Help for Older Americans With Money Struggles
The free EconomicCheckUp site has saved individuals thousands
Here’s a depressing statistic from the National Council on Aging (NCOA): Nationally, one in three Americans age 60 or older is economically insecure. That means there are more than 23 million people 60+ who are living at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
And here’s another: Nearly half of Americans 60 and older (49 percent) are very concerned about whether their savings and income will be sufficient to last for the rest of their lives, according to the just-released United States of Aging Survey from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the NCOA, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today.
What’s worse, but perhaps not surprising, is that low-income people who are 60+ (those with annual household income below $15,000) are even less confident about their financial future. A striking 53 percent of them are concerned they’ll run out of money according to the United States of Aging Survey.
(To see how you compare to those who answered the survey, take this quiz.)
The EconomicCheckUp Site
Numbers like these are why I want to tell you about an excellent free site for older, financially insecure Americans. It’s called EconomicCheckUp and was launched by the NCOA earlier this year.
(MORE: Help for Low-Income Americans Over 60)
The free site is divided into four areas: Finding Work, Cutting Spending, Reducing Debt and Using Home Equity.
Users answer some simple questions and then learn about benefits that can save them money; ways to cut expenses and how to develop a plan to achieve greater economic security. The site incorporates NCOA’s BenefitsCheckUp, a free online screening tool guiding users to more than 2,000 public and private programs for low-income people.
Saving $3,000 on Average
“We’ve found that individuals using EconomicCheckup, on average, receive $3,000 worth of recommendations to free up their annual budget,” said Ramsey Alwin, Vice President, Economic Security for the NCOA, the nation’s leading nonprofit service and advocacy organization for older adults.
(MORE: 2 New Reverse Mortgage Rules for Couples)
I wrote about EconomicCheckUp when the site first went live, but it’s been improved in a few ways since then.
“We’ve held focus groups for usability and have made several enhancements for more user-friendly navigation and to better customize the resources that are recommended to individuals,” said Alwin.
How the Site Has Been Improved
It’s now easier to find job training through the site and the personalized money-saving recommendations have become more localized. “You can now find local information about service providers you can meet with face-to-face, if possible,” Alwin noted.
(MORE: How You Can Combat the Senior Hunger Crisis)
Each area of the site has articles, calculators and links to resources.
“We want to be sure seniors are enrolled in tax-relief and abatement programs to ease their property-tax burden,” said Alwin, “and to make sure they have the best information for the most affordable health insurance options and for utility-assistance programs.”
If you think you or your parents could use a hand, I strongly encourage checking out EconomicCheckUp.