Credit Card debt Crippling Retirement?

 

Oftentimes the oldest generation of Americans are seen as the most frugal - they experienced the Great Depression, they abhor debt, they saved their pennies, and while they may now be living off of social security, at least they don't owe anyone money.  

A New York Time blog post in The New Old Age challenges that picture today in the posting "Retirements Swallowed by Debt".  There are some bleak statistics in the article:

  • growing numbers of elderly want or need jobs
  • 30% of workers over 55 have more credit card debt than retirement savings
  • average credit card debt for those 65 and older is $10,235

I think the critical take away from the article is how children seem to stumble across the problem as a surprise - not an issue being candidly discussed.  I know my clients often hide the debt, embarrassed by the situation.  Their kids are then shocked when not only are they dealing with a health care situation (which is what typically brings them into looking at the finances), but also a money management situation.

The solution - communication.  I am not advocating that anyone who is retired turn over their finances.  However, I think the question every once in while to mom and dad "are you doing OK financially - is there any way I can help" can open the door to talking about issues before they become problems.

Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss is a shareholder of the Law Firm of Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C., with offices in Parsippany and Toms River, New Jersey. She concentrates her practice in the areas of Elder Law, Estate Planning and Administration, Business Planning and Tax Law. Deirdre's individual clients range from their 20's to their 80's and beyond, while her business clients range from start-ups with exciting new ideas to 100+ year old business ventures. Clients seek Deirdre's advice and assistance with a variety of planning issues relating to identifying and meeting their personal, family and business goals, whether in a planning or crises situation.