I was speaking with a family caregiver whose Dad is in his eighties and this is the first thing he said. Despite the significant challenges many families face with caregiving I find there is often a deep current of connection and love.
The biggest fear is loss. The cataclysmic fear is a sudden loss. Often I hear of people’s deep need to not lose time. This is one of the wonderful parts of caregiving. The meaning of life’s simple moments can increase exponentially.
So then there comes money. It’s a back burner issue when put against spending time with a loved one. It’s an annoyance and emotional burden. But the best caregivers know that watching over the finances makes all the rest easier. Mindful monitoring of money allows for easier quality time with those we love.
I would like to focus on specific financial tools that can help you spend more time with your loved one today. Let’s put aside the lofty visions or multi-year planning for a minute. Let’s focus on steps that can have immediate impact.
I encourage you to start with a question. How would you like to spend the near term visits with your loved one? What are you goals? Focusing on the next few weeks or a month will make it easier to take action.
Once you have a good idea of your goals use those borders for the below suggestions. Keep it targeted. Keep it realistic.
10 Financial Tips To Spend More Time With Dad
1. Buy Something Fun (1 hour)
Ironically enough a small activity you can do with your loved one can make an enormous shift. How is buying something a good financial tip might you ask? Well too often we use our money to meet a social pressure or ‘do what we think we should do.’
Switching your mindset to focus on purchases that bring connection and joy can go a long way. I often enjoy painting with people I love. $30 can go a long way to buy a couple cheap canvases, some paint brushes, and a set of water colors. Buy a rotating electronic picture frame and put old pictures in it. Get a muffin from your loved one’s favorite store.
I am a big fan of purchases that allow people to create things together or share an experience. The right affordable purchase can go a long way in enabling the connection you are looking for.
2. Ask For Free Help (15 min)
When someone is ill or elderly small assistance with daily tasks or meals can be a huge help. A great deal of the advice about caring for the elderly focuses on hired caregivers and social programs. These are great but they can also be cumbersome.
Pick up the phone and call a friend. Ask him or her to cook the family a meal. Ask if someone can stop by for 2 hours so you can get some errands done.
One off the things caregivers often forget is that many people around them want to help but don’t know how. There are likely several people around right now that could lend a hand. Pick up the phone and give it a shot. I bet you’ll get several people willing to help out.
And it’s free!
3. Tally Up Savings (15 min)
There’s a behavioral economics study that shows that as people rack up credit card debt they stop opening their mail. The fear is too great.
To a degree we all do versions of this. We avoid things that we fear. So I’d like to take this opportunity to get you over the hump on one of these fears. You can do it!
Take 10 minutes now and log into your savings and checking accounts. Write down on a piece of paper the total $ value of each. If your loved one has savings simply ask them how much they think is in the account. Summarize the total.
Now you know. Now you have a clear perspective on how much cash you have available to you to deal with any emergencies that may come up. You may have a few month’s worth of expenses or a few hundred dollars. Either way, now you know. Knowledge is power.
4. Call A Financial Adviser (30 min)
Ok, I know this sounds intimidating. But I guarantee you can do it in 30 minutes. I’ll show you exactly how.
First click here to access the Garrett Planning Network (network of fee only financial advisers). Put in your zip code and find an adviser that is in your area. The goal of this exercise is not to conduct a thorough review but to get past the initial hump of picking up the phone.
All financial advisers provide a free consultation. This is a great opportunity for you to simply get the feel of talking to a financial adviser. Again, there is no commitment here. You’re not paying any money. It’s simply a conversation.
Call the first number on the list. Tell them you are a new client. Ask to speak with an adviser. Pick two financial topics you are concerned about. When the person picks up ask them to describe their services. Then share your two topics with them and ask them how they would approach it.
Well done! You’ll learn a lot. I promise.
5. Plan A Vacation (2 Hours)
There’s a big difference between quality time and just time. Often getting out of the home and normal routine can add the freshness that every relationships needs. Plan a vacation with your loved one.
It doesn’t need to be long or to an expensive place. A local vacation can be just as fun and is often easier to schedule. Invite a friend who you haven’t seen for a while. Go out for a nice meal. See a show. Shake things up and create some new experiences together.
6. Pack Your Lunch For A Week (1 ½ Hours)
Often people spend $15 a day or $75 a week buying lunch and snacks at work. Take one week and pack your lunch. Save $40 – $50 and use those funds to buy your loved one a massage or pedicure. Take them to a spa for treatment.
Small efforts to cut some expenses won’t solve the overall financial picture of your loved one’s finances. However it can help create a fun adventure or relaxing activity. You’ll feel better because you’re practicing discipline with your own finances and helping someone you love along the way.
7. Ask For A Raise (1 Hour)
I know this can be a challenging and difficult discussion. Many people understandably have fear about it. But if you consider it, asking for a raise is the #1 way you can help your family’s finances. It can immediately provide you with additional income.
Outline your top 3 contributions to your team on a piece of paper. Schedule a 15 minute meeting with your boss. When you walk in sit down and say “I would like to speak with you about the potential for a raise. I feel that I have contributing significant value with (list three contributions.”
If they say no, ask them: “What steps can I take over the next 3 to 6 months to deliver significant value to the team that would make me a strong candidate for raise. I would like to check in in 3 months on the topic again.”
Mock the discussion out with a friend before if you’re particularly nervous. Good job!
8. Set Up A Grandchild’s College Fund (3 Hours)
Work with your Dad or loved one and set up a college fund for a grandchild, niece / nephew or other junior member of the family. It can provide a great sense of meaning for your loved one to contribute to future generations. This can also be healing for you as well.
Look at Joe Hurley’s overview on 529 plans here. Here is an overview of how to choose the best 529 plan. Many banks can help you set up a college 529 plan quickly. Take a trip to the bank and set up the next generation!
9. Pay For A Home Health Aid (Several Hours)
Home health aids assist with activities of daily living like showering, bathing and eating. If you’re currently taking on some of these responsibilities consider getting someone a couple hours a day that can help out.
Your ability to share quality time with your mother or loved one is tied to how emotionally aware and connected you both are. Sometimes momentary help with physically taxing activities can enable you both to be in a better more available state for each other.
10. Ask For Help From The Family (1 Hour)
Families have always been the first insurance company. When crises come up families step in to provide emotional support and financial assistance where they can. If there’s one thing I see over and over it’s a lack of open discussions in families about finances.
If you have a close Aunt or sibling pick up the phone and share your concerns. Tell them where you think your loved one is financially struggling. Share with them what you can do and some of the limits to how much you can help. You don’t need to ask them to do anything. Just starting the dialogue can go a long way.
May 28, 2015
By: JP Adams