Be Vigilant about Seniors Shopping Online in Holidays

Seniors have a lot of propensity to buy gifts in holidays season for their family members. They might prefer online shopping due to convenience and ease. However, online shopping can also be extremely risky for seniors. Furthermore, overspending can be a costly mistake for seniors. Therefore, it is necessary that caregivers and family member remain vigilant about the shopping habits of seniors.

Damage Can Be Done Even Without a Credit Card

It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday spirit of giving – and overspending. What could be easier for an elderly person than shopping from the comfort of home? Credit makes buying easy, but credit cards aren’t the only way to shop online or by catalog. A caregiver who helps an aging parent manage his finances may not have a clue there is any overspending going on until it’s too late.

These days, one needs only a computer to access thousands of stores world-wide. Gifts, flowers and food items can be purchased on a buy-now-pay-later plan that requires no payment until after the holidays are over. As more and more gift companies extend approved credit limits to lure in new customers and keep old customers coming back, the temptation to buy grows harder to resist.

Approved credit with a buy-now-pay-later company means nothing is required to complete the transaction – not even a credit check if the purchaser is a repeat and valued customer. All that may be needed to order hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise is the account number the elderly person has on file with the company. The bills won’t show up until after the holidays, in most cases.

Clues That an Elderly Person May be Shopping and Overspending

Since customer bills don’t usually show up until a month or two later, it’s not likely the elderly person will be suffering yet from any holiday debt he or she is creating. Ask the elder if he or she is shopping by catalog or online. A caregiver can also look around the home for signs that indicate holiday shopping may be in progress:

  • Holiday catalogs are piling up. Grandma won’t let you throw them out.
  • Catalog order forms are filled out.
  • The aging parent speaks of Christmas presents without giving away specific information (or avoids the topic altogether when questioned).
  • The elder has received one or more “Thank you for your order” letters from gift companies.
  • You notice boxes (with or without company logos) discarded in the trash (also bubble wrap, tissue paper, Styrofoam or other wrapping materials).

Caution an Elderly Person About Holiday Spending

It may take a little persuading to get the grandparents or other elderly family member to listen and agree to a holiday gift-giving plan. Be prepared for resistance. Here are three suggestions for setting limits on holiday spending for elderly family members on a budget:

Discuss with the elderly person a limit for purchasing holiday gifts. Tell Grandma or Grandpa that the family doesn’t want to see anyone go into debt. Perhaps a family member can volunteer to help the elderly person keep track of holiday gift purchases and how much money is spent. This option will work if the grandparent agrees to cooperate and doesn’t go online to fill out a catalog order without anyone knowing.

Sit down with Grandma and tell her what each child would like that’s within her budget. Be firm by adding that the children don’t need a lot of presents or expensive gifts. If Grandma is given the option to buy a specific item from a specific place, then she stands a better chance of staying within budget. If she resists, stand your ground as a parent.

Hold a family conference. With other adult family members in agreement, announce to the grandparents (or other family seniors) that they should spend no more than what they can comfortably afford. If the grandparents are stubbornly persistent, then explain to them in a nice way that other family members are not in the financial position to help out should overspending occur. This might sound a little harsh, but it beats having to pay off all those account balances after Christmas.

There is no sure-fire way to stop a competent elderly person from shopping – or spending too much money during the holidays. Setting limits is reasonable solution to holiday overspending if everyone in the family agrees and cooperates. A family member caregiver who helps the elder manage financial matters can try to set limits early and prevent elderly holiday overspending before it happens.

Paying off all those holiday bills can be tough for the elderly person who lives on a modest income. The Internet and the lure of easy payment plans is all an elderly person needs to fall into the trap of serious debt. There are ways a caregiver can tactfully limit an elderly loved one’s holiday spending without being labeled a scrooge. Once the grandparents realize the family is being realistic and wants what’s best for everyone, they might warm up to the idea. Better yet, they might even feel relieved at having little or no holiday debt to worry about.