One of the benefits of moving into an assisted living community is that it can simplify personal finances. One monthly fee may cover your housing as well as a wide range of amenities such as housekeeping and meals. In some cases, transportation is provided for medical appointments and shopping trips, and you have access to plenty of activities, including Bible studies, worship times, crafting, social hours and movie nights without ever leaving your community or having to count the costs.
That's great news for seniors, but it doesn't leave you completely off the hook for managing your personal finances. While the staff at Bethesda Gardens in Arlington, Texas, works to meet resident needs and provide plentiful programming to support vibrant lifestyles, every person has their own unique plans and needs too. From medical costs to expenses associated with travel, a favorite hobby or a collection, seniors do have some spending to manage.
Check out the financial tips for seniors below to find out what some experts have to say on this topic.
This is basically a budget, but instead of planning how you are going to spend what you earn every month, you plan how you will spend for all of retirement. If that sounds overwhelming, don't worry. You still do start with smaller units, including a monthly budget.
The National Council on Aging's Economic Checkup site offers an easy-to-use budget calculator you can start with. For seniors residing in an assisted living community, this process may be even easier because a number of expenses may be rolled into one. The NCOA also offers several money management tools that can help you find coupons and other savings if necessary.
Once you know what you need monthly, you can move on to the larger aspects of your retirement spending plan. Vanguard offers some guidance for what types of things you might want to consider when planning for ongoing retirement expenses.
When using credit during retirement, it's important to continue to use it responsibly. Keep credit utilization low and make all payments on time to protect your credit score.
And while you're not using your credit or using it responsibly, make sure no one else is abusing it. Identity thieves often target seniors in part because they may have good credit scores but not be actively using a lot of credit.
Get free copies of your credit scores from all of the major credit bureaus via AnnualCreditReport.com. In normal times, you can order one free report every year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the credit bureaus are offering a free credit report every week to help people manage their finances during this time.
You might also want to freeze your credit. This just means locking it down so that no one can pull it for the purpose of approving you (or anyone using your name) for a loan or credit card. If you decide you want to apply for a loan or credit card yourself, you can temporarily unfreeze your credit for this purpose.
You may have saved for retirement all your life, and that's one expense that you don't have when you're actually living out that retirement. But that doesn't mean you still don't need to put some income aside for emergencies or continue to manage investments. It can be a good idea to work with a financial adviser when investing.
But make sure you don't fall prey to scams. If you do work with a financial adviser, do due diligence to ensure you choose a reputable professional. Ask for advice and recommendations from friends and family, read online reviews, and check with the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ensure that an agency or individual doesn't have unresolved consumer complaints.
The NCOA also provides a list of common scams that target seniors.
At Bethesda Gardens assisted living community, we work to support independent living for seniors throughout our care levels. But when considering financial matters, it's important to be realistic. There may come a time that you can't deal with all your financial matters on your own, even if it's temporary. And even if you're still able to maintain your own personal finances, you may want some assistance just so you aren't burdened with it alone.
A financial power of attorney lets you choose a person you trust and give them some legal options for handling your finances on your behalf. Make sure to choose someone you know will always work within the spirit of your wishes, and provide them with written instructions when possible for what you want if you are unable to handle matters yourself.
Good personal financial management helps you free yourself for living your best, most vibrant life — which is definitely something we want for all the residents at Bethesda Gardens.