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Financial Advice for Low Income Senior

I am trying to help out a friend with big financial problems due to poor choices over many years. My question to all of you successful TF folks is, is it possible to manage on the income she has coming in and get this nightmare turned around?


She is a 60 yr. old woman in poor physical health who had been unable to find employment for 4 years. She has no resources to fall back on. She is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits as they have been exhausted. After hundreds of job applications she finally was hired, but it is a very physical job and it is questionable just how long she can make it there. The pay is low.

Her income is very close to $1,000 a month, but her mortgage payment is $800 a month, plus her utilities. She is 2 months behind on the mortgage. The bank is threatening to foreclose as this has been a long and winding road they've been on before. She lives with her 22 year old son for the summer, but he leaves to go away again for college in fall. Fortunately he has been able to work out his finances for school, but he does need to save some money over the summer here. Is it possible to be frugal enough to make it on that much money? The geographic location is upstate New York as I know locations do make a difference.


By Arlinn

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

No matter where you live, there is no way you can manage with $1,000 monthly income and $800.00 monthly mortgage, plus utilities. There is homeowners insurance, car insurance, car upkeep, food, a minimum of clothing.

In the winter people can get "energy assistance", it is called different things in different areas, that is for heat, however, most of the time it won't cover all of the heating expenses. She should check with the department of social services in her town. My advice is to sell the house, hurry up and spend what is left after paying off the mortgage and whatever other bills she has, and apply for a HUD apartment. The rent for them is figured on 30% of a person's income, and there are income restrictions.


Her son's income would also have to be figured, so when he is living with her and working the rent would be a little higher, but then she could apply to have it lowered when he goes back to school. It might be best to apply for a one bedroom apartment and get a couch that makes into a bed for her son to sleep on when he is there. I don't know if she would be allowed to have a two bedroom apartment being he will be away about nine months of the year.

In these HUD apartments the heat, water, sewer, and garbage is included in the rent. The only utilities she would be responsible for is electricity and phone. She also wouldn't have to worry about yard work and snow removal.

If there is an Experience Works! office in your area, they are a government office that trains and helps senior citizens find work that they can handle. The training period averages about 20 hours per week. Sometimes it is receptionist work, sometimes other light to heavy work, depending on the physical condition of the individual.


There are income limitations there, too, in order to receive the help, and I can't remember what it is, and by now it might have changed. I spent several years working in non-profit offices as a receptionist, at minimum wage, through this office. As long as you are on the training program whatever you are paid doesn't affect any other government benefits that a person receives.

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August 6, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

I am living on disability payments that come to $1,204.00 a month. No, you need Help.
The house is a major drain. Look for more affordable housing & take a room mate. Lots of us seniors need each other. My sister & I use a food bank for most of our food, and eat at a senior center for lunch. I always apply for assistance for medicines & ask the doctor for free samples which he is glad to provide. Apply for food stamps.


Go to the yellow pages of the phone book and investigate every possible source under US gov't. state gov't, senior assistance programs, & don't forget churches. Ask your pastor for help. Be prepared to hear "No". But be persistent. Don 't be to proud to ask for an assist .Most of us have worked hard in our lives and given to charity. Now it is your turn to ask. If you don't ask, no one will know you need help. Bless you. sewnfool

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful

Hi I'm not sure where you are located in upstate NY. I would recommend she contact Unity House Street Ministries in Troy NY if that is in her area. There was a walk-in svc Food Pantry, you didn't need an appt. They would do an assessment and help connect her to any services she is eliglble for. I have to echo the above answer about HUD housing, an apt she can afford. Will pray for her.

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August 4, 20120 found this helpful

Thank you Redhatterb and Glimmer62. Yes, Redhatterb, I did post this recently, but couldn't find reference to it anywhere so I wrote again. You both echo my thoughts too. Get rid of the house and get into HUD housing.


