Five Budgeting Strategies for Those Who Want to Age at Home
Today, we offer up a special post with unique ways for seniors to save money. These aren’t your usual coupon and discount tips, but frugal living tips for seniors who want to age at home. We offer budgeting strategies that give you a long-term advantage as you get older. They’ll help you maintain your lifestyle in the comfort of your home.
1. Get organized and simplify your financial life.
How much time are you spending on bill paying? Do you have huge files and boxes of paperwork? Getting organized and simplifying finances will save you time. But, it can also save you money. First, you can reduce the chances you’ll miss payments, overpay or make other costly mistakes. Second, when you have a clear view of your bills and budget, you can identify ways to reduce spending. For example, you might realize you’re paying for services that you rarely use.
Set aside some time for this process. It is a bit time consuming, but you’ll free up a lot of hours in the future. In many cases, it makes sense to have a trusted person help you. Consider enlisting help from your designated Power of Attorney. This ensures they know how things are organized, where you keep records, etc. You can also hire a care manager. Or, your financial advisor or CPA may have someone at their office who could assist.
Go through and shred old, unnecessary paperwork. Make a list/spreadsheet of all your active accounts. Determine if any should be closed or consolidated. File the related paperwork and information in an easy-to-access system. Also, use a secure system to store all your passwords. This could be anything from a protected spreadsheet to a password manager like LastPass or DashLane.
Then, look at your process for paying bills and handling finances. Automated bill paying can be handy for ensuring things get paid in a timely manner. Paying bills online also streamlines the process. However, think about how best to set this up. For most bills, you can set up online bill paying via your bank or directly with the provider. You will probably have different options, such as getting an ebill to your bank and then setting it to autopay the total bill or balance due. Budget tools like Mint can help you streamline bill paying by gathering all your information in one place, sending alerts and more. Figure out the most efficient workflow for you. With automating and simplifying, most people will save at least a few hours/month.
Our team also recommends the True Link Card for easier and safer financial management for seniors.
2. “Age proof” your home.
You might wonder how this fits into frugal living tips for seniors. However, it could be one of the biggest ways for seniors to save money in the long run.
The average hospitalization cost for a fall injury is $34,294 (2012 data). And, researchindicates that spending on services like home health, medical equipment and rehabilitation is more than double the hospital costs. While seniors don’t typically bear this entire cost themselves, most will owe some out-of-pocket fees. And, because falls often lead to worsening health and functional issues, the long-term costs go well beyond these immediate fees.
A few changes can make the home safer and prevent falls. Many, such as decluttering and reorganizing, cost nothing. Removing a loose throw rug costs nothing. But, not removing it costs many seniors thousands in hospital bills and much more in pain and suffering. Most other changes can be done affordably, such as adding lighting (may even be free if you’re just moving lights to needed areas), grab bars, non-skid surfaces, etc.
Contact us for a copy of our free room-by-room home safety checklist or to schedule an in-home assessment for specific resources to help you stay safe and happy at home.
3. Spend a little now to save a lot later.
Consider getting some help around the home, even if that means paying for the service. This may seem counterintuitive in frugal living tips for seniors. However, managing the home becomes more difficult with age. And, just as with the tip above, being proactive could prevent accidents or more costly help being needed later.
You might avoid injury by having someone help with challenging tasks around your house. Consider help with areas like meal preparation, medications and personal care to stay healthier. In the long run, this means you’ll probably be able to age at home with less intense (costly) assistance. Or, you avoid the potentially even more expensive and emotionally taxing move to a care facility. Additionally, maintaining your home will help preserve its value.
4. Know your financial position.
Meet with your advisors to review your financial situation. You might equate financial planners with saving for retirement, but they’re equally important in helping you make the most of your money. Make sure you understand exactly where you stand financially. Talk about what you can reasonably spend, as well as future projections. Should funds be reallocated? Do you need to update anything in your plan if your living situation and needs have changed? Is everything set up properly? For example, mistakes with minimum distributions or taxes could cost you a lot.
This might also be a good time to introduce your POA to your professional advisors if you haven’t already. And, if for some reason you don’t have a DPOA and other planning documents (or haven’t updated them in a while), plan a visit to your attorney too.
5. Assess your needs and make a plan. Know what help is available.
Your budget is clear thanks to frugal living tips for seniors #1 and 4. So, now you can lay out a plan based on your financial situation, needs and desires. Meet with a care manager. They can help you take proactive steps and anticipate future concerns. Their suggestions could save you time, headaches, and money. A care manager knows the local resourcesand assistance programs. You’ll understand the options so you can make a realistic plan without running out of funds.
Here are just a couple examples of care managers finding ways seniors can save money. When it comes to Medicare plans, studies show that many seniors are in the wrong plan. This results in them paying too much, or missing benefits they need. When our care managers analyze a client’s Medicare and health coverage, they often uncover ways they can save money and/or get better benefits.
Similarly, we often come across clients who assume or have heard they aren’t eligible for a certain program. A family friend may have relayed their experience applying for Medicaid. However, the information might be outdated or specific to their state or situation. Our care managers also encounter this with Veteran’s and other benefits. The client may have even been rejected for the program. However, either their situation changed or they didn’t know how to get the paperwork done properly. Many times this has made a difference of hundreds or thousands of dollars/month.
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