Work & Money

Resources to Manage Finances from Home in the COVID-19 Era

It is now a matter of public safety to stay at home, and many financial institutions are closing branches or limiting access to their physical locations to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, the internet can open new options for saving money and managing your finances without leaving the house. The key is finding services that are reputable, safe, and easy to use. That’s why Senior Planet is partnering with Zelle, a person-to-person (P2P) payment service, to help you learn safe ways to manage your money—and even save a little—online. Ready to dive in?

Online and mobile banking 

Most banks and credit unions have an online banking option that’s easy to use. Even if you’ve been anxious about trying an online banking platform in the past, there are plenty of benefits to being able to manage your money online or your smartphone.

There are deep security measures in place on online banking platforms to help keep your information secure. When you visit an online banking website, check the URL in the web address bar— you’ll see “https://” at the beginning of the address. That “s” stands for secure, and it means that any information you enter on that website is encrypted so that only the sender and recipient can read it. Banks and credit unions may also use a safety process called “multi-factor authentication,” which requires users to provide multiple pieces of evidence that prove their identity. For example, you’ll be asked to enter your password, and then the financial institution may send a code to your cell phone for you to enter as well. They can also detect transactions that are irregular and notify you quickly when something looks suspicious – for instance, if there’s unauthorized activity on your account.

One added benefit: every online banking website and mobile application is a bit different, but many banks and credit unions allow you to set up utility payments through their platform, so you can have payments deducted securely and automatically by their due date. Hundreds of banks and credit unions across the U.S. also allow you to access Zelle through their platform— more on that below.

Saving money online 

Online services are often cheaper than their traditional counterparts. Online retailers are as popular, and as affordable, as they’ve ever been. From e-commerce giants like Amazon and eBay to specialized prescription drug sites like FamilyWize or GoodRx, online retailers can offer low prices because they don’t carry the same overhead costs as brick-and-mortar stores. Shopping online also allows you to compare prices easily across retailers so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.

Make sure the retailers you purchase from are well-known, and stick to those that you may have even purchased from physically, as they have online options now.

You can also save by switching to online versions of some of your daily services. To save on your phone plan, switch to WiFi calling options. Google Hangouts, Skype, and WhatsApp are free services that allow you to voice- or video-call friends and family over an internet connection.

Video-streaming services like Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu can bring you network TV shows plus thousands of films, music and original programs for anywhere from $5.99 to $16.99 a month.

Online payments 

Shopping online is not the only reason you might need to move money electronically. If you want to send a cash gift to a friend or family member, there’s no need to suit up and head to the ATM or mail a check.

P2P payments are a simple way to send and receive money digitally with people you know and trust. When you log into your mobile banking app or online banking website, Zelle allows you to send and receive money directly from one bank account in the U.S. to another using only a recipient’s email address or U.S. mobile number. Currently, more than 800 financial institutions are contracted to participate in the Zelle Network® with more than half online today and processing transactions. For consumers who don’t already have access to Zelle in their mobile banking app, the Zelle app provides an option for consumers to send and receive money with people they trust.

Zelle is linked directly to your bank account, and your data is encrypted to prevent theft and fraud. SSL security measures also protect your identity and activity. It’s also fast: Zelle allows you to send money from your bank account to the account of someone you trust typically within minutes when both parties are already enrolled with Zelle. It saves time and paper, and you don’t have to worry about ATM fees.

One thing worth noting— almost all P2P services will require an email address and/or mobile number to sign up, verify your account, and receive notifications.

Avoiding fraud and scams 

Scammers may use your email address or mobile phone number to trick you into sending them money. The best way to avoid fraud and scams is to only engage with people and entities you know and trust, whose identity you can verify. If you do think you’ve been tricked into parting with your money, the following websites— in addition to your financial institution— can provide help:

Zelle‘s Pay It Safe

Tips and resources for safe P2P payments

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

Offers seniors and their families information and tools to safely manage financial challenges.

The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA)

Contains information on all types of elder abuse, including financial exploitation, and resources for reporting elder abuse.

The National Consumers League’s Fraud Information Center

Individuals can register complaints of fraud. It’s also a resource for tips to prevent fraud targeted at senior citizens.

This post was sponsored by Zelle, a service we genuinely love!


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