Ready to Go At A Moment’s Notice

Recently one of my clients was unexpectedly hospitalized, and it reminded me that emergencies come in all kinds of packages. Whether a kitchen fire, an earthquake, or a trip to the emergency room, here are a few practical ways to be ready at a moment’s notice:

  1. An Emergency Plan. During the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989, phone lines were down and busy for days after the event. Develop an evacuation plan and establish a meeting place.
  2. Emergency Phone Numbers. Designate a family member or friend outside the area to act as a communication hub. I live in California, and my dad (who lives in Washington) is our designated point person. In the event that phone, internet and cell service is interrupted, everyone knows who to call for updates.
  3. Copies of Important Records. Photocopying and backing-up important information is always a good idea in case a hard drive crashes or other technical events. Store copies or originals (e.g. birth or marriage certificates) at an offsite location like in a fireproof safe deposit box. Photocopy the contents of your wallet too in case it gets lost, stolen or misplaced. Have a list of medications and doctor contact data on hand for unexpected emergency room visits or hospitalization.
  4. Review Insurance Coverage. Make sure you have enough coverage by checking your homeowner or renter’s policy, auto and business-related insurance. Know what’s covered, what’s not, and your deductible amounts. This will reduce some of the anxiety and headache when filing a claim. You may save money too by regularly reviewing your policy and taking advantage of discounts (e.g., no tickets or accidents).
  5. Survival Kit. Dust off that Y2K kit, and make sure you have supplies ready like a battery-operated radio, flashlights, medications, water, and first-aid supplies. For a complete list of supplies, visit http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit or http://72hours.org to make sure you’re prepared for the unexpected. Or if you prefer something in book form, Paul Purcell’s Disaster Prep 101: The Ultimate Guide to Emergency Readiness is the most comprehensive guide to disaster preparation I’ve ever seen.

Want help in creating a “Grab ‘n Go Box” that includes important financial papers for your family’s emergency plan? Then schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Fiscally Fit, Inc. Email me at Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call (650) 965-4090 for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment.

Love and Money: Mixing Romance & Your Money

When you get married, you typically talk through things about personal values, career goals, raising kids, and your overall financial dreams. Things can get sticky if you have different attitudes or habits in managing your money. Living together and/or marriage is a romantic relationship (hopefully) but it’s also a financial partnership. Being faithful applies to many areas of your life together. In addition to the obvious, there’s running a household, paying bills, and saving for short- and long-term goals.

Your Money Attitude. It’s amazing what we learn as children about money, and it affects how we manage and respect it throughout our adulthood. For many of us, money is a scorecard; it’s tied to our self-worth, social standing and feeling of security. Are you compelled to spend every dollar in your wallet? Do you feel reluctant to spend money or have to find the best deal even if it means driving across town? A critical aspect of love and money is knowing your attitude, as well as that of your partner, is an important first step.

Working Together. Often one person in the relationship manages the bills. I suggest that couples talk about their expectations and who will take responsibility for specific money-related chores. Maybe one person is more comfortable with online bill pay and downloading updates into Quicken, but it’s important that both parties are kept up-to-date and involved in decision making. A good friend of mine abdicated control of his finances to his wife, and she hid her shopping addiction. Fast forward several years to a nasty divorce, he’s now responsible for half of the $70,000 of the credit debt she accumulated before leaving the relationship. Talking about finances during weekly meetings help keeps everyone in the loop and on track. Limit these discussions to 30 minutes so they are short, sweet and on topic.

Financial Therapy. If you can’t find middle ground, maybe you need financial therapy. As a daily money manager, I know many of the psychological triggers related to managing money. Avoidance typically compounds the problem, and outright confrontation can damage the relationship. Find ways to communicate clearly and respectfully. If you can’t, seek outside help.

Want help in talking with your sweetie about love and money? Then schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Fiscally Fit, Inc. Email me at Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call (650) 965-4090 for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment.

10 Signs A Senior Needs Assistance (6 thru 10)

Last week I shared the first 5 warning signs indicating the need for senior assistance. Here’s the second installment of what to look for the next time you visit an aging loved one. Many older adults worry about staying in their home; concerned about losing their independence or leaving their home, they try to hide issues or problem areas from their friends and family.

To help you identify if your senior loved one needs assistance, be on the lookout for these warning signs:

Sign #6: Signs of Injury. Bruises and scratches could be evidence of falls. Seniors who’ve fallen are at greater risk for repeat falls leading to more serious injuries. To the contrary, many seniors may be taking blood thinning medications that make bruises appear worse than they really are. If in doubt, consult a physician.

Sign #7: Disorientation. Confusion about time of day or difficulty navigating their surroundings away from home can be a telltale sign that senior assistance is needed. On an outing such as shopping or at a restaurant, observe if they can walk alone and how they adjust to new situations. Often the elderly function fine at home, but physical or mental challenges are more apparent in less familiar settings. The same holds especially true for driving.

Sign # 8: Community. Neighbors, friends or those who work for the person in your care may notice changes in behavior. Maybe they go out less than usual, or not at all. Perhaps papers and mail are stacking up. Check in with others to see what they have observed and compare notes.

Sign #9: Finances. Bills routinely left unopened or unpaid indicate serious issues. Setting up some simple systems may address this concern, but disarray could be a sign of cognitive decline or depression.

Sign #10: Predators. Older seniors, especially those living alone, are more vulnerable to con artists. Falling victim to disreputable individuals who befriend or scam the elderly may indicate a senior’s judgment is failing. Be on the lookout for unnecessary or frequent purchases (e.g., catalog or home shopping networks). If you suspect elder abuse, check out the National Center on Elder Abuse at: http://www.ncea.aoa.gov

If you think senior assistance is needed for your loved one, paying bills, organizing important papers, and reconciling accounts, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with Fiscally Fit, Inc. Email me at Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call (650) 965-4090 for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment.

10 Signs A Senior Needs Assistance (1 thru 5)

In my practice, I have the privilege of helping seniors while they remain in their home. Whether organizing important papers, paying their bills or managing in-home caregiver payroll, my clients’ number one concern is staying independent. Many seniors worry about staying in their home, and have become masters of denial or deception.

To help you identify the need for senior assistance, here the first 5 (out of 10) signs to look for:

Sign #1: Hygiene. Poor grooming or unmet basic self-care needs (bathing, clean clothes). Often these are early signs that someone is in declining health.

Sign #2: Nutrition. Unexplained weight loss is a sign of poor nutrition. Look for spoiled or inadequate food hinting a senior isn’t cooking or eating well.

Sign # 3: Housework. A home that’s dirtier or more cluttered than usual; piles of laundry or dishes may suggest something is awry. Hiring a housekeeper can help, but a poorly maintained house points to physical decline or depression.

Sign #4: Health. Maybe there’s just a general sense that something isn’t quite right, such as persistent fatigue or lack of interest in general. Follow your instincts and make a doctor’s appointment. Whenever possible, attend the appointment with the senior so you can offer information or hear the diagnosis/next steps.

Sign #5: Medications. Lots of unused pills in the cupboard – or confusion about how, why or when medications should be taken – are danger signs for senior assistance. Managing meds can take some initial set up (such as a pill box), but the need for reminders on a daily basis could mean bigger issues.

Next week I’ll post the last five warning signs alerting the need for senior assistance. Or, if you know a senior loved one needs help with paying bills, organizing important papers, and reconciling accounts, schedule a free 30-minute consultation. Email me at Alison@fiscallyfit.us or call (650) 965-4090 for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment.