A common misconception about people with credit card debt is that they are irresponsible with their money. However, the reality is that many people who are struggling with debt in New Jersey and nationwide have had to deal with skyrocketing medical bills, foreclosure and unemployment. According to a recent study, these issues may affect older Americans more than younger Americans and likely contribute to the fact that people over the age of 50 carry more credit card debt.
The study was conducted by AARP and Demos, and they were surprised to learn that among the people surveyed, those over the age of 50 carried an average of more than $2,000 in debt on their credit card than those under 50. This finding was unexpected, as people generally assume that debt and financial burdens are only issues that younger people have to deal with.
However, according to the researchers, the unique challenges that older Americans are faced with in this difficult economy makes them more vulnerable when it comes to finances. For example, people who are 50 and older generally have a much more difficult time finding employment if they are fired or laid off. This extended period of unemployment contributed to increased debt levels for about one-quarter of those in the study.
Additionally, older adults tend to have more medical expenses. From doctor’s visits to prescriptions and medical tests, these costs can be unavoidable and significant for many people.
The study suggests many older people struggling with high expenses and fragile levels of income feel forced to make some difficult decisions. Some of them skip medical treatments and tests to save money while others dig into their retirement savings in order to pay their bills and pay off debt. Instead of jeopardizing their health and spending retirement savings, however, many of these people may be able to tackle credit card debt by filing for bankruptcy protection.
Bankruptcy may be a good solution for people looking to wipe out unsecured debt, including credit card debt, or reorganize debt into a more manageable solution. Because of the mistaken beliefs that many people have about debt and bankruptcy, however, too many people avoid taking this type of action. But with the help of an attorney who understands this difficult situation, people can tackle their debt and make a fresh start at any age.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Why Grandma Owes More on Her Credit Cards Than You Do,” Amy Traub, Jan. 15, 2013
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