Seniors in Debt

Paying the bills and maintaining control of debt is hard enough for people in their active working years, but it's even harder for people who're retired, and for many, it's impossible. That's why people over 65 are filing for bankruptcy in record numbers.

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The number of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy has tripled in the past 15 years, making them the fastest growing age group taking that route. Kelly Rote of the nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling Service Houston office says more seniors than ever are coming to them for help.

"A lot of them still want to pay off their debts before they pass on, and I think a lot of that has to do with the rising medical costs, prescription drug costs, as well as being on a fixed income and possibly not being as prepared as they would have liked to be."

In addition to higher costs for practically everything, record numbers of seniors are up to their eyeballs in debt. Studies show senior households have an average of 23 thousand dollars in unpaid bills. This is why millions of people approaching retirement age are realizing they can't afford to retire, and many are opting to keep working as long as they able. Kelly Rote says this just shows why people need to get rid of their debts while they're working so they -can- afford to retire.

"If you have a house it might be a good time for you to pay it off. It might be within a couple of years, maybe pay that off now, pay that car off now before you end up on that fixed income, so you can live comfortably on that lower income level."

Rote says people need to face the fact that they will reach an age when they won't be able to work any more, and they need to be taking steps now to bring their living costs down into line with the reduced income they will surely have. The key, she says, is reducing the cost of living without also reducing the standard of living.

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