If you are a senior struggling with credit card debt, you are not alone. For the first time, middle-class households headed by someone 50-plus years of age carried more credit card debt on average than households of people younger than 50, according to a recent study by Demos National Survey on Credit Card Debt. Half of the respondents said they carried medical debt on their credit cards and a third said they used credit cards to pay for daily expenses.
Seniors carry credit card debt for a variety of reasons. Some are still paying off educational loans or their children’s educational loans. Many seniors are carrying credit card debt into retirement. The debt may have been management when they were working, but has become a burden when their income level drops. Oftentimes, medical debt compounds the problem, as health insurance only covers a portion of healthcare costs.
Here are some tips for seniors to help take control and manage their credit card debt:
- Find a nonprofit credit counselor. The sooner you seek help, the better.
- Contact your credit card company to see if you can work out a payment plan.
- Adjust your lifestyle. Cut your expenses (i.e. – expensive cell phone plans, cable and Internet packages);
- Get help with budgeting. Paying off your debts only works if your spending is under control. Know where your money is going every month. Making a few small changes to your monthly expenses can add up and give you more money to pay down debt.
- For medical debt, talk with your doctor’s office to see what your options are. Avoid medical credit cards they may offer you; these come with very high interest rates, regardless of your credit score.
- Consider a reverse mortgage. There are many ways you can use your home to get through difficult financial times, but there are risks associated with taking this route. Make sure this will solve your financial problem without adding to it.
- Consider bankruptcy. If you are struggling with insurmountable credit card or medical debt, bankruptcy may be right for you. This option will allow you to reorganize your financial situation and discharge your debts if you cannot pay them. There are several different types of bankruptcy, so you want to carefully weigh your options. Many bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations and will advise you on the best course of action.
If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.