The Gray Dollar: Where Can Older People Find Financial Advice?

Knowing where to turn to for advice is one of the most valuable assets to have as you get older. Financial advice, in particular, can become more and more important. You need to know how to manage your money as you approach retirement age and need to start considering things such as a possible need for care when you’re older. Older adults can sometimes assume they know all there is to know about a few things, thanks to all their life experience. While you likely have more knowledge and experience than someone twenty years your junior, it doesn’t mean you’re an expert in everything. Financial advice is one thing you should always be willing to seek, even if it’s your area of expertise. There are plenty of ways you can get the advice and support you need to manage your finances well.

Read Online Resources

Many older adults are now adept at using a computer and making use of online resources. Soon, it’s likely that pretty much everyone will be completely comfortable finding whatever they need online. The internet offers a huge number of resources to make your financial planning easier, and plenty of them are free. From blogs like Diversified Finances to free information from banks and financial institutions, you can find a lot of ways to learn and even get personalized advice. If you don’t like reading, there are always videos to watch and other materials that can benefit you. You can even download some things or access them on mobile devices to take them on the move.

Find the Best Books

Things might be a lot more digital than they used to be, but books are still highly relevant in many areas of life. As well as giving us enjoyment, they can teach a lot about financial education and planning. And now you can have your books in digital format, instead of just as physical paper books. There are so many books giving financial advice, many of which are specifically for topics relevant to older adults like retirement planning or paying for care needs. Some of the best retirement planning books include titles like ‘The Five Years Before You Retire’ by Emily Guy Birken and ‘The New Rules of Retirement’ by Robert C. Carlson.

Attend Free Workshops

If you prefer to learn from someone in person, a workshop that can teach you some valuable skills and knowledge could be a good idea. You can often find free or inexpensive events to attend that can help you out. The Hal Hammond Foundation for Financial Education is one of the organizations that put on these types of workshops, often in community spaces like the Roser Community Church. You can have the opportunity to learn from a financial expert without having to pay professional prices for the advice you receive. Workshops can be a great chance to start putting things into practice and to talk to other people who are in similar situations to you.

Talk to Your Bank

Banks will sometimes have financial advisors who will speak to you free of charge as part of their customer service to you. Of course, they might be aiming to sell you certain products when offering you advice, but it’s in their interest to treat you well and steer you in the right direction. They can help you do the things that any financial advisor might offer advice with, from going over your past and current finances to making recommendations for how you can prepare for the future. You can take note of any products they recommend to you, but you don’t have to feel like it’s essential to buy them.

Speak to Younger Generations

A surprising way that you might learn about managing your finances is to speak to younger people. It’s easy not to notice how much things have changed over the years, and what you might think is still relevant advice, could actually be out of date. Speaking to younger people can sometimes help you realize the realities of managing your money in the modern world. If you have children or even adult grandchildren, they might have some useful advice they can give you about how to protect and grow your money and assets. It might give you a new perspective on your finances.

Pay for Financial Guidance

As well as getting free advice from a financial advisor at your bank, you can pay for someone to give you independent advice. While spending money to sort out your finances might seem nonsensical, it’s often worth spending a little money if it’s going to help you save more and make sound investments. A professional financial advisor can speak to you about your goals and help you work out what decisions are best to improve your financial health.

Approach Charities and Resources for Older Adults

You can also discover that there are charities and nonprofit organizations set up specifically to help older people with their finances and other aspects of their lives. For example, AARP helps people aged 50 or older and has some useful financial resources. One of the things they offer is a service for anyone who may be unable to afford to pay someone to do their taxes. The AARP Tax-Aide helps you get your taxes done for free, so you have one less thing to worry about.

Getting Legal Advice

When you’re looking for financial advice, legal advice is also often helpful too. It can be particularly useful for older adults who might be wondering what will happen if they become ill or want to ensure they organize their finances for after their death. Speaking to a lawyer who specializes in wills and probate or looking into options like setting up a power of attorney will help you decide how you want your money to be handled if you can no longer look after your finances. Taking these steps protects you and your family.

