Archive for Elderly Financial Issues

Man running away with suitcase of money image on www.BudgetProfessional.comThe IRS deals with so many different tax scams every year, they make a list of the worst offenders and call it “The Dirty Dozen”.

First Scam Alert of the Year is Phishing

Today the IRS issued the first of what will be many scam warnings this year.

Taxpayers need to watch out for fake emails or websites trying to steal your personal information. These “phishing” schemes continue to be bad enough they’ve made the scam list for the 2015 filing season.

Compiled annually, the “Dirty Dozen” lists a variety of common scams that taxpayers may encounter anytime, but many of these schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their returns or find people to help with their taxes.

Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution for the criminals behind them, but not before you may lose significant assets, or worse.

“The IRS won’t send you an email about a bill or refund out of the blue. Don’t click on one claiming to be from the IRS that takes you by surprise,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “I urge taxpayers to be wary of clicking on strange emails and websites. They may be scams to steal your personal information.”

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a scam typically carried out with the help of unsolicited email or a fake website that poses as a legitimate site. The site is designed to lure in potential victims and prompt them to provide valuable personal and financial information. Armed with this information, a criminal can commit identity theft or financial theft.

Recent scams have used the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to attract potential victims.

The IRS Will Not Email You

It is important to know the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text message, or social media to request personal or financial information.

The IRS will not ask for PIN numbers, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards, bank accounts, savings accounts, etc.

If you receive an unsolicited email claiming to be from the IRS that contains a request for personal information, taxes associated with a large investment, inheritance, or lottery:

  1. Don’t reply.
  2. Don’t open any attachments. They can contain malicious code that may infect your computer or mobile phone.
  3. Don’t click on any links.
  4. Forward the email as-is to the IRS at  phishing@irs.gov  Don’t forward scanned images because this removes valuable information.
  5. Delete the original email.

Report Bogus Websites Here

If you discover a website on the Internet that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus:

  1. Send the URL of the suspicious site to  phishing@irs.gov  (Subject: ‘Suspicious Website’)

Report Bogus Text Message Here

If you receive a text message claiming to be from the IRS or an organization closely linked to the IRS:

  1. Don’t reply.
  2. Don’t open any attachments. They can contain mal-ware that may infect your computer or mobile phone.
  3. Don’t click on any links.
  4. Forward the text as-is, to the IRS at 202-552-1226. Note: Standard text messaging rates apply.
  5. If possible, in a separate text, forward the originating number to the IRS at 202-552-1226
  6. Delete the original text

Report You’ve Been Scammed

If you’ve been scammed or lost any money due to an IRS-related incident, report it to the Treasury Inspector General Administration (TIGTA) and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

 

Have you ever been the victim of an IRS or other financial scam?

Have you ever  received a phone call where the caller tried to get personal financial info from you, such as a Social Security or bank account number? 

Do you have a tax question? Send me an email and ask!
I’ll try to include your question and my answer in an upcoming Q&A Newsletter article

What Is Your Question?

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Jan
18

Big Changes for Medical Expenses

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The tax law has changed when it comes to deducting Medical Expenses

Stethoscope_The_Budget_ProfessionalIf you itemize deductions on Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions, new rules may affect your medical expense deduction. The new rules raise the threshold that unreimbursed medical and dental expenses you paid for yourself, your spouse, and your dependents must reach before a deduction is allowed.

Most people who itemize deductions on Sch A can claim deductions for unreimbursed medical expenses.  These are medical expenses not covered by health insurance, paid by an employer, or paid by any other source. Medical expenses must exceed 10 percent (10%) of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to be deductible. Previously, the law permitted deductions for unreimbursed expenses only in excess of 7.5% of AGI.

How does the math work?

Example:  Jane is 32 years old. Jane’s 2013 Form 1040 shows an AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) of $50,000.  10% of $50,000 is $5,000. During the year, Jane paid $6,000 out of pocket for doctor and clinic co-pays, eye glasses, contact lens, chiropractor, and prescriptions. Jane can only deduct medical expenses that exceed the 10% threshold of $5000. Jane’s total 2013 medical expense deduction is $1000. (6000 – 5000 = 1000)

Example: Carl is 28, and his Form 1040 shows an AGI of $32,000.  10% of $32,000 = $3200.  Carl’s medical bills for the year total $1000.  Carl cannot claim a tax deduction for medical expenses.  His expenses do not go over the 10% threshold.

