Debt Complicates Retirement Plans

By KBJR News 1

April 8, 2013 Updated Apr 8, 2013 at 1:01 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- A recent study shows older Americans, especially the baby-boomer generation, are deeper in debt than previous generations.

For many, debt is complicating retirement plans.

Retiring isn't yet in the cards for Marlene Lane, a 69-year-old working full time.

"We aren't struggling, but it's just hard to start saving to put away for retirement," Lane said.

But many of Lane's peers are carrying debt into retirement and are facing struggles she knows well.

"Our medical has gone so high, our health insurance, homeowners, all that stuff has gone so high," she said.

A recent U.S. Census Bureau report measured household debt between 2001 and 2011.

For those ages 55 to 64, median household debt increased by 64 percent, with the average household carrying a debt of $70,000.

The median household debt for those 65 and older more than doubled, and the likelihood of holding debt increased.

"From bad luck to poor planning, to a budget change that eliminates your position when you are 55," Malcom Johannessen, a Housing Counselor with Lutheran Social Service said.

"All of a sudden, people are faced with retirement,” Tom Bloomquist, a Housing Counselor of LSS said. “They maybe have a home that they realize doesn't have the equity it once had."

Financial experts say secured debt, like mortgages and home equity loans are the biggest debt contributor.

"I see a lot of debt in people, 55 to 60-years-old who have a 30 year mortgage who are only into three years of payments," Johannessen said.

To conquer, or keep debt from catching up to you before retirement, assess and evaluate your situation now.

"Make it a family budget,” Bloomquist said. “Sit down with your significant other and really assess and evaluate where you are at. You need to know where you are in order to know where you need to go."

For many, developing a financial plan alone is overwhelming so help from a financial counselor may be beneficial.

"There is no shame in seeking help,” Johannessen said. “This stuff was never taught in school."

LSS is an organization that offers assistance.

The percentage of U.S. households holding some form of debt declined from 74 percent to 69 percent between 2000 and 2011.

At the same time, the median amount of household debt increased.

To conquer debt visit LSS Financial Counseling

Jennifer Walch
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