Carrying our debt into retirement

Older consumers are carrying more debt, including mortgage, credit card and even student loan debt, into their retirement years.

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According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average life expectancy for a female is 81 years old and the average life expectancy for a male is 76 years old. People are living longer.

On top of this, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances, 60 percent of older consumers are carrying debt that is averaging $31,300 in 2016.  This includes mortgage, credit card and even student loan debt which older adult households bring into their retirement years and is 2.5 times more than in 2001. Habits may have changed from previous generations. According to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) study, 56% of older consumers carry the burden of a mortgage payment into their retirement years. And they owe more on their homes and have less equity.

The CFPB cites the fact that delinquency rates and foreclosure rates increased during the first decade of the millennium for older consumers. Those retired and living on fixed incomes and having to make mortgage payments makes them vulnerable to financial distress. In addition, they face increased health and long-term care expenses. Therefore, many older consumers are having to work during their retirement years.

If you find yourself having to work longer than you had planned, it may be very beneficial to stop and assess your financial situation. How much debt are you carrying? How much longer before you pay off your mortgage? Are your affairs in order? Who will be liable for your debt if you pass away? Now it may be more important than ever to get rid of your debt. See this article on paying off debt. If you are vulnerable to financial distress, take steps now to guard against it.

Finally, if you have to work into your retirement years, make the best of it. Seek training in new areas that you have always been interested in but never had the time to pursue. Maybe it is finally time to decide what you want to be when you grow up! Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of money management programs throughout the state of Michigan.

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