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Though you may not even think about it, your mother is aging just as you are aging. At this point in her advancing years, she may begin to need more and more help – not only with the household chores but with her finances as well. Before you gently offer your assistance, be sure to note the signs that she needs your help.
Here are some telltale indications that her finances may be slightly off.
The Mail is Piling Up
Keep your eyes open for her kitchen and/or her mail area. Do you see piles of correspondence from mortgage and other credit card companies stacked up? How about other mail from the Social Security, utility companies and other notices; are there other envelopes that seem to look like bills? Piles and piles of important yet unpaid bills – utilities, credit card bills, Social Security – are telltale signs that something is wrong.
As mother is growing older, the fact is that arranging bills and paying them in a timely way may become overwhelming work, especially when there is a fixed income and her thought processes are slowing down.
Your Forgetful Mom is Mishandling Money
Have you had an incident when you go out for dinner and your mom opens her wallet to pay for the meal only to realize she doesn’t have enough money? Do you notice unopened correspondence from pension funds, checks that are not deposited or Social Security funds hiding underneath piles of unopened mail that your mother needs to work on?
These can be a sign that she is not working on her personal financial matters. She may be increasingly forgetful about the daily things she needs to do or she may be physically tired from keeping up with the daily chores and responsibilities.
Creditors are Persistent
It’s easy to uncover if creditors are contacting your mom. Simply check her call logs or phone bill. These calls from creditors will be easy to spot because the numbers will be unfamiliar to you both. You can also look for repeated phone calls from these credit card companies or even her household help (such as gardeners and housecleaners) who are asking for their wages.
When it comes to credit cards, help her do a credit check since she possibly won’t realize the importance of doing so or may have simply forgotten how to do it.
Your Mom Has New Purchases and Hobbies
There is nothing wrong with having new hobbies or new purchases, but when there seems to be too many, then there may be something wrong. Take a look around the house and see whether there are new appliances, furniture, TVs, art , etc. Maybe your mom has even been travelling a lot lately; more than the usual?
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Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of these unless it’s been a sudden splurge. This could be a telltale sign that your mom needs help with her finances. Keep in mind that at some point, preparing your budget may also involve helping your mom with hers.
Your Mom Is Gambling More Often
Have you noticed your mom going to the casinos more often or playing the lottery all the time; seemingly gambling away what little money she has left? There’s really nothing wrong if this is done occasionally, but when you see a significant increase in a short period of time, you may need to talk to your mom about her financial situation. Help your mom face any problems she may be having with uncontrolled, out-of-character spending.
You Become Aware That Your Mom has Fallen Victim to Financial Scams
Do you see and hear your mom falling victim to financial scams? Or have you heard her mention any get-rich quick investments?
Older people are very vulnerable to this since they tend to be very trusting. Your mom may be especially vulnerable to this since, as she gets older, because she welcomes the attention and/or may be a little bit lonely.
This is also a sign that your mother needs help with her finances.
Your Mom Complains About Not Having Enough Money
When your mother complains about not having enough money to pay for the utility bills, you should sit down and talk with her. You need to determine what the problem really is and help her with her finances to make sure she stays on track.