How do you track expenses?

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Suddenly I have control over my parents' expenses. I have Power of Attorney and I've been using my parents' checking account to some extent, but mostly I'm charging my credit card and then planning to reimburse myself (and my husband).

I use You Need A Budget for my family finances snd I'd like to find a way to do something similar for my patents. I don't want to abuse their finances, but I don't want to mess up my husband's and mine either.

I'd love to hear what others are doing. Thanks!

Answers 1 to 10 of 15
You may want to setup a separate checking account just for the expenses. That would make the process allot easier. If you need a POA form I use
I've been managing my dads finances for two years now. He has his own checking account and I have my own but we both bank at the same institution. For my finances I use; for his finances I use old school pencil and paper ledger. Often I will transfer money from his account to mine or mine to his but I ALWAYS put comments in the on-line transfer field. Things like "groceries for dad reimb" or "cash out @ dads req" that sort of thing. It has worked well for me. Although, I am getting concerned and thinking about having the bank deny him access to his own account (I'm on his account as well as my husband's and my account). The reason I'm thinking of doing this is because I am worried that one of my siblings may take him to the bank and convince him that he needs to make a withdrawl of some sort and completely rob him. So that is how I manage it on my end.
On his end, I give him an allowance of cash every two weeks. I tell him he can do whatever he wants with it and I will bring him more again. is really great when it comes to managing a cash financial system. For larger ticket items (200+) I plan a time to take him to get what he wants. It can get tricky so you have to figure out details that work for you and stick to being detail oriented.
Top Answer
TH - well lets hope their $$ holds out and they never need to go into a NH and run out of $$ so that they need to apply for Medicaid. But if that should happen (personally my experience is that if they live long enough they will run out of $$), then writing checks to yourself or your DH will pose a host of paperwork of issues for Medicaid compliance and transfer penalty. Remember the look back is 5 years which means 2017 and alot can happen over time.

I'd suggest getting a debit card on their account and start using that to pay for things so that there is no real $ being spent by you. I'd sum up all you've spent and do a single check for your reinbursement and then no more. If they have multiple accounts and more than 1 bank, I'd consolidate it to a single account/ 1 bank. If they have any brokerage accounts, I'd meet with their broker to merge all into a central drawing fund. Quicken has on-line tracking that you can synch with their bank accounts, which makes life easier. As DPOA you can do all this. SOme banks are shying away from allowing DPOA's to do anything though. Whatever the case you do want to develop a relationship with a bank officer at their branch as you never know when that will be helpful. Good luck.
I have a separate charge account for my mother. Her name and mine are both on it. My name is also on her checking account. All checks and charges for her are from her accounts, so record keeping is easy. If anyone asks, I can simply pull up the account information. Almost all is standard stuff -- groceries, utilities and other household expenses -- so there should be no questions about management. I would be very reluctant to spend, then reimburse myself, because there could always be the question: what did you do with this money you wrote yourself a check for? Even though it would be legitimate, it would just be an extra step in record keeping.
igloo572, how can I find information on medicaid compliance rules and regulations? My dad is not on medicaid now, but it is possible that he will be in the future. I'd like to be in compliance when that day comes.
If your parents have a credit card with a sufficient credit limit, try putting yourself on their account as POA. I did that and requested a card, and I use her credit card to pay and then just pay the bill from the checking account. If not, maybe setting up online banking for their checking account would be helpful.

Personally (and this may be the former banker in me), I wouldn't be using my own credit card to pay expenses, I would want complete transparency and complete separation between my finances and my mother's. I wouldn't ever want to have to prove to someone that I reimbursed myself properly.

I don't have siblings or anyone else who would question me, necessarily, but my mother gets altered from time-to-time, and then gives me a hard time about my taking her monthly income checks (which I do so they don't disappear into a "black hole" somewhere in the house, and so they actually get deposited where they belong). I have visions that she'll call the lawyer one day and tell him that I'm "fleecing" her (she's called the cops on my twice now, saying I'm an intruder), and I want to avoid a drawn-out accounting of what I've done with her money.

I know the parallel isn't exact, but similar situation could arise for you as well somewhere down the road, which is why I suggest you not use your own credit card and then reimburse yourself.

Just my 2 cents' worth. Your mileage may vary. :-)
If you do the cc and if you could possible be concerned with them running up their debt, you want to make sure that you do not sign off or are considered financially responsible for the cc account. My MIL was a bit of a financial terrorist and the debt collectors will track down family, even if you are not responsible. Total pia.

