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Critter Corner: How Can I Help My Husband Make Better Money Decisions?

Hayek 1Dear Hayek,

My husband doesn’t always make the best decisions about money. He has come close to being scammed in the recent past. Do you know of any training he (and I) could take to protect us from financial exploitation? Also, are there any tips you can provide? 

Thanks for your help!

Munn Knee

Dear Munn,

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Money Smart for Older Adults Program is designed to help older adults and their caregivers avoid fraud, scams, and other senior financial exploitation. The program encourages planning in advance, in addition to informed financial decision-making. There is no charge for the program.

These are some tips from the training:

  1. Develop a spending plan for your retirement. Having a plan for your money and limiting expenses in retirement is important. Consider new ways to cut costs. For example, let your auto insurer know you no longer drive your car to work, if that’s the case.
  2. Consider continuing to put some of your income into savings, especially for short-term goals such as holiday gifts. That can help you avoid a large, sudden withdrawal from your retirement investments.
  3. Consider limiting the mail and phone calls you receive from marketers. Unsolicited offers from unfamiliar companies can result in you overspending your budget. It can also result in paying for shoddy merchandise or service from vendors who don’t stand behind their products. Consider being added to the national Do Not Call Registry (call 1-888-382-1222 or visit donotcall.gov).
  4. At least once a year, review the privacy disclosures that banks and other financial companies you do business with send. They explain if and how you can limit certain sharing of your information.
  5. Don’t let anyone make you think you need a good or service that you didn’t need before. A recent study suggests that many consumers pay hundreds of dollars each year in fees that get automatically charged to their credit card or bank account. This is often on a monthly basis for a subscription or other service they probably never really wanted. So, closely review your credit card and bank statements to find any charges that you may be able to cancel because they are for products or services you can do without. There are some apps that will review your bank statements automatically find recurring subscriptions that you might want to cancel. Here are a few: Rocket Money, Copilot Money, and Experian (please note we never provide affiliate links; we never make money if you click on links in our articles; they are just for your educational purposes).
  6. Review your credit reports even if you don’t plan to apply for a new loan. Mistakes or other errors on your credit reports could make it more costly for you to buy insurance or borrow money. You wouldn’t want, for example, your credit card company to raise your interest rate on future purchases because of a problem tied to a credit report. Monitoring your credit reports is also a way to detect identity theft. Order your free credit report at least once every 12 months from each of the three main credit bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228.
  7. Use credit cards cautiously. Accumulating debt can be costly, yet many seniors have considerable credit card debt. Before making purchases using your credit card, consider whether you will be able to pay your balance in full when the statement arrives. This will help you avoid costly interest.
  8. Remember the red flags of a fraud. Some of the classic warning signs include:
    • An unsolicited phone call, email, or other request that you pay a large amount of money before receiving the goods or services;
    • An unexpected e-mail or call requesting your bank account number, perhaps one asking you for the information printed at the bottom of one of your checks;
    • An offer that seems too good to be true, such as an investment “guaranteeing” a return that’s way above the competition;
    • Someone expressing a new or unusual interest in your finances;
    • Pressure to send funds quickly by wire transfer; or
    • The other party insists on secrecy.
  9. Prepare for the possibility that you may become unable to handle your finances. Experienced estate planning attorneys, such as the attorneys at the Farr Law Firm, can help you create the most important legal document that every adult should have known as a power of attorney (POA); every adult should have a power of attorney and an advance medical directive (ideally our firm’s proprietary 4 Needs Advance Medical Directive® which includes our proprietary Long-term Care Directive®), because no one knows when something might happen to them that renders them incapable of making decisions for themselves. Signing these crucial documents allows one or more people you designate to make key decisions for you, when you are not able to, with as much or as little of your financial or personal life as you choose, and without the unnecessary and expensive court process known as lifetime probate, also called guardianship and conservatorship.
  10. Consider writing down a list of your financial institutions and account numbers and keeping it in a safe place with your estate planning documents, accessible by your loved ones in an emergency.

Hope this is helpful,

Hayek

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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