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Financial Implications of Being Sick

It’s just that time of year I guess. Between colds, stomach bugs, being miserable with allergies, and strep throat, lots of illnesses have been making their rounds through my group of friends, my family, and my co-workers at both of my jobs.

In fact, I had to take a sick day myself back in January. But otherwise I’ve been pretty lucky as far as illness is concerned. (Knocks on wood.)

How does being sick affect your finances? I’m glad you asked.

Spending More

-Medicine and Care. One of the things you’ll spend more on when you’re sick is medical care and medicine. Doctor’s appointments aren’t cheap, but they are a lot cheaper than delaying your need for medical care and ending up in the emergency room. Keep that in mind when you don’t want to shell out for a doctor’s appointment.

-Prepared Foods. If you have something less serious, like a cold, or if you have a family that still needs to eat despite the family chef being ill, you may end up spending more money on prepared foods. Prepared foods includes things like frozen meals that just need to be baked or heated, canned chicken noddle soup for the sickie, and also delivery, take-out, and fast food for ease. When you don’t feel well, it’s all about convenience.

Spending Less

-Gasoline. When I’m sick, I don’t want to go anywhere. All I want to do is lay in bed or on my couch watching TV in a half-sleep, half-dazed state. I don’t put in my contacts. I don’t change out of my pajamas. Aside of any possible doctor’s appointments I might have for my illness, I avoid going anywhere at all costs which makes my gasoline costs very low.

-Groceries. Depending on the type of sickness, your grocery spending might be significantly less when you are sick.


But as I said up above, you grocery spending might also be a lot less because you gave into eating convenience foods or hitting up a fast food drive-thru. No one wants to think about cooking, much less put in the effort to do it when they are sick. Plus if your family members aren’t sick yet, they will be if you are preparing their food.

-Entertainment. Again, because of my lack of desire to leave the house, my entertainment spending is low when I’m sick. By low I mean $0 (or thereabouts). The only entertainment I might pay for and enjoy from the comfort of my home is my month subscription to Netflix. I can’t even remember the last time I paid for a pay-per-view movie. There’s just no sense in spending money on entertainment, even extra for a movie, when I’m sick because I’m usually half asleep as I’m watching anyway.

What other ways does being sick affect your budget? Does it usually have a net-positive or net-negative impact on your budget?

I still can’t eat lasagna since I got the stomach flu on lasagna day in 3rd grade. 🙁

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Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson spent years managing her own blog about budgeting and debt. Because of that, she has great insights not only about managing spending and borrowing but also about running websites profitably. When she's not writing articles for us, she's traveling and looking for new types of wines to try.
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