8 Tools to Help Seniors Manage Their Finances
Even if you’ve managed your whole life to stay on top of your finances, your financial situation will start to look different after retirement. Managing your finances as a senior can quickly become more complicated than you expected, and you could find yourself struggling to stay on top of bills and stick to a monthly budget.
If you’re having a hard time, you’re not alone. One in three senior households are either out of money completely or in debt after paying all the bills each month.
Finances are a hard topic to talk about, but there’s no shame in recognizing that your current system for financial management isn’t working. Luckily, there are a number of tools available that can make the process much easier for you moving forward:
While being able to link your financial accounts to an app or website can make tracking your expenses and bills easier, the idea of handing that information over may make you uncomfortable (which is totally reasonable). If you don’t mind the trade off of doing extra work in exchange for more security, Budgetpulse provides a lot of the same features and functionality as some of the other sites, but lets you import the information from your financial accounts manually.
It helps you create a budget and track your spending each month, and you can share savings goals you’ve set in the tool with close friends and family members who may be willing to contribute (in lieu of gifts, for instance).
Budget Simple is a free online budgeting tool. You can either link your accounts or enter your financial information manually, and the tool will produce a budget planner that helps you better understand your spending habits now, identify areas where you can start saving more, and keep up with your spending and saving goals moving forward. While what it offers is similar to some of the other tools on this list, its intuitive interface and simple budgeting advice may make it a better fit than the others for some readers.
Provided by the National Council on Aging, Economic Checkup provides a customized set of resources based on some basic information you provide. They offer calculators to help you create a budget, plan your retirement spending and find ways to cut spending. They also help point you toward any government resources you may qualify for to help you increase your income in retirement or save on some of your main expenses.
If figuring out your budget and resources makes you realize you could actually really benefit from a few more years of work, the website also provides resources to help you develop the skills you need for a job and to find employment.
Mint has become one of the most popular tools available for personal financial management because it’s easy to use and provides a lot of the functionality you could possibly need to stay on top of your finances. It’s an app and website that you can hook up to your financial accounts so it tracks your spending and status automatically and helps you create and stick to a budget based on your personal habits and priorities.
Part of what’s hard about managing your finances is that it requires paying attention to so many different accounts and bills and trying to remember them all, Mint brings them all into one place for you so you only ever have to log in there to manage everything. You can also set up alerts so you get a message any time a bill is close to due or your funds are low, even if you don’t think to log in.
As an added bonus at a time when there’s news every month about some new security breach, you can also check your credit score easily through Mint and get alerted about particularly large charges that might be signs of identity theft.
If the financial health of your retirement years is tied directly to your investment accounts, then it’s worth spending some time staying on top of your investments. Personal Capital helps you track the earnings and losses on your various investment accounts all in one place, see the various fees you’re paying that you might otherwise fail to notice, and notice sooner rather than later if your investments aren’t at the level you want them to be.
Some of these apps might do more than you think you need. If what you could really use is an easy way to figure out whether you’ve already spent too much this month or not, PocketGuard is a useful tool. As with Mint, you can connect it to all your main financial accounts, so it automatically tracks how much you’ve spent or need to spend soon each month so it can give you a snapshot of how much you have “in your pocket” – or available to spend for fun.
The app also helps you find offers that can bring down the amount you pay in your monthly bills. It offers an intuitive interface that shouldn’t be too hard for most seniors to figure out how to navigate, if you’re reasonably comfortable on a mobile device.
Prism is another intuitive app to help you track your bills each month, pay them all on time and make sure you don’t overspend today because you forgot about one coming up next week. You can pay your bills through the app, rather than having to log into your different accounts.
While Prism offers a service that you can find within some of the other apps, its focus on one main aspect of financial management means it has a simple design that could make it easier for you to use for this purpose than some of the others.
You Need a Budget is the only tool on here that requires payment to use, but it has enough enthusiastic users to merit inclusion here. For a little over $4 a month (after the free trial), you gain access to a budgeting tool that automatically tracks your spending and makes it easy for you to set and track financial goals. It’s designed less to help you stay on top of your spending (although it helps with that) than to challenge you to achieve your financial goals and provide the encouragement and resources you need to do that.
In addition to the tool itself, You Need a Budget provides classes, podcasts and videos to provide you even more information and help in reaching your goals. If you have debt to pay down or want to commit to saving more during your retirement years, spending a few bucks a month on this app could make a big difference.
Seniors hear a lot about physical health, but your financial health is important to stay on top of too.
If you can maintain a budget and keep your savings healthy well into your retirement years, you’ll be in a better place when it comes time to consider senior living options. Money isn’t everything, but managing the money you have well can improve your life considerably in the years to come.