You’ve all heard the sad stories about the elderly being fleeced of their life savings, being conned, or losing their homes because they never got the bill for their real estate taxes. This isn’t that uncommon, and research shows that even people who never suffer from dementia will lose some of their financial prowess as they get older. Unfortunately, they don’t necessarily lose confidence in their ability to manage their own finances. That can spell trouble.
US News explains in “8 Ways to Safeguard Your Financial Life as You Age,” that folks of just about any age should take action when they’re young to protect themselves from financial errors later in life. We’ll look at a few of these.
Automate transactions. Automate what you can, like utility and mortgage payments, as well as required distributions from retirement accounts. Go with direct deposit for your bank account. Create a list of what you have automated and tell your heirs where it is. Continue to review your statements.
Set up bank alerts. Your bank may provide you with the ability to get an email or text alert in the event that your balance drops below a certain level. You can do the same thing for large credit card purchases, and bill due dates.
Keep your estate planning documents up-to-date and organize your important papers. First make sure you let someone know where they’re located. Create a list of your assets, collect your important documents and passwords and put them in a secure place, like a home safe or fireproof security box. Also inform one of your children or trusted friend of their location in the event you become incapacitated.
Simplify your accounts. Consolidate your financial accounts and close accounts that have only small balances, which gives you less to manage. Get down to just one credit card, so you have just a single bill to pay.
Don’t make any hasty decisions. Sales people can be pushy, so don’t make any big financial moves, like moving investments or buying a new car, without first discussing it with a trusted friend or relative.
Think about sharing information. You may want a trusted friend or relative to help monitor your finances. You can have copies of your statements sent to them and authorize your financial advisor to discuss your finances and concerns with such a person. You can also give your passwords to those you trust. That way, they can monitor your financial affairs. Just be careful when it comes to sharing your information.
Reference: US News (October 26, 2016) “8 Ways to Safeguard Your Financial Life as You Age”