Managing finances can be a challenge for seniors. As we age, the intricacies of daily financial management can be too much for some older adults.
Many caregivers know all too well the worry of wondering whether or not their loved one is managing their money ok, or starting to struggle. However, there are many things you can do to help the older adult in your life with financial matters.
3 Tips to Helping Seniors Manage Finances
#1- Start By Being Aware Of The Signs
Familiarize yourself with these warning signs, which let you know the older adult in your life could be struggling with their finances:
- Unpaid bills
- Unopened mail piling up
- Unexplained large payments or transfers
- Letter or calls from collection agencies
- Inability to remember purchases
- Struggling to find money for day-to-day expenses
- Avoiding outings or activities that cost money
- Being sensitive or closed off about the topic of money
#2- Approach The Topic Carefully
If you notice signs of money troubles, it’s tempting to jump in and offer to take over right away. This is born out of concern and a genuine wish to help, however it’s unlikely to be well received. The older adult in your life might feel that you’re interfering, being pushy, or trying to say they can’t manage.
Signs of money troubles don’t necessarily mean your loved one needs someone to take over their finances completely. Sometimes it simply means they need a little extra help with budgeting or getting bills paid.
Money is a sensitive subject, so approach it as delicately as you can. Remember to keep your tone non-accusatory. Simply let your loved one know that you’re there for them, and that you’d be glad to help them find a solution that works for them.
Related: 8 Tips: Keeping Seniors Safe from Scams
#3- Try These Practical Solutions
Once you and your loved one have had a discussion and they are open to accepting your help, here are some practical solutions you can try:
- Set up bill payments. Automatic bill payments are an easy solution that makes it easy for people to pay all their bills on time.
- Help with a budget. Some people need a little budgeting help. Sit down with them and go through their incoming and outgoing, and help them budget for everything.
- Set an allowance. Some caregivers find that it helps to allocate an allowance for daily expenses and give their loved one the agreed upon amount every week, to help them manage their daily expenses better.
- Ask about benefits. Older adults might be eligible for benefits that they aren’t currently claiming, so it’s worth asking around and doing some research online to see if they are entitled to any extra help.
- Seek out discounts. Discounts are a simple but fun way to help your loved one enjoy life while spending fewer dollars. Help them explore local senior discounts at the movies or their favorite coffee shop, loyalty cards at the store, or even credit cards that offer rewards for seniors.
- Power Of Attorney. You don’t have to wait until a crisis hits to set up a Power Of Attorney (if they haven't done so already), whether the power is being given to you or someone else. Having it in place early means less stress when the time comes that it is needed.
- Hire an expert. In cases where finances are especially complex, it can be helpful to hire a financial advisor and have both you and your loved one present to talk things through with them.
- Give a little gift. If you feel comfortable doing so, a little gift giving can help a senior’s money go further. It’s not strictly financial management, but a coffee or meal out, a cinema ticket, or even setting up automatic payments to cover a regular prescription can all ease the burden a little.
Be alert to the signs of financial struggle and be ready to gently step in and offer to work with your loved one on some practical solutions. It’s difficult for older adults to admit that they need help managing money, but a little support can make their lives so much easier, and put your mind at rest too.