Safe Steps Forward: How to Manage Financial Worries in Later Years
In 2019, the Congressional Research Service published a report on household debt amongst older Americans. They found that debt had increased from 38 percent in 1989 to 61 percent in 2016 in households led by 65-and-overs. With financial difficulties increasingly common amongst seniors, what steps can be taken to move safely forward?
In modern life, it can be easy to accrue subscriptions, unwanted physical assets, and snowballing debt. The first order of business is to review bank statements and to pay close attention to hidden expenses that you may have been unaware of. Many companies have running charges that begin after a one-time purchase, for example. If, on your review, you find something that looks suspicious, don't hesitate to reach out to your bank and have unnecessary payments canceled.
It's also possible to cut down on necessary outgoing costs — for example, food, bills, etc. Most restaurants, grocery stores, and retail outlets offer senior discounts, allowing you to save a percentage on purchase. There are also prescription savings cards that can be applied for online or in some pharmacies that will provide money off on medicines, home delivery, and dependent costs.
Applying for Benefits
If budgeting is not enough to stabilize your finances, you should consider benefits. Not all benefits programs are concerned with money. Many offer enrolment support, retirement jobs, dental aid, or, through government support, are designed to alleviate tax and assist with the management of home energy bills. Try to familiarize yourself with the various options and apply for the ones most relevant to your circumstances.
In addition to benefits options, many charities were established to aid older Americans. Again, some of these work indirectly with finance, but by educating yourself (for example, with computers), you can open up new pathways to earning. If you are a veteran, pay close attention to vet-specific charities that work with your community.
In more serious instances, you might consider selling assets. These can be expensive possessions from around the house or even the property itself. You may be surprised to learn that, in 2019, senior housing transactions accounted for $12.15 billion of the market. Such measures are common and can enable a more comfortable way of life.
When it comes to selling your assets, it's important to speak to professionals. A realtor, for example, can help you to calculate your home equity, subtracting your mortgage balance from the value of your home and marking price in relation to your local area. By consulting with the relevant persons, you can avoid losing money in a bad transaction.
If any of this sounds daunting, don't worry. There are plenty of government resources to help you get started, apply for loans, or seek out senior accessible housing. Explore Enjoying Aging for a number of great financial resources, calculators, and more. You can also view other listings in your area for comparison via online marketplaces like eBay and Gumtree or real estate directories like Homes.com or Zillow.
The stress of managing finances in later years can feel overwhelming but it's important to remember you're not alone. It is believed that mental health disorders affect 20% of older adults in the USA. Fortunately, there is a wealth of support for those willing to reach out.
Most services are dependent on particular conditions (anxiety, dementia, etc.), so you should aim to find one that is especially suited for you. Online directories are a good way of identifying the right organizations and can illuminate choices that you might have thought were otherwise unavailable.
Whatever your financial circumstances, there is always a positive way forward. By using the available tools, you can move towards a wealthier and less worrisome way of life. Make sure to keep an eye on Enjoying Aging for more valuable health, financial, and other resources, as well as recommendations for seniors like this article.
A special thank you to Dan Hall at dadschange.com for contributing to this article.
Image by Pexels
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