Temporary exemption for taxpayers age 65 and older

Congress decided not to fleece our senior citizens on this one, at least not for a few years. This new tax law does not apply if you are age 65 or older.  There is a temporary exemption for individuals age 65 and older until Dec. 31, 2016. If you are 65 years or older, you may continue to deduct total medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income through 2016. If you are married and only one of you is age 65 or older, you may still deduct total medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

This exemption is temporary. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, the 10% threshold will apply to all taxpayers, including those over 65.

What records should I keep for each medical expense?

For each medical expense, you should keep a record of:

  • The name and address of each medical care provider you paid
  • The date of each payment
  • The amount of each payment

You should also keep a statement or itemized invoice showing the following:

  • A description of the medical care received
  • Who received the care
  • The nature and purpose of the medical expenses

Note: Taxpayers often overlook the deduction for mileage as it relates to medical care. You can deduct 24 cents a mile for every mile you drove your car for medical reasons. This includes mileage to and from the doctor, the hospital, the clinic, therapy, Weight Watchers **, etc. Keep a written mileage log to verify this deduction.

Note: Same-sex married couples are recognized as married for federal tax purposes. You are considered married if you were lawfully married in a state or foreign country whose laws authorize the marriage of two individuals of the same sex – even if the state or foreign country where you live now does not recognize same-sex marriage. (17 down, 33 to go)

** If your doctor has diagnosed you for a specific disease, such as obesity, hypertension, or heart disease, fees you pay for membership in a weight reduction group as well as fees for attendance at periodic meetings are considered medical expenses.

 

For more information, see 
IRS Pub 502 "Medical and Dental Expenses"

 

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Mr. BudgetPro celebrated his 55th birthday last week. I’m a younger 50-something myself (which is why all you young 20 & 30 year old whippersnappers should listen to me. I’ve been there, done it, done it wrong, know how to do it right)

Retirement saving is front and center in my plans these days, and it’s time we got really serious about evaluating what we have and what we will need. If it turns out we’re short – how do we fix it?

I’ve been self-employed more in the last 30 years than I’ve been an employee. I made a choice many years ago to leave a very good job to work for myself, and I’m wondering if I did the right thing.

I find myself asking questions

• Has being self-employed hurt me when it comes to retirement?
• Would I have been better off to be an employee, banking a 401K with matching contributions and automatic payroll deductions that went straight to savings?
• Would I own more “stuff” if I had relied on a regular paycheck? (stuff = assets)
• Due to my age, has the timing of this recession hurt me more?

It turns out I’m not the only one asking questions

In Dec 2012 an SBA government study was done that examined the retirement savings decisions of small business owners over age 50. Particular attention was paid to how badly the recession might have hurt those retirement savings.

Overall, the study found that small business owners over the age of 50 are significantly less likely than employees to have pension or 401K retirement plans. At the same time, small business owners tend to have significantly greater IRA & Keogh plan savings than employees.

  • Makes sense. People are using the savings vehicles available to them, depending on circumstance.

The study also found that being an employee or being self-employed didn’t really make a difference when it came to how much was saved and how the money was invested.

People, being people, act basically the same when it comes to their retirement money. There was very little difference between the retirement savings habits of a self-employed small business owner and an employee.

  • Think about that one for a minute. We exhibit herd mentality when it comes to our retirement and our money. Wonder if anyone will ever use that knowledge against us?

The report had a few more interesting findings:

The over-50 small business owner had greater financial knowledge than an employee.

  • It’s all those monthly P&L’s, bookkeeping ledgers, and tax returns we self-employed have to immerse ourselves in!

Older small business owners thought about retirement LESS frequently than employees

  •  Could that be because there are no savings to think about? What do your retirement accounts look like? Do you save regularly by paying yourself first?

And, the kicker and take away from the study is, the small business owner has a significantly later expected retirement age than an employee. The small business owner may be LESS likely to retire at all. Small business owners in 2010 reported they would retire, on average, at age 72.6. The expected retirement age of an employee? 68.4.

  • In the end, it’s all about the money. How much thought do you give your retirement savings? Do you make regular contributions to an established account? When you retire, will you be able to continue living in the manner to which you have become accustomed?

 

Small Business Research Summary
"Retirement, Recessions, Older Small Business Owners" 
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May
22

Roy: 74, Bankrupt, & It Isn’t His Debt

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Gavel in CourtRoy’s birthday is next week, and instead of spending the day with a fishing pole and a camp chair on the creek bank, he’ll be in federal bankruptcy court. The day of his hearing, Roy will drive two hours from his home into the city, alone.

