It’s a new year and a new chance to get your financial house in order!
Did you know that each month one-third of all older adults in the United States either spend all of their money or go into debt just to pay for basic expenses?
You can help the seniors you know resolve to save and better manage their money in 2014. Here are 5 ways to get started:
1. Get a financial checkup
We all know the importance of regular physical checkups, but when is the last time you or a loved one sat down to check up on your money?
A new tool from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) called EconomicCheckUp helps you do exactly that. EconomicCheckUp asks a series of questions to help older adults identify benefits and services that could save them money, cut expenses, help them find a job and get training for it, and better utilize their assets. It’s free and completely confidential.
2. Maximize Social Security benefits
Social Security retirement benefits can be a lifeline for those who don’t have a lot in retirement savings. But if you’re able to delay taking Social Security until after your official retirement age, you can maximize your monthly benefit payment.
AARP has several tip sheets about how Social Security works — including for married and divorced couples and those working past age 65 — and the best time to claim benefits.
3. Educate yourself about scams
Far too many older adults fall prey to scammers who are looking to make a quick buck. Scams take many forms — from health care fraud to telemarketing swindles to home repair rackets.
Knowing about common scams beforehand is critical to ensuring that neither you nor your loved one become the next victim. See the top 10 scams targeting seniors and get 22 tips for avoiding scams and protecting yourself.
4. Learn how to manage someone else‘s money
Millions of adults serve as financial caregivers for elderly relatives who may be unable to make their own decisions about money. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has created four easy-to-understand booklets that help walk you through your duties — whether you serve as a loved one’s power of attorney, court-appointed guardian, trustee or government fiduciary. Download the Managing Someone Else’s Money guides.
5. Get savvy about prepaid debit cards
Government issued and prepaid cards are becoming a popular alternative to traditional checking accounts and credit/debit cards. However, the features, benefits, fees and protections for these cards can vary significantly.
Savvy Saving Seniors: It’s in the Cards is a handy guide from NCOA that provides tips and tricks for managing prepaid debit cards and what questions to ask when shopping around for cards.
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