Parents do everything for their children, until one day the tables turn. If you are feeling overwhelmed with the task of keeping your parents financially taken care of, know that you are not alone. Social Security and Medicare benefits aren't always enough to pay the bills anymore, and it's falling on the shoulders of adult children to pick up the slack for many of their parents.
Still, it shouldn't be all on you to cover your family's costs along with your parents. If you're looking for ways to help your parents prepare for a comfortable and financially stable retirement, start here:
1. Help them assess income, debts
Not every person over age 60 has a healthy savings, or any savings at all. In fact, most self-reporting shows that one-third of Americans have no retirement savings, with over 20 percent of the rest having less than $10,000 saved. Although some seniors have access to some kind of pension income during retirement, this is rarely enough to subsist off of well into their 80s.
Open the discussion about finances with your parents. Be polite and honest, stating that you’re trying to help them prepare for a long and happy retirement. Once you’ve assessed how much income they’ll have in the coming years, you can also encourage them to tally and pay off any debts before their retirement begins.
2. Suggest spending adjustments
If your parents have a subscription to seven different magazines that end up in the recycling, help them cancel them. Waste can happen easily and in the smallest of amounts, but your parents need to save and consolidate their spending.
Even if it means taking a different path or lifestyle, spending habits can be altered to keep your parents well within their sphere of comfort. You might have to bring up downsizing, but in the end, this option always helps people feel more secure in their retirement futures.
3. Consolidate assets and encourage saving
It’s never a bad time to continue saving money, even if that means a very small amount set aside each month. There is always the possibility of a rainy day, even for those enjoying their golden years.
Downsizing may be an option for your parents to reduce debt and increase financial stability, but if they prefer to stay in a home that they already own, consider helping them get a reverse mortgage. With no monthly mortgage payments, a reverse mortgage gives your parents a reliable monthly income using their home’s value. This is just one option to ensure a safe financial future for your parents.
4. Help them fend off scams
Unfortunately, all too many seniors get taken advantage of as they prepare for retirement. Whether through scams or self-interested financial advisors, seniors can lose money on unnecessary schemes. Help your parents fend off scams by educating them on common schemes and helping them identify fishy ventures. Check their caller ID for suspicious numbers, and ask about any suspicious emails they’ve received.
5. Set up a consultation with a financial specialist
At the same time, avoiding scams isn’t enough to keep your parents’ money safe. It’s a great idea to consult a financial specialist who does not benefit by referring you to certain third-party firms. If you’re looking for specific ways to help your parents remain financially independent during retirement, look into reverse mortgages. Your parents will be able to live free of mortgage payments for the rest of their lives.