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Why more seniors are encountering credit card problems

When a person makes the momentous decision to retire after spending 30-40 years in the workforce, they understandably envision embarking on a new lifestyle that is largely stress-free. Indeed, they may see the years ahead as being filled with new hobbies, dream vacations, family visits and, of course, days of leisure.

Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that many seniors are finding their post-retirement dreams becoming something of a nightmare owing to skyrocketing credit card debt. 

If you don't believe it, consider a study by the AARP's Public Policy Institute found that for the first time ever back in 2012, middle-income households headed by someone 50 and over had higher levels of credit card debt on average than middle-income households headed by people younger than 50.

Why are so many seniors having so many problems with credit card debt?     

Experts indicate that seniors are amassing more credit card debt for a host of reasons, some of which may not come as too much of a shock and some of which may be somewhat surprising.

As an illustration of the former, experts have found that many seniors saw their retirement savings diminished during the Great Recession forcing them to rely more on credit cards for daily expenses. Still others, they've found, have carried an already sizeable credit card balance into retirement and also incurred some degree of medical debt upon exiting the workforce, creating a sort of perfect storm of money woes.

As an illustration of the latter, experts have found that many seniors are still having to pay off student loans owing to a return to school later in life, or are feeling the effects of being too generous with their financial assistance to adult children or grandchildren.

What can seniors do when confronted by problems with credit card debt?   

The good news is that seniors with credit card issues are not without options. Indeed, experts indicate that any one of the following may provide a much-needed lifeline:

  • Attempting to work out an arrangement with the credit card company, which will likely offers some manner of forbearance or hardship program
  • Paying off some or all of their high-interest credit card debt with savings to create a clean slate
  • Making simple lifestyle adjustments to save money and applying these funds toward credit card debt

It's also important for seniors to understand that if credit card debt becomes truly unmanageable, they may consider speaking with a skilled legal profession to learn more about the fresh financial start provided by Chapter 7 bankruptcy.    

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