Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Budget management for SSI/SSDI or other fixed income

If you manage your loved one’s finances, how do you usually split up their income between rent and utilities, groceries, allowance, and miscellaneous expenses? Do they like to be involved with budgeting at all or does it lead to a lot of conflicts?


Our son lived in a garage apartment we built on our property for him. I paid for Jeb’s rent, utilities, groceries and clothing from his ssi/ssdi account. I gave him a credit card with his name -it was my account, but I never used it. That way he could buy his groceries himself and I could pay the bill directly from the ssi/ssdi account. He also had a SNAP card for groceries. ($110. a month)

I put $50 in his debit card account each month for him to spend anyway he wanted.

Because our area isn’t an expensive area to live, we charged him $400 for rent (Social Security wants it to be market rate rent) After giving him $50, that left him with $305. for utilities, groceries and clothing. I would keep an eye on his charges during the month and let him know if he was getting close to his limit.

Does that help?


Since my sz son lives with me I just go ahead and pay the bills and I try to let him know at least how much things are each time -but numbers in general get him very confused. Grocery wise, he always goes with me and I encourage him to get what he needs each time, but he has a very hard time making firm or fast decisions and always asked me what do I think, (we have been at a stand off often with "what do you think, I don’t know it’s your dinner what do you want? Uh, I don’t know what are you having? on and so forth…lol) . He has a Paypal debit card that I pre-load with funds for things he needs monthly (seldom more than $40 or $50 a month), he does very well with that. I got that initially because they are great about refunds for unauthorized purchases and their online security is excellent and I can monitor it’s usage from my laptop or my cell. He doesn’t do well with cash and is a recovering addict so I avoid giving him more than a dollar or two in cash at anytime. Annually I get a form from SS that has me fill out how his money was used, it is very simple, basically rent, utilities and misc. so I just put the majority in rent and utilities and the rest in misc, sign it and send it back.


We furnish a private bedroom and bath for $350 a month. He receives $700 a month and the remaining goes to food and clothing and some entertainment.
I keep an envelope Jan thru December with each months receipts and put those in there. It is overkill but if he ever tells me I’m spending his money, I have the envelopes with receipts. I ask him if he would like to see where his money goes. It’s there and easy to figure out. I put accounting in the outside of the envelop. He usually has no interest in looking at these but it is my goal to show him how to set this up himself. I was told from social security office any time they overhear this allegation in hospital or therapy, they are supposed to report it.

My son cannot hold onto money when he is ill. I’ve only been called in once and this method seemed to be sufficient. We attempted in the beginning to give him a debit card but he just spent it on dating sites, etc. He has our information on the dark web and we are beginning the process of freezing our credit.

Money is to be used on food, clothing and some on entertainment. His tobacco habit takes most of it.


Hello, Finances aren’t easy to manage for those who are very ill. I was always pretty fortunate. I handled my own money. There was only ONE incident. When I had an overdraft in my account. (it was covered) I had a line of credit that kicked in.

I wrote checks that truthfully? i knew I didn’t have the money in my account. I thought “magically” a deposit would just happen. Yeah. I was pretty far gone back then. (My Father got a call from the bank) (at that time i was just diagnosed with Schizophrenia) so my family didn’t’ know what the heck to do.

I didn’t know or really understand…what “Bad Checks” were. I didn’t know. I never wrote one. Never got one. Needless to say. That was the FIRST and ONLY time…that ever happened.

Anyway. IF your loved one… IS ill and psychotic. Do NOT give them control of their money. There is a system in place for people that are ill. Its called a RENT PAYEE. They assume control of the money. Its all audited. Trustworthy. So. Just thought i’d share that with you all.

as for myself. I am in complete control of my own money. I don’t get much. I’m on SSI. (working toward a day i have earned enough work credits to get SSDI) Money is tight. I am NOT allowed to have any resources. If i do. i lose my medical. So I am very cautious.

Anyway…for now. …here is a list of Bills.

My Rent is 211 …(I live in a HUD building) Thank God!!
(with some medical bills factored into my rent…and some are not) YES…i do have a few bills…i pay out of pocket) Dental…as well as Co Pays…for my.Medications. …i also MUST always have cash in my account…for every medication. Those Co-Pays add up. Its tough.

