Financial Health Checkup for Older Adults
When you’re living on a fixed income, every dollar counts. That’s why as you age, it’s important to track your finances and make smart decisions about how you spend and save your money. Here are some key actions you can take to boost your financial well-being now and in the future.
Make a budget
A budget is a plan that helps you decide and track how you spend your money each month. With a budget, you can make sure that you’re not spending too much. The different parts of a budget include:
Income—this is the money that you get, such as Social Security.
Monthly fixed expenses—these are the same each month and may include your mortgage or rent and health insurance premiums.
Monthly flexible expenses—these are items you pay for every month, such as groceries, gas, and utilities.
Periodic expenses—these you may pay every few months, such as your car insurance, property taxes, and home repair fees.
Discretionary expenses—these are things you don’t need, but sometimes pay for, such as buying a cup of coffee, going to the movies, and making donations.
After you collect this information, subtract your expenses from your income. If you’re spending more money than you’re bringing in, look for ways to cut down on how much you spend each month.
Plan for the future
You might be healthy and mobile now, but it’s important to save and plan for changes as you age. If you need to enter a nursing home or rely on home health care, how will you pay for it?
In general, Medicare doesn’t cover a long-term stay in a nursing home, though there is some short-term coverage if you are admitted after a hospitalization. You’ll likely have to pay for nursing home care out-of-pocket. Over time, as you use your resources, you may qualify for Medicaid. With Medicaid, you may get some help covering nursing home costs.
Home health care provides medical services in your home for an injury or illness. This may include services such as wound care, intravenous therapy, or injections. Check with your health plan to find out whether it covers any home health services. This information can help you plan for the future accordingly.
Find more ways to save
As an older adult, there are many ways for you to save or earn money that you may not know about. Here are a few ways you can keep more money in your pocket:
Take advantage of senior discounts. Many stores offer discounts on certain days. Find out what these days are and plan to shop then so you can take advantage of the savings.
Find out which benefits you’re eligible for. The National Council on Aging’s BenefitsCheckup can help. You will be asked to complete a confidential questionnaire. The website will then tell you about certain benefits that could help you save more money.
Volunteer. Some volunteering opportunities pay you while you give back. Some examples are the Senior Corps and Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
Apply for Extra Help with your Medicare prescription drug plan costs. This is a program that helps you pay for certain costs associated with your prescription drug plan, including monthly premiums and prescription copayments. Go here to find out whether you qualify for Extra Help and to apply.
Getting your finances in better shape can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones. The result will be priceless.