Spring/Summer 2013 

Be your own finance specialist


One thing that has stuck with me from my least favorite class in college - economics - was the phrase: "When your liabilities exceed your assets, you have to increase income or cut expenses." However, "cuts" are usually associated with "pain," so I like to take a different approach: freeing up resources.
When the cost of living keeps creeping up, and income doesn't follow proportionately, many older adults dust off their interview clothes and register with the
55+ Employment Resource Center. But there's another job that many seniors are doing at home: they are becoming their own personal finance specialists.


First, they draft a budget to see exactly what income they are receiving and how much their expenses were in the previous year. Everything is scrutinized: utility costs, medical costs, food, transportation, cat litter (its cost, that is). A computer program such as Quicken or various free budget programs such as Mint or AceMoney Lite can make this process easier. Forbes has a list of budgeting software.

Next, it's time to find out how much money you can "free up" without cutting good things out of your life. A method of locating benefits and discounts easily and privately is the Benefits Checkup tool. It covers everything from utility discounts to public benefits, activities, health insurance and specific medications you may be taking.

Then, go through your junk mail and clip coupons. Take advantage of free entertainment, events and free food sampling at stores. Look through the

Special Discounts Directory to find out where you can use your Gold Card. Talk with others to see what cost-saving measures they've come up with. Bring in some extra income by selling some of your "excess inventory" (unused possessions) on eBay.  


Finally, what should you do with the money you will be saving? As rewarding as it sounds to spend it all, remember that unexpected expenses do come up, and having a penny saved can be some peace of mind earned.

(By Alain Rhone, Senior Information & Assistance Advocate)

Financial security workshop from AARP

Golden Egg The AARP Foundation and the Charles Schwab Foundation are working together to offer a series of "Finances 50+" workshops designed to help older adults who are concerned about their financial security.

Whether you're feeling overwhelmed by not having enough money to go around, or simply hoping to save more toward a comfortable retirement, this program offers assistance in setting and achieving goals. The free course is offered as a three-part series where participants will learn how to develop smart money habits and take charge of their finances. All course materials are included for each section:
  • Where you are - Where you want to go - How to get there
  • Taking Control of Credit and Debt 
  • Building and Protecting your Assets
The courses are free, but pre-registration is required. Call 1-800-646-2283 for more information and to register. Seattle classes scheduled to-date include:

The Terrace - SHAG 
120 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104
May 30, June 6 & June 13, 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Arrowhead Gardens - SHAG 
9220 2nd Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98106
June 12, 19 & 26, 3:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Victoria Park - SHAG 
13716 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125
June 10, 17 & 24, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Cedar Park - SHAG 
12740 30th Ave. NE, Seattle, WA 98125
July 15, 22 & 29, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Gold Cards stretch your dollars

Gold Card Residents of Seattle and King County who are 60 years of age or older, and adults with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 59, may be eligible to receive a free Gold Card or FLASH Card. Both cards provide easy access to information and assistance as well as discounts on admissions to museums and special events; reduced fees for services; discounts on pet licenses and adoptions; registration at senior nutrition sites; and discounts from businesses, restaurants, theaters, Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium and professional service providers throughout the greater Seattle area. Benefits are listed in a Special Discounts Directory, available online.
Gold and FLASH Cards are available at the Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, your nearest Neighborhood Service Center; Seattle Parks and Recreation community centers; Seattle Animal Control; the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. For more information, please contact: Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, Central Building Suite 350, 810 3rd Ave. (3rd Ave. between Marion & Columbia streets, in downtown Seattle), 206-684-0500, or seniors@seattle.gov. 

Extra help - from Social Security


social security Think of all the times and ways that you have been there to help friends, relatives, or even strangers. Lending a hand, at a time of need, is an important part of being human. Can you use some help today? Social Security can assist you with the Extra Help program - that can reduce or eliminate Medicare prescription drug costs. If you are covered by Medicare and have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for Extra Help to pay part of prescription drug monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments. Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,000 per year.  
To figure out whether if you are eligible, Social Security needs to know your income and the value of your savings, investments and real estate (other than the home she lives in). To qualify, you must be receiving Medicare and have: 
  • Income limited to $17,235 for an individual or $23,265 for a married couple living together.  
  • Resources limited to $13,300 for an individual or $26,580 for a married couple living together.
Social Security has an easy-to-use online application that you can complete quickly. To apply by phone or have an application mailed to you, call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and ask for the Application for Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (SSA-1020). Or go to the nearest Social Security office. To learn more about the Medicare prescription drug plans and special enrollment periods, visit this Web site or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227; TTY 1-877-486-2048).  
(By Kirk Larson, Social Security Western Washington Public Affairs Specialist)

Get your finances in order!

