10 Ways to Bond with Grandparents

10 Ways to Bond wit Grandparents | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® with Mathius 'Marc' Gertz Old grandmother and adult granddaughter hugging at home and looking at each other. Happy senior mother and young daughter embracing with love on sofa. Happy young woman hugging from behind grandma with love.
10 Ways to Bond with Grandparents | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking®

In observation of Grandparents Day, here are 10 ways to bond with grandparents. Aging is an unavoidable reality of life. Growing older is difficult, but we’ll all have to do it sooner or later. We begin and finish our lives the same way: relying on the assistance of others. Everything comes full circle. 

Seeing a parent or grandparent age is painful, not only for you but for them too, particularly if their physical or mental health deteriorates.

 Are we ready for the new phase of our lives: one in which we serve as caregivers to the people who once served us? Knowing how to best help an older loved one might be challenging. Here are ways to bond with grandparents.

Maintain constant contact with them: Visit Often.

Your parents don’t want things; they want you. Visiting your aging loved one is helpful and one of the best things you can do. If they live alone, see them often. 

You will not only be able to make them feel less alone, but you will also be able to monitor their situation. When there’s too much chaos, leaving the kids at home is preferable.

Call regularly if you can’t visit.

Call if you can’t visit—at least weekly, check in, or at least every few days. A phone call out of the blue can brighten someone’s day. Even if your aging loved one is entirely self-sufficient, they’d appreciate a call.

Take them to go on errands with you.

When it is no longer safe for a parent or grandparent to drive, they become upset because they have lost their freedom. You can assist by inviting someone you care about to accompany you. Offer them an electric wheelchair if they have difficulty moving around. Even if they’re just running errands, getting out of the house is nice, and they almost certainly have things to pick up.

Empathize: Put yourself in their shoes.

Aging brings many issues, such as being unable to move around, having health issues, forgetting things, not having as much freedom, and being unable to do something you used to enjoy. All of these things can be extremely inconvenient and annoying. 

Try to understand how they feel, even if you don’t understand what is happening. Listening and then responding with empathy (“That sounds awful. I can see why you’d be upset.”) 

Although this doesn’t solve the problem, it does make it easier to deal with. It also helps them to allow you to help them.

See a need, fill a need: Repair what’s broken.

Fix something that needs fixing to help someone out. If you can’t fix it, go out of your way to find someone who can.

Identify potentially dangerous spots in their home.

While in their home, look for anything that could cause an accident. Things like a loose floorboard or steps of varying heights. Make sure to address these issues as soon as possible. 

This is usually a part of “aging in place.”  There are resources available for “aging in place” with details on what to look for when spotting risk.

Accompany them to their medical appointment.

Going to routine and special doctor’s appointments with a loved one show that you care and is a smart way to keep track of their health. Understand what is going on and be vocal.  Help them advocate for themselves.

Aid them in decluttering.

Longevity means many things have accumulated. It’s challenging for older adults to get rid of clutter. Many could benefit from assistance in getting rid of clutter. Many of the things we deem “trash” or “junk” carry important memories for them. 

Help them declutter without being overbearing, pushy, or intense. Ask if something is a treasure, don’t assume. Perhaps, relive the memory with them to help them let go. Be patient as they work through it.

Suggest a good book.

Reading is pleasurable and boosts brainpower. Help your parent or grandparent maintain reading by recommending books, finding audiobooks, or taking them to the library.

Keep up with their calendar.

Some older adults feel cut off from society or their families. Keep the calendar of someone you care about up to date every month. Include things like birthdays, recitals, or sports games that kids can join. Make them feel like they’re in the know.

Bonus Bonding Brownie Points: More Ways to Bond with Grandparents

Prioritize: help them identify their task.

Everyday tasks and to-do lists can be overwhelming for older adults. Make a list of everything and keep it somewhere easy to see and find. Sit down with your grandparent or parent and assist them in determining what steps they must take first.

Shopping and Meal Prep.

Try grocery shopping with a loved one, or do it for them. Spend an afternoon planning with your loved one and then preparing simple meals. You can store these meals in the fridge or freezer.

Give them something to look forward to.

We all enjoy having something to look forward to, regardless of age. It gives us something to anticipate, whether it’s lunch with a friend or a weekend getaway. Help your elderly parent or grandparent plan a fun activity for each week. It could be bingo at the senior center, brunch with you, or a weekly class they look forward to.

Exercise with them.

The benefits of physical activity are proven, and it is especially beneficial to older adults. Much research has discovered that physical activity in older adults could help prevent illness, keep them independent, and improve their quality of life (source). Prioritize exercise and encourage them to join a gym, join them for walks, and stay active.

Involve them in community events.

Through libraries, community centers, and outreach programs, there are so many great things for older adults to do. You can use the Internet to find events and groups your loved one can join in your area.

