It is estimated that 1/3 of all seniors have no money left over at the end of each month (NCOA). Around 1 in 20 seniors have also experienced some sort of financial mistreatment (NAPSA). These concerns along with other uncertainties and financial concerns mean that seniors need to plan financially and take steps to protect themselves from financial risks and exploitation.
Financial scammers love to target seniors. The know many seniors are vulnerable due to changing technologies and normal aging issues. Examples include seniors with hearing problems struggling to communicate about their finances or seniors with memory loss having issues staying on budget. Seniors can use some of the following tips to ensure they stay financially safe and secure.
- Work with a licensed financial advisor who is also a fiduciary.
- Use unique passwords for accounts, store password information securely.
- Entrust a loved one with access to accounts in case of emergency.
- Keep finances in multiple secure accounts
- Always call the numbers listed on account information – do not return calls as they may be scams.
- Get details about financial decisions in writing for review.
- Check credit reports yearly.
- Sign up for notifications when payments are over a certain amount to be made.
- Never give confidential information, such as SSN or phone numbers, unless you initiated the call. (American Bankers Association)
Budgeting and Seniors
When seniors retire, it often leads to living on a smaller income than when they were employed. This means new budgets must be created and managed carefully. Common living expenses can include:
- Personal care/living assistance
- Travel and leisure
- Gifts/support of loved ones
Income is likely to change as people approach their senior years. Most seniors are no longer full-time employees but rely on other sources of income to meet their needs. Some of these are:
- Social Security Checks
- Retirement Accounts
- Annuities or insurance
- Home equity
- Part-time jobs
- Seasonal or temporary work
- Consulting work (US News Money)
It is important that all individuals estimate their cost of living during retirement years. Online tools are now available to better help people understand planning for retirement budgeting.
- Blackrock’s Retirement Expense Worksheet
- T. Rowe Price’s Retirement Income Calculator
- Social Security’s Retirement Estimator
- Mymoney.gov (CNN Money)
Finally seniors must learn to live within means and adhere to a reasonable budget. They can do this by:
- Downsize – saves on housing expenses and utilities
- Asking for senior discounts – food, travel, leisure, and more
- Look into insurance options – supplemental, HSA
- Reduce insurance – such as auto if no longer commuting to work
- Maintain traditional saving accounts – minimize withdrawals from retirement accounts for emergencies or large expenses
- Restrict credit card spending – reduces potential for fraud and maintains budget awareness
- Choose one account to pay all regular cost of living expenses – additional accounts for other expenses
- Switch to online and automatic billing and direct deposit and other simple process – makes management easy.
- Keep your POA up to date all all times!