Overdue payments, calls from collection companies, NSF cheques, bank overdraft. The list goes on and on. You feel stressed out just thinking about your debts. Want some peace of mind? Stop the madness and take control. Start by making a list of your debts showing the name, amount owing, interest rate, and minimum monthly payment that is due. I note that many credit cards now show how long it will take to pay off the balance owing if all you pay is the minimum payment and of course, if you do not make any new charges. Focusing on the 20 or 30 years will just increase your stress, not reduce it. Focus instead on which debts have high interest and which have the lower rates. You should be directing whatever money you have to those debts with a high interest rate.
The next thing you have to do is to track your spending for a few weeks (longer if possible). You will then need to prepare a budget for yourself to determine how much money you have each month to service your debts and allow you to live. Note that the budget is an average for a month (not 4 weeks) and you should allow for emergencies and debts like car insurance that are not necessarily paid on a monthly basis. If you need help, Trustees in Bankruptcy (soon to be called Licensed Insolvency Trustee), credit counselors, financial planners, etc. are usually willing to help you in assessing your budget and putting together a plan of action to pay off your debts. If you spend the time to put together the basic information, their fees will be nominal, their expertise invaluable.
It is important to think about your future housing needs as you get older. There are several different kinds of seniors’ housing so you can find out what types of home support are available in your neighbourhood. At the same time, consider your current home to see if there are things you can do to make it easier and safer, as you get older. If you have a disability, you might be eligible for government assistance to pay for home renovations. You should also find out what kind of services are available in your community such as home support—you may want to ask your family doctor and/or someone you trust for any advice or guidance regarding support services. Researching and understanding your options will help you make future decisions about your housing. There are several different types of seniors housing and access to subsidized units for low-income seniors. You will have the option between independent living, retirement homes and assisted living, nursing homes or long-term care.You should compare costs and services offered in each setting.
Decreasing independence is not something that anyone likes to think about, but needing help making legal and financial decisions can happen at any time and for a wide range of reasons. If you’re a senior citizen, you should begin planning ahead for your future. If you get ill, have an accident or even if you are just away for a period of time, having someone you trust who is ready and able to help you can save time and trouble.
In other words, plan ahead, appoint a power of attorney and sign a power of attorney document. This is a legal document in which you name one or more people to be your attorney (decision-maker) to manage your financial affairs.
This is an important plan because you need someone you can trust to look after your affairs if you can no longer look after them yourself.
Taking precautions to avoid scams and frauds is another way to protect your assets against financial abuse. Hustlers are constantly coming up with new scams to deceive elderly people. It is important to never respond to e-mail, phone or door-to-door offers from people or groups you do not know. Most often, if an offer seems too good to be true, one can assume it is. Protect your personal information–reputable organizations will not e-mail, write or call and ask you to confirm information about your bank account or financial affairs. Financial abuse is illegal and/or unauthorized use of your money or property, or pressure on you for use of your money or property.
Unfortunately and sadly, abusers are often people in positions of power in your life, such as a family member, caregiver or someone you live with. If you think you may be the victim of financial abuse, a fraud or a scam, do not feel ashamed and you are not at fault–many people are in the same situation and it is important you do not stay silent. Tell someone you trust about what is going on and how you are being treated and take precautions. If you do not feel you can trust anyone or do not feel comfortable talking to someone you know, you can report financial abuse and/or fraud to the police.