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In Their Words: What Older Adults Struggling Financially Need

By Farah Manjiyani, Manager, Financial Health Network Despite the recent stimulus, increased vaccinations, and gathering momentum of reopenings across the country, millions are still struggling with their financial health. Ongoing economic uncertainty, job loss, and physical health concerns have caused many to shift financial priorities just to stay afloat. In the Financial Health Network’s latest…

Tuesday, March 30, 2021
 In Their Words: What Older Adults Struggling Financially Need

Despite the recent stimulus, increased vaccinations, and gathering momentum of reopenings across the country, millions are still struggling with their financial health. Ongoing economic uncertainty, job loss, and physical health concerns have caused many to shift financial priorities just to stay afloat.

In the Financial Health Network’s latest research exploring how digital financial advising tools can better support the financial health needs of low- to moderate-income (LMI) older adults, we heard these hardships directly. Many of them live paycheck to paycheck and meticulously manage their money. Yet, they still struggle with their financial health because of the unpredictable nature of retirement, medical concerns, the need to support family members, or a disability impeding their ability to find work. And all too often, they don’t have the right financial tools or resources to manage these shifts in their circumstances.

In Their Own Words
Amar is in his 60s and says his experience in retirement is nothing like what he had envisioned for himself. Like many other older LMI adults, he stretches paychecks, fears unexpected expenses, and reshuffles limited resources to make ends meet.

Amar expected retirement to involve managing everyday household bills and choosing to continue to work for extra income. But the loss of his mother and his own sudden illness dealt him a series of financial blows, and it took him nearly five years to recover. Now, the pandemic has forced Amar to recalibrate again. On top of his monthly bills, he has had to put away emergency savings, buy safety supplies, and try to plan for the unexpected.

“Along came coronavirus and everything we had to do to prepare for it… it kinda cut into the budget; we had to have, you know, the masks to wear out, we had to have gloves, we had to… you know, stock up on supplies for the house.”

Amar’s experience is not unique. Others we spoke with shared similar struggles of unexpected financial burdens as they approached their retirement years. Aliza lost her husband to a heart attack. Sol delayed planning for his own retirement until his kids were in college. Sonya was injured at work and had to retire early because she was unable to continue working.

Support Is Needed
Though several of the older adults we spoke with had previously sought financial advice, most did not find the holistic support they needed to juggle the new priorities and financial challenges that surfaced as their circumstances changed.

Financial service providers, nonprofits, and fintech innovators who support LMI older adults with financial advice can step into this gap and address their challenges by offering digital financial tools. More holistic support delivered in a digital format can help older adults better adapt their financial situations to match evolving circumstances.

Preview the Financial Health Network’s recommendations in this short video and download Designing Digital Financial Advisory Tools for Low-To-Moderate Income Adults to explore these recommendations in more detail.

The research for “Designing Digital Financial Advisory Tools for Low- to Moderate-Income Older Adults” was conducted in partnership with the Institute for Consumer Money Management. The Financial Health Network worked with Dalberg Design, a design and innovation firm that used human-centered and participatory research methods to remotely engage low- to moderate-income individuals between the ages of 50-64 across the U.S.

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