I spent down all of my parents money (wasn't much) so they could both qualify for Medicaid. Mom received it YAY!, and still working on dad's. However, now their only money is their SS checks. I'm not the best at managing money (I'm 21 and also very broke) and my mom isn't either. She goes to Walmart every day or has her home health worker go, and spends too much eating out. I'm afraid she'll overdraft or not leave me with enough to pay bills. I could become her rep payee, but I don't think I'll be able to keep the record keeping that SSA requires. I tried to contact the local payee organizations but they are full and not accepting. I could, with my parents' permission, change their SS deposits to an income manager account at Edward Jones that would monitor and predict spending, I could put all their bills on autopay, and give my parents a weekly allowance using the Walmart debit card. I'd like to do that the most rather than become rep payee. How do you manage finances without becoming a rep payee, conservator, etc? My parents are very compliant, and will let me do just about anything if it means their money is okay. And no there's no family that want to help.

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You really have a problem for someone your age. Are your parents also young, about ages 50 or so? Do you go to school or college? If so, maybe you could ask someone who teaches Accounting or Financial Management if you could ask them some questions about your situation.

Unfortunately, my experience with Edward Jones is that EJ has a rather complex fee schedule for withdrawing money (and I am limited as to how much money I can take out of my Mutual Fund in a 12 months time span) and so you most likely will have a fee for every time they do some activity as an income manager. Is that where your parents SS is being direct deposited? Do your parents have an account with a bank also? Or will the autopay billing service be coming from EJ?
You might want to check with a local bank and see if their fees are less than those of EJ for the same services.
Putting all of your parents bills on autopay and then giving your parents a weekly allowance using the Walmart debit card shows that you have the ability to manage money.

Also, coming to this website forum took a lot of guts and not many people your age would have the courage that you have to ask for help. Please come to this forum and ask questions whenever you need to. You can also "VENT" your feelings to us. We may not always say what you want to hear, but what we say, we say with love and caring for you and your parents. God Bless!
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Reply to DeeAnna

I don't know how much monthly income you're talking about, but going with an Edward Jones account sounds like overkill. If they have relatively simple income and expenses, then your idea sounds perfect. Put as much as you can on autopay, or charged to a credit card, and sign up for online banking. I find that their tools are just as useful as a managed account for setting up a personal budget, and you can set up notifications for yourself whenever a transaction occurs that's over a certain dollar amount.
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Reply to AlfredR

maybe you could sit down with your parents and make a list on paper of the monthly expenses. That way your mother can see theres NOT a lot left over for eating out etc.

managing money to me is not so hard.

its the SPENDING that messes people up. when you are on low income, there isn't room for impulse spending.

make sure you and your parents know they only have a certain amount each month for non-necessary items

make sure the home health worker knows they have a strict budget

just edit to add. not sure if they are living in their own home? or renting? if in their own home they also need to budget in money for repairs.
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Reply to wally003

AJ, you're wise to address this issue now. And you've described the situation well.

Since your parents are compliant, and since the income as I understand it is limited to SS checks, I'd make this as simple as possible. Go with your parents to their bank (and I can suggest a good major bank if it helps) and set up either a joint checking account for both of them, or one for each. Explain to the banker that you need to be a co-signer, with rights of survivorship. That enables you to access their account(s) if either of them pass or are unavailable, such as hospitalization, and you need funds. You could then continue to manage their accounts until they're drained, which apparently would happen quickly if SS is d/c/ed after death and is their sole source of income.

The ideal arrangement would be to keep a small amount in a savings account, not b/c of the interest, but b/c the bank might have an overdraft program that would automatically apply the funds from the savings address the overdraft. If I remember correctly, there's then no overdraft fee. I thought of this b/c you wrote that your mother spends freely.

I wouldn't even consider Edward Jones or that level of company for payment of bills. If there were thousands of dollars in assets, that might be appropriate. But in this case, "keep it simple" is the best philosophy.

Since you're apparently new at this, it might help to create a spreadsheet, or list, of all the bills. I include the creditor, date bill was received, date it's due, amount due, and when I paid it. I did this b/c I knew all my bills by heart, but sometimes I forget which ones my father had, so the spreadsheet (or just a list) helps me monitor to keep a "handle" on the situation."

The receipt date helps if a bill isn't received, which has happened.

If you pay online, you can just a chart or something simple like a basic spreadsheet just to keep track of the payments and ensure that everything's ok.

Do your parents use credit cards? If not, and if you do want one (especially for emergencies), get one with a good cash back reward program. I accumulated my father's points and just redeemed them for about a $700 credit off his last bill.

Are there other financial issues on which you'd like suggestions?
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Reply to GardenArtist

Does the account at Edward Jones have a lot of fees? If not, the plan you have sounds pretty good to me. I would also have a small amount put aside every month so you have funds for expenses like clothing, haircuts, over the counter medications...stuff you can't put on autopay. I really like your idea to top up the Walmart card weekly instead of hand the entire month's budget to them at once.  I think that will work better.  
I use a budget app called YNAB. It costs about $5 a month but I find it very helpful.
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Reply to Marcia7321

Do you think it would be wise to put all their bills on a credit card (in their name of course) and pay it off each month in one lump sum instead of having bills come out on the most random days of the month? That way immediately I can see what their "leftover" money is. According to my budget sheet for them, they should have about 700 after bills each month to spend on groceries, restaurants, and hopefully to put in savings, so I know I'd be able to make that credit card payment every month. But I also realize how quickly it could get out of hand. I did that for a while with my personal bills, and I got paid the last day of every month, so I paid my credit card off the 1st of every month then I could budget a much smaller amount of money more efficiently. Thoughts??
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Reply to aj6044

AJ, that's what I do, but usually twice a month as half of the bills come in the first week or so and the rest come a week or so later. As I wrote, paying bills with a credit card can offer a good deduction from the total bills, if you get the right kind of card. And you've got a list that you can use to prepare taxes. That's especially helpful for medical charges, and generally they're all on the charge card statement except for the few medical expenses that can't be charged.
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Reply to GardenArtist

AJ, another thought since you wrote that you're "working" (my choice of words) on managing money...

I'd been preparing my parents' taxes for years, and sometimes had some complicated issues from investments, so I made a checklist of everything that had occurred and possibly occurred that was tax related. I use it as a checklist now instead of using the prior year's tax returns as a guide.

It was especially helpful when there was a complicated share split on one investment, and I knew it was something I wouldn't remember after wading through it.

I also listed every possible medical expense category, especially helpful since there might be an out of pocket expense for something like compression stockings one year, then some salve or something similar another year. They weren't repetitive items so I might otherwise have missed them.
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Reply to GardenArtist

aj--I've been putting everything, including recurring bills, on a credit card and paying it in full each month. This has worked well for me for over 35 years. My card gives airline points so that's an incentive (and I'll even charge $2 of groceries on it!) but in your situation getting cash back is probably a better choice. Credit cards are wonderful if used property, but they can be detrimental if abused.

It looks as if you are asking all the right questions, and as a result you will become money-savvy throughout your life, even after your parents are gone.
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Reply to jacobsonbob

Yes, I would pay all the bills with a credit card all at the same time every month. So much easier to keep track. You could even call the credit card companies and try to get the payment due dates all around the same time
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Reply to Isabelsdaughter

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