Economically, things are challenging for many Americans right now. Even dual-income households are struggling to cover the costs of living. This puts many seniors in an especially precarious position, having to deal with rising costs on fixed, and often small, incomes. Today’s elderly people must navigate a much more challenging situation than those of past generations, so it’s vitally important to arm yourself with the tools and resources you need to make sure that you can live comfortably.
When trying to save money, the first place to look is in your own backyard. Are you wasting money by being a less-than-savvy shopper or not using certain products the right way? Are you spending on something that you could get for free? Could your home be a source of income for you? Are there decent jobs out there for retired people? Use the resources below to find out some practical ways you can spend less, earn more, and ease your financial burden.
Practical Ways to Cut Expenses — Read through this article from U.S. News to see some simple and effective ways you can save money on your monthly expenses.
FCC Lifeline — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Lifeline program helps low-income individuals and families pay for phones. You may qualify for a discount on either a landline or cell phone based on your needs.
HUD Reverse Mortgage Information — If you own your home, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage. This is a way to convert some of your home’s equity into cash. However, it’s very important to understand exactly how a reverse mortgage works since there are drawbacks to be considered. You can trust the U.S. Housing and Urban Development site to give you straightforward information.
Senior Discounts — This collection of links comes from the Frugal Living section at About.com. Listed are places around the country – from movie theaters and fast food to airlines and car companies – that offer a discount to senior citizens.
Retirement Jobs — For those working past retirement age, RetirementJobs.com is a great resource. If you’re over 50, you can join for free and browse job listings from major companies with hiring practices that are not age-discriminatory.
When you are retired and on a fixed income, you especially can’t afford to be taken advantage of. There are plenty of scam artists out there preying on elderly people, and it can be difficult to know what to do if you have been the victim of fraud or financial abuse. Use these resources to help you recognize the warning signs to avoid a con, and to show you where to turn if you’ve already been victimized.
22 Tips for Avoiding Scams — This handy little tip sheet comes from the National Council on Aging and will give you some very helpful hints for avoiding scams like health insurance fraud and dishonest contractors.
Consumer Agency Director — If you’ve been the victim of a scam artist or predatory company, use this state-by-state directory of consumer agencies that can help.
On Guard Online — Seniors fall victim to online fraud at an alarming rate. Fight back by learning how to spot a scam.
Financial Crimes Against The Elderly — This page offers the sobering truth about financial crimes against the elderly. Learn all about the most common scams and how to protect yourself and your family from them.
Help 4 Victims — This link will take you to the home page for Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, formed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The page will show you exactly where to report different types of financial crimes.
If you’re still in the planning stages, you’ll find some very helpful information in the following section. Even small changes to your retirement preparation strategy can make a big difference. Even if you have already retired, you may want to visit some of these pages. There’s a lot of sound financial advice for the modern senior citizen.
Top Ten Ways to Prepare for Retirement — The U.S. Department of Labor put together this list of the best ways to prepare yourself for retirement. Find out what you can do to put yourself in the best position at retirement time, no matter what you do for a living.
Retirement Benefits While Working — If you choose to continue working past retirement age, the way your Social Security benefits are calculated changes. Consult this page from the Social Security Administration to help you figure it all out.
Home Equity Advisor — Your home could be a retirement resource. There are ways to tap into your home’s equity as a source of income. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get yourself into a bad situation if you don’t know all the facts. This nonprofit site will help you understand how home equity works and whether you can (and should) convert yours into cash.
Investing Wisely for Seniors — The SEC created this page just for seniors. There are retirement calculators, sound advice on how to avoid fraud, and questions to ask yourself before accepting a lump sum payment.
Figuring out what you qualify for and how to get it can be tougher than it sounds. It doesn’t help that there are plenty of third parties out there trying to put themselves between you and the agencies and programs designed to help you – and garner a fee for doing so. You don’t need any kind of broker to help you apply for or receive benefits (although a trusted friend or family member who is willing to help you through such processes can be a wonderful thing). Use the following links to get straight to the source and get help dealing with agencies from the SSA to the IRS.
Apply for Social Security Benefits — If you are ready to start collecting your Social Security benefits, start here on the SSA’s official signup page. You can apply online by creating an account and following the instructions.
AARP Low-Income Assistance Page — This page come courtesy of the American Association of Retired People (AARP), and includes all kinds of helpful information for seniors living on a small budget. Find out about applying for assistance, get tips for saving on your monthly payments, and lots more.
Tax Counseling for the Elderly — Did you know that the IRS makes free tax counseling available for older Americans? This complimentary service can really be a relief as you navigate the seemingly murky waters of the tax system.
Hospital Comparison Tools — If you’re on Medicare, it can be easy to feel like you’re at the mercy of a sometimes confusing system. This page from Medicare.gov helps you to compare providers so that you can have a more active role in your own wellness.
Guide to Benefit Programs for Seniors — This guidebook gives a comprehensive listing of just about every benefit program available to elderly people including lesser-known help like prescription assistance and special benefits for workers from certain industries.