Seniors on a Low Budget
#75 Need A Helping Hand?
A significant issue that seniors may face as they age well is financial insecurity – especially given the current economic climate. It is a stressful time for some.
The Forbes Observer website explains the issue this way
Supply chain issues, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and spiking demand for goods have caused prices to skyrocket nationally. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), prices for goods and services were up 7.9% in February compared to last year.
That increase hurts the already meager fixed income many older Americans have. The estimated average Social Security benefit for retirees is $1,657, according to the Social Security Administration. That means in one year, many of the nation’s elders received a little less than $20,000 as their single largest source of income.
As a result, many senior citizens struggle to survive financially. In 2019 alone, 8.9% of seniors had income below the poverty threshold, according to a 2021 report from the Congressional Research Service. Now, record-high inflation is eating into their already-limited financial resources.
Over 15 million Americans aged 65+ are economically insecure—living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($25,760 per year for a single person in 2021). These older adults struggle with rising housing and health care bills, inadequate nutrition, lack of access to transportation, diminished savings, and job loss. For older adults above the poverty level, one major adverse life event can change today’s realities into tomorrow’s troubles.
The article Are You a Sole Ager discusses ways that people can age well living alone. Financial insecurity adds a wrinkle. This article discusses actions I would take if I were in that position or was concerned about the possibility: assess my situation, locate available resources for information and support, and identify changes I can easily make.
Have a clear understanding of my financial situation. I left financial matters up to my husband, Dan. He was exceptionally good at it. After the hospital stay and surgery that permanently altered his memory, I had to take over. What insurance did we have? How do we file taxes? How much money did we have? These were just a few of my unanswered questions. It was an enormous puzzle.
To help sort it out, I consulted with a financial planner and CPA. True, they were expensive, but the cost was worth it. They walked me through and saved me money in the long run.
Assess my needs. I don’t mean what I want - like having my nails done, but what I need like housing, medical care, and food.
When Dan and I were first married, we made $600.00 a month between the two of us. To maintain a strict budget, we put money in envelopes. So you know how long ago that was.
Balance the two. Determine the difference between how much money I have versus how much money I NEED to spend regularly.
Figure out how to compensate for the shortage.
Get acquainted with available resources.
Knowing how to use a computer and the internet is crucial. If you don’t have one, maybe you can use one at the library, the church, or the local community center.
Once I know that information, I will explore potential Internet and local sources for help. There are numerous possibilities and options.
For $12.00 (automatically renewable) a year, the AARP website offers a wealth of information and resources.
Free online classes offer an abundance of information. One particular resource I have used is Udemy. There are inexpensive courses on every topic imaginable, from learning to use the computer and the internet to building self-esteem.
In California, the website Resources for Seniors provides a wealth of information.
There are various articles about every subject on the Internet. But be discerning. In other words, make sure the source is credible.
The Forbes Advisor provides a wealth of information regarding financial help.
The Biggest List of Senior Discounts offers numerous options.
When searching local resources in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, I found
The Community Center near me provides emergency services, financial support, and a food bank.
The Senior Center offers various educational, recreational, and health-related services for adults 50 years and older. In addition, the Center provides case management, care planning, and referrals to community services for seniors and their families for a low cost. Their City Cafe offers low-cost lunches Monday through Friday.
The Salvation Army sells gently used clothes at low prices.
A local hospital provides reliable resources and tools, including classes, support groups and services at their Health Resource Centers and Libraries.
The gas and electric company conducts in-home checks to reduce cost.
Some churches have food pantries.
The California Department of Aging contracts with a network of 33 Area Agencies on Aging. The network directly manages federal and state-funded services that provide meals, and helps find services that assist older individuals to live as independently as possible.
States and the federal government jointly fund Medicaid. It provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, elderly adults, and people with disabilities.
The Buy Nothing Project is a network of neighbors who come together and share, everything from a cup of sugar to free furniture, without exchanging money.
On the Next Door website, neighbors provide trusted information, and give or get help.
Check your area for similar possibilities.
While there are many more, a couple of websites that offer ideas any one can use are
The 15 ways Seniors Can Save Money site suggests shopping once a week and sharing food. I live by myself. Most food seems to come in large amounts and goes bad before I can use it. So, my daughter and I share food. I buy a package of zucchini and give her half; she orders something for dinner and gives me enough for a meal.
The 20 Practical Ways Seniors Can Cut Expenses site recommends not buying books and movies but going to the local library.
Frugal Living Tips for Seniors says use coupons and find senior discounts.
A Dozen Ways a Senior Can Save Money suggests getting a roommate or downsizing.
The video has recommendations, as well.
A reader suggested this topic for the newsletter. So, if you find yourself in a position of needing to spend less as you age well or think that might be an issue, this information can help. There are many ways to help yourself - make it a project and be prepared just in case.
Are there topics you would like to see me talk about? Let me know.
My favorites this week:
There is a 17-year Gap Between New Science and It's Adoption in Clinical Practice. This is really important information to know.
The tram that wasn’t there. This is just a wonderful journey through a country I will probably never get to visit.
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