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Caregivers, don’t neglect your financial goals

FROM MISSISSIPPI HEROES 

Caregivers typically keep a vast collection of exercises, therapeutics, medicines and treatments in their toolbox that they can rely on at any given moment. They meticulously plan daily routines, which revolve around their patients. That dreamed-of vacation often remains the back of their minds, just waiting to be realized if they took the time for self-care. But if you ask them about their own wants and needs, they may feel guilty for imagining a getaway. 

If this description applies to you, write those goals down. Keep a journal to track your financial progress and turn that vision into reality. If you have a financial advisor or financially savvy friend, work with them to construct a pathway to the vacation or other self-care activity you deserve. 

Most importantly, do not feel guilty about making plans for yourself. Here are a few things you can do to realize your goals: 

  1. Take care of you. Caring for another is a large responsibility, especially for caregivers who are near retirement age themselves. You should have a personal financial plan, as well as one for your loved one. A good plan includes a monthly budget, income sources, assets and debt. Furthermore, you should review health insurance plans as a reminder of what is covered and what you may need to add. Your health is as important as the person’s you care for. 
  2. Don’t go it alone. Get a financial planner or elder law attorney to set up an estate plan. Have a good insurance contact. Public resources are available, so talk to your local government, social security office or center for aging and ask questions until you find the right person to help you in each area. Get referrals from trusted sources to ensure you have found the right person to address your needs. One valuable resource is the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which helps relieve financial hardships for unpaid caregivers. 
  3. Set goals outside of caregiving. Get a journal to log your financial goals, and refer to it when you meet with your financial advisor. Writing down your goals increases your motivation, concentrates your efforts and cements the goal, which makes you 42 percent more likely to achieve it. 
  4. Set up automatic payments or direct deposits. Use a program such as Mint to keep track of your activities and categorize your expenses for tax purposes. Set up autopay with your bank to take care of your monthly bills so you can focus on your other responsibilities. Check your accounts weekly for any suspicious activity. 

There are many ways a person can financially automate their lives. These include setting bill payment schedules, transferring funds to savings, monitoring spending habits, rebalancing investment portfolios, selling a stock once a goal has been reached — the list goes on. Reviewing your progress with a financial advisor is always a good practice, and putting your financial goals on “autopilot” is another good way to stay on track. It doesn’t mean you ignore or neglect your money; it means you can focus on being a caretaker rather than a risk taker. 

  1. Anticipate and save for unforeseen expenses. If you designate your income to be divided among specific accounts monthly, make sure you put some away for emergencies. 
  2. Store all your important documents in one place. Keep a fireproof lock box inside your home for master copies of wills, financial documents, insurance policies, birth certificates, etc. Also make a copy to give to someone close to you, and make sure he or she knows where the originals are kept. 

Mississippi Heroes recognizes, acknowledges and celebrates caregivers who choose to serve those in need on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Learn more at https://www.mississippiheroes.org. 

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