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Stethoscope on cashIf you are lucky enough to have elderly parents, you know what a precious gift it is to have them. However, with this precious gift of time, there are some challenges that occur as they age and need your help. It is difficult when the roles of parent and child begin to shift and the children become the caregivers. One of the most complicated issues is when there is a need to take over your parents’ finances. Taking control can be awkward and complicated, but putting it off too long can make it very difficult to sort out all of their accounts and make the necessary legal steps to ensure your ability to successfully manage your parent’s money.

How do you know when it is time to step in? Watch for early signs that your parent’s cognitive ability is declining, and there is a need to step in and take control. If you wait too long, there’s a good chance that significant financial losses have occurred. Some of the signs to look for are:

  • They become forgetful about cash
  • They start getting calls from creditors
  • Their house is filled with expensive new purchases
  • They have difficulty with simple tasks like balancing their checkbook
  • Bills have been paid repeatedly or not paid at all
  • Bills that seem much higher than they should be and cannot be explained
  • Donations to charity that do not match your parents priorities

 

Raising the topic might be difficult. Older adults may be resistant to relinquishing control of their finances. They may see this as the first step of losing their independence, which is one of the top two concerns for older adults. Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families from AARP gives helpful insight on how to start the conversation. They suggest:

  1. Look for an opening: You might use an article you read about or something you saw in the news to raise the topic.
  2. Respect your loved one’s wishes: Your plan must be centered on the person receiving care.
  3. Size up the situation: Figuring out your loved one’s priorities help determine your next steps
  4. Counter resistance: Your loved one might say, “I just don’t want to talk about it.” Some people are private by nature. If your first conversation does not go well, try again.

Managing your own finances can be challenging enough, and you aren’t excited about taking on the task of managing your parents finances as well. Addressing the topic can be awkward, but if no one steps in to help, the assets that your parents spent a lifetime accumulating could be lost.

 

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County

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wallet

“What’s in your wallet?” is a great marketing program for a credit card but with all jokes aside; do you really know what is in your wallet or purse?  I bet you don’t!  Take the challenge.  Sit down with a pen and paper and make a list of everything in your wallet.  Do you know your vehicle tag number, credit card numbers, driver’s license number, savings and checking account numbers?

When your purse, wallet or credit card information is lost or stolen, time is the most important thing. A thief will immediately start to use your checks or credit cards.  So, while you are at home looking for credit card numbers they are spending your money as fast as they can.  But there are some things you can do to ease the headache caused by the loss or theft of your wallet or purse.

  • Photocopy every card, front and back.  Include all cards including:  credit, debit, car insurance, medical insurance, and Social Security.  On the photocopy write the contact number under each card.
  • Make a list of everything you have in your purse, including all the cards, checkbook, cell phone, and camera.
  • Beside each item include account numbers, contact numbers, serial numbers, make  of item, and a description.
  • List the keys on your key chain.  Store duplicates safe at home.
  • Put a copy of your list and the photocopy in a file at your office and one at home.
  • Immediately call the policeThis will prove to credit providers that you were diligent. Then call your bank, credit card companies, Department of Motor Vehicles,  Social Security, cell provider, and insurance companies.

Carry Smart.  Do you really need all that stuff in your purse?  With proper ID you do not need to carry your credit cards with you while shopping. Never carry important papers in your purse such as your birth certificate, Social Security card or passport.  Keep an eye on your purse at all times.  It only takes a second for someone to walk by and slip your purse out of the cart. In addition, men should consider carrying their wallets in their front pockets if walking in crowded areas. This will make it harder for pickpockets.

You may not be able to totally protect yourself from a sly, criminal determined to steal your purse or wallet but taking some time today to make an inventory of its’ contents will save you hours of frustration and time if you do become a victim.

