Conversing with older adults about their finances can certainly be tricky, regardless of your relationship with them. Helping a parent or loved one manage their money can seem like a daunting task. Managing finances online may be second nature to people below a certain age, but it isn't easy for everyone.
Seniors may have trouble understanding how to use technology and are already used to traditional banking — this may lead to feeling overwhelmed with their finances. Reaching an older age comes with its fair share of challenges in and of itself.
Financial resiliency is becoming increasingly important in the digital world. With so many online transactions, it is wise to help older people learn how to use these services. Teaching them new technological skills can make managing their money a breeze.
Here are five tips to keep in mind when helping older adults manage their finances online.
1. Create a Checklist
Using lists to accomplish a task is always a good idea. Firstly, you'll want to write down banking information such as account numbers and which financial institutions your loved one uses. Make sure you store this information somewhere secure.
This is a great time for them to pull out any paperwork regarding their finances, whether a credit card or utility bill. Creating a list of their expenses will help you stay organized, which is essential. Maybe you want to learn more about any inheritances they plan on leaving, how many credit cards they have, or the status of any debt they've accrued.
During this step, it's also wise to ask your loved ones about some of the struggles they've run into when trying to make financial decisions. Addressing them upfront is key, as you can both work together to find the right solution.
2. Consider Setting up a Power of Attorney
When older adults age, it's common to have sight and hearing problems that make daily activities challenging. In cases where your loved one falls ill or is dealing with a medical condition, it's wise to have a power of attorney arrangement set up.
Essentially, a power of attorney allows your loved one to give someone else the right to deal with third parties regarding their finances.
There are multiple types of power of attorney options in the U.K. that you may be asked to take on. Consider which type is best for you and your loved one's situation. Here's a quick summary:
- If your loved one is going to be incapacitated for a short period of time e.g. a hospital stay, you'll probably need an ordinary power of attorney.
- If your loved one is likely to lose mental capacity permanently (or they no longer wish to make their own financial decisions), you should set up a lasting power of attorney.
3. Open a Joint Account
You may feel that accessing your loved one's bank account is in their best interest to ensure bills are paid on time and balances don't dip too low. You may want to consider opening a joint account to oversee your parents’ online finances.
Having joint online access benefits both of you. In case of an emergency, you'll be able to pay for any expenses that are unplanned but necessary. Keep in mind that joint accounts come with specific implications, and most of the time, you'll both be liable for any debt that accrues over time.
4. Set up Digital Tools
New technologies make online finance management much easier. There are plenty of apps on the market that assist seniors with their money. Apps like SilverBills or EverSafe help older folks stay on top of their finances and overcome any challenges they may face.
Also, it's wise to consider reaching out to your loved one's financial institutions to ask for assistance in learning digital features. Banking online is meant to make processes easier, and banks will likely do their best to assist older customers with managing finances online.
5. Be Patient With Your Loved One
Teaching an older adult about online banking management may be frustrating at times. You could run into network connectivity issues, or your loved one may be slow at using a laptop or tablet. It's critical to be patient during these times and do your best to show them the ins and outs of using online banking methods.
It's also smart to look for educational resources online. YouTube is valuable and chock-full of tutorials — it's likely your loved one's bank has some material online. It's just a matter of finding it.
There are three good benefits to have older adults manage online finances:
- Improved control of money and services
- More access to financial information
- Reduces reliance on others
Remember that helping older adults with their finances can protect them from scams and other fraudulent activity. Do your best to teach them digital literacy skills to help them avoid becoming the victim of crime.
Helping Older Adults Manage Finances
You're doing the right thing by teaching loved ones the right skills they need to manage their finances online. Follow some of the suggestions above if you're trying to make it an easy transition.