The Cost Of Cancer: Time To Reclaim Your Life! (5 of 5)

This article is the fifth of a series on financial advice for families who are dealing with cancer, written by our guest author and renowned financial planner, Lovaii Navlakhi. Cancer Awakens is very grateful to Lovaii for contributing so whole-heartedly to our site and to our readers.

It has been a very difficult time for you and your family. You’ve dealt with all the turbulence, your treatment is over (at least for now) and it is now time to cope with life again. You have decisions to make, be it changes in work, life-style or managing your money.

Healthy Life-style, First and Foremost

Healthy lifestyle firstI recommend that you give a healthy life-style the highest priority. After all, your health comes first and you want to do everything you can to remain cancer-free (or at least keep it well under control).

In addition to your oncologist, please consult a dietician / nutritionist / counsellor on how you need to reorganise and live your new life. Some aspects may need toning down, while others may need to be dialled up. Even small changes will go a long way.

Work, Next

In the context of your healthy lifestyle and only after your doctor has given you the green light, it is time to consider your work options. Remember it is your health which will now determine your work, not the other way around … this won’t be easy to do!

Do you want to go back to the exact same job in the exact same company? How open will they be to consider an assignment which is less stressful and more balanced in terms of your health? A slow start will be great and you can always accelerate when you feel ready for it. What other options can you consider, where health, work and income are well-balanced?

Finally, Money

Finances after cancerNow is the time to review how cancer has affected your finances. Take a fresh look at all your investments, income, expenses and future goals. What does your ‘Net Worth’ statement look like and how healthy is it now? Consider some of the following:

  • Income Vs expenses: You may have been encashing your investments or withdrawing from your savings kitty to deal with the cancer. Can you estimate your likely income and expenses for the next 1 year? Be realistic … not ambitious or overly conservative. If there is a gap, how big is it and what are your funding options? It may be a time for you to celebrate getting back-to-health, but it is not yet the time to splurge financially … don’t worry, that stage will come too, if you plan it properly.
  • Reset your goals: In light of your cancer experience, what are your new goals and how different are they, compared to the past? Once again, be very realistic. Even if the goals themselves may not change, your priorities may. Discuss with your close family members and set your new priorities: which goals can you postpone and which ones can be reduced?
  • Revamp your portfolio: Your investment portfolio may have supported you in your time of need. What should it look like, with the future in mind? How aggressive or conservative do you want to be? Is it in line with the overall market condition/ sentiment? Should you increase your equity allocation (and look for higher returns) or should you increase your debt allocation for for consistent returns which will keep you going for another year?
  • Role of passive income:  This is an often neglected area. There may be ways to generate passive income by way of rent, income, interest and/or dividends. Can you re-organise your investments with passive income in mind, so that a part of your monthly expenses is met by these and you don’t need to actually withdraw from your investments.
  • Medical insurance: This is a must, even if cancer is not covered for 3-4 years. It will be useful for the entire family and once the waiting period is over, cancer should be covered as well. Make sure you get the right advice, choose the correct product and read the fine print carefully.
  • Life insurance: Ensure that your existing policies are active and evaluate if you need to re-look at the insurance cover, particularly if you have changed the nature or terms of your work. While the premium may be higher, you don’t want your family to be left in the lurch, if the worst happens. Also, if someone else in the family has started earning, it is a good idea to purchase life insurance for them.

So now you are well-informed and well-equipped for the journey ahead … I wish you fair winds and happy sailing through the sea of life!

Reflection

  • Now that you’re on the road to recovery, how can you plan your gradual return to work or look at alternative career options?
  • To what extent has your illness has affected your financial status and stability?
  • Where can you get expert help to systematically rebuild and/or diversify your finances?

Author

Lovaii NavlakhiLovaii is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of International Money Matters Pvt Ltd. He features regularly on NDTV’s “30 Minutes to Wealth”, CNBC Awaaz and UTV Bloomberg. He is a panelist on various websites like moneycontrol.com, myiris.com, investmentyogi.com, etc. He also writes regularly for Outlook Money and Economic Times. He is the author of “A Guide to Retirement Planning” published for Outlook Money in 2007. He can be contacted on lovaii@immpl.com. For more details, visit: www.immpl.com.

More from this series

Title About the article
Part 1: Are You Prepared? When I ask myself “How many of those 250 million Indians (who will get cancer) are prepared for it?”, I already know the answer: very few. Then there is the ‘cost’ aspect to consider, which most people are even less prepared for.
Part 2: Critical Illness Cover I met Ajay after a couple of years, at a dinner party. I knew him as a happy-go-lucky guy. But he looked solemn to me; upon enquiring, he said his uncle had passed away a few weeks ago, due to a galloping cancer.
Part 3: An Unexpected Visitor What happens when “C” arrives at your door unannounced and you have no medical insurance or critical illness cover? What can you do then?
Part 4: How To Make Your Claim Even if you are among the few who have planned for contingencies, when cancer strikes, it can still be scary and leave you confused and vulnerable. Let’s say that you have medical insurance along with critical illness cover. How do you go about claiming your expenses and redeeming your policy?
Part 5: Time To Reclaim Your Life It has been a very difficult time for you and your family. You’ve dealt with all the turbulence, your treatment is over (at least for now) and it is now time to cope with life again. You have decisions to make, be it changes in work, life-style or managing your money.

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