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How to Pay for Senior Care

How to Pay for Senior Care

The cost of senior care is prohibitive for many older Americans. Nursing home care or a stay in an assisted living facility has become necessary for maintaining their medical needs and quality of life. But they’re unable to afford the cost of such expensive facilities. To ensure financial assistance in your senior years, proper planning is essential. There are various resources seniors can use to help defray the expenses of senior care.

Medicare Benefits 

Medicare is usually available for short-term stays in nursing homes and transitional care facilities. Medicare benefits have a time limit; it is designed to provide temporary assistance until you’re able to get back on your feet and back in your own home. However, they can be useful in providing the necessary interim financing, until other options are available.

Medicaid 

For seniors with restricted income and few assets, Medicaid is the ideal option for paying nursing homes, home care or other forms of assisted living. Medicaid is also available for individuals who have income or assets that exceed the limits. This additional income has to be sent to a trust that is dedicated specifically to their personal care. You may want to consult a Medicaid expert in your state to find out more about your eligibility.

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Veterans Programs

If you or your spouse served as a member of the armed forces, there are resources in place that can help provide for the later days of your life. Some veterans benefits, like the Aid & Attendance Housebound benefits, come with a higher asset and income limit than many other programs. Contacting your local Veterans Office is the best way to get started on this journey, as the people there will be able to help you get the information you need. If you are aware that benefits due to you are being denied, be persistent in making calls till you find the answers you seek.

Non-Medicaid Government Assistance 

Many states offer their own non-Medicaid assistance to help seniors pay for their nursing home care. These programs may include managed long-term care waivers, assisted living programs, and many more. Other programs provide in-home assistance to elderly individuals who are hoping to live in their own homes for as long as possible. Still others provide specific care for those with dementia, like Alzheimer’s patients.

Non-Profit Assistance 

There are many non-profit programs that offer assistance in paying for the medical care of individuals who need nursing homes or assisted living care. Non-profit nursing homes usually offer paid care on a sliding scale based on income and asset ratios.

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Private Health Insurance 

Most private health insurance plans don’t automatically include the cost of long-term medical care. With careful forethought and planning, however, you can acquire a rider for your policy that will help cover the cost of nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The key to this type of insurance is to take the policy well before you really need it.

Life Insurance 

When you take out a life insurance policy, you usually intend to use it to help cover those final expenses that you don’t want to burden your loved ones with. Some life insurance policies, however, come with an Accelerated Death Benefits rider that can be used before you die. Choosing a policy that will pay out either: A) a portion of your death benefits or, B) the full amount of the policy, will allow you to use those funds to offset the cost of long-term care.

Annuities 

Annuities are a great source of income during those senior days. Even better, you can sometimes withdraw money tax-free from the annuity to help pay for long-term care. There are several types of annuities, and in general, the holder of the annuity can choose to make a single payment or a series of payments to the insurance company.

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Long-Term Care Insurance 

This very specific type of insurance is designed to pay for long-term care as you get older. This coverage can be purchased as a separate LTCI policy or be added as a rider on your existing life insurance policy. The earlier you add this rider to your insurance policy, the less expensive it will be. But, not all LTCI policies are created equal, so be sure to check out all the fine print to ensure that the plan fits your needs.

Bridge Loans 

Bridge loans are designed to provide one lump sum immediately when you need it. As a long-term care payment option, bridge loans are only efficient if you anticipate a large source of income — for example, the sale of your home, to cover the cost in the near future.

Reverse Mortgage 

A reverse mortgage allows you to draw money out of your house value without having to sell it outright. This is a great way to pay for short-term care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. This method also allows you to continue to draw on that money long-term, giving you a source of income throughout the rest of your life.

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Private Payment 

Private payment for senior living choices like a quality nursing home is the best option for many individuals. It allows you to choose your nursing home based on your needs rather than leaving it to the mercy of programs like Medicare, Medicaid, or any other organization.

No one really wants to think about the need for long-term care, either for themselves or for a loved one. Unfortunately, as life expectancy increases, the need for long-term care goes up along with it. Planning wisely for future medical needs is a critical part of ensuring that both you and your loved one are well cared for, when that time eventually arrives.

Featured photo credit: huffingtonpost.com via i.huffpost.com

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

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Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

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