Roy really doesn’t understand all the fine print on the paperwork, or the lawyer-speak. Roy really doesn’t have a clue how he hit financial rock bottom so quickly after the death of his wife.

What Roy does understand is that in order to keep his home, he must declare bankruptcy and stop any action that could be taken against him on a recent court judgment.

Roy and June were married 55 years. Roy did not handle the finances in the marriage. June did. June passed away after a very short illness, and suddenly Roy was on his own when it came to his money and the bills. If you ask him, Roy can’t tell you the name of his insurance agent.

Gene, Roy’s son, had been helping his mother balance her checking account at times during the previous year. Gene had on-line access to the account, and after having his name added, it was easy for Gene to step in and start paying the bills for his father.  Roy lucked out there.

What Gene wasn’t prepared for was the large stack of paper he found in the old desk in his parent’s living room. Past due credit card bills, collection notices, letters from lawyers, past-due medical bills – there was a lot to sort through,and it took Gene days.

The final picture that emerged was not pretty. Roy owed approximately $20,000 in non-secured debt, in addition to his home mortgage. Of the $20,000 in non-secured debt, $1500 were medical bills in Roy’s name. The remaining debt did not belong to Roy, but it was in his name – and he was getting sued for most of it.

June had taken out credit cards in Roy’s name and given them to her son, Tom, with a promise from Tom that he’d pay the bills. Tom quickly maxed out the cards – and left his mother holding the bag. Tom’s wife bought a bunch of new appliances, and bought Roy a chair, all on credit. When she didn’t pay, they came after Roy for the $5000 balance because his name was on the contract.  That turned out to be an expensive chair.

It was the judgment, recently entered against Roy for the furniture bill, that landed Roy in federal bankruptcy court.

At 74, Roy’s credit is ruined for the rest of his life. The bankruptcy could also affect his insurance rates, and the mortgage loan that is due to balloon in 3 years. Roy is paying an interest only mortgage payment now. He can’t afford for his mortgage interest rate to go up.

Roy filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which means all of the non-secured debt will be wiped out. He won’t have to pay the debt back, and none of the creditors can take any judgment enforcement action against him, such as levying his checking account or putting a lien on his house.  In the overall scheme of things, $20,000 is not enough to declare bankruptcy over.  In Roy’s case, however, he’s elderly and on a fixed income.  If his checking account is garnisheed, he’ll starve.

Roy really doesn’t understand any of this, because he never played an active role in his finances. Gene, of course, blames himself. He should have made it his business to know, he thinks. Maybe he could have stopped things from getting to this point, he thinks – if he only knew.

 

  • Are you actively involved in your parent’s finances, or the finances of a elderly relative?
  • Do you know if your parents have loaned money to anyone or given anyone their credit cards? What kind of financial hit would they take if they lost that money?
  • Do you owe your parents money? What would happen to them if you couldn’t pay them back?
  • If you’re married or in a significant relationship, who pays the bills?
  • How involved are you in your finances?
  • Do you know the name of your insurance agent?

 

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Nov
12

A Death In The Family

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White Dove in FlightTwo weeks ago, my mother-in-law passed away very unexpectedly.  She left a surviving spouse, four children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.  She did not leave any life insurance.  She did not have any sort of pre-paid burial plan in place, nor were any funeral arrangements made in advance.

When a death occurs in a family, the living are busy grieving.  On top of the emotional hit that happens, there are many things to do when it comes to a funeral.  We had people coming in from out of town and out of state to stay here for most of the week, others stopping by as they were coming and going.  In addition to shopping for extra groceries, we were also shopping for new clothes to wear to the service.  For almost a week, daily trips were made “home” and back, driving more than an hour each way.  A lot of stress was added to the grief.

Take a minute, right now, to stop and think about your own situation.  What is in store for your loved ones when faced with your demise?  It could happen tomorrow, you know – or six months from now.  Or six years.  Or 60 years.  There is only one thing absolute in life, and that is death.  You never know when it is going to happen – and that’s the rub.  You just don’t know.