Maintain their yard.

Older adults care about their yards. Many older folks can’t maintain their grass and flowers on their own. Doing some labor yourself or hiring someone to mow the grass can benefit an aging parent or grandparent.

Empower them to protect themselves from scams.

Scammers target seniors a lot. Scammers frequently use phone calls, sweepstakes, and phony medical insurance to steal money from older adults. Read up on common scams that take advantage of older adults and discuss how to avoid them.

Get a happy helper.

Hiring a responsible person to be your loved one’s helper is a good idea. A niece, nephew, or grandchild can do it well. Families hire someone they trust to check in on their parents or grandparents, drive them to appointments and errands, read to them, cook for them, or assist them with physical activities. 

While it could be easy to ask family members to help, remember healthy boundaries for all involved. If the family member cannot help, which is understandable, resources are available, like care.com, to find a helper.

Technology with training wheels.

The world is constantly changing, making people over 50 feel a little stuck. Keep it simple; begin with services that are useful, such as email and online bill payment. 

Slowly introduce technology to your parent or grandparent. Create “prompt sheets.” These are easy-to-see ‘how to’ bullet points that can help your loved one remember what to do next.

The vintage inbox: their mailbox.

A good old-fashioned letter is a wonderful thing to receive. In our parents’ and grandparents’ days, letters were the primary source of correspondence. You could get the family together and flood your loved one’s mailbox with hand-written notes or cards.

Discover something new.

You can always learn something new. Learning new things gives you energy and makes you feel good about yourself. Try something new with your older parent or grandparent, like yoga or genealogy. 

Have them think of things they want to do and put them on a list. Then help them do those things. Find opportunities they never had growing up and wanted to do. You’re never too old to reach your goals.

Pet possible…

Some older adults enjoy having a pet to keep them company. Perhaps your loved one requires an emotional support animal.  Remember that you may need to take care of the pet upkeep or hire a pet helper.

Tangible: no passwords needed; make them a memory book.

One truly unique thing you can do is create a memory book for an older loved one. The book could include pictures, stories, or other items from their life that they find comforting. StoryWorth is a great place to start because it allows you to create a book about your parent or grandparent’s life that your family can keep for the rest of their lives.

In the end

The most valuable gift you can give an older loved one is your time. Reminisce with them and try to understand the feelings they are conveying. Make it a point to communicate with them regularly, whether by phone, in person, or on FaceTime if they’re tech-savvy.

When to Hire a Financial Planner

When to Hire a Financial Planner | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage with Mathius Marc Gertz Husband and wife are sitting at table home. Considered on calculator spending family budget with a financial planner.
When to Hire a Financial Planner | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage

When to hire a financial planner? According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute’s 2022 retirement poll, one in every three working persons and retirees now works with a professional financial planner. Almost half of those without a planner intends to hire one in the future.

A life event, such as marriage or divorce, is frequently a clue that it is time to hire a planner. There are, however, other events. Including the fact that finances are becoming more challenging, people do not have enough time or knowledge about investing, and even members of the same home do not agree on a shared money strategy.

Major Life Events

Here are some things that impact your financial situation or perspective include:

  • Marriage: The blending of two sets of financing can be challenging. Setting agreed-upon financial goals can still be tricky.
  • Divorce: You may need assistance determining how to live on one income rather than two.
  • Becoming a parent: This alters your spending habits and provides you with new financial goals, such as paying for college.
  • Inheriting money: You may need assistance determining how to invest your windfall during this emotionally difficult period.
  • Become a Caregiver: When you take on the role of caregiver for an older parent, your income and expenses may shift. You may need to rethink your retirement strategy.
  • Starting a business: This involves risks, and you may need to compensate for these risks by being more careful with your money in other ways.
  • Selling a business: When you sell a firm, your assets and income may change. Both outcomes will impact how you manage money and investments in the future.
  • Starting a new job or being promoted: This provides you with more money to help you attain your financial goals. You may require assistance determining how to put that extra cash to good use.

After a major life event, you may require something temporary. Usually, the result would be a financial plan that you could utilize on your own. Remember that financial planners can provide both one-time consultations and continuing assistance.

Assume you’ve recently discovered that you can begin contributing to your 401(k). You might employ a financial planner to assist you in making your first investments based on age, risk tolerance, and goals. It would then be up to you to implement those investing decisions and monitor your progress.

Increasingly Complex Finances

Even if nothing else in your life changes, your money will become more complicated with time. You earn more money, contribute more to your 401(k), contribute more to your HSA, purchase life insurance, and so on. You might start to doubt if you can handle everything on your own.

Financial planners can be highly beneficial in this case. The best ones will examine your assets and devise strategies for getting the most out of your investments, lowering your risk, or doing both.

