Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Instead of the typical flowers or card, show you care by considering how you can help your mother or grandmother organize or better understand her finances. This is not always an easy conversation to have, but it is a very important one that can help to make sure the special women in your life are well prepared for their later years.
Start by letting her tell you what she knows or wants to share about her finances, and do not assume you know all the relevant information. From what your mother/grandmother shares, you’ll also be able to gain insight into her understanding of her own finances. If you’re not sure how to begin, we have five questions to help start the conversation:
- Can you make ends meet; are you worried about depleting all of your savings?
- Do you have a competent tax and financial advisor?
- Are you struggling with prescription drug costs?
- Are you getting all the medical care you need?
- Have you been approached to get involved in charitable contributions, investment schemes, business ventures or loans that seem questionable?
For recommendations and solutions to some of the issues that may arise take a look at our more detailed explanation of these questions.
The next step is making sure that you know about important documents. 66 million people in America provide unpaid care for relatives or friends. You never know if you may become one of them. It is better to be prepared now, than regret it later. If you will play a key role in assisting your mother with any financial matters should she no longer be able to manage them herself, ask where she keeps her financial and legal documents. Make sure you know where to find passwords and identification numbers for bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, and online accounts. You do not have to ask for them immediately, but ensure that you have some way to access them in the case that your mother/grandmother may ever need you to take responsibility of her finances. Our caregiver booklet offers more information on what types of documents you may need in the case of becoming a caregiver.
May is also Older Americans Month’s, and to celebrate its motto, “Safe today. Healthy Tomorrow.” we also suggest that your conversation includes a discussion about financial scams and fraud. Scammers often target older adults because they tend to live alone, are more trusting, and have a relatively high net worth with their retirement nest eggs. Discuss common scams with her so she knows about them beforehand and is less likely to be persuaded by those who contact her. If helpful, practice refusal scripts with her, and tell her to keep one by her phone so it is available should she need it. Our guide, Protecting Mother from Financial Fraud and Abuse, as well as our caregiver booklet, include other suggestions for prevention techniques you can practice together. Make sure she also knows who to contact should any form of abuse occur or if she feels she is being targeted by anyone. Preparing and making your mother/grandmother safe now will ensure her finances are healthy tomorrow.
Feel like the conversation isn’t enough? Consider giving her WISER’s free, easy to download e-book What Women Need to Know About Retirement, or Not Your Mother’s Retirement, which is a compilation of essays by 20 retirement experts including WISER’s President, Cindy Hounsell. If books are not right for her, you can buy her a subscription to our newsletter so she can receive future financial tips and explanations.