When death happens, when your family is grieving, do you want your loved ones to suddenly have to deal with a lot of decisions concerning your death and funeral?  There are medical decisions to be made, legal decisions, financial decisions, plus many more.  Do you want family members arguing about what casket to choose, what music to play, or what pictures should be selected for the video memorial?  Do you want your loved ones to make your funeral arrangements based on what may or may not be in their bank account, or yours?  Do you want to leave your loved ones struggling emotionally and financially over what kind of service they want to give you vs. what they can really afford?

Death is a necessary part of financial planning.  You should treat life insurance as a mandatory expense, as mandatory as your car insurance, or your homeowners policy.  There are situations where life insurance may not be a viable or affordable choice, and there are alternatives.  Pre-paid funeral plans are available through just about every mortician or funeral home.  Buy a plan now and have it in place for the future – it doesn’t matter if you are 26 or 76.  Do it now.

A funeral home here in my village has a pre-paid program that allows you to make all of your funeral arrangements in advance.  You decide what kind of ceremony to have, whether there will be a casket and what color, what kind of vault, and does that vault need a name plate, what kind of flowers, the type of music, what kind of printed funeral programs, how many pall bearers, whether there should be a family car – there is a long list of decisions when it comes to a funeral. Prices are locked in at the time you make the arrangements.  The funeral home will present you with a price quote and a contract.  You can pay in full or set up a payment plan.  Payment plans are normally set up through a third party (usually a bank), who collects the money in trust and forwards it to the funeral home.  Everything is arranged and paid for in advance.  When the time comes, your family will be dealing with the only thing they should have to deal with at your passing – their grief.

Most funeral homes will also work with you if life insurance is pending when death occurs.  When my grandmother passed away twenty years ago, she had all of her funeral arrangements in place, down to her dress.  She had made a partial payment when she set up the arrangements years before, and she had life insurance.  The funeral took place, and a month later when the life insurance paid out, the balance due was paid.  If you do have life insurance that will be used for your funeral, you still need make your own funeral arrangements.  Don’t leave that kind of stress to your family.  It’s going to be all they can do to handle the loss of you.

Can your survivors survive the sudden financial burden of a funeral?  A few years ago, a grandfather died in our family.  We soon found out that his life insurance policy had been cashed in a few years before, and there was no pre-paid funeral plan or funeral arrangements made in advance.  It fell to a few of the grandkids to pay for his funeral.  At the time, we were able to write a check for our portion – but can your family do the same?  Can your family afford to be saddled with a bank or finance company loan and a monthly payment that will be due 30 days after your death and continue for 2 to 5 years?

None of us want to leave our loved ones with these type of circumstances.  Pick up the phone, get quotes on a term life insurance policy, and set that up to automatically pay through your bank account or a credit card.  Check into pre-paid funeral plans, check the history and reputation of the company, make those plans, and pay that bill while you are living.  Do it today, and do it for your family.

You must prepare for the only absolute in life you can count on:  your death.

 

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Oct
15

Get Your Free Obama Phone!

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The Obama Lady 

The political ads and graphics are everywhere:  TV, newspaper, YouTube, Facebook, email – we’re inundated 24/7 with political advertising, and most of it isn’t very nice.  One of the not-so-nice videos I’ve seen floating around Facebook via YouTube is “The Obama Lady”.

The video is of a woman, jumping around and waving a poster board sign in a reporter’s face, all the while ranting about her “Free Obama Phone”.  In 2008, an email with the same script made the rounds, but four years down the road, technology has moved the email to video.  “The Obama Lady” video is tasteless, with the intent to convince the public that their tax dollars are going to give free cell phones, courtesy of President Obama, to every disadvantaged person in Cleveland, and, in turn, the entire country.  It’s an effort to embarrass and disenfranchise the poor among us, and generate anger toward the current White House Administration.

Lifeline Phone ServiceA few things in the video ARE true.

The government does give out “free” phones.  They’ve been doing it for almost 30 years, based on a Congressional mandate that ensures communication is available to all Americans.

In 1985, a program named “Lifeline” was started that gave discounted phone service to the poor, the elderly, disabled veterans, and the sick.  “Lifeline” was there so that if someone needed to call 911 due to an emergency, or make an appointment with their doctor, or call and check on a job application because they were unemployed and trying to find work, they could.  If Grandma fell and broke her hip, she had a phone to call for an ambulance, even when her Social Security check didn’t reach far enough each month to cover the phone bill.  The program started by furnishing land-line service, and expanded in 2005 to include limited, pre-paid cell phone service.

Do You Need a Hand-Up, Not A Hand-out?

