For nearly two decades, banking online has been a popular option for busy people who couldn’t conduct transactions during a workday. Being able to check account balances anytime, without being constrained by “banker’s hours” was a huge draw. In fact, the term “banker’s hours” is often used in a pejorative sense when describing inconvenient business hours.
All the business you used to handle—face-to-face— at a bank branch or credit union can be completed online. Now you can make electronic payments, send cash, schedule transfers, or even apply for a loan from your computer or smartphone. In addition, many employers and most government agencies use direct deposit instead of issuing checks, eliminating the fear of mail theft and the inconvenience of a special trip to the bank. And, on the off chance that you do receive a paper check, you can deposit it easily from home with your bank’s built-in photo app.
Money Management for Seniors
In 2020, banking institutions experienced a sharp rise in the number of customers who switched to online banking exclusively. Baby Boomers who were once reluctant to give up the personal interaction with a teller or loan officer now had to think about more than just protecting their money. With social distancing added to our modern lexicon, many seniors embraced online banking for the very first time.
It wasn’t the technology that made them nervous, but security issues that gave them cause for concern. Many seniors live on a fixed income from pensions, social security, and retirement savings plans. A finite amount of money has to last, and they need to know that it is safe from scammers or hackers. As a result, banks go to extraordinary lengths to protect assets and personal data using frequently updated encryption technology. Encryption technology protects your data by converting it to an encoded format. (In other words, recreating your data with a highly sophisticated secret code that can only be interpreted by your bank’s software.)
Money management for seniors gets much easier when you check account balances, pay bills, transfer funds, or send cash to your favorite grandkids, all from one dashboard. Imagine sitting down in front of your computer to check account balances and pay all your bills with a few clicks, no more filling out addresses or licking stamps. If you know what you owe each month, then you can set up recurring payments that will automatically debit the amount from your account without you having even to log on.
There are other ways to stretch your dollars, too, like exploring refinancing options for mortgage or car payments. You can even start an application while you’re thinking about it. Most of the recognizable bank brands even offer an online look at your real-time credit score. Knowing your current credit score can help you make better and more informed purchasing choices.
Helping Seniors with Finances
There often comes a time when your senior parents can no longer handle their finances on their own. For whatever reason, they have become temporarily or permanently incapacitated by dementia, blindness, or arthritis so severe that they can no longer sign their name on a check. This can be stressful for a loved one when they realize they can no longer perform certain tasks.
It’s hard for them to ask for help, and it can feel like a terrible intrusion if you offer. Be sensitive because giving away even partial control of your finances can feel like a terrible loss of independence. Maybe agree to make the transition over a period of time. Start with making sure that your loved one is capable of safeguarding their online security. Can they keep up with their bills? If not, offer to sit down with them once a month to pay bills together, so they don’t feel shut out of the process.
If you don’t live close by, make sure your parent knows how to set up or at least join a Zoom meeting. That way, you can share screens to look at the bank statements and make decisions together. And don’t worry if your mom, dad, or grandparents have never used Zoom before. They can log on to My HealthAngel.com for free live events teaching the ins and outs of using Zoom for more than boring business meetings. In addition, Tech Hours are available when your senior relative can get answers to any of their technology questions.
Best Banks for Older Adults
Several banks offer special accounts for seniors that contain enhanced perks and benefits, like high-interest yields. Check out the requirements and features of some of these accounts that cater to senior customers:
US Bank: waives monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements for customers over 65. Offers debit cards, online bill pay, and free mobile check deposit
Ally: A relatively new Internet-only bank that requires no minimum opening deposit or minimum monthly balance. Also, they don’t charge monthly fees, ATM usage fees, or fees for overdrafts.
BB&T: Monthly maintenance fees waiver and several online perks for senior account holders. In addition to some more traditional offerings, BB&T is also 100% online. They allow you one penalty-free early CD withdrawal for a documented medical emergency.
The bottom line is that the best banks for older adults are the ones that they are familiar with. If you’re happy with your current financial institution, then, by all means, stay with them. Just take advantage of all the online services that they offer. And if you’re still a little leery about the technology of online banking, there’s help. Most banks offer online tutorials to help you learn how to use their platforms.
And you can always check out the events calendar at MyHealthAngel.com to participate in the Tech Hours hosted every month. The free events are live so that you can ask any questions about technology in general or get specific instructions regarding how to get the most out of online banking.
Paying Bills for Older Adults
The day may come when your elderly relative or friend can no longer handle paying bills on their own. This can be a very emotional time for you both, so if you can plan ahead, do it. Setting up a trust where one trusted agent makes the payments for all necessary living arrangements can help take the pressure off of both of you. Joint accounts are okay, but remember your assets are on the line here too.