Three Financial Literacy Tips for Seniors

By Denise Keiser, Fund Development Specialist at Elder Law of Michigan

April highlights the importance of financial education. But, how do we ensure the principles shared during the month have a lifelong effect far beyond the month of April, especially for seniors?

Financial literacy, after all, offers individuals the ability to make smart, informed decisions about their financial resources which stretch from money to housing and transportation, credit and debt, emergency savings and retirement planning, and much more. For seniors, or for those of us who are approaching that age, financial literacy month offers a chance to identify areas of our financial lives that need the most attention.

Here are a few areas in financial literacy which seniors can benefit from exploring this month:

1. Know where every penny is going.

No one ever outgrows the need for a budget. Budgeting is necessary at all ages, but especially so for seniors who live on a fixed income. Create a list of all of your monthly expenses, from groceries to toiletries to insurance costs, co-pays and medications, and track your spending throughout the month. It’s important to know where all of your money is going so you can stretch every dollar during the time you need it most. 

2. Beware of people offering to help, especially when making purchases

Not everyone who offers to help you will have your best financial interest in mind. Be cautious of friendly strangers who make offers that sound too good to be true, or pressure you to sign a document or make a purchase immediately without adequate time for review or comparison. Always make sure your questions are answered fully. If you don’t understand a financial term or document, don’t sign anything until you do. 

3. Plan ahead. 

Speaking of help, as we age, we sometimes need help managing our finances, so it’s essential to plan ahead. Who will manage your bills if you are hospitalized or if you become unable to do it yourself? Think about someone whom you trust, that could help during a medical hardship, and create a plan in writing. Then, talk to your family or close friends about your plan so that your financial resources will be protected in the future when you need help.  

Following these three steps will help seniors avoid financial exploitation during times when they may be most vulnerable. Take action today to create your plan and discuss it with someone you trust to ensure peace of mind in the future. To learn more about financial literacy for seniors and how to create the right plan for your situation visit Protect My Money Michigan.    

Denise Keiser is a Fund Development Specialist with Elder Law of Michigan and has been a member of the Elder Law of Michigan team since August 2017. As a Fund Development Specialist, Denise assists Elder Law of Michigan’s leadership with donor management, grant writing, and communications.