There are plenty of places to turn to if you want legal advice on managing your finances as you get older, and many are free or low-cost. Don’t try to go it alone when you don’t have to.

Starting to Work From Home? Here’s How to Set Up Your Home Office

If you’re about to start working from your home, you definitely need to create your own home office. This will be your base for all the work that needs to be done on a day to day basis. Simply working at your dining room table with a laptop is not the answer and it won’t produce the right results for your career.

There are plenty of things you should know about before setting up your home office. It’s not as simple as you might assume at first. If you cut corners or make mistakes, it could affect your working life massively going forward. So read on to find out how you can set up your office and make it just right for you.

Find Inspiration Online

Finding the right inspiration for your home office plans is really important. The one social media platform that you need to be making use of during this process is Pinterest. It will show you all kinds of creative and interesting home office designs. Sure, some of them are much more elaborate than most people need them to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick up ideas from here, there and everywhere. There are plenty of websites that will tell you about cheap home office hacks too.

Choose Comfortable and Ergonomic Furniture

The office furniture that you choose for your home office will need to be both comfortable and ergonomic if you want it to serve you well for years to come. Sitting in a chair for a long time each day can lead to back problems if you’re not sitting on an ergonomic chair. The most important aspect of this is the back support that your chair offers. Many people working from home forget the importance of good furniture because they’re used to it just being there in the office. But buying your own means having to consider all this.

Ensure You Have a Source of Natural Light

Never underestimate the power of natural light when you’re setting up your brand new home office. That feeling you get when you’re shut away in a dark and dingy home office for the whole day can be really depressing. You don’t want to feel like you’re entirely shut off from the rest of the world. Having a bit of natural light coming into the room from a window will keep your mood more positive and prevent you from feeling too locked in, which can be a problem for many people working at home.

Make Sure it’s Private and Free of Distractions

The last thing you want when you’re trying to get work done is people interrupting you and distracting you. So make sure that your office is properly shut off from the rest of the home so that you don’t get distracted from your work every few minutes. Privacy is a big deal and it can be hard to find when you’re working from a home where other people are also living. It’s up to you to find a way around this.

Find Creative Storage Solutions

Storage is one issue many people struggle with in their home office, and in a way, it’s not hard to see why. Home offices tend to be pretty small, and that means that getting all the things you need to store into your home office can be tricky. Adding high wall shelves is one of the tricks that is really helpful because you can then put storage boxes high up there and out of the way. That’s something that you should take inspiration from and keep looking for creative storage solutions.

Organise Your Wires and Cables

Cable management is something you need to be on top of before day one. If you allow your wires and cables to get tangled and messy below and behind your desk, you will regret it when it comes to moving things around or taking an appliance out. Luckily for you, there are so many cable management tools and products out there on the market right now, so make use of them. They’re so simple to use and they make such a big difference.

Add Multiple Work Zones

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t have various working zones in your home office. Maybe you need a small area for printing and scanning and another area for your regular computer work. It’s up to you how you organise these different functions of course, but be sure not to put everything in one area if you have a whole room at your disposal. Everyone’s work is different so only you can decide which working zones you need in your home office.

Personalise the Working Area

One thing that you can’t always do very much when you’re working in a corporate office is personalise your working area. It’s important to make sure that you make that break and add some personal touches to the area in which you’re working. It makes the atmosphere in your home office more positive and applicable to you. That’s a big deal because home working is different from working in a regular office, and there’s nothing wrong with emphasising those differences.

Don’t Allow Clutter to Accumulate

Clutter can quickly get on top of you and bog down your home office when you start working from home. There are plenty of pieces of paper and documents and files that need to be stored somewhere. But they certainly shouldn’t just end up stacked on your desk looking for a home. Once that clutter starts to accumulate, it’s very hard to tackle it and get it back under control. From day one, you should make sure that this problem doesn’t develop at all.