Lack of Time or Expertise

Managing your money and investments might feel like a second job you may not desire. If you don’t have time to do your research and keep an eye on your portfolio, you can engage a planner to handle it for you. Your planner handles the tedious work, and you weigh in when the time comes to make a decision.

Similarly, you may struggle with confidence when making investment decisions. After all, investments might be difficult to understand. A skilled planner can assist you in making educated decisions and teaching you how to manage your money effectively.

Family Conflict Over Strategy

In a recent study by the American Institute of CPAs, nearly three-quarters of persons who are married or living together believe money is a source of stress in their relationship.

If you and your partner disagree about money and regular spending, you may be unable to move forward with a wealth plan. You could hire a financial planner to assist you in resolving these issues by providing experienced, unbiased guidance.

It may also be beneficial to consult with a trustworthy 3rd party, such as an accredited financial counselor or a family therapist. Even if you aren’t aware of it, an accredited financial counselor can help you figure out how your feelings about money influence you.

What Do Financial Planners Charge?

People frequently inquire, “Does working with a planner require a specific net worth?” No, in most circumstances. Some planners have a minimum net worth requirement, although the vast majority do not.

Still, hiring a financial planner isn’t a good idea if you’re living paycheck to paycheck. However, you might benefit from planner assistance if you have $100 or $10,000 per month to help you attain your financial goals. This counsel could be a one-time meeting to build an investment plan or a long-term partnership.

Big Financial Goals but No Plan

If you have money to invest and financial goals to achieve but no clear plan, it might be when to hire a financial planner. The correct planner can help you feel less stressed about money. Planners also help to make decisions more straightforward, and ultimately lead to a brighter financial future.

Financial Advisor vs. Financial Planner

Financial Advisor Vs. Financial Planner | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage with Mathius Marc Gertz Benjamin Franklin on the one hundred dollar bill framed by other banknotes.
Financial Advisor Vs. Financial Planner | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage

Do you require financial advice? Do you need a financial advisor, financial planner, or an accredited financial counselor? The answer depends on various factors, including how complex your finances are, how comfortable are you managing investments, where you are on your path to wealth, and where you want to be.

The advisor’s role is to assist you in getting from where you are to where you want to be financially. However, there are expenses involved, and not everyone requires assistance. To make an informed decision about whether or not to hire an advisor, you must research and take into account yourself.

Most of the time, folks use the phrases financial advisor and financial planner interchangeably. However, they are not the same from a technical standpoint.

Financial planners are a subset of financial advisors. Stockbrokers, financial planners, insurance agents, bankers, accountants, accredited financial counselors, and estate planners are all examples of financial advisors.

What Exactly Does a Financial Planner Do?

A financial planner may be able to assist you in getting closer to your financial goals.

Practical financial planners provide recommendations to help you achieve your financial goals. One of the most fundamental aspects of this guidance is handling and planning for investments. A financial planner can assist you with a comprehensive investment program as well as services such as:

  • Examining and Preparing for Household Spending
  • Retirement strategies
  • College funding strategies
  • A look at insurance coverage and some considerations
  • Working with tax advisors, estate planners, and other specialists

Financial planners assist people in determining how to manage their money. They learn about your circumstances, offer advice, and aid you in making sound financial decisions.

Working With a Financial Planner

You have three primary responsibilities when working with a financial planner:

  1. You talk about money and your objectives.
  2. Accept or reject your advisor’s recommendations, and explain why.
  3. You fund the recommendations that you accept.

Consider how effectively you can meet these tasks before selecting a financial advisor. Are you comfortable discussing money, expressing your viewpoint when you do not see eye to eye, and investing according to your financial plan? In an ideal world, the answer would be clearly yes.

An advisor may be unable to assist you if you are unwilling to be open and straightforward about your money and the reasons behind your decisions.

Pros and Cons of Working With a Financial Planner
Pros

While money is a renewable resource, time is not. Your time is more valuable than money. Your planner helps you save time. They can look into various investment possibilities and keep track of your money, so you don’t have to.

They are the expert. Depending on how much you know about investing, hiring an planner may be better than managing your own money.

Emotions can be an investor’s worst adversary. Your planner can help you avoid making costly judgments based on emotions. When the market is volatile, putting a financial planner between you and your money can offer you the breathing room you need to remain patient.

Cons

Planners are paid for their services, as they should be. When you invest, some planners charge commissions, while others charge an annual fee. In any instance, paying planner fees reduces your net investment returns.

Furthermore, not all planners are competent. Choosing the right financial planner might take time. Check the references of more than one planner for the job. The best financial planner is not just knowledgeable about money but also friendly, dependable, and trustworthy.

We’ll talk about when it makes sense to bring in a financial planner next week.

Inflation, Stock Market, Retirement – OH MY!

