Making a Living With Diabetes: Monetizing Your Life

In parts one through three of this series on making a living with diabetes, I wrote about working at a job, working from home, and getting disability pay. If those aren’t enough, you might find that your life has other sources of money.

Sharing your skills or resources
Many of these sources involve sharing. Do you have a room you can rent to a housemate or share with a roommate? Is there a family member or friend who could use the space? You need to carefully screen them in advance, because bad roommates are hard to get rid of.


You don’t need to rent that extra room long-term. You can turn it into a hotel through Airbnb. Airbnb finds the customers and handles the paperwork. That way, you can rent for as many days as you like (provided that your city and building allow for these types of rentals).

You could also share your space with animals. People always need pet sitters. My friend Joyce is quite disabled by multiple sclerosis (MS) but still makes money and keeps social contact through cat sitting.

Dog walking is another way, good for you as well as profitable. You can make yourself available to walk dogs through Craigslist or Nextdoor or by posting signs around your neighborhood or pet stores. There is some skill to it, and big dogs can be physically demanding, so go slow.

You can also monetize your car. You can rent it through a site like Turo. You can drive it like a cab for Uber or deliver things for Grubhub or some other delivery service you can find with a Google search.

You can do freelance work such as editing or writing. Dozens of websites such as wikiHow give strategies for getting started.

Consulting at what you do sometimes pays more money than actually doing it. Don’t underestimate your value as a teacher. Your knowledge or experience might help a lot of people who are willing to pay you for them. You can advertise for free on some websites or set up your own website to spread the word.

Buying and selling things on eBay, Craigslist, or other sites can also make you a nice chunk of change. My niece Nia finds good deals on eBay, buying them and repackaging them. She makes pretty good money.

More money-making ideas can be found on the website Mind Over Meniere’s.

These ideas won’t work for everyone. Many of them require computer skills, which hopefully you can get. None of them come with benefits. They usually have to be combined with some other source of insurance or income, but they can help keep you afloat.

Getting help from loved ones
A resource no one wants to use is family support. You might have a parent or other relative who can help. No one wants to be dependent, but you can pay them back in many ways. Mary, a 60-year-old woman with Type 2 told me, “I moved back in with my (84-year-old) mother. I didn’t want to, but now I’m glad I had to. I’m glad to be helping her around the house and glad not to be paying rent, even if she does drive me crazy sometimes. I’m learning to listen to her and appreciate her.” Listening is a very useful service we can provide at any level of health or ability.

Health can change family relationships in other ways. Marriage roles may change as a result of disability. Robert, a 58-year-old plumber with Type 2, had to stop working because of neuropathy. “I’m the cook now,” he said. “I’m Mom. My wife is out working. I’m getting good at it; it could be worse.”

Unfortunately, couples even divorce for economic reasons. A reader on one of our blogs told us how his wife could not qualify for a drug company’s assistance plan because their combined income was too high. They got divorced so that she could afford her meds.

Mix and match
You may have to mix and match these strategies to create a plan that works for you. Be creative and try new things like those suggested in this series, or others. Even if you cannot make enough money to support yourself completely, you can survive, help out, and do interesting and rewarding things.

“I really scramble,” a woman named Marsha told me. “I rent the room that used to be my son’s. I do filing work part time in an office down the street. My Mom gifts me sometimes, and I write articles for a food website. I’m looking for a real job, but I’m working with what I’ve got.”

Please share your own experiences and strategies for making money and paying for health care with diabetes.

Check out my new blog entry on The Inn by the Healing Path about fear, where it comes from, and what we can do about it.