Use it or Lose it – Spending your NDIS money
Spend all the funds in your NDIS plan. Whether you’re agency-managed, plan-managed or self-managed, it’s important to get the most out of your budget and supports. Brimbank mother Sheryl Peck encourages parents to maximise their spend of current plans to increase the chances of approval for future funding. In 2017, Sheryl did her best to ensure that her 9-year-old son received the supports he required to reach his developmental goals. At the time, Sheryl made the conscious choice to spend conservatively but now regrets it as only half the allocated funds in the 2017 plan were spent. Sheryl says “I felt blindsided when my son wasn’t given the same amount of money the following year during a critical time .” Your past spending affects your future funding Government agencies generally find it easier to approve or shift budgets that remain the same over time compared to advocating for greater funding following dips in spend. As a result, funding allocations are normally decided based on past spending records and any excess funds are reeled in at the end of a budget cycle. Public service managers are motivated to spend or risk receiving a smaller budget in their next round. This approach seems to have carried over, with the agency adopting a similar practice to its relationships with NDIS participants. When it comes to plan reviews, the agency looks at past spending. This means your choice to be conservative with your plan spending can very well cost you down the line in your next plan. In other words - you are more likely to be better off today and tomorrow if you spend your whole package. Think creatively Although funding decisions should ideally be goals-based, it is understandable that the agency wants to ensure that funds are not wasted on the wrong supports by cutting down on excess budgets. We can help support this in a number of creative ways while making the best of the situation. Example 1 - Check out other providers. If you receive services from an umbrella provider (e.g. a centre for Physiotherapy and Speech Pathology), you may find that a busy or understaffed provider with long waitlists may be unable to provide you with all the supports outlined in your plan before it finishes. In this case, finding another provider can give you a chance to see what another provider has to offer, giving you more choices. Example 2 - Stock up on consumables. If your plan includes consumables with a decent shelf life (e.g. aids and continence pads), then you may find it useful to stock up. This can be one easy way to catch up on spending as well as keep your spend aligned with your plan. You may also be better positioned to negotiate shifts in the budget to different allocated categories for things you really want and need if you spend all your consumables budget and get it reallocated in your next plan. Be organised and budget to spend more When it comes to budgeting, being organised is everything. A number of online budget tools for managing your NDIS plan can help with this. They can be used for budget tracking including spend to date and remaining available spend, and creating a spending plan for your budget to ensure that you will always have enough money for the things you need and the things that are important to you. Since people normally budget to save money, it may feel counter-intuitive to also budget in order to spend money, but in the case of NDIS planning - you are more likely to be better off today and tomorrow if you spend your whole package. Become NDIS Plan Managed.