Inflation, Stock Market, Retirement - OH MY! | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® mortgage with Mathius Marc Gertz | Hand holding a sticky note showing the word Recession and tips to survive recession
Inflation, Stock Market, Retirement – OH MY! | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage

Inflation, Stock Market, Retirement – OH MY! Many cash-strapped, equity-wealthy – older Americans rely on a fixed income and their retirement assets, which may have suffered from stock and bond market losses. 

Inflation is rapidly reaching 10%, and their retirement investments may have declined by 10% to 20% due to recent stock and bond market drops. At the same time, home equity is likely to have increased dramatically. Making it a tempting target to tap to help make ends meet. A reverse mortgage could be one way to get access to it.

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” accessing home equity. Research the best plan for you. Let’s look into how to use home equity to fund retirement.

Downsize. 

You may be able to sell your property. Use that money to buy a house that will cost less and be easier to maintain. You may find a home that better suits your retirement needs than a larger house in the suburbs that takes more maintenance. The problem is that any potential retirement real estate you are thinking about may have suddenly become valued as much as your current residence.

Do your homework to see if you can minimize living expenses or realize capital gains to reinvest for retirement cash flow.

Get a reverse mortgage.

Retirees can use a reverse mortgage to assist in financing your retirement in a variety of ways. This type of mortgage can be used to purchase a new home without requiring a monthly mortgage payment. It can help age in place by funding improvements to your current home. It can offer a line of credit for living expenses or monthly cash flow. 

You don’t have to repay the reverse mortgage loan until you sell the house. However, most reverse mortgages allow you to pay down the amount if that’s what you want. HECMLOCs are similar to HELOCs but have more protections for the borrower.

Reverse mortgage terms and costs should be considered. Clarify any misunderstandings about this option. The equity in the retiree’s home is a source of legacy wealth that many hope to pass on to their adult children. However, their children and grandchildren may prefer their parents use it to maintain their quality of life in retirement.

You might want to look into recent advances in reverse mortgages as part of your research. We offer a program that begins as a traditional mortgage and ends as a reverse mortgage. The hybrid program assists homeowners in building home equity. Then automatically switching to a reverse mortgage after ten years to eliminate the mortgage payment. This type of reverse mortgage may benefit pre-retirees a few years from retirement.

Home equity credit line (HELOC). A HELOC is a loan you can use whenever you would like during the “draw period,” typically ten years. During that time, your loan accrues interest, and you are not required to make payments. Although you can pay down the loan if you prefer. 

You must repay principal and interest at the end of the draw term. HELOCs can help you bridge the gap between now and when you start receiving retirement income, such as Social Security or an annuity. HELOCs are especially beneficial if you plan to sell your house before the draw period expires.

Equity sharing agreement. 

A home equity sharing agreement allows you to receive cash in exchange for a percentage of ownership of your property. You pay the investment company the cash payment you received plus a portion of the appreciation in your property at the end of the set term, which can range from 10 to 30 years. You are not required to make a monthly payment or pay interest under this agreement.

These solutions can assist homeowners who are short on cash yet have significant home equity. Before deciding on this choice, you should explore and thoroughly understand the terms and conditions, which can be intricate and expensive. More importantly, you should prepare for the potential of having to sell your property after the set term.

Add an ADU 

You might be able to add an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that you can rent out for extra income. ADUs might be a separate structure, a converted garage or basement, or an addition to your existing home. 

Some retirees build an ADU that provides current rental income. Then intend to move into the ADU and rent out the main house when they become less active in their late retirement years and fund their long-term care. Financing is possible for qualified ADU with a reverse mortgage or a home equity line of credit.

House share. 

If you enjoy your three- or four-bedroom home but have one or two extra bedrooms, consider renting one or two rooms to supplement your retirement income.

Of course, there are logistical aspects to consider while sharing your living space with others. You might prefer to use services like Silvernest. They help you identify and evaluate housemates and sort out the appropriate agreements.

Multi-generational housing. 

A variation on house-sharing is for grandparents to live with their adult children and/or grandchildren. Not only will you be able to split living expenses, but this choice will also help grandparents feel useful. It may also prevent loneliness by acting as built-in babysitters, thereby assisting the parents. However, open communication and healthy boundaries are necessary to consider.

Rent swap or Air BnB. 

A couple rents their three-bedroom home to fund a road trip. Or renting a smaller, cheaper property could be an option while renting out their larger home. The difference in rent payments may give retired homeowners extra cash flow while retaining home ownership.

If any of these ideas resonate with you, thoroughly research each and consider all the possibilities. Hopefully, this list has piqued your interest. We can help you with ways to mitigate the effects of inflation and stock market volatility during retirement. Give us a call!

