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.
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.
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.
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?
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.