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Inflation Is Hurting Mom's Fixed Income

 

Question

My 89-year-old mother has managed to live on Social Security for years now. She has a little savings that she and my father put away in their working years, but not a lot. She never taps into those savings, though, unless she absolutely has to. 

Mom lives in her own home, and luckily it’s paid off. There are the occasional maintenance costs.

My concern is that Mom is really going to feel the pinch with inflation so high right now. Yes, she did get a raise from Social Security for this year, but it in no way covers the increases at the grocery store and for fuel. Thankfully, the only places she drives to are the grocery store and church. 

I’m looking for ideas I can share with her to allay her fears, and really my own. I’m afraid I’m going to have to help my mother while paying for my own rising expenses. I’m even wondering about a second job for me, though helping my mom, working full time, and a second job may be just too much. Any ideas for me?

 

Answer

Inflation is on all of our minds these days, and in the news constantly. Indeed, the increased prices of groceries and fuel are quite noticeable. Frankly, just about everything has gone up materially this year, and we’re all feeling it.

For those living on Social Security, it’s very scary. Indeed, recipients received a large increase this year, at 5.9%, which I believe may have been a historical high. There’s talk about a significant increase again for 2023 that’d be even higher than that. That should help her as long as she’s not over purchasing things that are rising faster than her Social Security rate increases.

I recommend you and your mother take a close look at what she spends, and on what.  When it comes to grocery shopping, it may be time to switch to generic brands, or discount grocers. If mom isn’t a coupon or sale shopper, she may want to plan her grocery trips differently from here on out. Maybe try stores she’s never ventured to. 

Be in contact with the local Department of Aging to find out what services are available for the elderly in her area for free or at discounted rates. She may qualify for food programs or meal sites for free or at a reduced rate. 

Since your mother owns her home, she won’t be subject to rent increases. That’s good, because those are hitting hard for many, currently. As a homeowner, she has the opportunity to manage electricity and fuel use. Just a few degrees higher on cooling and lower on heating will make a difference on her bills. Of course, a well-insulated house helps the most, if she’s willing to invest in better insulation and light bulbs.

Something else to discuss is how her savings are managed or invested. Inflation has a material impact on savings by decreasing the value of the dollars saved over the years, if not invested well. I’d recommend discussing options with an independent financial planner. 

Another high-ticket item is healthcare. Assuming your mother has Medicare, explore options for drug coverage/Medicare Part D with an insurance agent. You can score more savings from some plans over others. Additionally, look at all of her Medicare options to see if she has the best plan for her.

While you look at policies, look over her car and homeowner’s policies. What does she pay? Are there better options? Would a higher deductible be a better choice?

I’ve only given you a few ways to look at expenses. There are many more ideas out there, and it does require some work. Since it’s on your mind and likely your mother’s, why not make a game of it and see how much each of you can save? Search the Internet together for ideas and write down your savings. You might get some good info, and have some fun while you’re at it.

I wish you success. With the inflation we have today, quite a few of us will be doing the same thing you are.

 

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

President & CEO

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