Credit card debt affecting retirees

When many people think of credit card debt they picture young people overusing their credit thinking they won’t need to pay it off, but for many retirees, the problems of credit card debt is very real.

The Associated Press reports that a growing number of people over the age of 65 are seeing their credit card debt rise as the economy continues to sag. This has many people who planned for a comfortable retirement changing their plans.

The counselors of Consolidated Credit have seen trends that show credit card debt as an increasing problem for senior citizens. Credit card debt had risen for this segment of the population over the last five years and much of that mounting debt is due to medical expenses.

Ginnie Curran is one of those people. The retired teacher from San Diego told the AP she envisioned a retirement filled with traveling, but losses in her investments – including a 10 percent drop in her condo’s value – have forced her to cut back and take on more debt. Retirement as we have known it over the last 50 years is not an alternative now. People who have saved and invested have lost a great deal of money and people may have to work well into their 70s.

Although Curran has gotten some help managing money from a financial advisor, he tells the wire service it wouldn’t take much to push her “over the edge.”

A report last month from Demos found that those aged 65 and over saw the greatest percentage increase in their credit card debt over the last three years. According to the report, the age group saw credit card debt rise to $10,235 – a 26 percent increase over 2005.