For over 50 years, my parents have had the same bank. My parents are people who are extremely good with money. They worked hard for it and spend it very frugally. Regardless, their money is now causing them headaches.
They grew up in the Great Depression, so being wise with money is something my parents have always done. My daddy worked as a barber for 50 years and mama fixed up every house they lived in and they were able to sell those homes at a substantial profit. Now in their 80s, my parents have enough money to live comfortably. That doesn’t mean their money buys them any comfort. The world has experienced enormous change with most folks using a computer to keep track of their funds. My parents do not compute!
Even my first savings account came with a little book that the bank teller wrote in each time I deposited or withdrew money. I think those little books are now obsolete. Almost everyone keeps track of money with a computer.
Bank statements have gotten harder to understand, especially when it comes to multiple accounts and credit cards. My parents don’t use a traditional credit card. When they use their card it comes straight out of the checking account. That’s basically a good thing until something gets ordered over the phone.
Struggling with Change
My mother loves a good newspaper. Over the years she has off and on ordered one of the most regarded newspapers in our country. Up until the last six months this worked out fine. The cost of the subscription came out of her account automatically. When she got too busy working in her yard or taking care of daddy while he’s sick, she didn’t have time to read it so she would cancel it. They were always good about dropping the charges or reimbursing her for a discontinued subscription — until now. It seems this paper is using an outside source to handle the billing services.
Last year my daddy went through a lot of illnesses so mama asked me to cancel her newspaper subscription. So in November, it was cancelled. However, in February, that paper started coming again and the charges came straight out of her account. Meanwhile, the bank they use transferred credit card services to another company. Getting her money back for something she did not order again has become a big headache. She’s just a little bit paranoid about the whole affair. She’s now convinced that the new card services can take money out of her account anytime they feel like it.
It’s fortunate that my parents have me on all their accounts. I can usually take care of problems myself just using the phone or my computer but I can’t convince my mama that this new problem with the newspaper will go away. She thinks it just a harbinger of things to come.
Aging and the Burden of Financial Management
Older folks who have always been good with money can have financial problems in their later years. There are people who are experts at convincing older seniors to buy their products, or even help someone in need. Seniors are getting scammed at an alarming rate. I’m very glad to say these fraudulent people have not affected my parents. However, one phone thief almost had them going.
A while back, someone called them identifying himself as my son, their grandson. He pleaded with them to send him some money over the phone to get him out of trouble. This guy had all the answers. He knew my son’s name and where he lived. He knew exactly how to tell my daddy how to send him the money. Daddy listened but he didn’t fall for it. Daddy called me as soon as he hung up. I reassured him that Travis was fine and this guy was a thief. Many in our area did fall for it and were bilked out of lots of money.
My advice to all of you who have older parents is to keep an eye on their accounts. A trusted family member needs to be on their accounts so they can take care of problems that may arise. Let’s face it. Many people in this world don’t treat older people with the respect they deserve. If your folks are like mine and are hard of hearing, this brings more problems to the picture. Being hard of hearing does not mean they are stupid, but many younger people seem to think just that. It puts our folks at a greater risk.
Now even the television can entice our elders to order items over the phone and not all of these companies are reputable. Even if they are, older people can rack up a lot of debt ordering things from the television. Friends of mine had to step in when their own mother had spent so much she could no longer afford her rent! Her five grown girls bailed her out and made her promise not to watch the shopping channels any more. It was an expensive lesson for everyone. Don’t let this happen to your loved one. Open up the lines of communication about money with them. Let them know they can come to you when they have a problem. If you see a lot of packages coming to them in the mail, don’t be a chicken. Ask them what’s going on. Be kind and respectful but make them aware it could bring them financial stress.