Know Your Options
Senior Citizens 65 and older are the group with fastest growing credit card debt.
Owing money to creditors can be stressful if your debt continues to affect you basic needs. Remember that you do have options.
Many older people are unable to make their monthly budgets on a pension or social security. Most of this debt is not because of irresponsible spending. A lot of times people will use credit cards for Medical expenses and other basic necessities. When these people struggle with out-of-control debt, to make ends meet they may cut back on necessities, or even food or medication.
Common Debt Relief Options
You can take control of your situation and get out of debt with one or more of these five options:
- Debt settlement
- Credit counseling
- Debt consolidation
Senior citizens, especially widows with little financial experience, have an average debt of $5800 because their expenses exceed their income from social security and pensions.
Debt Negotiation or Debt Settlement
Debt settlement services offer to negotiate and settle your debts for less than you owe. Debt settlement is an option for people who cannot afford their monthly payments, and who are not worried if their credit rating will be negatively impacted during the program.
Credit counseling is a program that enrolls you on a debt management plan which usually allows you to qualify for a lower interest rate and/or lower payments. The plan should include reduced interest rates, lessons in budgeting and money management, or a comprehensive debt management program.
Always question credit counselors who:
- Ask you to pay a high up-front fee
- Offer a plan without assessing your situation
- Require you to sign up before the consultation
- Don’t teach budgeting or money management skills
You may be able to consolidate your debts with a home equity loan or other debt consolidation loan. If you’re confident that you’ll be able to make the payments without building more credit card debt, debt consolidation can be an excellent way to reduce your payments and possibly reduce your taxes.
Self-Help Debt Relief
The easiest debt relief options are things you can do yourself, like:
- Track your spending
- Check your credit
- Negotiate with creditors
Bankruptcy should be your last choice for getting out of debt because it will damage your credit for 7-10 years and, depending on which type of bankruptcy you file for, you could be forced to give up some of your assets or assigned a long-term payment plan.
Debt can be stressful, but once you gain control over it, you’ll sleep better at night. Debt relief options like free online budgeting and debt management tools or professional credit and debt services can help you become free of bad debt and start planning for your future again.