Thanks to advances in technology and medicine, people are living longer lives of higher quality. But these same steps forward also mean changes in how we live day to day at different ages. As Baby Boomers move into retirement in increasing numbers, finances have become strained in various ways. At the same time, new ways to save and reasons to spend have upended traditional views of life after work. Whether you find yourself embarking on this journey, or have a family member or friend who is, it’s important to get up to speed on the best ways to save and spend during the “golden years.”
The art of the senior discount
Just like Spam and sliced bread, senior discounts have been around forever and aren’t going away any time soon. Jason Alderman at The Huffington Post’s Post 50 blog has a handy roundup of some of the best discounts available to seniors. Many of these are available with the help of an AARP membership. Admittance to this senior interest group costs only $16 per year, and comes with a variety of useful perks. A huge number of businesses offer small but helpful discounts to AARP members. These include restaurants, hotels and even tax preparation services.
There are also several options available for seniors experiencing financial hardship. PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) provides comprehensive planning and assistance for those struggling to pay medical bills associated with advanced age. Many pharmaceutical companies will also cover prescription drugs in part or in full if your income doesn’t allow it. For a full list of these kinds of programs, you can visit BenefitsCheckUp.org, a website operated by the National Council on Aging. This serves as a good starting point for those looking to save on necessary expenses.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2012, as much as $24.7 billion was lost to identify theft. That’s more than the total loss from all property crimes. It’s unfortunate that a major concern among seniors and their caretakers is the threat of fraud. Due to their status as a generally trusting bunch, along with the prevalence of age-related memory loss, senior citizens are a frequent target for all kinds of scams. These can range in severity from pushy salespeople to identity theft and burglary. Falling victim to these crimes can potentially cost thousands of dollars, if not even more, and lead to days, weeks or years of headaches trying to piece everything back together. While it’s true that not everyone is out to get grandma and grandpa, it’s wise to chat about the risks inherent in using the Internet or completing transactions with strangers. The FBI compiled a basic tipsheet that includes the following advice:
- Be wary of transactions online or over the phone and use a credit card whenever possible in these cases, since charges can be disputed. Never give out your Social Security number, bank account info or other sensitive data to a website you don’t trust or when asked via phone or email.
- Seniors are particularly prone to purchasing products that claim to reverse the effects of aging or prevent cancer. Never buy or take unfamiliar medication or medical advice without asking your doctor first. As is the common refrain, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.”
- Con artists know to target homes where seniors live for a variety of scams or ruse burglaries. Never let anyone inside your home who is unfamiliar to you. If someone claims to be from a utility company, for example, ask for identification and call the company to confirm. Don’t be afraid of just saying “no” to anyone you aren’t sure about.
Stay up to date
Almost 60 percent of adults age 65 and older use the Internet or email, according to Pew Research Center. That means that a majority of seniors have the ability to read up on the latest information for consumers in their age group and make informed decisions about their financial well-being. Savingadvice.com shared a small list of some websites focused on personal finance for the older and wiser crowd. This includes AARP, which is a multifaceted and trusted resource for financial advice. Two Cents, a blog written by Lifehacker, is also a great generalized resource for personal financial management. Technology is changing rapidly, so much that retirement-age people may have trouble keeping up with the best ways to save, spend and live affordably. Keep an eye on these blogs if you fall into that category, or if your parent or neighbors could use some extra advice.
The views expressed by the articles and sites linked in this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions and policies of Cash Central or Community Choice Financial®.