Research has revealed that in the past decade there has been a steep increase in debt among households headed by an individual age 75 and older. According to a report by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute in Washington, the average debt for these families was $30,288 in 2010. By 2016, that number had increased to $36,757. The high balances and collection agency calls this debt quickly leads to leaves many older American feeling helpless.
To make matters worse, the average monthly Social Security check is just $1,404. According to the U.S. government, more than 40 percent of single adults receive more than 90 percent of their income from that check. In addition, between 2002 and 2015, the number of Social Security recipients 65 and older who had their checks reduced by student loans increased by 500 percent. In short, debt is seriously threatening the retirement and comfort of older Americans.
Financial advisor and co-founder of Great Waters Financial in Minneapolis, Justin Halverson, commented on the situation saying, “There’s just fewer options you have at that state of the game.”
The following are a few tips for individuals who have found themselves in this situation:
- Take a second look (or create) a budget
The key to getting debt under control is to map out your expenses. Is their room in your budget to slowly chip away at your debt? Taking the time to create a budget will increase the likelihood that you stick with it and avoid falling deeper into debt in the future. The National Council on Aging offers help via their Economic Check Up, a website that offers users the opportunity to obtain a free personal report on money management and budgeting.
- Consider lifestyle changes
For some, getting out of debt will require some lifestyle changes. This might involve a big change, like completely relocating to a reduce cost of living. For others, it might simply involve a few smaller changes like eating out less and taking less vacations each year.
- Reach out to creditors
People struggling under the weight of debt should also consider reaching out to creditors and see if it is possible to negotiate more favorable terms. In some cases, hospitals are willing to forgive some debt if the individual contacts them and explains their situation. Likewise, timely contacting your financial institution concerning problems paying your mortgage can help the situation immensely.
Consumers are not the only ones who struggle when it comes to debt; businesses – even debt collection agencies themselves – can struggle to find the services they need. If your collection agency needs safe payment processing services and other merchant services, consider a collection agency merchant account offered by a high-risk alternative lender.
Author Bio: Electronic payments expert Blair Thomas co-founded eMerchantBroker, serving both traditional and high-risk merchants. His passions include producing music and traveling.