Back to School Budgeting Guide

Back to School Budgeting guide for caregivers | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage with Mathius Marc Gertz "Back To School" writing with color pencil background
Back to School Budgeting Guide | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage

It’s Back-to-school season!  The shopping season is in full swing from early July through late September. Back-to-school shopping can be hard on a budget. Use this back-to-school budgeting guide to plan out your spending.

School Supplies
  • Before you go out and buy school supplies, take stock of what you already have in drawers or on bookshelves at home. There’s no need to start again every year! Backpacks, lunch boxes, pencil cases, and binders can be reused as long as they are still in good condition. 
  • Many schools establish accounts with major online retailers, and a portion of your purchase benefits the school. You might also ask your child’s teachers what classroom supplies they still need, as many teachers purchase goods with their own money.
  • Smart shopping – Plan your shopping. – Make a budget for your child and motivate them to stick to it when shopping for supplies.
  • Buy and Share bulk items. – If you have more than one child or neighbors who need folders, loose-leaf paper, facial tissue, and pencils or have a similar shopping list. You can save money by buying certain things in large quantities and sharing them and the cost with other students.
  • Online coupons – Social media, blogs, and websites provide school supply coupons. Always do your homework to find out when stores offer their most significant seasonal discounts.
School Clothes
  • Children usually outgrow their clothes quickly. Your child may need to have their feet measured, or they may have worn through their summer shoes. Sit down with your child and help them go through their closets to make things go smoothly. Giving you a chance to talk about charity, they might find something they can give to their younger brothers, sisters, cousins, or neighbors.
  • Clothing Swap – Consider having a clothing swap with family, friends, or neighbors before taking the old clothes to the donation center. You can trade gently used clothes, toys, and even school supplies, like that character backpack your child no longer wants. Your children will get new-to-them clothes, and you’ll have a clutter-free closet!  Clothing swap also works well if your children have school uniforms.
  • Shop Thrift – Your child can develop their style without big-box stores. Let children shop at a thrift store. Consignment stores and garage sales may have treasures. Most thrift store apparel can be high-quality and cheap; shop early to get the best deals.
  • Seasonal sales – As the new school year gets closer, there will be a lot of back-to-school and end-of-summer sales in stores and online. These sales usually last until the end of August or the beginning of September and can save you a lot of money on clothes. 
  • You can also buy next summer’s clothes now online during these sales. You might not always know what your child’s size will be, but you could make a guess. For example, if they wear a youth small this summer, you could buy summer clothes for youth medium on sale and save them for next summer.
Technology and Gadgets
  • Tech alternatives –  Choose devices with the best value for your money. Instead of a laptop, consider a tablet and keyboard for your child. It does the same things but costs less overall.
  • Pre-owned and refurbished gadgets – Buying pre-owned tablets, laptops, and iPhones saves money. Choose trusted products. Apple, Dell, Samsung, and HP have officially refurbished online shops. Other Reputable retailers like Backmarket.com offer “certified” reconditioned tech with warranties and money-back guarantees.
  • Set up price alerts. Price-tracking apps help you save money. These apps deliver price alerts and compare prices across thousands of retailers.
  • Price check, Price Match – Some big-box stores will match lower prices on items you find elsewhere.
  • Student discounts – Select retailers offer discounts specifically for students. Examples include Adobe, Apple, Best Buy, Dell, HP, and Microsoft. You’ll probably need to enter your child’s student ID at checkout.
Don’t Forget the Activities.
  • Don’t forget these often-forgotten costs when making a budget for your child’s school supplies. Planning ahead of time for sports fees, field trips, teacher holiday gifts, and book fairs might help prevent sticker shock later in the year. 
  • If your child is starting kindergarten this year, you could inquire about last year’s expenses with the PTA or another parent. The past year’s costs can help older children estimate this year’s expenses. If you live in a two-parent household, it may be good to discuss what costs you are willing to cover with your partner or spouse. 
  • If your child wants to play travel soccer, but you don’t have the money for it, finding other children who play soccer for fun and organizing get-togethers for your child might be helpful. Buying lightly used helmets and sticks could save you money if your child plays an expensive sport like hockey, which can cost thousands of dollars every season.
Dorm Furniture
  • Focus on the essentials, need-to-haves instead of the nice-to-haves. It’s easy to get carried away, be realistic. Your child does not need an expensive coffee maker or high-end throw pillows. They might think these items are necessary, the reality is the really do not.
  • This thought process highlights a financial planning issue that many people struggle with – not acting impulsively.  If the line between need and want is blurred, this should prompt a conversation about healthy boundaries and long-term financial responsibility.  
  • Usually, most dorm rooms include basic furnishings such as a bed, desk, and dresser. Ask other college students in your life about their experiences—what things they used frequently and which ones were unnecessary.
  • Before buying new stuff, look around the house. Just because your child is relocating does not require buying all new items. Use what you already have, whether an extra bedspread in the linen closet or an old set of dishes in the basement. Relatives may be willing to give hand-me-downs as well. Yard sales are a great source of pre-loved home goods.
  • Consider versatile, multifunctional furniture. If you want to add something special, multifunctional pieces can save you money, and you can use them for years! Some suggestions: a couch with storage beneath the cushions and a nightstand that also functions as a computer desk.
  • Divide the cost with your roommate. A dorm room does not require two microwaves, two refrigerators, or two garbage cans. 
  • Before school starts, have your child contact their roommate to discuss packing lists. Perhaps one person brings a printer, and another buys a coffee machine. You’ll also save dorm space and reduce duplicates!