Author: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University, Butler County/Miami Valley EERA, green.1405@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County/Heart of Ohio EERA

Sources:

FDIC Consumer News 6/1/2004

http://www.fdic.gov/CONSUMERS/CONSUMER/news/cnspr04/atm.html

McKinney, C, Ph.D., Know Your Valuable Papers: What and Where  http://ohioline.osu.edu/pdf/l237.pdf

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More than half of Americans don’t have an emergency fund. Only 37 percent have tried to figure out their retirement savings needs. More than 40 percent believe they have too much debt. While these findings from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study aren’t surprising, they are trends we would all like to see reversed. That’s why Ohio State University Extension is coordinating the Ohio Saves effort, a statewide campaign to encourage people to save money, pay down debt and build wealth. Jar of Money

Research shows that if you make your savings goal specific, if you give yourself a deadline, and if you write it down, then you’re much more likely to achieve it. So, just the fact that you’re signing up to be an Ohio Saver will help you achieve your goal. Every Ohioan can start saving, no matter how low their income nor how high their debt. Start wherever you are financially. Even putting your change in a jar is a start. It can add up fast. If you save just a handful of change each day, you’ll have a good start toward an emergency fund by the end of the year. Or try putting money that you would have used for a habit like a soda or coffee each day in a jar and deposit it once a month. Your body and your bank account will thank you.

It helps to make a savings deposit first, before paying bills. Put aside what you think you can save first. If you wait until the end of your pay period, it will definitely be spent. Even if you have to tap into your savings in between paychecks, if you deposit it first, you’re more likely to save more money no matter how much it is. Participants in the Ohio Saves program have access to free resources that will encourage them to save money and reduce debt. Savers receive a monthly email newsletter with savings strategies from national experts. They also have access to online tracker tools and all sorts of encouragement and motivation. An individual saver needs to make a savings goal of their own, and be encouraged and motivated to reach that goal.
Start now, and see how much money you can save by March 1, which is the end of the 2014 Ohio Saves and America Saves Week

The Ohio Saves program is free. Anyone can sign up by going to http://ohiosaves.org and clicking on “enroll in Ohio Saves today.” Ohio Saves is also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ohiosaves and on Twitter at @MoneyMattersOH.

References:
Filipic, Martha (August 2013). Ohioans Urged to Join Saves Program, OSU Extension, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences press release.

Submitted by: Polly Loy, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Belmont County, Buckeye Hills EERA.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ross County, Ohio Valley EERA.

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As we come to the close of 2012 and begin a new year, this is a great time to start looking at ways to improve your health and wealth in 2013.  Most people think of health and wealth as “separate “ goals, but in fact, both aspects of life are closely related. Here are a few steps to consider:

Build “Health Capital”

Health is a financial asset, just like stocks and bonds. It decreases the odds of costly medical bills today and/or later in life. Eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress. Without good health, you can’t earn an income and build wealth.

Don’t Burn Your Money

Quit smoking or don’t start. An average pack of cigarettes costs $5. Multiply $5 by 365 days and you could save $1,825 a year, plus interest (not to mention all the positive health effects!). Invest $1,825 in a fund averaging 7% interest and you’ll have $9,904 in 25 years.

Junk the “Junk Food”

Just cut it out: soda, fast food, fatty pastries, chips…you know the drill. Not only will you lose weight (trimming 100 calories a day = 10 pounds of annual weight loss), but you’ll pocket the savings. Save $7 a day on “empty calorie” foods and drinks and you’ll have over $2,500 in a year.

Half-Size Food Portions

Instead of eating 4 cookies a day, eat two. Bring half a meal home from restaurants and eat less at home. Getting two meals from one can save hundreds of dollars (and thousands of calories) annually. For example, saving $3 a day by “doubling up” results in savings of over $1,000 a year.

Stay Fit to Work

Maintaining good health increases the odds of being productive and working as long as you want to instead of retiring because you have to (e.g., disability). This can translate into thousands of dollars at retirement. One study compared retiring at age 60 due to poor health with working (and saving) until 65. The difference: $14,300 in annual income from increased savings and delayed cash withdrawals.positive

Sweat the Small Stuff

“Little” things matter! Healthy habits that save big bucks over time include washing your hands frequently (especially before handling food) to avoid the expense of flu and cold treatments and flossing your teeth to help prevent periodontal disease.

Think Positively

Studies have shown that the personality trait of optimism is positively associated with health and wealth. When people expect good things to happen, they work toward their goals by taking action. Examples include exercising regularly and saving money. What we think about, we often bring about and positive thoughts can lead to positive results.

Source: http://www.extension.org/pages/32288/monthly-investment-message-jan-11

Reviewed by: Kelly Gonyer, Office Associate, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Wood County.

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