Growing older in modern America isn’t cheap. Costs for food, health care, medication, and basic living expenses are outpacing income and savings. In fact, more than 23 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living on less than $29,000 a year.

Money management in retirement can be overwhelming, but there is help. During April’s Financial Literacy Month, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers Straight Talk for Seniors® about money management and where to go for answers.

Making a Budget

Older adults’ incomes are vastly different across communities—and they change as people age. According to the Social Security Administration, almost 75% of single Social Security recipients aged 65+ depend on the average $1,300 monthly benefit for all or most of their monthly income. Making a budget provides a realistic view of a person’s whole financial picture and helps prioritize expenses. NCOA provides a simple online tool to help older adults and their caregivers Figure Out a Budget in 3 Minutes. Simply plug in monthly income and expenses and get a personalized budget.

Managing Debt

A growing number of older adults are aging with debt. The Federal Reserve Board 2013 Surveys of Consumer Finances report found that 65+ households had an average of $6,336 debt, not including mortgages. NCOA suggests these Four Tips for Seniors to Manage their Debt and get back on the path to financial security:

  1. Figure out a repayment plan: Whether paying off the highest interest debt first or the smallest debt first, having a set goal is motivating.
  2. Consider credit counseling: Sometimes it takes help to make a plan and that’s where a credit counselor comes in. They can help understand outstanding debt and design a realistic budget.
  3. Get help with family budgeting: Small changes in a budget can pay off in a big way. Explore Ways to Cut Spending on NCOA’s EconomicCheckUp®.
  4. Learn about bankruptcy filing: There are several types of personal bankruptcy, so it’s important to weigh all the options before settling on bankruptcy.

Using Cards

Government-issued electronic benefits cards, prepaid debit cards, and gift cards are all becoming more popular ways to manage and protect money. However, the features, benefits, fees, and protections associated with these cards vary. NCOA offers 11 Tips for Managing the Cards in Your Wallet to help seniors protect and make the most of these cards.

More Help

For older adults who are looking for more, but don’t know where to turn, NCOA’s EconomicCheckUp® provides a wealth of free, unbiased help to find work, avoid scams, explore home equity, and more. Using the tips, tricks, and tools available on EconomicCheckUp®, older adults can make the most of their money today and for tomorrow.

April 2015