How Long Could You Survive Without a Paycheck? 


Thirty-Eight Percent of all Australians could not pay their household expenses for more than one month if they lost their income.   If you drop the age down to 35 and under, the percentage climbs to 50% only lasting one months’ time.  The loss of income resulting from temporary disability, permanent disability, or death of an income-earning family member.  Considering one in five families will experience some form of income interruption before their 65th birthday, these are sobering facts which need to be considered by everyone; especially parents of children or dependent adults (perhaps college students) living at home. 


Vanessa is a single mom, raising her two twin daughters, Savannah and Lyndon.  On a bright clear day in October, Vanessa found herself facing an oncoming truck which had veered into her driving lane.  With cars parked on both sides, she had no choice but to pull into the oncoming lane, hoping no one was behind the truck.  Unfortunately, there was another car.  She swerved, causing the car to hit her side of the car.  After regaining consciousness, she realized she was trapped behind the steering wheel and the door, unable to feel her legs. Panic rose in her chest; her first thoughts were of her two girls.  What would she do now?    


Vanessa was one of the lucky ones, she regained the ability to walk, but only after months of rehabilitation and five separate operations.  During this time, life for her daughters and herself moved forward, house payments due, living expenses stacked up, and food costs were put on a credit card.  Vanessa was lucky; she had parents who were in a financial place to help her with the expenses for the first six months.  But without this help, she would have lost her home, lost her job, and who would have helped with her two girls? 


What costs would you incur if there was no income for over a year?  Or even 6 months, perhaps even one month?  Would you lose your home?  Would your loved ones and family be cared for?  And what if the very worst happened, who would care and support your family?  Would you want just the bare minimum for them, or would you want them to continue living in the same lifestyle they had been living at?   


These are questions which must be asked.  Priorities need to be considered.  Taking the necessary steps to prepare for a tragic event doesn’t bring on the event; if anything, it gives you peace of mind in case it ever does.  Consider the facts below and see if you think you can beat the odds for your health and wellness.  Then ask yourself this  Is it worth the risk? 


  • Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in adults – close to 20% of all strokes occur in 55 years of age or younger. * 
  • Heart Attacks occur in close to 55,000 adults each year – this equates to one heart attack every 10 minutes.** 
  • Cancer will be diagnosed in 1 of every 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 women by the age of 85 .*** 
  • Disability during your working life will occur 60% of the time for at least one month; 1 in 3 chance you will be disabled for more than 3 months.**** 
  • Prostate Cancer new cases will be diagnosed in 19,400 Australian men, of which about 3000 men will die from it.***** 


Of course, taking precautions to protect your future is always an individual choice, and many have other provisions in place in case an unfortunate event happens.  But for those who haven’t taken steps to provide for our loved ones, think about this choice the next time you pay that $100 payment for your car insurance or the $90 for your pet.  It may be time to include your family on this list of ‘guarantees’. 


 *National Stroke Foundation website, ‘What is a Stroke? Facts, figures, and statistics’, 2009  

** ‘Data and Statistics’ Heart Foundation, 2012 

*** ‘Facts & Figures – Cancer in Australia 2012’ Cancer Council 2012. 

**** Interim Report of the Disability Committee Institute of Actuaries of Australia, 2000. 

*****‘Prostate cancer-related statistics’, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia 2007.