Seniors represent a growing segment of the American population. They also have different financial needs than other groups.
As we grow older, it can get harder to remember numbers, names, and due dates. Reading the fine print on documents can be more difficult.
While all of these changes are a common part of the aging process, they can make money management and bill paying more challenging.
Sadly, older adults also have to be wary of people who want to control their money through illegal means. According to the FBI, seniors are often targeted because they tend to be trusting and polite. They also tend to have savings and have good credit. All of these make them attractive to scammers.
Fortunately, a little advanced planning can secure your assets. Preparation can also provide valuable peace of mind.
1. Use cards instead of cash. Using debit or credit cards leaves a trail you can more easily follow if any questions about your spending come up. Plus, electronic records help you create more accurate budgets.
2. Set up automatic bill pay. Instead of paying your bills every month by hand, arrange for them to be paid automatically through your bank account. This way, you won’t have to pay close attention to your bill due dates. Automating payments also makes it easier to track what goes in and out of your bank accounts.
3. Plan for your dreams. Make a list of vacations and big-ticket items you’d like to purchase soon. Then plan for ways to save for them.
4. Choose an age-friendly bank. Many banks have their websites and printed materials available in a larger font that’s easier to read. Many also have products designed to protect older adults from fraud and virtual face-to-face banking options.
5. Safeguard your money against fraud. Set up alerts for any large withdrawals and ask card companies to call you to approve large purchases.
6. Establish a power of attorney. This legal move grants a trusted person the authority to manage your finances while you’re alive if needed.
7. Create a will or trust. These legal documents help ensure your assets are handled the way you wish after your death.
8. Learn how to avoid scams and identity theft. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) offers a free online course covering topics relevant to older adults.
9. Check your credit. Every American is entitled to one free credit report from each credit bureau annually. Checking your account every four months is a great way to spot fraud.
Think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud? Here’s how to report it.