Senior Citizens’ Credit Card Debt – Information and Solutions

Senior citizens’ credit card debt is something that a surprising number of seniors in the United States struggle with. While there is an unfortunate misconception regarding this kind of debt – namely that only young and inexperienced or foolish people get into trouble with credit cards – the reality is that millions of seniors are forced to file for bankruptcy or worse every year because of damaged credit due to misuse of cards. Here’s what you need to know if you or a loved one is facing senior citizens’ credit card debt – and what to do about it.

How Did You Get Here? Deciphering Senior Citizen’s Credit Card Debt

One of the most confusing things about senior citizens’ credit card debt is understanding how people who are often so experienced in life and financial matters got to the point of unmanageable debt. The truth is, American society is simply set up to cost far more than most people of an average or below-average income can readily afford.

Many seniors become indebted because of medical bills or surprise expenses related to their health, home or auto repairs, or changing living situations as they age and require more extensive care. These are necessary expenses that are often difficult to plan for and are not a mark of irresponsibility. The cycle begins with older Americans who have built solid credit scores being offered and approved for credit cards with large spending limits. The problem is, once they are swimming in credit card debt, there is not much of a safety net to help them find dry land again.

The Problem with Retirement

Retirement is another reason so many seniors are struggling with credit card debt. Most Americans move through their working years with a goal of retirement in mind. Whether that means living lavishly and relaxing every day or simply not needing to work anymore once you reach the golden years of your life, it’s something almost everyone shoots for. Unfortunately, in the modern day, many of those shots end up missing the mark.

Retirement savings are often not enough for today’s seniors to live on. Even those who have saved well and planned for a future without a working income often find themselves strapped for funds when they encounter expenses like children’s college or student loans to pay for – or end up needing to drain their retirement savings and then some just to pay for daily living expenses. These circumstances are what often lead to the need for credit to get by and eventually massive credit card debt.


So, What Can Seniors Do?

When you’re trapped in the seemingly endless cycle of debt as a senior – or watching a loved one who is feeling the financial pinch – you may be wondering if there are any options. After all, many of the solutions offered for the typical debtor are aimed at long-term financial stability, and seniors may not have that kind of time to invest. So, what can be done about senior citizens’ credit card debt?

  • Start with credit counseling. There are many non-profit credit counseling organizations that can help you reorganize your finances. These groups typically offer credit education and advice, as well as financial guidance. Look for these professionals in your area.
  • Ask your kids and other loved ones to do the same. Do you have adult children or other family members or friends asking you for financial support or assistance? This is common for older Americans. However, it is also one of the biggest reasons those senior citizens end up on debt. Ask your loved ones to seek credit or financial counseling if they are struggling. It is a difficult conversation to have, but it will help you all stay afloat.
  • Be willing to part with your savings. Sound obvious? Maybe, but far too many seniors cling to their financial safety net rather than paying bills as they should. Put bill payment first on your financial priority list every month.
  • Reimagine life after retirement. Many of us think of retirement as “the good life”. We save images of luxury for our golden years – but that’s often what leads to financial trouble. Readjust your priorities and your lifestyle to better fit your means. You may find that you don’t truly sacrifice anything more than stress about money!
  • Talk to your creditors. Have you ever asked your creditors for help with your debt? For some people that may sound strange, but there is a surprising amount of assistance available if you’re simply willing to ask. Many creditors will reduce your debt upon being shown that you can’t easily pay the debt with your current means. Others may offer easy-to-manage payment plans, especially when you’re timely about making those payments. Don’t be afraid to talk to your creditors about help with reducing your overall financial burden. The worst they can do is say no!
  • Make medical debt a priority. Oftentimes, medical debt can be forgiven during a certain window of time. Even older debts can be reduced, or payment plans may be possible. Talk to your provider or medical creditor to find out more.
  • Talk to a legal professional. When all else fails – or, preferably, before it does – it’s a good idea to talk to a legal professional about your debt situation. A bankruptcy lawyer like Florida’sChad Van Horn can help you understand your debt, advise you on finding solutions to manage it, and even help you successfully argue your case with creditors. They can also help you navigate the bankruptcy process, should you choose to go that route.

There are more drastic measures that can be taken when debt relief is needed quickly and needs to be substantial. Some seniors may consider a reverse mortgage on their homes, or other types of financial reorganization to prevent financial disaster. These come with their own laundry list of risks, though, and should be considered carefully.

Senior citizens’ credit card debt happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to be the end of any of us. Talk to your creditors, your financial counselor, and your local legal professional to find out what can be done to fix your situation. You may find that things are much more manageable than they seem.

Article Name
Senior Citizens’ Credit Card Debt – Information and Solutions
Senior citizens’ credit card debt happens to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to be the end of any of us.
Chad Van Horn
Van Horn Law Group
Van Horn Law Group
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Chad Van Horn

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