Online budgeting for seniors is smart move

The Savage Truth

If the very word “fintech” makes you flinch, you're not alone.

A 2016 Federal Reserve study found that only 18 percent of people over the age of 60 use mobile banking services (vs. 67 percent between the ages of 18 to 29, and 58 percent ages 30 to 44). In fact, only about half of Americans over 65 own a smartphone or tablet, according to a 2014 Pew Research study.

It's never too late to start learning to use smartphone technology. The immediate incentive is to learn texting so your children and grandchildren will stay in touch. You don't have to give up your friendly flip-phone right away. Just ask your adult children for a smartphone with its own number on their family plan, along with a lesson in texting and Skype or FaceTime.

Your smartphone offers you the convenience of controlling your life as you move about your day. If you don't have adult children nearby to teach you, contact your local senior center because many offer courses. Apple has free seminars in its stores.

Here are three steps to start using smartphone technology to manage important parts of your life. You may want to start learning the basics on your home computer, then you can graduate to using your smartphone to track your money, your meds and your life.

Online bill payment and account information: Stop writing paper checks and start using online bill payment.

You can use your home computer and also download your bank's app to your smartphone. Use official banking apps from your financial institution's website or through Apple's App Store. Most financial institutions have a link to a page with their official app where it's described and can be downloaded, Nerdwallet points out.

Security should be of paramount concern. With public Wi-Fi, you can't be certain who sees what you send online, unless each page you visit is encrypted, NerdWallet cautions. If you have to log in away from home, consider using your cellular data plan instead of Wi-Fi, or a virtual private network.

However you choose to log in, check for Web page encryption by making sure the address on the browser starts with “https.” The “s” signals that the page is secure.

Medical matters: If you're age 65, at www.Medicare.gov you can search for the best Medicare supplement plan or Part D drug plan, depending on the prescriptions you take.

With the Medisafe app, you can manage your prescriptions. Learn more at www.Medisafe.com, where you'll see how this app gives you a digital reminder — a nudge so you never forget a dose.

Budgeting: From checking to categorizing spending to budgeting to tracking your investments, you can get all your finances together by going to www.Quicken.com and downloading a comprehensive personal finance program, for $39.99.

Quicken easily links up with your bank, credit card, brokerage and investment accounts to provide an up-to-the-minute look at your personal finances. It lets you create an inventory of financial assets and important documents. If you give a trusted adult child the password to your Quicken program, he or she will have access to your financial life if you are unable to act.

The Quicken program sits password-protected on your computer. But if you want instant access, use your smartphone to download the free Mint app (www.Mint.com). Mint lets you see your finances on your smartphone in real time. It will even send you text messages so you know when you are nearing your pre-set budget limits.

The greatest fear of many seniors is losing control over decisions. Smartphone technology can help you stay on top of things. And that's The Savage Truth.

Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and the author of four best-selling books, including “The Savage Truth on Money.” She responds to questions on her blog at TerrySavage.com.

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