7 Ways to Help Your Parents Save Money

by Meg Favreau on 21 March 2014 (3 comments)

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It can be difficult to have financial conversations with your parents as they get older. Maybe your family never really talked about money, or maybe your parents don’t want to discuss their financial life because they feel like they’d be giving up part of their independence. Whatever the reason, it can make talking about money — and offering financial help — difficult.

One thing that can make offering assistance easier is helping in ways that don’t involve giving your parents money, housing, or other big things they might feel uncomfortable accepting. From helping them find discounts to offering technical assistance, here are seven easy ways you can help your parents save money.

1. Educate Them About Financial Scams

Many scammers target senior citizens — and older people can have a difficult time recognizing scams, even if they aren’t suffering from dementia. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, there are several scams that target the elderly, from fake work-at-home training to scammers claiming to be grandchildren in trouble.

Educate your parents about the different types of financial scams out there — the government’s Stop Fraud website has some great resources. And let your parents know that they can always come to you if they’re unsure whether something is real or not — even if the person who might be scamming them specifically tells them not to talk to anyone else.

2. Review Their Service Contracts With Them

There are a few reasons to look over your parents’ internet, cell phone, and TV service contracts with them. First of all, they might be on expensive plans that provide more than they need, but not realize it. Look over their usage, and see if they can get by with a less-expensive plan. Secondly, many service providers offer senior discounts. For example, in Seattle, cable providers like Comcast and WAVE offer $5 discounts to qualified seniors. Lastly, if your parents are on an Internet or cable plan that used to have an introductory price but is now more expensive, encourage them to call and ask if there are any discounts currently available. Just asking can usually get you back onto promotional pricing.

3. Look for Ways to Reduce Expenses

If your parents aren’t sure about what expenses they can cut back on, and they don’t have a budget, help them set one up. Mint is one of my favorite budgeting and expense monitoring tools — it automatically pulls in financial information from different financial accounts and tracks spending, so your parents can easily see where their money is going and where they can cut back.

There are many ways your parents can reduce expenses without making any sacrifices. For example, if your parents enjoy calling their grandchildren regularly, consider using Skype. We are all familiar with Skype’s free software, which allows you to talk to other Skype users for free. But Skype also offers an option called Skype Credit, which allows you to call any landline or mobile phone around the world at very low rates (see rate information here). The best part about Skype Credit is that there are no long term contracts. You can fill up Skype Credit in $10 increments, so your parents only have to pay for the minutes they need, instead of paying for a flat amount of minutes they might not use. This flexibility is great for older people on a fixed income.

4. Offer to Help Them Sell Possessions They Aren’t Using

If your parents live in a house cluttered with things they no longer use, offer to help them sell the items. Have a yard sale together, or help them list items on eBay. You can even offer to do something special with the money you both earn, like taking a small trip together.

5. Make Sure They’re Getting All of the Benefits They Can

There are many resources available to senior citizens, and they go beyond just Social Security and Medicare. A great place to start looking for additional benefits is BenefitsCheckUp.org. Run by the National Council on Aging, this site helps seniors (and their families) discover benefit programs they might not have known about for food assistance, health care, and more.

6. Make Sure They’re Utilizing All the Discounts They Can

There are several discounts for senior citizens, available everywhere from grocery stores to movie theaters. Help your parents research additional opportunities they might not be aware of, and make sure they’re signed up for AARP. Membership comes with benefits, information, and a bevy of discounts on everything from Kindle book purchases to travel to craft stores.

7. Help Them With Technology

Providing tech support to your parents can be a frustrating experience. But think of it this way — the few minutes that it takes you to help set up your parents’ printer could save them a $50 trip to the Geek Squad. If you don’t live near your parents, you can still help them out by sharing screens over Skype, which allows you to view their computer screen and collaborate, so you can easily help them with things like running virus protection or installing new software without trying to explain it to them over the phone.

What are your favorite ways to help your parents save money?

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Guest's picture

Interesting ways to help your aging parents with money! These are great ways to help your parents manage their finances and trim expenses as they get older. Helping them with technology and teaching them how to use mobile apps can cut the amount of time your parents spend trying to buy or find an item. Your parents have done a lot for you in the past and now you have the opportunity to help them!

Guest's picture

I'm not so sure about AARP. AARP earns more income from selling insurance to members than it does from membership dues. I am eligible for membership, but after weighing the benefits compared to the discounts I might take advantage of, membership is not worth the $16/year price to me.

Guest's picture

Bring them over to your own house every week for a decent meal. Or, if they are well off, go to their house. Either you or them will save money, and you will never regret it after they are gone.