending excessively.
Use available banking services
Banks have developed plenty of online services to make managing your money simple – plus you can do it from home. You can check your accounts, deposit cheques, and set up pre-authorized payments and deposits.
Set a credit card limit, or keep it for emergencies only
Credit card debt can be a big expense for some people, particularly if they are impulsive shoppers. One of the ways you can better manage this particular expense is to set a lower limit on your credit card. You can also reserve your credit card specifically for emergencies.
Ask for help or work with a finance expert
If you aren’t sure where to start with your finances, ask a caregiver, friend or family member for help. You can also reach out to a financial advisor. Please note that many professional financial advisor services are an out-of-pocket cost. Take some time to ask for recommendations for professionals in your area or that your friends/family have worked with before.
Use finance and savings tools
There are all kinds of ways to save a few dollars here and there – and that’s how the savings add up.

There are several free applications for smartphones and tablets and websites that can help you save money through finding promotion codes, ways to trim your expenses, cashback deals, free gifts and more.

Savings plans

The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was designed to provide long-term private funding to people with disabilities and help support their families. Earnings accumulate tax-free until you take the money out.

Who is eligible for a Registered Disability Savings Plan?

You are eligible for a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) if you [1]:

  • Are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (disability amount);
  • Are a Canadian resident;
  • Are under 60 years of age (if 59, you must apply before the end of the calendar year in which you turn 59); and
  • Have a social insurance number

If you are under 18 years of age, your parents or legal representative may establish the RDSP for your benefit.

How to apply for a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

You can open a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) through a participating financial institution. You will have to speak to someone at your bank.

Canadian Disability Savings Grants & Bonds
Another savings option that may be available to you is the Canadian Disability Savings Grants and Bonds.

Canada Disability Savings Grant

Through the Canada Disability Savings Grant, the Government of Canada deposits money into your RDSP to help you save. They provide matching grants depending on the amount contributed and the beneficiary’s family income.

Canada Disability Savings Bond

Through the Canada Disability Savings Bond, the Government of Canada deposits money into the RDSPs of low-income and modest-income Canadians. If you qualify for the bond, you could receive a yearly payment from the government. Contributions do not need to be made to the RDSP in order to receive the bond. Please keep in mind that there is a lifetime limit.

Financial assistance after brain injury

After a brain injury, you may be eligible for financial assistance at the federal or provincial/territorial levels. Find out more about financial assistance available after brain injury in Canada.

Please note: you may not be eligible for all financial assistance programs. You can find additional resources for managing money on the Government of Canada website.

Provincial and territorial disability services

Each province and territory has disability services. They can help you find out what financial assistance may be available to you.

See sources


Many people with brain injury rely on insurance to pay for much-needed services such as hospital stays, in-patient/out-patient rehabilitation, community services, and in-home treatments. Navigating the insurance system after brain injury can be like following a complicated road without a map. There are many different types of insurance to cover treatment and recovery, but it depends on the circumstances of your injury and your public or personal insurance plans. If you have a lawyer working with you or have a case manager, they may be able to help you determine what you are eligible for and how much. If neither of these are available to you, look at your policy, call your insurance company, or ask a caregiver, friend or family member for help.

We have included this section on types of insurance in Canada to provide a broad overview of what may be available to you. Please note that you will not be eligible for every coverage we have listed here.

Topics in this section include:

Public health insurance

The universal health-care system in Canada is paid for through taxes. Every eligible Canadian receives a health insurance card (often called a health card). You must show this card at hospitals or medical clinics to receive health-care services. All provinces and territories have their own health insurance plan with different cards. You can contact your provincial or territorial Minister of Health to see what you are entitled to as a resident of your province. You can also speak to your physician. For more information about provincial and territorial health services, visit your province or territories’ website using the list below.

Please note: Not every treatment or health service is covered under provincial/territorial health plans.  

Automobile/car insurance

Drivers in Canada are covered by their car insurance whether they are a driver, passenger or pedestrian. Any person who owns a car in Canada must have mandatory insurance coverage at the very least. Car insurance is provincially/territorially regulated: there is no standardized insurance system across the country. Some regions may require more coverage than others and prices may vary, even from urban to rural areas.