Teachable Moment: Back to School Budgeting

Teachable Moment: Back to School Budgeting | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage with Mathius Marc GertzToday's Lesson sign
Teachable Moment: Back to School Budgeting | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Mortgage

It’s the back-to-school season which means back-to-school budgeting!   The shopping season is in full swing from early July through late September.  This season can be a teachable moment for back-to-school budgeting.

Back-to-school shopping can be hard on a budget. Especially with 54 million returning children, most families intend to complete their shopping in one month. Many caregivers worry about how they’ll be able to pay for everything on their child’s shopping list. These lists include school supplies, clothing, technology, and more.

On average, families will plan to spend between $510 to $849 on Back-to-school supplies, apparel, and technology. This average includes children in elementary school through high school—college students’ caregivers expect to pay a staggering $1,200. 

It’s no surprise that this season is so expensive, stressful, and complicated for many families. Furthermore, worsening inflation has led to price surges in everything from gas to groceries. This means back-to-school costs will likely soar even higher this year. 

Our inability to live within a specific budget has long-term ramifications. Many families will attempt to budget for these costs. However, some will miss out on this teaching moment for our children to learn about money and financial skills. As a result of missing these opportunities can have a lifelong ripple effect leading to a lack of economic foundation.

Breaking this cycle, teaching our children how to budget should start early – and a back-to-school budget is a good start. Studies have shown that many children react emotionally to spending money by age five. So next time, including them in back-to-school shopping is a great idea, even if it seems too soon.

A vital step toward leading a healthy and secure life comes from developing a sense of financial needs versus wants. Some studies say it takes approximately two months before a behavior becomes a habit. If your child learns the appropriate boundaries for spending, it could help them deal with money better in the future.

When creating a back-to-school budget with your child, it’s important to stress the importance of not making hasty decisions or acting impulsively. This is a common financial planning pitfall. Patience is often rewarding when it comes to personal finance.  

Buy low and sell high, as the old saying goes. Patience can teach the child to wait for the right moment to spend versus save. Sometimes those who waited until later in the season to shop spent $100 less than early shoppers.  

Back-to-school shopping allows caretakers to instill a lesson that can lead to excellent, long-term habits. Beginning to save young, distinguishing between wants and needs, and building solid budgeting abilities.

Before shopping, use this opportunity to help your child realize the importance of having a strategic approach to mastering their back-to-school budget. Back-to-school budgets give a fresh start to stay focused on an ultimate goal, even if the child does not prevail immediately. This season can be a teachable moment for back-to-school budgeting.

Drug Pricing Hurts Older Adults

Drug Pricing Hurts Older Adults | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking® Capitalism and healthcare policy concept. Colorful medical pills cover Benjamin Franklin's face on one hundred american dollar bill. Macro top down view.
Drug Pricing Hurts Older Adults | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking®

The Organization for Economic Development reports that Americans pay more for prescription drugs than people in other wealthy countries. The average American in 2022 spends $1,807, compared to $1,032 in Germany, $921 in Britain, and $904 in Sweden. These are exclusively insured payments. Drug pricing hurts older adults and others. Overpriced drugs can be disastrous for the millions of older Americans without health insurance.

Younger generations don’t need as many medicines as older adults. Over 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 daily, increasing the number of Americans on fixed incomes facing exorbitant prescription prices and insurance deductibles. Forcing many to choose between quality food or medication. Both shorten an individual’s lifespan.

The pharma industry claims subsidized programs exist for such folks, but it merely highlights the lunacy of the system. The mere fact that a discount program is even needed for individuals to receive the medication they NEED.

Reverse mortgages have the potential to save lives. Do you know a retiree struggling to make ends meet and still living in their own home? A program provides enough income to cover basic needs and medication, which can be a lifesaver and ensure that they can comfortably age in place.

Originally posted March 2019 Figures updated.

