What To Do If Your Parents Are Broke

Written By:
Haley Sacks
(aka Mrs. Dow Jones)

We're diving deep into the emotional and financial complexities of supporting struggling parents. The delicate balance between providing assistance and safeguarding your own financial goals can be challenging, especially when faced with the stark reality that a significant portion of our aging population has limited retirement savings.

1. Review Their Cash Flow or Have the Talk

Just like anyone facing financial strain, the first step is to review their cash flow. Suggest practical ways they can downsize, from considering a smaller home and more economical vehicles to relocating to an area with a lower cost of living and reduced taxes. Additionally, ensure their insurance policies are up to date, and encourage them to have a will and healthcare proxy in place.

2. See What Benefits They Qualify For

Many local, state, and federal assistance programs exist to support aging individuals. Here's a quick screenshot-worthy list:

  • HUD public housing
  • Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Mortgage and reverse mortgage assistance
  • Home energy and weatherization assistance grants
  • Phone bill assistance
  • USDA housing repair programs
  • Tax credits for the elderly or disabled
  • Property tax assistance
  • Medicaid
  • Food assistance like Meals on Wheels
  • Prefunded debit cards for groceries

3. Watch Out For Scams

Scams disproportionately target older Americans. Be vigilant; tech-support scams are prevalent, with the elderly being five times more likely to fall victim. Set clear boundaries to protect them and their hard-earned money.

4. Set a Limit

It's crucial to set boundaries on the type and extent of support you're willing to provide. While helping with groceries is one thing, co-signing loans or becoming their medical bill pay may jeopardize your own financial goals. Establishing limits ensures you're helping without compromising your financial well-being.