Save a Penny, Earn a Penny – and Your Future Care Needs

As a kid, I remember how excited I would be to find a penny (or even a nickel or dime!) on the ground. I would run over, pick it up, and show it to my Dad. He would say something like this, “Great, you just earned a penny today! Make sure you put it in your piggy bank.”

Now, I always thought that was a bit odd. I didn’t earn anything. I found it. Took many years for me to totally understand what Dad was trying to tell me (I know, a bit slow!). But, let’s think about this for a minute – save a penny a day, 365 days per year, for 10 years…..ok, math geniuses….how much would you have in your piggy bank? $36.50, right? I cheated. I used my calculator so as not to embarrass myself in this blog! What if you saved $1.00 per day, 365 days of the year, for 10 years? $3,650.00….ok, not much. So, what if you saved $10.00 per day, 365 days of the year, for 10 years? $36,500.00. That looks much better.

Let’s put down the calculator and talk a minute about your future. First, let me tell you a story of a recent client of Helping Hearts Foundation to help illustrate my point. There is a woman, in her late 50s, who had been married over 20 years to the love of her life. About 10 years ago, the woman was in a car accident and has suffered with what will be lifelong effects of injuries from the accident, as in she is unable to sit or stand up for more than about 30 minutes at a time. Her husband became her caregiver and took wonderful care of her. They managed together on Social Security Disability Income along with Social Security benefits, with both Medicare and Medi-Cal to help pay for medical care.

Well, the husband became critically ill and died. The wife is now all alone as they had no children or family members. It was just the two of them. The wife ends up having to be taken out of their small apartment and into a board and care home where there is 24-hour staff support to assist her. With the death of her husband, the wife loses the full amount of his benefit payments, and now has to live on about $1800.00 per month. Now that may sound like a lot, but the wife’s care needs put her at a current care cost of about $2200-$2500.00 per month for board and care.

There are no savings, no life insurance, no retirement funds, no home to sell (they lived in an apartment) – absolutely nothing! And, she can’t take hardly any of her personal belongings into the small board and care home so she also is losing her life’s possessions. The wife now faces 20 to 30+ years trying to meet what will be increasing care needs (as we age, our care needs increase, not decrease) on $1800.00 per month (plus whatever cost of living adjustments the government will make to her benefits).

Is this the kind of future you want for yourself? Did I hear a resounding, “NO!”? Good! But, a very many people are at risk of this future, because they don’t plan financially and legally for the future needs and lifestyle! I don’t think I need to tell you how few people are saving each money for the future, maxing out their retirement accounts each year, have adequate life insurance for their surviving spouse or loved ones, buy long term care insurance plans, have completed their wills or living trusts, keep current their power of attorneys for healthcare and finances. These statistics are reported almost every day through some news or media source, an unsolicited mailing that comes into our homes, or from our own financial and legal advisors that we only half listen to and only half take their advice!

How many pennies are you saving each day, week, month, or year? Have you considered the kind of future you want to have, can have, if you prepare now?

Every day, Helping Hearts’ team struggle to find care homes that will take a person who has limited resource or low income. Care home owners/operators know how much they need from each resident/patient in order to meet payroll, buy food, pay utilities, pay the mortgage and property taxes on the home, pay federal and state taxes, pay other business expenses. It’s not cheap to own and operate even a small, 6-person licenses care home.

It’s a challenge to meet the needs of each person who comes to Helping Hearts, but that is what we do: Find a way to solve the difficult, stressful issues of daily life for people of all income levels. Our work is made harder, and sometimes sadder, when there’s the added stress of not enough money to pay for care in a place of that person’s choosing.

Helping Hearts Foundation’s team of care coordinators take pride in knowing what is available in the community, which homes are clean, well-maintained with caring staff, and how to match the needs of each person with an appropriate care home.

The ideal for your future care needs? That you have saved enough money, bought private long-term care insurance, have a large family, or some combination of the above. such that when you need care and support you have the funds to pay for it in the place you want, whether that place is your own home or in a board and care/assisted living home.

So, next time you see a penny on the ground, pick it up and take it home. Start saving those pennies, nickels, dimes, dollars every day for many years. A penny saved is a penny earned!! Believe us when we say that you will need it for future care needs.

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