I was asking primarily because I read of the thrifty folks here doing remarkable things on very little money. I wanted to check my thoughts with others as I didn't see anyway possible for her to make it on what she has coming in.

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August 5, 20120 found this helpful

Is there a chance she could find a roommate; someone who would share in the expenses? You need to use the computer the investigate programs offered in your state. Sometimes this help isn't well publicized and you need to look for it. Research all that you can. Most people deserving of this help can find it. Good luck!

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August 5, 20120 found this helpful

Get rid of the house either by sale or letting it go back to the bank. Find a cheap place to live and keep looking for a more appropriate job. A house is just a thing.

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August 5, 20120 found this helpful

I don't believe that that level of cost for housing is sustainable. Unless she can get roommates to cover at least half to 3/4 of the cost her situation will continue to deteriorate. Or perhaps she could become a roommate at someone else's house and then they would take care of the responsibilities like repairs and she could just pay rent.

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August 6, 20120 found this helpful

Has she applied for SSI and or Disability?
Does she qualify for food stamps?

Can she re-consolidate her house loan?
Make as few of trips to town as she can.

Try to get a free cell phone thru the Obama plan - MI has it - not sure if NY has it.

Meet with utility companies and show proof of all her utilities and try to get on some
type of budget plan.

If there is a food program in area--even for seniors, maybe that would help.
Is the son maybe got a summer job and could help his mama and save some too?

That mortgage payment is so high - at least for Michigan.

Was she ever married and did it end in divorce but was married for at least 10 years? If it ended in death, she should be able to get spousal benefits no matter the time frame if he died ,and married at least 10 yrs. if it ended otherwise.

Seems she is part-time caregiver for her son in college there should be some
help in that area?

Free tv with a converter box and an antenna, unless she already has a
digital tv, then just an indoor antenna.

Get movies, book, magazines etc. from the library and library book sales.
The no. 1 thing would be the ssi/disab. applications. They would pay for
her to be seen by their doctors etc.

Senior resource center might have a resource person she could meet
and be of some help.
Commodities - They are not a lot and not yummy but they will feed ya
and free. She may even qualify for senior commodities--think they
get a little bit more than regular commodities.

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August 7, 20120 found this helpful

Absolutely get rid of the house, she may be able for Social Security Disability, be sure and check that out. On getting a roommate, be very cautious. I'm 67 and I'm not sure I'd want a roommate, I'd rather have senior housing. My mother-in-law's income is around $1300 a month and she was able to get senior housing for less than $300 a month - this is in southwest Missouri. I don't know what kind of bills she has, if she has credit cards, she might be able to declare bankruptcy. Check with Legal Aid (free attorneys).

Kudos to the son for taking care of his college, but at 22 he should be graduated or almost ready to graduate. If he's still living with his mom, he should contribute to the household expenses while he's there.

Get rid of cable and internet services - read, go to the library for books and magazines.

Garage sales, flea markets and consignment shops are great for selling and buying clothing, books, etc.

Consolidate trips to town. I live in a tiny town 30 miles from a major town and I'd love to go every day. I have my trips down to once a week and now that my husband is very ill, my trips are down to when we have doctor visits in that town. It's not especially fun, but I view it as a temporary situation.

This shall pass.

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March 27, 20140 found this helpful

I just wanted expand on another's contribution. He said check with Social security Disability. Find an advocate in your area that will talk to you free (99.9% are free consults) they will tell you your chances, and you may qualify for SSI as well, especially with a child in school. Make sure any of your important bills like insurance that you are getting the student discounts for your child. And lastly if the house can accommodate, why not take in a border, around your age and help with expenses.

Also if you or your Husband were military, in times of war, your child should qualify for children of veterans school tuition grants, they can actually pay up 80% (unless the economy changed the percentage) that way it will alleviate stress in that area and maybe he could leave a little of his summer earning at home for emergencies for you. I hope all turns out, and if you have to let the house go, please try and sell it first. there are quick sales and they are very common nowadays. I hope this helps and you are in my thoughts.

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