Who doesn’t want to save money these days? Every year, it seems like expenses get bigger while paychecks stay the same – or even get smaller. And being frugal is especially important if you’re responsible for an older adult. In the U.S. alone, 30% of caregivers spend more than $10,000 each year on caregiving expenses. About 46% spend over $5,000 a year, and 21% don’t even know how much they spend![1. “Nearly Half of Family Caregivers Spend Over $5,000 Per Year on Caregiving Costs,” September 15, 2014, https://www.caring.com/about/news-room/costs-of-caregiving-2014]
But with costs being so high and incomes that are fixed or low, how do you keep more money in your pocket – and your loved one’s? Many people would tell you to give up life’s little luxuries, like that specialty coffee you get every morning. But there are better ways to save – and save more. These practical and effective tips for caregivers will help you cut down on costs and boost your savings.
Cut Prescription Costs
One of the biggest expenses for older adults is medication, so be sure to shop around for the best deal. Besides always asking for free samples at the doctor’s office (you are doing this, right?), not all pharmacies charge the same for prescriptions. A quick look into sites like Goodrx.com will show what pharmacies in your area charge for various prescriptions. And don’t forget to discuss the possibility of generics with your loved one’s physician. You can also call the manufacturer to see if they have any assistance programs. Taking even one of these steps could potentially save you or your loved one hundreds of dollars a month.
Check Your Benefits
Before shelling out more than you have to for goods or services, check on benefits that you or your loved one may have. For example, veterans and their spouses may qualify for government assistance regarding entitlement checks and housing[2. “Elderly Veterans,” https://www.benefits.va.gov/persona/veteran-elderly.asp]. The same goes for Medicaid if your loved one is below a certain income threshold. Your community may also have programs and resources such as Meals on Wheels or free or low-cost buses if transportation is an issue.
It’s also possible that your workplace offers benefits such as the ability to use sick days or vacation days for caregiving responsibilities. Some employers even offer dependent care assistance programs, which allow employees to pay for certain expenses using pre-tax dollars.
Protect Your Earning Ability
Many people don’t realize it, but one of the most surefire ways to put money in your pocket and keep it there is to protect your earning ability. Too often, caregivers neglect their own needs to take care of their loved ones. These needs include getting enough rest, exercise, good nutrition, and going to the doctor when necessary. Ignoring your wellness will end up costing you more in the long run. And if you must take unpaid leave, sick days, or even lose your job, you’ll soon find yourself without resources to take care of your loved one.
Get Your Loved One’s Financial House in Order
A good way to protect your loved one’s financial interests is simply to plan ahead. Both you and they can save a bundle on potential medical costs and legal fees by filling out documents such as advanced directives and powers of attorney. Keeping careful records of their finances — by balancing their checkbook every month, for example — can also help protect them from suspicious activity that may indicate financial abuse.
Follow Our Tips for Caregivers to Save Big Bucks
Don’t stress over tips for caregivers that only show you how to pinch pennies here and there. By focusing on bigger financial issues, saving money becomes not only less stressful but more productive as well. And who knows what you could do with all that extra cash? You might put aside funds for the future, invest in better care for your loved one, or just treat yourself — after all the work you did to be thrifty, you deserve it.
If you’re unsure how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.