Working from home is rarely as fun and relaxed as it sounds, but with the right planning and implementation, you can create a workable office in your home. This will help you stay focused and fulfill your career potential each and every day of the working weak. So get to work on this right away.

Making Financial Sense of a Debt Burden

According to the latest figures, household debt is on the rise. Analysts are quick to point out that US households are borrowing more today than ever before, and the latest figures for Q3 2017 reflect that household debt is up $116 billion at $12.96 trillion, for an uptick of 0.9%. The report by the Center for Microeconomic Data confirms what many households already know: the total debt balance is rising. The cyclical movements of debt over time (since Q4 2001) indicate a low of $8.29 trillion in 2004, and a high of $12.68 trillion in Q3 2008 at the height of the global financial crisis.

Since then, the policies put in place by then president Barack Obama helped to reduce overall household debt as the economy stabilized. The largest component of US debt is housing debt, accounting for around 80% throughout. However, a notable trend has been taking place since overall debt reached a nadir in Q3 2013 – credit card debt has been increasing rapidly. Consider that in Q3 2013, non-housing debt amounted to $2.85 trillion, while housing debt amounted to $8.43 trillion. Fast-forward to Q3 2017, things look markedly different. Non-housing debt is now $3.76 trillion, and housing debt is $9.19 trillion. That amounts to a total debt burden for US households of $12.95 trillion. The percentage increase in non-housing debt is notable. From 25.57% of all debt in 2004 to 26.6% of all debt in 2017. While the percentages don’t tell the full story, the increase in total non-housing debt is substantially higher today.

What is the US National Debt Burden?

Every day, the US national debt is increasing at an alarming rate. At the time that President Trump took office, the national debt was $20 trillion. Today it stands at $20.621 trillion. That amounts to a debt per citizen of $63,044, and a debt per taxpayer of $170,352. On the other side of the equation, taxpayer revenue amounts to $3.388 trillion, with a revenue per citizen of $10,360 and a revenue per taxpayer of $28,010. Clearly there is a dramatic shortfall. US household debt is adding to this burden. There are some concerns about how current economic policies will impact the overall debt burden. Presently, the Federal Reserve Bank’s FOMC has been steadily increasing interest rates. In 2017 alone, there were 3 rate hikes amounting to 0.75%. The current interest rate is now in the region of 1.25% – 1.50%. At its last meeting on January 31, 2018, the Fed decided not to hike rates, but insists that a rate hike in March is likely.

If the Fed moves to raise interest rates in March, this will add further pressure to US households currently under tremendous debt. If we break down household debt, we can see that it fits snugly into the following categories: automobile debt up 1.9%, credit card debt up 3.1%, mortgage debt up 0.6%, and student loan debt up 1%. Contrary to popular opinion, these rising levels of debt are perceived positively by economists until they become problematic. Rising debt indicates that consumers are optimistic about the economy and feel free to spend once again. Debt fueled GDP growth is not advised, but if US households are making timely repayments on their debt, this is a positive for the economy. Anytime you experience difficulty in the repayment of debt, it’s important to seek assistance in a timely fashion. For example, credit counseling services can offer valuable insights into your personal financial situation, and provide a framework for debt repayments, the creation of a budget, and the prioritization of your spending.

Follow Sage Advice for Debt Relief

On a positive note, the unemployment rate remains low at 4.1%, and consumption expenditure comprises 70% of US GDP. It’s important that rising debt levels are balanced by rising income levels. If debt becomes unbearable, it may be time to seek credit counseling advice. There are many ways to deal with credit card debts, understand different types of debt alleviation options, and manage your credit effectively. A sound financial education is imperative to help you get out of debt, and more importantly to stay out of debt. Many terms are bandied about, but an important option to consider is debt consolidation. It requires taking a loan at a lower interest rate than the prevailing credit card debt, and then paying off all existing credit card debts at one time. The simplest advice is always the best advice: cut your expenses, pay off your high interest debt, live beneath your means, and seek professional help whenever necessary.