The “Lifeline” program is available in every state, but it doesn’t come without rules and regulations.  Since its beginning, the program has required that anyone participating must have an income at or below the poverty line or participate in one of the following low-income assistance programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Food Stamps or SNAP
  • SSI
  • Section 8 Housing
  • Low-income energy assistance
  • Free school lunch program
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Head Start
  • State assistance programs (if applicable)

There are other rules, too.  Only one Lifeline phone is allowed per household.  The household can have a land line or a cell phone, but not both.  The program doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles – this is basic and limited phone service.  The cell phone service is pre-paid with a limited number of minutes, and the land line is limited in service.  You’ve got to reconfirm eligibility on an annual basis in order to remain in the program.

Are You Eligible?  Is Grandma? 

If you’re interested in the Lifeline program, start by calling your phone company.  Over 2,000 phone companies across the country provide discounted phone service through Lifeline.  You can find a list of companies by state here:

Lifeline Support Companies By State

You can also use the Lifeline Pre-Screening Tool and check eligibility status.  It takes about 15 minutes:

Lifeline Pre-Screening Tool

 

Learn more about Lifeline here:

USAC – What Is Lifeline?

Lifeline Program for Low-Income Consumers

Lifeline Public Service Announcements 

 

Who Pays for Lifeline?

The phone companies contribute a percentage of their revenues to the Universal Service Fund (USF).  Your phone service provider may charge you a service charge called “Universal Service” if they try to recoup part of the cost of the program from customers.  The USF is administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Universal Service Administration (USAC), which pays for the discounted Lifeline phone service out of the fund.

The USF is also responsible for other communication programs.  In addition to Lifeline, the fund also makes discounts available to schools and libraries for telecommunication services, Internet access, and information services.  Rural health care providers, through the fund, have the capability to link to city hospitals and medical centers, giving rural America access to medical services they wouldn’t normally have available.

Find out more about the USF and FCC here:

FCC Consumer Guide

 

 

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Oct
04

Free One-on-One Financial Planning Help

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Financial Planning Day What is Financial Planning?

What financial goals would you like to obtain?  What’s on your “Wish List” when it comes to money?

Do you want to buy a home?  Do you own your home, but dream about a vacation home in the mountains or a weekend home at the lake?

Do the kids want to go to Disney World next summer, but you’re not sure you can afford a local pool pass for the season?

Are you able to save today for college for the kids, or have you put that off until tomorrow? Tomorrow is already here, you know.

What about your retirement – how many retirement accounts do you have, and do you regularly fund those to the max?  Is your retirement diversified, or do you have all of your eggs in one basket?  Can you retire without Social Security and live in the manner to which you are now accustomed?  Have you thought about retirement very much, or is that something you’re going to do “tomorrow”?

Financial planning is a must, no matter who you are or what your circumstances are.  What is your financial plan right now?  What strategy do you have in place – right now – that will allow you to retire financially independent?  Do you know where to start to make your financial dreams your reality?  Do you know how to make your dreams your reality?  Are you lost when it comes to implementing changes to your money situation?

We all have money dreams, but most of us aren’t smart enough to know how to make our dreams come true.  We don’t have the time to do the research we need in order to know where to invest, or how, or how much.  We don’t know what goal to tackle first.  We aren’t sure of the quickest way to the goal line.  We’re lost when it comes to the math.  We need help.  During the month of October 2012, personal, one-on-one help is available in many cities across the country.

Financial Planning Days Initiative

During the month of October 2012, “Financial Planning Days Initiative” is taking place.  Four different non-profit organizations**  are bringing together highly qualified, professional, Certified Financial Planners to provide one-on-one counseling sessions to the public.  There will also be classroom style learning sessions held, and free packets of financial literature given away.  All of the work being done by the professionals is on a volunteer basis, and no payment is expected.  Services are free.  You can sit down with a financial planner and ask for personal advice – with no strings attached.  The volunteers will not try to sell you anything, they won’t even give you their business card.  No business will be promoted at all – the professionals are there to answer your questions and help – that’s it.  (If you are a professional, certified financial planner and would like to volunteer, you can find out how here)

Gather your questions about retirement planning, debt, credit issues, budget questions, taxes, college, mortgage loans, investments, estate planning, small business finance, and insurance together, and find out if the Initiative is available where you live:

Click here to find a Financial Planning Day in your area

A list of 2012 events can be found by clicking here

A list of participating states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Virgina
  • Washington

Can’t go?  You Can Still Get the Same Information Packet Being Handed Out

If there is no Financial Planning Initiative in your state, the free information packet information is still available to you and can be found at the links below.  Take a look at the information available, and give yourself a quick education in the basics of financial planning.  Pick up tips and advice on everything from a college savings plan to long term care insurance.

