Market Overview

Pre-Retirement Age Adults And Seniors Face Growing Debt: Here's What It Looks Like

Pre-Retirement Age Adults And Seniors Face Growing Debt: Here's What It Looks Like

When you think about retirement, you may imagine living debt-free with financial independence and security. But, in recent years, seniors face a growing amount of debt. In fact, between 2007 and 2010, the amount of personal debt for families headed by a senior age 75 or older has more than doubled. Pre-retirement age adults between 55 and 64 carry even more.

Instead of bolstering retirement accounts, like Roth IRAs, traditional IRAs, or 401(k)s, older adults spend time trying to retire with looming debt. This may be true for you or a loved one. If you look closely at the different types of debt most seniors carry, you can develop a strategy to help minimize debt into retirement.

Mortgage Debt

It would be ideal to own your home outright. After all, eliminating any fixed expense allows you to write on live comfortably with less money.

Paying off the mortgage may seem like a smart idea, but remember that the mortgage interest is a potentially large and important tax deduction for you. Identify your current deduction versus the standard deduction. If you don’t think paying off your mortgage is feasible, but need extra cash, consider downsizing. You can sell your home and use the cash-out proceeds to buy a smaller home with cash.

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt can be particularly concerning if you are approaching retirement. Take a look at the monthly interest charges on your credit card bills. This is the total cost associated with carrying a balance on your credit cards.

Because credit card interest rates can be extremely high, it's important to focus on eliminating this debt as soon as possible. If you can afford to, make the largest payments possible on your cards. Or, you may want to consider consolidating all of your credit card debt into a single lower interest vehicle. If this is overwhelming, you should seek a nonprofit credit counselor.

Student Loan Debt

People associate student loan debt with younger adults, but many seniors have student loan debt from helping their children get through college. Some older adults went back to school later in life.

Interest rates on student loan debt may be lower than your credit card debt. But because student loan debt can be tens of thousands of dollars, the interest adds up quickly. Luckily, most student loan services are willing to work with you as long as you disclose your financial situation. Usually, you'll need verification of your net or gross income. Focus on paying off the highest interest loan, then work your way down.


To repay your debts off faster, you clearly need to make larger payments. For many, this may seem impossible. It’s tough to find the extra funds. You’ll have to find a second job to supplement income, delay retirement, or only partially retire.

Retirement shouldn’t be a stressful experience. A thoughtful, realistic plan can reduce your debt balances.

Posted-In: Education Personal Finance General Best of Benzinga


Related Articles

View Comments and Join the Discussion!