Gray Divorce: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

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Gray Divorce: 10 Mistakes to Avoid | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse your Thinking®
Ten Common Divorce Mistakes to Avoid

The financial fall-out of divorcing after 50 can pull the plug on your retirement dreams: legal fees, therapist bills and single-handedly shouldering bills you once shared can drain your savings. With a gray divorce, avoid these 10 mistakes and protect your financial future:

  • Failing to create an inventory of assets.
    Often, one partner understands the couple’s finances better than the other. This person is probably well-versed in the amount of money in their investment accounts, the value of their assets, and the amount of cash in their savings accounts, whereas the other partner isn’t. If you’re the latter, you should list all your assets before attempting to divide them. You should keep track of your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and bank accounts.
  • Holding onto the house.
    If you end up with the family home, give it some serious thought. It could be your safe haven, and staying put might seem like a better option for any children who remain at home. However, with only one person paying for upkeep, property taxes, and emergency repairs, it can be a money pit. Determine whether you can afford the mortgage and the costs of maintaining the property before deciding to stay. Also, keep in mind that property values fluctuate, so don’t assume you’ll be able to sell your home for the amount you need if cash is tight.
  • Not knowing what you owe.
    Promising “to have and to hold” can backfire. You’ll be held liable for half of your spouse’s debt in the nine states with community property laws—Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin—even if the debt isn’t in your name. You could be liable for jointly held credit cards or loans even if you live in a non-community property state. Get a full credit report for you and your spouse, so there are no surprises about who owes what.
  • Ignoring tax consequences.
    During a divorce, every financial decision you make will result in a tax bill. Is it better to get alimony in monthly installments or all at once? Is a brokerage account or a retirement plan preferable? Should I keep or sell the house? Who should be responsible for paying the mortgage until the property is sold? You may be ecstatic to learn that your soon-to-be-ex will be handing over a $100,000 investment account. Beware, that portfolio will be taxed, reducing the amount you’ll receive. Before dividing assets, consult an accountant or tax advisor to determine what makes the most sense for your situation.
  • Forgetting about health insurance.
    There are three options: Your employer can cover you; you can sign up for your state’s health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act, or you can continue to use your ex’s existing coverage through COBRA for up to 36 months. Still, the cost is likely to be substantially more than it was before the divorce. If your spouse’s policy has covered you, you may be in for a nasty—and expensive—surprise. Especially if you divorce before Medicare kicks in at age 65. If new, separate health insurance policies threaten to break the bank, you may want to consider a legal separation to keep your ex’s health insurance but separate your other assets.
  • Rolling over your ex’s retirement account into an IRA.
    IRA laws trump the financial difficulties of divorce. If you fund your own IRA with your share of your ex’s retirement account and tap it before age 59.5, you’ll still pay the standard 10% early withdrawal penalty.
  • Get a QDRO: Protect the assets in your divorce settlement through a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), which allows you to make a one-time withdrawal from your ex’s 401(k) or 403(b) without paying the normal 10% tax, even if you’re under age 59.5.
  • Supporting your adult children.
    Your top priority, no matter how much you want to help your children, is to ensure that you have a secure retirement income.
  • Hiding assets from your spouse.
    A lot of money is at stake in a divorce. It is tempting to try to hide assets so it looks like you have less money to contribute. Doing this is not only shady, but it’s also illegal. If the assets are found, this could set you up for more legal fees and court time. Some repercussions for hiding assets from your spouse include a settlement that will give your spouse additional assets, contempt of court ruling, or fraud or perjury charges.
  • Underestimating your expenses.
    Suddenly dividing one set of household expenses into two, you may need to adjust your spending to meet your daily and monthly obligations. Consider taking a realistic look at how much money you’ll need to live on. Make sure you can cover all of your expenses after the divorce without relying on your ex-partner.
  • Thinking your divorce advisors are your friends.
    The amount you pay your divorce advisors is reducing your settlement. Keep track of the amount of money they spend on your behalf. Remember that your lawyer is a paid professional who bills you by the hour, not a generous confidante whom you can thank with a cup of coffee.

The Bottom Line

Divorce can be devastating at any age. However, with careful planning and avoiding these all-too-common mistakes, you can save yourself from financial heartbreak in the future.

Contact Mathius today for your copy of the Divorcing your Mortgage Homeowner Workbook. The guide to credit, real estate, and mortgage financing after divorce. This guide will help you get organized, be prepared, and understand your mortgage financing position. Regardless of whether you need to refinance or prepare to sell the marital home.

Gray Divorce: Double-Standards

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Gray Divorce: Double – Standards | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse your Thinking®
Growing old isn’t easy, and here’s more proof.

Except for people over 50, divorce rates in the United States are declining. Twenty years ago, only one out of every ten divorced spouses was 50 or older; today, one out of every four is. According to Jay Lebow, a Northwestern University’s Family Institute psychologist, “If late-life divorce were a disease, it would be an epidemic.” Adding this information to the already daunting double standards, some individuals may not financially recover.

