BOSTON (CBS) – Asking mom about her money and how much she has may be a tricky conversation. She may think you are after her money!

Almost 50% of elderly single females receiving Social Security benefits rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. The average Social Security benefit is just over $1,300 a month.

In addition, over 10 million seniors are at risk of going hungry every day. And I see this first hand every week when I work at our local food pantry, Loaves & Fishes in Devens. We help feed many seniors who can’t survive on their Social Security check.

Women outlive men on an average of five or more years. And often as widow, a woman’s standard of living changes. There is now only one Social Security check coming in.

Does your mom have enough money to maintain her current lifestyle? Has time eroded her nest egg? Did dad have a pension? Did it go away when he died?

Help her do a net worth statement. What has she got and how is it owned? Then help her create a budget. Write down all of her income; Social Security, pensions, retirement plan withdrawals.  Then help her figure out where she is spending her money each month. Review the bills and checking account with her.

Is she using the shopping channels as entertainment? Check for unopened shipping boxes in the garage. Do you need to return these for her? Is she making donations to charities that solicit by mail? Is she giving money to your brother to cover his gambling debts? Is she using her credit cards to supplement her income?

How much debt does she have? Average household debt for those over age 65 increased as has bankruptcy filings. Seniors make up the fastest growing segment of the population seeking bankruptcy protection.

If mom is in debt what resources does she have to reverse this situation? What is she willing to do to change the situation? And would meeting with a Credit Counselor help?

According to the Federal Reserve’s latest numbers, one third (32%) of retirees (age 65-74) still have mortgages on their primary residences


You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.


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