Finance It's never too late to organize your finances. Everyone can use some help getting their financial affairs in order, but especially senior citizens who may face special challenges and decisions involving money management later in life. Here are a few tips. For a more detailed list, please see this Web site.

Simplify your life: Have your Social Security benefits, pension payments and other income automatically deposited into your bank account each month. Direct deposits are safe, reliable and convenient. Also arrange with your bank to automatically pay your mortgage, utility bills, insurance premiums and other recurring charges. You can also have automatic withdrawals from your bank account to routinely put a certain amount of money into a savings account, a certificate of deposit (CD), a mutual fund or a U.S. Savings Bond. Other tips: use telephone banking, consider banking and bill paying online, and consider opening a "cash management account" that combines cash, stocks and other assets into one account.

Update your will and other legal documents: Who will inherit your savings accounts and other property when you die? Who else should have access to checking accounts to pay bills if you're hospitalized? These are the kinds of questions you should be asking yourself, preferably in consultation with family members and your lawyer or other experts. Your answers to these questions may require actions involving important legal documents and how you set up various bank accounts. You may want to hire an attorney specializing in elder law or "estate planning."

Organize and protect important documents: Make sure your bank and brokerage statements, insurance policies, Social Security, and other personal and financial papers are in a safe place and easy to get to. Consider renting a safe deposit box at your bank for certain papers that could be difficult or impossible to replace, such as birth certificates and originals of important contracts. For the most important papers you keep at home, consider an inexpensive but durable home safe.

Toss old documents: Are you afraid to throw away old bank statements, bills, receipts and cancelled checks because you think you may need them some day? For example, cancelled checks with no long-term significance for tax or other purposes probably can be destroyed after about a year. Cancelled checks that support your tax returns (such as charitable contributions, investments, home improvement costs or tax payments) should be held for at least seven years, and in some cases indefinitely.

Take precautions with old accounts: For the benefit of your heirs, either dispose of proof of old bank and brokerage accounts, life insurance policies and other assets you no longer own (again, assuming you don't need the documents for tax or other purposes) or clearly mark them as being sold or cashed in. Otherwise, loved ones could waste a lot of time and effort researching these mystery accounts when there is no money or property to be claimed.

(Washington State Department of Financial Institutions) 

Take small steps to become computer savvy

STS volunteers We all learned how to crawl before we took our first cautious, small steps. With encouragement from those teaching and helping us, our steps grew bigger and more steady as we became full-fledged toddlers. Just like learning to walk, people of all ages are learning to use computers, cell phones, and new technology - and, yes, it can be overwhelming at first. This is where the Seniors Training Seniors Program (STS) can help with our amazing volunteers who thoroughly enjoy teaching seniors from age 50 to 90+.

Pictured on the right is our first "intergenerational team" for 2013. Lead instructor Floyd Reichman has been with STS for more than 10 years sharing his vast knowledge of Excel Spreadsheets. In addition to his area of expertise, he brings his zest for life, humor, patience and professional acting talents to each class he teaches. Volunteer assistant Daniela McDougall has been with STS a few months assisting other STS instructors when needed. She brings to our program the qualities of all the STS volunteers: patience, humor, compassion and a true enjoyment of working with seniors.

STS classes end in June and begin again in September. Call to register in mid-August for the fall classes. 
Potential volunteers: If you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities with the Seniors Training Seniors program, e-mail or call Patti-lyn Bell (contact information below). If you would like to teach in a historically underserved community, speak another language, or have lived outside of the United States, please include this information in the e-mail or phone message.

To register and for more information about the program, please contact Patti-lyn Bell, Program Coordinator, Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens, Human Services Department, at patricia.bell@seattle.gov or 206-684-6039.

