If your grandparents have trouble figuring out how to use a prepaid card or gift card, they’re not alone.
Many seniors struggle to manage their various cards, and they are carrying more of them than ever. Since the shift to using prepaid cards for social security and other government benefits, seniors who were used to receiving a paper check now must deal with a plastic card. Gift cards, prepaid debit cards and electronic benefit cards all come with different fees, different terms and conditions, and different places they can be used.
That’s why the National Council on Aging (NCOA) has put together a series of financial education toolkits especially for use with seniors. The latest one, called “It’s in the Cards,” focuses on managing all types of payment cards. Issued in partnership with Money Management International and supported by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the toolkit includes a Training Guide for facilitators, Powerpoint presentation slides, and a handbook for participants. All the materials are available as free downloads, and printed copies can be ordered for a small fee.
The first toolkit in the series deals with benefits and savings, and the second is dedicated to avoiding scams and fraud. This third and final toolkit is focused on learning to use different types of cards.
Older adults financially vulnerable
According to the latest U.S. census, about 45% of older adults are economically insecure—meaning their income is at or below 250% of the federal poverty level. Among Social Security recipients over age 65, nearly 75% depend on those government benefits for all, or most, of their monthly income.
That income is not enough for many seniors to survive on—in April 2013, the average Social Security benefit for a retired senior was about $1,266. That leaves little wiggle room in case of potential fraud or other loss of income.
Kerry Sullivan, president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, emphasized the importance of financial education for seniors, calling them a group “most vulnerable to exploitation.” She said the aim of the toolkits is to “empower older adults and those that work with them to gain better money habits that keep them safe, and financially secure.”
The toolkits can be downloaded at ncoa.org/savvyseniors.