My husband is my caregiver, but my safety net means I’ll always be fine

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  • I have chronic paranoid schizophrenia and my husband is my caregiver.
  • To make sure I’ll be okay if anything happens to her, we’ve built a financial safety net.
  • We have retirement savings, life insurance, an affordable home, and savings to cover my needs.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

As a person with chronic paranoid schizophrenia, I rely on my husband for many roles as a gatekeeper. He is one of the millions of Americans who do the same job: AARP Reports that one in five Americans is a caregiver, and of these, 61% work outside the home in addition to their caregiving role.

There are many unique challenges for caregivers, such as getting a break from being on call 24/7, finding support from family, healthcare workers and the community, and dealing with issues. health and insurance, to name a few. One thing that most likely happens to anyone caring for an aging parent, child with special needs, spouse or loved one is, “What if something happening to me? “

This last question can interfere with the mental health of the caregiver if there is no possible or appropriate answer. For years, my husband and I made the choice to create a parachute for me if he became disabled, had an accident or died. Talking about worst-case scenarios is unpleasant, but not planning or talking about them can cause feelings of insecurity or insecurity (adding increased stress to people who already have a significant amount of them).

My husband and I have set up a safety net for me

We haven’t done a single thing to create a safety net for me. It was a series of small steps and choices we made that gave my husband and I the peace of mind that I wouldn’t be left with no place to live or no money for groceries or electricity though. something unexpected and unwelcome was happening to him.

We have life insurance

Life insurance is one of the many pieces of my safety net, even though we didn’t add it to our financial plan until quarantine. If you think of life insurance when you’re younger (20 or 30), getting a big policy and coverage is relatively inexpensive. We didn’t think about adding it to our financial plan until we were in our mid-forties, when it was no longer affordable for us to get more than the amount to cover the rest of our mortgage, but it was still a wise choice for us.

We bought more affordable housing

While our friends were taking out big mortgages in California, we bought a small condo in a nice neighborhood and took out a loan for less than $ 100,000. We later sold this house and moved to another city when real estate was much more expensive. However, we still bought within a price range we could manage without removing the ability to save and invest (and we took out life insurance to cover the entire mortgage). That was over 10 years ago, and we’ve been trying to pay off our mortgage ever since.

While some people improve their cars or homes when they get promotions or raises, when my husband got a promotion, raise or bonus, we used the money to make a principal payment on our mortgage and increase our savings. A few years ago, we refinanced our mortgage from a 30-year loan to a 15-year loan, which means we are paying a larger amount in principal each month. Because the interest rates were so low back then, it added next to nothing to our monthly payment, and we are pleased to observe that what we have to decrease dramatically from year to year.

We invest for retirement

Not only are we working on paying off our mortgage, but we are constantly making the necessary contribution to my husband’s 401 (k) to receive full consideration from the business. Where we have been able, we have also increased our contribution over the years.

We have an emergency fund

We used everyday choices, like budgeting and cost reduction strategies, to build an emergency fund (six months of my husband’s salary in savings). We often had to dip into this fund to buy a car (never new, always used) or pay for an unforeseen expense, but we always tried to replenish the fund as quickly as possible.

We have chosen to live below our means because our priorities differ from those around us. We decided to work and focus on our sanity and feeling like doing our best to prepare for an uncertain future. We never had an expensive wardrobe, a new car, a big house, or dined in the best restaurants. Our life has never been an enviable reel for Instagram.

Yet even if we are both healthy until the end of our retirement and the parachute we have worked so hard to build is not necessary, the financial choices we have made over the years will mean that we will be able to relax our budget in the last years of our lives. At the moment my husband, as a caregiver, has one less worry.


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