As a senior who enjoys an independent lifestyle while aging in place in your home, financial planning may seem like something you only needed to focus on during your career. But as people age, it’s even more critical to budget, track investments, simplify finances, and plan for future needs. Making sure money and related legal issues are covered can ensure you make the most of the golden years on your terms. Following a few guidelines will help ensure that you are in the best possible position.
The 9 Financial Planning Tips for Seniors to Age In Place Comfortably
Below are 9 financial planning tips for seniors that will help you review your financial status and some ideas on how you can take some simple steps to save money.
1. CREATE A MONTHLY BUDGET AND TRACK IT
Just like many younger people, some seniors aren’t budget conscious and don’t feel the need to track their spending habits. But it’s not uncommon for many to overspend and even miss paying bills on time. If you aren’t motivated to stick to a budget, understand that it can be extremely helpful, particularly if you’ve just retired and need to get a handle on expenses. Be realistic with your proposed budget and track everything — the small things quickly add up.
2. MAKE SURE POWER OF ATTORNEY DOCUMENTS ARE IN PLACE
Every senior should complete a durable financial power of attorney to address situations where they become unable to make their own financial decisions. This legal document names a trustworthy person to act on your behalf in a financial capacity. A family member who is a caregiver may also assist with money management for a loved one who is still capable. A power of attorney can be useful in situations where you want that person to conduct financial transactions on your behalf.
3. STREAMLINE INCOME AND BILLS
Even though it may be daunting to make the leap from paper to electronic banking, it’s much easier to manage your finances by automating sources of income and debits for bills. You can arrange for bills and deposits to occur on a day of the month that keeps the account balanced and automates payments to prevent overdue bills. Banks and sources of income such as Social Security will work with you to help set up direct deposits and debits. Shared access to accounts also gives you the option to have another person, such as the person named in your financial POA, oversee activity in the account, monitor the budget, and look for any irregularities you might not catch. It also provides instant feedback on accounts instead of relying on a monthly statement.
4. BEWARE OF FINANCIAL SCAMS
Seniors are being targeted by financial scammers at an alarming rate. Contact your bank and set up the account to notify you if there are any large withdrawals. Consider allowing access to the account to the person named in your financial POA so there’s another set of eyes looking for irregularities. It’s also imperative to understand that suspicious telephone calls or emails requesting personal information or money should NEVER get a response. Contact the bank or credit card company immediately if you suspect an account has been compromised.
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS
After years of mortgage payments, many seniors who are aging in place own their homes. As property tax assessments rise in many areas, there may be significant savings available if you meet eligibility requirements. For example, New York offers the School Tax Relief (STAR) program to help senior homeowners reduce their property taxes. Many states offer a senior property tax exemption for residents who are 65 years of age or older, which can translate into significant savings. Visit Benefits.gov to see if you’re eligible for any similar local, state, or federal assistance.
6. BALANCE UTILITY BILLS
When putting together a balanced budget, keeping monthly payments consistent makes it easier to stick to over time. Most utility companies offer a payment plan that will charge the same amount every month where the average cost is spread out over the year. Instead of spikes in your energy bill during hot and cold seasons, the bill is predictable and won’t break your established budget.
7. REVIEW INSURANCE PLANS AND PREMIUMS
As seniors age in place, insurance needs can change and how you pay premiums for policies should make sense for your budget. Review current policies with the provider to make sure they are still appropriate and up to date. Premiums can also generally be paid monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. Based on your financial situation, installments may be the best approach, but if you can make annual payments some insurance companies offer discounted rates.
8. EXPLORE SENIOR DISCOUNTS
Senior discounts may not be huge and often they aren’t promoted by businesses. But asking for them and taking advantage of discounts adds up over time. Get proactive about seeking them out at restaurants, retailers, and other businesses. Look online for listings of local senior discounts and once you’ve patronized these businesses a few times searching these savings out will become second nature.
9. LOOK FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS DEALS
Managing cellphone, cable, internet, home security services and the bundles offered by telecom companies can be confusing for everyone. Review your plans to make sure the level of service and cost is appropriate. For example, do you use even close to the number of available cellphone minutes or watch all those cable TV channels? Shop around for better options and ask providers about package deals and senior discounts.
Trusted At-Home Senior Services in Nashville, TN
At Blakeford, we offer seniors who choose to age in place at home our LiveWell plan. Being able to remain independent and take advantage of expertly managed benefits personally delivered to your home is a fantastic option for many people. A personalized plan provides needed services and a degree of control and flexibility for independent seniors. To learn more about this revolutionary program, contact Blakeford today!