If the very word “fintech” makes you flinch, you may be a baby boomer who has sworn off most “modern” money technologies. You’re not alone. A 2016 Federal Reserve study found that only 18 percent of those over the age of 60 use mobile banking services (vs. 67 percent between the ages of 18 to 29, and 58 percent ages 30 to 44). In fact, only about half of Americans over 65 own a smartphone or tablet, according to a 2014 Pew Research study.
It’s never too late to start learning to use smartphone technology. The immediate incentive is to learn texting so your children and grandchildren will stay in touch! Tip: You don’t have to give up your friendly flip-phone right away. Just ask your adult children for a smartphone with its own number on their family plan, along with a lesson in texting and Skype or FaceTime (programs that let you see your kids as you talk).
Your smartphone offers you the convenience of controlling your life even if you are not at your desk. If you don’t have adult children nearby to teach you, contact your local senior center, since almost all offer courses. Apple has free seminars in its stores, where you can get all your questions answered. And you’ll learn how to make sure you’re using a secure wifi connection or connect using cellular data.
Here are three steps to getting started using smartphone technology to manage important parts of your life. You may want to start learning the basics on your own home computer. Then graduate to using your smartphone safely and securely to track your money, your meds and your life.
—Online bill payment and money management. Stop writing paper checks and start using online bill payment to pay every bill securely. Start by calling your bank and asking for help setting up your checking account online on your home computer. Then, when you get used to the bill pay process, download your bank’s app to your smartphone. You can now securely check balances and make payments anytime, anywhere using your phone.
—Medical matters. If you’re age 65, at www.Medicare.gov you can search for the best Medicare supplement plan or Part D drug plan, depending on the prescriptions you take. (It’s a search that must be repeated ever year, since drug prices change.)
Now, you’re ready to manage taking your medicine with the Medisafe app for your smartphone. Learn more at www.Medisafe.com, where you’ll see how this app gives you a digital reminder — a nudge so you never forget a dose. It even offers a wireless pillbox that automatically records when you take your pill!
—Getting it all together. From checking to categorizing spending to budgeting to tracking your investments, you can get your finances all together by going to www.Quicken.com and downloading this comprehensive personal finance program, using your credit card to pay the $39.99 cost. Quicken easily links up with your bank, credit card, brokerage and investment accounts to provide a secure, up-to-the-minute look at your personal finances. It lets you create an inventory of financial assets and important documents. If you give your trusted adult child the password to your Quicken program, you know that he or she will have access to your financial life if you are unable to act on your own behalf.
The Quicken program sits password-protected on your computer. But if you really want instant access, use your smartphone to download the free Mint app (learn about it at www.Mint.com). Mint lets you see your finances on your smart phone in real time. It will even send you text messages so you know when you are nearing your pre-set budget limits.
The greatest fear of many seniors is losing control over important decisions. Smartphone technology can help you stay on top of everything and maintain control over your own financial life, at home and away. It will give you peace of mind if you make the effort to learn. And that’s The Savage Truth.