Chapter 8: Retirement

This chapter offers bulletproof retirement strategies that people with disabilities can employ right now to improve economic self-sufficiency. Learn about everything from long-term investment and taking advantage of compound interest, to different ways to save money and still keep government benefits. More information can be found in Chapter 8 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 8 Retirement (PDF)

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Tools

For a lot of people, retirement seems very far off, but if you plan for it now, your future self will thank you!

Retirement Planning

Use this retirement planning tool to help you see how much savings you will have after investing a certain amount per month. Just enter how much you will put into savings each month into “monthly contribution” and enter the interest rate on your investments into “interest rate.” Then, choose “number of years” to see your final savings!

Retirement Planning tool (Excel)

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Chapter 7: Self-Employment

There are several great opportunities for folks with disabilities when it comes to self-employment. Whether you want to start the next Silicon Valley garage start-up or just arrange a little side-hustle for extra dollars, this chapter can help get the creative juices flowing. More information can be found in Chapter 7 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 7 Self-Employment (PDF)

Tools

Though creating a full-fledged start-up may sound a little daunting, many highly successful people have a small side-hustle. Maybe you love to take pictures at weddings or you want to drive for a ride-share company. Feel free to get creative!

Small Business Planning

It’s time for self-employment! Use this sheet to calculate your start-up costs and how you will fund your business. Feel free to change the categories and amounts to fit your style – and once your “Extra Funds” is more than $0, you’re good to go!

Small Business Planning tool (Excel)

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Chapter 6: Home Ownership

Home ownership is a great long-term financial investment, offering both the opportunity for stable housing costs over a 30-year period and the slow but steady capital appreciation as one’s mortgage is paid off. More information can be found in Chapter 6 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 6 Home Ownership (PDF)

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Tools

For many people, buying a home is a big part of the “American dream.” It takes a lot of planning both for people with disabilities and for people without disabilities, but it is worth the effort and time.

Buying A Home

After some thought, you’ve finally decided to buy a home! Want to find out your up-front costs and monthly payments? Well, just play around with the calculators in this tool to get started.

Buying a Home tool (Excel)

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Chapter 5: Identity Theft

Identity theft can negatively impact your financial reputation, including your credit score. It’s important to be aware of identity theft tactics regarding both your digital security and your paper security; learn the proactive steps you can take to increase that security. More information can be found in Chapter 5 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 5 Identity Theft (PDF)

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Tools

In the age of elaborate scams, all different types of people can be financially abused. Many people with disabilities are especially susceptible to this abuse.

Identifying Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Do you ever wonder if you or someone in your life might be the victim of financial abuse? Here is a great tool from CFPB to help identify some of the most important signs of financial abuse and exploitation.

Identifying Financial Abuse and Exploitation tool (PDF)

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Chapter 4: Credit

Having good credit is vital to everything from taking out a loan or renting an apartment to turning on utilities or even getting employed. Learn what credit is, why it matters, how to check your credit, and how to improve your credit score. More information can be found in Chapter 4 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 4 Credit (PDF)

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Tools

It’s important to keep an eye on your credit. A good way to do this is by knowing and understanding your credit reports and scores. We have two very helpful tools, thanks to our work with CFPB, that teach you to keep a finger on your credit pulse.

Credit Report Checklist

It’s important to look for information that does not belong to you or is incorrect when you are reviewing your credit score. Highlight the information you think may or may not be correct on your report as you compare it with this checklist.

Credit Report Checklist tool (PDF)

Getting Your Credit Reports and Scores

You can get one free copy of your credit report from each of three nationwide credit reporting companies every twelve months. Use this tool to learn about how!

Getting Your Credit Reports and Scores tool (PDF)

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Chapter 3: Paying Down Debt

Debt. It’s rarely anyone’s favorite topic, but it is really important to getting one’s financial house in order. Learn the lucky seven ways to pay down debt, including paying more than the minimum payment and “snowballing.” More information can be found in Chapter 3 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 3 Paying Down Debt (PDF)

Tools

We’ve built two great tools with CFPB and one additional tool to help organize your debt-crushing strategies.

