Best Financial Shape of Her Life: Financial Planning For Elders

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senior citizen in assisted livingA former Editorial Assistant, Mary Robinson retired from the Bureau of Mines after 32 years of service to the government with various agencies, including the Dept. of the Interior and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Money of course!,” Mrs. Robinson laughs as she recounts the most rewarding aspect of her work. She goes on to explain that she retired as a grade seven federal employee and was making $14,000 a year at that time.

Native to the D.C. metro area, Mrs. Robinson has spent most of her 90 years in Arlington. She met her husband while working at the Dept. of the Interior, and later spent 18 months living in Japan while he was stationed there. The couple had four children. Mrs. Robinson now has ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

When she is not visiting with her family, Mrs. Robinson can often be found at her church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, where she is an active member. She is also a frequent participant in activities at Culpepper Garden, the retirement community in Arlington where she lives. Every morning, Mrs. Robinson opens the doors to the community recreation department and receives the pastries and bread donated by local grocery stores.

Despite her independent nature, Mrs. Robinson was beginning to have problems managing her finances and paying bills due to her macular degeneration. When she mentioned her difficulty to a Resident Services staff member at Culpepper Garden, they told her about a two-year old program called the Arlington Money Management Program. The program is managed by Senior Services of Alexandria and is funded under the Older Americans Act. The funds come through the Arlington Agency on Aging of the Department of Human Services. Culpepper Garden generously donates office space for the program administrator.

Mrs. Robinson was surprised to learn that there was someone who could help her right at Culpepper Garden. Shortly after this conversation, Mrs. Robinson met with June Hoye, the program administrator and an experienced money manager.

Getting assistance with her financial matters has helped her to realize that “money is pretty good to have,” Mrs. Robinson says. June Hoye was able to help Mrs. Robinson write necessary checks and consolidate and minimize her debt.

June notes, “Mrs. Robinson had incurred tremendous debt because of her generosity in giving to others.” When June began working with her, Mrs. Robinson was writing checks to six different credit card companies each month. June took her to Consumer Credit Counseling Service, and they were able to consolidate her debts and arrange for a single monthly payment.

“My checking balance is higher than I’ve ever had before. I’m even getting a little stingy! I don’t want to spend it now,” says Mrs. Robinson, who is relieved to finally have her finances in order.

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