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Older Americans carrying significant debt into retirement

A recent report from the public policy institute at the AARP found higher credit card balances for Americans over the age of 50 than those under 50. In fact, Americans who are over 50 years old carry an average balance of more than $8,000.

One significant factor, experts say, could be that older people are lending or giving more money to family members who are struggling as result of the recession, depleting their own savings to assist children and grandchildren who are working to get on their feet.

Like parents who take on substantial student loan debt on behalf of their children, grandparents are becoming more and more involved in payments for homes or contributions to weddings.

These types of expenses were once reserved for the younger generations who had more time to pay them off and establish savings for retirement. Now, these financial obligations are leading to financial hardship and impacting the ability to retire.

In fact, for older Memphis readers, debt relief solutions should be carefully considered along with retirement plans and timeline. For example, forfeiting a major asset like the family home during the foreclosure process may relieve debt in the short term, but it could have long term implications if the alternative housing prospects would be much more expensive. In those cases, it may be wiser to fight to stay in the home and renegotiate or attempt to discharge other debts. In other situations, a home may be too large and costly to maintain, so losing it in foreclosure may actually end up as a financial boon, helping to save more money down the line.

Of course, each situation will be different and every family's financial circumstances should be taken into account when evaluating debt relief options.

Source: New York Times, "For Older Americans, a Deepening Debt Problem" Carmen Wong Ulrich, March 26, 2013.

Information about debt relief and asset forfeiture is available on our repossession lawyer page.

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