Debt Collectors

Do you ever wonder about your rights and responsibilities when it comes to debt collectors? Here is a great tool to help navigate this important financial issue.

Debt Collectors tool (PDF)

Debt Worksheet

We know. We know. But it’s important to get all the information about all one’s debts in one place. This is a great tool to get a big-picture look at your over all debt so you can begin to take action!

Debt Worksheet tool (PDF)

Debt Payoff

Want to find out how long it’ll take to pay off a debt or loan? Just use this calculator! To start out, enter the amount of your debt and its annual interest rate. Then, put in how much money you plan to pay off each month, and the calculator will tell you how long it will take to pay off the debt!

Debt Payoff tool (Excel)

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Chapter 2: Budgeting

The most important thing to do with money is to provide it with direction. Learn how to track where your money goes by drafting a budget that considers your expenses and your income, along with your saving, investing, and debt. More information can be found in Chapter 2 of the EQUITY book.

Chapter 2 Budgeting (PDF)

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Tools

OK! Let’s check out some of the tools and worksheets to put what we have just learned into practice! When it comes to budgeting, we have five, yes five, great tools thanks to our project with CFPB.

Income and Benefit Tracker

The first tool is an income and benefit tracker. The main goal here is to be sure you capture every type of income and benefit you receive on a monthly basis.

If you get SSI, write it down. SSDI? Write it down. Even benefits without a cash value, be sure you write that down. For example, let’s say you have a housing voucher that pays $600 of your rent. That has a value of $600, even though it is just an offset to your rent.

Does rehab pay for your bus pass? Internet access? Write it down. Just make sure the income tracker captures the full picture of your income and benefits each month. The tracker also has some great instructions and ideas on how you can share it with others. Check out the income tracker here!

Income and Benefit Tracker tool (PDF)

Bill Calendar

Here’s another great tool. Ever get a bit disorganized around which bills you’ve paid and which ones you haven’t? Because, we sure do.

Once we even sent the utility payment to the credit card company, and the credit card payment to the utility company. And, well, that didn’t work out so well.

Here is a great way to keep track of all your bills and due dates. Make sure you capture each monthly bill, and, depending on how you pay it, by mail or electronically, make sure you leave enough time for the payment to arrive.

Bill Calendar tool (PDF)

Spending Tracker

OK, we’ve seen how to use the income and benefit tracker and the bill tracker, so it is only natural that we now jump into the joys of the spending tracker!

Ah, spending, who doesn’t like tracking where their money goes? Well, anyway, if we don’t know where it is going, we can’t make better decisions about where we would like it to go.

That’s really what this entire section is about: just knowing what stuff gets money spent on. We remember the first time we looked closely at our spending–we were amazed. Small bills had crept up over time. We even had a subscription service we had forgotten about. The key here, just like the income and benefit tracker, is to make sure you are capturing everything you spend money on, and then to make sure you put that spending into categories that make sense.

This tool has some great tips from CFPB about how to track spending, keep receipts, photograph receipts, use a debit card, and whatever else works for you. Just do it for a few days, a week, a month.

Lastly, let’s not judge what people spend money on. One of the authors of EQUITY happens to have a large spending category for dog toys and exercise, while his sister likes expensive dinners out. As long as we’re making conscience decisions about spending, folks get to do whatever they want.

Spending Tracker tool (PDF)

Paying for Assistive Devices

Not sure where to start when you need to purchase an assistive device? This tool can help you organize and think outside the box to come up with a sensible plan!

Paying for Assistive Devices tool (PDF)

Monthly Budget

Well, now that we have tracked our income and benefits, as well as our general spending and our more specific paying for assistive devices, it’s time to put it all together in a monthly budget. Check out and please share with friends and colleagues this great budget tool from our work with CFPB that puts it all together.

Once you’ve entered all the information and data, it gives you a great overview of what your monthly money picture really looks like!

Once it is all in one place, you get to take action!

Maybe trim that monthly cable bill or find a cheaper phone plan. On the other hand, with those savings, maybe start an ABLE account or an emergency fund or start paying down debt by making larger payments! It’s all up to you, and this tool helps you do it!

Monthly Budget tool (PDF)

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