Cancer can affect your usual income. It is important to make sure you have enough money coming in to cover what you need. This money could come from:

  • work
  • benefits
  • savings or investments 
  • insurance policies
  • pensions
  • grants.

Consider your current monthly income and expenses – and what they would be if you’re unable to work. If your income is low, you may be eligible for state benefits. This can also apply if you are elderly or a carer. If you have a health or life insurance policy, check whether you’re eligible for a pay-out. You may receive a lump-sum that you could invest or use to pay off debts.

Reviewing any savings and investments may help with their everyday management. You could decide to cash them in or stop payments if money is tight. Before cancelling any regular payments, check the terms and conditions for the savings account or investment.

You can use our online budget calculator to record all the income you get. Call our financial guides on 0808 808 00 00 for advice on planning your budget.

Planning your budget when you have cancer

After assessing your financial situation, it should be easier to plan your budget.

This means planning your income and spending, and working out what your spending priorities are. You could use our online budgeting tool. We also have more information about budgeting in our section on managing your money day to day.

Thinking about the questions below will help you work out how much money you’ll have in the coming months:

  • What is your monthly income at the moment?
  • What will your monthly income be if you’re unable to work? Remember to include any payments you would get from sick pay or from working reduced hours.
  • What are your usual expenses?
  • How will your expenses increase? You should think about the extra cancer-related costs like travel and heating costs.

Are you eligible for state benefits?

Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for state benefits if one or more of the following applies to you:

  • you have a low level of income and savings
  • you have care or mobility needs
  • you are unable to work or looking for work
  • you are elderly
  • you are caring for someone who is ill or disabled.

Our section about benefits and other financial support has more details about benefits you may be able to apply for and other financial help you may be able to get. You can also call our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00 for more information about benefits. For more information and to apply for benefits online, visit the GOV.UK website (if you live in England, Scotland or Wales) or the NI Direct website (if you live in Northern Ireland).

Can you make a claim on an insurance policy?

If you have a health insurance or life insurance policy, your cancer diagnosis may mean you are now eligible for a payout. You may have bought an insurance policy yourself or have insurance through work. For example, many employers provide health insurance as part of a work contract.

There are two types of life insurance: term insurance and investment-linked insurance. Term insurance only pays out if you die within a set time (the term). Investment-linked life insurance pays out an agreed sum when you die, but it can also be cashed in during your lifetime, so it can be used as an investment.

You might receive a large, single payment of money from an insurance policy (a lump sum). In this case, you may want to pay it into a bank or building society easy-access account while you decide what to do with it. Easy-access accounts let you withdraw your money at any time without giving notice or paying a fee.

What you do with the money depends on your particular goals. For example, you may want to:

  • pay off a mortgage or other debts
  • buy any expensive items you need
  • pay for a holiday
  • invest the money to use as an income
  • save the money for the future.

A wide variety of investments are available. Choosing the most suitable ones will depend on your particular goals and circumstances. If you need help deciding what to do, contact a financial adviser.

Remember that insurance payouts or money from investments could affect some of the state benefits you claim.

Do you have any savings or investments?

If you have savings or investments, you may feel it’s the right time to cash them in. Many bank and building society accounts are easy-access accounts. But with other types of savings and investments, you may:

  • have to give notice before you can take out your money
  • lose some of the profit you have made (known as the return)
  • not be able to get your money back early at all.

Providers may ignore their usual restrictions in case of illness or severe hardship.

If you have any share-based investments, you may make a loss if the stock market is low at the time you cash in. A share-based investment invests in shares or a direct holding of shares you have in a company. The value of these investments can fall as well as rise. You may have to pay surrender charges or dealing charges that reduce the amount of money you get. These are charges you pay to cash in an investment early. They apply in particular to investment-linked life insurance.

Remember that insurance payouts or money from investments could affect any state benefits you claim.

Should you stop any regular payments into savings accounts or towards pensions or investments?

You may decide to stop any regular payments you make into savings accounts or towards savings or investments, to save money. 


If you’re putting money aside in a bank or building society account, there’s usually no problem or penalty if you stop saving. You simply stop your payments. You can either leave the savings that have already built up in the account or cash them in. A few accounts are designed for regular monthly saving over a year or so. You’ll lose some interest on these accounts if you don’t make all the payments.


You may belong to a pension scheme. If this is a scheme at work, contributions to it are usually taken directly from your pay. You can choose to opt out of the scheme but you may lose any contributions your employer is making to the scheme for you.

With some employers, you carry on building up a pension even if you’re off work sick. Check your contract of employment. Pension scheme benefits often include life insurance cover and survivor pensions, so check how these would be affected if you stop contributing. Talk to your pension provider or HR department at work.

Penalty charges

With a few investments (in particular investment-type life insurance), you agree to save a set amount each month. If you stop, there may be penalty charges that reduce the value of the money you have saved so far. Some policies include a ‘waiver of premium benefit’ that makes your payments for you if you can’t work because of illness.

Be very careful of stopping payments to an endowment policy or other investment that is intended to eventually pay off a mortgage. If there isn’t enough money to pay off the mortgage at the end of its term, you may have to sell your home. Consider whether there are other options for reducing your monthly mortgage payments.

Before you stop any regular payments, check the terms and conditions for the savings account or investment. You could also contact the provider to discuss it. Our financial guides can talk to you about your situation and give you information about stopping regular payments.

Thinking about the important issues in this section will help you work out what next steps you need to take, and whether you need further information, support or advice.

Back to Planning your finances

Assessing your finances

Cancer can lead to extra expenses. By assessing your situation, you can plan ahead to meet your needs.