Amy Goyer: Tina Rodriguez: Claiming your mother as a dependent won't affect her Medicaid eligibility. But claiming her as a dependent is complicated. Be sure to work with a tax professional to determine if your situation qualifies for the IRS rules around claiming an older parent as a dependent. This article outlines the things that have to be true in order for you to claim her.
What options, other than family or friends, are available to serve as a money manager or power of attorney?
— from Jo Ellen Skelley-Walley
Jean Chatzky: Hi, Jo Ellen, I just wrote a column for AARP The Magazine on this as well (maybe Amy Goyer can post?). Meanwhile, there is a whole association of people called daily money managers (the group is called the American Association of Daily Money Managers) and they are people you can hire to pay bills and take on other day-to-day money management tasks. As far as giving someone power of attorney, you can also look to people in your life who are fiduciaries (bound to act in your best interest) like attorneys and accountants. Good luck!
Jean Glenn: Great question. We don't have children so don't know what our elder years will look like as far as who will make sure we're cared for if need be.
Amy Goyer: This article Jean Chatzky wrote is also helpful on this topic of money management if you or your loved one can't do so.
Amy Goyer: Jean Glenn, indeed! See the article I posted on “solo agers” that Jean wrote recently!
Jo Ellen Skelley-Walley: Jean Chatzky, thank you.
What financial advice can you give the sandwich generation that is struggling in caring for their parents as well as their own kids, but are still hoping they can save some money for their own retirement?
— from Amy Goyer
Jean Chatzky: It is a very difficult tightrope to walk, that's for sure. When we think about the three competing priorities — college for our kids, retirement for ourselves, and our older parents’ needs, two of the three have wiggle room. There is financial aid for college. Our own retirements can be pushed down the line. But our parents, when they need help and no longer have income-producing abilities of their own, often can't wait. This is why I think the best thing we can do for ourselves is — as far in advance as possible — try to gauge what those upcoming needs from our parents are likely to be. If we are looking at a scenario where they seem to be spending down too quickly, get them some financial advice sooner rather than later to buy them a few more years of liquidity. Then play with the other legs of the stool. Approach financial aid for your college-age kids as a job, encouraging them not only to apply to their dream schools but schools that will be so grateful to have them that they'll increase the merit aid. Do as much as you can to keep contributing to your own retirement and make sure that you're using all of the resources that exist, like benefitscheckup.org and those AARP provides, to keep your head above water.
Amy Goyer: Lots of great info in AARP's “Money” section of the website, including many of Jean Chatzky's columns!
What type of financial resources/opportunities are there for full-time family caregivers that have to leave the workforce to attend to their loved ones?
— from Amy Goyer
Jean Chatzky: There are more legit work-from-home opportunities than I've ever seen before. I'm not talking about the envelope-stuffing variety, but becoming — for example — a part-time virtual assistant, or working on a sales team but from your home base. At HerMoney.com we have a number of stories on side gigs and other at-home opportunities, and my friends at ThePennyHoarder.com often write about these things as well. We both have (free) newsletters that you can subscribe to to stay up to date.
Amy Goyer: And here's a great article from the AARP Caregiving site with more info about leave policies, flexible work options, etc. Remember that caregivers who leave the workplace for caregiving stand to lose on average about $300,000 in benefits and wages — so it's a big decision to leave work. Sometimes flexible options like part-time, flex schedules, telecommuting or taking leave, etc., can be helpful.
What advice could you give a caregiver, so they aren't crippled financially with the burden of taking care of a loved one?
— from Amy Goyer
Jean Chatzky: First, look at the available support resources from your state, the government and your community. Start again with benefitscheckup.org. If the person was a military service member, make sure you are accessing all veterans benefits as well. And talk to someone (on the actual phone, if not in person) about what is available from your local agency on aging and other resources. Second, even when you are the primary caregiver, there are often other family members who — because they are not being asked to do the day-to-day caring — are willing to step in and offer monetary support. They may need to be asked, but you should not shy away from asking. And then asking again.
Amy Goyer: Always a good idea to determine if you can get paid for providing care to your loved ones, too!
Amy Goyer: How can a former caregiver begin to recover financially from the burden of caregiving?
Jean Chatzky: Step by step. Start by figuring out (a) where you are now and (b) where you want to go. Did caregiving put a crimp in your retirement savings, for instance, and if so, how many years did it set you back? Had you set goals for yourself that you are now unsure you'll be able to achieve? There are two levers that you can pull on when it comes to bumping up your rate of accumulating assets for retirement — saving more and spending less (actually there are three, but I wouldn't suggest the third — taking more risk in your investments). Give both of those levers a good look. Would downsizing sooner rather than later allow you to save more and recover the ground you lost? Would working an additional year or two do the trick? I think this is an excellent time to sit down with a financial adviser and map out a plan. If you don't have one, you may be able to access one for free through the administrator of your work-based retirement plan. Or you can find one through NAPFA.org, or the Financial Planning Association.
Amy Goyer: This is the phase I'm going through right now, and caregiving for my parents and sister has been financially crippling for me, too. I'll be meeting with my financial planner for sure!
Amy Goyer: Looks like our time is up for today! Thank you so much, Jean Chatzky, for joining us in the group today and sharing your financial expertise! Your knowledge can really make a big difference for so many people. Group members: This thread will remain in the group as an announcement so it's easy to find if you want to go back to it or for those who weren't with us live today. Let me know if you had a burning question that wasn't answered — either by doing a new post or by messaging me — and I'll be sure you get a reply. Have a great day, everyone!
Jean Chatzky: Thanks, Amy Goyer and AARP, for having me! And thanks to everyone who submitted questions! Have a great rest of the day!