Phone 60

Car Payment 110

Car Insurance 68

Credit Cards (that varies 30 …I try NEVER carry more than 100 on a credit card. ) I try to pay them off every month. (sometimes i cant) so it takes me about 3 months.

SNAP 102 a month. (was 150) (they cut it 50 dollars this month) :frowning: scared.

Gas for car? (2.79 a gallon) kinda high. …also worried.

Internet/Cable (94) my Father helps with that (for now)

Food – The Food Bank near me is like a Grocery Store. (you shop with a cart and a helper)
They are sooo helpful and wonderful. (no embarrassments) …Yes…I swallow my pride.

I REFUSE to ask my family for help. I won’t. I will starve first.

I am trying to look for a small part time job …(that i can do) And do well.

so this is a real life scenario of someone in my situation.

Yes…as for your question. INVOLVE your loved one…in financial decisions. Its imperative.

God Bless


The rent payment comes out as an auto pay. I make payments for utilities from his account. I asked him what he thought was reasonable for food, transportation and allowance for the month and set up a schedule for portions of this amount to transfer to his debit card periodically. He knows the amounts and transfer dates so he budgets some of his money without any specific direction from me.

Keep in mind budgeting money is a skill even mentally healthy people may struggle with. When things are relatively stable involve them because it is a life skill all of us should possess. If there is a period(s) of time when the illness is making it difficult step in just as you would do in other areas to ensure health and safety.


Just an FYI and also depending on where you live, AT&T has a program for SNAP recipients where you can get really good internet for 10.00 per month flat rate…(sometimes it is 10.02 or a couple pennies not sure why) it is called: Access from AT&T

I found this service trying to cut an outrageous cable package my son and I struggled to pay that included internet/cable/land line phone —originally it was suppose to be 89.00 a month+tax for all 3 but over the years it was edging up to almost 125 per month +tax and neither of our budgets could handle that, so now we have just our cell phones for each of us…my service is through Consumer Cellular and I pay 25 per month for unlimited phone and text and wifi only at home or at hotspots for free which works well for me. My son has a free cell from Assurance wireless due to his limited income… (it costs nothing.)

As for cable, I bought a Roku stick on sale for $39 and bought an indoor antenna on sale for $10 and I subscribed to Hulu ($7.99 a month) and CBS all Access ($5.99 per month) and both services save episodes similar to a DVR which is great…and once or twice a year we get one month of Netflix for any additional shows and binge on our favorites and then cancel right afterwards ( a month is $7.99.) so…after being charged almost 125 at one point, I have all the same services and even more, plus Roku has a lot of free TV and Movie options— and my total cost per month for everything at the most is about $50 on average.

The Hulu and the CBS all access as well as the Netflix can be started and stopped anytime you like to fit your budget or the amount of TV viewing you do. It is really great. Such a savings too. Also Amazon Prime Video which is very similar to Netflix has a SNAP discount to but you have to ask for it and take a picture of your card for them but they will reduce the cost to $5.99 a month for that. Many low cost options. :slight_smile:


Thank you for your helpful responses, everyone! I’m still hoping my brother will eventually be able to live with us. We’re not “there” yet - still working on gaining enough trust he might be willing to let me help with finances/medical treatment (before he moves in so I can step in as needed if/when he has bad days in the future). It’s good information to have. We live in CA so “reasonable” rent is on the expensive side. :confused:


We’re in Southern California…$2050 rent for our duplex. No pool, one bath. We just moved from KY, where our rent was $865 for a luxury complex, 2 bedroom 2 bath. It’s mind blowing to say the least.

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My son’s concepts of money and how to use it are very confused by his delusions - especially that his dad is on the verge of becoming a billionaire, and that he will then have access to all this money. He wants to buy very expensive things. It can make me crazy since I was raised frugally, and tend to be very economical when buying things for myself.

I am his rep payee for his SSI. After writing a check for rent+ utils (he lives in a house I purchased for him to live in) I transfer the remaining amount to an account I have at the same institution where he and I have a joint account. I then transfer small amounts for him to use for spending money. He has a debit card for that account. I can keep track of his spending since I am on the account - not specifically what he is purchasing, but the amounts being spent.

I also use his food stamp card to make grocery purchases for him.

The amount I spend on the house and utilities, and groceries and clothing and other necessities - not even accounting for all the non-essential things I purchase for him - is way more than what he gets each month, but the SSI and food stamps definitely help.