Elder Financial Abuse: Signs, Symptoms and Preventive Measures

This article is by GRS contributor Chris Kissell.

It's a form of abuse that often unfolds in silence. Its victims are often reluctant to report it. And it is likely to become even more commonplace as our society ages.

Happy older couple

What is financial elder abuse?

Financial exploitation of elders occurs whenever someone dishonestly hijacks the resources of an older adult for personal gain, such as:

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More about...Banking, Retirement

My grandmother’s home remedies

This reader story comes from SB, a regular reader and commenter on GRS. SB writes about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent at a Time.

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. 

This is my second article at this blog. I am grateful to J.D. and his team's humble gesture in allowing me to do it. I hope to provide the same value regular writers of this blog provide to you.

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More about...Frugality, Food, Health & Fitness

Negotiating for perks when raises are off the table

This article is written by David Lye. David is an expert on novated leasing, which is a “company car” type perk that many Australian companies offer their employees.

In today's uncertain economy, many employers are reluctant to offer raises to their employees. You may be lucky enough to keep your job, but chances are that you may not get a raise, or if you do, it could be a very small raise. However, if you're a hardworking, valuable employee, your boss may be able to offer you some “perks” when a raise isn't an option.

Here are some ideas for perks you can request, as well as some negotiation ideas for each. Good luck!

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More about...Career

HDHP with HSA: Friend or foe?

This article was written by Joanna Lahey, an associate economics professor at the George H. W. Bush School of Government and Public Service and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the aforementioned institutions. This is the final article in her series on health insurance. Here are the first, second and third articles.

Remember way back when in my first post when we talked about what the "ideal" health insurance would look like given human beings' unfortunate tendency to moral hazard? Basically, the idea was that health insurance would not be complete: There would be strong cost-sharing early on, but it would protect people from a catastrophic loss of money. (Note: This is "ideal" only from a certain theoretical efficiency standpoint -- there are many ways in which it is far from ideal.)


High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) follow that basic model. The idea is that the client is responsible for all health care costs up to a certain high deductible, at which point the insurance kicks in, either with a coinsurance amount or paying 100 percent, depending on the plan. Frequently preventive care is provided for free prior to meeting the deductible (and under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, we will be seeing more free preventive care). The size of the deductible is what makes it a "High Deductible" plan. In 2013, the minimum deductible for a HDHP is $1,250 for a single participant plan and $2,500 for a family plan. There's also an out-of-pocket maximum requirement for in-network providers, $6,250 for a single participant and $12,500 for a family. So a single plan at the legal limits would force you to pay $1,250 of your medical expenses upfront, and then a percentage of any remaining expenses until you hit the $6,250 out-of-pocket limit, at which point they pay the rest. Each year these numbers reset and you have a new deductible to meet and a new out-of-pocket limit.

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More about...Economics, Insurance

Health insurance options for the self-employed

This article was written by Joanna Lahey, an associate professor of economics at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the aforementioned institutions. This is the third of four articles on health insurance. The final part will be published next Saturday. Here are the first and second articles in the series.

I got married relatively young, at age 22. There was a gap between my marriage which kicked me off my parents' insurance and getting put on graduate school insurance. My father-in-law gave us short-term gap private insurance as a wedding present. It was expensive from my perspective (I was looking at an annual stipend of under $20K), but for private health insurance it was cheap.

Private Health Insurance Options

Private health insurance is one method that people use to get coverage when they're self-employed or unemployed. Because the private health insurance market is broken, it can be prohibitively expensive, if available at all. Private coverage can be affordable if you are young, healthy, single (or male) and only need it temporarily. But if you don't fall into all of those categories, it can be difficult and expensive. Fortunately, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), private insurance can no longer kick you off if you get sick after paying for private coverage. Children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage. In 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny adults coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Also in 2014, states should have their Affordable Insurance Exchanges set up, allowing individuals and small businesses to better shop for health insurance plans.

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More about...Insurance, Economics

Insurance: Share the risk

This article was written by Joanna Lahey, an associate professor of economics at the George H.W. Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University and the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Ellen's note: Joanna has written four articles about health insurance. This is the first, and every Saturday for the next month, we'll be publishing one. Given the readers' concern over the cost of health insurance as well as the ability to get insurance, we think her articles will be a great addition to GRS.

What is Insurance?

We save for retirement in order to smooth our consumption over time. Money saved now when we have income allows us to eat more than cat food when we're retired and not bringing in as much.

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More about...Insurance, Economics, Health & Fitness

Everything You Need to Know about Using Credit Card Bonuses for Free Travel

The following article is written by Craig Ford. Craig blogs at Help Me Travel Cheap where he helps newbies turn credit card sign-up bonuses into free travel.

To entice you to sign up for a credit card most credit card companies offer a sign-up bonus.

The sign-up bonus is the life blood for a growing population of American travelers. They scour the web looking for the best credit cards with sign up bonuses. They get the cards, get the bonuses, and turn a single credit card application into a vacation that most of us only dream of taking.

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More about...Credit, Travel

What is lifestyle creep? Detecting and preventing lifestyle creep

This article was written by freelance writer Jessica Ward.

For three years, I've been patting myself on the back. The household expenses remain the same every month, and we're getting out of debt. In spite of increases in costs, we've found efficiencies and made room. But, as they say, after pride comes the fall. I discovered this month that we're actually making less progress every month now than when we first started making monthly budgets!

Initially I thought this was a short-term trend, but when I looked back a little farther in the old budgets file, I discovered that we've really been on this path since day one. We have succumbed to “lifestyle creep.” Subtle upticks in our family's expenses that don't necessarily fall into line with real costs of living.

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More about...Budgeting

Cashing in on Craigslist: How I’ve saved thousands of dollars buying used

In August, I wrote about Ryan Finlay, who makes a living through Craigslist arbitrage. Many readers wanted to hear more about how Ryan uses Craigslist to make and save money. In this article, Ryan explains how to use Craigslist to save money on high-ticket items like appliances and furniture. If there's enough interest, he may share more Craigslist tips in the future. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his new site: ReCraigslist.com.

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” my mother used to say. She's always been a thrifty shopper and a bargain hunter. “Pennies add up,” she'd say, but for years I scoffed at the idea. But my resistance to that message was outward and temporary; early on, I began resenting overpaying for candy or soda pop — or anything, for that matter. I began to notice that grocery stores would sell candy bars for half (or sometimes a quarter) of what the local mini-mart charged.

Bargain hunting began to intrigue me. I started joining my mom on garage sale outings, and soon I was hooked. Finding bargains was like discovering hidden treasures! I started reading the classified ads in the newspaper to supplement the garage sales and pawn shops. Garage sales provided the best deals, but were limited to the summer, leaving a void for the rest of the year.


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More about...Frugality