Pixie - Here's my NH Medicaid take after doing it. This will be long, so get coffee or an adult beverage...

NH (aka skilled nursing facility/SNF or long term care/LTC) is paid for 3 ways:
1) private pay by either the elder or their family; 2) from LTC insurance; or 3) by qualifying for Medicaid.

Medicaid rules are determined by each state & are state specific even though it is a federal & state program. Medicaid is needs-based. Because it's needs based,
you are expected to spend your assets first and foremost before the state will pay. There are things you can do to reduce assets but these need to be done by someone qualified to do this that will pass your state's review. An certified elder law attorney is best. My experience is that if they live long enough, they will flat just run out of $ eventually and family will flat run out of being able to provide the level of care needed eventually. Hopefully the time can dovetail.

For NH Medicaid eligibility, an individual must show that:
1) are 65+ (can be younger if qualified disability),
2) medical condition requires a skilled level of nursing care,
3) monthly income at or below their states max (about 2K),
This is the “income test”– how much $ do you make. TX is $2,094.
4) all countable assets are at or below 2K
This is the “asset test” – how much $ do you own.
5) not gifted away anything of value during 5yr look-back period.
If you do, could be a “transfer penalty” when items are gifted. Transfer Penalty different for each state as it’s based on each state’s NH reimbursement rate. For Texas, it is $ 142.92 a day rate (2011), which is a low rate.

Look-back is 5 yrs. Most states require 3 – 6 mo. of financials with initial Medicaid application. Can require more financials if something pique’s interest. Financials are bank statements, social security and retirement statements, insurance policies, etc. For my mom, I had to have a letter from her bank as to the disposition of each and every account (CD, savings, money market, etc) closed for the 3 years prior to her application. Luckily I had her down to a single bank so it was simple but still took having a relationship with a banker to have it go smoothly. If they have multiple banks or accounts, I'd highly suggest to consolidate down to 1 which you are POD and have on-line access to.

INCOME: If it is that every month they are over the states income limit BUT not enough to pay in full for the NH and qualifies for NH in every other way, then they can see an elder care attorney to do a "Miller Trust" or a "Qualified Income Trust". Say mom gets 1K from SS & 1,500K from retirement every mo. Income=$2,500. Basically $ 500 over ceiling for monthly income. No matter what is always is $500 over. So this excess $ 500 is what funds the trust and therefore mom’s income is now 2K and within the states income ceiling for Medicaid. The beneficiary of the trust is state's Medicaid program and upon death reverts to the state. Miller really has to be done by an attorney who does elder law as it needs to be flexible &adaptable & meet the criteria of state's law on probate (death laws) & Medicaid.

ASSETS: All assets are counted, unless the assets fall within the short list of "noncountable" assets:
- personal possessions,
- a vehicle (some states have a limit on the value)
- their principal residence, provided it is in the same state in which the individual is applying for coverage & the house kept with no equity limit if the "community spouse" lives there; otherwise the equity limit is 500K (750K in some states)
- prepaid funeral & burial (irrevocable, NCV, usually 10K max)
- small amount of life insurance (usually $1,500 & NCV)
All other assets (savings, stocks, whole life, rental property) are counted.Must “spend down” to get to their states max to qualify.

The financials are what most folks focus on. But remember that they also need to medically qualify for skilled nursing care. There are appeals process available for both financial (which you do) and medical (which the NH, their MD's etc do but you have to sign off on). When you apply for Medicaid, you really sign off for an all access pass (without the souvenir laminated lanyard) to your parents financials and info is really just keystrokes away.
I added myself to my moms account. (with her permision of course) I do all the banking on line and all the shopping, doctors etc. with a debit card thatnis in both our names. She still thinks i pat the caregiver 10$ a day... but that another story for another day. Doing the banking and bill apying online and using the debit card helps me keep track of everything easily. Good Luck to you..
Their daughter, I would get to a lawyer because you are liable for any money not used directly for the parent, but then again, SS allows you to take rent. Do they live with you and need fulltime care? If so, make out a caregivers contract, its legal and a way to spend down.
Igloo, do you know if the Aide and Attendence VA money is considered with medicaid? Its a reinbursement actually, not an income. My Mom is over but a small amount due to her A&A and we do not get any help...

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