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AARP Expert

10 Tips on the Financial Matters of Caregiving - TIP #8: Create a Caregiving Budget

When I started intensive caregiving for my parents, it took a while to get a handle on my parents' financial situation. The first thing I did was to create a spreadsheet that included:


  • Their income (Social Security, pensions, rent from a property in another state etc.)
  • Their expenses (housing and household, medical/healthcare, personal care/caregiving, animal care, payments on debt, etc.)

That gave me an idea of what was coming in and what was going out (and if there was anything left over at the end of the month). It showed me where their highest expenses were and helped me figure out what could be cut back, as well as what would likely increase, like their housing (they moved to a senior community for a few years), medical expenses, healthcare, etc. 


The numbers didn't add up. So I looked for ways to increase their income. They started receiving their long-term care insurance benefits and that helped. Later, I applied for Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits for Dad, which eventually helped pay for their care. 

I used that initial spreadsheet for about a decade, updating it frequently. Without that budget spreadsheet I would not have had a handle on the finances. 


If you aren't proficient at spreadsheets, no worries! There are many ways to create a caregiving budget. A piece of paper and a calculator is all you really need, as well as the ability to track income and expenses. They may share that information with you, or if you their power of attorney for finances you should be able to access that information yourself. 


AARP has created an excellent Financial Workbook for Family Caregivers that includes a helpful sample budget worksheet which you can fill in online or print to complete. It lists key budget categories which can help you ensure you don't leave anything out. The Guide is available in EnglishSpanishChinese, and a Military/Veterans version. 


Some other resources that can help you calculate income and care costs include:

Your caregiving budget doesn't need to be fancy, it just needs to be thorough. It will change over time as your loved ones needs change (and potentially their income could change as well), so  expect that - then you won't be thrown by the changes. But it's a framework you can keep going back to over and over to stay on track. 


Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving



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