After a brain injury, managing finances is important. While there is public health coverage and insurance, the person with the injury will still be facing new and most likely unexpected financial challenges such as loss of income (if they 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. If the person with a brain injury is your partner or family member, you may be affected financially as well. You may need to become the primary financial provider for the household, start paying for long-term care, or have to trim your expenses if experiencing a loss of income.
This can be incredibly stressful, particularly if you become the one responsible for managing all the money. The more familiar you become with your finances, the better you can manage them. This includes understanding your assets and debts, 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 to help with organizing and managing your finances.
Topics in this section include:
- 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’s incredibly important to understand this when the person with a brain injury is living with you. It also gives you and your family a better understanding of monthly financial commitments.
The main components of a budget are your income and a list of your expenses. Income is how much money you have coming to you every month. This would include a salary, employment insurance (EI), or other disability payments received by the person with a brain injury.. Your income should only include any money you get on a regular monthly basis. For example, don’t factor in tax returns or sales tax credits that come irregularly.
Monthly expenses are anything that you pay for on a regular basis. This can include:
- 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)
- Personal hygiene products (toothpaste, period products, shampoo, etc.)
- Phone bills
- Car payments or public transportation costs
- Pet-related costs
While most of these expenses are called ‘recurring expenses’ (meaning they are due every month or on a regular payment 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. Having these figures laid makes it possible to identify where changes can be made, and the costs associated with care.
You can also use a budget to track savings. This includes your personal savings account and any investments you or your partner have, like a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Additionally,, the person with a brain injury will be eligible for 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. These are tools that the person with a brain injury may also want to use to track their spending.
- Use available banking services
Banks have developed plenty of online services to make managing 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 or the credit card of the person with a brain injury. You can also reserve credit card specifically for emergencies (but this will require willpower on the part of the cardholder).
- Ask for help or work with a finance expert
If you aren’t sure where to start with your finances, ask a financial advisor for assistance. 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.
- Include the person with a brain injury in the process
Budgeting should be undertaken (to an extent) by everyone in the household, including the person with a brain injury. If possible, they should be involved of all financial decisions.
- 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 money is taken out.
Who is eligible for a Registered Disability Savings Plan?
A person is eligible for a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) if they:
- Are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (disability amount);
- Are a Canadian resident;
- Are under 60 years of age (if 59, they must apply before the end of the calendar year in which they turn 59); and
- Have a social insurance number
If the person is under 18 years of age, parents or legal representative may establish the RDSP for their benefit.
How to apply for a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs) can be opened through a participating financial institution.
- Canadian Disability Savings Grants & Bonds
Another savings option that may be available to the person with a brain injury 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 an RDSP to help the person 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 the person with a brain injury qualifies for the bond, they 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.
After a brain injury, the person with a brain injury 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: they 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 the person with a brain injury.
- Alberta: Financial services for people with disabilities
- British Columbia services for people with disabilities
- Manitoba information for persons with disabilities
- New Brunswick programs for persons with disabilities
- Newfoundland and Labrador programs for persons with disabilities
- Northwest Territories services for persons with disabilities
- Nova Scotia disability Support Program
- Nunavut Department of Health
- Ontario Disability Support Program
- Prince Edward Island AccessAbility Supports
- Québec Office des personnes handicapées (available in French only)
- Saskatchewan services for people with disabilities
- Yukon services for people with disabilities