When you are too sick to work but need money

There are many reasons people run out of cash or don’t have enough, but one of the most discouraging reasons is when you are battling an illness or injury. What do you do when you are too sick to work but need money?

too sick to work

This has been a very real issue for us right now. My husband recently had surgery and needs to recover. He is unable to work for about 4 weeks.

I know many of you have been there at various times in your life. And for some it’s a lot longer than four weeks that they are unable to work.

Some people suffer with chronic illnesses that have left them without a way to pay their bills.

It can feel hopeless and discouraging. You may feel like you are falling into a hole you will never be able to dig yourself out of.

Today I want to give you some ideas, and some hope if you are in that circumstance.

But first I want to talk about being realistic, and giving yourself grace about the situation you are in. You see, I’ve come across things online that say, “if you just work hard enough, save hard enough, sacrifice enough, everything will work out.”

I’m going to tell you how truly important those things are. But I am also going to tell you how you can do all the right things and you can’t necessarily be prepared for everything.  In a perfect world all we would need to do is come up with the perfect formula and we’d never run out of money again.  But we’re all dealt different cards and it isn’t fair in my opinion to apply that above statement as a one-size-fits-all.

That’s the situation we’ve been in recently. You see, as I said earlier, my husband had surgery recently. We knew it was coming. We had time to prepare, and we did our best to save some extra cash, and make a little extra in preparation for what was to come.

And then life happened.

Because at the same time as the surgery was scheduled, apparently everything in our lives decided to break. (Obviously an exaggeration for dramatic effect, but it did feel like everything was falling apart.)

Both vehicles decided to show off their check engine lights. The truck started smoking one day, and also decided to leak transmission fluid everywhere (that’s never good. Transmission fluid is supposed to stay IN the vehicle.)

The toilet broke, and then the septic system backed up (and in a weird twist, neither were related to one another even though it happened on the same day.)

The trailer tire busted, and the well is not working properly.

And does a cavity count as something broken? (I mean, it IS a broken tooth.)

I mean, it’s almost funny at this point for everything to happen around the same time. And as frustrating as this has been, and discouraging, we’ve been around long to know these things happen and we’ll get through it.

But let’s get to the realistic point here. We can prepare for time off of a surgery if we know it’s coming. We can even put a little extra money away for an emergency. But there’s absolutely no way I could have been prepared financially for all those things on the list. We are a modest income family. It just isn’t possible at this stage of life.

And so, understand that sometimes you can prepare a bit, and sometimes you can’t. But if you end up falling behind just focus on how you can get ahead again and allow yourself time (and grace.) It’s these times that bring me to fully rely on God because I can only control so much.


Rent out a room in your home.

If you have a big enough house with extra rooms (say, if one of your children went off to college and their childhood bedroom is free) you can rent out a room to make extra money. If you live in a community with a college or university there are always plenty of students looking for an affordable place to live.

Work from home.

For some people with a chronic illness this is a good option (though I understand not everyone can do this.) There are many ideas you can try to make an income while never leaving your home. I am very thankful to be able to make cash from home as a blogger, but there are other options too like a freelance writer, or virtual assistant. Here’s a list of work at home ideas.

Sell some things.

If you are unable work only temporarily, like my husband for example, selling some things might be a great solution. Any furniture you need to get rid of? Books? Exercise equipment? There are so many things you can try selling from home.

Pet sit.

This can be as labor intensive as you want it to be. If you have a little more energy you could watch people’s dogs, giving them walks and getting outside. If that is too much for you for the time being you can watch someone’s cats. Cats don’t need much besides food, water, a litter box, and a house to roam.

Cut your budget.

It may be that you can’t find a lot of ways to make some extra money. If that’s the case you may have to take another look at your budget and find things you can cut. Subscriptions are a great place to start. Nowadays everything seems to require a subscription and before you know it you have 4 different tv streaming subscriptions and 3 different audio or music ones. I recommend looking at your budget periodically to see what you can change. I just did this two nights ago and cut some things out myself.

Look to your community for help.

If you just don’t have enough money and you are struggling even to pay for groceries, check your local community services to see what they offer in the way of help. Here in Canada we have food banks where you can go and get free non-perishable food items if you’ve fallen on hard times. In the US it’s food stamps that you can use at the grocery store like cash. There’s no shame in needing these services if you are unable to work and make an income.


If you are one of those people who are struggling with a chronic illness of some kind, or maybe you are one of those people saying, “I need surgery but can’t afford to miss work” I want to tell you that as hard as it is, there are ways to get through. Your health is so important and should be made a priority. Take the time off that is needed and try some of the ideas above to help you manage your finances during this time. There are jobs for people with chronic illness, and there are resources to help.

1 thought on “When you are too sick to work but need money”

  1. I am sorry all this has fallen on your family at once. I hope your husband is well and able to go back to work very soon. It happens this way sometimes after you are retired too and have limited resources. We have spent $18K on major things here in the last 3 months. We feel like we have holes in our pockets.

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