Here is an overview of types of automobile insurance:

Liability insurance
Third-party liability insurance covers losses -such as injury or death – which your vehicle causes to other people. It also covers damage your vehicle causes to other vehicles. If the cost of the losses or damage is more than your liability limit, you’ll need to pay the balance of the settlement yourself. Some people opt to pay more or “top-up” their third-party liability insurance to ensure they won’t need to pay out of pocket.

Liability insurance does not cover the cost of repairs to your own vehicle. Additional insurance to cover these costs can be added.

You can discuss with your insurance broker or agent the option and cost of increasing liability to better protect yourself in the event of accident.

Accident benefits/bodily injury insurance
This type of coverage is mandatory in almost all provinces and territories. Accident benefits cover the cost of medical treatments, attendant care, income replace and even some funeral costs in the case of death.

This is another type of coverage your may want to speak to your insurer about increasing. In the case of a catastrophic brain injury, you would have access to increased coverage for treatment and services if you had a larger accident policy.

Uninsured automobile insurance
This type of coverage is mandatory across Canada. This protects you in the case of death or injury caused by an uninsured driver or as a result of a hit-and-run. It also covers damages to your vehicle by an uninsured driver.
No fault insurance
Some provinces have implemented no-fault insurance and there is some confusion about what this means. Despite how the term makes it sound, no-fault insurance does not mean that no one is at fault for an accident. No-fault insurance means your insurance company will be responsible for your claim and pay your benefits or damages regardless of who is determined to be at fault for the accident. The same goes for the other driver or drivers involved in the accident.  Their insurance company will be responsible for their claims.

If you are unclear as to what is included in your current coverage, contact your insurance broker or your insurance company about the following:

  • Ask them to outline what is covered in your current plan;
  • Ask them to use plain language and avoid the use of acronyms;
  • Ask them the amount for which you are covered.  Get them to put this in a format that is easily understandable, and;
  • What are your options for further coverage and what would be the cost

Do not be afraid to ask questions and seek clarification.

While we never plan to get in a car accident, it is helpful to educate yourself in the event of an accident. If you are in a car accident, you or a designated family member/caregiver should contact your insurance company as there are accident reporting timelines that need to be followed.

To learn more general information about car insurance in your province or territory you can visit the insurance regulator for your province or territory below:

Disability insurance

Disability insurance is a policy that people can purchase which will replace a certain percentage of your salary for a set period of time if you temporarily can’t work or are permanently disabled. You must have purchased the plan before your acquired brain injury to receive benefits.

Extended health care

Extended health care plans are designed to supplement and fill the gap from existing provincial health insurance plans. These plans provide for reimbursement of expenses and services not covered by public health plans, such as dental and vision care. These plans can also cover prescription drugs, medical equipment and services, such as private nursing or homecare, as well allied health care services such as chiropractor, physiotherapy and massage therapy.

Extended health care plans are typically available through your employer as a group insurance plan or you can purchase a plan individually. If you are already paying into a group insurance plan through your employer, it is always advisable to ensure you know what benefits you are entitled to. If you have a personal insurance plan, you should also check what is covered under your policy. You can contact the human resources representative at your place of work for more information or can contact the insurance directly.

Workers’ compensation

If you are injured while at work, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation. Workers compensation is a provincially run system to protect employees from the financial hardships associated with work-related injuries and illnesses.

To find out more about what you are entitled to as an employee or how to file a claim, contact your human resources representative or contact your provincial/territorial compensation board.

In the event of a dispute

If you have a dispute with your insurance company, contact your insurance company representative or insurance adjuster. See if any accommodations can be made and ensure they have all the relevant medical information. If this is unable to resolve the dispute, you can consider contacting a lawyer.

  • More information on brain injury and legal options

The insurance system in Canada is complicated and unfortunately there is no clear path to follow. Your first step will be to find out what insurance you have. Then look at what is covered under those policies. If possible, you should ask a caregiver, friend or family member to help you. You can also reach out to your local brain injury association to see if there are any additional resources available to help you navigate the insurance process.

Renovation funding

After release from the hospital or rehabilitation to a house there may need to be renovations to make it more accessible. There are financial grants that can be applied for to make those renovations more affordable.

British Columbia
No available programs at the provincial level. For more local information, reach out to your local brain injury association.
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Northwest Territories
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island