(By Patti-lyn Bell)
Upcoming Events


Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens Coffee Hours

Thursday, June 20 
Speaker: Bernie Matsuno, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Director
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Location: Central Building, 810 3rd Ave., Seattle, 1st fl. conference room 

Thursday, July 19
Speaker: Jesse Eller, Aging & Disability Services Division Director
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Location: Central Building, 810 3rd Ave., Seattle, 1st fl. conference room 

Thursday August 15
Speaker: TBD
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Location: Central Building, 810 3rd Ave., Seattle, 1st fl. conference room 

Thursday, September 19
Speaker: TBD
Time: 10-11 a.m.
Location: Central Building,  810 3rd Ave, Seattle, 1st fl. conference room 
For the latest schedule, please visit this Web page

More 2013 Summer Events

  • May 31 - June 2, Edmonds Waterfront Festival, $3 admission fee; children under 12 free. Live music and entertainment on stage, a 5K run, classic yachts on display, beer garden, and a fish hatchery with free fishing for children, face painting, art projects.   


  • June 14-16, Edmonds Art Festival, Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sun 10 a.m. -6 p.m., 240 selected artist exhibitors. Food, entertainment, Activities; Frances Anderson Cultural Center; 700 Main Street, Edmonds, WA, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.  
  • June 22-23, Fremont Parade and Fair; Fremont Solstice Parade begins 3:00 p.m. Saturday at 3rd Avenue NW and NW 36th Street and ends at Gasworks Park. Fremont Fair both days: art and craft booths, local bands, food vendors, a beer garden, funky painted cars, and a dog parade on Sunday. Free.  
  • June 29, Greenwood Car Show; 1.5 miles of classic cars, hot rods, antiques, live bands and vendors on Greenwood Avenue North. Free.  
  • June 30, Seattle Pride Festival, Seattle Center. Parade, rally and fun vendor areas at Seattle Center. Participants come from the greater Seattle area, around the State and beyond. 


  • July 13-14, Chinatown-International District Dragon Fest, Saturday, 12 PM - 8 PM; Sunday, 12 PM - 6 PM. Admission is free. Japanese Drumming, Chinese Martial Arts, Filipino Dancing, Lion and Dragon dances, live concerts featuring Jazz, New Age and Pop music.
  • July 19-21, 27th Annual Seafair Indian Days Pow Wow, Discovery Park. Three day celebration with 500+ dancers 25 drum groups. Native vendors showcase and sell arts and crafts. Traditional salmon bake dinner and frybread. 
  • July 19-21, Bite of Seattle; 50+ participating restaurants, cooking demos, wine tasting, beer garden, entertainment. Free entry at Seattle Center.   
  • July 27, Seafair Torchlight Parade; starting time: 7:30 p.m., Seattle Center/4th Avenue; Colorful floats, drill teams, Seafair pirates. Pre-parade party at Seattle Center to see exhibits, view floats. Free. 


  • August 2-4, Seafair Air Show & Hydroplane Races; Albert Lee Cup, Boeing Air Show. 
  • August 2-4, UmojaFest African American Heritage Festival, Judkins Park, 2150 S. Norman St., Seattle, WA 98144. Music and cultural festival features a parade, live music from African diaspora including jazz, soul, hip-hop, reggae, afrobeat, and gospel. Food, fashion show, basketball tournament. 
  • August 22-September 2, Evergreen State Fair, Monroe, WA. The first day of the fair is discounted until 1 p.m.; Senior Citizens Day: Monday, August 27, Ages 62 and up receive FREE gate admission all day.
  • August 31-September 2, Bumbershoot, Labor Day Weekend Music and Arts Festival at Seattle Center. 


  • September 6-22, Washington State Fair (previously the Puyallup Fair), largest, oldest, and most popular fair in the state features rodeo, food, entertainment. Seniors 62+ tickets are $9.00.  
  • September 13-15, St. Demetrios Greek Festival, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2100 Boyer Ave East, Seattle, WA 98112, (206) 325-4347. Homemade Greek food includes lamb, calamari, gyros, baklava, souvlaki and wine. Traditional Greek dancers performing in costume.  
  • September 20-22, Fremont Oktoberfest, three beer gardens and more than 70 kinds of beer; entertainment and a 5K run.  
HSD logo 
Dannette R. Smith, Director

HSD's mission is to connect people with resources and solutions during times of need so we can all live, learn, work and take part in strong, healthy communities. For more timely or breaking news, visit our blog, Human Interests, or visit our Web site.