You Can Organize & Simplify Your Financial Life:  A How To Guide

Saving and Investing:  A Roadmap to Your Financial Security Through Saving and Investing

Savings Fitness:  A Guide to Your Money & Your Financial Future

Smart Saving for College – 529 Plans & Other College Savings Options

Guide to Disability Income Insurance

Guide to Long Term Care Insurance

Consumer Guide to Financial Self-Defense

 

** Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.®, Financial Planning Association®, the Foundation for Financial Planning, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors

 

 

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Sep
18

Helpful Hands

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Today’s post is my first guest blogger, a fellow writer I’ve known for many years. A. T. Weaver is the pen name of an elderly woman living in Eastern Kansas, author of 3 books and more than 1 blog.  A. T. Weaver – WriterAs I watch the elderly people in my life struggle with fixed incomes vs. rising expenses, I know all too well how every little bit helps. If you are able, donate to your local Harvester’s and food banks. When the Post Office has their food drive, hang a sack on the mailbox and put a couple of cans or boxes in it. Two cans of beans may not mean much to you, but it can be a meal for someone. I’ll never forget seeing an elderly gentleman ahead of me in the check-out lane, counting out pennies and nickles to buy two cans of pork & beans. He opened one of the cans and ate it while sitting on the curb. Your two cans of beans may keep someone from going hungry that day.

Two hands holding loaf of breadAs a senior citizen living on Social Security, sometimes it’s difficult to make ends meet. I live in a HUD subsidized facility so my rent is not as high as it would be otherwise, however it is still one-third of my income. There are several organizations that help seniors with financial problems.

Where I live we have two organizations that come in every week. One is the New Life Family Church in Kansas City, Kansas. Every Monday, they bring in bread and pastries that would otherwise be thrown out. Now that may not seem like a lot – a free loaf of bread – but if you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you know the cost of bread can be over $2.00 a loaf. Most of the items are dated either ‘today’ or ‘yesterday’ but they are still edible. Of course there are those in my building who complain about the type of bread they bring. Today I went downstairs and there were at least ten or twelve baguettes left. Most of the seniors here don’t like baguettes or French bread. It makes good garlic toast or cheese bread.

Another organization is Village Church. Every Monday they come and pick up our ‘Senior Center Shopping List’. We can choose two canned vegetables, two soups/sauces, one canned meat, one staple (sugar, flour, rice, cake mix, etc.), one dairy, one snacks/chips, one fresh vegetable or fruit, and bread. One week a month they will bring peanut butter, fruit or juice, and personal & household items. i.e. dish soap, laundry soap, hand soap, toothpaste, toilet paper. Now they only bring one roll of toilet paper which doesn’t last a whole month, but that’s a roll we don’t have to buy.

Then on Thursday, they deliver what we’ve asked for. They have a contract with Trader Joes and often bring fresh fruit and vegetables. They also bring bread and pastries from area grocery stores. Again, these items may be dated ‘today’ but they are still edible. Then we fill out a new list and send our bag back to be refilled.

Since my building has the Village Church delivery, we don’t have a Harvesters’ distribution. However, there is a distribution once a month at a location in Olathe where we can go and get fresh fruit and vegetables and again, bread and pastries. If you have a car or someone with whom you can get a ride, it’s a good deal. I usually take one other lady with me. I would take more, but by the time we get a walker and a cart and two boxes of food in the car, there is no more room.  Two hands holding pineapple

One other source of food is the Government Commodities. While the other distributions are for anyone in the building, you must qualify for Commodities. One other problem with them is the fact that so many seniors have problems with what they can eat. For example I am diabetic. There are a lot of foods I can’t eat in the Commodities bags so I quit taking them.

There are many months when these services mean whether or not seniors have a meal on the table. I for one am very grateful for these helpful hands.

 

 Helpful Resources:Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charityGovernment Emergency Food Assistance Program (Food Commodities)

Harvester’s

Find a local food bank (Feeding America)

Food Stamp & WIC Program Apply Online

Meals on Wheels

Find Free Food

Global Food Banking Network

 

 

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