Managing Your NDIS Budgets: Understanding Underspending
We previously talked about the perils overspending may pose to your NDIS plan, but what many may not understand is that underspending can also present potential problems down the line.
Currently, COVID-19 has affected how participants are able to employ their necessary supports, many of whom have swiftly changing needs in these circumstances. The NDIS has recognized this and provided an option with your consent to automatically renewing the same plans with the same budgets for another 12 months. However, as underspending is an important issue in managing your budgets, it’s still helpful to understand how it can affect you.
Your budgets are allocated so you receive your choice of supports for the plan period, and so the NDIS determines how much you’ll be likely to spend when engaging the supports you need. When you come in under budget for supports that you rely on and the NDIS looks at this during your plan review, they may decide the allocated funds in the previous plan were too much and therefore reduce your budgets in your following plan.
Here are some ways to keep from underspending:
Understand your plan
It’s important you understand what you can expect from your plan, what you’re eligible for, and how to make it work for you. We’ve answered some of the most frequently answered questions regarding the NDIS here, and if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it’s a great place to start.
Track your budgets and balances
Blitzit Online Portal (BOP). It’s available to all our clients 24/7 and updated in real time. With BOP you have access to which funds are allocated under each category, as well as track your budgets, balances and spending history. (Soon to be available as an app, making it even easier and breezier to stay on top of your expenses.)
It’s worth considering working with a plan manager to help you track your spending, too. This means you have another person on your team whose sole designation is to make sure that you make the most out of your NDIS plan by keeping you informed and on track.
Consider a support coordinator
The best way to ensure you’re making the most of your NDIS plan is to find service providers that can give you the necessary supports. Support Coordinators help you understand your budgets but also have the resources to help you acquire the supports you need, especially in areas where these may be more difficult to come by. Ask your Planner or Local Area Coordinator to include funding for a Support Coordinator in your next plan.
At Blitzit, following your consent, we also give Support Coordinators BOP (Blitzit Online Portal) access, so that they can be informed of how your funding is being spent and help you make adjustments wherever necessary.
Be vigilant with invoices
Invoices are a key component to keeping your budget on track, so stay in touch with your service providers and make sure their invoices are coming through regularly. You can even ask them to issue the invoice on the same day every month, just like any other bill. Late payments can either lead you to underspend or make you presume you’re underspending when you’re not. Either way, keeping on top of your service providers’ invoices is key to keeping your budgets where they should be.
Start as early as three months to plan expiry
At Blitzit Plan Manager, we like to make sure participants are able to maximise their plans. One of the ways we help is through our unique emails that you receive as you near the end of your current plan. These are periodical monthly reminders beginning from when you’re three months away from your plan ending, with a helpful checklist to ask yourself how you’ve been spending and what you can do with your remaining allocation that’ll be directly to your benefit.
Want to make the most of your NDIS budget, but not sure how?
The friendly and experienced team Blitzit Plan Manager is available to answer all your questions! Give us a call at 1300 966 119, send us an email at email@example.com or sign up now. For regular updates on the NDIS and what Blitzit can do for you, sign up for our newsletter here.
Towards the end of your current plan, you’ll be headed toward plan review. This is a great time to think about your plan and whether the budgets have been working in your favour, so that you enter your plan review equipped with all the necessary information to help yourself achieve your future goals.
At your Plan Meeting or Plan Review, you’ll be asked what your choice is for managing your NDIS funding. Some participants opt for a combination of these options, especially as they become more familiar with the NDIS.
A stated item indicates a specific support or service with its own allocation in your NDIS plan. When you see a support with the description “stated supports,” it means that this support has funding that cannot be transferred or used for any other purpose other than the specified item.
After your planning meeting, you’ll be issued your NDIS plan based on what was discussed. The plan will include important information that elaborates on who you are, what support systems you currently have, and what you’re trying to achieve through the help of the NDIS, together with information on what funding is available to you.
Now that you have your NDIS funding, it’s time to spend and track it.