Dealing with Debt as You Approach Retirement
Whether your vision of retirement includes traveling the world on a whim, spending endless days on the golf course, or simply relaxing and indulging in all the pastimes you never had time to pursue while you were working, there’s one thing it doesn’t include: dealing with high levels of debt. Lingering debt can cast a shadow over your retirement years, or, worse yet, prevent you from retiring when you would like to. Here are several things to consider when dealing with debt as you approach retirement:
Get Rid of Credit Card Debt — Burdensome credit card debt is a financial drain at any age, but even more so as you approach retirement. Your best bet is to eliminate as much high interest credit card debt as possible before retiring. One way to do that is with a Debt Management Plan, which can help you pay off credit card debt in five years or less by securing lower interest rates, so more of your monthly payment is applied to the principal. It’s an effective way to reset the clock so you can head into retirement with a clean slate.
Consider a Home Equity Line of Credit — If you’re planning on staying in your current home once you retire, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be a useful tool to help you eliminate credit cards and other unsecured debt. HELOC’s generally have a lower interest rate than most credit cards, and you may also deduct up to $100,000 of HELOC interest, which is a beneficial tax break. Keep in mind, however, that it is still debt you’ll need to pay, so be sure you take that into account as you’re planning your retirement lifestyle.
Address Student Loan Debt — Whether you’re still paying off student loans from later-in-life schooling or helping one (or more) of your children deal with their debt, paying off student loans is a reality for many people in their 50s and beyond. Fortunately, there are a number of options that can make student loans more manageable and help you pay them off more quickly. Student Loan Counseling is an ideal first step in figuring out the most beneficial repayment plan. You can get started now.
Assess Your Living Situation — If you’re still living in a house meant for a family, but you’re on your own or with just one other person, downsizing can help you save money on living expenses, which you can then use toward paying off debt. Additionally, if you make money from the sale of your home, use those proceeds toward your debt pay-off. If, on the other hand, you have adult children who have returned to live with you, be sure they are contributing and not putting you further into debt by running up your credit cards or not contributing to rent and other household expenses. Learn more helpful strategies for dealing with boomerang kids here.