9 Free Resources to Take Control of Your Money
Making financial decisions can have long-lasting consequences, both positive and negative. To maintain your economic security as you age, it’s important to understand your finances and have a plan for the future.
NCOA’s EconomicCheckUp® is a free online tool to improve your budgeting and saving, find work, and set financial goals.
You can start with the comprehensive financial checkup. By answering 23 simple questions, you’ll get a personalized report that includes money management tips based on where you live; information on assistance programs you are likely eligible for based on your income; and a list of other helpful resources in your community and how to take advantage of them.
In addition to the online report, EconomicCheckUp.org has a bunch of other handy resources to help you or an older adult you know make the most of your income. Here are 9 of those great resources.
Money management tools
More than one-third of senior households have no money left over or are in debt after meeting essential expenses each month. EconomicCheckUp® offers several free online calculators to help you with budgeting, financial planning, and debt management.
Financial calculator 1: A budget in 3 minutes
Visualize exactly where your income goes each month to see where to maximize your money and better live within your means. Just enter in your monthly take-home income and estimated expenses, and the tool will create a budget to show you how households with similar incomes successfully spend their money on key expenses, including:
- Fixed monthly bills, like rent and utilities
- Occasional expenses, like vacations and car repairs
- Weekly spending, like gas and groceries
Here’s an example of a budget for a household with $3,000 in monthly income.
Financial calculator 2: Pay down debt
This free calculator will show you what changing a payment amount can do to pay off debt more quickly. Just enter your loan or credit card balance, the annual interest rate, how much you currently pay, and the new amount you’re committing to each month to see your personalized results.
For example, if you have a $20,000 loan that incurs interest at 6% annually, increasing your payments from $200 to $300 per month would allow you to pay off your debt 57 months faster and would save you $3,363 in interest.
Give the calculator a try now, and get tips on how to deal with high interest rates, as well as how to strategize which debts to pay down first.
Financial calculator 3: Cut spending
Use this free calculator to explore ways you can cut spending to meet your financial goals like planning for retirement, saving for a house, or paying down debt. Start by identifying your goal, including the amount you need and by what date, to see how much you need to cut your spending by each month.
For example, someone looking to build a reserve of $5,000 over the next two years would need to cut their monthly spending by $208.
Next, to find ways to make cuts in your expenses, use the checklist to make a savings plan. Examples include eating out two fewer times each month to save on entertainment, using coupons on food and clothing, and carpooling to save on transportation. Finally, you’ll get a personalized action plan that you can use to stay on task—set-up email reminders, check off to-do items, and print so that you can stay focused even when offline.
There are several other money management resources on EconomicCheckUp®, including coupon websites and recommendations for comprehensive budget and expense management tools.
Financial fraud and scam resources
As you get older, you’re more likely to be the target of financial scammers. EconomicCheckUp® can keep you up-to-date on the latest scams making the rounds and steps to protect yourself from financial exploitation.
- Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors. Scammers are now so clever that it can be hard to know when you are being victimized. Use this resource to spot the most common scams, from health care and Internet fraud to telemarketing.
- 8 Tips to Protect Yourself from Fraud. Being proactive can keep you out of situations that could make you a target. This tip sheet has easy steps you can take—such as shredding important documents—to prevent becoming a scam victim.
- 33 Tips for Avoiding Scams and Swindles. Different types of scams require different tactics. This resource provides specific precautions to avoid health insurance, Medicare, telemarketing, loan modification, retirement, and home repair scams.
Be sure to also check out our tips for reporting suspected financial abuse.
Senior employment resources
If you or someone you know needs or wants to work, EconomicCheckUp® has several tools—including government programs and websites—to help define skills, get training, and land a job.
- Define your skills. Define your strengths and interests and get job-hunting strategies.
- Get training. Find and enroll in free courses to help you improve your literacy, technology, and math abilities.
- Find a job. Use the job search tool to find senior-friendly full-time, part-time, and/or volunteer work near you.
If you are living on a fixed income, visit BenefitsCheckUp.org to see if you qualify for programs that can help you pay for everyday needs, like food, medicine, and utilities.
If you need additional help finding a job, see whether the Senior Community Service Employment Program or Senior Environmental Employment program is right for you.