Budgeting and Savings Goals with Representative Payee Services

DSC_0171The holiday season is right around the corner, and with it comes the budgetary impact of planning for extra expenses. For many adults, keeping track of spending and saving can be stressful and challenging. For many adults with severe and persistent mental illnesses, simple financial tasks like balancing a checkbook or paying a bill can be overwhelming.

The Representative Payee Department at Helping Hands Hawaii assists hundreds of consumers living with disabilities and the effects of homelessness and poverty with budgeting and bill-paying. Whether it’s saving for a large purchase or building a financial safety net for unexpected bills, having a Rep Payee helps to ensure that consumers’ Social Security, SSI and VA benefits are being used to meet their basic needs.

Creating a budget begins with the basics: comparing a consumer’s net monthly income and expenses. Bills are ranked in order of greatest to least importance (e.g. rent/mortgage and basic utilities before entertainment or recreation) to ensure consumers’ vital needs are being paid first. After basic shelter, food and medical expenses are met, consumers may elect to receive personal spending allowances on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis.

Consumers are encouraged to include a small amount of set-aside savings in their monthly budget, which is kept in their Rep Payee accounts. Over time, even small amounts of automatic monthly savings can grow into enough for a big-ticket item or a special occasion. Planning to save a certain amount of money each month can be so effective that many consumers forget that they are saving at all and are surprised to learn that they have accumulated enough money in their accounts for a large purchase.

In addition to initial budgeting and bill-paying, Rep Payee staff provides ongoing budget monitoring and coaching to ensure consumers are able to meet both their short- and long-term financial needs. No matter the occasion, it is never too late (or too early) to start saving!

For more information about Representative Payee Services, contact (808) 440-3875. To be referred to the program, contact the Eligibility Line of the Hawaii State Adult Mental Health Division at (808) 643-2643.

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