What’s causing this uptick in divorces?

People have more opportunities to grow and grow apart as they live longer. The glue that holds many marriages together dissolves as the kids grow up and move out. More women are working and becoming financially independent. Some are out-earning their spouses; there is no longer a financial imperative to stay together. With changing societal norms, there is less stigma attached to ending a marriage and living alone.

Financial Fall-Out of Divorcing After 50

Divorce can be financially devastating at this age. When you’re single, the cost of living is significantly higher than when you share expenses with someone else. According to the American Academy of Actuaries, per-person costs are about 40% to 50% higher than for couples. Even more concerning is that a mid-to-late-life split can sabotage retirement plans. There’s less time to compensate for losses, pay off debt, and ride out stock market swings. You might also be nearing the end of your prime earning years. With a steady salary, it’s harder to make up for financial shortfalls.

This fall-out for women magnifies these concerns. According to U.S. government statistics, household income drops by about 25% for men and more than 40% for women after a divorce. Furthermore, as women’s life expectancies rise into the 80s, a divorced woman may find herself living much longer with much less.

The Bottom Line

Divorce can be devastating at any age. However, with careful planning, you can save yourself from financial heartbreak in the future. Next week we go over the 10 mistakes to avoid in a Gray Divorce.

Contact Mathius today for your copy of the Divorcing your Mortgage Homeowner Workbook. The guide to credit, real estate, and mortgage financing after divorce. This guide will help you get organized, be prepared, and understand your mortgage financing position. Regardless of whether you need to refinance the marital home in an Equity Buy-Out situation or prepare to sell and purchase a new home post-divorce.

Where to Turn to For Help

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Where to Turn to Help | Staying Financially Healthy | Reverse Your Thinking®

What if an older adult’s children or other family members have no idea where to turn for help when their elder loved one is suddenly in need?

Language Matters: Senior Concierge Services

For older adults, a steadfast desire to maintain independence as long as possible is completely understandable; we all want autonomy over our lives.

While women as a group are generally more amenable to help once they recognize they have a need. It’s important for all involved in their life to understand the implicit threat to independence that saying “yes” to help represents. This includes loved ones, other senior service professionals, children of elderly parents, concerned friends, etc. It opens a doorway to acknowledging one’s mortality and creating fear.

One way to lessen resistance is simply semantic. Instead of telling our client, mother, father, in-law, etc. that you’d like to bring in a caregiver or a geriatric care manager, mention a “senior concierge”. This term conjures images of polished personnel at a fine hotel, there to make their stay more pleasant.

In fact, this is what a senior concierge does, in a senior’s home environment rather than at a hotel and the trend is“growing.” Senior concierges may provide services similar to what home care agencies once called a “home health aide” or “companion”. A concierge offers non-medical assistance such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, transportation to appointments, etc., which may be just what someone like the elder with a broken wrist needs now.

The best way to find a senior concierge service in your area is to search this phrase along with your state, county or city. Here are several senior concierge services a quick search revealed.
Note: We are not endorsing any of these providers

When A Senior Needs Home Health Care

Of course, some people will probably require more direct personal care than a senior concierge provides. This is when a home health agency is likely to be the best next step.

There is a huge range of agencies available, from national service providers to local services based in your community. A home care agency will screen, hire, bond/insure, and pay the salary of the employee if necessary. Alternatively, you can hire someone directly via a digital bulletin board such as Craig’s List. However, you’ll be responsible for all aspects of hiring, employing, and potentially replacing the caregiver.

A family can also search via the National Asssomeone’sfor Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) Agency Locator. This is a comprehensive database that will pull up information germane to someone’s specific needs. The family can also indicate whether the provider is licensed, Medicare certified, an NAHC member, etc. FYI: In most cases, ongoing care that doesn’t involve skilled nursing (i.e., “custodial care”) is not covered by Medicare. This is one the areas in which a reverse mortgage could prove very helpful.

A Shoulder to Cry On

What if the family is committing to managing their loved one’s care on their own, and could use some support from people who understand what they’re going through?

Family Caregiver Alliance is one excellent, virtual support network. The first community-based nonprofit organization to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. As a public voice for caregivers, FCA “shines light on the challenges caregivers face daily and champions their cause through education, services, and advocacy.”

A family can also visit the Health and Human Services website for their area. The site will list a category such as Aging and Adult Services and may specifically offer caregiver support. At the very least, they should be able to make a knowledgeable referral to a caregiver support group within your community. Your local senior center is also a good point of contact to find a caregiver support group.

One other good clearing-house for information is Helping Hands. In our connected age, there is no reason for anyone to feel isolated and burdened by not knowing how to get help for their elder loved one.

Originally appeared 8/7/2018 | Reposted 10/6/2020